Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Link Analysis & Blogs/Forums

I got a bit ahead of myself with the Day 27 lesson. I shouldn't have actually gone into checking out the competitors backlinks through Yahoo.com. That was actually part of today's lesson, so here we go.

Link Analysis

The first part of the lesson for today is Link Analysis. This is where you use search engines to reveal the link network of your competitors. You start by doing a search for your keyword phrase in Google, making sure you have the Firefox SEO tool activated. This will show a number of things, but the one we're interested in today is the Yahoo page links. This result can be accessed by clicking on the '?' next to the 'Y! Links' link - it can also be automatically turned on for each search by clicking on 'Tools' at the top of your browser, then going to 'SEO For Firefox', then 'Options'. You can then select which results you want to see automatically, and which you want to see On-Demand. By default, all results are set to 'On-Demand'. If you're using Microsoft's Internet Explorer then you should stop using it right now and switch to Firefox. IE is dead, Firefox is the future - of that you can be certain.

The Yahoo links number is the number of links that Yahoo can find that link to the page in question. Obviously we don't know how many of these links are relevant at this stage. The manual way of looking at these links is to go to Yahoo.com. Type in "link:[URL of #1 ranking competitor]", and Yahoo will return all known sites that link to that page. You can do the same with Google but they generally return much fewer results for some reason. Once you have your list you check them out to find which are relevant. Most of the time you can tell just from the blurb that goes with the URL, but sometimes you will have to check out the site as well. There are software tools that allow you to check for relevant sites for more quickly, but as these cost money they are outside the scope of the thirty day challenge. Unfortunately, Rob didn't even name them so I couldn't go to my P2P network to see if I could find them there and give them a try.

Once you find a site that seems relevant the next thing to do is check whether they have 'no-follow' links on their site. When it comes to backlinks, Google will go to your site and be able to find all the pages that link to it from other sources. However, if a link is No-Follow, Google will not record that as a backlink to your site. Some sites put No-Follow in place to dissuade spammers from spamming their sites. By default, if the Firefox SEO tool is active, then No-Follow links should appear in a red box. Some search engines, such as Yahoo, will still credit you with a backlink if you post on a No-Follow link site, but Google will not. Other things to look out for are sites where links have been removed by moderators, or sites, such as forums, where links are not allowed in signatures (or signatures have been turned off completely).

Blogs and Forums

You can also find other niche relevant content sites for creating backlinks by going to Technorati or Google Blog Search. These sites provide the ability to search for blogs in your niche. You can simply visit them, type in your keyword phrase, and see what turns up. In a lot of cases, you will be able to visit the blogs that appear in the results and post a comment which includes a link back to your site. Try using a unique name when posting in blogs and forums, so you can then set up your Google Alerts for that name to make sure the posts appeared, and to add to your comments if necessary. When commenting on a blog or forum always make sure that your comment is relevant to the blog post, so that it adds to it or it is a well thought out opinion. Simply throwing up a link to your site with a "nice post" comment will generally get your comment removed.

For forums, you can search for your niche in Google simply by typing "[your niche] forum". This will generally give you a list of sites that are relevant to your niche but that also contain forums. You can then visit these forums, make sure they allow signatures to be posted, and then sign up and start making your contributory comments. Who knows, you may even find yourself part of the community after a while. In the case of forums it is much better to simply post comments relating to the topic at hand, rather than trying to turn each of your posts into a "look at my site" post. Include a link to your site in your signature, and if your forum posts are compelling enough people will click through to your site anyway. Plus, a link in a signature is a common thing in forums, so moderators will be less likely to consider it spam. In fact, if you've followed along with the thirty day challenge properly, and written your great content, it won't be spam at all.

Other sites to check out and possibly post comments on are Squidoo and Hubpages. To find your niche on these sites you can type in the following 'site:squidoo.com "sign my guestbook" "[your niche]"', and this should produce a list of lenses in your niche that allow guestbook comments.

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