Archive for the ‘Lawyer Website Design’ Category

Content Strategy for Your Legal Website

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Content strategy is a plan for creating and publishing useful, usable content on your legal website. In order to fully realize that goal, you must not only define—at least in your own mind—which content will be published, but you must be able to articulate why each piece will be published at all. If you don’t have a good understanding of your expectations from each published article, then there can be little reason to publish.

Content strategy should define your firm’s primary theme and intended message, cover the various topics you feel most important to your firm, explain how your articles will make the leap from what your business requires to what your potential clients need and finally will analyze any potential gaps in your content. Of course all content strategy plans should include a comprehensive discussion of SEO, taking into consideration the latest, most up-to-date search engine requirements including Google’s algorithms.

What Should I Be Looking For When Mapping Out Content Strategy?

Your first concern falls under the wide umbrella of editorial needs. These are the guidelines under which all content is governed, so to speak. They are the values, the voice, the tone and the legal concerns as well as the calendar which dictates the cycles you will publish under. Next is the web writing itself, which must be both high quality and imminently usable not to mention specifically intended for online publication. As most web writers know, there is an entirely different writing technique used for online publications as compared to print.

Online articles are shorter, more concise, and depend heavily on attention-grabbing headlines. Online articles generally hit the reader with a fast burst of information in the hopes of holding their attention to the end of the article. If you haven’t hooked your web reader within five seconds or less, research shows you have likely lost them for good. A great web writer will understand the user experience design, will be able to write effective metadata as well as manage an ever-changing content landscape.

Search engine optimization is a large part of content strategy as it seeks to increase the potential relevance of articles to specific search engine keywords. There will be a process of editing and organizing all content on each page as well as across the firm’s website. As technology constantly shifts and changes, content management strategy will attempt to capture, store, deliver and preserve the organizations content.

Content—Complicated and Messy

After the initial wave of writing content for a legal website, the time constraints usually set in, and the enthusiasm tends to wane. It’s at this point that website owners want to bury their head in the sand and pray that the content part of their website becomes someone else’s problem. It begins to feel complicated and messy and becomes the incredibly junky closet you throw everything into and try to avoid looking at.

At this point it’s time to engage in honest content dialogue with all those involved in the content of the firm’s website. Content dialogue must first expand the audience, attempting to engage a broader audience of consumers, and will also realize that everyone involved has a stake in the future of web content. Content and the practice of content strategy absolutely deserve our time and attention yet until we begin to treat it as the critical asset it is, worthy of planning and meaningful investment, it is likely we will keep turning out the same old stuff. It’s really not someone else’s problem. Learn about content strategy, practice it and promote it—your website will thank you for it.

Separating Presentation and Content on Your Legal Website

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Any time you display information on a webpage, the actual content and presentation are tied together; the information is tied to the visual design and the reader must be able to access the information then interpret it. The ultimate goal of the web is to make the content accessible to every user. Web content is neither tied to a specific operating system, software or even a computer—web content can be accessed on a wide variety of devices even some kitchen appliances can read web documents. The content can be displayed in a dizzying array of sizes, colors and fonts, limited only by the reader’s imagination. The goal of achieving device independence as well as access for all therefore must lie in the separation of presentation and content.

For those who are unclear about what exactly constitutes content and presentation, content refers to the information in your web pages as well as how that information is structured. Structure may appear to be somewhere floating between content and presentation however presentation would be meaningless without structure therefore the structural elements belong more clearly to the content side. Presentation encompasses all the ways the content—and the structure of the content—is presented. Anything which controls how the content appears rather than what it actually says is presentation.  The separation of content and presentation may seem like a foreign concept since most of us are accustomed to making the visual choices related to content such as headings, paragraphs, lists, etc.

The Benefits of Separation

By separating the content from the presentation on your website you will ensure your web pages are more widely accessible to your potential clients. In practical terms, however, it can be extremely difficult to maintain the distinction between presentation and content since often we are unable to see the difference between what is being communicated and how it is being communicated. When you realize that even the most poorly formatted document nonetheless has a presentation in the form of layout, fonts, etc., you understand the difficulty in the clear separation.

How to Achieve Separation

The first step in the overall idea of separation is to build structure into web documents through the use of HTML which encodes headings, paragraphs and lists. The document which results from this step is richer in meaning and can be accessed by any web-enabled device in the necessary format. Think of your overall intentions when attempting to separate content from presentation—what is your content goal for your web users, and what do you think potential clients intend to do with that content? Do you think it is what they are searching for, what they need to answer their most pressing questions and problems?

To begin separation, start with plain text—that is, text which is placed in a notepad on Windows. Then use HTML tags which clearly mesh with the meaning of the content. Remember, HTML tags should describe the text placed inside rather than be placed simply to achieve a desired “look.” Double-check to ensure you are not accidentally placing presentation markup when new content is created and learn all the styles available to you. Take a look at your finished product—it should be simple, crisp and clear and you should know exactly what each HTML tag is being used for.

In the end, the separation of presentation and content can stop a simple design tweak from becoming a full-fledged re-design. Isolating content ensures adding and updating will be as simple as possible while design consistency is maintained throughout your sight. While the separation of content and presentation can make you want to throw up your hands in despair—don’t. There is plenty of high-quality help available to make the process as simple as possible.

Is Your Legal Website “Learner-Friendly?”

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Today’s learners have a virtual arsenal of multimedia learning platforms merely a click away—in fact some consider the internet the greatest contributor to the learning process since the printing press was invented. Well, that’s certainly the theory and the potential of the web in any case. The reality tends to be a bit less spectacular. While most web owners and web creators spend hours and hours creating fabulous, flashy, imminently usable and always-accessible interfaces to host their hopefully high-quality content, the goals of the learner can be largely forgotten. In other words we have become so focused on keywords and headlines that reach out and grab the reader’s attention that we’ve let the content-rich website which actively encourages learning and exploration fall by the wayside.

Now as a legal professional, you may well wonder why you should care whether your firm’s website it learner-friendly—after all, your primary goal is to get conversions, right? Well, yes and no. Of course the overall goal of your website will be to reach those you might not otherwise reach, promote your specific services and end with lots of happy, satisfied clients. While this is certainly a worthy goal, it can benefit your business to take a closer look at what your users really want. Most people who seek out a legal website have a specific problem that they need information about. To provide this information in the most succinct manner possible, there are several things to keep in mind.

Narrative—Essential to Learning

All human communications essentially revolve around storytelling—we use storytelling both to create an emotional connection with one another and to convey information. Writers use narrative to connect what they know about the world with what their readers already know and want to know about the world. A story is exchanged and a personal connection is made. Through the information presented the reader is able to actually build their own narrative as they work their way through your legal website. Bits and pieces of information are soon converted into real knowledge. Your web users come to your website in an attempt to find information germane to their specific situation and to their lives. Those who spend their precious and limited time immersed in a content-rich website have the hope of being changed, having their outlook altered or gaining something they did not have before. In order for these hopes to be realized, your website must offer context to your readers in addition to narrative. Context helps your reader get the entire picture, facilitates understanding and, in the end, changes our way of thinking.

Remembering the Different Learner-Styles

Just as children learn in different ways, adults also have different styles of learning. While some prefer very structured, organized methods of learning—others will prefer a learning path which requires a bit of exploration. Therefore while the traditional navigational layout may appeal to many users, others may prefer a path of discoverability. If you are unsure what discoverability really means, think about Wikipedia which allows the reader to skip from one type of content to another, providing links which facilitate the ability to change topics easily without stopping the flow. Those who have used Wikipedia know that while they may have begun reading about a nuclear site in New Mexico they may have ended up reading about a horse farm in Maine. A stretch, but you get the idea! You can satisfy both types of learners by keeping your logical, well-laid out navigational tools while adding hyperlinking and visual representations of your message. In the end, you want to remember that your legal website should be a meaningful participant in a much greater story and should seek to create content that is truly worth discovering.

Homepage Usability Guidelines

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Your law firm’s homepage is the face it presents to the world at large and for most visitors is the starting point. Although users may land on other pages in your site, most often the homepage is your first opportunity to make that critical first impression, hook your reader and convince them to keep reading. Anything which improves the usability of your homepage adds to the overall value of your website, making it definitely worth the investment. When you consider your site’s homepage, think of it as a piece of extremely valuable real estate. This prime real estate allows your potential clients to carefully consider the benefits of doing business with your firm as compared to another law firm. Homepages typically garner more page views than any other part of your website therefore it only makes sense to ensure that homepage is imminently usable and enhances the overall value of your firm’s website. You may be unsure of the quickest way to improve your prime real estate, so here are a few tips:

  1. Use Your Graphics Wisely—Rather than simply “decorating” your site with stock images you’ve found in all the really cool places on the Internet, remember that your images have the ability to convey a powerful message when they accurately portray scenes that mesh with your content and are of interest to your users, but when those images appear irrelevant in any way, your readers can become disillusioned quickly. If you can’t provide graphics which are extremely honest and relevant to your copy, it might be better to skip them altogether.
  2. Don’t Go Crazy With the Visual Design Elements—The goal of your homepage is to offer simplicity and extreme usability. The addition of elaborate illustrations and colors can cause your users to dismiss your design elements as ads, sending their eyes to parts of your page which truly offer the help they are seeking.
  3. Have a Clearly State Purpose for Your Site—Your homepage is your first opportunity to explain clearly who you are, what you do and how you can help your user. You can do this quickly by starting your homepage with a tagline which effectively summarizes what your company can do to help your user. If your marketing slogan is less than stellar, your tagline is even more important.
  4. Place Your Firm’s Information in a Specific and Distinct Area—While this may not be the most pressing need of your users, should your high-quality content result in a reader who wants to fill out a contact form, send your firm and e-mail or give you a call, the details of your company should be readily accessible, easy to find, and should support your overall credibility. Having an “About Our Firm,” section can be a great way to link your users to further in-depth information than will comfortably fit on your homepage.
  5. 5. Make it Easy to Find Exactly What Your Users are Looking For—Clear navigation on your homepage can give your users a clear starting point. Websites which offer a search box for their website can give users concise directions for finding what they need in the quickest manner possible. Remember also that when you move certain articles or promotions off your homepage into the site former users may come to your site, remember the prior articles and wonder where to find them. To help your users, keep a short list or recently featured items on the homepage or link to a permanent archive. 

All in all, if you simply remember how important first impressions are when designing your homepage, you will hit a home-run and reach the level of conversions you desire.

How Headlines Can Make or Break Your Web Writing

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Headlines have always been an important component in writing—particularly journalistic writing—but with the rise of social media they are probably even more important than ever before. When content is shared through Facebook or re-tweeted on Twitter, the headline will either grab the reader’s attention or it will not. Our increasingly busy lives dictate that we no longer read when perusing a web page, rather we skim quickly, jumping here and there until a word or a phrase stops us and makes us take notice.

Scanning is the norm in web reading, with readers spending less than five seconds on a headline to determine whether they will continue to read. If you’ve offered a confusing or lackluster headline, you have just ensured your article will not be read therefore your headline is possibly the very most important part of your article.  So, your headlines must grab the reader’s attention, snapping them out of their digital media daze. Next, it should spark their interest by relating to a particular problem or issue they are having in their life. A great headline should not, however, attempt to tell the whole story rather should intrigue the reader while staying snappy and to the point.

Sparking Your Reader’s Curiosity

If your headline fails to engage your reader’s curiosity, then it is unlikely they will continue to read. To stimulate curiosity, writers must use word such as “revealed,” or “at last,” to generate interest. Your ultimate goal in your headline is to speak directly to the emotions or needs of the individual reader, making them feel as though you are speaking directly to them. Keep in mind the five basic human needs or motivators when writing your headline.

Of course first there are the physiological needs such as hunger, shelter and clothing, and the safety needs including the physical, emotional and financial. Next comes social needs which include the need for acceptance, companionship and love. Self-esteem needs include the need for attention, respect and recognition, and finally comes the self-actualization needs which speak to a person’s need to reach their potential in life. These motivators should be incorporated into your web content headlines whenever possible.

Other Ways to Write Killer Headlines

You can use the “call out” method when writing your headline which specifically calls out to your target audience. If you write a one-word headline which simply says “Migraines?” you have effectively hooked every reader who has ever suffered from migraine headaches with one little word. Another method involves simply stating the benefit right up front in your article’s headline. Say you are writing an article about how to make vanilla extract at home.

You could simply title your article “Making Vanilla at Home,” or you could grab your reader with this headline: “Saving $$$ by Making Vanilla Extract at Home.” The second headline has told your reader right up front that they can save considerable amounts of money by making their own vanilla extract, while the first, while it gets the point across, is somewhat lackluster. Writing a “how-to” headline is also an attention-getter—after all, how many women will bypass an article that states “How to Lose 15 Pounds by Summer.”

Dealing With Conflicting Advice

New writers particularly can be confused by conflicting advice from professionals. Some state that information must always be front-loaded into the headline with a goal of conveying as much useful information about the content of the article as possible. Unfortunately, headlines of this type can often end up so dull they are regularly bypassed. Other seasoned web writers advise using the headline simply to lure your visitor in, ignoring whether there is any front-loaded information involved. What you should remember is that your headline will quite often be read out of context, meaning it could come up as an Internet search result, a newsletter subject line in an email, or re-tweeted on Twitter. This means that your headline must have significance outside the context of a website. In the end, it is definitely worthwhile for any writer of web content to focus considerable time and attention on their headlines.

Expectations of Your Web Reader

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Meeting the expectations of your web reader can be challenging, to say the least. Today’s web readers are savvy, yet exceptionally busy and demand genuine, high-quality content. This is a choosy group, therefore your goal should be to target your readers and speak directly to them. Words are powerful tools and while there is a great deal of substandard writing on the web, the trend is thankfully shifting toward content full of significant information, value and importance. In short, any content published online should contain a level of relevance which raises the rank of the pages.

Differences Between Web and Print

There are significant differences in web content writing and print writing, most particularly the necessity of including keywords in your writing. Writers must first understand the importance of keywords then use them judiciously. Writing should be concise and relevant and should provide the specific information your reader is seeking. Web content must also be significantly shorter than print—the average web reader spends less than four seconds deciding whether they want to read an article on the web or not. If all they see is a vast expanse of copy, they will likely look elsewhere for their information. Headlines are critical when writing for the web as are short, simple sentences, short paragraphs and the use of bulleted and numbered lists.

Capturing the Interest of Your Readers

As stated, web readers are busy and are usually looking for specific information about a particular subject. They want to know how to do something, want to purchase a specific item, or need information about a particular subject. They want this information quickly and they want it to be easily scannable. The reader’s interest should be hooked immediately with your gripping headlines then held onto tightly with captivating sub-headlines, an engaging intro and copy that follows through on your promise. Your reader’s expectation is they are about to find the answer to a burning question, problem or issue, relevant information which will improve their life or possibly a compelling, informative article which holds their attention to the very end.

How Important are Headlines?

The headlines of an article could very well be what keeps your reader engaged until the very end. Your headlines should be so catchy and interesting that your reader is compelled to continue reading. If you can convince your reader through your headlines that they will be missing something vitally important to their life should they neglect to continue reading, then you have done your job well. Your headlines are essentially a promise to your reader and should provoke some type of emotion, inspiring them to take action. Dress up your headlines with descriptive adjectives and give your reader’s a hint of what’s to come—then deliver on your promise in your copy.

The Importance of the Introduction

Once you’ve written catchy, compelling headlines, concentrate on your introductory paragraph as it is the second most powerful element of your writing. Your intro should entice your reader to continue reading, and ideally will begin with a statistic, question or fact which your readers will find surprising, interesting or even shocking. Your intro should leave your reader wanting more, so spend the necessary time to make it great.

Your goal is to ensure you have fully met the expectations of your targeted audience by providing them the information they need while providing high-quality writing. End your articles with some sort of inspiring thought, call to action or even a metaphor which will enable them to remember what they just read, and you have met your goal.

Turning Your Website Users into Customers

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

People come to your website with specific purposes and goals in mind, but primarily they want answers. In order to ensure you are answering their questions in the most thorough manner possible, you will need a solid understanding of your “typical” customer as well as the problems they want to solve. The home page of your business website should first and foremost address the most pressing issues and questions your potential customers have.

Most typical users want to know what they are doing on your website, how to do it in the most expedient manner possible, what’s in it for them, and where they should go next. Once you have answered these questions through your persuasive home page copy you are off to a good start. If you are targeting more than one type of visitor to your site, make sure you can direct them easily to different pages. Make your descriptions compelling, but not excessive—too much hype can be a turnoff.

Sell Benefits and Grab Their Attention with Headlines
People coming to your website want to know how whatever you’re selling will benefit them personally. This type of information grabs their attention, leading them into the other features of your site. People read headlines first and foremost, so make sure yours are the best. Once you’ve gained their attention, they will want to read the rest of your copy.

The Importance of Your Landing Page
The landing page is a specific website area where traffic is sent via links. The landing page will prompt a certain action or result, so it’s highly important that the links you are using to send traffic to your website is extremely relevant to what they are actually looking for. When people click on links expecting one thing, but get another, they become disenchanted quickly, and click to someone else’s page, looking for help and information.

Pay Extra Attention to Your “About Us” Page
While you may not consider this page to be one of exceptional importance, it can be an important way to build trust and credibility. People want to know your story. They want to know how you came to this business, how long you’ve been in business, and what your specific credentials and talents are that make you uniquely qualified. Building trust is essential in this day of scams and cons. Prominently display your phone number and address so you don’t look “shady” in any way. Although web business is done through cyberspace, we humans still want to have the comfort and security of knowing where—in the real world—the brick and mortar building which houses your business actually stands.

Turning Users into Customers
If you’ve shown how your product or service is different and better than your competition’s, then half the battle is won. Emphasize what your new customers will receive, and how you will stand behind your product. Make it simple to sign up, join in or buy now, and place this call to action in a prominent, easy-to-find place on your site. Few of us are willing to risk our hard-earned cash these days, so minimize the risk by offering a comprehensive guarantee, or a no-risk return policy to build trust among your customers. Your goal is to build the same sort of relationship with your new Internet customers as you do with your in-person customers. Sprinkle in some free, helpful information, or provide education on what they are purchasing. Offer a monthly newsletter, or even a free e-course. All of these things build trust between you and your customers, creating happy people who will come back time and time again to your website and will pass the good news along to friends and family.

The Importance of Keyword Research in Effective SEO

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

In the world of SEO, keyword research may well be one of the most important factors to your ultimate success. If you are relatively new to the world of search engine optimization, you may be a bit fuzzy on exactly what keyword research entails, and why it is such a critical component of your SEO strategy.

What is Keyword Research?
Even if you have spent hours and hours fine-tuning your web pages with a goal of getting higher rankings with Google, it will all be for naught if you have not targeted the very best keywords and keyword phrases. Selecting the wrong keywords for your website or blog can greatly decrease the relevant traffic your site will receive.

What’s My Target Audience?
Just as in any marketing strategy, whether online or traditional, your ultimate goal is to know your audience. If you don’t fully know and understand your audience, then you will not be able to reach them. You may be required to focus on specific location, specific region, specific business, trade, service or product when you are deciding on your very best keywords and keyword phrases. Your goal will be to cover each and every aspect of your product or your particular service which could be searched for by users. Because each page on your website may likely be dealing with a different aspect of your business, the keywords for each page will necessarily be different. Once you truly know your audience and have looked at your site from their perspective, you will have gone a long way in identifying your target audience.

Rely on Facts, Not Your Personal Feelings
Many inexperienced website owners start out with keywords and keyword phrases that they simply “feel” are right and are the most likely words users will search for. Unfortunately, even though this may seem like common sense, or appear fairly obvious, your chosen keywords may not mesh with the ones your buyers or users are typing into their search bar. Once you are a part of a specific trade or niche, your vision tends to narrow, and you erroneously believe that others understand these trade-specific terms in the same way that you do.

If you are unable to take your own feelings out of the process, ask friends or family what search words they would use if they wanted to find a business like yours. You may be very surprised to find their chosen keywords and phrases are completely different than the ones you chose. Ignore your gut feelings and go with the facts, and you will avoid a possible wild goose chase. There are several keyword research tools you can incorporate which will offer pertinent data in your keyword search.

What is the Overall Process?
First of all you will enter the discovery phase in which you will basically brainstorm and come up with a laundry list of possible keywords which are related to your site and your target audience. Next you will analyze these keywords and phrases, and will additionally add information about your competition into the mix. You need information about your competitors in order to determine how many pages are competing for Google’s place of honor. Analyze your competitors based on search terms and how many pages are indexed in order to get the clearest picture. You will then select a shortlist of keywords, and finally you will make the absolute optimal use of your chosen keywords throughout your website copy, your HTML code and your meta tags.

Focused keyword phrases give your site the very best chances of ranking highly, as well as bringing targeted traffic to your site, which in turn results in higher sales conversion ratios, therefore keywords are a key element in your overall SEO strategy.

The Crucial Importance of Keywords and Backlinks in SEO

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

While there are enough highly technical SEO techniques to make your head spin, sometimes you need to step back, take a breath and remember that in the end, you need only focus on two main factors in your quest for the ultimate search engine optimization: keywords and backlinks. Whether you are a veteran of the SEO wars, or a relative newbie, or whether you are optimizing a brand new site or just doing some maintenance on an existing site, focus your attention on keywords and backlinks and you will soon be able to see measurable results.

Why Keywords are, Well, Key!
In-depth research is critical to your final short-list of keywords you will optimize your site for. Your keywords must be absolutely relevant to what you do, the services you offer or the products you sell. In fact, relevance must be your highest priority, ahead of those keywords which appear to have the highest number of searches. While “narrow” keywords may get fewer searches, they are immensely more valuable than a generic keyword. If you get a user to your website, then they find it was not at all what they were looking for, obviously they won’t stay. With highly focused, extremely narrow keywords, your users will naturally be more interested in exactly what you have to offer.

Placing Your Keywords for Maximum Results
The location of your keywords is almost as important as the keywords themselves. Keywords placed in the title page, headings and first paragraphs—in other words, above the fold—are much more important than those placed at the bottom of the page. Additionally, having your keywords in your URL and domain name is far more important than having them in your page copy. If all things are roughly equal between you and a direct competitor, but the competitor has the critical keywords in the URL, their ranking will almost certainly be higher than your own.

When you are determining your URL, remember that while having five keywords in it might be good for SEO, it’s not particularly good for a user to be able to remember, so strike a balance. Although writing something in the title tag is not strictly mandatory, if you leave it empty, the title bar of the browser will read something like “untitled document,” which is not particularly impressive to your users.

Heading Keywords
While headings certainly separate your paragraphs and subtopics, from an SEO standpoint, having as many headings on your page which have your top-rated keywords lends itself in a positive manner to higher rankings. Remember, though, that headings which are inordinately long are not conducive to page readability. Headings are usually bolded and, in some cases in a larger font, so keep the headings clear, concise, and keyword-rich.

Checking Your Keyword Density
Once your keywords are chosen, you must ensure your articles have optimal keyword density; while it is not as much of an SEO factor, it does measure how relevant your page is. It is recommended that you strive for a keyword density of 3-7% for your primary keywords, and 1-2% for your less important keywords. There are keyword density checkers you can find on the web if you are unsure of your density. Try optimizing for 5-10 keywords, as any more will only cause chaos in your copy. You never want your site articles to sound contrived or appear to be keyword-stuffed as this can garner you Google penalties.

Now, Add in Some High-Quality Backlinks
Once your keyword strategy is firmly in place, you will want to focus on getting incoming links from other websites. If these backlinks are high-quality and extremely relevant to your site, it will signal Google that yours is an important website, and your rankings will naturally increase. Track your results at least monthly, and you will see how these two simple techniques can vastly increase your search engine optimization.

The Best SEO Strategies for Increasing Link Popularity

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

What is Link Popularity?
Second only to keywords, links are critical for website success. Link popularity, in short, is the measurement for the number of links to your website from other websites. But wait—I should have definitely added the word “quality” to that sentence, because low-level links just for the sake of having links can actually hurt you much more than they will help you. Both Google, as well as some other search engines, take their complicated algorithm and rate your website based on many things, one of them being your link popularity.

High Quality vs. Low Quality Linking
In other words, each quality link which points back to your site is, in effect, a vote for your website. If I have a link on my own website which links to your site, then the theory is I believe your site to be valuable, and of high quality, thereby giving you my vote of confidence. Keep in mind, however, that if my website happens to be considered a low-quality, poorly-rated one, then my vote of confidence may hurt you more than help you. High quality links will come from established directories and institutions rather than somebody’s obscure personal homepage. In general, however each one of these website link “votes” pushes your website up the search engine ladder, and can be an incredibly important SEO strategy.

Submit to High Quality Web Directories for Successful SEO
The highest quality web directories are those which manually review your website—and charge a fee for this process. But wait, you say, isn’t Google penalizing those who acquire paid links? The answer to this is yes—and no. While search engines truly don’t like paid directory links, they don’t devalue the quality web directories which manually review websites for submission. This is an important distinction to remember when you are considering submitting your website for a paid review.

Research Your Web Directory Prior to Submission
Make sure you have fully researched the web directory you are considering, and ask whether or not websites are rejected. After all, if all websites which are submitted pass with flying colors, there is little value in obtaining a listing. Ensure the web directory has plenty of quality URL’s listed as low-quality sites will harm you more than help. Although some directories are quite expensive, if you can find the budget, try to purchase at least one quality directory listing per month.

Submit Articles Regularly
One of the best-known strategies for building backlinks on your website is to take bits and pieces of your site’s content, and re-write, adding enough quality information to submit as a standalone article. The critical factors in submitting articles is that they absolutely must be the highest quality, they must use your keywords judiciously throughout, and you must include links back to your website either in the resource box at the end, the author bio area or in the article body itself.

Where to Submit Your Articles
Ezine ( is considered one of the best places to submit your articles, but you can also look at, and, to name just a few. Whatever you do, however, don’t simply submit an existing article from your website, as you may run into possible duplicate content issues. Even submitting one article to several sites every two to three weeks can add up significantly throughout the course of a year.

Create Quality Website Content and Keep an Eye on Your Links
If you are consistently generating high-quality content on your website, you will establish links automatically, or organically. If you always provide content which your readers find interesting, compelling and, ultimately, helpful, you will develop a vast array of high-quality links, and you can consistently provide this level of content is you always remember that you are writing for your customer. Don’t simply write your articles and update your website with quality content and assume your links are healthy and happy. Monitor the effectiveness of your inbound links by entering your URL into the box at the top on On the button labeled “Pages,” you will see the number of pages Yahoo has indexed on your site, while the button labeled “inlinks” will show the links which point back to your website.

While there are many more strategies to increase link popularity, start implementing the basics today—links can truly make or break your website, so afford them the importance they deserve.