Link Building Strategy Lesson 1 – Understanding the Structure

Yes I do talk a lot on this blog about link building and I am sure you think you have heard it all before, however I am of the opinion that there is nothing wrong with going over old things, after all repetition is the mother of skill.

So I have decided to put together a full explanation of how we structure link building at SEO wizz, focusing on what we look for and how we go about getting it.

I guess the ideal place to start is by highlighting what we try and achieve in any one link buidling campaign:

– Building authority:- Yes link popularity is important but we also need to build links from authoritative sources.

– Domain Diversity:- You must look to get links from a diverse set of domains to increase value.

– Deep linking:- A lot of the links will point to your home page, but you still need a strategy for deep links.

– Think Local:- Many businesses are targeting local key phrases, so why aren’t they building links locally?

– Anchor Text:- Yes the biggy, you won’t rank without it, ANCHOR TEXT!!

If you are not implementing all of these then you are missing vital opportunities and your campaign will not be as effective, however let’s look at these in a little more detail.

Building Authority

I guess the first thing to ask here is – “How do we know a particular domain is authoritative?” – and it’s a good question as there are very little indicators available to check a sites authority in a given industry or niche.

However at SEO wizz this is how we like to target authority sites in a given area.

1) First we search on 4 – 5 popular keyword terms in our niche.

2) We may scan back as many as five pages and take note of anywhere between 10 and 20 sites that seem to pop up on multiple searches.

3) Then we go through each site in our list and check the Page Rank from the Google Toolbar, then list the sites in the order of highest PR.

Obviously the links with the highest PR are likely to hold the most authority, if you can you should sort after link from these pages, however don’t get your hopes too high, as if you’re in a competitive niche there is a good chance none will link back to you, this is very common, however if you only manage to get one this is a good start.

Building Links To Authority Sites That Are Not Relevant

I am a big promoter of relevance, I think if you link build with relevance in mind it holds more value and any traffic you receive is more likely to stick around…

HOWEVER, and it literally is a big however…. There is also tremendous value in building links from websites that aren’t so relevant, every link counts. My advice when doing this is to only build them on established domains or domains with a good amount of links pointing to them as a whole and try and stay away from site wide footer links. The page you get you link from may be a PR0 but if the domain is strong the link will and does carry weight.

No matter how you look at it getting links from websites with authority is time consuming but necessary, you may be able to make some progress without them, but need them if you really want to dominate.

Domain Diversity

Now this can be a hard one to convince people of when all they can see in the SERPS is a multitude of sites ranking with thousands of footer links, site wide and anchored.

However, our research is showing more and more that a diverse link profile is an essential element to ranking well and better Google visibility. I always like to hearken back to my university days when trying to understand domain diversity, let me explain…

If a Professor had his work quoted thousands of times by 1 or 2 other academics this would be great, however if they had their work referred to thousands of times by thousands of other academics, they would no doubt be the ‘known’ authority in that area. This is what Google wants to show at the top of the SERPS the ‘known’ authority in a particular niche.

Again building links from a diverse domain is not easy, this is why I always encourage tracking your linking domains as much as possible, you may need to use them on a new site or venture.

Local Link Building

If you are targeting local terms it is imperative you try and get your links from local sources, businesses, local authorities, local directories and education authorities are all great places to get local links from, just one can change how well you rank for a particular local term, trust me.

If you are a business going for those local terms this is something you cannot fail to take into account. Getting these links increases your relevance and is particularly important if you are targeting a specific country. Want to rank well in the UK? Then wouldn’t it make sense throwing a few .co.uk domains into the mix?

There is very little research in this area but I think it’s a no brainer.

Anchor Text

Anchor text, yes the Daddy of the link building strategy. The must! You are going to struggle to rank for anything without it. Anchor text is the major search engine signal; if you are trying to rank for “used machinery” then at least 25% – 40% of your links need to have it in the anchor.

If you are building links naturally then there is only one thing to be aware of, the search engines will punish ‘anchor’ over optimisation, well Google will, especially if all the links come in bulk, this is known as ‘link bombing’.

At this point many webmasters ears prick up and start shouting about social media?

Even the most viral piece of content is not going to acquire thousands of the exact same anchor, even when they do the rankings are usually temporary thanks to Google’s freshness algo.

All I am saying is to go publish 50 articles to multiple directories with the exact same anchor text, especially if your domain is less than 12 months old, is fatal.

Also remember, there are natural ways to get the anchor text you want. We’ll look into that a little more at a later date.

Anyway these should be the basics of any link building strategy, you need them if you want to beat off the serious competition and remember these links need to be hitting multiple pages of your site, not just the homepage.

I am going to go through each of these areas in a lot of detail over the coming month or two, explaining techniques and tips on how to make them more effective and work harder for you. All the info will be easy to follow and more importantly it will work, or even more importantly it will be free!

One thing I do want you to take away and think about though is this;

“Don’t think about building links, think about building pages”

Remember better pages equal better links, how are you going to make the pages linking to your website more effective?

We’ll spend a full post on this at a later date.

An Update on Link Networks

Back in December I did an in-depth review of some of the best link building services around. When I say link building services I mean systems that allow you to generate content for a link, so article marketing systems, blog network systems and content spinning systems.

I have used and promoted many of the networks I reviewed, one in particular was Linkvana. I promoted this service due to the fact the content on the network was 100% unique, the links were minimised and relevant and the blogs were on average 3 years old and had good PageRank.

However I have recently cancelled my Linkvana subscription and would advise anyone else to do the same.

There are a few reasons for this;

1) I have recently noticed more and more of the blogs within the network are being deindexed

2) A lot of the blogs that were indexed are becoming less relevant

3) I really think it is time to focus on quality

As well as an SEO consultant I also do a fair share of niche blogging, therefore link networks such as the one above have always been helpful when attempting to rank a niche website. However, more and more I am noticing these niche blogs are losing rankings, traffic and authority.

My belief is that Google is clamping down on niche sites with low quality inbound links regardless of the anchor text those links supply. For example, only 12 months ago you could pick a niche keyword, fire 500 anchor text links at it and get it to rank first page pretty easily, this is becoming harder and harder.

What Do I Do if I Have Niche Blogs or Sites?

Don’t get me wrong, you can probably still get a niche blog to rank using ‘cheap links’, I simply believe it will continue to get harder and harder.

My first bit of advice would be to stick to article directories for building your anchor text links, ones I particularly like are;

buzzle.com

ezinearticles.com

work.com

articleblast.com

goarticles.com

articlecity.com

articlebase.com

Just to name a few…..

Secondly, I would also suggest making use of the Unique Article Wizard, this allows pretty good coverage and the links tend to be from more relevant websites as well as article directories.

Quality Over Quantity

Niche sites are one thing but building a solid online business is completely different. You want your online business to be safe in the Google index for years and years not just for the next 12 months, therefore link building for a business has to be based on quality.

What Is Quality

I think when we are considering what makes a quality link we need to be thinking about the following;

Relevance – This for me has always been a big factor. The sites you are getting links from need to be relevant. Put yourself in the user’s position, if you were surfing a website about SEO, you would find it strange to see a ‘dog clippers’ website link stuck in the corner. I can’t imagine for 1 minute that this goes undetected by Google and have no doubt it will pass very little weight.

PageRank – Even though toolbar PR is not an effective measure of success, you can still use it to determine the quality of the page you are getting the link from.

Outgoing links – Yes if a page is flooded with tons of outgoing links you are very unlikely to get any real value from it.

Anchor Text – This is still a major factor, however as I have warned before, make it look natural. Use variations; use your domain name as well as using the target keyword.

The Problem

The problem is very simple, how do we get these kinds of links? Links like this usually come at a price and paid links are bad, right?

This is a whole other topic and for a different post.

My parting advice would be this;

Every website needs some form of optimised anchor text, stick with article marketing for this type of link, but don’t forget it all needs topping up with some quality PageRank passing links.

One Way Link Building – Indepth Review Of The Best Services

Let me start this post by making it clear that this is not a promotional post, there are no affiliate links in it and I will try my best not to use any promotional language.

The reviews are from my own experience as I have used the services over the past 3 months, some quite a lot longer.

The next thing I want to make clear is that this post is to help those who actively build links, if you don’t think article marketing is ethical or content distribution is a valid way of getting links then this post is seriously not for you, if you read it you may leave this blog and never return :)

One Way Link Building

I know there are quite a few “SEO” newbies that read this blog, however if you think you fully understand one way link building you can skip this section and go straight into the reviews.

One way links are those links that point back to your site without any return link the linking page.

e.g.

– If I get a link from Jonny at givemealink.com that is a one way link.

– If I return a link to Jonny’s page that links to me this is a reciprocal link.

– If I return a link to a different page on Jonny’s domain that is what is known as a triangular link.

I hope that makes sense…

There is nothing wrong with reciprocal or triangular links as long as we keep them to a minimum, they are sometimes good to use to help a new site gain trust or strengthen an established sites link profile.

However…. One way links need to make up at least 80% of our link profile, they are given more weight from Google as a one way link is a reference without a return vote, no other reason for giving the link other than the fact you are pointing people to a great resource, apparently.

So as webmasters it is important that we start getting these one way links and doing it with the content on our own sites alone is a real pain in the a%! in fact it never really materialises for 95% of webmasters, even if their content was the best anyone could provide in that niche. I have seen so many blogs with great content, hardly being noticed online because they have failed to fully understand the concept that content is king.

Yes, content is king, but only when you use it right and posting 10 times a week is not using it right and will probably end in you getting burnt out and giving up, only to start a new blog on a new theme 3 months later making the same mistakes.

The following reviews are going to show you some great systems for generating ‘one way back links’ of course some are better than others and if you’re in an extremely low competition niche you may not even have to pay, anyway let’s kick into the meat of this post.

The Free Way

Yes if you have absolutely no competition or your competition are a few crappy little sites who don’t know what a link is then, Yes all you need is your time.

Use sites like Ezine Articles and GO Articles, to publish content in return for a link back. You can read more about article submissions in a post I published a few weeks back on ‘mass article submissions‘ and why they are not as effective as they were.

As well as publishing the odd article for a link you can also submit your site to directories (Yes this still works) and you can submit your individual blog posts to blog carnivals.

Do around a month of this and you will see a steady increase in links, and if there is little competition for your keyword you should be at least on the first page of Google.

It is so important to use your target anchor text when creating these links back to your site, however remember to mix it up using different variations. I recommend using the exact anchor text around 30% of the time, the others should be variations and/or your domain name.

Ok, let’s fly into the product reviews at last, remember these reviews are 100% genuine and designed to give you a true insight into the product and my own experience with it. The products are in no particular order; however I will tell you at the end which I use and prefer. Remember the products that will suite you will depend on your exact needs and budget.

Article Marketer

article marketer

Article Marketer is a mass distribution network that pumps your article out to thousands of ezines and their subscribers.

First thing to get out of the way is that Article Marketer has now split into to 2 different companies since October 2009, however both systems are very similar and work in a similar way.

Both Distribute Your Articles and Content Crooner send your articles out to thousands of directories and ezines.

The services cost between $30 and $40 monthly with discounts when you pay for a year or a life time membership.

Some things to keep in mind

1) Even though your articles are sent out to thousands it is not going to be published on thousands.

2) Also your article is going to be the identical content on every directory so only the strongest domains will be indexed.

3) You can typically expect to acquire between 15 – 35 back links with every article you distribute.

Who does this product suite

I would recommend this to anyone who writes one ‘quality’ article a week for distribution and when I mean quality I am talking about something worthy of a guest blog post. If you tend to write 400 word descriptive articles (like me :) ) I suggest you save your money and distribute them manually.

My Article Network

my article network

My Article Network is a similar sort of set up, however has some big differences.

First of all it has over 10,000 active blogs to publish your content on, all with separate IP’s, excellent but how is it different to article marketer and co?

My article network also gives you to tools to spin your content, basically this means you rewrite the paragraphs a few times and my article network mixes them all around to create unique articles. This means more of your articles are indexed and you get more links.

The price of the service is $47 a month, if you stop paying your articles stop being distributed and this leads us onto the negative side of my article network.

Once you have written and submitted your content, it starts to be distributed, slowly. In fact you will be lucky to get more than 3 distributions per article a day, on top of this you have no idea where the content is going to or the quality of the sites. I used Google to see how many articles were being indexed and the success rate was a little better than article marketer and co, however the blogs were slightly better quality also.

Who does it suite?

If you have a site that needs a moderate amount of link building then this could be the perfect product, I would recommend writing a few articles a week and you should be able to build between 80 – 250 back links a month, which is a nice steady rate.

Unique Article Wizard

unique article wizard

The Unique Article Wizard is hyped up something crazy, in fact in the UK we would say it’s a little too cheesy!!

Hang on though everyone, block out the cheesy hype because this product actually works and works well.

It works on the same premise as the other two products distributing your site to thousands of directories and blogs, so how does it differ??

Well it does in two ways….

1) The spinning tool and options used in this service are the best I have come across and…

2) The quality of the sites submitted to are the best I have come across in a distribution service.

I have used this product for the last 3 month and the average article generates around 300 links, I am not trying to over sell this but these are the kind of results it gives.

Does it have a downside??

Actually yes and it’s the price. Its $67 a month to use the services and this could seem kind of expensive, especially if you are creating little or no income from your site, however apart from that I see no other downsides. It really is an excellent tool.

Backlink Solutions

backlink solutions

OK we start to move into a different area of one way link building and that is with blog networks.

Backlink Solutions is a network of blogs (around 300) that will allow you to publish content on their network. Again the blogs are on differing IP’s and your snippet or article will be published at a rate of between 1 and 20 a day.

Differences to the above products

First of all the blog network is quality with some blogs boasting a PageRank of 5 and 6 (not all some are as low as 2 and 3).

The second benefit is all the blogs look and act like blogs therefore are more likely to be indexed.

The third benefit is that you only have to publish snippets of content (over 150 words) this means you get more links for less time.

Lastly they also have a tool for you to spin the content so you will get more indexed links.

The Price?

$97 Ouch – Yes but it really is worth it for all you get, the only downside apart from the price is that, some of the content does not get indexed and therefore the link building potential is limited, however you place your links within the content which looks more editorial and therefore holds more weight on Google.

Who is this for???

If you are making some good money online this is your next purchase, you can build quality links in a very small amount of time, however if you are making no money it will be difficult to justify.

Linkvana

linkvana

Linkvana is very similar to Backlink Solutions, it has a large blog network of high PageRank blogs which you submit snippets of content to in return for a link.

The differences

– You can only submit one piece of content for 1 link

– They will only issue 2 – 5 snippets a day per domain

– You can have profiles for as many different domains as you like (even if you don’t own the domains, Backlink Solutions does not allow this)

– You can hire someone to write your content for $2 a snippet (I like this 😉 )

These differences make Linkvana a little more search engine friendly and in my opinion give you a better quality of link.

The Downsides

– You can only build 2 – 5 links a day per domain
– The price is $147 a month

Who is this for?

In my opinion linkvana is only for those who already have profitable sites or those who engage in client work and professional link building. $147 is a lot if you only have 1 or blogs that don’t really pull in any cash.

What Do I use

Before I tell you this, first understand I do a fair amount of client work.

I actually use Unique Article Wizard and Linkvana, however if I only had my own sites to worry about and not clients as well, I would use Backlink Solutions instead of linkvana.

You may want to start with the article wizard and then when you have built some income invest in one of the blog networks also.

Is this blackhat?

This is not an easy one to answer and depends on your interpretation of “blackhat SEO”.

My opinion is that it is not. Article marketing has been around before the internet was born and distributing content for a link is no different to guest posting or submitting your site to a directory.

What about spinning and submitting multiple copies of the same article

Well, effectively you are distributing different articles to different directories? What is the harm in that, you are simply making sure Google gives the content unique recognition and therefore recognises the links.

In my opinion this is not blackhat, you are not scraping content, hacking and planting hidden links, all the content is written by humans. What more do you want??

Some Important Link Building Notes

– If you have a new site start off building links slowly and gradually build up the amount.

– If you use these services I recommend submitting content no more than 30 times a day, you don’t want to get penalised for link bombing.

– Remember to mix up your anchor text, you will be penalised for building exact anchors too fact even if it is a 2 page drop for a month, do you really want to risk it?

– Write quality content and your success rate will increase, this will lead to more links for the time you spend writing.

Don’t think you can compete with those people who are using these tools, you will lose. If you care about your business you need to make some sort of investment even if it is simply your time.

I hope you found this useful and please let me know if you have any questions.