Monday, September 17, 2007

Link This!

After a weekend we are on to Day 27 of the challenge and the podcast for today had Ed getting a little hot under the collar about spammers and critics. Spammers, who have been using the 30DC techniques for their own spammy needs, thereby undermining the process for the rest of us. It breaks down like this: If a bunch of spammy spammers use these techniques as Ed has detailed them, then those places that Ed has suggested we put our content (ala Tumblr) will see that as a representation of all the 30DCers...because as we know, people see the bad things first and judge all else by that first impression. Of course Tumblr didn't want to be known as a spammers paradise, so they did the only thing they could do, shut everyone down. Why should they go through each individual page to see if the content has merit?

Ed then went on to have a go at the critics out there, who say the 30DC is just a bunch of hot air. These people are generally made up of those who either haven't even taken the challenge, or took it and failed because of their own choices for niches.

Anyway, Ed announced that all the forums and training for the 30DC would continue to be kept up on the site so that anyone can take the challenge again and again, as often as they like, whenever they like. He also mentioned that there would be sporadic future lessons that would deal with product development, amongst other things. He talked about the ease of creating audio and video products as long as you were comfortable with talking/creating videos.

He also asked us to have a look at Michelle MacPhearson's blog for some good information, including the 2nd edition of Luke Parker's Free Online Advertising Encyclopedia. A must-grab. You can download a copy here.

The it was over to Rob Somerville to talk about Link Building. Link building is when you create backlinks to your blog or site. What link building does, is tell Google that, because all these other sites have links to your site - and because these other sites know what they're talking about - Google should put you higher in the ranking for your keyword phrase. It's sort of like being vouched for, except you're vouching for yourself really. Over time, with decent content, you'd be able to build links naturally, as sites that have something in common with yours and like your stuff will link to your site anyway. However, that can take a long time and with so much competition out there it may never happen, so we need to help things along a little. The important factors to look for when trying to place your link on another site is: age of the site you're putting your links on and content relevance of the site you're putting your links on. If you're putting links on a new site that Google doesn't even recognise anyway, then it's a waste of time. To put your links on a site that has nothing to do with your niche is also a waste. Link quality is far more important than link quantity, but a combination of both built up over time is the best of all. You should always try to include your keyword phrase in the anchor text of your link. I generally just put the URL in most cases anyway, as it includes the keywords from my blog. Links from .edu and .gov are better still to have, although obviously harder to secure.

You can use yahoo to identify the backlinks of your competitors, and then go after those as well. Using the SEO tool in Firefox, you can see how many Yahoo banklinks a competitor has. Then by clicking on the Yahoo links link, it will take you to a page that lists all the backlinks to that page. So then you can review the backlinked sites, and determine which ones are best for going after.

Another way to find sites of relevance, is to create a Google Alerts account. This you can set up through your GMail account if you have one, and you can get Google to email you everytime they find a site that has your keyword phrase in it - you can then go to that site and see if it's possible to create a backlink to your content on that site.

Ultimately, though, the best link building strategy is to create great content that other people in your niche area will want to link to. Remember, not everyone is out to make money online - some are just there to pass on knowledge and information, and if yours is up to snuff then others will link to it and share it around (and hopefully give you the credit you deserve).

You can basically create backlinks yourself by commenting on blogs and in forums, making sure that you can include a link back to your site. Don't be spammy, though, always write something that adds to or contributes in someway to the rest of the content on the site. If it's a blog, make a comment about the content and try to steer that to your blog. If it's a forum, make posts that contribute to the thread you're posting in, otherwise in most cases your post will just be removed by the moderators. If you contribute then you're more likely to be left alone. The best way to post in forums without seeming spammy, is simply to include your blog address in your signature, so that every time you post a backlink is created and it's not about tricking people or spamming them into visiting your blog.

You can also try reciprocal linking, where you arrange with someone who has a site in your niche, that you will create a link to their site if they create one to yours. In this case always make sure you specify what the link text should say.

You can also submit your site to various directories, such as Yahoo and DMOZ (the big two) but this is usually expensive (Yahoo is US$300 a year).

I set up a Google Alerts account and within a couple of days I got an email that led me to a site that had ripped off my blog content and put it up on their own platform. At first I was pretty angry, because I was sure that Google would penalise me for having duplicate content, but after posting on the 30DC forum about it and reading the replies, I realised that the other guy was most likely to be penalised. I posted comments on all his blog posts, directing people back to the "original source" of the content, my blog - thereby creating a backlink for myself. Within a couple of days his site had vanished.

Things to avoid when trying backlinks: Link farms, irrelevant sites, low-authority sites, porn or gambling sites, duplicate content and links from deep within a site's structure.

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