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|What Advice Would You Give a Newbie About Links for Google?|
OKů pretend I am a newbie. I have developed a new website that is awesome, the best in its niche by a long shot, fantastic research, well written and presented and offering a great user experience. But no-one is interested in linking to it. Maybe its a lack of PR, fear of a Penguin smack or an unwillingness to link to startup sites because they "have no runs on the board" or simply that no other site knows of its existence. How could they? Its a real-world scenario that new sites are faced with.
So how can I get some traction going for this site without falling foul of Googles Guidelines or current penalty trip-wires? Any means of getting a link that involves me voting for my own site is considered manipulative and will either invoke a penalty or see the link made worthless.
- No more article submissions with a signature link.
- No more buying links.
- No more advertorial type article placements
- No more guest blog links
- Directory submissions made mostly worthless
- Link farms are toxic
- And so onů.
So what advice would you give to a newbie that would help get them started with their links? What are the realistic options available to them? And please try and avoid the usual motherhood statements about concentrating on quality content and all will be well. It may be true in some cases but it offers little to a newbie starting from absolutely nothing and with zero visibility.
Concentrate on building a great site first so it's promoted through word-of-mouth [like that G we all keep talking about and Facebook both were] and don't *ever* build a link to it, let them happen naturally -- If the site is what people want to find, links will happen.
Some of the "old" papers and patents seem to have been long forgotten about these days, but freshness "cascades" through links much like PageRank. Link churn-rate is not talked about much these days. Link decay is rarely mentioned. And on and on and on -- As soon as someone starts building links, they have to continue at the same rate [on a % basis] otherwise their churn-rate and decay indicate "not as hot anymore" and that can have a negative impact on rankings.
If you build a great site that will be promoted through word-of-mouth, then SEO becomes much easier, because the more people talk about it and share it and visit it, the more links it will have naturally, which creates an "upward spiral" -- The converse is true when someone manipulates the numbers to rank today and then fails to be able to continue the manipulation at the same rate on a % basis.
If you can't build a site people really want to find, talk about, share and visit stay out of this game, because it's not going to be any easier tomorrow than it is today, and it's already very difficult.
@netmeg - not 100% sure about that. I launched a site 4 months ago, all I have is forum links, a few in-niche directories, tweeting and being featured on a few other sites. Admittedly it's in a niche of a niche (5m results for target keywords), but within that - and the other 50 or so terms I want it to do well on, it's doing really well!
But that's just the promotion aspect. The content creation was the hard part - 150 pages at night, every night, handwritten, well illustrated with diagrams and pics. It is very very thorough, fast, allows comments and well, neat. And, it's really useful stuff for people - so they come back or bookmark.
I'm tracking for about 30k pages/month, 25% search, 25% referral, 50% direct. Many Google results 1-10. I'm quite happy with that...?
I'm actually not promoting it myself other than occasional emails to editors seeing if they want to make a story featuring the site - that's about it...
One of the sites that I have been running for a while got to a good start because of CPC and some additional factors.
I setup highly targeted campaigns for each page of the site on Google, Microsoft, and Facebook running simultaneously. The CTR was 20%+ on Google. I run the campaigns for few months slowly reducing the budget. When I finally stop running the campaigns, the users continued to come to the site.
The responses from visitors were really positive. The site collected lots of likes, shares, comments, and even back links.
At the same time, one of the pages on the site got listed on dmoz. This may have also contributed a great deal.
Now what I will say is before spending any cash, objectively evaluate the value your site adds to visitors. Does your site go beyond what your competitors provide?
furshka mentions something I've utilized quite a bit although I use different networks. Exposure, although paid, leads to repeat users and some links. The links may not be great, but there is cumulative benefit.
What I would advise:
Go to popular authority sites around the web related to anything BUT SEO or websites.
Look at what those sites are linking to naturally.
What I see when going to sites unrelated to websites and SEO are people linking out to really useful stuff or really cool stuff.
So, make your content really useful or really cool.
Ultimately the links you get are the links your site deserves. Yet, it must also be said that not all sites will get links since not all sites are of interest to everyone. Some sites will never rank for great numbers, visitors or income, simply because it's not THAT interesting or compelling, or Egads, necessary.
Word of mouth is the best campaign. Get people to talk about your site and those visitors who come to see what it's all about will tell their friends, etc. But the site has to be worth that effort on their part. And dang few of us have sites of that kind of excitement (be honest!).
Local and regional, even national, advertising in other media such as radio, tv, print, can get the url out there to get visitors, but the site has to have content people want to share with a backlink or emailing it to a friend.
Paid links do only so much but burn out if the site has no real viral like content. All that gets you is a few visitors your paid for.
That said, some business sites will never rank but are expected by their customers... these are general direct visits, not search engine suggested visits, so expending any extreme effort to obtain backlinks is a waste of time and money.
Ecommerce sites generally struggle to get backlinks, particularly if their products are replicated all over the web. It's the product, not the site, that will bring visitors.
Some sites are self-publishing, ie. they exist as a joy to the webmaster or a group, usually very odd niches, and only extreme hubris will cause that webmaster to chase backlinks.
Just commenting on expectations regarding any kind of links one might get, or expect, or pay for, yet in the world of getting the word out, the final answer is getting everyone to talk about it:
Word of Mouth.
I've been working online since Prodigy in the 80s. I've seen so many sites, services and companies rise and fall that it just makes me shake my head.
One thing many of the winners have in common is that they stick with it for the long haul. They don't have unrealistic expectations. They don't expect to make billions and they regroup when things go bad.
Actively getting backlinks that Google will acknowledge takes a lot of time over months and even years. Making it harder now is that many sites that allow links are now nofollow. Some of the sites that do give you links will fail. It's often 10 steps forward and 9 back.
Make link building a part of what you do, but don't go nuts spending time on it and sacrifice quality content and other promotional tactics. A balanced approach with a long-term view will get you there.
I have noticed when I write unique content on a topic that is brand spanking new, and not about something what has been discussed for months, that it takes right off and gets top ranking and that ranking stays there for years. Otherwise it gets buried beneath hundreds of other articles and never floats to the top.
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