Archive for the ‘Link Building’ Category

Why Paid Blog Networks Suck – Link Building 2010 Revisited

Link Exchanges

A lot has changed when it comes to gaining links to your website. More importantly a lot has changed on what is considered a good link or a bad link. With the economy in the tank, we are getting more and more calls for help with search position and increased traffic. Some of the calls are from potential clients that have never paid for any type of link building or site optimization, but a good percentage is from small business owners that have either been a part of Link Exchange programs or have purchased links in the past and now they are finding out¬† it is not working for their website any more. If you are not familiar with the Google or Bing guidelines for links then you should read Google’s position on link exchanges and Links: the good, the bad, and the ugly – Part 2 from Bing.

Paid Blog Networks

So what do you do if link exchange software doesn’t work any more? How about all the fuss about these blog networks? That’s a question we have received a few times. First let me tell you about blog link networks where you pay a monthly fee and publish as many posts as you want, with links to your website. Your posts are distributed throughout a “network” of blogs. The claim is link diversity and unlimited potential. Don’t waste your time! This type of network is popular because they pay out good commissions, that’s it! These networks are easily detected which means they are easily discounted by Bing and Google and could be considered a bad neighborhood. You will waste a lot of time writing or you will pay additional fees to have the writing done for you, and you get nothing or near nothing in return. That time and money would have been better spent putting an article on a popular article network or sending out a press release. While neither of those methods are high value they generally have some value, unlike the so called Nirvana of subscription blog networks. With generic category based blog networks with no specific theme and some of the worst content ever written, you will get zero benefit. Once your post is pushed off of the main page or the main category page, which usually happens in a day or two, any value is lost. At that point your time, effort and money live on a page buried in a site that nobody, including Bing and Google, gives a rat’s ass about.

Example of a Blog Network where you pay per month to post as many times as you want. Just look at the quality. ūüėČ

(The examples we showed here have shut down since this post’s writing, meaning everyone who paid to be on them has lost their investment, for whatever it was worth.)

If you think this type of site is not easily detectable, let me show you how I found them: Google This and then look for nonsensical domain names as the title. See the similarity? Most of these are from one of the most popular subscription blog networks out there. Notice every post has a single keyword link buried in the post? It gets worse, look at almost any post that is over 90 days old and copy a unique sentence, then search for the quoted sentence on Google, and 90% of the time the article can’t be found. The only people making money here is the owner of the blog system and their affiliates.

Let me say that there might be a paid blog network that actually works, but it would need to follow a few rules. I just pointed out one of the most popular networks that in my opinion is a waste of money and just ripping people off. If someone really wants to create a blog network that works, it would need to follow at least the following 4 rules:

  1. At least 75% of the posts need to be commercial quality information without any paid links embedded in the article.
  2. Every subscriber’s post needs to be reviewed by an editor for “real value”.
  3. Each blog needs to have a theme and specialize in one particular subject.
  4. Each blog in the network needs to be optimized and promoted as a “real website” with good content.

That said, you are most likely still violating Google’s guidelines if you pay to post your link on those sites. I’m not judging, just pointing out the risk involved.

How To Build Links

So how do you get quality links to your site? You need to create information and multimedia that people need and are willing to link to. Then you need to contact relevant websites and convince them that they should link to your content. If you are a product reseller, you should get your vendors to link to you as an authorized dealer. If you are a member or sponsor of any organizations, you need to get them to link to you as a such. You could do some guest blogging, but be sure the value of the link you get is greater than the value you would get from posting the article on your own website. You can also use article marketing, press releases, and directory submission but it’s just for diversity and extra exposure, alone they are not the answer.

Let me know if you agree, disagree or what I missed. I look forward to your comments. | Read the original Link Building 2010

—David Blizzard

Link Farms and Link Swaps

What is a link farm?

If I own 10 websites and link them all together do I own a link farm? Will my competition report me? What if all 10 have unique content? Let‚Äôs extrapolate that over 200 websites. What if they all have unique, valuable, content but also have links between each other? See where the problem comes in? Many individuals and companies own 10, 20, or maybe hundreds of websites. If someone reports you for owning 20 websites that all link to each other at what point or through what checks are they considered a farm? What if they are all on the same IP address or registered to the same individual or company? We can only hope that content value and link purpose is a big consideration when judging a group of web sites as a farm. It would be great if we knew the answers but Google, for fear of aiding “the bad guys” rarely goes into detail. The best I can find from Google is this Link Schemes article at Google Webmaster Central. I saw a comment once where it was suggested one ask himself “Would I be doing this if the search engines didn’t exist?”. Well, yeah! How else would anyone find my other 50 websites if there was no search engine.

What about link swaps?

Are SEOs moving away from link swaps? One thing I can see in some search results reports is that Google has made some headway with link swaps. In some niche markets I monitor, I see some top sites losing position, sites that counted heavily on link management software for the past few years to build thousands of inbound links. I hope the decline in position for sites that use blatant, irrelevant link swapping continues but it must be done with consideration for context, content, and value of the swap. To penalize a two way link swap just because it is two-way goes against some of the finer points of valuing links. If I link to my local Chamber of Commerce and then join that Chamber at a later date will I be penalized because they now link back? If so then that becomes a real issue. I know search algorithms have evolved but maybe sometimes we need to remind the brainiacs of the simple and obvious.

New attempts to cheat the system.

A new practice I see with some big SEO agencies is 3-way link swaps between those in their portfolio. I’m not talking about a few clients who know each other and trade links. As far as I can tell these are large numbers of 3-way link swaps being managed with an application. It’s a genius idea for these big companies with 100 or more SEO clients where they can manage links without any two-way trades. I was able to detect this because of their public portfolio pages but imagine the really bright ones that don’t offer a portfolio page. If they keep the swaps between relevant markets then this might just be the one that works. Once they build a reputation of “page one results” then it becomes perpetual and they could really dominate the SEO field with this tactic. One caveat for their clients is that once they stop paying that marketing company they potentially lose two dozen or more quality links. It’s a little scary for the little guys (me).

Remember, Bing Search is not too far behind, if it doesn’t work with Google then it won’t be long before it doesn’t work with Bing.

What do you think, do link exchanges still make sense? Have you noticed some high-tech link farms? Should we report SPAM to Google?

—David Blizzard

Link Building in 2010

It wasn’t long ago that you could join a link exchange network or add free¬†link building software to your site and watch the links pour in. Well, let me rephrase that, you can still watch the links pour in but the quality and the value of the links has diminished. You can sign up at the popular LinkMarket and watch the link swap offers pour in from hundreds of new websites that aren’t even indexed yet or the masses of template built funnel pages created for a few clients of “Dirty Dan” the SEO. Or you can add a hundred or more link partners from Asia or the Middle East because those are the “partners” that you think your visitors will find value in, right?

There are many conflicting theories on where Google is with filtering link swaps and farms. Although Google seems to be hiding the page rank for some of these built out link swap pages some people believe they still count. If you have thousands of inbound links from unrelated low quality sites with overflowing outbound links¬†it still appears to work according to some “experts”. But is it working for the new sites? Is Google leaving the old link swappers rank alone but discounting the newcomers? Do the filters only apply for the new sites using the old tricks? Is Google just hiding the pagerank on link farms to discourage others from joining in or are they filtering the results and value passed by these farms? Is the toolbar page-rank any indication of the value or the actual page rank of a links page, or is that page’s value actually higher? If your URL includes the word “link” or “links” is it penalized? Should it be? A real test would be for someone to take a well positioned site with a high number of “low quality” inbound links that were acquired with a link swapping campaign and start removing those links. Obviously this would be a challenge because the link partners would have to be contacted. It would be a time intensive manual process to undo an automated build and it put’s the site at risk for a drop in the search results. The inverse would be easier, take a new site and try an old-school link swap build. That still wouldn’t tell us about old builds though.

What about blog spam and the boneheads that use keyword laced link text rather than a name when they comment? Is there still a value in that? Do forum signatures still work? Should they?

We have seen so many abuses in the past like the early days of meta keywords and tiny or hidden text that you just know we are going to see some innovation in “real time” search results abuse. Do the search giants have a plan or did they roll out the feeds as quick as they could for fear of being last or missing the game?

Should we all be spamming twitter with links to our website and blog posts right now? Is one tweet enough per site, page or post? Should we tweet swap? You tweet me I tweet you! Can I pay you to retweet me? Should I? We have all seen the spam that ruined Twitter Trends.

So I have asked a lot of questions and given no answers. For now¬† I can only say that in 2010 you still have the same old reliable opportunities. The following is a list of link building techniques that should always work, they are so white-hat that you should not incur penalties. As always, you need content and you need on page optimization and conversion optimization. Without those then what’s the point in building traffic?

  • Request links from friends, affiliates, and business partner sites
  • Join relevant industry groups and request or add links to your profile
  • Find business directories that are still known to count like Best of the Web , Yahoo Directory and the Open Directory Project (DMOZ)
  • Join business networks like linkedIn and Merchant Circle
  • Write and submit articles to quality article networks (Read and obey the rules). Be sure your profile and the article links to your site.
  • Add your blog to your profile at sites like Technorati , MyBlogLog , BlogCatalog
  • Make sure you have set your blogging software to ping update services like Technorati, Pingomatic, URLfan etc. *
  • Blog, Blog, Blog – Write good content and it will get linked to if it can be found. It’s perpetual.

While most do-it-yourself web masters could manage these tips on their own there is still plenty of work involved and I see plenty of work for SEOs in 2010. Not just the hard stuff, most successful business owners will not have the time or be inclined to perform these simple tasks. Not only are they time consuming but most search professionals will provide more than what I have listed here even for entry level link building.

Good luck in 2010 ad post comments on what has worked, what stopped working, and what is working for your link building campaigns in 2010.

* In WordPress the update services can be found under Settings > Writing and scroll down to Update Services.

Link Building 2010 Revisited – Why Blog Networks Don’t work

—David Blizzard

Link Building – White, Gray, and Fade to Black

SEO PoliceThis year, search has changed for a number of reasons, including the popularity of social networking. The SEO community is seeing change, and with change is fear, and we see plenty of talk about the effect it has on traditional link building. Two months ago, a heated battle between Aaron Wall and Rand Fishkin resurfaced about outing and link buying. Some think we should police the competition, and some think we should get better at what we do and leave the detective work to Google and Bing. Either way, there is more than one sheriff in town, so you better watch out.

There is plenty of information available now that suggests that building links too fast can result in discounted links or reduced value.¬†Link text is a factor too, and some of the self appointed sheriffs might be using the same tools they use for link research to find “spammers” based on link text patterns,¬†and then they can report web SPAM to Google. It’s very common to build links using directories and article sites as well as making trades.¬†Natural links are often built with link bait or just good content (imagine that), but sometimes the need might arise for even the whitehat to bleed a little gray and buy some links. With recent changes, you could burn some links and some cash if you get too aggressive too fast.

What about the old fashioned spending spree? Well, SEOmoz used to endorse buying text links:

“… and the process of buying links couldn’t be easier. Inventory at Text Link Ads is of a very high quality, and the links often provide more than just a boost in organic rankings, but also some click-through traffic. The company’s dedication to service and willingness to provide exceptional quality links makes them my first choice for a link broker with every client.” – Rand Fishkin

But in September, they released their new SEOmoz position on link buying. No more link buying from SEOmoz? If they can pull that off and still be successful then times have really changed.

Not everyone has given up on buying text links though. SEOROI is still in the game and at your service for discrete link buying services. ūüôā Some call it ballsy, and some call it honesty or transparency.

Whichever direction you choose to throw your balls, there is one thing for sure: link building, link acquisition, and link value has changed in 2009.

—David Blizzard

What is SEO? Is It Real?

To the SEO bashers, I present this argument: Some people hire a lawn service because they don’t have the time to mow their lawn; they don’t like to mow their lawn; they don’t like wasting their weekends mowing; they don’t have the tools for it; or they tried it and they ruined the lawn and killed all of the plants in the yard. For whatever reason, they pay to have the lawn mowed. How silly would a person look if they posted an article stating “anyone that pays to have their lawn mowed is an idiot”? They continue about how it’s easy to do,¬†they have been mowing their own lawn for years and it looks great. They declare “Lawn men are con artists! I will even tell you how to trim your hedges, edge your sidewalk, weedeat, and prune your trees, and I will tell you for free.lawn man reading SEO book

Believe it or not, I started writing this because I just finished reading¬†“It’s All About The Links” over at SEOWizz. Ahh, the mind is a terrible thing. How did¬†I turn Tim’s great post about links into a discussion about¬†lawn mowing?

SEO work can be fun and educational during the on-page process.¬†¬†Onpage search optimization is the act of optimizing copy and¬†HTML based on a set of known and ¬†perceived search engine¬†guidelines. It takes a certain skill set to evaluate key words and phrases and incorporate those into HTML elements and body copy so they satisfy your target audience and the search engines.¬†You can change your page title, description, and copy and watch your SERP position and sales pitch change. Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done and there aren’t known factors. Then we get to link building, which is a whole different animal.

Sadly “Links! Links! Links!” is very true. I’m not sure we should be calling link building SEO, to me it’s more marketing and should be listed as SEM. Finding the links that are providing your competitors with an edge or finding quality links that will improve your search position is a different skill set than on-page SEO. New rules from Google and “juice” protection from websites is making SEO link building even more tedious and time consuming. It is also raising the cost of hiring an SEO/SEM that gets results. Specialists who can provide quality links that will hold their value don’t come cheap. You can get your site bot-spammed to hundreds of¬†blogs cheap, but it’s not going to help.

The SEO community has been labeled con artists by some, but these people are blowing smoke when they tell you all you need to do is write good content.¬†It’s just not true.¬†You might not be capable of writing good content anyway. You need good content and you might have to pay for it,¬†and then you need¬†people to link to it. The content on its own does not get you traffic, and nobody knows you have good or even great content until someone links to it. Sure, it can go viral but first somebody needs to light the fuse. Some of the anti-SEO crowd are giving advice like “just¬†tell people about¬†your website”¬†(so they will link to it?). Well, guess what; you just committed the “act” of link building. They tell you to have your friends and co-workers tweet about your site and mention it on Facebook or in email. Guess what; that too is link building. Sure, if you have the time and will to learn then you can do it yourself,¬†but most business owners don’t sit at home blogging all day (or mowing their grass). They have a business to run and they need help promoting their website.

There are the basics that should be done when optimizing a website, and it will usually squeeze out some competition.¬†Generally, the basic onpage optimization with no regard for links will not get you in the top 10 if you are in a market that is the least bit competitive. Don’t get me wrong; you need to study keywords and phrases, because they have to be used somewhere, either in content, titles, or link text, but that research is generally wasted¬†without quality inbound¬†links.

Are you listed on Best of The Web?

—David Blizzard