Thursday, September 20, 2007

Backlinks To The Future!

We are now on Day 29 of the Thirty Day Challenge and it's all about backlinks. If you hadn't gotten it from previous posts then here's the scoop. Backlinks are one of the most important aspects to having a good page ranking in Google. Using Ed Dale's earlier analogy that Google is the bouncer and your niche is the niteclub, well backlinks (from reputable sources) are link having someone well known to the club/bouncer put in a good word for your ugly self. If I manage to get a backlink on a site that Google regards as an authority in my niche, it's like someone cool walking me up to the door of the club and saying "this guy is okay, treat him well". Obviously, the more of these cool people you have coming to the door with you, the more likely you are not only going to get in, but also you're going to get a good table near the front of the stage (equals high page ranking).

Now some people think that the more backlinks you have the better off you are, but that's not necessarily so. Quality always wins out over quantity. The best backlinks to have come from authority sites in your niche. If you're selling sausage making tips then you want to get backlinks from sites that at the very least revolve around the processing of meat. Having a backlink to your sausage making tips come from a computer game website is probably not going to do much for you in terms of gaining Google's trust and confidence. If you walk up to the door of the sausage making niteclub with a guy who knows about sausage making and says you're okay - huge plus. If you walk up to the door of the sausage making niteclub with a guy who knows everything there is to know about car parts, Google is not going to care so much. Don't get me wrong, almost any backlink is a help - but if you're going to take the time to submit your site for backlinks then you might as well go to relevant niche sites to do it. To see how to go about doing that you can read my previous blog post.

Now, once you've done the hard yards with authority sites in your niche you can try hitting directories for a bit more of a boost in the rankings. Directories are basically sites that will list your site in a particular category relevant to your niche. Google will take notice of these places, but only in a cursory way. Directory submission is something you should not bother doing manually, as the time it takes will not be rewarding enough. Thankfully, there is directory submission software out there that takes away alot of the time-consuming aspect. One such tool can be found at - where you can also download an article submitter to place your content on other platforms such as Ezinearticles. I'm a bit skeptical about article submitters because of the duplicate content rule on Google. Basically, Google will penalize anything it sees as duplicate content, and relegate it to the "sandbox" - also known as the Supplemental Index. Basically, lost in the ether.

A great place to go to find directories to submit your sites to is It has a list of over 800 directories that you can submit to, along with their page ranking (the higher the PR the more "authority"), so you can just focus on the directories that are going to mean more to Google.

One of the good and bad things about directory submissions is that they usually take quite a while to show up. Usually around 3 to 6 months for a free submission, but some work a little quicker. I say this is good because what it means is that you can submit to multiple directories at once without fear of Google thinking you are spam and sandboxing you. If you were to do the same thing with social bookmarking sites then Google would consider you a spammer and drop you like a hot potato.

If all this time and trouble and waiting is too much for you then you can also pay to have your site listed on various directories. This will generally guarantee you a quick listing. If you have plenty of money then you might as well hit the big wig directories - Yahoo and DMOZ. Yahoo submission run at around $300 a year. I'm not sure the price of DMOZ but it's not that much. Of course, in keeping with the principles of the thirty day challenge we do not want to spend any money just yet, so I'll pass on the paid submissions and stick to the free ones.

Another place to acquire backlinks for free is by answering questions relevant to your niche in Yahoo Answers. What is Yahoo Answers? Well, it quite simply a place where people post questions and other people answer them. The asker then picks the answer that suits them as the best. You can build up points for having your answer picked as the best.

When you first go to Yahoo Answers you should click on the 'Advanced' link and make sure the "open questions" is checked. This will then give you the questions that you can still post answers to (once a best answer is picked the question becomes closed for anymore answers). You then do a search for your keyword phrase and see what comes up. If you find something you can answer try and put your keyword in the answer somewhere (but not in a spammy, sales way). You are given a 'source' box that you can then enter the address of your site. If you can be bothered you can also search through the 'resolved questions' and add comments instead of answers. The advantage of Yahoo answers is that it is niche specific, which Google likes. It's worthwhile spending an hour or so every few days going through trying to answer questions and add your backlink. The most important thing here, though, is to make sure your answers are contributive. Don't just post some crap, through your URL in and expect it to be okay. Yahoo Answers is moderated and if you spam you're likely to have your answer deleted and your account suspended.

Ed's Podcast for Day 29 of the challenge talked about the various niches that he's had a look at from other thirty day challengers, and the mistakes some of them had made when trying to get ranked. I really wish I could have gotten my site looked at - but hopefully I'll network someone who knows enough of their stuff to be able to tell me if I'm doing something wrong with my site. For some reason I just can't get it off Page 4 of search results, no matter how many relevant backlinks I work up. My Squidoo lens is holding up okay, but with my next niche I'll definitely be trying a new platform other than Blogger. I thought it would be favored by Google seeing as Google own it, but maybe because it's so big Google don't consider it such a knowledge base after all.

Ed's advice when starting to add content to your platform is making sure you put your keywords in the heading of your blog, to write a decent description in the heading of your blog for Google to pick up. Don't throw too many articles up at once at the beginning. Just make one post and wait for Google to index it before you make any more. Do a little social bookmarking on that one post, but not on the first day and no more than 5 sites every other day. Make sure that whatever platform you use there isn't already a bunch of people trying the same niche on that platform. If so, use another platform. There are hundreds of viable platforms to choose from, so go out there and knock 'em dead.

There is only one more day of the Thirty Day Challenge left for me to blog about - I'll then be carrying on with my new niche idea and documenting my attempts at getting better results with that then I've had with my current two niches.

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