The importance of link building for my French Property or local interest website

Have you seen the number of results that get returned when you search for “holiday rental property in brittany“, “loire holiday rental” or “gite near la baule” or any other phrase that includes a combination of “france”, “brittany”, “holiday” or “property”? How does your site stand a chance of getting a decent ranking and therefore being noticed? Link building is one activity that could improve your ranking. Let’s explain…

Google believes in the democratic power of website owners to decide which sites are worthy of ranking highly in their search results, and as they own by far the largest segment of the search engine market it pays to find out what they like. What this means is that they will consider your French property rental site more valuable if you are linked-to by other sites, and especially by sites that are highly valued themselves and which have content similar to your own (such as other holiday/vacation websites, property forums, french regional information sites, etc).

So, whilst it is always good to get your friends and family to add a link to your website from theirs, it’s better (by several orders of magnitude) to have good links from highly valued and related content sites.

How do I go about building links to my website?

  1. Ask other website owners you know to link to you
  2. If your content is great one would hope that other websites over time will naturally add links to you – so make sure your content is great, and make sure it is unique otherwise it might not get listed at all if a higher ranking page than yours contains the same content!
  3. You can research similar websites and approach them to ask if they would add a link to you. If you do this you should expect them to ask for a reciprocal link in return. We will comment specifically on link exchange schemes later in this series. You can also ask third-party companies or individuals to build links for you. If you choose this route then make sure that you make it clear what sort of website you prefer to take links from
  4. Following on from (3) it could be beneficial to contribute to French property blogs and forums, and also from social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, as often these sites will include an automatic link to your website (or will allow you to link directly to your site from within the post itself)

Although all links are essentially good, links from websites that offer related content to yours are better. Search engines will see the relationship and may well attribute a little higher value to those links.

What about paid links?

I’m not a great fan of paid links (where you pay another website owner a monthly fee for linking to your website) for three reasons :

  1. They cost money
  2. One generally pays upfront before success is proven
  3. It is possible that some search engines may penalise you for doing so – especially Google who thinks (in my opinion quite rightly) that the whole “democratic voting for popularity” thing is violated

If you want to spend money bringing targeted traffic to your website, my preferred route is via Google Adwords or one of the other pay-per-click services provided by other search engines. The advantage of Adwords over static paid links is that you get to choose what keywords are used to find your link, you can adjust your budget, switch the campaign on or off whenever you like, and there is a good management interface to allow you to measure the success. Find out how to run a successful Google adword campaign.

How do I know how valuable a site is for link building?

You need to check out the PageRank of the website/web page that your link is being placed on. PageRank is a Google thing, and so this may not be relevant for other search engines. Each page has a value from 0 – 10, with 10 being the highest, and the value of web pages increases exponentially from one value to the next (so that a jump from PR 2 to PR 3 is less significant than a jump from PR 3 to PR 4, and so on). You can see the latest published rank for any website you visit by installing the Google Toolbar in your web browser. Note: PageRank for web pages changes regularly but is published to the toolbar infrequently, so although the site you visit might say it has a certain page rank, that value may have changed since (up or down).

Pagerank is just one of the factors that determine where your website ranks in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), but it is quite a significant factor, so it is worth paying attention to building good quality inbound links.

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