Ghost Town Link Building

When the search engines follow links to your website, do they find a ghost town from a movie set? You know what those are like, right?

A movie set ghost town is all facade. There are windows with sills, nicely painted or stained wood fronts, doors, front steps or at least a threshold. But if you actually open the door, it is empty inside. When you pass through the doorway, you find nothing . Not furniture. No interior wall, nor even side or back walls. No people. Only support beams to hold up the facade.

A lot of websites are like that. You look at their link profile, and – Wow! – does it ever look impressive. Hundreds of links from dozens of domains, maybe even thousands of links from hundreds of domains.

But wait, something looks out of place. Something doesn’t look natural. Something looks like… a facade. All the links point to the home page. All the links point to the website’s facade. Just like the cameras that always show us carefully just the fronts of the buildings, the links all show us carefully just the front page of the website. Like there is nothing else on the site worth linking to.

Like a movie set ghost town.

 

 

Deep Linking Makes It Real

When you build links to a variety of pages, you are showing the search engines that your site has depth. That it has substance. That it is real, not just a facade. And if you want the search engines to take your web address seriously, it helps to show that there is really something there.

Some tips on deep linking

Make sure you have content on your website. Content is not a home page or a sales page. Content is useful information. For instance…

How-to articles
Case studies
Interesting photos
Top 10 lists
Recommendations

But how does this content lead to inbound deep links to your website?

  • Let bloggers know about your content. Some will find it interesting and link to it.
  • Share on places like Twitter, MySpace, FaceBook, Pinterest, Digg, Tumblr, etc. (learn how to use these sites, build a network, and follow the official rules AND the unwritten guidelines)
  • Write articles about the same topic for other websites, and link back.
  • Create related videos for video sharing sites like Youtube, and link back to the original content.
  • Write related guest posts on other blogs, linking back to the original content.
  • Let the media (local, trade, etc.) know about the content, in case it will interest them.
  • Prepare news releases related to the content and distribute to press release websites.
  • Comment on related blogs, using the content pages as the “website URL” field.

More on links from statistics websites

A couple couple weeks ago, I wrote about links from statistics and valuation websites, and posed the question whether it is worthwhile paying five dollars to have one’s domain submitted to 5000 of them. You might want to read the post before continuing.

There was an interesting comment by Graeme, that said:

“Did you check how my of these sites already had a link to yours? If I search for any of my domain names I get lots of these that I have never asked to list me.”

This is a good question, but it is hardly the full question. Some of these sites have static pages, and might already be linking back to you. But many of these sites create the pages on request. You punch in a domain name, and they grab the information from authority stats sites like Alexa or Compete, or from search engines like Google or Baidu.

So in most cases, the answer is “no” – most of these sites were not already linking to the site I submitted.

But as I said, that is not really the full question.

Think about it for a moment.

Keep thinking…

Aha! That’s it. If the linking page exists only because I requested it, what happens when I leave? Does the page still exist? Or more to the point, is the page stored somewhere for the search engines to find it? Yeah, 280 links or so, but on pages that really exist? A few, perhaps, but not most.

So you probably think I am about to change my mind and poo-poo the $5.00 I spent on this? Not quite. You see, $5 for 100 or 300 or more links (we are not sure exactly how many, remember?) is actually a pretty good deal. Any professional SEO consultant knows how much time it can take and how many fails one has to go through building just a couple links. What if we could take the pages we created on the fly and freeze them in time? Or in space? Or in cyber space?

Here’s what you do:

  1. Check which of the pages actually have a live link to your domain.
  2. Save the list of those pages.
  3. Build links directly to those pages

How? Here are four ways, depending on your comfort level.

  • Create a page on your website just for “Hey, look who thinks they know what our website is worth”.
  • Use these URLs when making blog comments.
  • Include these URLs in article marketing and blog posting (The Free Traffic System is ideally set up for this.)
  • Try some social bookmarking; there are many minor social bookmarking sites that are not as particular as Digg and Reddit are.

When the links you create are spidered, the pages evaluating your domain “exist” for the search engines. Plus, they actually have some small amount of link juice, which probably places them in the top 1% of pages on the each site for link popularity. Remember that most of these pages link only to your website, not to 30 or 40 or 50 other websites on some link exchange page. The more link juice these pages get, the better for your website.

So, the big question I am sure you all want to know is whether there were actually any improvement in rankings as a result of this little experiment. Well, here are the results at Google, keeping in mind that no links have been built in to these pages.

Keyword One before: around #70 (I did not take an exact reading)
Keyword One after: #60 (a couple days ago, I saw this at #55)

Keyword Two before: around #70 (I did not take an exact reading)
Keyword Two after: #65 and #66

Keyword Three before: around #70 (I did not take an exact reading)
Keyword Three after: #59 and #60

So these readings are positive in that it appears the site climbed a bit for all three search terms, even adding an interior page to two of the searches. The movement, however, is not phenomenal and it is possible that it is explained by other factors. It will be interesting to see if there is further movement once some links are built into a few of these pages. I might just have to report back to you again…

Link Variety or Link Relevance?

Over at WebProWorld this question caught my attention:

One of my ways of getting links for my sites is posting articles on blogs. I submit these articles to a site and they publish them on blogs relevant to these articles. So if I write an article about guitar playing, this article is published on blogs dealing with guitars/guitar lessons/ etc.

I have written a good amount of articles for my guitar site, and they are published on guitar blogs, I get a good few links that way, but they are coming from the same blogs. I was wondering, if I keep on doing this, would it be better, seo wise, to write less relevant articles, say about jazz music or something like that. That way I would be getting links from different blogs.

So my question is:
What is better, getting 50 links from 10 different blogs that are very relevant to my site, or getting 50 links from 50 different blogs that are less relevant to my site?

Here is my response, in a little more detail than I answered in the forum post itself:

I would take a 3-step approach. First, get good coverage in those blogs (and other websites) that are highly keyword relevant. Relevance is perhaps the most important factor for SEO. In this case, his main keyword was “guitars”.  He had submitted articles to all those blogs that were specifically about guitars.  In so doing, he had built up a strong message for the search engines that his guitar site is one that is respected by other sites in the niche.  That is a strong ranking signal.  He now has links at a number of “guitar” websites:

G G G G G G

 

Endorsed by guitarists.

 

But he has not sent a signal that his site is respected by others beyond his niche, but related enough that they really ought to know.

So step two is to submit his articles to websites that cover related topics, such as music in general, musical instruments in general, various forms of music, etc.  He could easily write articles about rock or country or some other types of music that involve guitars, for instance.  The search engines value keyword relevance, but they also value topical relevance (and don’t forget that many of these music sites will have the word “guitar” mentioned here and there.).

Plus, they value a wide variety of linking domains.  Getting a link on many music websites broadens the variety in his link profile, while solidifying the authority in his niche (because music, rock and country are still in his niche).  His link profile now looks more like:

G G G G G G

M M R M R M C M R M C C M M M C C M R C M C M M R M M M C

 

 

Now you’re endorsed by the whole band.

 

Now, on to step three.  Since one of the ranking signals the search engines look for is how widely popular a website is, find ways of writing about other topics that a more diverse blogging community will be interested in.  First define our target.  If you use the Free Traffic System, as I do (see my Free Traffic System review), you can search for blogs by keyword, and easily see which words bring up the most number of blogs, and even what types of topics they cover (some “music” blogs might only cover very specific niches, whereas others might cover anything music-related.) You can also use a Google or Bing search or search one of the larger blog directories. Let’s take a common example – there are a lot of MMO  (make money online) blogs out there.  OK.  How can you write an article about guitars that an MMO blog would want to publish?

Easy.  Prepare a video about guitars to post on YouTube in order to draw traffic to your site.  Next write an article about how you posted a video on YouTube to draw traffic to your guitar site.  Make sure to explain how you portrayed the guitars or how video is a great medium for showing off guitars – just to make sure your article about making money online is also an article about guitars.

So he should identify each target set of blogs and figure out what he can write about that will be about guitars (or whatever your main keyword is) but also about their niche.  All of a sudden, the link profile starts to look more like this:

G G G G G G

M M R M R M C M R M C C M M M C C M R C M C M M R M M M C

n y e d c g y o p s j q c x j d b i m l j e d s a r t h y u v q l o j y z h u y l p a s r c b v e q j h y t f v x s a k f d h u j m n r s w a g c e w b g k l u q i o v r s

 

Now the whole crowd is cheering for you!

 

Wow!  Let’s review what the search engines see when you follow this approach to link-building:

  1. Websites just like yours link to you.  That is an expert endorsement.
  2. Websites related to yours link to you.  Lot’s of them.  That is quite an impressive endorsement, too.
  3. Lots and lots of websites of all kinds link to you.  Your website is profoundly popular.  It must be good.

Now go out and show everybody what an amazing website you run.