One of the criteria used by search engines to determine page rankings for your travel agency centers on the number of links inbound to the travel site from other quality sites. Sometimes called “back links”, inbound links to your site give the search engine spiders more avenues to your site and act as a key indicator of the importance of your site to others. A link from a site that is a high quality site in and of itself is more important that a link from a “low quality” site.
The single best way to create high quality links inbound to your site is by populating it with quality content about travel. If your site becomes the “go-to” resource for a given topic, for example “travel for the disabled”, then other sites discussing these matters more generally will link to yours as a resource. These links increase your site’s link popularity and thus improves your page rankings in the search engines.
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The importance of link popularity to search engine optimization early on gave rise to “black hat” techniques like link farms – contrivances to create links from arbitrary sites to a target site. Most of the search engines now discount such ruses. However, there are very legitimate ways to build up your site’s inbound links. For example, when you post on a forum and use a signature with a link to your website, you have just left a trail back to your site. If that post is then posted on Digg or other social media sharing sites, the effect is greatly enhanced. Indeed, the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter creates multiple links to your own site that are picked up by the process of search engine indexing.
Writing guest posts on blogs is one of the best ways to enhance the visibility of your own site for both humans and search engines. Most articles you write will include a link back to your own site. Likewise, press releases that are picked up by media and interviews with a link back to your own site are valuable. Commenting intelligently on other’s blogs will also create link backs to your own site and might even obtain notice from the original author.
Link exchanges are of overestimated. benefit. If the site with which you exchange is in your general topic area it may have some impact. In general, however, large numbers of arbitrary links off a site are not favored by most site owners as it dilutes their own more legitimate link popularity. Likewise, submitting your URL to directories is somewhat time consuming and of dubious efficacy. Pages full of links are not counted as quality links by search engine algorithms.
Some website owners will create multiple sites and cross-link between them. For travel agents with multiple niche markets, this is a good strategy. Most SEO strategists will suggest placing the individual sites on different hosts, however. It is generally speculated that search engines will not rank links from a website on a given host to another site on the same host as highly as one on an unrelated host.
If you follow the techniques we have discussed here this week, your website’s search engine rankings will almost certainly increase substantially. The best advice of all, however, is to keep foremost in your intent and minds to be useful to your readers. If human readers find your materials useful and important, the organic popularity of your site will be reflected by a higher page ranking with the search engines.