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Ranking Your Site - You Have the Bread, Let's get the butter!
Backlinks and their basics |
Backlinks are links that are directed towards a website. Also known as Inbound links (IBL's). The number of backlinks is an indication of the popularity or importance of that website.
Backlinks are important for SEO because some search engines, especially Google, will give more credit to websites that have a good number of quality backlinks, and consider those websites more relevant than others in their results pages for a search query. When search engines calculate the relevance of a site to a keyword, they consider the number of QUALITY inbound links to that site. So we should not be satisfied with merely getting inbound links, it is the quality of the inbound link that matters.
A search engine considers the content of the sites to determine the QUALITY of a link.
When inbound links to your site come from other sites, and those sites have content related to your site, these inbound links are considered more relevant to your site. If inbound links are found on sites with unrelated content, they are considered less relevant. The higher the relevance of inbound links, the greater their quality.
For example, if a webmaster has a website about how to rescue orphaned kittens, and received a backlink from another website about kittens, then that would be more relevant in a search engine's assessment than say a link from a site about car racing. The more relevant the site is that is linking back to your website, the better the quality of the backlink.
Format/ Appearance of a Backlink
A Backlink essentially has 2 elements to it:
The HTML code of a backlink is: Anchor text
What is meant by Backlinks Diversity?
So you see the guitar display on the left? Neat, eh? But don't you realise that it looks attractive mainly because of the variety!
Similarly, It's always better if you get 10 links from 10 different sites and not 100 links from one website. Your backlinks are best if obtained from different websites on different platforms (blogs,forums,social networks,etc) hosted on different IP Addresses. Whilst taking you through this course, I assure you that I will try and incorporate as much diversity into the link building portfolio as possible.
For instance, you may wish to build around 100 links out of a total of 500 you would have planned for your website from Articles. Will this be effective enough - No! This is not diversity by any means - since 20% of your links are coming from similar sources.
What is meant by Backlinks Velocity?
So tell me - how does a car pick up pace? It starts slowly and then gains momentum depending on how you drive it. And the drive is smoother if you don't resort to going in overdrive mode right from the moment you start it. So basically, speed and performance are interlinked is what I am coming to. The speed at which backlinks are found and indexed (recorded by Google and other search engines and stored in their records) by the search engines is called backlink velocity. It is a better idea to build a certain number of links every month (even only 50) rather than building 10 times that number in a given month, and then stopping the link building process completely! So basically, consistency in the effort put into link building is also an important factor to monitor. At the same time its good not to be very predictable with you link building efforts. When you are building 100 links every month, Google is certainly not going to index all the 100 links at the same time. The number of links that get indexed every month will fluctuate even though you are building the same number of links and your link building will look natural. But still it's better off if you don't build the same number of links every month just as a precaution.
Always try not to let Google figure out any visible pattern in your link building. For instance, if you build 100 links the first month, then build 120 links the second month, 150, the third month and 200 the fourth month and so on. It should appear arbitrary.
A steady increase in the number of links will be beneficial to your site. Please understand that these are just guidelines and not rules. If in case you have blog in a niche that is seasonal, then invariably you can't expect to have the same type of discussion about that topic all around the year and hence there is nothing wrong in having a sudden spike in the acklink activity as the season approaches. Also if you are a product owner and going to launch a new product, then naturally you will have more backlinks coming to your site during the launch period. So just apply some common sense depending on your niche with regards to building links.
Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to backlinking - It is always better to be a tortoise than a rabbit when it comes to building links to a new site. There are several website ownsers who say that they have built 100,000 links to their new site and nearly 20,000 of those links are indexed and they are ranking well. The truth is it does happen because Google is just a robot and it's not perfect. You can also do it if you are just building useless sites just to make a few dollars without any long-term goal. But if longetivity is the reason for you playing the game, then better stay away from this sort of link building activity. The reason is that eventually, you will end up getting banned for making it so obvious that you were involved in link spamming. I mean c'mon - a new site is usually nowhere to be seen in the search engine and it has no traffic. So how can you explain so many links pointing to it? You can't even assert that your competitor built links to your sites, because you weren't ranking anywhere in the top while getting 1000's of links to your site. Moreover, what is the explanation for so many backlinks for a site that only has just managed around 1000 visitors a month? So all it takes is a spam complaint from one of your competitor and you will be banned. You may get away doing this but not for long. So remember to be steady and consistent with your link building efforts - rather than being unreasonably speedy.
What is First link priority?
Within an article, Google credits only the first backlink to a particular URL - if there are more backlinks to the same URL within that article, it totally discredits it. The reason is that Google will only count the very first link to any particular URL and won't consider the rest. This is called first link priority. We can actually do some harm to our site, if you are going to link to the same URL more than once. Also linking to the same URL multiple times with in an article doesn't look natural.
Let's look at an example. If your main keyword is weight training, then ideally you want to link to the keyword weight training. But some time we may also link the same URL to the keyword weight or body or other keywords we find relevant because the main goal is to maximise the number of outbound links we can get. But if any of these links come before the main link, then all the link juice will go to the very first link which doesn't have the main keyword and all the other links will not be counted. Hence we are not going to get the desired results with this submission. So to get the maximum benefit make sure that you have only link from the same URL. You may link to other urls from the same domain with a different keyword, but its better if all the urls you are linking to come from different domains. If you don't have any other URL's to link then just have one outbound link.
What is IP Diversity?
What is an IP address? IP stands for Internet Protocol Address, a location derived address, which varies for different computers servers across the globe. It is best that the links we get come from a range of different IP addresses. Even if 2 websites have a high PR but relatively similar IP addresses, the links obtained from such websites will be not be as effective, as getting a link from these as well as another site of a diametrically opposite IP address.
What is Anchor Text?
I have already mentioned that anchor text is the visible, clickable text which conceals your actual backlink. A good backlink portfolio should always have some variations in your anchor text. For example, if you are trying to rank for the keywords "Herbal Treatment", do not use this as your anchor text in each and every link. Put a variation here and there - say 1 out of every 5 or 6 links you build can have your anchor text as "Herbal Treatment method" or some other small variation. Remember - we want to make our link building look "human" and not "automated" because this is exactly what builds credibility in the minds of Google. And by varying our anchor text occasionally, we are doing just that.
What is Pagerank(PR)?
This is one of the concepts which every backlink builder needs to understand. PR is something which can be interpreted as credibility ranking - i.e. Google gives those sites a high PR which it trusts, and the others are shown to have a low PR. PR's range from 0 to 10 -so the idea is to focus on the high PR websites for your backlinks.
So as I said, not all websites have a high PR - so your primary target should be to get maximum backlinks from websites with higher PR. SEOQuake which we have spoken about earlier, provides you clearly with the PR of the website you wish to know - so, if we get more of our links from these websites, we are effectively going to reduce the effort we need to put to get backlinks in general.
What are Contextual Links?
A backlink is most valued if it comes from within content which is related. For example, if you are trying to rank for a keyword like "dog training", an article which you will write should have its content based on dog training as well - this is what is meant by contextual. Whether it is a blog post, an article or a forum you are posting on with a backlink within your content; it will be most beneficial to ensure that you are sticking to keyword relevancy.
For example, in the image I have included here, can you see how the link with the anchor text in orange "baby girl names" is placed - right in the middle of a contextually relevant article. On the contrary, while submitting an article to Ezine Articles, you cannot expect to get Google Love if your article is based on Feng Shui and you are expecting to get a link to a "dog training" website from it.
What are Trusted Sites?
It is best to get some links from Trusted Sites like the ones with extensions .EDU and .GOV
There are some who debate against the effectiveness of these websites but in my opinion, Google does give a degree of extra preference to links coming from such websites. And moreover, getting links from these websites further diversifies your link building portfolio -so then why not go ahead with it?
I will show you exactly how you can try and get links from EDU and GOV sites in the forthcoming pages.
What are No Follow Links?
Basically, through backlinks which have the "No Follow" tag, there will be no passage of PR. Basically, you may have backlinks built on a particular page but if the "No Follow" tag exists on this page, then there will be no extra credibility allotted to the destination of these backlinks through passage of PR. This was introduced by Google in order to prevent spamming and to a great extent, the effort has indeed been successful. While some argue that "No Follow" links are useless, I beg to differ. I feel that having a few "No follow" links here and there in fact makes your link building appear human. Getting only "Do Follow" links is not something which Google can eliminate from scrutiny. So, for safety sake, we should include just a few "No Follow" links in our link building portfolio.
An example - Check out the Wikipedia page of any item you wish. And notice that all their internal links (i.e. links which are linking to Wikipedia pages themselves, are all Do Follow whilst the links at the bottom i.e. the "Sources" part - all of them would be No Follow - to prevent extra PR juice being passed on to these web pages)
What are Article Directories and Article links?
There are article directories all over the web - the most popular being Ezine Articles. Now, most of these article directories allow you to submit articles of standardized lengths to them which they then host on their own servers. Moreover, there is usually a "Resources" tab at the end of each article you submit, wherein you can include a backlink to your site. Now owing to the popularity of these websites, they get crawled pretty frequently by the Google Spiders and when your published article, is crawled upon, Google will also naturally come across the backlink in the "Resources" tab - That's it! There's your backlink. And this part of backlinking is actually called Article Marketing.
Below is an example of how you can utilize the resource box of your EZine Articles account to get a backlink. Basically, a resource box becomes somewhat like a signature and gets displayed under every article you publish - thereby giving you a backlink. In addition to this, read the TOS of each article directory to figure out how many links you can use in the article body as well.
So those are the basics. Now what are my views on Article Marketing?
Manual first, automation later
Now, the biggest problem when it comes to Article Marketing is - while it so essential, you also cannot ignore the amount of time and effort which is expended to get the best out of it. I mean - the standardized lengths of articles are 500 and 1000 words. And even the best of us will take time to write a quality article of that length in the first place. Moreover, submission is also going to take up a few minutes of your time.
And now for the worst part - Ezine Articles is just one of the article directories. Can you imagine having to submit a unique article to each of the popular article directories on the web? Phew!
So the solution - use automation tools once you get the hang of what you are doing. The first one I recommend is Article Marketing Robot - since while it simplifies the submission process, it also allows you to "drip feed" prewritten articles to article directories of your choice. This means that all you need to do is write the article and schedule its time of posting to the article directories. The tool does the rest! However, if you are working on a budget, I suggest you do this at a much later stage. Start off by manual (but quality) article submissions to various article directories which I will mention here.
Now, as I said before, there is also another need we have to cater to - submitting a unique article to each article directory. Why - Because if Google comes across the exactly same article submitted to two article directories, it will be classified as "duplicate content" which in the long run, would be disastrous for your rankings. So how do you generate unique content? I would recommend The Best Spinner - it has a yearly fee associated with it but the results are fantastic. However, I do understand that not everybody has the budget when they start off. So in the initial days - you can do without article spinning. Just focus on the submission of unique articles to the main article directories I mention in the weekly plan and that will be enough for now.
How to use the automation tools?
While I was actually going to include a section to teach you'll how to go about using automation tools, I finally decided that it is best that you learn the exact functioning of these tools from their respective websites - once you purchase them.
The reason for this is that I learnt these tools in the best way I possibly did - only from the tutorial videos which are made available once you purchase them. Moreover, at this stage, if you have just started backlinking, do not purchase these tools until you make some decent income and also, until you figure out that backlinking and off page SEO is what you want to pursue as a business model for yourself.
Always remember to identify your future course of action before investing money into something.
Is Article Marketing important?
While Article Marketing is not as important or as powerful as people make it sound, there are a few advantages to it which is the reason I continue to count it as an important practice.
What are the rules/requirements for writing these articles?
An article submitted to an article directory (we will again consider EZine Articles here - since it is the most popular as well as reliable article directory on the web) need be written in any specified format. The only criteria which one needs to keep in mind while writing an article are:
Where do I submit these articles?
I would keep the following article directories as the ones I would want to submit my article to. The ones marked in red are the ones I will encourage to submit your articles first, followed by the ones marked in green, and then followed by the others. Note that while I am just providing you with the details, you need not necessarily go about submitting to all these. Make your own list and try and prioritize in the way I have explained.
Also, submit unique articles where you can. In the detailed backlinking plan, I will tell you how to go about it.
Note: Do not get confused as to why we are submitting to GoArticles.com on priority and not one of the others which have a higher PR. The reason for this is that the acceptance of spun articles by GoArticles.com is declining in the recent days and moreover, getting all your top notch quality articles submitted to only high PR directories could raise suspicion in the minds of Google. Therefore, it is better not to take a chance on this front and play safe by including a low PR article directory on priority as well. Also, PR does not bear any effect on the circulation and penetration rate of an article directory.
EzineArticles.com - PR 6
GoArticles.com - PR 3
ArticlesBase.com - PR 6
TheFreeLibrary.com - PR 7
ArticleSlash.net - PR 4
ArticleSnatch.com PR 5
ArticleDashboard.com - PR 5
ArticleCity.com - PR 5
ArticleClick.com - PR 4
ArticleAlley.com - PR 5
Note: In addition to this list, check out the Annexures section at the near end of this Course for a more comprehensive list of article directories you may refer to once you get time/money to do the same.
Press Release Links
What are Press Release Sites and Press Release Links?
This is another excellent source of backlinks and again - contextual backlinks (I hope you have understood that concept by now!)
What are Press Release sites? Well, Press Release sites are essentially news sites -somewhat similar to article sites, but not exactly since article directories do not necessarily qualify as news sites. You can think of these websites as newspapers in terms of the kind of content you will be submitting here.
So basically, you will be writing an article again - but this time in a news article format (which I will explain to you in detail below) and then submitting it to these press release sites.
You may think - how can a new website on say, dog training secrets, have a Press Release written for it? How can you create a news article for something like this? Well, trust me it is not at all complicated. You may develop a press release by saying something like "Ralph Kent (just a fictitious name for the owner of the website) has developed a website wherein he helps dog owners with invaluable tips to train their pets. Dog training has become a market in itself with people trying to mould their pets to best fit the needs of their families........." and there - you have a Press Release format going for you! (I'm giving you the exact format which you can replicate a little below)
Some Press Release sites will allow you to include your backlink in the middle of the article, with an anchor text. These would again amount to strong contextual backlinks. Others allow you to instead merely list your website separately - as the author of the Press Release itself. Do not worry too much about this for now - links are links and Press Releases are again a source of really powerful backlinks, especially if you cover all the websites I'll tell you to.
Submission - How do I write so many?
Now remember, the use of the article spinner I had mentioned earlier is NOT RECOMMENDED again, because even though it would become cumbersome to write a unique press release and submit it to each and every Press Release website, you have to put in this extra effort since Press Releases are high quality traffic driving vehicles.
Remember, submit a unique press release to each website.
Can you help me with a format/template of a Press Release to get me started?
This would somewhat be the format of your Press Release. While I can comfortably say that you may alter it here and there, in general try and stick to this format where you can - It will allow you to standardize your Press Release writing style.
(The Press Release Format is in Blue and on the following page. The small font is only to make sure that it fits in a single page and so that you can print it out if needed)
Headline Is in Title Case With Your Keyword Early And Maybe Even Repeated In Some Form (170 Characters Max)
The summary paragraph is a simple synopsis and summary of the entire Press Release and will include the keyword early and again may repeat the keyword for maximum effect.
City, State, Month 1, 2010 - This is the "Lead" paragraph and will contain the most important information and your keyword again once. Concentrate on grabbing your reader's attention here. Do not assume that the reader has actually read the title or summary and as such make the lead paragraph concise and to the point.
The first couple of paragraphs should cover the "who, what, when, where, why and how" questions and like a news story keep sentences and paragraphs short with a maximum of four lines per paragraph.
The rest of the news release expounds on the information provided in the lead paragraph. It includes quotes from key staff, customers or subject matter experts. It contains more details about the news you have to tell, which can be about something unique or controversial or about a prominent person, place or thing.
You would also include a link or references to the site promoted about here and lead the customer to this link as part of the story. Remember, you are not selling at this stage, just guiding and referring to the link, product or service.
Keep a keyword density of about 2-3% and lead your reader through the news story and expand upon the topic discussed in the first paragraph.Include quotes from people relative to the story and always write from a 3rd party perspective. Keep it engaging and interesting without any sales copy.
In this last paragraph you would summarize and reiterate the main points. And maybe even mention a feature/benefit combination along with any Trademark acknowledgements and link to your promotion.
About Synth Corporation:
Here you would include a short background blurb about the company or the person who is the focus of the story.
Mr. X, Advertising head
(Sample Source: Sean Donahue)
Some General tips for writing good Press Releases
More detailed tips to write Press Releases
The Opening Paragraph - The make or break situation!
First impressions are usually last impressions and more so, in a Press Release. If your opening paragraph doesn't grab the reader's attention immediately, everything else you've written usually goes down the drain.
Therefore - here are some tips to write a stunning, high-conversion opening paragraph for your Press Release.
1. Think about your news story's USP (unique selling point for those who do not know what that means!)
What is it about your story that makes it interesting and newsworthy? This is more difficult than you think - just because you want to announce something doesn't mean that it's automatically important news!
2. Be different and craft your own style
I may have given you a format to write your Press Release in - but trust me when I say that this is just one of the simplest templates which I have picked up and simply given to you. If you want your Press Release to stand out, do so by developing your own writing style - true you make mistakes initially, but that's what teaches you to write better in the long run. If you have a different writing style, you are more likely to get noticed!
3. Please- no jargon. Be diligent and disciplined in your wording
The latest buzzwords always abound in Press Release leads and they very cliche. Please avoid using the same!
4. Make sure you cater to all the basic questions first
Your lead paragraph should be JUST a summary of your story - you really don't have to stuff every single detail into it since that's what the remainder of your Press Release will do.
Open by answering who; what; where; when and how, but even more importantly why this is relevant to the reader. Your lead paragraph needs to demonstrate to the reader why they should care about your story.
5. Really, Really precise
Make sure that you get rid of all the words which are just added for no rhyme or reason - a good Press Release is short and to the point. It includes all the most relevant details quickly and engagingly. Wasting words will just ensure that the reader is unable to get to the intrinsic concept without wading through the B.S. If a reporter is forced to sort through lots of superfluous words to get to the core of the story, he will be more likely to abandon your PR and go on to the next one!
The Donts - Avoid these mistakes
1. No sales pitches please!
Please avoid hype and stick to making your Press Release a readable and credible piece of news material!
2. Drowned in Keywords. No please
We all are aware of how important SEO is and of course it's vital to optimize your Press Release to help increase your search engine ranking - let's be honest, the whole idea is to gain a few keyword-rich backlinks to your website. However, optimizing your PR is not the same as stuffing it with the targeted keywords over and over again!
3. A monotonous/unpleasantly formatted headline
Nobody wants to hear the same things and likewise, view the same kind of Press Release headlines again and again - such as" Important Update" amongst many other terrible headlines.
You really need to emphasize on more specific and unique stuff - does your new website or blog have an intrinsic benefit that people might be interested in reading about? Then this is what your headline needs to be about (making sure you avoid the sales speak!).
Also, do not create such detailed and long titles that people completely fail to understand why they should even read further when the first line itself is putting them to sleep.
4. Keep 'em limited!
Several marketers try and churn out as many Press Releases as they can, thereby producing poor quality and badly written, keyword stuffed PRs that are not newsworthy from any angle!
No doubt that you are writing your press release to get exposure for your product or service and increase the number of backlinks to your site, the more the merrier - but never substitute quantity for quality. Write a good quality Press Release and you stand a better chance of getting the syndication you need to get good quality backlinks.
5. Failing to not go over the final Press Release you have written
Most people do not understand the importance of this but writing a press release filled with errors of any sorts will nullify the very purpose you were writing it for - traffic and SEO. Even if you think your PR is perfect, it is most definitely a good idea to leave it untouched for a couple of days before trying to go over it one last time.
Is it news material?
1. First of all, is it based on any proof or evidence?
Proofs and evidences, if present, back your story and really enforce a strong and credible image in the minds of readers.
2. Does your story have mass appeal?
For instance, if you are launching real estate brokering firm, it will mainly gather the interest of only 2 factions - competitors i.e. other real estate brokers and prospective buyers.
Hence, try and analyze what is, or rather what could be the broadest and maximum sized target audience for your story.
3. Timing and Scheduling
As I have said before, backlinking in general needs to incorporate seasonality and a lot of timing measures need to be taken. For example, if you take the example of India, if you are setting up a review site on Air Conditioner brands, no point doing the Press Releases and other forms of backlinking in December - since even if you do rank, it will be Winter then and nobody really wants to even glance at your portal then!
Therefore, to eliminate this effect, try and mould your Press Release to incorporate some form of trending news topic even in the most subtle of ways to grab a reader's attention.
4. Local or Global
Sometimes, certain stories (like the real estate brokering firm example I gave earlier) are better fitted to local markets and likely to catch local attention rather than global.
4. Emotional or Functional connect?
It would be extremely difficult to strike the emotional chord of your readers by only sounding like a salesman! Therefore, try and look for methods/words to provoke any positive emotions in the minds of readers - thought provoking statements put in quotes can do the trick often!
Where do I submit my Press Releases?
And here's the list of the sites you would be submitting your Press Releases to. In the detailed backlinking plan, I shall further guide you how to go about it - but for now keep in mind, this is where we'll be submitting quality and unique Press Releases.
i-newswire.com - PR 6
prlog.org - PR 6
free-press-release.com - PR 5
pr.com/press-releases - PR 6
1888pressrelease.com - PR 5
addpr.com - PR 4
ecommwire.com - PR 4
Pressreleasepoint.com - PR 4
Note: In addition to these, check out the Annexures section at the end for a more comprehensive list of Press Release sites. But keep in mind, these are the primary ones we will be using in our backlinking plan.
Source: The Adsense Dragon
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