Keeping our Links Under the Radar

August 14th, 2008

We are constantly making efforts to improve the quality of links we provide. One of our strong points is keeping the links under the radar. We have several efforts in place, some old, some new:

1. The fact that the link is in content helps immensely. The fact that the page is 400 words of content, and not just a 3-4 sentence paragraph like some of those blog posts people sell– this is also higher quality.

2. Our best kept secret, an idea developed by us, and to my knowledge the only company doing this, is to block Yahoo from indexing the pages. This is to keep your spying competitors from seeing what you are doing to promote your site. For those of you that do not know, people commonly use Yahoo to view a sites backlinks, because they tend to show all or most of a sites incoming links, where Google only shows a very small portion. So although our edu links will not help improve your Yahoo search rankings, they also will not be visible to outsiders.

3. We limit the # of links on a page. The spider knows if it is a spammy page full of links. The Google algorithm surely includes a ration of words to links, and it does read the words around your links to verify content. We have seen some pretty hideous pages, and if you have purchased pages like this before, we recommend you take them down fast. The algo is getting smarter, and spammy paid pages are triggering flags. Most of our clients know this, they only request 1-2 links per page, but we can also reassure you that we will not let some other inexperienced client fill up his page with 10 or 20 links, drawing attention to the site. You will be in good company.

4. We limit the number of pages we will sell someone. Although I love a big sale like the rest of the world, it will not do you any good to slam up 40 pages in a week all linked to the same URL. We carefully advise our clients on what is an appropriate number of pages. Again, let’s all stay smart and under the radar.

5. We do not share our pages before we sell. And we will not sell less than 2 pages. These weeds out less than savory clients that maybe are fishing for info, or maybe just new to SEO and do not understand what is desired and what is risky. Again, good company helps us all. This is also part of the reason we raised our prices recently – the value is clearly there to people that know what they are doing, and with our link and page caps now, we will keep only serious clients.

We are always open for more ideas, lots of our decisions are based on client input. so let’s all stay in touch, keep working to stay 2 steps ahead of the algorithm and keep our sites ranking high.

The Reality of Link Building

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

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

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

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.

New Techie Stuff for EDUtextlink

June 30th, 2008


Finally our database is ready! After weeks of building and tweaking, we now will manage all of your projects online. You can log in to give us your project outline, and then monitor the progress of your pages. You can view the URLs to your pages as they go up, and log back in to any previous project. You can reference what edu links we have placed, and when. You can leave us messages on your project blog.

And behind the scenes, I get to do the happy dance because it is managing all of our staff, keeping the project flowing and efficient with minimal interference on my part. I must give a plug to Victor Raff and RaffSoftware who built this system for us. His work is amazing, he somehow made creating a database a joyful experience. (this may be the first time someone referred to database creation as joyful??) I would ask for something that I just KNEW would be impossible or too expensive, and every time “Yes, Julie, we can do that. “ It was MAGIC. And he was so very patient in explaining everything to me, asking very detailed questions to be sure the system would operate exactly how we needed it to.

Have you ever built a database? Share your experience with me. I found it to be fun, challenging. Required a lot of brain scratching. Picturing of scenarios and what-ifs. I think in my next life I want to be Victor.

New Website:

Our new site will be ready soon, with a new logo and look. Another wonderful experience with a web professional, we are crazy about our new designer, Gary Leung. We are pretty sure he is psychic, because he continues to show us designs that we love on the first mockup. What is even  more special about Gary is that in addition to being talented, an amazing eye for design, but he is also a great communicator, and an organized worker. Anyone that has worked with designers and artists knows this is a rare combination.

Blogging software:

We recently finished a customization on our blogging software. This is pretty much behind the scenes stuff, but it manages the uploading of our content, backs up all of your edu pages, and gives us the ability to move or edit content very easily. Just one more way we are different from the rest, we are in this for the long haul. And as luck would have it, we are working with a third really amazing talented programmer. Three people in a row that just blow us away. We suspect that Bob is a robot alien, only here to observe human life, because he somehow produces what we ask for within hours. Or he may just be like us, glued to our screen day and night, working because we can’t help it. Bob, can you make it do this? And instead of replying “Yes” he replies “Yes, it is done.”

I re-read this entry, and it probably seems like we agreed to give a testimonial or plug for these guys, but really that did not come up. I am truly just that excited to have done work each of them, lucky to have found them.

Doing business with a small business

June 30th, 2008

I regularly hear surprise and appreciation from clients when we go above and beyond with their linking campaigns. We closely monitor our clients, their links, their results, so we have learned what is the most effective way to use these edu links. It often plays out like this: a client turns their project details, I look it over, look at their site and rankings, and make sure it seems like the best use of their pages. I email with a suggestion to change a keyword, or limit the number of links, I explain why I am suggesting it, and I get their input. And the reaction I get so often is “Wow, thank you for taking the time to really look at this!” Or a client calls on the phone, and we end up chatting for 30 minutes about their business, Google, SEO, linking. They learn a thing or two. I learn a thing or two. I really can’t help it. I have a passion for this industry, and I really want to see a client climb up in the rankings.

What surprises me though is how surprised they are when we just do what comes naturally. It is a sad commentary on the state of customer service and business relationships when a client is just glad they got an email reply. With the impersonal way we have to do business nowadays, with automated phone lines (press 4 to hear your balance) and online transactions where you never even speak to someone, I really enjoy developing relationships with our regular clients. It is rewarding, fulfilling, exciting.

And what I really love is hearing from clients that they handle their customer service the same way. I personally love doing business with a smaller company. A small company doesn’t mean they are any less smart; on the contrary they are usually more experts in their field than a large corporation. And having someone know my name, my business, it just makes the day go smoother, and of course adds value to whatever I am buying.

Sometimes we even become clients of our clients, doing barters and supporting each other. Many of our best SEO networking, sharing ideas and tactics, comes from chats with our best clients.

I love my work. I hope you do too.

How Many Pages do I need?

June 23rd, 2008

Clients ask us every day. And we love helping them figure it out.

Link building is not an exact science. Many factors will determine how many pages you should buy and when. Here are some things to consider:

  1. What is your budget? We all need more links than we can afford. So determining how much you can spend each month will help you decide what package to start with. We can work on a long term discounted package with you for 10pgs a month or more. Our clients that are serious about their plan to move up in search have a long-term campaign going with us, focusing on new keywords every month, or going back and pushing earlier keywords further as needed.
  2. How competitive are your keywords? You will want more pages (meaning more links) for the more competitive keywords. The more general a keyword, the more competitive it is. If you can work on some long-tailed specific keywords, you can push up further with less pages. Maybe 5 pages will show results on a more specific keyword that you are already optimized for.
  3. How far do you have to go? One client moved from page 5 to page 3 with just 2 pages, then to #21 with just 3 more. Those pages had 2 links per page. But if you are already in the top 5 and need to move up further, consider 10 pages or more.
  4. What are your competitors doing? If they are also working on their linkbuilding, you will want to match their efforts. If it looks like your competitors are fairly weak in SEO, you can move up with less effort.
  5. How many words are you trying to cover? The most impact come with one link to your site per page. At most we recommend 2-3 keywords linked. This can stretch your budget and let you experiment to find out the right amount for the movement you need. We do not recommend 5-6-7 8 links per page. It is spammy and dilutes the link juice—we want you to see results! We have seen pre-sell pages out there on the net that are loaded with links, and we just shake our head. Those pages may have cost $50 less than ours, but these poor clients are not getting what they are paying for, it’s a shame.

The campaigns we run for clients are varied. Some clients in a competitive niche put one link per page on all 20 edu domains right out of the box. These are clients that are experienced buying links, and know they need to get serious if they are going to move up. Other clients start out with a 2 page to test the waters. We really do not expect much in increased rankings with just a 2 page, we suggest at least a 5 page to test the waters. The 2 page is great for getting to know us though, and our service! Or as demonstrated, if you are not yet ranked for your term, it is a good way to see a big jump from nowhere.

We’re always ready to help you work out the details of your campaign, just ask.

Using our EDU links to get multiple results listed in search

June 23rd, 2008

We are seeing some success with clients using our EDU pages to build up multiple results in Google. The indented link you see below some search results is for multiple pages that are both relevant. Webmasters desire this additional link to make your page stand out in the results.

We have advised some clients to link to some optimized internal pages. We like to see clients mix up their campaign with some links to homepage, and some to internal pages that are optimized for that particular keyword. We are seeing some results with multiple listings, and indented results.

What we did for a client already ranking #1 in Google:

We recently worked with a high profile client who had done extensive SEO work. They were already #1 for their keyword, so we linked that keyword to 2 different internal pages that were optimized for that word. This was a 15 page package, with 2 links per page, the same 2 links on each page, to these internal pages. The results: #1, #2, and #4 spot in Google.