These days, because of all Google's recent algorithm changes, the focus is on putting really good quality content on your site, connecting with other bloggers and webmasters in your niche and getting one way voluntary backlinks coming in organically. However, the old easy methods of backlink building like free classified ad submission shouldn't be forgotten. They can still help lift your search engine rankings a little. This was confirmed to me recently. I have a new site called Perth Business Help and I wanted to promote the page on which I list details of my social media lessons.
I wasn't really thinking about SEO. I just thought that the free classifieds might be a way to get some leads. So I posted ads to close to twenty of them
. Some did include a clickable backlink. However most, if not all, of these were nofollow. I didn't do any other link building at all aside from a couple of blog comments (which were nofollow). Anyway, a week or so after placing the ads I did a search of the keyword phrase I was targeting in them to see how the ads fared. I was surprised to see the web page itself showing up on the bottom of page one for it.I did link back to the main URL in a few of those classified ads as well. And that has clearly risen in the rankings for searches for the three words in the domain. It was nowhere to be seen a week ago. Now it appears on page 2.
Also, a page I've built no backlinks for at all has moved up the rankings for another local search
.I have to conclude that this is pretty much entirely to the free classified ad posting, since I've done almost no other backlink building. And the site is still pretty new.As I mentioned, just one or two of the free classifieds sites I posted to gives dofollow links. Maybe this was all that was needed to confer the entire benefit that I've seen. But if not, it must mean that the other backlinks must have helped a little too. If so, this lends weight to the argument that nofollow links aren't entirely lacking in search engine benefit after all.
One consequence of the latest Google algorithm changes is the diminishing returns from article marketing. Google Panda hit a lot of the article directories, including some of the really big ones, very hard. Then came Google Penguin, which targeted unnatural link profiles with too much of the same anchor text (among other things). Such a mistake was very easy to make if you used article marketing heavily.
That said, I think it's still worth writing and submitting a few articles, particularly to quality directories. But you must make sure that they are really good, unique articles of a decent length (at least 500 words). Don't make them a rehash of other stuff you have submitted elsewhere.
And don't keep using the same or similar anchor text in your author bio-box links. Vary it, while ensuring that it still relates to your site and the article content. Also, avoid generic keyword anchor text that is reminiscent of spam-laden niches like "make money online".
Using your website title or brand keywords in the anchor text is fine. That's clearly not an attempt to manipulate the rankings. And it's a good idea to occasionally not use any anchor text at all.
And make sure that most, or all, of the links to your site aren't coming back from such articles. It's important to have a nice spread of different locations for them.
If you do these things you'll have a much more natural link profile. And that's very important for SEO these days.
Still on the subject of linkbait: I just had an experience that gave me a few ideas about how offline advertising of a URL can indirectly help a website's search engine rankings. See, I've been offering blogging and Twitter lessons to people in Perth. As well as advertising in local newspapers (still the most effective method, it seems -- so print is not dead yet!) I've been distributing little home made flyers throughout the suburbs of Perth. Now, yesterday I got a call from a woman who asked if I was the guy who was offering these lessons, and she told me that she'd read about them via the West Australian newspaper's "Inside Cover" section recently. (That's just an assortment of locally oriented observations, many of them quirky and humorous.) However there was no URL or phone number
mentioned. She had acquired my number after phoning that page's editor and asking if he knew it. It turned out that he'd received one of my little basic flyers in his letterbox. Being a bit of an old-school journalist who wasn't into
blogging, Twitter and all the rest he'd found it surprising that someone would offer to teach these skills. It was an illustration of how much times had changed, he wrote, remarking on how these flyers traditionally advertise such offline services as gardening, plumbing, and babysitting.Now he didn't mention the URL in the story, but he could have. (And I know for a fact that URLs are mentioned in print because I have had this happen as a result of flyer drops previously.) And if he had done so that would have helped a lot. That paper's circulation is huge, after all.
And even if it hadn't been listed in the online version of the paper (thereby functioning as a backlink) it would have increased the likelihood of others in Perth linking to it.In any case I think the main thing to remember is that he wrote the little snippet because he found the flyer so unusual. So, just as you should try and make your blog posts and articles stand out from the online crowd, do the same with your offline website advertising. If you can, try and make it funny or witty, or put some sort of an intriguing angle into it.If you do this you may well provoke a local blogger (or even mainstream journo) to write something about it. And while a backlink is not guaranteed, it's possible.You can certainly increase the chances that one is included by featuring it on your advertising material. And even one or two of these from well regarded websites strongly associated with your city could be gold for local SEO.
The more you get into blogging, the more you think about the likelihood that other bloggers will link to your posts. The kind of content that is most likely to get this reaction is called linkbait.
There are many different kinds of linkbait. But one of the most popular ones is to assemble a bunch of points (including relevant links to other sites) on a particular subject that many people will find useful.
This could be about anything of course. But the lists often relate to such things as the best ways to do something, things to avoid, etc.
Because this point by point structure is punchy, with lots of information, people do link to it quite often (as well as share it on social media -- another benefit).
While many bloggers swear by this approach, I think it has a couple of major drawbacks.
Firstly, the tight structure certainly makes a list post very easy to read. But it also means that visitors tend to scan through it very quickly, and pick out only the stuff that appeals. Then they leave.
So this content is attractive. But it's not really "sticky".
And because you are basically "rounding up" a series of points, you can't go into any great detail into any one of them. So, it's limited in that sense.
Then there's the list post's immense popularity in the blogosphere. So many blogs employ it repeatedly that they tend to end up looking much the same after a while. So if you repeat it often in your own blog you risk losing some of its uniqueness. And uniqueness is something you really want to nurture and develop. In the long run, it's always best to have a blog that stands out from the pack in look, feel and content.
For these reasons I think it's a good idea to write a few list posts from time to time as a means to get some more of those beneficial backlinks. I just wouldn't do too many of them.
While it was always a good idea for SEO to build authority in your niche, now it's more useful than ever. This is because Google is gradually decreasing the value of links you can build yourself, and making voluntary one way links from others comparatively more valuable than they were before. And if you are seen as an expert in your field then your website or blog is sure to get some of those links eventually.This idea of expertise and authority can apply to any field or business. Say you're a hairdresser in Adelaide, and you have a website for your salon. You may have added your URL to relevant directories, classifieds, etc. But then what? Well, you can definitely improve your SEO substantially by expounding your expertise in different ways online. Keeping your own blog (and writing guest posts for other blogs) is the obvious way to build your authority. This is not only because you can keep adding insightful, expert information to it; but also because if your blog is part of your main domain you increase the odds of getting links directly to it.While a blog is preferable, you can get a similar effect by building authority on Twitter. If you constantly link to interesting articles and blog posts (by yourself and others) as well as tweet quality tips and insights then you will definitely develop a reputation as someone who really knows her stuff. Links to the URL you include in your profile are sure to result after a while.Of course blogging and Twitter are mainly about words, so they're great for people who love to write
. But what if you're not this way inclined? There must be a lot of people in this boat; people who have much useful and detailed knowledge about a subject, skill, or profession, but just don't enjoy working for hours on a PC keyboard. If you are one of these people then YouTube could well be the go. There are countless people who have built substantial followings on that site simply by sitting in front of a video camera in their homes and telling -- or better still showing -- viewers how to do stuff. Deliver interesting, insightful and most of all useful tips, advice and observations in your videos and people will have no doubt that you really know your stuff. Some are sure to share it on social media. As long as you feature your URL in your visual offerings some sturdy dofollow backlinks will result eventually.
Since being on Twitter, I've noticed much tweeting and retweeting of blog posts featuring infographics. And they clearly do attract links, so using them is being seen by many as a good SEO tactic.The reasons people like them so much are obvious.
They make a page more visually interesting, as well as containing lots of useful information that can be easily and quickly processed by the visitor. I've never created any infographics myself, but it doesn't seem all that hard to do.
And you can find the raw data to inform and organize your images in many places on the web.Their use by bloggers and other web publishers could have peaked, however. When infographics are being used to explain why you should use them, it's clear that the method is on the verge of over-saturation!Also, while the backlinks that they generate do have definite SEO benefits these days, it looks like Google may well be discounting their value in the future.That said, there's nothing inherently wrong with them. I doubt they could do any SEO harm, and they certainly have a lot going for them in other areas. As yet, I haven't published any ones that I've found elsewhere on this site and probably never will. One reason for this is that I want to maintain the blog's look and feel. I'd prefer to keep it clean and basic in design and focus on the verbal content.Traditional blog posts are not nearly as eye catching as those containing infographics, of course. But you can still give them some visual impact by using bullet points, bold text and italics, etc. And of course you can describe all the same information contained in an infographic. Better still, you can simultaneously investigate and interpret the information in an insightful and comprehensive way. While people do tend to have much shorter attention spans these days a certain proportion of your visitors will appreciate this more old fashioned approach.
Nowadays, because of Google cracking down on unnatural link profiles, building links to your websites is a lot more risky than it used to be. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do some of it, though. A few articles here and there, for example, could still be helpful. You just have to make sure they're good quality, unique articles submitted to directories with decent page rank. And you should have lots of variety in your anchor text in your author bio-box links. Also, it's a good idea to just not use any anchor text at all occasionally. Now a lot of website owners pay SEO companies or individual freelancers to build such links to their sites. But doing this carries inherent risks.Firstly, they may be using spammy techniques such as article spinning, which could harm your site. Also, many of these companies offer deals in which you can buy, say, 20 articles all at once. Now if you purchased such a package there'd be a strong chance that such a number of links appearing suddenly would result in some kind of penalty from Google. If you did suffer as a result of using such services, you'd have to get those links removed somehow. It's highly unlikely you'd be able to get the people who submitted them to remove them -- at least not for free. So you'd probably have to hand over money to a company that specialized in bad link removal.
Either way, it would cost you. However, if you were to do all of the article writing and submission yourself, there'd be a couple of advantages. Firstly, you could make sure that those articles were of a good quality and in directories that were well regarded by the search engines. And there'd be no way that you'd be able to overdo it, unless you devoted several hours a day, every day, to the task for a couple of weeks non-stop. And in the rare event that this technique were to backfire on you and you needed to remove those links, you'd know exactly where they all were. So you could just go back to those directories, log in and remove them.You'd be back to square one, of course, and would need to figure out how best to continue with your SEO efforts. But at least you wouldn't have had to fork out any money to neutralize the issue.
One of the aspects of website promotion that the recent Penguin update
targeted strongly was an excess of unnatural links to URLs. For example, if too many backlinks with exactly the same anchor text appeared these were deemed unnatural, and incurred a penalty.The idea behind this was that natural, voluntary, one way links (the best indicators of quality in Google's eyes) will by their nature include wildly varying anchor text, sometimes with seemingly completely unrelated keywords in them. Conversely, much similarity in anchor text implies an attempt at manipulation.This has left anyone interested in SEO in a bit of a quandary. They know that you should continue to build links to your pages because it still helps them rise in the search engine rankings. But while you do this, you have to consciously avoid making these links look unnatural. It's pretty funny when you think about it. It's like that famous line that came originally from French writer Jean Giradoux: "The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made." Or to put this more specifically: Google doesn't like to be tricked, so now you've got to trick it into thinking you're not trying to trick it ... or something.The absurdity of this makes you want to throw your hands up in the air in complete exasperation.And as far as I'm concerned it's all the more reason to just do a lot less link building full stop. Surely the best approach is to use the extra time and energy this allows to focus on putting more really good quality content on your website. That way those links to it will develop and they will be natural.Sure, you'll have to wait a while to see some results. But the benefits will be more substantial, and last longer (possibly indefinitely) too. Best of all, you won't incur Google's wrath.
There has been a lot of talk about this latest Google update, dubbed "Penguin". Much of it had to do with over-optimization
. Countless websites suffered a massive and swift drop in search engine traffic.Clearly, many webmasters feel that they were unfairly punished. I can certainly sympathize with them, but I do see what Google was trying to achieve with this.One of my niche websites was hit (or at least I think it was -- you never can be entirely sure with search engines!). I was angry and disappointed at first but on second thoughts I realized that I was definitely over-optimizing it.Firstly, I had several pages that had a common two word keyword phrase in the titles. Even though the content on each page was unique and different, this was a big no-no!
That was pretty dumb in retrospect but I chose to include those words because they did reflect the purpose of the pages, and I was in a bit of a rush to build the site. Secondly, I'd done a lot of article marketing for that website. I must have submitted about 25-30 articles
in the last several months. These were all unique, and not "spun". I did vary the anchor text, but in retrospect I didn't do this nearly enough. I didn't endlessly repeat exact keyword phrases but I did use some words over and over again, even if they were in different combinations.Thirdly, I didn't pay enough attention to the pages themselves. While they certainly had some useful and relevant information on them they
were pretty general in nature. I should have spruced them up more and made them punchier, more specific and informative. I was always intending to do this eventually, but basically became fixated on getting lots of article backlinks because they really did seem to work well and my traffic was rising steadily.
I wasn't trying to trick Google, but I was certainly being way too overzealous with certain techniques. Clearly, there was an imbalance between the amount of work I'd put into the on-site content, and my backlink building. Google picked this up and slapped me for it.It's been a good lesson. Basically, the main thing to remember is to keep focusing on the content of your site. As the search giant keeps saying, build sites for people, not search engines. So now I'm going to pretty much forget link-building -- particularly via article marketing -- for a long while. Instead I'll be putting almost all my effort into writing lots of quality content for my websites and blogs.
On-page optimization is very important. However, some good backlinks can be very effective as well - particularly if you use well chosen anchor text in them. And if the keywords you're targeting aren't competitive, this kind of off-page optimization can be enough to get you on page one, and soon. I've seen this recently while promoting a humor website I've been working on in the last several months. The site is built around a comedic character I used to perform live (and will do again) called Derek Sapphire. The problem in trying to optimize a site like this is that I can't put the keywords I'm targeting (words like "satire", "comedy", "humor", "funny", etc) in titles, descriptions and meta tags. That would give the whole joke away. So, I just have to play it straight, and build the site as if it were genuine.The great bulk of the optimization has to be off-page. So what I've been doing lately is writing some articles about humor and comedy, and mentioning the website in the author bio-boxes. That's where I put my chosen keyword phrases.Using this technique, I have already got the site on page one for searches for "satirical character" and "humorous character". It only took a backlink or two for each. Sure, these phrases have low search volumes and will only bring me a trickle of traffic. Still, it's heartening, because there are dozens of similar and specific keyword phrases that I can target over a long period of time. As well as the cumulative traffic this will bring, it's also telling Google very specifically about the nature of the site. If all goes well I'll start to appear in searches which are combinations of these keywords that I've placed in the anchor text of backlinks and what's on the actual pages themselves.