Linking Strategies

Q: "How can I get other websites to link to my eBay Store?"

A: According to Catherine Seda, Internet marketing expert and author of How to Win Sales & Influence Spiders (CatherineSeda.com), you can buy a link in a business directory, such as Yahoo!, for a couple of hundred dollars. If you belong to a business or trade association, your membership may include a free link from their website to yours. Seda suggests that you follow up with these associations to make sure you're getting that free link.

But by far the best links, according to Seda, are from websites and blogs that are relevant to the merchandise you're selling on eBay. For example, if you're selling antique mechanical banks from the 1800s, a link from the Mechanical Bank Collectors of America (MBCA) website is even more valuable than a link from a general antique website. Why? Well, there are two reasons. First, the MBCA's audience would be a better match for your business; they're more likely to buy from you. Second, link relevancy is key to getting higher free rankings in the search engines. In ethical search engine optimization (SEO), ten links from relevant sites are better than one hundred links from nonrelevant ones. So don't bother getting a link from your cousin Johnny's fishing site—it won't help you.

Seda advises that you join in the conversations on blogs that are relevant to your business on eBay. "When you post a comment on a blog," she reveals, "you'll get a link to your website URL, and search engines love that. Blogging is quick, easy and FREE."

Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Advertising

Q: "Are search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine advertising (SEA) the same thing?"

A: Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, they generally refer to two different things.

When you search for something on Google, Yahoo!, or any other popular search engine, the search listings that show up on your computer screen are called natural search results. Search engine optimization is the process of setting up your website, eBay Store, or other Web location in such a way as to increase the odds of appearing on the first or second page of the natural search results. Generally, search engine optimization involves selecting certain keywords that most accurately describe the merchandise you're selling and the contents of your

Web location and making sure those keywords appear prominently and repeatedly in those portions of your Web location that are visited regularly by search engine spiders such as Google's Googlebot.

When you search for something on Google, Yahoo!, or another search engine, in addition to the natural search results you will also see advertisements on the results page for businesses offering products or services for sale that relate to the object of your search. These are called pay-per-click ads or search engine ads. Search engine advertising is the process of creating advertisements for your business and asking the search engine to place that ad on the results page whenever someone searches for a certain keyword or combination of keywords. In return, if someone searches for something, sees your ad, and clicks on it (which directs them to your website or eBay Store), you agree to pay the search engine a certain amount of money in exchange for that click, whether or not the person searching actually buys something from your Web location. The more you agree to pay the search engine for each click to your website or eBay Store, the more likely it is that your ad will appear prominently in the search engine results for the keywords you have selected.

So, for example, let's say I create an ad on Yahoo! that I want to appear on the search engine results whenever someone searches for "small business attorney." If I agree to pay Yahoo! ten cents for every click on that ad, Yahoo! guarantees that my ad will appear on page 36 of the search results for "small business attorney." How many times, however, have you looked at page 36 of the results when you search for something online? My ad isn't likely to generate a lot of traffic for my website, is it? In order for Yahoo! to assure me that my ad will appear on page 1 of the search engine results for "small business attorney," I would currently have to pay something like $50 for each click on that ad.

Interestingly, Google's search engine system works a little differently. When you buy an ad using Google's search engine advertising program (called Google AdWords), your ad appears in the search engine results based not only on how much you agree to pay for each click, but on how closely your website, eBay Store, or other Web location relates to the keywords a person is searching for. Given the choice between a tightly targeted website that offers $5 a click and a totally irrelevant website that offers $25 a click, Google will often favor the former over the latter and put the former website's ad on page 1 of the search engine results, on the theory that it's better to get revenue from a few clicks at $5 each than to get no revenue from zero clicks at $25 each.

Search engine optimization and search engine advertising are as much art as they are science. To learn more about them, see some of the books and other resources mentioned in Appendix A of this book.

 
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