“ Eric follows the right link building approach. He's interested in links that are given based
on merit, and those are the links that stand the test of time” — Matt Cutts, Google
~ ~ ~
“ Eric Ward is THE authority on links” Danny Sullivan, SearchEngineLand
Link Building Expert Eric WardExpert Link building services from link building expert Eric Ward
EricWard.com - Content Promotion and Natural Linking Strategies
Established in 1994, I create content marketing, promotion, publicity and linking strategies. I also offer consulting, training, linking analysis and evaluation, linking blueprints, and outreach services. I publish a content strategies newsletter, and curate a web content promotion reading room with hundreds of my columns, videos, and presentations.

Big thanks to @ericward for helping us develop a winning outreach/SEO strategy. We bounced back from near-bankruptcy
- Vladimir Gendelman (@vgendelman)

SEO and Link Building for Nonprofits

Conference - Nonprofits Online '98:
Working the Web, Transforming the Sector

Marriott Crystal Gateway Arlington, Va.,  January 30, 1998

(I created this session/page below for a conference that took place in January
of 1998, so expect links on it to have changed or be unreachable)

Hawking Your Message in the Virtual Marketplace:
Using the Web as a Marketing Tool
This presentation can be found at http://www.ericward.com/speaking/npodc/private.html

Session created and presented by Eric Ward - EricWard.com
Content Publicity & Link Building Strategies since 1994

During this presentation, we will cover the following topics...

-  Holistic Link Building and Site Promotion - finding the right resources to publicize/increase 
   awareness of your Web site content

-  Appropriate methods for leveraging the search engines today

-  Link building for Non profits : special opportunities exist just for you

-  Press-seeking for Web site launches & events

-  Third parties & automated submission engines - help or hurt?

-  Maintaining your online presence over time - see beyond the URL

Prep Work: Getting ready for site promotion

Whether you are link building for your own site or for multiple sites for your clients, you will want to create a text file that contains your key Web site information. This file can be created in any Word processor or other program that allows you to easily cut-and-paste into submission forms. Some submission software and services will store this information for you. More on that later.

    1). Company Name
    2). Company Address
    3). Company Phone / Fax
    4). Title of your Web site
    5). URL of your Web site's homepage, and the URLs for the key sub pages as well
    6). Contact Person Name
    7). E-mail Addrsss for that person
    8). PHONE #
    9). Keywords for your Web site - discuss...
    10). Category headings for your site
    11). 15, 25, 50, and 70 WORD description of your Web site
    12). A list of the special technical features (Java, Shockwave, VRML), with URLs
    13). News Release for sending to the Internet Media folks
Once we have this file ready, we can begin some URL submissions,
and we have our first major decision to make:
    Q?...For the search engines and directory submissions, do we...

    1). Do it yourself, manually, one submission at a time
    2). Do it yourself, using an autosubmission tool
    3). Outsource the task to a third party who uses an autosubmission tool
    4). Outsource the task to a third party who will do it manually

    A: #1     For now, let's go on the assumption that we are going the
                  do-it-yourself route.


    My experience has been that submissions to hundreds of untargeted
    general directories and search engines *DOES NOT* automatically
    result in regular high traffic at your site, and there is no correlation
    between numbers of search engines submitted to and traffic generated.

    What the heck does that mean in human terms?

    More submissions is not automatically better.

    Since a good portion your site's traffic will come from the biggest 10-15 general search
    engines and directories, you should be sure to submit your URL to them, and then get
    more focused and topic specific, submitting to resources that make sense for your site only.

    Finding Link Building Resources To Promote Your Site, Online and Offline

    Remember that your Web site's homepage is not the only page you have to promote, and
    is not the only page othewrs can link to. There may well be features within your site that also
    offer opportunities for promotion and links. The classic example is the mailing list. More later.
    Online promotion outlets for the overall site should include...



    Announce Sites -

           High end example:Netscape's What's New - http://guide.netscape.com/guide/whats_new.html

           Other examples: What's New Too , WhatsNew.Com
           To find others, look at Yahoo's list of announcement sites & services


    Search Engines -

           "The Big Seven" Infoseek, AltaVista, Lycos , Webcrawler, Excite, HotBot, OpenText
           Others: PlanetSearch , NorthernLight , Anzers(AU/US)

           To find others, look at Yahoo list of Search Engines

    Directories -

           Examples include: Yahoo, Magellan, MiningCo, Encyclopedia Brittanica Online

           To find others, start at Yahoo's Directory List.
    (Note: Over time my hunch is that there will be hundreds of attempts made to create web
    directories, but the best ones will always be those that are highly focused on a specific
    topic and created by a person/organization that knows that topic best)

    Web-Zines -

           Examples include: WebVantage, Netsurfer Digest
           To find others, start at a good Web-Zine directory like The ZineRack (http://www.zinerack.com) and do a search



    E-Zines/E-newsletters -

           Examples include: Cowles Media Central Digest
           To find others, start at John Labovitz's E-ZINE-LIST ( http://www.meer.net/~johnl/e-zine-list/ )



    Mailing Lists / Newsletters -
           Examples include: Net-Happenings,

           To find others, start at either of the below, each of which has thousands by subject

          PAML-- P-ublically A-ccessable M-ailing L-ists http://www.neosoft.com/internet/paml/
          The Liszt -- http://www.liszt.com/
          Yahoo Newsletter Section -- http://www.yahoo.com/Computers_and_Internet/Internet/Newsletters/

    Special Selection Sites -
           Examples include: Cool Site Of The Day, WebScout

           There are literally hundreds of "site of the day" awards sites, and

           they vary tremendously in their value. To find others, start at (you guessed it)
           http://www.yahoo.com/Computers_and_Internet/Internet/World_Wide_W eb/

          Best_of_the_Web/Sites_of_the___/     |     A service not worth the money? (x)

    Web News Services -
           Examples include: WIRED News, InternetNews.com, Newslinx, Internet-Watch

    USENET Newsgroups -
          A dying resource? Migrating to moderated mailing lists

    Newsgroups often have just the niche you'd like to reach, however not all accept blatant
    commercial posts. Also, the specific groups available will vary by service provider.
    The best way to approach them? Begin by reading the newsgroup charters, and
    by actually participating...
    Usenet Charters- http://www.lib.ox.ac.uk/internet/news/faq/by_group.index.html

    OFF-LINE Awareness Building -

    Off-line isn't always offline. Print publications now typically have an
    online counterpart, with different or more frequently updated content

       Print Magazines focusing on the Internet - Internet WORLD, Web Magazine
       Books & Book/CD Rom combo's - Rough Guides To The Internet
       Other Guides, Encyclopedias, etc. - Yahoo Unplugged

       Do newspapers, TV and radio stations really care?

    Next, and just as important as ALL of the above categories are...

    Subject specific link building
      What is the subject of your Web site? The chances are very good there are specialized directories and other net-based resources that someone or some group has created just to help people locate sites in that subject area.

      An example for non-profit groups is GuideStar

      An excellent place to look for others is DirectoryGuide which lists about 400 directories and search engines in 15 categories

Appropriate methods for leveraging the search engines today...
    The secret battle for number 1...

    Every search engine has its own quirks and ranks search results differently.
    The key point is that a search engine visits your site and indexes its content,
    based on a criteria  that is a little different for each search engine.

    The primary areas they look at are:
    - Title tag
    - Meta Keyword Tags
    - First paragraph of text
    - Total word occurences

    The absolute best possible tutorial on how the search engines work
    is produced by Danny Sullivan, and is called SearchEngineLand

    Beyond that, the best way to learn about these things is at the
    actual search engines specification/help pages:

    AltaVista [ http://www.altavista.digital.com/av/content/addurl.htmhelp ]
    Excite -     [ http://www.excite.com/Info/listing.html ]
    HotBot -   [ http://www.hotbot.com/addurl.html ]
                       Scoring explanation - [ http://help.hotbot.com/faq/score.html ]
    Infoseek   Ranking & Submission Help - [ http://www.infoseek.com/Help?sv=IS&lk=noframes&pg=meta_tag.html ]
    Lycos -     [ http://www.lycos.com/help.html ]
    WebCrawler - FAQ page [ http://www.webcrawler.com/WebCrawler/Help/FAQ.html ]
    OpenText - FAQ page [ http://index.opentext.net/main/faq.html ]

    My rule:Study, Adjust, Submit. It's Miller Time... A little present just for NPO folks...

    Ethical and Unethical Search Engine Strategies

    Keyword Stacking, Spamdexing, Fontmatching, Title Packing,
    Keyword Gateways, Page Replication, Metajacking

    How a search engine can become your worst enemy:
    Infoseek and the 7, 3 word limit

    Special opportunities exist just for non-profits

    1). Many Web sites have an inventory of banner ads they donate to
         non-profit organizations

         The SwitchBoard

    2). If you don't have any banner ads, some companies will make them
          for you for free.

         LinkMedia list

    3). Some banner exchange services donate space to non-profit organizations


    4). Some online companies have free programs that generate donations
          to non-profit groups


    5). Spree.com helps non-profit organizations build e-commerce enabled stores
          for free, and split the proceeds with you.

    Press-Seeking For A Web Launch Or Web-Based Event

    A whole new opportunity, and paradigm

    A new genre of media and editorial publications & contacts

    Standard services like PRNewswire must be augmented to reach the right online media contacts

    Make sure you find the right editors for your your subject

    Subtleties of the Email News-release

    Understand the differences between the many Email news-release services -

    For Web site launches, events, and Web products, a service like URLwire

    Using Automatic & Commercial Services For URL Submissions

    A number of services exist, both free and fee-based, that can submit your site
    to many Search Engines at once.

    There is a crucial difference that needs to be understood

    Automatic- done by a machine, software, and scripts
    Individual- submissions performed by a human. Both have pros and cons.

    2 key points to remember about such automated services: 

    1). You are using the auto-submitter's submission form, not the actual search engine's form. This means that you are depending on whoever created the automatic submitter to create a perfect "mirror image" of the "real" submission form for every search engine. My experience has proven to me that they fail more often than they work. 

    2). They completely miss most powerful outlets that you need to be reaching, because they only submit to the the most basic and "automate-able" outlets. They totally miss the "people" outlets. 

    After 4 years of experience making submissions individually, and hearing the horror stories from clients who tried to use an automated tool and had terrible results, I do not recommend the use of "auto-submission" services.  If you do choose to use an automated tool, I feel that Scott Bannister's "Submit-It" (Web or New Desktop Software) will cause you the least pain and suffering.

    Note however, that these services themselves hedge and disclaim. 

          Submit-it disclaimer

    One last thought on the human factor and missed opportunites

    Some personal observations and recommendations for maintaining your presence over time...

      Search engines and directories represent just one part of the awareness-building process. Search engines and directories are a good starting point, but you are missing an enormous number of other resources if they are all you submit to. What I recommend you do is accept that YOU must WORK at it regularly, even if you do outsource parts of the process to a third party service. 
    Holistic Promotion:

    About outsourcing...

    Outsourcing Link Building or other awareness-building activities to a third party makes sense if you have few staff and if your time is at a premium. 

    ***  If you do outsource, never select a service based only on the number of submissions they make for you, because numbers are meaningless. Why? Because not all submission sites are equal in their value, and some submission sites aren't legitimate. They are "fronts" for other businesses, and not really in the directory business at all. Anyone can submit your site to 500 of them, but those 500 submissions might be totally worthless, too.

    To find some high quality, proven companies that specialize in awareness building for Web sites, use the following:

    Paid Promotion Resources

    When opting for a 3rd party submission service, the cost can vary wildly, depending on who's doing the submissions and how deeply they are customizing the campaign for your site.   A quality site launch submission campaign should cost about $1,500 or less for a one-time service. For ongoing services, prices are typically negotiable.

    Of Interest
    Ten Things to ask any Web Site Promotion Company Before Hiring Them http://www.netpost.com/tentoask.html
    LinkMoses: Writings on the art and insanity of Web site promotion