Posts tagged link building

How to Reduce Link Rot

Link Rot

Link Rot

The simplest definition of link rot is links to web pages which decay or over time simply become unavailable. Typically a programmer who cites another site and links to it doesn’t really consider that it will continue to be active forever. But when internet users are browsing through a site and click a link only to find out that the link no longer works, it can be frustrating. Link rot can be found on many different types of sites and broken links are not isolated to junky sites; they can happen anywhere. The trouble is when they occur on a reputable or knowledgeable site such as an educational source it can diminish the authority or value of the content according to the way search engines see it. (more…)

Chain Link

Are Backlinks Still Important?

Chain Link


Google’s updates always make the SEO world a little nervous even if they are operating legitimately. Just a short time ago the latest Penguin update was released and many were expecting to be significantly jolted. Google made a statement that only about 2.3% were affected by the latest update. Overall, it does not seem to have as big of an impact on legitimate sites as was expected. There’s been some question as to how important links are and if they can negatively or positively affect a site’s ranking. Small businesses can depend on SEO strategies of which link building is an essential part. Now for the SEO specialist the question remains on how to incorporate high quality links into marketing strategies without incurring penalties. (more…)

Google's Disavow Tool

What is Disavow?

Google's Disavow Tool

Google's Disavow Tool

As usual, Google’s latest announcement has webmasters and SEO specialists buzzing. Instead of an update though, this time it came in the form of a keynote address by Google’s own Matt Cutts. The idea was to help explain and clear up any misunderstandings about the disavow tool; but it seems to have had the opposite effect of causing even more confusion and a small amount of panic. Over the last few years, Google became a little more stringent in the use of their algorithm and have begun taking into account links that are poor quality or paid when determining SERP rankings. They have begun notifying owners of sites about inbound links that are suspicious and this has caused webmasters to pay attention and try to clean up their link profiles as much as possible. Sometimes these are simply very old profiles that no one was paying much attention to; and some of them were put into place by an SEO company that worked the site before. As Google has gotten better at detecting links of poor quality, some negative SEO campaigns occurred. This is an unethical technique which is used by competitors who will buy links and point them at sites that they want to rank lower than themselves. This leaves innocent webmasters in a bind even if they find out what did actually occur. Google created the disavow option for situations like these. (more…)

RSS Feeds

RSS Feed Optimization

RSS Feeds

RSS Feeds

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a format that is used for syndication of web content. It is just one of the many ways that can be used to spread various types of web related news such as when a new post is made on a blog. Many sites offer users the ability to subscribe to an RSS feed from their site. Once they subscribe they can view feeds in various readers such as Bloglines or Google Reader. Other programs such as Microsoft Outlook can also support RSS feeds. Feeds can also be displayed on a browser home page. An RSS feed can be a very effective way to spread pertinent information to an online audience and it can be a great SEO tool.  Although RSS feeds are typical useful when it comes to displaying blog content, [since feeds make it easy for users to subscribe to a blog and receive notification when a new blog post is posted] it is possible to create a feed for any page and from an SEO perspective it is advisable that every site has an RSS feed.

Optimizing RSS Feeds

There are a couple of things that can be done to optimize and RSS feed. In premise it is similar to website optimization. Make sure that the feed’s description and channel title contain relevant keywords. Every feed item should have a unique title as well as its own description. The title should be relevant as well as enticing to readers. A feed’s description is usually a summary or introduction to the main content. When creating a feed, provide some extra information on an HTML site and invite readers to click through to receive all the information. Provide enough information that will encourage readers who are interested to click on the link.

There are so many possibilities for using RSS feeds in successful SEO campaigns. It is all about getting your business’ important information into the hands of clients. RSS feeds when optimized can generate a substantial amount of traffic to blogs or sites which contain business information. Even though RSS feeds are a tool to generate traffic, remember that you are trying to reach a human audience. This simply means that you want to ensure that the feeds are offering them legitimate information; unless they are genuinely interested in your content it will not be a productive venture. One way to ensure that readers can receive the types of information that they are interested in is to invite users to subscribe to just the feeds that they find interesting. Do not focus so heavily into keywords that you forget about your human audience. You can generate several feeds that are categorized by different topics. This allows readers to choose to receive the topics that are of interest to them. This may sound like it is too divided, but it can actually help increase relevant traffic and provide generic links to the site when readers are clicking through because they are genuinely interested in the content. Most readers will make a decision on whether or not to click on a link based on a quick scan of the headline. Be sure that your headline and description contain enough information to get their attention which will encourage them to take action and click through.

Social Networks and RSS Feeds

RSS feeds can be fed directly to various social networks. Simple tools such as twitterfeed or will publish the newest RSS items directly onto social media accounts. The headline for your feed is a very important feature here as some social networks have limited space and sites like Twitter will only display the link and the headline. Headlines must be relevant and succinct to boost traffic.

Displaying RSS Feeds

Spiders do crawl RSS feeds. Most of the time it is a good idea to include RSS feeds as part of the web design. Make sure that you use HTML, ASP or PHP so that search engines will spider the feed’s content that is displayed. If you are using a template for displaying feeds, it is important to use header tags. Search engines will give header tags more weight when crawling and indexing a site.

Creating Backlinks

When creating an RSS feed it is very important to include entire URLs to the sites you want it to be linked back to. This is your ticket to getting backlinks. This will also ensure that if your RSS feed is shared across social media platforms, email or other means that the link will be included and provide a way for the link to be spread across the web.


The Google Unnatural Links Update



Ask any SEO specialist how important links are to a successful SEO campaign and they can tell you that links are certainly one of the important strategies to increased search engine result rankings. Recently, Google sent out an update that sent ripples across the entire SEO community. How will the Google update affect the types of link building strategies that we use? Or will it affect them at all? It is certainly worth taking a look at and double checking to ensure your site(s) are not unduly penalized.

Google’s Announcement

According to the official Google Search blog, many times links are used to help determine a topic of a linked page. The way Google evaluates these links is going to be different. They say that sometimes they “re-architect or turn off” certain parts of their scoring methods to help the system be easily maintained and clean. And that is about all that anybody is getting Google to say about the matter.

What many are discovering is that if the links provided to a site are all obtained by white hat methods there should be no penalty. It appears as though Google simply wants to crack down on sites that build back links through “unnatural” or “artificial” means. Those who are attempting to use artificial links to affect their Page Rank have experienced penalties by Google. Some webmasters have not received any notice before they noticed a sudden drop in the SERPs.  The trouble seems to lie mostly with those who are engaging in buying or selling links and disregarding whether or not these are relevant or quality links.  This is an obvious violation of Google’s Panda Update and can certainly affect a site’s ranking. There have also been some concern on the part of business owners who have hired SEO specialists. They are caught off-guard by the penalty and are unsure what to do to remedy the situation.

What’s Not a Violation?

It is important to note that all paid links are not in violation of these guidelines. It is really just part of the web’s economy, when the purpose is simply advertising and not trying to manipulate search results in any way.  However, it is very important to note when links are purchased for advertising. One example of this is by redirecting links to a page that is not indexed by bots; such as .txt files. And another way to avoid the penalty is to add an “rel=’nofollow’” attribute to the tag <a>.

Google tries to make sure that it only penalizes sites that are purchasing links simply to manipulate the results. It will be looking for sites that engage in a huge amount of link exchanges or links that pass Page Rank. However, there are sites with many links that have been penalized in the rankings without cause. It is worth the time invested to make sure that natural links look more natural to the bots as well. For instance, if you have a link from a blog that is linked to your site alone, that looks unnatural. But a link from a blog that is linked to many different sites has a more natural look. A site that has a link from a professional organization will look natural as will a link to a relevant site. Large amounts of links from spam directories, loads of links from irrelevant sites or links from a “links” page will all send up some red flags to Google.

Impact on SEO

It is very possible that the recent changes in Google will directly affect SEO strategies. The Unnatural Link update is different from other updates because it is penalizing sites based solely on the link building strategies that have been used. For many it will mean no changes; for others it can be a clean-up headache.  Based on the data available there are some observations that can be made about these penalties. If you get a message about unnatural links it is very likely that the site will be penalized within about 3 week’s time. These penalties seem to draw a correlation between the “unnatural links” and any anchor text that is used. Because the way that Google views anchor text has changed sites that contain large amounts of keyword anchor text are at risk.

For those who use commercial link building products, it is very likely that it will be or already is being targeted by Google. Some of the best known sites like Build My Rank are being de-indexed. Several SEO specialists have stated that they have been using their own blog networks for link building strategies. And some of them are aware that they have already been de-indexed.  Sidebar links are going to send up a huge red flag so they should be removed. Links to any toxic sites should also be removed.

What to Do

It is really not that easy to clean up a site that has been penalized by Google’s updates. The first attempt should be to contact the link builders first and ask that the links be removed. If this is unsuccessful you can manually email the sites and ask that the links be removed. This can take a very long time and it will only work if a site has a real human who is managing the site and answering emails. This means that low quality sites will have no real means of contacting them so you cannot remove the link. This is why it is becoming very important to the SEO community to carefully guard link building campaigns and strategies. Google has yet to come up with a real way of dealing with this problem. However, you can link to Google Docs and state that you have asked for a link to be removed but have no means of contact and so you cannot do anything about it.

These changes are certainly having an impact on SEO agencies. This is especially true for those who rely on link building strategies for site rankings.  On a good note, sites that are using spam methods to build links used to rank for about a year before they were detected; now they only last about 3 months at most. But for those who legitimately desire to build a lint term business it is necessary to develop a strategy that will deliver long term results.

To run a smart SEO campaign it will involve about 5 areas. First, continue to produce quality and relevant content for the users of the site. Link building strategies should be natural through the use of content where other sites naturally link back to their sites. Stay on Google’s good side by providing quality content and a site that is engaging for visitors. Don’t over optimize. Use a well-balanced approach to develop a solid SEO campaign.

Link Building

Link Building and Successful SEO

Link Building

Link Building

Link-building is a huge part of any successful SEO campaign. It works like this: if a wider variety of sites link to your site, Google rewards your site by placing you higher in search rankings. Especially if these links contain valuable anchor text related to your site. Other search engines operate in a similar fashion, but Google is the biggest player, and so most of my efforts are focused on ranking higher in Google search results pages.

Knowing this, it’s easy to go overboard when building links, and resort to tactics that will end up doing more harm than good, or simply waste your time. Buying links, using Comment Luv and Keyword Luv enabled blogs to build links in blog comments, and placing links in forum signatures are all examples of easy way to build links that do very little to actually improve your rankings. However, this shouldn’t suggest that you stop building links altogether. Instead you should concentrate on building higher quality links.

How Google Calculates Link Value

Building links on high domain authority or page rank sites is key to improving your SERP rankings. However, Google doesn’t just look at the anchor text of a link when calculating how it will affect the rankings of the site it links to. Google takes a number of things into account when calculating link value: topical value of the content surrounding the link, reputation of the site the content is posted on, and the degree of change in links back to your own site. By surrounding a link with relevant keywords and body copy, you’re telling Google that the link is related to those terms. Google uses a value called Page Rank to determine how reputable a site is. The age of a site, the number of inbound versus outbound links, and social media signals such as Facebook Likes and Tweets, are part of Google’s Page Rank calculation. The degree of change in your links is a measure of how quickly links are built. If Google sees a huge increase from one week to the next, this raises a flag that inappropriate link-building techniques may be used.

Context is important for building valuable links. It’s important to build links on sites that are related or similar to your site, both for search engines and human visitors. Your time is better spent building a link on a PR5 site that’s related to your own site than building a link on a higher ranked site that is completely unrelated. The best way to rank better in Google searches is to build links where humans will actually click through to your own site.

Relevant Links Bring Better Traffic

Focusing on building relevant links will also result in more direct traffic. People are more likely to click on a link if it’s placed in a related website, blog post or forum. Your goal isn’t just higher traffic—it’s higher conversions. It doesn’t matter if you consider a version to be a successful sale from your e-commerce store, or a new subscription to your SaaS application, or a new regular reader of your blog. Users who find your site through a link on a related website are far more likelier to convert than users who arrive at your site through a link built in a totally unrelated area. Good SEO is about higher conversions, not just higher traffic, and link placement in valuable forums, blog posts and other areas is the best way to build links that will bring visitors ready to convert.

How to Find Areas for Building Relevant Links

My favorite tool for finding good places to build links is Google Alerts. It’s easy to populate a list of key words and phrases you want to monitor, and set how you want to be notified of relevant posts. You can choose the kind of posts you want to be alerted to, and how often you want to see these alerts. I like to use “discussions” to find relevant forum and blog posts for placing links. Most of the referral traffic I see on my websites comes from relevant links. Finding people who have a problem that one of my company’s products will solve takes more time than simply blasting links all over the internet, but with a focused link-building strategy, we see more interested visitors who are ready to convert.

This guest post was written by Tyler Moore

Tyler Moore works at Expected Behavior, a web development firm based in Indianapolis. Expected Behavior has built a product called DocRaptor, a web application used to generate PDF files from pure HTML. DocRaptor handles CSS styling better than comparable programs, and uses a simple HTTP POST request to convert HTML to PDF.

SEO Tip # 19 Value of Backlinks

Nutch robots

Image via Wikipedia

I would like to welcome you to my nineteenth SEO tip of the day; here I will discuss the importance of backlinks to improve your SEO.

Backlinks are a vital component of SEO b/c the number of backlinks and the quality of these backlinks is still the primary method through which Google and other search engines determine how a site will rank for a certain keyword. The value of backlinks has ebbed as search engines have refined their search algorithms (search engines today consider many factors not just backlinks) but backlinks are still the dominant way that keyword rankings are determined.

Trading links is one of the primary methods through which you can get backlinks – this is when you make an arrangement with another site that you will link to them if they will link to you. Trading links is seen as an artificial way of building links (since links are supposed to measure the popularity of your site). Although link trading is still a dominant method through which most new sites/blogs get backlinks, link trading is seen as a Black Hat SEO practice by Google (illigal) and if you engage in too much link trading it can get your site penalized; also Google tends to ignore two way link trades, so much link trading is a waste of time, but if done right trading links can be a useful way to improve your rankings (organic backlinks are always better though). Two way link trades are frowned upon by Google (site “A” adds a link to site “B”, and site “B” adds a link to site “A”) such links are not given much weight. It is much more valuable for you to do a 3 way link trade, this is simple a link trade between 3 sites instead of just 2, and is seen as more organic.



SEO Lessons from JCPenney


Many of us in the SEO industry have been in shock this week as we’ve learned that JCPenney (a venerable US department store that has been around for about 100 years) has been punished by Google for employing Black Hat SEO tactics. (For those of you that haven’t heard about this story here is a brief abstract, in the last few months the website of JCPenney has been showing up #1 in Google for 100’s of searches, ranging from “dresses” to “baby furniture”, following a reader complaint the NY Times investigated this and discovered that JCPenney achieved these results by deploying Black Hat SEO techniques [they had purchased 1000’s of backlinks from a ton of different sites including porn sites and other sites completely unrelated to any products that they sell]. The NY Times then proceeded to report its findings to Google, who having discovered that JCPenney was in blatant violation of their linking policy punished the JCPenney site).

Ever since the JCPenney story broke the SEO community has been falling over itself, many saying “I told you so” and others saying “if it works, why not use it…” so I would like to take a few minutes to go over some of the lessons that we might learn from JCPenney.

1. Do not try to cheat Google!

– If you are an SEO and you know that the techniques you are using are Black Hat, do not use them b/c you will get caught! If you are hiring an SEO company, ask them what techniques they use to get results, and if they say they “buy links” run! Additionally if you are in the market for SEO, and you run across some company promising you the top rankings for all your keywords, remember the old adage “If it is too good to be true…”

2. Do not buy links

– Buying links is not a good long term SEO strategy, it may get you OK short term results but it will not get you results in the long term, and what’s worse, it may get you punished or even banned from Google.

3. Do not participate in link trading schemes

– There are a number of link trading schemes around that promise great results (link wheel, or Angela’s links just to name a few) these are not credible SEO strategies and will not work in the long term

4. Link trading is OK

– Following this scandal many SEO’s have come out totally against trading links, well I’m here to tell you that trading links is OK (sometimes) but you should trade links with the primary purpose of getting referral traffic rather than to boost your SEO, also, you should be very careful as far as to the sites with whom you trade links. You should only trade links with sites/blogs in your same niche, before trading a link make sure to do your research, look to see when the last time the site was updated and check that site’s backlinks using Open Site Explorer. You should also remember that reciprocal links are largely ignored by Google, so you should only trade links in order to get traffic.

5. Organic links are always better

– If you’ve learned nothing else from this scandal/blog post I’d urge you to remember this, organic links are what you want! As far as the # of links you have no more than about 10% of your backlinks should be a result of link trades, the remaining 90% should be organic links So create great content so that people will want to link to you.

On 2nd glance, I guess that another important take home point is moderation; Google has an algorithm that looks at the frequency at which sites get backlinks, if you have 5 sites linking to you on Monday, and 1000 sites linking to you on Friday (that same week) you are bound to get red flagged and each link will get examined. This is important for everyone to understand b/c even if the 1000 backlinks that you got to your site in a single week were natural your site might still get red flagged by Google.


How Google Weighs Links for SEO

Google's homepage in 1998

Image via Wikipedia

This is a guest post by Louise Baker

Louise is a freelance blogger and journalist who writes for Zen College Life, the directory of higher education, distance learning, and online degrees. She most recently wrote about the best online nursing schools.


Google’s business is to connect people performing keywords searches to “relevant, genuine and unique” websites that satisfy topical needs. When someone who wants to buy a book online is sent by Google to a sport’s website, then Google loses credibility. Google weighs link types for SEO based on their capacity to fulfill this essential goal of connecting users to useful websites.

Google Measures the Impact of the Link Type on SEO

There are many types of website links. Some of the most common link types are as follows:

  • Affiliate – Marketing technique rewarding referrals.
  • Associate – Friends from conferences, forums or events. Can attract with “Blogrolls.”
  • Authority – Top rankings for keywords.
  • Directory – Paid inclusion in themed directories.
  • News – Television, radio, magazine and newspaper stories discussing your topic.
  • Reference – Source material for content.
  • Reciprocal – Links traded with other websites. Too many can be viewed as a negative.
  • Social Media – Networking opportunity to promote your site.
  • Supplementary – Additional information.
  • Topical Relevance – Other sites discussing the same subject.

Google gives links greater SEO weight based on how relevant, genuine and powerful they are in promoting the website’s topic. Google demands a variety of credible link types that are gradually built over time. Good link types should create a buzz about the website and connect with community resources. The website needs to provide a real service to visitors based on a topical theme.

Google Appreciates Relevant Authoritative Links

Google gives the greatest SEO weight to relevant, authoritative links. The following list provides functional link type categories:

  1. Topical Relevance
  2. Authority
  3. Reputation
  4. Velocity
  5. Weight

All links should have “Topical Relevance” to your website, the most relevant links are given the greatest weight by Google.

“Authority” measures the amount of Web traffic that sites receive due to their popularity. Authoritative websites become central hubs linking to less visible websites.

Some websites might not be the most popular, but they have a great “Reputation” in a smaller niche market.

“Velocity” is the rate of change in your links. Google has placed an increased importance on dynamic websites that “continually update unique links” to remain fresh. Spammers tend to be lazy and use “automatic” programs to generate copied links.

“Weight” is the Return On Investment due to your links.

Google Prizes Relevant, Genuine and Unique Website Links

A combination of internal links (within your site) and external links (inbound and outbound) are valued highly by Google. Link types that are based upon the excellence of your website (Authority) are given greater weight than those based on payments (Directory)

Blog Comments

How to Write A Blog Comment

Blog Comments

Blog Comments

Writing blog comments is one of the leading methods through which you can generate backlinks (this is a statement that is disputable and is not one of the issues that will be discussed in this blog post. For the record, I hold a neutral position as to the link building and SEO benefit of blog comments, but I do believe that comments help drive traffic to blog posts and are interesting to read, and so I invite you to comment on any of my blog posts). The topic that will be discussed here is the writing of quality blog comments, or rather how to write a comment that will get approved.
Throughout my SEO work I manage many different blogs on many different topics, these blogs receive tons of comments and in any given month I approve hundreds of blog comments, and report thousands of others as spam, or delete them, given this I feel that I am qualified to discuss this topic. The first and most important thing in a blog comment is, you should always (always!) use your real name in the “name” section of the comment form; I realize that the name will become anchor text for your link, but if I see a comment with the name, “Laser Hair Removal NJ” or “Modern kitchen showroom in New York” I am far less likely to approve the comment than if the author had used their real name. Oh, and as far as any link benefit that you might potentially get from anchor text, a higher approval rate for comments is more beneficial.
The second thing that I would urge you to do is to please, please, please, do not copy/paste the same comment to a bunch of different blogs! I monitor comments on many blogs and I often see the exact same comment being posted on each blog, word for word. I realize that this is probably done by a spam bot, but I’ve known webmasters to do this, with the misguided belief that more comments will be approved… I implore you, I like to approve comments, and I want to approve more comments, so if you are going to take the time to post a comment, please take an extra 20 seconds to skim the blog post and to leave a comment that relates to the post.
The next tip that I can give you regarding blog comments is to not waste your time leaving comments like “Good job” or “great post” even if these comments are not flagged by the blogs’ spam filter many blog owners are unlikely to approve such comments, and I know that I often flag such comments as spam.
There are many other tips that relate to the posting of blog comments, be positive, stay on point, do not try to include 10 links in the comment etc… and many more tips, but here we are nearing commenting tips that are (or at least should be) common sense, and I will not devote time to such tips at this time.
Do you have any advice regarding how to write blog comments? Please leave your response as a comment. LOL

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