Posted on November 20, 2012
This is especially true for Search Engine Optimisation.
Because there is no right or wrong way to do SEO, it means all you can ever do is try something out and see if it works.
If it does, great. Keep going.
If it doesn’t, you need to stop and refocus your energy.
But how do you tell if it’s working?
There’s really only true test: Check your Search Engine Ranking Positions (SERPs)
If you’re building links to a page and it’s not increasing your SERPs, then the link building you’re doing simply isn’t working and you need to find a new SEO strategy.
Tracking your SERPs used to be as simple as Googling a word and then seeing where your site ranked.
With all the advancements in search algorithms, those easy days are gone.
Now, every time you search for a word in Google, it takes into account a whole raft of different factors that effect your SERPs like:
– Search history
– Google plus likes
– Previous clicks
– And even your YouTube history!
All these additions have been added in to make your search results more closely match the kinds of sites you’re looking for. But in the process, they’ve made it very difficult to get an objective picture of whether or not your SEO work is paying off.
But there is a way around it.
There are services available that are able to get clear and objective SERPs, despite all these additions to the search algorithm’s. They use a combination of anonymous internet browsing and special filters from locations all around the world, to make sure they get an untainted snap shot of where you site stands.
The one I use and recommend is MicroSiteMasters.com
They have a really easy to use dashboard, very accurate reporting updated at least once per day, and they have a special plan that allows you to track 10 keywords for free.
You can check out just how simple it is to use and start measuring just how much of an impact your Search Engine Optimisation is having today.
Get your free plan here: MicroSiteMasters.com
Posted on August 1, 2012
NOTE: This article is a work in progress. As SEO changes, I’ll be updating this article with the latest news. Book mark it and come back to it often to make sure you’re up to date on the latest strategies.
Revision date: 1st August 2012
Length: 6,500 words
When I first got into Search Engine Optimization (SEO), I was confused. VERY confused. There was so much to learn and I didn’t know where to start.
I made lots of mistakes and cost myself thousands and thousands of dollars but I’ve come out a wiser Man.
This article is a $xx,xxx education in SEO that I wish I had when I was starting out.
DISCLAIMER: SEO is just a series of best practices and guesses. Outside of the top management of the Search Engine companies, no-one knows the exact formula for increasing your search engine rankings. EVERYTHING you read on this page needs to be read and applied with that in mind. I take all care but no responsibility for any problems you face through your SEO work.
Search Engine Optimization for Beginners
Search Engine Optimization is an INCREDIBLY important part of making sure you attract lots of the right kind of people to your website.
It also happens to be a topic that I cold write hundreds of pages on and still not cover everything so I’m just going to give you enough of the basics to give yourself a leg up over the competition without confusing you.
So, here were go:
What is Search Engine Optimization?
To put it simply, Search Engine Optimization is making your website more appealing to the search engines (such as Google and Bing) so you rank higher in their search results.
Why is SEO important?
When you search for something in Google, how often do you just click the first link? How often do you make it to the second? How often do you make it to the second page?
The averages are:
#1 result gets roughly 55% of the clicks
#2 gets 18%
#3 gets 10%
#4 – #10 get roughly 2% each.
Page 2 gets less than 2% total.
And page 3? Forget about it.
So, to translate this into real, usable figures:
The search term ‘Attract Women’ gets searched for 1,500 times a month. This is the breakdown of clicks you could expect at the various positions:
#1 – 825 clicks per month or 27.5 per day
#2 – 270 clicks per month or 9 per day
#3 – 150 clicks per month or 5 per day
#4 to #10 – 30 clicks per month of 1 click per day.
By being in the number 1 spot, you’d be receiving 27.5 times the amount of traffic that you’d receive in the number #4 position.
Now multiply that difference by 30 key words.
Now multiply that difference with key words that get 150,000 – 1,500,000 searches per month.
This is why SEO is important.
SEO can be the difference between receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors per month and your website fading into insignificance in the dark, dark, depths of the Internet.
It can be the difference between you making a serious and significant contribution to the world, and making a lot of money whilst you’re doing it, and you never, even being noticed.
There are over 200,000,000 registserd domain names in the world. And only one of them can get that 55% of search traffic in the number 1 spot. Is it going to be you?
This is why SEO is important.
Understanding Search Engines
The easiest way to understand SEO is to first understand what the search engines are trying to do.
The people who run the search engines worked out a long time ago that in order to get people using their search engine, they need to get the best and most relevant information in to the people searching.
If their results weren’t useful or related to what the person was searching for, they would quickly switch to another search engine that gave them the results they wanted.
This then raised an interesting question for them:
How do you make the search results the most relevant?
Their answer was to come up with a formula (algorithm) that was used to rank the relevance, usefulness, and authority of a specific website page for a specific keyword. That way, when someone searched for a key word, all the search engines had to do was look back through their database and order the most relevant, useful, and authoritative websites from the top down.
What does this mean for you?
The search engines are looking to get the most relevant, useful, and authoritative websites in the top spots.
That means search engine optimisation is all about showing the search engines that your website (and more specifically, your specific page on your website) is the most relevant, useful, and authoritative piece of information on the internet.
2 Kinds of SEO
There are two very significant and distinct elements of SEO that you need to keep in mind when trying to show the search enginges that your article is the article that needs to rank in the #1 position for a search term.
Those two kinds of SEO are ‘On-Page Optimisation’ and ‘Off-Page Optimisation’.
I’m going to walk you through ‘On-Page’ optimisation first because it will set an important foundation for all the SEO work you do. Once you’ve walked through that, we’ll get onto ‘Off-Page Optimisation’.
What Is ‘On-Page Optimisation’?
On-Page Optimisation refers to optimising the pages of your website for the search engines. Hence, the term ‘On-Page’. It refers to making your site simpler for the search engines to find, faster for them to crawl through, and easier for them to understand the information you’re presenting.
There are several different ways you can optimise the pages of your wordpress site to do this but all of them require an understanding of how the search engines see your website.
Through The Eyes of a Bot
Search Engines don’t employ staff to manually go through every site on the internet and grade it for content, quality, and authority. That would take hundreds of thousands of man-hours per day and have to be repeated over and over again to keep up with constant website updates.
Instead, they have a piece of software called a ‘Bot’ that crawls through the internet, scanning websites and then reporting their findings back to the main search engine databases.
Because the thousands and thousands of these tiny bots that scan the internet every day are pieces of software rather than human eyes, they actually look at your website in a different way than humans do.
Instead of seeing pictures, they see the code that creates those website pictures.
This is important because it means that in order to make your site more relevant in the bots eyes, you need to change a few key pieces of information that most people wouldn’t much attention to but the Bots value very highly.
On your website, these are:
Meta Title – This is the title of your website. It’s the first big clue that the bots get to what your website is all about. It’s important to find a title that suits your website content and direction.
Meta Description – This is a short description about your website that the bots use as a second indicator
On your individual website pages, these are:
H1 Header – This is the title of your WordPress pages and posts. The Bots place a lot of value on these when determining what the page is about. You can also place these inside your page content if you like but it’s not advised. Too many H1 tags just confuse the bots.
H2 Header – These are also a kind of heading that you can use inside your page content. The bots value this less than the H1 header but more than H3.
H3 Header – I’m sure you can guess what this is. It goes all the way down to H6.
Bold – Bots place more attention on words in bold on your page than they do to words in normal font.
Image Alt Tag – As I mentioned before, bots can’t see pictures, they can only see the code that makes the pictures. When you upload a picture onto your WordPress blog, you can give it what’s called an Alt tag. This is a tag that tells the bots what the picture is about and is used to help work out what the page is all about.
How to Optimise your website pages for search engines
Having all this knowledge about On-Page optimisation is great but it’s useless unless you know how to apply it.
Here’s a crash course in how to set up your On-Page optimisation to help you rank for keywords and draw in traffic.
Obviously, there are much more in-depth overviews available on the web but this is just designed to give you the basic fundamentals
Step 1. Decide on the kind of site you want to create
When building a website, it’s important to have a solid idea of what your website is going to be. If you don’t, the bots (and people) are going to get confused about what your site is about and then end up leaving.
There are an almost infinite number of different topics and angles you could build your site around. You could choose chess, tennis, baking, parenthood, fencing, water bottles, education, whatever you want.
Then there are even more variations of the angle you could look at that information from. You could be critical, satirical, informative, discursive, analytical or even scientific.
Locking down a topic and angle will give both your readers and the bots a clearer idea of what your site is about and make ranking it easier.
Step 2. Know your niche
Once you’ve decided on the content of your site, it’s important to work out all the related keywords for that niche and which ones are drawing the most traffic. If you do this, you’ll be able to target those keywords more effectively and therefore, get more people to your site.
Here’s how you do this:
Come up with a list of every word and phrase you can think of related to your niche.
I’ll use something I know very well as an example: Blue Widgets
- Blue Widgets
– How to find blue widgets
– Best blue widgets
– Blue widget review
– Blue widget scam
– Blue widget torrent
– Where is my blue widget
– Cheapest blue widget
Spend 5 minutes doing this and come up with all the variations you can think of.
This will form the basis of step 2.
2. Find more KW’s and their search volumes
Now that you have your list of keywords that your potential visitors could be searching for, it’s time to find more variations and for those keywords and see how often they get searched for.
This is a simple process that requires just a few steps:
- Log onto the Google keyword tool here.
– Enter the first keyword on your list into the box labelled ‘Word or phrase’
– In the sidebar on the left, you’ll see a drop down menu labelled ‘Match Type’ with three different boxes in it. Tick the box next to ‘exact’ and untick the rest. ‘Exact’ searches are the only ones that matter. ‘Broad’ will return all results that have the same words but in any order and ‘Phrase’ will return results that have your words in the same order but with other words around them.
– Fill out the captcha form and then hit ‘Search’
This will bring up a long list of Keywords that are related to the one you entered as well as average amount of times they get searched for a month.
Find all the words that have between 1,000 and 20,000 searches per month and a competition rating of either low or medium (if this is a very important word for you) and record them on a spread sheet.
There’s no point in going any lower than 1000 because it’s just not worth it (unless you can rank #1 easily) and there’s no point in going anything above 20,000 because you’ll struggle to rank for it, even with a low competition score, without a reasonable SEO budget (at least $500/month).
After you’ve done that keyword (KW), move onto the next one.
Keep going through the list until you’ve done all your KW’s. This should give you a nice, fat list to target.
Step 3. Set your site title
Once you know what you want your site to be about and the KW’s that are bringing in the most traffic, it’s time to pick some of the high traffic KW’s to name your site.
Firstly, no, I’m not talking about your domain name. Your site name (or meta title) is what your site is called. It’s the name that appears at the top of your browser (above the tabs you have open) when you’re looking at a website.
It’s important to do this after you’ve done your KW research because you want to give you site a name that is related to the big KW’s you want to rank for. Search engine bots pay a LOT of attention to this meta title so it’s important to make it relevant.
The way to do this is simple:
- Log into your WordPress dashboard
– Hover over the ‘settings’ in the left hand menu bar and click on ‘general’
– You’ll see two fields at the top: site title and tagline
– Fill them in
Quick tip: it’s important to give you site a title that makes sense. If you just use generic KW’s to try and rank, it just ends up looking spammy and you could get penalised. This also goes for your tagline.
Step 4. Write articles that target those KW’s
Now you know what your potential visitors are looking for and which words are going to bring in the most traffic, it’s time to start targeting those KW’s.
To do this, you need to write articles that not only include those KW’s, but also use those KW’s in the title to let the bots know that this information is relevant.
You don’t have to write articles about all the individual KW’s if you can group them together.
Say the main KW you’re targeting is ‘Blue Widgets’ because it gets 20,000 searches per month but you’re also targeting ‘Best Blue Widgets’ and ‘How to find Blue Widgets’. You could write an article titled ‘How to find the best blue widgets in under 30 seconds’.
You’ve got a better chance of ranking for each of those KW’s if you write an individual article about them all but you also have to take time constraints into consideration.
Step 5. Format those articles with header tags, bold tags, and image alt tags
Now that you’ve written your articles, it’s time to help the bots work out what are the important words in your articles and which ones are less important.
Like I mentioned above, the easiest way is to use headers (H1, H2, etc..) and bold, and image alt tags.
- Using Headers
Thanks to WordPress, using headers is simple.
First of all, go through your article and break it into sections using sub headings.
When you’ve written those sub headings, highlight them, go into your wordpress tool bar to where the drop down box says ‘paragraph’ and click on it. Scroll down to the heading type you want to use (heading 1, heading 2) and click on it.
How do you know which one you want to use? Put your major sub headings into H2’s, your lesser headings into H3’s, and so on…
The general rule of thumb is that you want no more than 2 x H2’s, 3 x H3’s, etc…
- Using bold
This one is simple: just put bold where it feels write. Don’t put the whole article in bold because it’ll look stupid and the bots won’t know what’s important. Just use it where there’s something in the text you want to highlight. I’m sure that’s going to mean the KW you’re targeting gets used in bold more than once. If it’s not, just add it in once for every 500 words you’ve written.
- Image Alt Tags
As I mentioned before, these are the way the bots know what’s in an image. Without them, the bot can’t see what’s going on. Having an image with a alt tag related to your KW is very useful because it helps the bot see what the article is really about.
The way you do this is simple.
In the WordPress dashboard, click on the media icon just about the writing menu bar. Upload your image via whichever method works best for you and then click on ‘show’ (you might not need to do this. If the image details are already displayed, you can skip it). If you scroll down, you’ll see a field with the label ‘Alternate text’. Just put the keyword you’re trying to rank for in that field.
Step 6. Link your articles together
One of the ways that the bots know which articles are important is through the amount of links pointing at them. This is mostly though links from other websites but links from your own websites are important. This is why the homepage of your site is usually the easiest to rank for a key word – because it has a link from every other page on your website to it!
You can go through and manually create links to all the important pages on your site but there is a shortcut. It’s called SEO Smart Links.
It’s a plugin that allows you to set up automatic linking between different posts on your site.
You can find out all the details of how it works and how to install it here.
If you have a main page that you want to rank for a tough term, set up more link to the page because it’ll tell the bots that it’s an important page.
Site Structure and Quality Content
One thing that I haven’t mentioned in yet is the importance of your website structure and the quality of your content.
There three website metrics that the search engines use to measure whether or not your site is authoritative that have nothing to do with your coding, headers, or alt tags. They are: bounce rate and time on site.
Bounce rate – is the percentage of people that visit your site, look at one page, and then click on the ‘back’ button. A bad bounce rate is around 75%, an average bounce rate is around 50%, a good one is around 20%, and it’s possible to get it as low as 3 – 4%. As far as the search engines are concerned, the higher your bounce rate, the less interesting and relevant your site must be.
Time on site – as you can probably guess, ‘time on site’ refers to the amount of time that people spend on your site per visit. A bad ‘time on site’ is less than a minute, an average one is around 2 – 3 minutes, a good one is 4 – 5 minutes and there are sites that have an average time on site of upward of 17 minutes.
How to optimize your onsite metrics
Optimising your bounce rate is all about having a well thought out site design. If someone lands on your website and they can’t obviously see that your site either has the information they’re looking for, or how to access that information, they’re going to bounce. According to most studies, you have between 3 – 10 seconds to help your customer see that you have the kind to information they’re looking for before they start looking somewhere else.
This means you need to think about your site title (making it clearly demonstrate that you have what people want), your site tag line, the image used on your site, and the ease of access to more information (links on the front page, optin forms, etc…)
Once your visitors can see that you have the kind of information they might be looking for, optimising your time on site involves two things: writing engaging content and making it easy to access more information.
I’ve written an article writing guide here and there are two plugins that will make it really easy for people to find more related articles. One is the SEO Smart Links that I’ve posted above and the other one is here.
It adds small thumbnails of articles in the same categories at the very bottom of your posts that people can click on.
On Page Optimization Summary
1. Work out what kind of site you want to create
2. Know your niche
3. Give your site a title and description
4. Write articles about your target KW’s
5. Format them in a way that helps the search engine bots
6. Interlink your pages
7. Design your site to clearly articulate what you provide
8. Write great content
9. Make it easy for people to find more related content
What is ‘Off-Page Optimisation’?
SEO is all about showing the search engines that your site is authoritative site that people are getting a lot of value from. Off-Page Optimisation is maximising all the factors on other peoples websites that indicate this authoritativeness on other peoples websites.
Yes, you read it right – other peoples websites.
The first thing that people ask when they read this is: What? How do you get on other peoples websites??
This is simpler than you think.
But before I go into that, you need to know how and why this works.
How and Why
One of the factors that the bots use to gauge how authoritative your website is, is by the number of other websites that link to your website. It looks at backlinks as a vote from that website that your site is worthwhile mentioning.
The more links you have, the more authoritative your site is considered to be (to a certain extent, but I’ll get into that later).
The bots also use information form that site to work out what your website is about. Firstly, it uses what’s called the ‘Anchor text’. This is the specific words that are in the link.
If I created a link from this website to your website with the words ‘Cat dancing’, if the bot found that link, it would assume that your website was about ‘cat dancing’.
The second way that the bots know what your site is about is through the words that surround the link.
If placed that link in an article about ‘cat dancing’, then the bots would take as a strong indication that your website was about ‘cat dancing’. But if that link was placed in a article about animal rights violations with that same anchor text, it would probably look at that link differently.
The link context wasn’t so important in the past but with recent changes to the way search engines are valuing information, this has become very important.
Therefore, the objective of Off Page Optimisation is to get as many (once again, I’ll talk about this below), quality links to your website with anchor texts and context that’s of the words you want (Not always, I also need to explain later but that’s the general idea).
Not all links are created equal
The thing with backlinks is that not all backlinks are viewed equally by the search engines.
Think about it like this:
Which would you view as a more authoritative link: One from the Whitehouse or one from a Russian porn site?
Well, the search engines are the same.
When assessing how authoritative your site is, they not only look at the number of links but also the quality of your links.
There are hundreds of different factors that determine the quality of a link but the simplest way is to use ‘Pagerank’.
Pagerank is a system invented by Google to rank the specific authoritativeness of a page on a website (ironically, it was actually named after the Google founder Larry Page, not because it refers to pages on a website). It’s an exponential scale from 0 to 10 with only a tiny handful of sites actually being awarded the converted PR10 (and no, neither Google nor Facebook are 10’s).
Most average, run of the mill personal blogs end up reaching a PR2 after a year or so. Most average business websites end up at a PR3. Internet based businesses usually make it to PR4 after a while. Businesses with solid online presences make it to a PR5 or PR6. To get above that, you need to be a powerhouse site with lots of links from some very powerful websites.
Whilst no-one knows for sure, the commonly accepted increase in value between the varous PR’s is a factor of 8.
That means a:
- PR1 is worth 8 PR0 links
– PR2 is worth 8 PR1 and 64 PR0
– PR3 is worth 8 PR2, 64 PR1, and 512 PR0
This goes up until you get: 1 PR10 link is worth 1,073,741,824 PR0 links.
But on top of that, it’s not just the PR of the page that effects the amount of ‘link juice’ that’s passed to your site. It’s the number of outbound links that are also on that page.
So, if you are the only link on a PR2 page of a website, then the bots are going to see that you’re obviously important enough to get a page all to yourself and send all of that PR2 value to your site. But, if there’s 2 links, then you’re going to have to share that PR2 link juice with the other site.
How much is that link juice devalued by? No-one quite sure. But it’s significant.
But ALSO on top of that, the TLD (.com, .net, etc…) changes the amount of link juice passed to your site. Search engines know that you can’t have a .edu or .gov website unless you’re registered educational institution or a government agency. Because of this, they view links from those sites and being genuine and more authoritative than links form .com’s, etc…
How many links do you need to rank at #1?
You can rank at #1 with no links. It’s possible to not even be on the front page with 10,000 links. There’s no absolute number because if there was, you would end up with 1000 sites at number #1.
The way to get to #1 isn’t to build 10,000 links. The way to #1 is to have a more authoritative site (in the eye’s of the search engines) than the site that’s currently at #1.
Your competition isn’t against the search engines, it’s against the other 9 sites on the front page for your KW’s.
The Many Hats of Off-Page Optimization
Now that you know what Off-Page Optimization is, it’s time to get onto the fun stuff.
Firstly, before you launch into you backlinking extravaganza, you need to know about the three different ‘styles’ of Off-Page Optimisation. These are referred to as: White Hat, Grey Hat, and Black Hat.
1. White Hat Off Page Optimisation
This is the gentlest and cleanest and most family friendly and above the law way of performing off page optimisation. Imagine a stay-at-home mum writing a blog about raising her first child and other mums liking her articles so much that they create links from their sites.
This is where you make pictures that you hope people share around and link back to your site, encourage people to make links to your site, and guest post on other peoples sites with links in your articles.
This is the safest (in that you’re much less likely to get a penalty from the search engines if you’re discovered) and also the slowest and most time consuming way to do it.
It is possible to build incredible and very authoritative sites this way but it’s a long, slow road.
2. Black Hat Off Page Optimization
This is the opposite of White Hat Optimisation. Imagine two 35 year old guys in stained singlets, sitting in a basement in stained singlets, surrounded by empty redbull cans and half finished cigarettes with massive servers and multiple screens buzzing around them whilst they create software to scam the system.
This is where you use automated bots to blast spam blog comments at other websites with inbuilt links, hack peoples websites, and spam forums with comments and profiles.
This is the fastest and most dangerous way of build backlinks. You’re MUCH more likely to be effected by search engine ranking algorithm changes and MUCH more likely to get penalised if they investigate your site.
3. Grey Hat Off Page Optimization
There are many shades of grey in the world of Off-Page Optimization, ranging from just above black to almost white but most are somewhere around the middle.
This is where you buy guest blog posts, pay for backlinks on other authoritative sites, and build your own satellite sites.
This is the middle of the road option. It’s more time consuming than Black Hat but far safer. It’s more cost effective than White Hat but does have an element of risk in it.
How to ‘Off Page Optimize’
There are HUNDREDS of different strategies you could use for your Off-Page Optimization. Some of them are as white hat and a ladies picnic. Other are blacker than black cells of Kings Landing (little Game Of Thrones reference for your there), but I’m lean very closely to the White Hat side.
Why? Because the last thing I want is for your site to get slapped with a penalty so it disappears out of the rankings before it even had a chance.
Step 1. Get your On-Page sorted
Go through the On-Page Optimization steps listed above. There’s no point in spending a huge amount of time and money pointing lots of links at your site when you’ve got a poorly designed site, with an unrelated meta and description and shitty, think content that no-one wants to read.
Get your On Page Optimisation sorted first and foremost.
Step 2. Choose your KW’s
As you’ve already gone through your On Page Optimization steps, you should have a solid list of KW’s to choose from. Choose 10 that you really want to rank for.
Step 3. Assess their difficulty
Do you remember the stats about the amount of traffic that goes to the different positions on the front page? #1 gets around 55%, #2 gets 18%, #3 gets 10%, and #4 – #10 get 2% each. This means that if you want to get a decent amount of traffic, you NEED to rank in the top 3, if not the top spot. But how do you know what’s necessary to get the #1 spot? This is what http://www.serpIQ.com is for.
It’s a tool that allows you to assess the level of competition on the front page of Google for your chosen KW’s. It give each website a grade and then averages it out to give you a difficulty rating out of 100. You can even get it to grade your page as well to see how you stack up.
Now, whilst this is purely theoretical and subjective, this score is a good indicator of where you are, what you’re up against, and what you need to do to get to #1.
If you’re new to SEO and you’re trying to rank your new website, definitely stay away from anything with a serpIQ score over 50 and preferably over 40.
SerpIQ have a free plan you can try things out on. It’ll let you check 5 KW’s per day so head over there and start checking it out.
Go through your list of KW’s and find 2 or 3 that have reasonable traffic.
Step 4. Decide anchor text ratio
Up until the end of 2011, the more links you had pointing at a particular page with the KW you wanted to rank for as the URL, the easier it was to rank for that term.
That all went out the window at the start of 2012 with Googles Panda and Penguin updates.
If you want to read a full breakdown of the changes, you can so here: http://www.micrositemasters.com/blog/penguin-analysis-seo-isnt-dead-but-you-need-to-act-smarter-and-5-easy-ways-to-do-so/
But if you don’t want to pour over the results and have to learn a second language to understand it, here’s the synopsis:
If more than 35% of the links pointing at a page were for the one KW (excluding brand name and URL), the website got hit HARD by Google and dropped serious positions in the search engines (usually more than 50 places or 5 pages).
What does this mean for you? You need to make sure you use the KW you’re trying to rank for in less than 30% of your links (3 out of 10 links).
The rest can be brand name (website name), URL, and generic anchors that you would naturally expect people to use when linking to your site including click here, here, now, this, more here, more, try this, found, etc…
Step 5. Find sites to get links from
Now that you’ve set up your site, written your content, know what you want to rank for and what kind of anchor text, it’s time to find sites to link from. But, before you run off, there’s something you need to know:
One of the other big changes you can read about in the above article is that sites that had more than 10% of their links from sites that weren’t on a similar topic to them got hit with big penalties as well.
This means that in order to avoid penalties, you need to find sites in your niche that you can get links from.
Here are some easy places to get links from websites that are roughly on the same topic as you:
I you know anyone who has a website who you think wouldn’t mind linking to you, email them and ask them. That’s the easiest way. Try to avoid linking back if possible because it devalues their link but if they ask for it, it’s kind of nice to.
Yes, they may not be in your niche but they’re an easy place to start.
2. Website directories
A website directory is a site that people go to, to find out about other websites on the net. They’re a collection of quality sites. There are paid directories and free directories. The paid ones are usually higher quality but the free ones are… well… free. You can find a whole bunch of them by just Googling it. Like I’ve done here:
Yes, they’re not specifically in your niche but they will have sections for your niche so you’ll be surrounded by niche related content.
3. Blog Commenting
One of the best ways to show the search engines that you’re an authority on your particular topic is to get links from other websites that rank for the KW’s that you’re chasing. The easiest way is to do blog commenting.
Google your KW and open up all the results that pop up.
Scan through them and if any have a blog, leave a comment on that blog with a link back to your site in the ‘website’ section of the comment.
There’s a WHOLE science to this in terms of placing your link in the right place, at the right time, but the general rule is that if you write a really thoughtful, interesting, and value-adding comment, you should get approved.
If you go through the first 1 pages of Google for your KW, you should start to see your rankings start to increase.
4. Guest Blog Posting
I already covered this in the ‘How to get more people to your site through guest blog posting’ here but this is a GREAT way to increase the number of niche relevant, in content, links to your site.
5. Press Releases
A press release is an article specifically designed to announce something to the news world. These are great ways to get lots of white-hat, free backlinks. All you need to do is come up with something news worthy (“Website B announces breakthrough techniques for helping mothers overcome anxiety”), write a short release, and submit it to one of the free press release distribution services.
You can find a list of them here.
Step 6. Track your results
There’s no point in putting all this hard work in if you’re not tracking your search engine rankings.
If you’re a sucker for pain and punishment, you can do this by hand, every day by searching for your KW and then scrolling through the search engine results looking for your website.
Or, you can just let someone else do it for you.
Microsite Masters is an automated program that checks your rankings a few times a day and tracks your progress for you.
They have a free plan you can use to track up to 20 KW’s which should be more than enough for now. If you get really excited, you can upgrade to their 150 KW plan for $20 a month.
Step 7. Keep going until you rank #1
How long will this take? Who knows. How long is a piece of string? I can take 30 days or it can take 3 years. It depends on so many different factors that it’s impossible to tell. What I can tell you is that if you get to #1, the amount of traffic will make it all worth while.
Step 8. Getting grey?
If you’re finding this white hat linking building tedious, time consuming, and slow, want to look at options a little more towards the darker side of life, and are willing to spend some (between $100 an $200 is enough to get yout started) just flick me an email here.
I know some companies that can help you out with that.
Off-Page Optimization Summary
1. Sort out your On-Page Optimization
2. Choose your KW’s
3. Assess their difficulty
4. Decide on anchor text ratio
5. Find sites to get links from
b. Website directories
c. Blog commenting
d. Guest blog posting
e. Press Releases
6. Track your results
7. Keep going till you hit #1
So, they’re the lessons I wish I knew back when I started getting into SEO. These lessons have cost me many thousands of dollars and by sharing them, I hope I’ve been able to save you many thousands as well (and maybe even help you make several thousands).
I’m sure there’s things I’ve missed on the way and places where I’ve skipped over things too quickly.
If you have any questions, please just leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer it.
If it’s something important, I’ll make sure I add it back into the article and together, maybe we can make this more comprehensive.