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SEO Beyond ArtFire Posted On: 04/06/2011 Last Updated: 04/06/2011


 This guide is for Off-Site SEO, or actions taken on other websites to improve your SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for your ArtFire products or studio. If you are unfamiliar with SEO or want to learn more about On-Site SEO please refer to our Introductionto SEO and How to Improve Your SEO on ArtFire guides.


Off-Site SEO


Let's start with a brief refresher on how search engines rank web pages. Search engines use hundreds of factors (which they normally don't tell anyone) to determine what pages to return for specific user search requests. The two categories are:

On-Site Factors- The relevancy that a web page has to a specific user search

Off-Site Factors - The number of outside web pages linking to a site, essentially how many "votes" are cast for a particular site


That is really too basic of a definition, but let's work from there. Search engines consider a link to an outside page as an important factor for how well a page ranks in a search. If hundreds or thousands (even millions) of different web sites link to a particular page, a search engine will likely view that page as a good resource. The problem with being too general in this case is that not every link is actually worth the same. There are a lot of factors that go into determining how "valuable" a link is which include:

- How trusted the source is Back in the early days search engines could be fooled by "link farms" or sites that existed only to link out to other sites, usually for a fee. Search engines realized that these links were not genuine votes for another site's quality and, more importantly, results that were being unfairly manipulated did not give their search users better information. Nowadays, search engines are much better at weeding out and devaluing links achieved in these ways so there is little benefit to the practice.

- How relevant pages are to each other, content-wise Getting a link from a page that has nothing to do with your own site isn't nearly as beneficial as getting a link from a related page. As an example, if you are a yarn spinner and you get a link from a knitting site that uses you as a resource to find great handmade yarn, that's a good link. On the other hand, if you're a yarn spinner and you get a link from a website that is only concerned with monster truck videos, that's not as helpful of a link.


- How many links are on the page If you get a link from a web page that has 100 links on it, your link will be approximately 1/100th as valuable as a link on the same page if your link was the only one. There are other factors that play into how valuable a link is on a page with multiple links but for the most part if the page is relevant and you have a link on that page, there is some benefit being passed.



Anchor Text Links

This will probably be the most beneficial technique for most ArtFire users with concern to their SEO on ArtFire. When you link out to a web site, you often have the option to either use the sites URL (i.e. http://artfire.com) or you can hyperlink words to link out to a web page (i.e., visit ArtFire!). When you hyper link words when you are writing content, the words that are linked are called "anchor text" or the text that the user can click on to visit the linked to page.

From an SEO standpoint, anchor text can be a very powerful way to indicate to search engines what keywords are important and relevant for a certain site. As an example of where you can use anchor text links, if you have both an ArtFire studio and an off-site blog that you manage, when you link to an item in your studio you should use an anchor text link that has the keyword you are optimizing for as part of the link.

Example:

You have a jewelry shop on ArtFire and a blog about your artisan pieces. If you are making a  post where you want to link to your new handmade charm bracelet, there is no point saying "check out my new handmade charm bracelet at http://artfire.com/modules.php?name=..........." you should take the opportunity to make "handmade charm  bracelet" a hyperlink and use that to link to your item page instead.

Using your keywords as the anchor text for links to your item pages will increase those items SERPs for those keyword searches as the search engines will think of your item page as being more relevant because of the back links that use those keywords as anchor text.


How to Make an Anchor Text Link

There are several ways to make an anchor text link. Depending on where you are posting content, it can be as easy as highlighting the words you want to hyperlink, pressing the "hyperlink" button and copy and pasting the full web URL into the box that appears. If that user friendly option isn't available, you can use the html tag for creating an anchor text link.


Building your Presence Online

Beyond anchor text links, there are other ways you can improve your overall presence online and therefore increase traffic to your studios and items. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

- Make use of your Market Hub! Now that you've got some SEO knowledge you should begin to appreciate the fact that your market hub is a great connection to your other online profiles. When you have those links active, the Google spider can find  you on your blog, social networking profiles, and other selling venues, which helps you build your own brand online.

- Think about where you can have a link to your ArtFire studio. We know that many of our members participate in forums outside of the ArtFire community, which is great! Every forum has different rules but many allow you to have a custom signature that you can used to link back to your ArtFire studio. This is a great way to make it easy for your friends online to find your studio, and links to your studio will increase your SEO for your personal brand.


- Fill out your Profile pages. Wherever you are an active member of a social community online, try to find a place on your profile page that you can link to your ArtFire studio from. Links are important, you should take every opportunity that you already have to link to your studio to increase your own brand awareness.

Link Building


Once you have used the assets already available to you, if your still craving more SEO work, you can start to think about actively "link building" for your studio. Link building is the term SEO uses to refer to link acquisition efforts. When a website (or your item pages or studio) is linked to, the search engines begin to see that site as a more reliable and valuable resource which can increase rankings overall. Here are a few basic efforts you could pursue:

Link Requests - If you are a webmaster or own your own blog you might have gotten these before. Link requests are personal emails made to owners of learn blogs or websites requesting they add a link to you. Most of these sites will expect you to link to them in return or will only post a link in the form of advertisement for a fee. However, it never hurts to try!  To create a good link request, make sure you personalize the message (if it looks like a form it will be ignored), focus on why your link would be a valuable resource to the webmasters community/readers, and be polite in your emails. The truth about link requests is that a 5% return (for every 100 good requests you send out you get 5 links) is the norm for such requests. This method can be tedious but very fruitful if done well.

Directory Submissions - In the SEO world, there are a lot of people trying to sell you "1000 Directory Submissions for $19.95." The truth is that those links would be of such poor quality that you are literally throwing money away. Many "general" directories that are not very exclusive and have been viewed by search engines as link farms and penalized so that they offer little to no link value. The key is to find relevant, on topic directories for your studio to submit to. There are several craft themed directories that would be a good place to start, so do some research your particular medium to find out where you’d bets fit before submitting.

Blog Commenting - If you are a reader and active participant in blogs, you have probably already seen the "name, email, and URL" that most blogs let you enter when commenting on a post. When you are going to comment on a blog post, take that opportunity to link to your ArtFire studio.


It's All About You and Your Brand

Off-site SEO will allow you to link your different online profiles together so that you can build your own personal brand. We want you to own your brand, these handmade goods aren't made by a corporation or by ArtFire, they're made by you and we want anybody searching for you or your products to find exactly what their looking for.