Backlinks are not as mysterious as you might think. How do you decide on your own plan to gain link popularity? This really depends on the nature of your product. I’ll explain. Ecommerce business models are the bread and butter of many self-proclaimed SEO consulting companies. Google’s zoo of algorithm changes which dictate the importance of how you are ranked catch too many of these companies by surprise when the changes propagate causing their numbers to cut in half, or in some of the worst Panda stories as much as 75% of their traffic was lost.
So what took down the authority giants who sat on that ivory tower? Over the last year I’ve seen backlinks change in importance enough for SEO company Adsense ads to start selling phrases like, “Pagerank doesn’t matter” or those wonderful squeeze pages who sell you a plan to make squeeze pages just like theirs saying things like “SEO aka PPC marketing…”.
No, don’t believe these clowns… they are the reason that Raven Tools and UpCity are having such a fun time selling tools to people who were so sick of the company they just finished a contract with. If you approach a company looking to grow your organic traffic and they won’t break focus from your conversion rates on sales, find someone else. The PPC traffic really is the low hanging fruit, but you have to know your conversions in order to make those numbers work to make a profit. A sales pitch could cost you thousands in ads and advice which lower your margins and thin out your brand. Conversions are just a matter of math and I’ll explain those later for you so that if you do run into these non-SEO SEO-salesemen, you can ask the right questions before signing a contract.
Do people pay for links? Yes and no. Yes, people do hire companies who have a proven track record of building them high quality links that stick. No, you should never hire a company that is just selling you bulk backlinks with anchor text in them. A good linking pyramid is not a very easy thing to accomplish by force, but organic links usually follow common patterns which one can recreate for some very good success. I don’t use paid services myself… but for an idea on cost for a good service, if it doesn’t cost you the price of a used car then it probably isn’t worth your time. Hunting for people to link to you has a lot to do with your position in the company as well as something to offer in return. You can create content, beg, or exchange links. The paid guys who do well at this have a network of trust they have built up which is why they are so valuable.
I’ll go back to the basics really quick here… you’ll want appropriate anchor text in your inbound links. The location of the link and how it relates to your own material also adds more relevance to the link. If you use Majestic’s free service or any other like it, you’ll know these ratings as ‘citation’ and ‘trust’. Also, a higher pagerank site will also give you a high citation and trust sending more pagerank to your own site. A dofollow link is more important than a nofollow link, a link in the body or navbar of a site is better than in the footer, and those comment spam-bots still hit blogs because rel=’nofollow’ is not the same as rel=”nofollow” (the quotes stop the bleed completely, the apostrophes don’t… I’ve been waiting for Google to change that for many years).
I used the term ‘pyramid’ when I mentioned linking which is mostly about the citation and flow of your links. A site might have 2- PR8 sites linking to them with appropriate anchor text and then 150- PR2 websites, 1000-PR1 websites, and 20,000- PR0 websites. Imagine them like a pyramid… your top Pr8′s are fewer and your bottom PR0′s are numerous. This is something that Google expects to see in shape when visiting a site now. You might have 20 bazillion PR0-1 links pointing at your site, but that will matter diddly-squat against collecting a fewer amount of high PR links. The low pagerank links which do come easier are not worth hunting for so try to grow those through social media platforms or wait for bloggers to link to informative articles. As with the number of links, your site is also an internal pagerank pyramid which should have the majority of links pointing to the home page of the site.
You also have to take into heart that some links won’t stick. Some sites will give you a link only to have it disappear and reappear on a new page as their taxonomy moves older material off their home page. You also have developers that will seal up their external links after a given amount of time and nofollow your link 6 months down the line. This means that you need a plan which involves constant link acquisition organically to supplement any and all lost links. As your traffic and number of pages increase, those links should also be increasing.
Google won’t look at your Pagerank first, but they pay very close attention to it after the other filters process through from those zoo algorithms I mentioned (Panda, Penguin, etc). All of the elements in actual SEO (the structure structure structure) are going to fluctuate in importance and complexity to keep marketing scammers from taking authority there, but the basics aren’t going to change by much at all. Google wants a good experience for everyone and they are constantly trying to improve that experience to maintain the quality of their brand, and produce the best results for what people are looking for. While the low road might seem easier, the high road of a balanced structure, taxonomy, AND linking plan will keep your business going longer and without the extreme penalties that Google’s algorithm changes can hand out.
Heck, you could copy some of the sites that weren’t ready for Panda verbatim and using a site with zero pagerank, beat that authority site by providing a better taxonomy around your keywords. I helped someone with an experiment on using scraped content to provide low level links in a pyramid they were trying to force together behind their blog and we found that by focusing on a single keyword in Craiglist, we could outrank Craigslist for their own titles if that title was featured on the home page of the garbage site. That was what Panda did to sites that were all over the board on keyword content and didn’t divide their taxonomy appropriately enough for Google to read easily. I wouldn’t recommend using scraped content for your own sites… this was literally a post-Panda experiment that we tested out to test our theories on how to handle the taxonomy for his startup.
That brings me to a few sites to keep in mind with your linking plans. Reddit, Google Plus, Blogspot, many different news trend aggregators, and personal blogs are an excellent place to target for your linking plan. Google Plus users who have publicly shown posts can send extremely valuable links back to your site simply by +1′ing you. Reddit weeds through and nofollows some of their links, but not all.. if you get the right Redditor to post your material, that can be worth quite a bit as well. Personal blogs are all different, but Blogspot blogs that are producing content daily can get very good results as well. Don’t go twisting arms for links, find relevant places to get links from and encourage linking behavior towards your site. Give them a plug on a page or throw them a few dofollow links. Exchanging links can be beneficial to everyone involved.
Here is an example from Majestic’s tools from a startup run by 2 people that I helped recently. Their links are growing at a good rate thanks to a solid organic linking plan built mainly from social links and now is growing at around 500-1000 links a week so long as the company stays active on their site. After only 5 months they are now in position to catch competitors of theirs who have been online for many more years. Toolbar numbers aren’t reliable to get the actual current numbers, but this is an excellent position for any startup to be in. They went from a 0 to a 2 and will likely be closer to 4 after the next toolbar refresh which will reflect the extra work I recently put in. For a site without a long history, this is what you want to see.
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