Search engine optimization and link development strategies based on ethical principles, which are mostly focused on scalability and growing business sales as well as conversions.

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9 Easy Ways to Build Links

The techniques being used today to build links to a website have certainly evolved along the constant evolution of search. And apparently, the growth of search as well as the increase in competitiveness led to the birth of many creative, advanced and scalable link building tactics.

However, this doesn’t mean that we have to ignore the basics – knowing that “advanced” is just being really good at the basics.

Easy ways you can build links:

What has change?

Just like before, search engines are getting smarter every day, and they are now smarter than what they used to be.

But the most obvious change is that link building is not just a part of SEO anymore.

  • Link building is a branding tool.
  • Links that can send substantial amount of relevant visitors are valuable (in SEO, branding and conversion or lead generation standpoint).
  • Links affect search rankings, but it also allows websites to get directly discovered by its target audience/customers.
  • Search is now more reliant with marketing-driven metrics. And when your links are authentically byproducts of your marketing, they are much stronger.

So in this post, I’ll revisit several methods that can help you easily drive quick and easy wins when it comes to acquiring solid links to your site.

Link out to others

Linking out or mentioning others’ works, especially those who are in your field, can strongly enhance the linkability of your site, seeing that you’re using other trusted sources as a reference for your content.

Although, the linkability of your site won’t just stop there, since it can also help acquire links through:

  • Getting trackbacks – which is not as bad as most people think, as it can also refer traffic back to your content (and can also serve as a signal that search engines can use to find and index your content).
  • Initiate reciprocation – this is one of the best ways to get into your prospects’ (or target influencers) radar, and if you’re providing good content, then the probability of having them link to you in the future would certainly be high.
  • Getting social links – many have forecasted that social links will be the future of link building, well it is. Publishers tend to share content (especially if they’re good) when they are mentioned in it, and this can somehow drive more relevant traffic and send signals that search engines use as a ranking factor to determine a page’s popularity/authority.

Some of the most popular methods used in getting industry influencers’ attentions:

  • Interviews (group/crowdsourcing).
  • Ego-baiting (making a list of top brands/experts in your space).
  • Writing about or reviewing their company/product/service.
  • Expounding or contradicting their ideas.
  • Curating popular blog posts in your industry.

crowdsourcing

Talk to people

Building relationships, which is very vital in this age of marketing, obviously starts with conversations. The Internet made communication easier for people, so why not invest some of your time and effort in connecting with other publishers and influencers in your industry.

There are so many ways to engage your target link prospects and there are also many ways to acquire valuable links through conversations such as:

  • Blog comments
  • Forum posts
  • Q&As
  • Social networking
  • Email outreach

Relationships are considerably a solid driving force for marketing, knowing that building alliances can help make the syndication and distribution of your content a lot easier. The more you exchange ideas with people in your industry, the more link opportunities you can get.

Bonus: James Norquay recently did a case study on how giving away gifts may result to links and/or shoutouts, and you might want to check that out.

cyrus

Join industry-specific communities/platforms

The web has grown so much this past decade that it seems like any industry that you can think of already has a place online where enthusiasts actively participate/discuss (niche communities).

Inbound.org, Hacker News, Bigger Pockets and a lot of other popular subreddits on Reddit are few samples of these kinds of online communities – that seemed to become a huge part of the modern culture of industries.

hacker news

Establishing yourself or your brand as an authority on these platforms can certainly impact how others see you, which often makes your brand more linkable.

Another approach that you can take advantage of is through finding online publications in your industry that have “community blogs”. It’s easier to get published on these kinds of blogs, but it’s very important to ensure that the ideas and information that you’ll share will be more likely useful to their audience.

community blog

Publish content on popular/linkable websites

If you consider your brand an expert in what you do, then aim to get published on the top blogs in your niche – because there’s so much value to get from that.

moz

The best thing about submitting content on site’s that you know that are highly linkable (and have a huge following) is that aside from building high-value links to your website, you also get to attract 2nd-tier links pointing to the content you’ve contributed.

 ahrefs

This type of content placement easily connects you with other content publishers (which can get you ton more of links), and definitely potential leads/customers to your business, given that your content is visible to thousands of those blogs’ followers.

Repurpose content

Transform your site’s successful content assets into other formats, as you can easily get more links back to your site (as the original source of the content) once you start distributing it to other content platforms.

Some of the formats that you can use to repurpose your existing content assets:

Slide presentation

You can upload your slide deck on Slideshare (and include links on your slides). I’ve done this approach a few weeks ago, and was definitely successful, as the deck (that was originally published as a blog post) managed to get 3,000+ views and send almost a hundred of new visitors to my blog.

Video

You can also convert your guides/articles into video tutorials and upload them on video hosting sites like Youtube or Vimeo. The best part about using method is that videos, particularly from Youtube, have better chances of getting higher search rankings for long-tail search terms. So it can certainly help you attract highly targeted traffic.

video

Ebook

If you have ton of long-form content or series of blog posts that can be combined into one, then turning them into an Ebook is also a great option. Aside from offering it as a giveaway to your readers, there are also a couple of ways to make the most out of your Ebook or PDF documents for link building, like:

  • Uploading it on Scribd or Accel.io
  • Offering it to other bloggers to be given away (or be used as an incentive for their opt-ins).

Infographic

This is one of the most popular (and perhaps effective) ways to repurpose content, as images are easy to distribute and tend to be shared more a lot over the web.

You can submit your infographic to numerous infographic directories:

Or image sharing/hosting sites to get more links.

Other ways to ensure that your infographic will reach more of your target audience:

  • Encourage your readers to use it, by providing an embed code on the original page hosting it.
  • Launch it first on high-traffic blogs/websites in your industry, to ensure that it’ll be seen by your target audience.
  • Promote it through your guest blogging campaigns (by embedding it within your contributed content).
  • Use reverse image search (via Google image search or Tineye) to track blogs who have used your infographic but didn’t link to you.

Transcribe videos from other influencers in your space

This part of the post will actually be a part of Pole Position Marketing’s annual link building secrets free ebook – and I’ve just thought of giving you guys an exclusive preview of how extremely awesome next year’s edition will be.

Many influencers and/or experts from different industries use videos as a medium to communicate their brands’ messages and also to showcase their expertise. Using this content format these days may come in various forms such as:

  • Video tutorials
  • Conference presentations
  • Webinars, hangouts or Q&As
  • Video blogs
  • Infomercials and kinetic typography

Transcribing videos created by thought-leaders in your industry and publishing the transcription in your own website can benefit you in so many ways, seeing that:

  • The method allows you to build a linkable content almost instantly (since the information shared in the content is from an industry/topic expert).
  • It helps you to get into your target prospects’ radar, which will make it easier for you to connect, engage and build relationships with them.
  • You can get links directly from them (through attribution), if they decide to use your transcriptions alongside their videos.

What makes this strategy really viable is that videos – as a platform for online marketing – have been well accepted and widely utilized in many industries, which means the tactic can be replicated on any other verticals.

Example:

Earlier this year, Ross Hudgens did a transcript of Matt Cutts’ webmaster help video on what Google SEO changes are coming next.

Ross notified Matt Cutts about it:

ross-tweet

And Matt obviously liked it:

matt-tweet

Tips on transcribing videos

  • You can do it manually, or you can also use Inqscribe – a video transcription software.
  • Make sure that the transcript is readable (removing the uhms/ahs, breaking the transcript into shorter paragraphs, appropriate use of punctuations, commas, etc…, and including images/screenshots if possible).
  • Don’t forget to give link attribution to the original source of the video content when you publish the transcript on your site/blog.
  • Let the original source of the video content know about the transcript you’ve created, and start engaging.

Regular content contributions

I’ve mentioned this many times before, that regularly contributing on the top domains in your industry is far better than link dropping to hundreds of mediocre blogs through guest blogging.

quote

This is actually my most favorite link building tactic today (aside from link baiting and building evergreen content assets) for many reasons:

  • It establishes trust and indicates relationships – a factor that is very important to search engines.
  • It can help improve AuthorRank (given that you’ll be consistently contributing content on highly credible publications).
  • It can scale relationship building (as you continuously engage with their readers) and content distribution efforts (especially in promoting your upcoming content assets).
  • Great for branding, based on your association with the authority blogs you regularly write for.

Profile pages

Profile pages are easy link acquisitions, and there are ton of places over the web where you can build a profile with a link to your website.

Though it might be easy to get these links, there are ways that you can do to make them hard-to-replicate.

Because it’s not really about the link (whether it’s dofollow or nofollow), it’s about how you make use of your profile pages to make the links coming from it more valuable.

This is done mainly by strengthening the link value that your profile pages can pass back to your website/brand. Here are several methods that you can implement to efficiently integrate your profiles with your campaign:

  • Interactions and activities occurring on your profile page(s) (ex: engaging your followers on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ for them to click-through to your website).
  • Building links to your key profile pages (ex: linking to your Google+ or Twitter account when leaving comments on blog posts you read).
  • Cross linking or promoting your other profiles on networks where you have a larger following base (ex: asking your followers on Twitter to also follow you on Google+).

about.me

Build readership

Lastly, the easiest way to become the ultimate link building machine is to have a strong readership – and most especially if other content publishers are also reading your stuff.

This is not really that easy to pull off, as it requires hard work and consistency (in pushing out content that will make your target readers return for more).

Some of the strategies for content development that I focused on to gradually build my blog’s readership:

  • I created more evergreen content, so I can continuously attract new readers to my blog (as most of them find me through search).
  • I tried to blog regularly (3x – 4x a month) so my existing readers will have a reason to come back.
  • I used to allow dofollow links on the comments section to entice readers (spammers) to comment on my posts (because the higher number of comments new readers see, the more your content gets interesting to them).
  • I focused before on publishing long-form content (with unexpected hooks or ideas that they won’t find anywhere else) to increase the shareability of my blog posts. Because the more social shares, the more you can get new readers, and more potential linkers.

Once you’ve built a strong readership, link building gets a lot easier.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Looking for more advanced SEO strategies and hard-to-replicate links? Check our link building services.

Managing Advanced Link Building Campaigns

The link graph has always been a core part of Google’s search ranking algorithm. Even though the popularity of its importance led to the growth of web spam, Google still keeps on finding ways to make it more difficult to manipulate search rankings through unnatural linking behaviors.

Penguin updates and the unnatural link manual penalties just prove how important links are (and they’ll probably remain very vital in the future), as it is somehow addressing businesses to finally move on from the old ways of gaming search.

Link development is still a valuable process in marketing a website, and knowing how to manage your link building campaigns effectively is still an essential skillset.

Goal Setting

In starting a new campaign, it’s best to first understand why do you need links or link building. To give you a few reasons why it’s needed on a holistic digital marketing campaign:

  • To mainly improve the site’s domain authority (DA) and the domain’s ranking ability. As higher a domain authority may help the site gain better search visibility for all the keywords (head terms and long-tails) it is targeting.
  • To improve referred visitors to the website – through the links acquired from other authority websites in your industry (for marketing and content discovery).
  • To improve site indexation, as links can serve as signals that will help crawlers find and index new pages and the continuous changes implemented on the site.

Once you know why you’ll be doing link building, it’ll be much easier for you to establish your campaign’s goals. For instance, to successfully get all the 3 areas mentioned above, you’ll need to:

  • Get highly visible links from high DA sites in your industry – to be able to absorb domain authority as well as relevant traffic back to your website.
  • Be consistent with progressive link acquisition, based on your primary metrics (authority and relevance).

Your goals will help you determine the actions you need to take. This stage will give you a lot of insights, particularly with what methods to focus on in order to meet your campaign’s objectives.

Further reading: 10 types of links that really matter and how to get them

Minimum Viable Service

This is very similar to the business concept that has been popularized by Eric Ries (minimum viable product), wherein you provide different sets of tasks in the initial stage of the campaign that will not require extensive knowledge about your clients’ product/service/company for you to be able to deliver substantial output on your campaign’s first month.

It will mostly be comprised by tasks that don’t need a lot of effort, but can still offer enormous results. A few samples of activities that you can easily provide as a minimum viable service are (while you’re preparing for the high-value tactics):

  • Penalty diagnosis
  • Content asset inventory
  • Technical SEO audit and recommendations (you can check out Annie Cushing’s audit checklist)
  • Easy to acquire links (such as profile pages, web/niche directories, social profiles, etc…).

Including this business strategy in your consulting service’s structure can strongly improve how you head start and handle campaigns as whole, given that these actions can also help you and your clients draw actionable ideas and have a better grasp of the campaign’s path.

Strategy Development and Prioritization

You can then build a strategy or list of actions to implement based on your campaign’s goals and the findings from your initial activities (research phase).

Start by asking yourself what methods you can use to reach your goals.

  • What types of links do we need to improve our DA and click-through traffic?
  • How do we get them? Can we get them fast?
  • Can we expect immediate results (link acquisition, traffic, rankings, revenue, etc…)?

There are so many tactics to choose from, and you can start here.

Breakdown your to-do list based on each method’s level of priorities and difficulty. Start with the ones you know are important, high-value, but not that time consuming.

This will help you create a better and very actionable timeline for your campaign, which is very crucial as you proceed.

Process Documentation

Document all the processes that you’ll implement in your link building campaign, for this will help you scale your staff’s training process (and your client can also use this to train their in-house staff).

process doc

In creating your documentation, make it as comprehensive (and comprehensible) as it can, like including all the steps they’ll need to do for each listed tactic, and including screenshots if necessary.

What this documentation will normally include are:

  • Step by step guide for all the tactics your campaign has to execute.
  • Sample email templates for different types of outreach methods.
  • Tips on improving or making each technique more efficient.

Task Delegation and Communication

Use project management tools to track everything that’s happening in your campaign. This can most certainly help in organizing your team members’ tasks, gaining insights with your campaign’s current state, or to determine if it’s on the right track and what areas are lacking.

It’s also a good way to collaborate with your clients, and to notify them as well with what’s going on in real-time. We use Trello internally.

trello

Aside from having a better outlook of your campaign, this stage should also help you track your team’s performance, as well as initiative. And it’s imperative to discuss with your team the tasks that need more urgency and consistency.

Reporting

Reports – the most critical part of a campaign and perhaps one of the main products of any SEO provider. Paddy Moogan shared a really good template for link building reports on his book (The Link Building Book), and I highly suggest checking that one out.

Aspects of a good link building report would usually include:

  • Executive summary – which briefly explains and highlights all the notable areas for the month of the campaign.
  • Improvements – the things that have improved, which could be increase in organic traffic, referred traffic (through the links you’ve acquired), conversions driven by links (via assisted conversions on GA), increase in domain authority, and there could be a lot more.
  • Actions taken – a detailed report of all the tasks you’ve implemented for the entire month, which could also include the list of links successfully acquired, published content, as well as audit findings and recommendations.
  • Action plans for the succeeding month – including your campaign’s next steps is definitely a good way to impress your clients, as the more you get to learn and understand their business/industry, the more you can suggest result-oriented approaches to your link building.

Continuous Opportunity Discovery

Always be on the lookout for things that will not just improve your link building campaign, but also for opportunities that can help your client take their business to the next level.

This may come in the form of coming up with content assets that will allow them get more links, rankings, traffic, leads/conversions, or it could also be realizing partnerships that may able to help their product development, branding or even just their link building.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

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The ROI in Forum and Comment Marketing

Building and earning visibility through conversations has proven itself to be a very result-oriented approach in online marketing.

Sharing your knowledge and expertise on online communities doesn’t just help you build links (that get clicked more often than not), but it also allows you to build a strong brand presence that will let people in your industry know that you really know your stuff.

And best of all, it can also help you generate leads/sales directly.

Examples

To start off, I’ll throw a couple of samples of how I personally gained from just being active on some of the biggest online communities in the SEO industry in the past.

Note: My links’ actual conversion data (from early 2010 – June 2013) has been wiped out when Google Analytics’ new interface was launched earlier this month.

A few years back, my blog marketing strategy heavily relied on building conversations on other sites (particularly those that I knew where my target customers are) – and I believe they really paid off.

For instance, I used to be active on Warrior Forum in the early days of my blogging career (in which I have contributed 173 forum posts).

Warrior Forum

Over the span of 3 months, I’ve managed to get a few service inquiries:

warrior-conversions

And I was able to work on 2 good projects (for $500/month – that was my monthly rate before).

tony bianco

So if I had a total of 173 forum posts, which could have taken me 2 minutes to make each post (a total of 346 minutes or 5.8 hours), and say I’m paying myself $20/hour. Then the total investment I made for this specific task would be $116.

The return was two $500/month worth of projects. Not bad for an investment right?

Another sample would be my current presence on Inbound.org (being one of the community’s top users).

inbound.org

Which definitely have generated a lot of business leads for Xight Interactive for the past several months:

inbound-conversions

It has been much easier to close deals with prospected clients coming from this community, since they already know what type of service they are looking to get.

inbound-inquiry

Other than getting service leads, it also helps me scale my marketing efforts, as I get more linking opportunities – seeing that other community members perceive my brand as an authority in the field.

link opportunity

Calculating the amount of efforts I’ve done vs. the results I got (as a business owner) was definitely satisfying.

I’ve already shared 1,545 articles on Inbound.org (although I’m not saying it’s about the quantity of your contribution). So let’s say it takes me a minute to share a single post on the site – which actually isn’t, since I believe it’s just a few seconds (a total of 1,545 minutes or 25.8 hours). Then I’ve already spent $516 worth of my time on contributing to Inbound.org (if say I’m paying myself 20 bucks per hour).

The returns were I was able to close a lot of new client inquiries and got more marketing firepower for my blog’s brand – which I can truly say a win/win.

Improving your conversational marketing strategy

Like any other marketing strategy/tactic, conversational marketing also has a few best practices of its own.

Generosity is key.

The more you add value to the discussions or give valuable information to other people in your target communities, the more you can:

  • Make your brand and contributions appear more authentic.
  • Build an authoritative identity for your brand.
  • Standout in discussions that really matter (increases click-through visitors).
  • Help and influence other people.
  • Build better relationships and become more linkable.

I know some people in our industry who have been really generous in sharing their ideas/knowledge, which I think have helped a lot in establishing themselves as an authority in the field.

One perfect example would be Benj Arriola (of Internet Marketing Inc.), who has been so generous in giving people advice (whether it’s on a forum or in a Facebook group).

benj

Invest more time on communities that will actually drive results

Participate on blogs, forums, social network groups and other online communities in your industry that really matter. Choose the communities that have:

  • A strong search share (to ensure that your contributions will be seen by their constantly growing search-driven visitors).
  • Large traffic, an active community and majority of it is your target audience.

Scaling your conversational marketing efforts

There are also a few things that you can do to make the most out of your forum and comment marketing campaigns, such as:

Hire smart people to do the community infiltration for you

If you have a great in-house team that really knows how your product/service(s) work (your sales or marketing people), then adding these small tasks of participating to online discussions can tremendously help you build a solid sales funnel. Just imagine if they can just do this for 15 minutes every day, right?

I’ve been working with Affilorama for the past 3 years, and I know that they’re support and sales team do this on their free time.

Always measure

Check the top referring online communities that are driving conversions on your website (via Google Analytics). Spend more time on the ones that are really working.

Give product samples to other active community members

Get to know the other active users in your target communities, especially those who’re already/somehow considered to be an authority (but not the moderators).

Give them free samples of your products, as these can help you:

  • Get more inputs on how you can further improve your product (which can make your brand more link-worthy in the future).
  • Build rapport with the people who really care about your industry – and eventually build brand evangelists who can voluntarily promote your content within the communities they are active in.

Build more non-linking brand mentions

Instead of aiming for links when using this approach, use conversations to mainly amplify your online branding efforts. Because there are ton of advantages in doing this, such as:

  • It reduces the chances of getting flagged as a spammer (especially on forums), when you’re slightly promoting your own products.
  • It can cultivate more branded search (given that you didn’t provide a link) – which is a very powerful signal that search engines use to determine strong brands.

forumpost

  • Search engines can understand these non-linking brand mentions (through phrase-based indexing and the concept of co-occurrence), which means they will most likely count them as votes for your website to have better ranking ability on search results.

For more tips on comment marketing, watch the video below from one of Rand’s Whiteboard Fridays.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre

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How I Do Link Baiting on @kaiserthesage

This was my slide presentation earlier today for a brainstorming session with WebPros‘ search and content team (they were amazing and a very smart team!). The deck is just a recap of the core inbound marketing strategy that I’ve been implementing on this blog for the past couple of years.

If you’ve been a reader of this blog, then I believe you’ll find many of the ideas from the presentation very familiar.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

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My Best Kept SEO Secret on How to Rank for Competitive Keywords

As expected, SEO has gotten a bit more difficult, especially now that Google is pushing to encrypt a bigger portion of their search traffic data from Analytics (100% keyword not provided).

Knowing the keywords that really work and drive results has been a core factor of why SEO is a force to reckon with. But without it doesn’t really imply the demise of SEO as a marketing practice.

I don’t really give a sh*t if they try and keep all the keyword data to themselves, because as long as people are searching for something – we still have work to do.

Steve Webb has put together a list of the most actionable SEO advice from industry leaders this week, and I thought I’ve already given mine – until I’ve come to revisit this method that I’ve been doing since I started blogging.

The secret is simple – Create content that:

  • is evergreen
  • can be continuously updated
  • can target industry head terms

This is somehow based on Wikipedia’s content model, wherein they publish the ultimate resource about a certain subject (industry-specific terminologies) and enabling the content to be continuously updated.

Examples

To give you a better outlook of how I’ve done this tactic, I’ll share a few actual samples.

Example #1: I’ve shared this first example many times before. It’s a linkable asset that has been here on my blog for the past 2 years now – my “SEO strategies resources page”.

SEO strategies

When I created this list (of my top blog posts), I was originally aiming for it to rank for the keyword “SEO strategies”. And it did.

It’s been consistently ranking on the top 3 spots for the past 2 years now.

SERP seo strategies

That brought thousands of highly engaged organic traffic to my blog every month.

organic seo strategies

And here’s the best part, because of the content’s comprehensiveness, it was also able to rank for 779 other more search terms (like online marketing strategies, SEO tactics list, SEO marketing, etc…).

seo strategies variants

So when I realized that this approach was really driving results, I never got contented and had to try it once more.

Example #2: I then built a new resource page for “Social Media Marketing Strategies”.

social media marketing

The results were almost exactly the same. The page was ranking #1 for the keyword “social media marketing strategies” for almost a year now.

social media marketing SERP

That has also brought thousands of highly engaged visitors on a monthly basis, and was also able to rank for 271 other more keyword variations (such as social media marketing techniques, social media marketing plan, social media marketing tactics, etc…).

social media marketing variants

Factors that make them rank better

There are so many things that I’ve done to optimize them and make them more visible on search results, but the nature of these pages were also somehow enough for them to deserve the rankings/organic traffic they are getting.

  • These 2 resources pages I created were internally linking to many of my blog posts that are comprehensive and evergreen (and thematically relevant). So aside from improving the page’s activity rate (as visitors instantly click-through the list of links), it’s also passing ranking power to my site’s other pages.
  • Since these pages are focused on industry terms, I can easily build contextual links to them – through my continuous content marketing efforts (both internal and external).
  • Once these linkable assets are already ranking for the key terms that they are targeting (that are mostly informational search terms), it’s easier for them to attract and earn natural links – knowing that many of the people landing on the page are doing research about the topic.
  • The pages’ ability to be continuously updated makes room for improvement and sustainability in search rankings. The more changes/updates being made on the page, the more it becomes the best resource on the web covering a particular topic area.
  • The robustness of the page’s content also makes it more deserving to rank for multiple keyword variations – which allows it to get more organic traffic.

What to do if you haven’t invested in Content Marketing yet?

The approach I used was aligned with my past content marketing efforts, as the resources page I have just simply compiled all the popular posts I’ve written since 2010.

There are still other viable options if you don’t have enough content assets to compile:

marketing library

I guess this is not a secret anymore. Anyway, if you liked this post, please do subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

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How to Avoid the Soon to be Guest Blogging Penalty

This entry is a guest post by Jayson Bagio, the owner of SEOTeky. You can follow him on Twitter: @seoteky. The opinions expressed on this post doesn’t necessarily reflect my views as an online marketer.

Have you been using guest blogging to build your online presence? If you are into guest blogging, then this post is for you.

Guest blogging is a helpful way to be in front of other people’s audience. Or should I say, the other bloggers’ audience. It can help you reach your target readers, and it’s also a very powerful platform to share and demonstrate your expertise.

And on top of that, you can also drive referrals from the content that you have shared. Though it can also become a bigger advantage (in SEO and branding perspectives) if you can get a link or two from those blogs where you’ve contributed a content.

But of course, there are thousands of people who see guest blogging as a method to build links. Therefore, abuse and manipulation are becoming an issue again for Google. If you are guest blogging for links, then you should stop it because Google is starting to hunt guest bloggers like you.

If  you are not aware, Google recently updated their webmaster guidelines about link schemes. They warned large scale guest blogging with keyword-rich anchor texts and undisclosed sponsored posts with do-follow links that pass PageRank.

See the webmaster guidelines for link scheme definitions.

We’ll never know how Google would assess if a guest blog is low quality or manipulative.  All we can do is to raise the quality standard of our works in order to dodge the bullet of the soon-to-be guest blogging penalty. So let me share with you five ways to avoid this upcoming penalty:

Defining the Signals or Metrics of a Quality Website.

Choosing where to guest blog is by far the most important method to make the most out of your content distribution efforts. Raising your standards makes it easier to identify quality websites that will really matter for your off-site marketing campaign.

Traffic and Social Stats is the biggest signal that you need to look at. Checking these stats will allow you to determine the true state of the website you’re targeting to contribute a guest post to.

Many SEO’s are doing guest blogging for links and they don’t even consider digging in on traffic and social data. All that is important is that they get a do-follow link and have their anchor texts on the post.

Well if you want exposure and referrals, these metrics are important for you to succeed. The higher the numbers are, the better.

SimilarWeb.com

gp-seoteky

Social Analyzer from RYPMarketing

social analyzer

Pagerank is still a good a metric to use in determining the quality of a website. It is a metric or point system given by Google to websites that measures the site’s importance in its index.

You just have to know if a pagerank is valid or fake using tools available on the Internet. There are webmasters out there who forge Pagerank to attract guest bloggers to get free content.

Quality Score from many of the best and leading tools online is an important scoring basis as well. Some of the most known and reliable site metrics in the industry:

  • MOZ.com’s Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA)
  • Ahrefs rank
  • AC rank from Majestic SEO

These tools can help you decide which ones are quality and not.

Ad Positioning and Usability are also important factors. If the blog is an ad-laden site, pitch your content somewhere else.

Heavy positioning of ads on the page’s above the fold can result in a low quality score from Big G based on the page layout algorithm that Google released early January of 2012. Excessive ads disrupt user experience:

page layout ads

And you don’t want to guest blog on these types of sites.

Link Neighborhood also plays an important part on quality checking. A website that links to bad neighborhood sites like viagra, porn, and casino can hurt you more than help you.

With all these, you can easily measure the quality of the website where you are pitching for guest blog opportunities (hard earned content).

You might wonder, “Why would I trouble myself to check these things out? My client or my site only needs a link, that’s all.” Now’s the time to change your mindset. Guest blogging for links might be your bread and butter, but raising your standards will be beneficial to your site in the long run. Not only through the authoritative links that you acquire, but also with the traffic referral and brand exposure that you get.

Guest blogging is more of a networking tool. And in networking, connecting with the right people is as vital as networking itself.

Getting your site/brand connected with other entities that have strong potentials of progressing in social web and search, can directly influence your site’s ranking ability as well.

Google already laid out the mechanics in this game of guest blogging; all you have to do is follow.

Implementing Authorship for Guest Bloggers

AuthorRank is somehow foreseen as the future of link metrics (and ranking signals). And implementing authorship markup on all of your works (even on guest blogs) is one way to let Google distinguish individual publishers who’re expert on certain topic areas.

On implementing authorhship markups:

List the URL of the website(s) where you contribute guest blog posts to on your Google + account.

Go to your G+ home page, then click About. In the Links Section, click Edit at the bottom. Go to Contribute To. Click Add Custom Link. Type in the name of the website in the Label text box, then insert the URL of the website you are contributing to.

authorship

Click Save when you’re done. Then on your bio or author byline from your guest article, link to your Google+ account’s URL and add the rel=author tag.

Draw The Line on Massive Guest Blogging Campaigns.

Google publicly warned webmasters on massive guest blogging campaigns through their webmaster guideline.  Here is a massive guest blog service inquiry from someone that I received.

skype chat

Imagine 200 guest blogs per month, isn’t that a torture to the SEO company or for your website to have? 200 guest blogs per month – that is massive and really easy to track.

If Google is dead serious about their warning, then these people should be scared right now.

Anyways, I opt not to accept his offer, I do not have the man power to deliver it anyways.

Right now, I don’t see 10 to 20 guest blogs as a massive campaign. As long as you know how to diversify your link profile and have the purpose to genuinely help people solve their problems (and build brand awareness along the process).

If you are doing guest blogging, then don’t forget that you can combine it with other online marketing platforms (relationship/community building, social signals, branding, lead generation, etc…) to make it look more appealing not just to Google – but to you target audience as well.

Nothing Beats Quality and Relevant Content.

This may sound cliché, but content is really the king. We all know how a well-written, relevant article can impact how the audience percieve your brand’s value — it’s a great way to attract more visitors and gain more subscribers.

As you continue to spark the interest of the crowd, you can expect to see more positive results along the way.

Simple ways to generate content:

Feedly is a very good replacement for Google reader. Track your favorite blogs and get content ideas through this feed curator.

feedly

Google Suggest lets you see what topics people search for.

google suggest

Understand Your Horizontal Niche. Think out of the box and find topics that can help you expand your reach. See the image below, fashion can be vertically related to fashion tips, list and trends. But fashion can also be interrelated to parents, money making, apps and so on. This is called horizontal guest blogging.

expanding reach

However, there are still guest bloggers who would rehash content to pitch to different websites. We all know how Google despises spun, scraped content. In the Webmaster’s Guideline, you’ll see those types of content that violate Google’s policy.

If you’re having a hard time to come up with your own article, it would be better to start first with an outline, or have it written by someone who knows more about the niche you are targeting. Pack your content with as much useful information as possible.

Forget Links, Focus On Your Brand.

Link is all that matters – this has been our mindset since day 1 when we started to learn about SEO and link building. Even when I started doing guest blogging for some of my clients, all I wanted is to get dofollow links.

We can all change. Build your brand and become an authority on your niche as they say. I won’t go far on this topic. Just like Jason Acidre, right now this good looking guy gets interview invitations from different authority blogs. And many other opportunities because people consider  him as an expert in the industry. When he writes, people read, when he talks, people listen, when he shares, people click – that is influence at it’s best.

interview search

Jason doesn’t have to think of guest blogging anymore, because he continuously provide solid contents on Kaiserthesage.com, consistently built his rapport in the link building space and established his credibility as one of the best.

Now many SEO’s from local and international scene are begging for a chance to have him interviewed. Some conferences in the international scene are also inviting him. While other SEO experts meet with him whenever they get a chance to be in Manila.

dejan

 

Build your brand, that is the only way you can cut guest blogging in your efforts. “When  we brand things, our brains perceive them as more special and valuable than they actually are” – My favorite quote from Martin Lindstrom, on his book Buyology.

Here are some of the best brand building content that you need to see if you want to further understand branding:

When you build your brand, you become an influence and you win relationships. At the end of the day, when all the link building efforts get boxed-in by Google, all that is left are the relationships that we were able to build.

Google wants the Internet to be a place where REAL people engage in conversations of their chosen interest — that’s why they’re humanizing how algorithms work. Be as realistic as possible; start oozing out those creative juices! Guest blog with a purpose.

Few notes from Kaiserthesage:

  • If you’ve been already active with guest blogging for the past couple of years, you might want to review your already existing links (particularly their anchor texts) and deoptimize them. Use branded links instead.

  • If you’ve penetrated strong industry blogs in the past (robust social, traffic and domain authority), you might want to be in touch with them again, and pitch to become a regular contributor instead. Multiple links from a strong link source translates to relationships/association – which is a powerful trust indicator for people and search engines.

  • Don’t just leave your guest posts once they are published. Participate in the discussions, connect with their audience, and help share the content. These things help build more positive signals to the content. Always remember that “authenticity” is key to succeed in online marketing.

  • Start implementing authorship markups on your guest posts.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre

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12 Scalable Link Building Tactics [Newsletter Edition]

UPDATE: This 4-part newsletter series is now published as a blog post on Moz, entitled 12 Scalable Link Building Tactics

Link building/earning is very essential in online marketing, not just because it improves your SEO. But because it also helps a website be discovered (click-through visitors), generate leads, connect with other publishers (relationships), as well as build a stronger online brand presence.

Although establishing yourself as an authority to eventually earn links along the process is what search engines naturally want websites/brands to do, you can’t still disregard artificial link building (link marketing).

Link marketing is an initiative that should also be highly considered, as this practice makes a brand more known in its online space – and for it to genuinely earn links in the future.

This is a 4-part newsletter series that will run for the next couple of weeks (starting this week). In this series, I’ll be sharing comprehensive guides on how to implement some of the most scalable link building tactics (that can be used by agencies, SMBs and enterprise-level companies).

You can use the form below to subscribe.

Get actionable link building tips straight to your inbox.



Also, I’ll be publishing the whole series as a blog post later this month, so if in case you don’t want to be bothered on your email, you can just wait for the full post to be published.

You can also follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre for more updates.

How to Recover from Panda Dance

In early June this year, Matt Cutts (head of Google’s search spam team) confirmed that Panda will be rolling out monthly over 10 of 30 days (or more known as the Panda Dance) on his talk with Danny Sullivan on SMX Advanced.

This particular update implies that Panda filters will now be slowly integrated to Google’s search ranking algorithm. The said algorithmic update was officially rolled out last June 25, 2013.

As the Panda Dance continually implemented tests and changes for the past couple of months on various verticals, it’s already foreseen that it will still result to a lot of ranking fluctuations for the coming weeks/months.

I’ve seen two different patterns of decrease in search traffic since the Panda Dance rolled out.

1. The first one is the gradual decrease due to ranking fluctuations.

gradual

2. While the second is a sudden drop in search traffic. sudden drop

If in case you aren’t aware what the Panda Update is, here’s a brief description (as very well defined by Mark Traphagen on his comprehensive report about the Google Panda Dance):

Panda is after site quality. Is the content really what a searcher would want to find?

In this post, I’ll be covering most of the things that we did to recover a site’s search visibility. Below are some of the optimization methods that you can try implementing to recover or somehow avoid ranking fluctuations from negatively affecting your site’s ability to rank.

Authorship and other Schema/Microdata markups

Authenticity has been a really big thing in this new age of search (and will definitely be a big part of its future as well).

Rich-snippet optimization seems to be one of the best methods to use in responding to these recent algorithmic changes, as this is one of the first things that we did that have somehow shown immediate results (since 3 of the sites we’ve optimized recently haven’t implemented authorship markups yet).

The reason may be because of the signals it can send to search engines – by making the site’s content look more authentic, easier for search engines to understand and making the site’s search listings more appealing to users (higher CTR) when displayed on search results.

Some of the markups that you can implement for your site’s pages:

Improve your low performing landing pages

Understand what your low performing landing pages lack. Check the pages of your site that have good volume of traffic but have low engagement rate (low visit duration and average page visits) and high bounce rates.

Start with the pages that you believe are important and optimize these landing pages to mainly increase user dwell time. Several areas that you can improve on your content to make visitors stay longer on the page/site are:

  • Make sure that the information provided or the context of the content matches the title of the page/keywords it is targeting (or matches the intent/search queries that are commonly used to find that content).
  • Add more thematically relevant internal links in the content – to make visitors check your site’s other strong pages.
  • Improve the page’s loading speed.
  • Optimize the page’s readability (optimize for skim readers – such as breaking down the content into shorter paragraphs, using bold texts on important phrases, etc…).
  • Reducing distractions, such as banner ads and/or pop-ups.

For more tips on reducing your page’s bounce rates you can check out these guides from Search Engine Watch and Crazy Egg.

Update evergreen landing pages

If you’re working on a site that has been around for more than a year, then checking and updating your top landing pages or content assets (that are constantly receiving good volume of search traffic) would be another great method to implement.

For example, one of our clients has ton of useful/evergreen content on their site’s blog/resources sections that are constantly driving traffic to their site.

landing pages

Although most of their content assets haven’t been updated for years now. Making them more comprehensive seemed to be a great way not just to maintain their search rankings, but also to rank better for the other keywords that these content assets are already ranking, but weren’t originally optimized for.

Untitled

Optimize your top landing pages for these other search terms through:

  • Including the other keyword variations (with high engagement rate) on the page’s meta tags and/or mentioning them within the body of the content.
  • Using the other keyword variations as anchor texts for the internal links directing to the landing page.
  • Adding more details/information as well as page elements (such as images, videos, etc…) in the content to give more ranking power to the page. In short, to make the page more relevant and comprehensive.

You can also check out the extensive guide I published earlier this year on implementing this type of keyword audit/discovery and optimization process.

Block crawlers from accessing poor content and duplicate pages

This has been the most known practice in fighting Panda (ever since the first version of its update). Aside from the overall quality of a website, Panda is also strict in targeting pages that are accessible in search results which have poor user engagement (as this signifies irrelevance and/or lack of quality).

Several tips on finding duplicate/thin content or other site errors that might affect your site’s ranking ability:

  • Compare the amount of pages in your sitemap vs. the amount of pages indexed by Google (if the # of indexed pages is far greater than the # of pages available on your sitemap, then the site probably has duplication issues).
  • Check the “HTML improvements” report on Google Webmaster Tools, and see if it’s reporting duplicates on your pages’ meta tags.
  • Check if the site has “Crawl Errors”. This feature on GWT may also show you URL parameters that are being crawled by search engines (check if these parameters are being indexed by using advanced search operators on Google search).

parameters

Make sure that search crawlers will not be able to index the poor/duplicate pages your site has (use the “noindex” tag on these pages or block access through your site’s robots.txt file).

Also, here’s a detailed guide on using Google Webmaster Tools for technical SEO audits.

Build new signals

When you start making changes on your site, it’s important to build new signals so that search engines can re-crawl and index the changes you’ve made.

Some of the ways you can do to send strong signals to search engines:

  • Acquire links from topically relevant authority websites.
  • Create and launch new content assets.
  • Build brand signals within the site, such as adding social proof to important pages, trust indicators (testimonials, badges, etc…) and including your brand name on your pages’ title tags (as this is mostly overlooked – and this is something that we’ve also implemented on one of our clients’ website), as well as building branded links to the site.
  • Sharing your updated content on social networks (social signals).

For more tips you can check out my guides on building brand signals and advanced off-page SEO.

Optimize for Local Search

Since Google is basing many search results on the searcher’s location and the device they use nowadays, local SEO might also be a good method to add in your optimization campaign (and to make sure that you’ll get more search visibility for your website).

On implementing local SEO:

  • Setup page(s) on your site that will cater geo-targeted users. This page can include your business address and local phone number (or you can also create content that’s specifically targeted to certain cities/states).
  • Get your business/website listed on Google Places for Business.
  • Build citations for your website (here’s a great list of local business directories).

If in case you’re looking for more resources on this topic, you can visit this complete guide on Local SEO from Koozai.

Wait and observe

There are times where all you can really do is to just wait (for new algorithmic updates or refresh). But what’s important is to make sure that your site is genuinely providing value to its visitors/users and that you’re doing ethical practices in terms of link building and in marketing the site/business as a whole.

Monitoring what’s happening in the search space (specifically with the ranking algorithm and SERP fluctuations) is very vital these days. The good news is that there are web sources that you can always check to keep yourself updated or to determine if your site has been hit by a new update – like Mozcast and Moz’s Google algorithm change history.

mozcast

The methods I’ve mentioned above are just some of the things that our team has tried to overcome the recent Panda Dance – that you can also try to somehow prevent your site from being affected by future algorithmic updates (targeting low quality sites) – but might not necessarily be the ultimate solution to already effected websites.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.