Thursday, June 22, 2006

On the Links

Making Your Connections Work Harder

As I mentioned in Tuesday's blog, I'm gearing up to launch a new site. One of the things I like to do is link to related pages throughout my site.

Before I go any farther, I must confess: I'm no programmer (thank heaven for my husband, who is), so the nuts and bolts of HTML, XML, Java, and the like are only slightly less interesting to me than learning how to rotate brake drums. But just because something doesn't necessarily pique my interest doesn't mean I can't learn a thing or two about it.

In fact, when I was at the MEGA Marketing Conference in L.A. earlier this year, one of the speakers there -- Brad Fallon -- gave a very interesting presentation called "Stomping the Search Engines." Mr. Fallon has several wildly successful online businesses and was an engaging presenter, so I listened carefully and took notes that I thought might be of use to Robert.

One of the things Mr. Fallon mentioned, however, has very little to do with programming and everything to do with writing. It is also one of the least understood aspects of website linking. And it's SO simple to grasp, once someone explains the underlying concept.

It has to do with the actual text that one clicks on to link to another page.

Evidently, the way I understand it (which may be deeply, intrinsically flawed, you understand), the search engines pay special attention to the text that serves as a clickable launch to another URL -- be it a page within the site, or one off-site.

If you want your pages to improve their rankings, then use appropriate keywords for the clickable text. (I call it "bluelined text," much to my programmer husband's dismay. But you know what I'm talking about...) That way, when people are looking for such keywords, your pages containing them will show up before pages containing identical text that does not contain links.

For example:

If you have written an award-winning short story, poem, or play that you would like to bring to people's attention, the text on your site might say something like,

Read an excerpt from "Fabulous Work of Art," my award-winning poem featured in "Snooty Literary Publication".

Clicking on the first link would allow someone to read your poem, posted on your site. Clicking on the second would take someone off your site to the home page of the publication that printed it.

If the Snooty Literary Publication also published your work online, you may wish to choose to link to that as well.

The point, however, is not to say:

To read an excerpt from "Fabulous Work of Art, my award-winning poem featured in "Snooty Literary Publication," click here.

Mr. Fallon says that "Click Here" is the most used link in the world. Do a Google search for "Click Here" and see what he's talking about.

When including links in your site, try to use text that someone might conceivably use as part of a search. If someone were looking for an award-winning poem, your site might show up if you had those words as clickable text (technically called the "anchor text," my husband informs me). It might not if you don't.

And For My Next Project

Had a very interesting phone call from Trafalgar Square today. They asked if I'd consider working on writing what can only be described as a Dream Project. After about .3 seconds of thought, I said I would.

Very nearly too good to be true.

If all goes well, I'll meet with the Experts involved in early August. If we all like each other and think we can play nice with each other, we should be able to start work on the book by this fall.

Further bulletins as events warrant -- but today, life certainly got a little more interesting.