Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Adopting a Natural Linking Mindset


Google favors sites that look like they were built and are managed as if the search engines didn’t exist. That means not doing anything that looks like you did it JUST for the sake of trying to game your rankings. In many cases, sites that complain of being penalized are simply no longer showing up highly on Google searches where they never really belonged in the first place.

A slew of questionable link-building tactics that used to work great no longer do. Ever wonder why some really crappy, minimal-content, borderline spam sites managed to rank so well in your keyword space? It’s mainly because of aggressive use of various link-building tactics that inflated their PageRank.

Google is casting a careful eye on how "natural" or "artificial" linking arrangements are - who links to whom, in what fashion, and how fast it happens.

You need to focus on creating a natural-looking incoming link structure that increases slowly and steadily over time. Here are some guidelines to help you adopt a "natural" linking mindset:

Obtain Your Links Gradually

People now are buying massive amounts of links in a hurry. There are people overseas that do nothing but build links aggressively for sites. This is a red flag to Google.

Getting 100 new links to a site each a month is probably OK, while getting 1,000 links a month does not typically happen naturally. Again, Google is on the lookout for any activity that indicates your are trying to "game" their ranking algorithm. So keep it slow and steady.

PageRank manipulation through massive, rapid link-building for the sake of gaining any link, no matter how off-topic, has probably led to more drops in ranking than any other cause.

Vary Your Incoming Link Text

If your link text contains your most important keywords, you get the most ranking benefit from Google. However, if you have hundreds of links that all have exactly the same link text, this is a red flag to Google. This does not happen "naturally" - some people will link to you using your business name, your site name, your URL and other variations.

I recommend that you create a set of 3 to 5 different variations of your link text (both titles and descriptions) that you use when submitting to directories, when exchanging links and for putting up on your "Link to Us" page.

Stay Away From Link Farms & Off-Topic Sites

Link farms are collections of sites that contain thousands of links to every type of site imaginable. They generally have very little (if any) content and often have links to porn, gambling, get-rich-quick, and body-part enlargement sites - to name a few. The multiple sites are also generally all cross-linked together.

Free-For-All (FFA) sites should also be avoided – they are easy to spot. You are encouraged to add a link to their site yourself using an automated form. Often the purpose of these sites is to collect and resell your email address when you fill out the form so you can be spammed with useless and illegal products in email.

Whenever you see an ad for you to "submit your site to 18,000 search engines", you can be sure that 17,975 or more of those actually go to FFA sites.

Google has penalized link farms and FFA sites by downgrading their PageRank value to zero. Nobody in their right mind should waste time getting a link on these sites. If you have too many links on too many link farms, this is not natural and Google may decide to ding your site as well for being part of a “bad neighborhood”.

Don't Cross-Link and Stay Away from ROS links

Google is cracking down on what are called run-of-site (ROS) links or site-wide sites.
This where you have the same link on every page of a site, usually in the footer of each page or in a Sponsored Links section on the side. If you are “renting” your links from a link broker, make sure you don’t sign up for ROS links.

Similarly, if you happen to own multiple websites, don’t add a link to each page of every site and then cross-link them together. This is particularly acute for sites that dynamically generate their pages from of a database. All of a sudden you can have multiple sites that have thousands of pages all linking to one another. Google can detect such arrangements and prevent outgoing links from passing PageRank.

Don’t Use Triangular Linking Schemes

Triangular linking works this way: site A link out to site B, and site B links out to site C, and site C links back to site A. In real life, this arrangement would not occur. Google can also detect such arrangements and prevent PageRank from passing.

Are a High Percentage of Your Links Reciprocal?

Google may devalue your incoming links if a high percentage of them are reciprocated back out again. Google thinks it looks a bit artificial if say, 90% of all incoming links to your site are reciprocated back out to those same sites.

In a world without Google, a site would gets links from a variety of other sites - many of which wouldn't contact you to ask for a link in return. People would link to a site because they think it's a useful resource, not so they can get a link back to your site to improve their PR. One-way links to your site are now considered more important than reciprocal links.

Not All Links Should Point to Your Home Page

You need to have at least SOME incoming links that go to an interior page of your website. If 100% of your incoming links go to your home page, Google may raise a bit of a red flag as in the "real world", people will naturally link to another page of your website besides the home page.

Have Some Outgoing Links

Since the Web is all about hyperlinking, a website with all incoming links and no outgoing links looks a little contrived. At a minimum, I recommend you link out to the directory pages of DMOZ, Google and Yahoo for your main topic, as well as any other "authoritative" society, industry or professional organization websites.

Tread Carefully When “Renting” Links

More people are "renting" links from high PageRank sites on a monthly basis. If you are in a highly-competitive industry or have a company policy against doing reciprocal links, you may want to consider this.

Because this method can be fraught with peril, there are two firms I recommend that act as honest "link brokers" who do the groundwork for you:
• Text Link Ads: http://www.text-link-ads.com
• Text Link Brokers: http://www.textlinkbrokers.com/

Consider signing up for a links "package" from a variety of on-theme sites that are on different class C IP blocks, instead of getting run-of-site (ROS) or site-wide links.

Be aware however that such links may become worthless in the future from a PageRank book standpoint. Ask your link broker what they think of this issue before spending money on such a program.

SEO Monitoring and Strategy

After all your hard work, you need to measure your progress and results over time. This section discusses what you should monitor regularly and what strategies you may need to implement for success. To wrap it up, there is a checklist that summarizes the processes and tasks used in the book.

It amazes me the resources that people put into continuing plain dumb business practices. I believe there are two mindsets out there with webmasters when it comes to Internet marketing, including SEO. The following illustrates the differences:

The Successful SEO Mindset

1. Creates useful, relevant new page content as needed.

2. Syndicates useful articles in a regular manner.

3. Submits newsworthy online press releases regularly.

4. Submits their site to relevant directories, one by one.

5. Worries about increasing traffic, conversion, growing market share.

6. Builds a site with visitors and customers as top priority.

7. Realizes that successful online promotion costs time and money.

8. Finds quality writers and link-builders to complement their own resources.

9. Quality and adding value is their mantra in everything. (Ex: fewer, quality links)

10. Steady, incremental improvements. In it for the long term.

11. Doesn't give up, and doesn't stop when success is achieved.

12. Spends time understanding and improving relationships with customers.

13. Measures, tests and refines SEO campaign for improvement.

The Unsuccessful SEO Mindset

1. Buys software that automatically creates hundreds of spammy junk pages.

2. Spams every blog site with irrelevant drivel.

3. Spams every blog site with irrelevant drivel.

4. Buys software for $29.95 to submit their site to 18,000 directories.

5. Worries about PageRank, keyword density, stuffing H1 tags, ranking #1.

6. Builds a site with search engines (and their manipulation) as top priority.

7. Tries to get everything for free and complains when results suck.

8. Uses cheap offshore labor to buy as many pages and links as possible.

9. Quantity and saving money is their mantra. (Ex: Get as many links as possible)

10. Short-term, quick-buck, "lets try everything and see what sticks" mentality.

11. Gives up before results are achieved (SEO doesn't work for me).

12. Spends time whining in the forums.

13. Doesn’t measure, test or try anything different.


Post a Comment