Archive for July, 2008

The Reality of Link Building

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

In their effort to create valid and relevant search results, Google’s complicated algorithm is ever changing. The key to ensuring that your site shows up at all in search, and particularly high enough to get some traffic, is factoring in the importance of inbound links. It is impossible to say exactly how many links you need, what kind of links, or why some links seem to work more than others. But with experience and research, you can learn how to work towards that perfect mix of links that will signal to the search engine spiders that your site is indeed worthy of the Top 10.

Now in the long term, your focus on having a visitor friendly site, with material that a visitor wants to see, will be rewarded by the search engines. And of course increase conversions and loyalty. So be careful not to lose the perspective of your customer, your visitor, and make your site what the public wants.

That said, you still have to do a ton of work that you would not normally do for visitors only, if you want to rank for your words. It is just not possible to build a site just for visitors and expect to rank.  MAYBE if you have 4  years, MAYBE if the nature of your business coincidentally is one that demands new content  naturally for visitors, MAYBE if you are such a huge authority in your field, if your field happens to be something worth linking to, MAYBE then you can just randomly and naturally build up enough inbound links to rank high enough to turn a profit. But what if you sell socks? I mean, how much content can you possibly ‘naturally’ put on your site about socks? Is it really helping your visitor? And how many websites in the world are just dying to link to your fabulously well written valuable articles (1-2 new ones a month, right?) about socks, choosing a color, knee socks vs. crew, etc. It is all just fluff, and this is what the search engines want (expect) us to do.

So accepting that you will have to manipulate your marketing plan for the search engines as well as visitors, you will embrace this intimidating link building campaign. You must get links. Gotta do it. No getting around it. And link baiting, enticing people to link to you by offering rich valuable content, or free widgets, or press releases, is a big part of it. But baiting is just not enough for most sites, you will have to do active building the  hard way:  one at a time or buying them.  You will want lots of smaller links, and a few big boys. Some links in content from a high PR will work magic on most sites, especially mixed in with the average links. Authority links such as EDU links or GOV links will complement your smaller links and give you a big boost.

Keep your link campaign well rounded, with a mix of inbound links from pages with high page rank, and even below yours. Vary the anchor text for your links. Also point links to internal relevant pages in addition to your home page.  Take your time, space out your new incoming links. The crawlers will detect an unnatural spike. This is especially important for new sites.  Links in content are still absolutely the best,  seek these out in every creative way possible. Avoid bad neighborhoods where there are lots of spammy paid links to questionable sites.

And how to get all of this done? It is daunting, and the only way to do it right is to spend an enormous amount of time on it. This is why companies are hiring these things out, and focusing on designing their site for their visitor, letting the SEO worry about the rest.

Page Rank Schmage Rank

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

When it comes to .edu links, we are not concerned with PR. Our links are authority links and passing value regardless of the PR that shows on the page. However, we do get lots of clients asking what the PR of the page is, what it will be, etc. Google has us trained to look for our “grade”.  If you are not selling links on your site, you really need to ignore your PR.  And for obtaining links to your site, you need a mix of PR links higher and lower than your sites PR.

The pages we build for you will start with zero page rank. They may or may not develop their own “grade” in time. Our main sites – some have some PR, some do not. Some have lived through an update, some are newer. ALL are passing the value of an authority link and pushing sites up in search. Sometimes we see our pages in the top 10, proof that the edu is an authority link.

Focus instead on your search ranking for the terms that bring you the best traffic. Time and again you will see low PR sites outranking higher PR sites for various words.  Do your SEO homework and watch your rankings rise.  A Page Rank is just a general indicator, and not updated real time anyhow.

It’s not the “E” “D” “U”… here’s why EDU links work

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

.Edu links and .Gov links have long been accepted as authority valuable links. Search engines count them as higher votes. Everyone knows this. But once in awhile that theory has come into question.

Google claims outright that their algorithm is not skewed to add any additional value to an .edu domain. Matt Cutts has been quoted claiming this, even has a blog page from 2005 blatantly stating that the EDU is just not given any weight over a .com. Ok, possibly a glimmer of truth in that if you take it word for word literally.

So why still a demand for the edu link? Simple: they work. SEO companies want them. The build edu links themselves. They buy edu links when they can. They are ignoring Google. Not that Google is lying, but they are not going to spell out their algorithm for us either. And if the edu links work, then I still want ‘em.

Why do the EDU links work?

1. Old grandaddy domains. Established. Not going anywhere. 10+ years old. That equals value in Google’s eyes.

2. Not easy to obtain a link on an EDU domain. (”Honey, is our neighbor 2 doors down a professor, do you think maybe…..”)

3. EDUs tend to have loads of inbound links and very high page rank of 7 or 8 or 9.

4. Content rich domains are weighted. And edu’s have their share of content!

Ideas pop up in forums all the time on how to obtain edu links. The classified ad idea surfaces now and again, and it worked for awhile, but most have a no-follow now. College papers sometimes sell off some links but again that method is dated and less effective.

The Link Building 101 rules still apply, though not with as much credence, as the edu link will overshadow some of these. However, you still want ideally a link in content; this is the #1 current effective link building tip that is garnering results. Avoid sidebar or footer links, or sitewide links, typically sold cheap on college rags (cheap for a reason!)

The EDU link lives as an authoritative link. We know what Google meant, we know they have to protect their own interests, but we see every day the power of the edu link, especially in content. Our clients know it too. And understanding why puts you one step ahead.

Other people talking about EDU links

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Here are a few articles discussing the power of .edu links.

Marko Nikolic says:

If you want to rank for a heavily competitive keyword try building some .edu back links and see how drastically it changes your rankings.

And on SEO Book, Aaron Wall explained the concept the same way we do, that it is not just about the .edu behind the domain, but the trusted nature of an EDU site.

I have a PageRank 7 site that doesn’t rank anywhere near as well as you would expect given its PageRank. I also have a couple PageRank 5 sites that rank for a ton of searches and are getting thousands of visits a day. One of them has less than 30 pages too. What do the PageRank 5 sites have that the PageRank 7 site lacks? Tons of .edu and librarian type links.

Proof Google Loves EDU & GOV Sites:

And another SEO blogger discusses his reasons for trying to obtain .edu links:

“Having .edu links means that your site will gain more and more credibility”

SERoundtable covered this awhile ago as well:

Over the past year or so, it has been widely reported that links from .edu and .gov top level domains (TLD’s- like the more common .com or .org) carry more weight than others.