SEO | Backlinks for SEO

Archive for the ‘SEO’ Category

SEO – Google Likes Facts As Well As Backlinks

The credibility of web content will be taken more into account in Google’s search algorithms to determine its position, not just that of inbound links

Image result for just the facts ma'am

Would anyone really tell lies on the internet?

The answer is yes. Not only that, but given the chance they will push their unsubstantiated information all the way to the first position on page one of Google herself.

There is no shortage of fringe groups and whack-jobs online with an agenda to push.

As things have stood for a while, these types of dubious web pages have been able to rise to prominence on Google simply by gaming their main criteria of determining rank.

Just make a nice backlink profile referencing your wild delusions and the world’s your oyster.

The backlinking system stands on the principle that if a number of established websites are linking to your page, then it must be “good”.

On the face of it, this idea is almost overly simple and leaves the search results wide open to abuse and manipulation. However, it’s cheap computationally and generally produces reasonable results.

The evolution

Google is now looking into more sophistication in the way that it processes its ranking algorithm.

A research team within Google is developing a means to quantify the “trustworthiness” of a given piece of content. We can infer that the intention of this research is to gain the ability to use the metric in isolation of inbound links.

That doesn’t mean that Google will stop using backlinks in search algorithms, just that they will have an extra dimension to evaluate against a web page.

Put simply, Google will read the “facts” presented in content and count every  “wrong” fact which will add up to a score. The fewer wrong facts Google finds, the higher the trustworthiness of the page, therefore the higher up the rankings it can go.

“Wrong” and “facts” are in quotes above because the question still hangs – how does Google know what a “right” or “wrong” fact is?

The answer is that Google maintains a gargantuan Knowledge Vault, which they got from…er…the internet. So we’re back to square one as to what is a “fact” on the internet, but these are facts that have unanimous agreement. Also, Google considers them to be facts, so that’s that.

Cynicism, you say that you detect? Well I never.

Very Cool Infographic On Video SEO

Video is massive

You, as an internet using professional, are well aware that video is becoming more and more vital to your online presence.

In many cases, video has overtaken written content in driving traffic and generating leads for businesses.

No doubt about it, video marketing is a searing hot topic right now as we speak (or you read).

Wyzowl has conducted a survey that reveals up to 60% of online business runners have already dabbled in video as part of their business development and marketing efforts. The future for video is even more bright – 91% of entrepreneurs have the intention to invest more time, money and effort on video marketing in the coming year.

How to be a video SEO hero/ heroine

There are certain best practices to adhere to if you want your video production efforts to show fruitfulness.

The same basic rules apply to video SEO as it does to any other form of web content. You should have title, tags, description, etc all in place. Use the right keywords and stay on topic.

With videos you can also add subtitles, closed captions and transcriptions to massively boost search engine discoverability, because with all the written text, they have something to get their teeth into and figure out what the video is actually about.

Here is the infographic which I got from Take1 Transcription that really shows off some valuable information, including actionable tips about what effects you can have on video with SEO.

video seo info

Extensive SE Study: Why You Still Need Backlinks

A huge study was done, the results are remarkable

Our good friends over at backlinko took it upon themselves to trawl data from search engine results.

They did a deep study of over 1 million search query returns from Google herself.

1 million.

That’s how dedicated to SEO they really are. They did this in an attempt to “reverse engineer” Google’s search algorithms.

What does Google want to see in a website before ranking it at the top?

The results they got from the study are fascinating.

Backlinks, backlinks, backlinks

They found that the inbound link (IBL) remained a very strong ranking factor across the majority of the 1 million search results.

However, it’s not just as simple as lots of IBL’s = top Google positions. Domain diversity is far more important than basic quantity in this case.

The incoming links need to be from different, individual domains. The higher the authority of these domains, the more weight for your ranking.

If the domains are related to your niche, even better. There are some domains that will boost your rankings regardless of domain. These are the mainstream giants such as CNN, BBC, Huffington Post, etc.

For a better overview of how to determine a quality backlink, read this post I made earlier.

Other nuggets from the study

Images, video, media.

The presence of at least one image on a page turned out to be a significant factor.

This is because Google considers content to be more engaging to the user if there is media present other than just the written word.

So the fact that Google likes to see multi-dimensional content should be borne in mind for on-page SEO.

The need for speed

Slow loading pages are strictly barred from the top results on Google. If your hosting providers can’t push out data fast enough when called upon, you will need to ditch them for a better (faster) service.

You might have everything else right about your SEO, good backlinks, great content, rich media, perfect keywords, but if your site is a slow loader, forget about your front page dreams.

Security

HTTPS counts. Google gives a certain preference to secure websites. It is certainly an extra pain in the rear end to manage and keep up to date, but the general advice is that if you are starting up online, build in HTTPS.

Is it worthwhile to switch your whole operation over to HTTPS? The experts advise that it is not necessary for SEO purposes at the moment (but do it if you can).

User retention, no bouncing

Brian Dean has made an interesting video explaining how he discovered this independently from the big study. Due to a keyword mix up, he shows how he was ranking for the “wrong” keyword for a particular post, as well as for the “right” one at the same time.

Due to the users landing on the “wrong” page and then bouncing away, he observed that due to the bounce rate being high, his rankings plummeted for the “wrong” keyword, while they steadily increased where users found what they actually wanted and stuck around.

Here is that video:

Long content

Ever  wondered why you never see an individual tweet on any search result, even though Twitter is easily one of the highest authority domains on the entire planet? Even though some  people may pack a lot of information into 140 characters, it is simply not long enough to show as a result.

You do, however, often see Pinterest or Tumblr posts on the front page, where there is enough content for a user to get stuck in to.

The backlinko study found that content with around 1900 words generally ranked higher than shorter blocks of information.

Make sure your keywords match your topic

The keywords of a page should match the overall topic of that page. Google has the ability to scan for this and figure it out with a high degree of accuracy.

If you’ve used keywords in the usual places, title, header, description, etc, then the body of your content had better match the topic suggested by those keywords.

This measure is to prevent the targeting of popular keywords to get a bigger audience, but then switching to a different context once they are there.

Basically, as should be obvious by now. That won’t work.

Google’s perfect web page

To sum up what Google wants to deliver to their users, we could say they like:

  1. very high quality content
  2. with pictures and interesting artifacts
  3. on a (secure) page which loads at lightning speed
  4. that has lots of backlinks from similar, or better types of sites from a wide range of domains

If you can deliver this within your niche, then your site is in with a chance of hitting the front page. After that point, you just have to hope that your competition is not as diligent as you are.

How Artificial Intelligence has Switched-Up the SEO Game – More than you Imagined

You better have your intelligent head on, because you’ll need it to synergize with this post and stay on the sweet spot of the SEO curve.

Notice I say the “sweet spot” because you don’t want to be too far behind, e.g. spamming keywords (which used to work), nor too far ahead because you don’t know which direction search will take in the future. Get it wrong and you risk dropping off any and all indexes.

I don’t mean you will have to use all your 180 IQ points while you read, I’m going to lay this out in a way that the average, switched-on human can fully understand.

Today we’re going to focus in on artificial intelligence (AI from now on) and how recent advancements in implementation have radically altered the way SEO works on the most cutting edge search engines.

The use of AI in search engine technology is not particularly new. The very simplest idea of counting keywords in a document to score its relevance is actually a form of AI.

Now we have come much further and the game has changed. Let me bring you up to speed.

RankBrain

Google’s RankBrain is one of the newer AI algorithm’s currently deployed by our old friend the big G.

It is far more advanced than a simple keyword counter and backlink checker. This system actually uses a similar method to “think” about a website as does a human brain.

RankBrain relies heavily on neural networks.

AI has two categories: strong and weak. Strong AI is something that you might see in a science fiction movie such as Ex Machina, 2001 An Odyssey, or JARVIS in Iron Man. These have intelligence capabilities that approach and even surpass human abilities.

hal

Weak AI is pretty much what we have in real life. Everything from IBM’s Watson to contextual advertisements on web pages.

No surprise then that RankBrain falls into the camp of weak AI, but it is several steps closer to the “strong” category than say, a very good chess playing program.

Since Google’s public announcement early 2014 that they were going to buy the highly specialist AI company company DeepMind, we can deduce the types of technology that they are integrating into their platform.

It’s about 95% certain that backpropagating neural networks are being integrated into Google’s search process, as that is what DeepMind were particularly good at, producing almost scarily impressive machine learning results from their labs and think tanks.

Backpropogation

If you are not trained in the black arts of AI, you may well be wondering what in the sweet blue and purple is a “backpropagating neural network”?

A simplified explanation is as follows:

A neural network takes at least one input and either gives an output, or not, based on whether the total value of the inputs reaches a threshold value (a predetermined value of some amount, whether energetic or numeric).

Bear with me, we’ll get to the relevance to SEO very shortly.

With backpropagation, an expected output can be compared with the actual output. If the actual output is not what is expected, the values between the input and threshold are adjusted, from output back to input, for the next pass.

Read that last paragraph again carefully. When the concept clicks in your mind, you will see how the machine “learns” new information. Your own brain will have also gone through a very similar process.

backprop

What it means for SEO

It means the way that current SEO experts have been evaluating Google’s algorithm changes has become almost redundant.

So now every time Google looks at a site, it has learned something new about it. Either how good the information is within the content, or how it relates to changes to all the other content in the same field.

RankBrain also constantly learns about particular search results.

The kind of information taken into account by the intelligent search engines is not a blanket view as may have been the case in the past. By that I mean that not every search will be judged by the same criteria.

For example, traditional SEO advice has been to optimize keywords, have great content and get as many high quality backlinks as possible, no matter what your site is about.

Sound advice indeed, but now the search engine may not give a damn about your backlinks, depending on the specific search carried out by the user, and where your content sits within their ecosystem.

On another type of site and/or search, backlinks may be more important than ever, but keyword density not so much.

Again this depends on what the back propagating algorithm has learned about that specific search, and possibly even who is doing the searching.

Google never got rid of their pre-update algorithms

They have certainly maintained and updated those earlier, core algorithms that count keyword density, inbound links, read META titles, tags and descriptions, etc, etc.

RankBrain uses all those “old” algorithms, plus the newer developed ones, on a case-by-case, search-by-search basis.

To stay ahead of the game, you will need to know how Google ranks your site, according to a particular search term, so that you know where to best invest resources.

This will mean a lot of testing and observing results, as well as studying where high ranking competing web sites and pages are optimizing, in order to glean some insight where possible.

If you are doing SEO, you will need to literally dissect these sites at every level to try and figure out what Google finds important for your target keyword.

Specialize

A short term optimization that makes sense within this relatively new search paradigm, is to dig in deeper within your niche, and do not diverge from it.

RankBrain will be learning constantly about your niche and already has a profile of what it wants to put at the top of Google’s results pages for your target keyword.

Study what’s already there, emulate the consistencies that you find and make improvements wherever possible.

Competition for search engine rank has become orders of magnitude more focused.

This specialization extends to your backlink profile. RankBrain is certainly checking out what type of backlinks are attached to top quality websites and you will need to emulate that profile to remain competitive.

The general advice here is to keep your backlinks topic related as well, so as not to be seen stepping out of line according to RankBrain’s expectations.

Where do we go from here?

RankBrain and similar machine learning algorithms represent a quantum leap in search engine evolution. Will we reach the point of hyper-intelligent machines functioning alongside us with god-like computing power? At this point, almost anything seems possible.

SEO is becoming more and more technical, specific and specialist. Vagueries and generalities in SEO are mere shots in the dark nowadays. SEO practitioners are going to have to swot up on the technical nature of artificial intelligence in order to stay relevant and competitive.

Search terms and keywords must now be analyzed in isolation of one another.

Narrow field, niche sites are the logical choice to stay above water for the time being.

Those who can navigate this new environment will be in great demand. The computer scientists win again.

10 Search Engine Optimization Bloopers to Avoid

This post centers around the ever present importance of traffic for your website.

But you’ve got to do it the right way.

Constant web traffic is something that has to be constantly maintained. It’s the only thing that really matters to a business. It’s simple economics: if you cannot generate targeted visitors to your site, you will not make any sales.

 

sale
Usually someone connected to the website is the person responsible for driving traffic to the site. Depending on the scale of the site, that person could be you.  The main tool in traffic generation is the search engine.

Paid advertising is always an option too, if you have the budget for it. Organic search results, however are always available for free and any business should be looking to maximize this free source of traffic.

Some web masters could do with a reminder of what their priorities should be in the ongoing design and maintenance of their site. While it is important to have a nice looking site that users can interact with easily, more attention should be given to search engine visibility. User experience and search engine visibility don’t always overlap.

Following is a list of common mistakes and misconceptions, many of which used to work in getting higher rankings, but will work no more. These are practices that are best avoided. If you are ever tempted to do any one of these no-no’s on the list. Just remember that any one of them could harm your traffic.

 

nono

  1.  Ineffective use of keywords.

Keywords are the main criteria by which a search engine figures out what your site is all about. Using well researched and relevant keywords, you will target the exact customer to visit your website. Get this wrong and your traffic will suffer, mainly due to your site ranking in the wrong subject, or  worse, not ranking at all.

 

keywords

2. Repeating keywords over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

This actually used to work in the early days of the search engines. You could just stuff your keyword as many times as possible and the site with the most number of a certain keyword would rank the highest. Nowadays, this tactic works against you. Don’t even bother with it.

3. Copy pasting pages from other websites.

There’s so much information on the internet, and there’s so much great content that is about your subject. It’s already doing really well, ranking in the search engines and getting people engaged with the content. Why not just copy the best sites directly? Because search engines hate duplication. Duplicate another web page out of context and you will suffer banishment from the likes of Google.

4. Using popular keywords which are not relevant to your website.

This is one of those tactics that tries to “fool” or trick the search engines. I’ve heard of some designers trying this but a small amount of logical thinking should cause them to stop. An example is that they will use the name of a famous celebrity or the words “sex” or “free” in an attempt to gain more exposure for their content, which will be something completely unrelated. If the topic on the page has nothing to do with sex, for example, this strategy will actually cause a drop in rankings. The keywords need to appear in a natural manner on the page in order to be acceptable. For example right here in this paragraph. I’m clearly not trying to spam the search engine even though I’ve used those keywords.

5. Keyword stuffing.

Kind of similar to what was mentioned earlier, but this means to use a keyword absolutely everywhere, such as in alt tags, in hidden text, in every image description. If a search engines finds that this text does not really describe the graphic or layer it will be penalized with extreme prejudice.

6. Invisible keywords.

Another old trick that used to work but will only get your site ejected if you try it these days. At one time you could repeat the keyword tens of thousands of times on your site invisibly by making the text the same color as the background. Funny to think how simple search engines used to be that they would actually fall for that and rank the site higher for those invisible keywords.Today this tactic is search engine suicide.

 

invisible

7. Really tiny text.

Same thing as trying to go invisible. Making the text really really tiny and repeating keywords that way is equally ineffective when it comes search engine ranking. Seriously, the things people have tried and failed to cheat the system.

8. Thinking that one size fits all for search engines.

The big G is by far the most widely used search engine in the Western Hemisphere. Most of our websites are tailored towards that one search engine’s SEO. If you are targeting a specific audience that may use more of another search engine, you need to find out what the rules are for that particular search engine, and how they operate. They are all different in quite a few ways. Sometimes a search engine will not list your site at all, while others have you at the top rank for a keyword.

9. Free web hosting.

I have actually got good rankings before on free hosts, but there is almost certainly a penalty to pay for using these services. They are generally given less weight than an independent domain with original content. You might also have to have advertising that you don’t want or earn from as part of the deal to use the “free” hosting service. Plus you are at the mercy of the hosts. If they want to take your site down, or withhold your content, there would be nothing you could do about it.

10. Allow broken links and missing page elements on your page.

I’ve made a list of chores that you should do every day on your website to make sure everything there is neat and tidy, just how the search engines like to see it. If there are dead links, bad HTML, unclosed tags, etc, this type of thing will retard your SEO progress.

 

404

If you are aware of these SEO bloopers, then you should stay out of trouble for the most part. I would suggest not to even bother experimenting with these methods. They are well known by the search engines and will only hold you back

The risk in taking any one of these “shortcuts” is not only wasted time but you could have your site completely delisted from your favorite search engine. In any case, there are lots of legitimate and effective things you can do to crank up the traffic flowing through your site. I suggest you start by reading everything on this website!

How I got this site to the top rank on bing

This

backbingis what you see on bing when you type the keywords “backlinks for seo” into the search bar there.

Some other searches have also shown another page from this website in both the first and second positions.

The position is for this website’s target keyphrase, which also happens to be an exact match domain (EMD) keyword.

EMD’s carry less weight in search ranking today than they have in the past, but there is still an influence in the actual domain name of a website.

Not only does bing regard this site as having high relevancy to the keyphrase, but so does Yahoo!

While not in the number one slot, we are there on the first page in about position seven. The screenshot doesn’t show the position clearly but a quick test on Yahoo! will confirm what I say here is true.

backyah

This being the case, I must be doing something right to achieve those positions.

At the time of writing, however, Google still does not like this domain. I believe the previous domain name owner did some things that Google really did not like, so they de-listed this domain name. Perhaps if they see that the new management is sincere and dedicated to providing top quality, relevant content, they might change their view.

This is called facing the harsh reality that what Google does and does not do is completely out of our control.

So how did I achieve those rankings on bing and Yahoo!?

Take a look around. You’ll see that I put some time into researching and writing good content.

Every piece written on here is totally unique and checked for spelling and grammar consistency. This is becoming more and more important in SEO these days. The search engine super computers are able to analyse written content. Poor wording and bad spelling will cause ranking to plummet. This counts for whichever language you are working with.

I’ve studied the top ranking websites for my target keywords and incorporated some of their information.

It’s an obvious tactic. See what the search engines already deem relevant enough for high rankings and then emulate and improve on what you find there.

Do not directly copy anything, but simply learn from them and put things down in your own way.

You might see what is ranking at the top and then deliberately create content that completely blows that out of the water, in terms of depth of research, writing quality and overall value provided. The more effort you put in here the better the pay-off.

Of course you’ll have to decide on how much effort is worth it to you. Can you work on an blog post or web page for 2 weeks, 6 months, a year before publishing? This can be a huge time and money investment to get right.

The risk is then that your content is de-listed at the whim of the search engine. This shouldn’t happen so easily if you stick to the rules, but again, when Google decides to pick up their ball and go home, there’s nothing you or I can do about it.

I’ve read and applied the best SEO guidance and advice out there

This is a crucial step in ranking your website. How does one find the best SEO advice available? Well, search engines are pretty good at imparting information. With the fairly recent shift in focus to serving up quality results, you can be reasonably sure that your SEO based search queries will be of good value.

My favourite of these sources, as I’ve mentioned more than once elsewhere on this site, is backlinko.com. From learning and applying just a couple of the concepts revealed by Brian Dean, I have noticed enormous leaps in search rankings for not only this website but others that I manage as well.

You might consider that I am in competition with backlinko here, well if that’s the case then he is winning hands down at this point in time and from his position at the front he is helping others to get along. So kudos where it is due.

Another source that I had learned a lot from the ground, starting from zero is Google Sniper

Now there has been a lot of controversy surrounding George Brown and some of his later product releases, but for a basic set-up on WordPress, this course is great.

Note that I’ve supplied an affiliate link for Google Sniper there and if you decide to buy the course through that link you’ll be doing me a solid favour.

The type of information given by George Brown (at least in the early iterations of Google Sniper) include such things as useful plugins for WordPress SEO and how to have them configured, effective theme types, keyword research, domain name selection and other things.

Some say that a lot of this information is now outdated. Sure, it is not so effective as it once was, but still provides anyone with an edge of knowledge.

I have personally ranked sites to the number one spot on Google for their target keyword using these methods. I still incorporate many of them today.

Keyword awareness

So you’ve done your keyword research and now know exactly which keywords you want to target and rank for in the search engines. Great, so I’d better mention those words at every possible opportunity throughout my entire site, right?

Wrong.

Sure, you should have those keywords in prominent positions such as headings, titles even the domain name if it fits. The point though, is not to overdo it. The best means of keyword management within your content is to write as naturally as possible about the content’s subject.

This way, you will effortlessly include all the related keywords as well as use your main keywords at the right rate without it looking “forced”.

I try to keep a relaxed, conversational tone in my content that, while providing value to the reader (I hope), is also easy to read (I hope again).

Summary

Without going into great detail, I have given away the exact concepts that I have used to get this website ranking in high positions over a few search engines. They were as follows:

  • Know your competition – and do better than them where you can.
  • Read up on SEO theory. Then apply what you learn.
  • Be restrained in targeted keyword use. Talk (write) naturally about your subject matter.

At this time, Google continues to keep this domain buried from their top listings. That doesn’t deter me though. As the site grows in size and popularity, things will change.

Who knows, maybe Google won’t remain as king of the hill forever.

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.

5 Effective SEO Chores

The search engine optimisation of any website covers a multitude of different areas. Some SEO tasks are done once and never touched again.

An example of a “fire and forget” SEO task is setting the domain name. Whether your domain will be an exact match to your targeted keyword or more of a specific brand name is something that is set at the start and never changed, generally, for the lifetime of the website.

But there is just so much more to getting your website and its pages seen by the search engines than merely deciding on a domain name. Once content is written, updating on a fairly regular basis, outgoing links are in place as well as backlinks, there are some tasks that could and probably should be done daily in order to keep your website’s relationship with the search engines pristine.

Let’s take a look at five of those tasks right here, right now:

1. First things first, every day if you can, keep your links clean and tidy. Go through all your outgoing links and make sure they are all live, meaning there is a page with content on it at the end of the link. If any of them are dead, and links do die from time to time, remove them or don’t link to them.

This might mean recreating some content if it relies on that particular external link. Do not tolerate dead links littering your site.

Check all incoming links. Make sure you are happy with who is linking to you every day. Backlinks are good to have but they need to be coming from reputable and relevant sites. Bad backlinks can harm your SEO.

You may have a lot of links on your site, if so you should monitor them for relevance and make sure they are all formatted correctly. Another thing is to ensure that the anchor text is tidy and clear, reflecting the intention of the placement of its link.

2. Make sure all links are in a good order, have the best and most relevant ones first if they are in a list.

You might consider categorising the links if there are a large number of them on different topics. A good rule of thumb is that if you have a page with more than 25 links, make it into a directory. If you are gathering backlinks you can have an exchange program with your link on another website for a link on the directory on your website.

If you make this deal then you have another daily task to check that your links are indeed on the other sites with whom you made the deal.

3. If you have a visible website with a decent amount of traffic in your niche, you are likely to receive link requests frequently. These can come in either by email, instant message and possibly even by phone.It’s important to respond to these requests quickly as they are part and parcel of the SEO game.

You will get some spam in this area so you’ll have to check the requested link to see if it is something that will be a good fit for your website.

Send a brief note back to the requester and tell them the reason for your refusal, if you do decline their request. You may have conflicting offers for the same or similar products, so giving a reason why you decline will clear the air. You could also send back conditions on which you will accept their link and if they change certain things you might be able to work with them.

In the professional world, webmasters will try to respond to link a request within two or three days from having received it. Quality personalised messages are highly prized here and will enhance your reputation as someone good with whom to do business in the future.

4. Monitor any link exchanges of which you may be a part.

You could view this as a reverse situation of the link directories on your site.

Yes, not only will you need to check that your own website is ship-shape and up to scratch, you have to be sure that sites linking to you are behaving themselves too. Of course, if you are following this guide, you cannot reasonably expect others to keep up the same standards as you. What needs not to happen though, is that the site linking to you devolves into a terrible center of spam and low quality. At that point, you cut all ties with them and move on.

When you see that a site with your link on it is slipping in standards to levels that are below acceptable, you ought to make efforts to inform the owners or webmasters responsible for that site of your findings. This way you are giving them a chance to correct themselves, which will not only benefit them but you as well through your association with them. If search engines suspect foul play, or that a site is turning into a link farm, it will devalue that site with rapidity. That devaluing will have a knock on effect to your own website.

This is not something to worry about as it is rare that it happens, but one should bear it in mind during the day to day maintenance of the SEO tasks.

5. The last thing that should be done every day on your website is to check each feature that is installed there to ensure that it works properly.

If you have content generators then the timing of those should be checked to make sure everything is happening as it should, without causing confusion for your readers or content going to areas where it should not be going.

If you have an email list and are messaging them, be sure that the timing of your emails is acceptable for your subscribers and they are not getting multiple emails per day from you, for example.

If you offer free or paid downloads as part of the content then you should ensure that those downloads are happening as intended and the correct content is being delivered.

The more time you spend on your website checking and testing every day the better.

Continually update and tweak every aspect of your site. Regular updates will get your site crawled more often, resulting in more frequent appearances in search engine results. You will be ranked for search terms that you may not have even thought of yourself if you can produce fresh and diverse content that stays on topic within the theme of your website.

Updates are actually of vital importance. By following the methods here outlined of ensuring high quality and precision, it will be easy for you to be able to think of different ways and means to lock in your visitors satisfaction.

This will translate quickly to increased traffic.

You should be very shrewd about accepting a link to your site without getting one in reciprocity. Occasionally, you will be contacted by a consummate professional who will have far better content than one of the links that you are already displaying on your website. If that link is already not reciprocal, then in that case you might accept the one way link, as it has improved the quality of your own outgoing links on the same subject. This case is rare though and you may also receive offers of payment for link placement. Do your due diligence in such cases.

Now here’s a bonus part to this article.

Deep checks to make on your inbound links.

Do this stuff and gain an edge over your competition who are just indiscriminately hauling in backlinks, as many as they can get from absolutely anywhere.

Not you, check this out:

Certain web masters believe that outgoing links are harmful to their own SEO (they are not), yet they may still want to have those links on their site for whatever reason.

These types of paranoid sites will use robots.txt to dissuade search engines from indexing their links pages.

You can examine a site’s robots.txt file by typing in the URL where it is located.

In order for search engines to read this file, it has to be locatable via the following format: http://www.example.com/robots.txt.

Check this file and if you see a page on which reads “Disallow” as well as the URL of the links page of that website, then they do not want that page indexed by search engines.

If you exchange links with that site, bear that in mind and if you offer them an indexed link then the exchange is not always equal in value.

Check for any cloaking of the website and if you find it report it to the search engines. Search engines do not take kindly to cloaked websites and might actually de-index and blacklist a site engaging in any cloaking activities.

Check the site’s pagerank before settling on a link exchange deal. If your site ranks higher then they are getting a better deal in a straight exchange. The pagerank can actually change per page on a website, so you need to check the PR of the actual page on which your link appears.

You may be happy with an exchange from a lower PR site, but you should be aware of the differences and implications.

Observe the number of links that are already on the page. In general, anything up to 20 links is okay, but do not entertain the idea of adding your link to a page with a higher number than that. Too many links on a page resembles a link farm to the search engines.

If your site is on a link farm, your rankings will be penalised.

If it is really easy to get a link and you find many different topics represented there, in no particular order, then it’s time to bounce.

Those sites are beneath you.

3 Rather Good Off-Page Search Engine Optimisation Tricks

The gist of it:

On-page SEO can be a blighter of a task to complete and that is covered elsewhere on this website. In the meantime here are three capital ways to increase your off-page SEO.

Cracking on…

On-page search engine optimization is undoubtedly one of the key methods that a website owner would undertake in order to improve their website’s search engine visibility. Something to note though is that on-page SEO often requires certain technical knowledge. What kind of technical knowledge? Well it helps to be familiar with HTML at least, as well as knowing how and why a webpage loads the way it does. Often things of this nature need to be adjusted in order to optimise web pages more fully.

Let’s approach the task of SEO from a different angle now. Imagine that all your on-page optimization is sorted out either by yourself or someone who actually knows what they are doing. There are things that you can do to attract the attention of search engines that are “off-page”. That is that they are done away from the code and content of your visible website. You ought to be able to do some of these things yourself . Actually the main objective of the off page stuff is to accumulate one-way backlinks. Read around on this very website and it should be hammered home by now. Evaluating the links that lead to your website is how those fat cat search engines like Google, Yahoo! and MSN deal with sorting out who’s who in the world of relevant websites. Of course the main criteria of ranking is good content, but a lot can be and is achieved by gathering backlinks.

*********************************

Now follows the three search optimisation tricks that I promised to reveal to the good reader. These are not “easy” tasks, though they are simple to understand. They are certainly less tedious than learning HTML, particularly if you have no interest in or time for adjusting HTML code. Without further ado, here are the three off-page SEO tips, which for some of you will just be a reminder:

1. Article Marketing

For most intents and purposes, the most critical component of any website is the content that it holds. There exist entire websites dedicated to the task of hosting, displaying and distributing the very articles written by thine own fair hand. Most of the article directories insist on a certain level of quality in the written article. Good use of English, as well as minimum lengths are normal requirements.  Also, there are usually limitations on the type and number of self-serving outgoing links that you can include in the articles. The reward for producing high quality written content is self promotion at the end of the article via a resource box. The resource box can say a bit about the author and link to a related website. That related website can just as easily be your website.

So to summarise article marketing:

  • You write a high quality, well researched article.
  • You add a resource box with a link back to your website.
  • You submit the article to your chosen article directory.
  • Other website owners copy and paste your article on their websites with the resource box intact.
  • Hey presto, your website has multiple one-way backlinks from (mostly, hopefully) topic related websites.

2. Forum Participation

Unless your website is in an extremely specialised niche, then there are almost certainly other websites in existence that are built around the same topic as yours. Some of these websites include discussion forums where others can participate in talking about the particular topic. Not only on websites that are about your subject is one able to discuss it. There are a few very high quality discussion websites that are a wealth of knowledge on a huge range of subjects.

You can participate in these forum discussions too. If you are able to offer very good information about the forum topic, then you will become known and valuable within that community. If you leave a signature at the end of each of your posts, not only will you produce traffic from the link that you include but this is also what will do the work as part of your off-page SEO campaign. This method is effective up to a point. The search engine crawlers are quite smart these days. They can see that the forum link is repeated by the same poster over and over and so I speculate that they give these types of backlinks less weight after a point. This will be more effective if you use multiple users on multiple forums, preferably of a high page rank. But now it starts to sound like you are gaming the system, which of course search engines do not like…

3. Blogging

There are a couple of options when it comes to blogging as part of your SEO strategy. It is quite usual for a website to have a blog (web log) attached to it as an extra area for the reader to visit. A blog which is run well with compelling, top quality content can create lifelong and dedicated followers who are always on the lookout for your updates.

The options are to have the the blog integrated with your website, as mentioned, to have the blog running on a separate domain and a third is to have both situations happening simultaneously. Of course this increases the workload of updating and maintaining each blog that you start but if done well the results can be spectacular in their own right. You may even find that your blog eclipses your website in terms of views, traffic and general user participation. The key to blogging for SEO purposes is not to “blog for SEO purposes”, but to actually enjoy updating your audience with the current affairs within your topical field. Enthusiasm is infectious and this is what will take care of the SEO that you are looking to achieve.

The upshot of it all.

What I have shown you here is the “low hanging fruit” of off page SEO, in the form of very accessible backlink building methods. The objective of off page SEO is to get your website noticed by the search engines. Your main focus of your website should be to have the very best content that you can possibly create just sitting there for the readers to find. After that it is really a case of shouting about it. If something newsworthy happens related to your website then you will generate thousands of high quality backlinks and media attention almost instantly. You will rank in the search engines over night for certain keywords that people are looking for to find out what the buzz is. Big splashes in the news world are not always easy to create, so while mustering up the courage to do something “newsworthy”, you can keep picking that low hanging fruit of article marketing, forum posting and blogging. These three will keep your head above water.

12 Months Of No SEO

An online marketer I know who meticulously studies almost every internet marketing method ever made, came to a realisation over a year ago that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was, or was rapidly approaching becoming, a colossal waste of time. By the time he reached this conclusion, he had kicked the habit of spending an hour a day generating backlinks by using many of the methods you can read about on other parts of this website.

The question to which the first paragraph leads is a very curious “why?”. What information causes an experienced, knowledgeable and more than slightly sceptical internet marketer to decide to drop all traditional SEO tactics? He was going against the grain of all the advice and consensus out there. It’s all about backlinks! Do whatever you can to get them. Be sure to place your keywords in exactly the right positions and frequencies. Use related terms but only just enough so as not to arouse suspicion of SEO from the search engines as they don’t like it when you obviously try to optimise them. All this mainstream advice simply didn’t make sense to him and for good reasons. Read on.

My friend was from an old-school marketing background. That is a relative term but pre-internet marketing was much closer to certain fundamentals than the maelstrom we see, hear and experience today. He fell back to those fundamental marketing principles and was able to cut through the “fog of war”.

One of the fundamental tenets of marketing that appeared to be getting overlooked by the hyping, frothing masses is to know and understand the marketplace at the deepest possible levels. The internet search market has but a handful of major players with one of them massively overshadowing all others. Part of knowing your marketplace is to understand it from the point of view of these major players. How will they regard all the hype and screaming about backlinks, blog comments and articles?

The point that a lot of internet marketers and SEO gurus miss is that the search engines, such as Google, make the rules and program the algorithms. Heck, the SE’s can even manually place their chosen website at the top of any search term that they choose. There seems to be a mentality that if my mediocre website has enough links pointing to it, by absolutely any means whatsoever, then I will “win” in the rankings. Following that was the rise of link buying, blog spamming, link building and a host of other artificial, borderline black hat SEO strategies.

My friend began to see that the entire backlinking marketplace had become a murky area full of spam and misinformation.  It would seem obvious that  Google, Bing and Yahoo! did not actually have a preference for a website simply because the site owner had the time and resources to thrash around the internet placing backlinks to their own site. It is just illogical to think that way. This goes the same for buying links. The search engines are looking for good quality relevant content first and foremost. All the links in and out are mere indicators of the usefulness of the content.

What is important to the giants of internet search, is to deliver the best, most relevant and useful to the user web sites for a particular search term . It is only a matter of time before a mediocre or sub standard website is exposed by one which has superior content no matter how much artificial link building, blog spamming, site scraping and extreme SEO-ing anyone does. Would Google prefer to rank a great relevant website with no backlinks lower than a bad one with thousands of backlinks in blog comments everywhere? I for one think not.

With these ideas in mind, my friend started up two new web sites with a completely different approach to SEO. That approach was to completely disregard almost all touted SEO methods altogether. He is a writer and a good one at that, and so would put all his focus on doing what he was best at. He was going to provide the search engines with exactly what they wanted; original and unique content that is totally relevant to what the search terms that people entered into their search bar. Title and description tags were kept in place and filled in well, but the rest of the content was written in a pure writing style. There was no thought to keyword density, latent semantic indexing or sprinkling the keywords correctly throughout the text. He would simply write as he always had done without using any tools  or methods to check keyword optimisation.

The niche of self improvement is highly competitive and chock full of very established businesses and personalities with massive budgets . This is the very niche that my friend went into purely on a wing and a prayer (and a very good writing style). He thought he would be placed in the Google sandbox for a while, which seemed to be the case, but he wasn’t deterred and just kept churning out quality, relevant content. The Google sandbox is a theoretical waiting period for a website before it is included fully in the ranking algorithms.

After around twelve months of writing and waiting, Google had an update named after some obscure animal. Right after that his self improvement website was appearing on front page, high ranking positions, with a few keywords having his pages at the number one spot. It seemed that after Google had noticed his website and thrown him to the top spot, the other search engines followed suit. Personally I have found that Bing and Yahoo! are quite independent of Google’s ideas and often have good sites ranked before Google.

So by doing the absolute bare minimum of deliberate on-page SEO, just adding title and description tags, and really nothing else other than write good content, he was able to outrank all the other cut-throat competitive web masters who will sell their grandmothers for a backlink. This fact gave him and those of us who followed his progression the idea that SEO is actually incredibly simple and has been massively overcomplicated by people looking for a shortcut to the front page of Google.

After quite a long time of having his head buried in the creation of his site’s content, he came up to the surface to look around and see what the situation was regarding SEO. He was happy with the results he had thus far achieved but knew that there was a lot more that could be done to refine the discoverability of his website. The main thing he then did was to add CSS to all his sites, as this is more efficient for the crawlers and combined with the rich content, simply magnified the value.

Many SEO gurus will say that it’s all well and good, congratulations and everything but you could have achieved those results even faster by adding backlink building, blog commenting article marketing and probably some fancy scraping software as well into the mix. While that may in fact be true, those murky off-page methods are highly susceptible to changes in the ranking algorithm, policy decisions and technological whims. The core of high quality, relevant content will always be undeniably the best metric for search engines to rank websites and this is all the protection any website needs.

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