The Key to Running a Successful Website

Published: 18th November 2006
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Have you ever wondered if your link building efforts are paying off?

Link building can be very time consuming and chances are, lots of time and resources are spent on link building efforts each day. However, how do we know if the link building efforts are paying off? That's the big question but before we attempt to address that question, let's take a look at what makes a website successful.

Q1: What is the key to running a successful website?

The success of a website is measured by the amount of traffic that it's getting. How many hits, how many uniques, how many visits, how many page impressions and so on.

It's logical then, to assume that no matter what the website is about, a traffic building campaign is key in determining the success or failure of a website. Again, the key idea is Traffic. Webmasters have to stop thinking about links for a moment and focus on the big picture and think more about traffic.

Q2: Why do webmasters work so hard to build links?

In the early days, when search engines were hardly heard of, webmasters build links to advertise their website and to get some traffic. There was really no other easy way to get any kind of exposure except through link exchanges. However, all that changed when the search engines started to dominate the Internet. It didn't take long for webmasters to learn that their link building efforts are now paying off in 2 ways:
1) Traffic coming from back links.
2) Traffic coming from search engines due to high rankings.

Q3: What does link building has to do with high search engine rankings?

Industry experts or gurus call this process Search Engine Optimization, and it has something to do with how search engines work. A link to a website is considered a vote. The more quality back links that a website gets, the more important the website is in the "eyes" of the search engines. The search engines will then give a higher ranking to these important sites. More links = higher search engine rankings = tons of free traffic.

Q4: Is this link building tatic effective in the long run?

In the short term, link building can pay off handsomely, especially in niches where there's less competition for high search engine rankings. A good search engine optimization expert can rank popular keywords fairly easily. You've probably come across many ebooks teaching people how to choose niches with less competition. It's important because choosing the wrong niche may spell disaster. On the other hand, choosing the right niche will increase the chances of success for a website.

So far so good, but what happens when these niches eventually become saturated as well? We are already seeing some very stiff competition in various industries such as travel and finance. My prediction is that it's going to be harder and harder to get a good ranking in the search engines in time to come. Why is that so? That's simply because these niches will become saturated over time as more and more people start to compete in them. Not convinced that link building alone is not enough to run a successful website? Let's take a look at the next question.

Q5: Have you ever wondered if your link building efforts are paying off (in terms of traffic)?

To answer this question means that there must be some way to measure the traffic that the link building efforts generated. That's when you're going to find it a little tricky because traffic from search engines fluctuate. Even if the website achieves high rankings for certain keywords, there's no guarantee that they can maintain their rankings in the long run. There are many reasons why search engine rankings drop and here are 2 possible scenarios:

1) The competitors are doing a better job at building links. Or
2) The search engines change their algorithms and the updates hurt the rankings.

You probably would have noticed that there's little you can do to prevent that from happening. So here comes the interesting part.

Q6: How can we overcome these inherent problems?

There's no easy way to overcome these problems if we attempt to solve them using link building tatics. That means trying to outrun the competition by building even more links. Again, we realize that even if we choose to do that, there's no guarantee that a site will regain its rankings.

What we should all be doing, is to stop thinking about links and start thinking about traffic. Remember the key to building a successful website? That's right, not links but traffic. It's what you do with the traffic that matters. Over the course of the next 6 issues, we'll be discussing about why thousands of small business owners are leaving money on the table. We'll also be discussing about some common link building mistakes and how to optimize your link building campaign.

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