The when, how and why of using transparent gif graphics to cross link pages
Posted Thursday, December 2, 2004
Recently I wrote an article on how your web site can generate over 25 times more buying customers in less than a year. There seemed to be some confusion on how a transparent gif graphic could be used to cross link pages. Many of you asked for samples or downloads to look at. Plus how big the gif should be and how many of them should be used, so I'll try to explain it in detail here.
Why Cross Linking Is Important
What is on your web site is only part of the puzzle when it comes to good search engine positioning. Search engines are now employing various "off page" criteria. You've probably heard terms like "link popularity, link density, link relevancy". They all have slightly different meanings and but what it boils down to is that the links leading to and from your web site, are being analyzed, assessed, evaluated and then ranked, to determine where your site should come up in search results.
There is also one major search engine company - that also owns two other large engines - that has a real nasty habit of binging and purging out pages. One month you'll have 100 pages in the indexes, and the next month it purges all but three or four of your web pages. Now you either have to scramble and resubmit the indexed pages with links to all your other pages.
Or if you used the cross linking technique, every single page has links to all you other pages. So even if only one page remains in the index, when the spider comes crawling to update, all your other pages will be found again, automatically.
If you want to beat the linking criteria of many the search engines and stop the binging and purging of your pages, then it's more important than ever, to get your web sites cross linked together. Simply put, cross linking means to link all your sites and pages together using visible text links or invisible pixel links.
Why Use Invisible Pixels
A regular web site might have 10 links to 10 internal pages and a "links" page that leads to some other sites. But what if, you've got say, 10 other web sites and want to link to them all. Plus you have over 100 doorway or hook pages, and you want to link to all of them too. Well, that would create a big mess of visible links, hundreds of links that would do nothing but confuse your visitors.... enter the invisible pixel technique.
How Big Is A Pixel
An invisible pixel is a transparent gif graphic, one square pixel in size. Depending on the dots per inch or dpi of your monitor, that may be 1/72 or 1/80 or even 1/96 of an inch. So you could have links to 70 pages and it would occupy an area on your monitor screen less than 1 inch wide by 1/72 of an inch high. If you put this string of pixels at the bottom of your web page, after a couple of carriage returns, the likelihood of it being discovered or clicked on by anyone is minimal. The search engines will find it though, and many of them have spiders or crawlers that will follow the links.
How Many Do You Need
Place as many gifs on your pages as you require. I have provided a sample invisible pixel for your own use, you can find it here....
I put the graphic (called follow.gif) in a directory, so you can save the image to your hard drive. Note that if you click on it, your browser will display nothing.... because it's invisible. I also made this sample 10 pixels wide so it's a little easier to grab and work with. You may want to reduce its width, once you paste it into your html page.
You can copy and paste the graphic as many times as you need, each time making the gif link to a different web page. Some of my customers just make a stock footer that goes on the bottom of every single web page they create. This footer contains contact info, navigation panel, copyright info and you guessed it, hundreds of invisible pixel links. You can take a look at one such page here:
At the bottom of the page there are around fifty or so links, can you see them? The search engine can. To see the invisible links, just "View Source" in your browser window, or save the page to your hard drive and open it up with an html editor. Note that I have links leading to home pages, internal pages and hook (doorway) pages.
The Technical Stuff
Here is the actual html code that goes into making an invisible pixel. First of all, there are two parts to a hypertext link in html code. The first part is the url or destination of the link that search engines follow. The second is the part that people see on the web page as the familiar blue underlined text. This is the blue text that people will see.
We can do the same thing with a picture or graphic. The first part contains the destination.... where I want the search engine to go. The second part calls up a gif graphic called "follow.gif", that is 1 pixel by 1 pixel in size.
What Makes It Invisible
There are two things we need to do, to make the graphic invisible. First off we need to use image editing software to make the gif transparent. In other words, it takes on the same color as the background color of the web page, which makes it appear invisible. The good news is, I've already done this part for you with the sample you can download. The second part is to make sure the BORDER="0" in the html code. That will prevent a blue border or box from being drawn around your invisible pixels.
I wrote about this technique in my book "Nothing But 'Net" in the section entitled "How to ensure a search engine can spider your pages." Its an old tactic that I've used for years. Word got out about cross linking and although this tactic is well publicized, few people have used it, not realizing how powerful and effective it is.
Cross link all of your home pages, internal pages, and hook pages to each other. When the search engine comes to catalog your page it finds links to all your other pages. If the engine is a spider it will crawl and add your other pages to its index. Being cross linked gives your pages a greater chance of being cataloged and having your pages "stick" in the index. Some search engines even prefer this method of "finding" your pages rather than having you announce them to their submission areas.
Hope this clears up the mystery surrounding cross linking and the invisible pixels.
About the Author
Author, "Nothing But 'Net"
How I generated $750,000 in internet revenues with no advertising costs.