Entries Tagged 'SEO' ↓

Niche Site Step-By-Step 005: Backlinking Strategy

Backlinking is one of the most important things you can do in your SEO efforts.  There is so much information out there that it can be very confusing.  Before I started movingacrosscountry.org, I had very little experience with link building.  I had built large sites and optimized the pages for search engines, but I did do that much link building.

Why I didn’t do link building earlier

The reason I stayed clear of link building before this was I thought it was very time consuming.  I started on the web in the 90’s.  Back then you didn’t really need a lot of links to rank in the search engines.  When links began to be the defacto standard for rankings (of course there are many more factors, but links carry the most weight), I read some things about link building and did like what I would have to do, so I avoided it.  The general approach was to do two different techniques; link exchange and create content that people will link to because it is good.

Link exchanging did not appeal to me.  I didn’t want to sit around and compile a list of sites I could potentially get a link from, email the owner, and then hope for a link.  So, I just created a lot of content and hoped that people would link to it and search engines would rank it.

Enter Web 2.0 and Article directories

For some reason I missed the early part of the Web 2.0 and article marketing revolution.  I think I had my head down in programming so much, that it passed me by.  When I finally did get a hold of it, I knew I had to implement a strategy that used both of them.  Movingacrosscountry.org is the first site I build that I specifically built a backlinking campaign for, and I am very happy with the results.  I realized that I could spend some time targeting specific sites with specific keywords and have an effect on how I rank in the search engines.

Commenting first

Although I was reading all kinds of information on building backlinks with Web 2.0 and article sites, I also had run into a technique that used blog commenting to build good links for ranking.  Much of the consensus across the web is that blog commenting is not that good for improving search engine rankings.  This is due to the fact that most sites only let you link to your site from the name part of the comment, you have to use your name and not a keyword, and the link is a “nofollow” link.  “Nofollow” tells search engines not to pass any trust on to the link from the site it is on; this basically makes the link have no effect on search engine rankings.  I believe it has some effect, just not as much as a link that doesn’t have “nofollow”, also know as “dofollow.”

Since commenting didn’t seem to have that much value, I was going to stay away from it.  That is until I heard about CommentLuv blogs.  CommentLuv blogs use a plugin that gives a link back to the commenter’s site.  The link is to the last post the commenter has made on their own blog.  It uses the rss feed to get this data.  The good thing is some of the blogs that use the CommentLuv plugin have the links set to be “dofollow.”  This passes ranking to the commenter’s site, also know as “link juice.”  Most of the comments are moderated by the site owner’s, but if you make good comments they will be approved.  I found this method of blog commenting to be very effective in ranking my site in Google, Bing, and Yahoo.  I even attained some page one rankings for some medium competition keywords using only this technique.  It is the technique is use to start all of my new site’s link building campaigns.

How I found sites to comment on

It was very easy to identify sites to comment on.  I did the following search on Google, Commentluv “my search term” -enabled.  This search returned the most relevant blogs that were using the CommentLuv plugin and were related to my search term.  I installed the SeoMoz toolbar in firefox to see what kind of authority each site had.  In addition, I used the NoDoFollow plugin in firefox.  It highlights all of the links on a page so you can see which ones are nofollow and dofollow.

My Web 2.0 and article marketing strategy

I built link wheels for all of the medium to high competition keywords I wanted to rank for.  For the less competitive keywords, I felt the blog comments were enough.  I wrote original articles and place them on ezinearticles.com, goarticles.com, wordpress.com and tumblr.com.  Then I spun the articles using an article spinner; you can use the Best Spinner to spin articles. The key to making good spun versions of your article is to use good synonyms and then proofread the resulting spun versions before you publish them.

After spinning the articles, I put them on various other web 2.0 sites and article marketing sites.  Some of the links on these placements pointed directly to my site and others pointed to the first tier of links that were pointing at the main site.

Outsourcing link building

After I had rank my initial set of content using the first set of keywords, I created more content and set out to rank it.  For this content I decided to try outsourcing the link building.  I went on Fiverr.com and found different people to build link wheels for me for $5 each.  This seemed like a great opportunity because the link wheel construction is very time consuming.

The problems with my initial try at outsourcing the link building is I didn’t know who to use and it is very tempting to build links fast.  When you search on Fiverr.com you will find many people offering to build links using many different techniques.  I do not recommend using the spammy blog commenting method of blasting 100’s or 1000’s of comments to blogs.  As a matter of fact, I don’t recommend any kind of mass submission other than article directories and social bookmarking sites.  Both of these are good ways to syndicate your content.

I purchased several different link wheels and allowed the seller to provide the content.  The content that was provided was all well spun articles.  Some of the seller’s plans had an option to submit your own spun articles to use.  I didn’t use my own articles.

Traffic Nose Dive

My traffic continued to grow while I was having the campaigns done through Fiverr.com.  The keywords  that I desired to rank for with the Fiverr link wheels were medium to high competition.  I did see a move in my search engine rankings for those keywords, but none of them made it past page three of Google.  The link wheels from Fiverr did not increase my traffic.

About two months after doing the link wheels with Fiverr, Google made a major algorithm change and my traffic got cut by two-thirds.  I believe the link building I did on Fiverr was the cause of this drop.  I don’t necessarily believe it was all of the link wheels because they were build by different sellers using different sites and techniques.  Some of the sellers used poorer quality sites and templates to distribute the content.  They basically are using the same template over and over, such as, SenukeX.  I would not recommend using these kinds of templates.

What I learned

Link wheels are effective, but need to be from quality sites.  Hand building, or simulating hand building is better than fast automation.  Using template based link wheels leaves a footprint that search engines don’t like and will find.

Blog commenting using CommentLuv is one of my favorite ways to build links.  I get to interact with bloggers and their readers, provide good insight, and I get links back to my site.  It also allows me to put links on pages that are already indexed in the search engines and that the blog owner is actively promoting.  I use this method to start almost all of my link building.  I also use this method as my on going maintenance link building to grow my rankings.

I’d like to know what you think of backlinking strategy I use; comment below.

Also, share this post with anyone you think would be interested.  There are share buttons on the side of the post.

Link Wheels: What Are They And Are They Still Effective

I see a lot of people in forums talking about link wheels.  Some people say they are good, others say they are not, and others are really confused as to what they are and how they should be used. I will explain everything you need to know about a link wheel.  When you finish this article, you will love link wheels even if you hate them right now.

A link wheel is very simple to understand.  You link sites to your main site.  Some of those sites also link to each other, but your site never links to them and generally no two sites link directly to each other.  This is a single tier link wheel.  If you then link sites to the first set of sites that are linking to you, you have a two tier link wheel.  These second tier sites can link to each other if you like, just remember that part of the trust will be passed to whatever a link is linking to.

Most developers use web 2.0 sites and article directories to build a link wheel.  Some of the best web 2.0 sites to use are wordpress.com, tumblr.com, squidoo.com, wix.com and other high trusted sites.  Some of the best article directories are ezinearticles.com, goarticles.com, amazines.com, and other top article directories.

What to do with the link wheel

I think this is where many people get confused.  They understand the basic concept, but don’t know where to apply it.  I was the same way when I first came into contact with the link wheel strategy.  The link wheel is designed to build authority around your site.  First, you should use sites that have high trust rank to build your link wheel.  This is because these sites have the ability to rank for keywords easier than most sites.

If you target your keywords on the first tier of the link wheel and then point all of those sites to your site, you are effectively surrounding yourself with that keyword.  Search engines see this and follow it, believing your page is about what all of these pages that are pointing into it are about.  Additionally, by placing your keywords as the anchor text for the link, the websites further believes that your page is about whatever keywords you have targeted.  When the search engine gets to your page and sees that your page is indeed about the topic of your keywords, it indexes with your keywords.  Then, if the first tier sites also have high trusted sites linking to the pages that are linking to you and those pages are about your keyword, more trust is passed to the pages linking to your page and then, subsequently, passed to you.

A basic concept we have to understand is, high trusted links carry more weight than lower trusted links, especially when the linking pages are themselves trusted for the keywords you are targeting.  What this means is less links are needed if high trust sites link to your site and then high trust rank sites link to the sites linking to you.  Some people feel that it is not necessary to link some of the first tier sites to each other, or for that matter, second tier sites to each other.  I do not know if it is necessary.  I have seen people doing well with both, including myself.

The final step is to link some sites to the second tier; creating a third tier.  Many people like to blast the second tier sites with many links from lower trusted sites, but I believe you can follow the same process as you have with the first two tiers and link to the second tier with other high page rank sites.  The key is to put up good content on all of the sites.  If you like to spin articles, make sure they are still good after you spin them.

If you only build one tier and do not link anything to that tier, the results will not be as good as building a second tier and linking to the first tier.  The same is true if you do not build the third tier and link to the second tier.

Link wheels are good for your business.  They are a form of advertising.  They allow you to associate your brand, and specifically, your optimized page, with high trust sites.

SEO: Can Search Engine Optimization Get Your Site To The Top of Google

This post was sparked by a comment I read on a forum.  In the post, the lady that made the post said, “Don’t hire an SEO firm if they say they can get you to the first page of Google.”  So, the question is can SEO, whether it is you or an SEO company doing it, get you to the first page of Google?

I think the question is better asked this way, “How much SEO is needed to get you to the first page of Google for the term you are targeting and is it worth it?”  Every search done on Google has websites show up in the first 10 results; the first page.  It is a misnomer to think that all searches are dominated by a few websites.  I have 1000’s of keywords that rank on the first page of Google.  Some of them I didn’t even have to do anything to except put the page up.

The answer to the first question is yes, seo can get you to the first page of Google.  The second question is the harder one to answer and is the one we must understand whether we are doing our own SEO or paying someone to do it for us.  Either way, it can make or break us in the search engines.

You first have to decide if a particular keyword phrase has any value at all.  This is done through keyword research.  I will not go into that aspect of this discussion in this post, but I will instead focus on the competitive analysis of the phrase and the effort it would take to rank for that phrase.  Then I will compare that to the amount of benefit to determine if the keyword phrase is one that should be targeted.

I am going to use two keyword phrases to illustrate a process that I use to figure out if a keyword phrase is one that I can rank for and how much work it will take.  The two phrases are “wireless alarm system” and “apartment alarm system”.  You need to have the mozbar from seomoz.org installed to do this method.  It is a free addon for the firefox and chrome browsers.  You don’t need it installed to follow along with this post.  I will provide screenshots along the way.

keywords first page google

The Steps and Tools

The first thing that I do when I have identified a potential keyword to target is to do a search in Google without being logged into Google.  The mozbar places stats under each of the results returned by Google.  I first quickly glance to see the domain authority (DA) of each of the results.  If they are all very low, under 30, I already know that I have a very good chance of ranking, but I still am not sure of the effort.  If they are all 60 or higher, my initial feelings will be that it could be a little tough to rank.  From this data, so far, we cannot really determine anything.  Don’t let these initial number scare you or make you over zealous.

The next thing I look at is the page authority of each of the results.  This number is what the moz algorithm has assigned as the value, on a scale of 0 – 100, of the the page itself.  You also will see how many links are linking to each of the pages next to the PA score.  The number of links does not mean that there are that many different websites linking into the page.  It is possible that the website in which the page resides is linking to itself from many internal links.  It also is possible that a few external websites are linking from many of their own pages.

It is best to click on a link in the search results and visit the page.  Once you are on the page, you can click on the Use moz tools icon on the moz toolbar (it is the little wrench), and then navigate down to Links>SEOmoz Link Analysis.  This will show you the top pages linking into the page you are researching.  The link anchor text, page authority, and domain authority of the site linking in is very important here.  If the page has the exact match phrase linking in and the page authority and domain authority are good, then they are getting a fair amount of juice for the key phrase.  The more they have linked in with the this right formula, the better it is for them that they will either maintain their position or move up in the rankings.

You want to be able to match their efforts or do better than them if you are going to compete.  Obviously, you are looking for words that have the least amount of stuff working for your competitors that you can target.  If every result on the Google search page has a high domain authority, a medium to high page authority, and have a bunch of links with the exact match, you know that it will take a lot of effort.

The other point that I look at, if I have decided to go further, is the age of the site and the age of the page.  You can find out when a domain was first registered by doing a whois lookup.  This will not tell you how long there has been a site on the domain, but will only tell you how long the site has been registered.  To get a feel for how old the site is, and more importantly, how old the page is, I look at the page in archive.org.

Go back up to the mozbar and click on the Use moz tools icon.  Navigate to Domain Tools>archive.org.  This will take you to the first chronilogical entry that archive.org has for that page.  If there is no entry, the next best thing is to see what it has for the site you are researching.  You can use this data to compare the dates when each of the pages were put up.

This is important in your analysis because as you are looking at the data on the search results, you may think that a page lower in the search results should beat a page that is above it.  The age of the page is a determining factor in the search algorithm.  The lower page if young, and it has more going for it, will probably beat the higher, older page given more time.

The Process in Action

Let’s look at the first keyword phrase, wireless alarm systems.  The first thing I notice in this search is that all of the results are on domains with medium to high domain authority.  The second thing I notice is that all of the results have a greater than 50 page authority with all of them except for one, which is Amazon.com, having many links.  This tells me that it would be a lot of work and time to rank for wireless alarm system.  There are many other factors that are unique to each business that would determine if you would want to go after this phrase, but it is not one anyone could bank on for the foreseeable future.  It is not a phrase that I would go after.

wireless alarm system first page google

The second phrase, apartment alarm system, is a little more interesting.  Looking at the search results we can see that seven of the ten results have a domain authority of less than 50.  We can also see that four of them have a low page authority and low domain authority.  These are the ones that interest us.  This tells us that sites that are not that significant can rank for the key phrase, apartment alarm system.

For me, most of the time, this would be enough to say that I could rank for this phrase with a little bit of work.  But there is something else that is interesting; that can help us to understand how Google ranks sites.  At the time of this writing, as you can see in the screenshot, lasershielddirect.com outranks apartmentalarmsystems.net and both of them outrank aparmentalarmsystem.net (doesn’t have the “s” on system), even though it has a higher domain and page authority.

apartment alarm system first page google

If we go to archive.org, we can see that lasershielddirect.com is much older than both of the other sites, but its page about apartment alarm systems is only a few months older than the page from apartmentalarmsystems.net and the page from apartmentalarmsystem.net is the oldest by several months.  This, coupled with the link data, can give us some good insight into how Google ranks.

The page from lasershielddirect.com has one high domain authority site linking into it with the exact match phrase.  It also has overall site age from 2008 going for it.  The site, apartmentalarmsystems.com has several domains linking in using the exact match keyword phrase.  It also has a medium domain authority site pointing to it with the exact match name, apartmentalarmsystem.net.  Yes, that is correct, the site below the other two is pointing to it.  I could not verify if they were owned by the same person, but I suspect they are.  Also, apartmentalarmsystem.net seems to not have any important domains pointing to it with the keyword phrase.

My prediction, if everything stays the same, is that aparmentalarmsystems.net will out rank lasershielddirect.com in the near future.  I also believe that there is plenty of room to compete for a spot on the first page of Google for this keyword phrase without a lot of effort, and with 210 searches being done every month in the US, it is a phrase that I would target if I were in the alarm system niche.  Also, the same phrase with an “s” added to system, apartment alarm systems, has a little more competition, but would not be too difficult to rank for.