2015 September | Backlinks for SEO

Archive for September, 2015

Backlinks for SEO

SEO is multi-faceted

On your journey of discovery in the world of Search Engine Optimization, you will more than likely have encountered the term “backlink” as having some kind of special importance.

Usually any complete SEO strategy will include the basic optimisations of:

1. keywords

The usual advice is to do some research on the keywords of your niche. This will differ depending on your promotional goals. You may be trying to sell something, get people to sign up for something or just be a general authority on a subject. Each case will require specific words to be used for maximum relevance.

Keyword-planner

2. keyphrases

A similar situation to keywords. These are often called “long tail keywords”. It just means a term containing more than one word, possibly up to a complete sentence. An example of a keyphrase would be “places to buy long sleeve shirts”. Long tail keywords are generally more specific and thus more targeted to a user’s intent, but at the same time they get a lot less search volume than one or two word phrases.

3. competition analysis

There are almost always other people in the same business as you or doing the same activity. This practice is just studying in detail what your competition is doing, particularly the ones at the top of the search engine results pages, and see where you can improve or incorporate the strengths that they are displaying.

4. content quality

“Content is king” used to be the cry we heard fom all directions in the SEO field. Content is vitally important, but it is also possible to rank on reputation alone. One might compare it to some popular music. The content can sometimes be garbage, but it is wildly popular regardless. This depends largely on your niche, culture and personal taste. In general, try to have the highest quality content possible within your niche.

5. social media strategy

Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and the rest must all be considered as part of the SEO ecosphere. A facebook page and a Twitter account specifically for your company or website can be a huge source of publicity and activity. Of course it takes time and resources to create and maintain these social media presences but it seems no business is complete without this presence.

facebook social

6. user analytics

Using a tool such as Google analytics it can be determined exactly how traffic behaves as it enters and leaves your website. You can see which country they came from, how long they stayed, how many pages they visited, what browser they used, what operating system they used, the type of device it was (mobile or desktop) and lots more information. It is a lot to take in at once and it should be determined what will be monitered and what the data means to your site.

7. and the holy grail…backlink aquisition.

You may have seen backlinks written about with almost rabid fervor, or treated with the greatest of reverence as though they are the elixir of eternal riches.

There is a reason for this as not only do search engines consider them in their ranking algorithms, they also provide a direct pathway for users back to your website.

What backlinks are is a matter of perspective. Links from one web location to another have officially been known as “hyperlinks” since the birth of the internet. The perspective metioned here is the vantage point of your own website.

If you are looking at the internet from the outside, you see all the links pointing to each other and you say “look at all those hyperlinks!”.
When you look at the internet from the viewpoint of your own website and you see all the links on other sites pointing back at you, you say “look at all those backlinks!”.

Another term for a backlink that is sometimes used is “inbound link” or IBL. If your site has a lot of IBL’s from other respected and/or reputable sites, Google puts a lot of value in this. Regardless of SEO, such IBL’s will bring you traffic by themselves.

Backlinks are special.

If you are someone who is researching SEO and you have come to the subject of backlinks within that scope, you probably have noticed that backlinking stands out from other SEO disciplines. It has its own significance and the weight they carry for search engines speaks volumes as to why web masters seek and value them so much.

The search engine designers made the simple deduction that a site which is referenced by other sites, particularly those within the same subject area, carries some importance in that subject, therefore should be given preferential treatment in the results considering some other parameters.

While backlinks can and do massively help search ranking, it can have the opposite effect if done indiscriminately. There was once a time when you could rank your site for a keyword by simply repeating it tens of thousands of times invisibly in the site content, for example by making the keyword text the same colour as the background. The search algorithms in those days were so simple that they would see the keyword 5000 times on one site and 10,000 times on another and just put the one with the higher number in the higher position.

As search engines evolved, that trick no longer worked and in fact worked against the desired effect.

Backlinks then became the new keywords.

Web masters would simply splurge as many backlinks as they could around the internet pointing back to their website and that worked. For a while.

Google and the others soon caught up to that trick and now they look at the quality and relevance of backlinks and give those metrics a higher weighting than the sheer quantity of them. Quantity of backlinks alone can now work against a website’s search engine visibility if they are “unnatural”.

The look of a link.

Let us now clarify the forms that backlinks can take, i.e. how they might appear on a web page.

Backlinks might take the form of hypertext (a dated term, now more commonly called anchor text). An image can be a backlink, in which case the alt tag behind the image acts as anchor text. The relevance of this is that the text used as anchor text is considered by the search engines as well. It’s better if it is relevant to the destination, rather than something like “click here”.

There are two types of inbound links that Google (let’s be honest, that’s who we’re actually talking about here) generally considers.

1. Relevant, coming from a website of good repute and naturally placed there by writers or editors as a valuable addition to their own content.

2. Irrelevant, forced into place and unnatural looking, appearing similar to many links from other low quality sites.

The first of the items above counts towards a web site’s rank and the second, as if I need to explain in detail, counts against.

In fact, when I first bought this domain, the previous owner had link-spammed the domain name – backlinksforseo.com – into the ground. As a result, I got the domain name for a low price but Google didn’t trust the site. Now there’s a huge task to create some decent content and get enough high quality backlinks so that all the garbage ones no longer matter.

So how do we determine the “quality” of a backlink?

In this case, it comes down to relevance. Search engines are extremely advanced machines these days. They are supercomputers running artificial intelligence algorithms which can “read” and “think” about an entire website in several thousandths of a second.

The quality of a website is a result of things like the writing standard. Spelling, grammar and information imparted all count. Other content types are media such as images, video and audio. If a site with good content that is related to your website also has a link to your website somewhere in a good position, that would be considered a high quality link. The flipside is that a link from a website that is thin on content, perhaps poorly written and spammy, is a low quality link and one you would be better off without.

Another metric that would be considered about IBL’s is the uniqueness of the domains from where the backlinks originate. Thousands of backlinks coming from only a few sites or sites which are themsleves interlinked will count for less than the same number of links from individual sites.

Naturalness is a concept that must be borne in mind with any link building strategy. Google has algorithms that can detect if the inbound links are growing in a natural way or are being forced into place, for example by buying backlinks in bulk. After the backlink craze started, websites began to crop up which existed solely to host pages of links. These are known as link farms. You, as a webmaster, should never have anything to do with link farms, ever.

Two more types of backlinks:

The two types are “nofollow” and “dofollow”.
A nofollow link will have rel=”nofollow” as an attribute within the link tag. This is a request to the search engines not to consider that link in their ranking algorithms. It’s up to the search engines whether they aquiesce or not.
Dofollow links are every other type of link we have already mentioned. They are considered more valuable than their nofollow counterparts, but the link mapping of a website will appear more natural if it contains a healthy amount of both types.

If I can’t buy, trade or spam links then how do I do any “link building”?

Good question. You have to forget about any and all shortcuts to getting backlinks these days. You have to be open, professional and pretty much “white hat” if you want any type of link building strategy to work in your favour.

This means that you will need to have a website that offers some type of value. Whether it answers a question or solves a problem or is simply good entertainment, it will need to be a good experience for the intended consumer.

That’s the first step.

Once you have your awesome content, you can do nothing and let people link to it organically or you can actively promote that content. There are legitimate, effective and easily actionable ways to do this. I highly recommend Brian Dean’s site backlinko.com to learn the right way of content promotion and getting the topmost quality backlinks in ways that get results.

If you click through to that website and don’t come back, I’ll understand. With the info Brian Dean puts out for free, he deserves the extra traffic.

Link wheels.

If you own several websites, possibly even each with related content, then it might be tempting to link them all together and get all those “free” backlinks from your own websites. Google isn’t stupid. This is known as a link wheel and again, such antics can harm your ranking to great degrees. If you are interlinking the sites as part of your own user’s navigation experience through your content, then that is up to you to make it obvious what your intentions are. Even so, you still risk penalisation for trying to manipulate the backlink weighting of your sites.

You just need to get in touch with people in a civil way and give them a good reason or ten to put a link to your website on their own website.
Some of those reasons could be:

  • There’s a dead link on their webpage.
  • You have better content on your page than the link that’s already there.
  • You think your link will add value to their content.

Once you have your SEO and backlinking campaign underway, you will be pleased to know that there are tools to keep track of backlinks to a website. You can see who is linking back to you as well as how they are linking back to you, i.e. what type of anchor text they are using for the link. One good tool that Google provides for this purpose is the Google Search Console, another is the Domain Stats Tool. These tools allow you to see exactly what is mentioned here, anchor text and locations of inbound links. They also offer many other services and are well worth taking a look at.

Finally

Backlinks are quite an important aspect of any SEO campaign. I would still say though that content is king. That fact was proven to me today without a doubt as I saw a webpage I was working on jump from the 6th page of the target keyword to the first, eighth position, literally overnight. This was achieved purely with a content upgrade and absolutely nothing else.

In competitive spaces, getting high quality backlinks is essential. I would say the best way to do that though is to make the best content that you possibly can, and then start contacting the people in your specialised field, showing it to them and getting them involved.

In this case a bit of reciprocity will not harm at all. Quality and relevance trading links to one another is absolutely fine.

7 Bog Standard But Free Traffic Methods

What shall I say?

I find myself thinking of how to put the same statement you have read thousands of times and know, fundamentally, about your online business. Let me just be blunt about it:

In order to be successful online, you need traffic. Not only that, you need the right sort of traffic.

What is the right sort of traffic? Well, let’s say you have a website about home repair and you drive traffic to it that is interested in aerial photography. Okay, maybe just maybe, some of those will “convert” simply from the law of averages, but you cannot expect to be very successful using such a strategy.

You need targeted traffic.

In fact, there are many well known tried, tested and reliable methods out there to give your traffic flows a boost and the majority of them believe it or not do actually cost money.

While it is possible and in fact effective to spend money and get web traffic to your website, here in this article I am going to focus on tactics that cost nothing more than a bit of time.

Some people say that time is more valuable than money and I personally agree, however, you can use your time in whatever way you want. This may not always be true for your money.

In actual fact, some of the seven methods that you will read about here can and will save thousands of dollars worth of paid promotion. The very first tactic I’ll show you here generates over the equivalent of $2,000 worth of paid targeted traffic, except you get it for free.

And now for the main event, the following are seven definite techniques which are guaranteed to bring traffic and exposure to your website starting from right now, if you take action on them.

1. Get PPC (Pay Per Click) Advertising Without Paying Per Click

The PPC structures offered by Google, Yahoo!, Bing etc are excellent sources of highly targeted traffic.

Any online marketer worth their salt will know and appreciate the value offered by the giant PPC search engine products.

There is a strange dichotomy though, in that the people who sell paid search per click have a vested interest in you believing that PPC really does work and is actually really great. So they will love to read the line I typed above and promote that sentiment.

Fact is though that PPC really does work, so the pay per click managers have a simple task to convince you, the buyer of that.
What’s the best way to convince you of something that actually works? Motor vehicle salespeople have been doing it for years. The good old test-drive.

As a result of the competition and try before you buy being an excellent marketing ploy, there are quite a good number of PPC advertising suppliers who will entice you with free advertising credits with values of $100 and over. This is just so you can try it out and see for yourself how effective PPC is with their particular firm.

The sheer number of companies offering free advertising credits leaves a lot of free traffic on the table just sitting there. It will be an incredibly monotonous task to sign up for each advertising sample, but the only thing it costs here is time, which as we already said, is extremely valuable.

Now for some real value for those of you still curious and reading thus far: I am about to show you exactly where to sign up and get more than $2000 worth of free advertising credit. It’s as simple as sharing a link, here you will find around 60 PPC companies offering free signup credits: http://www.affiliated-business.com/promotion/Pay-Per-Click5.html. Go through them one at a time and sign up for your free advertising credits. Better still, get someone else to do it for you. Even if you pay them anything less than $2000 to do it you will come out in front.

2. Pay attention to the use of keywords, keyphrases and related terms which match your site’s content.

Search engines are the dominant means by which internet users get what they are looking for, whether it is a shopping item, a piece of scientific information or some form of advice.

The search engines themselves make heavy use of keywords supplied by the user as a clue to what the user is looking for and as a guide to which results to return.

By staying on topic with the content of your website, you will naturally be using the relevant keywords and terms that the search engine will index and rank in order to return as relevant results to their users.

A little keyword research can go a long way. If you are writing your own content it can be advantageous to know which are the best keywords in your niche. That usually translates as the most profitable, whether by volume of search or by conversion rate, you can find out with various keyword analysis tools and methods how well you can perform.

Be sure to make proper use of the keywords you are targeting. In fact it is probably a distracting strategy to “target” particular keywords and phrases. Just be aware of the main ones and use them naturally in your content.

How do you use keywords naturally? Just write about your topic or subject and use the word as part of your vocabulary and perhaps in a heading and or subheading here and there. Don’t swamp your site with the keyword you want to rank for, this can work against you.

Being mindful of high quality, traffic pulling keywords is important in getting organic ranking in the search engines and will definitely get you free traffic.

3. You link to me, I link to you.

Something that can get regular traffic is trading links with sites that bear a relative, topical or subjective similarity to your own.

If the two sites are particularly specialised in a certain area, the exchange of traffic can be quite significant.

There is a mutual benefit when exchanging links between sites of equal value, status and traffic levels. There is a kind of traffic sharing that takes place between the sites through the featured links on each site.

Everything each site does to generate more traffic will benefit every site that is linked on the respective pages. There should in theory be an exponential increase in traffic with every link exchanged, assuming all sites are also exchanging links in other places, as well as doing other things such as those I talk about here to generate traffic.

The running theme continues here. Exchanging links should not cost a single penny to do. If you pay money to exchange links then you are doing it wrong. All you need to do is contact the webmaster of the site you wish to trade links with and come to an agreement.

4. Put your writing skills to work, create content that is not for your own website.

That’s right I’m about to talk about article marketing. You can find a lot of websites that accept articles for republishing on other websites. Very often the article websites insist on a minimum standard of writing and certainly a minimum length of submitted article.

A good rule of thumb is to submit articles that are in the same niche as your website. The reason is that you get a bio at the end of the article that you can use to link back to your site. Once again, the effectiveness of article marketing is frequently debated among internet marketers, but the fact is you can get free traffic by writing and submitting them.

The higher your writing quality the more effective this method will be for you. If you share valuable knowledge with your readers and really engage them, you can pull in huge amounts of traffic from a single article that might just go viral.

There are certain rules to follow in your bio, such as not spamming with bad links, but it is worth spending time crafting this to maximise the chances of a click through to your website.

5. Be more sociable

By joining forums, blogs, other communities online and facebook groups.

The demographics of the group members where you join will be a close match to the type of traffic you are looking for to your website.

You will need to be fairly active on these sites to assert your presence, but if you can offer value, help and advice to other group members then you will create a reputation after a while.

Here is where you can build a reputation for your self and your website. You have the opportunity to showcase your knowledge and expertise. It’s quite simple really, become well known by others in your field and they will want to see the website you have produced. If you actually have a good product or service, that will be talked about between the members and in other areas. There is no better advertising than word of mouth.

Using this method will certainly bring you free traffic.

6. Send out newsletters

This will be more effective once you already have a list to whom to mail the newsletters.

The idea here is to keep in contact with your subscribers and to provide real value in the things you write to them. You can let them know what new offers and products you have available, or give them a review of any new content you have added to your site.
As usual, keep the quality of your writing high. Add a bit of your own personality and humour and you wont be far off the mark.

Encourage the readers to share your content and get others to sign up for your newsletter. All this activity translates to a steady traffic flow to your website.

You might want to add incentives such as discounts, cash payments or free products. The newsletter is an ideal place to let your readers know about them.

7. Go Viral

The term “viral marketing” can be confusing and a little misleading to newcomers in the business. It is something that you are continuously trying to achieve and understand in your ongoing efforts.

You might try to study other things online that have gone viral with the intention of extracting that magic “juice” that pushed it into a phenomenon. If you can figure it out, you’re made. But there are so many variables that go into making viral content. What went viral last week might not do so today.

If you are aware of the current climate of the global human consciousness, then you might be able to understand what will give people relief, entertainment, knowledge or anything that millions will happily consume.

There are already established patterns observed from content that has gone viral. You might try to write gossip columns, create a buzz of anticipation (remember Y2k? 2012?). If you have any scandalous news or opinions that you don’t mind sharing then those have often proved to have a higher chance of going viral.

Again, use of incentives to share content over social media will help cause the viral chain reaction to spark.

Conclusion

You may have heard or read about the methods in this article before, perhaps several times. They are not particularly new or cutting edge at this time. However, it is always useful to be reminded of what you could and should be doing to promote your business and improve your position.

By applying what you have read here, you are guaranteed to receive a boost in traffic. Each method mentioned also has the advantage of not costing any money to do. It does however, cost quite an investment in time. So the term “free” here is debatable. If you can get others to do some or all of the work for you then you can free up your own time. Perhaps offer students work experience or come up with some kind of exchange.

The world of internet marketing is always shifting and dynamic, but there are always marketing basics that never change over time.

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