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|What Advice Would You Give a Newbie About Links for Google?|
OK… 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 on….
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.
I have looked at many sites on MANY topics and not one national company has a clean backlink profile, cleaner than others sure but if anyone says they have never paid for a single dofollow link I would like them to prove it by posting their site URL so we can have a real and useful case study on hand.
Any case study of a normal "Average" national/international site that ranks with a 100% NATURAL profile would be useful! I can post lots of case studies of UK large national sites ranking with purely brought backlinks and raking for 100's of keyphrase's but we aren't allowed to out anyone here!
No site, not even the BBC can sits back and waits for the links to roll in, esp not dofollow in todays climate. You need some initial traction but build them slow and carefully, cheap links are what they are so you will have to contact sites and do some backdoor bartering imo!
|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. |
My experience is different - people do link out to great pages, but perhaps not at the speed you would wish to be linked to, and these links are usually from sites not as important you would wish them to be. I believe that most of the web is not SEO aware and therefore they are not scared to link out.
Some time ago jmccormac wrote an excellent post on how new websites acquire links and it is a pattern very difficult to reproduce by active link building.
So you can have a blanket statement "forums are out" but on the other hand we do not really know - maybe they are in until there are so many links in so many forums that it must be artificial.
With the wast amount of data Google collect, it cannot be too difficult for them to see the average pattern of linking within the industry/niche and to penalise sites that are way out of that pattern.
So what would be my advice if you have a great page? Whatever you do, do not go overboard - a site needs natural linking pattern. Initially try to put your content where it would get exposure and from then on attract natural links.
|You need some initial traction but build them slow and carefully... |
Let's remember that there are many different ways to succeed online in the many different industries that have different circumstances to deal with. Just because something has not worked for you or you have not done it, does not mean it is a bad idea. It just means it is different and for your unique situation it might not be a good fit. You need to be able to take a general concept and adapt it your specific situation making it into an original idea.
To be honest most newbies think their site is awesome even though it is not. I am often asked to look at websites and most of them are garbage that offer little value. Repeating what is on 100 other websites does not provide value to users. Making a website that you personally feel is better but you never validate that guess with legitimate user testing is not smart. Real user testing can expose huge flaws in your website and few webmasters take this step.
Let's assume you do have an awesome website that provides great value that is not on any other website. You need to do real marketing. Imagine if the search engines did not exist. How would you develop traffic to your website without search engines?
-Build up relationships with journalists. This is not easy but it can end up with your site being regularly mentioned in their articles including links to you.
-Guest blog posts are not dead. Paying $5 for an off-topic, offshore PR2 blog to republish a 200 word article is dead. Providing a relevant guest article to your industry specific site is useful. Why do you think so many SEO people write free articles for Search Engine Land? It does not matter if it is a dofollow or nofollow link, it is more about getting traffic and exposure. A nofollow link that drives huge industry traffic will lead to dofollow links.
-Buying links also still works. Buying run of site links with identical anchor text on off-topic websites that sell to everyone is dead. Buying relevant advertisements on industry specific sites that you have specifically targeted because it will drive real traffic does work.
-Give away something the public wants and isn't being offered. When I do keyword research I often see consumers are searching for industry apps, ebooks, buying guides, calculators, etc. Before I invest time and money I see how many competitors offer this. If I can't create a great one that is not found elsewhere I do not do it. If I can create an original great ebook, online calculator, app, whatever - I do it and give it away for free. I then can use my journalist connections and reach out to industry blogs to promote this new industry resource.
Over the years I have launched many sites. I have recently launched a new site and I am launching another site so I can say from personal experience that these ideas and others do work and you can develop. If it was easy then I would be out of business because everyone would do it.
Many people try and just can't do it. They are good followers but to succeed in marketing and link development you need to be more of a leader. If you follow old ideas, you will have a bad time. If you can come up with original marketing ideas on a consistent basis you will succeed. You need to be able to spot the nuance and grab the opportunity.
Even with all of my experience and creativity, I am far from perfect and have had problems. Just because I have temporary troubles does not mean I quit and say something can't be done. I might analyze the situation and decide the profit margin isn't big enough to justify the solution but I don't say it is impossible.
Bottom Line - You need to get creative and that is a very hard challenge that most people will have issues with. Copying & repeating dead tricks will lead to dead results.
Promote your site. Online, offline, on Mars if you have to, but *promote your site*. It's all just marketing.
If you had a new product pre-internet, how would you have let people know? A lot of those methods still work.
Go around to forums and blogs in your niche and (politely and tactfully) BE the authority in your niche. No, don't spam them, and don't link drop, but spend the time to go and engage with people and discussions, and be a person. They'll look you up and come to your site.
But most of all, manage your expectations. When I launch a site now, I allow for two to three years of marketing before I can make a determination as to its success*. Sometimes I nail it in one, more often I don't, and sometimes it never quite gets where I want it to go.
* Most of my sites are seasonal so that isn't really as long as it sounds
Im still not sure about "Guest Blog Posts" - why would i turn down Matt Cutts writing a post on my blog? I think if it is a unique post by an Authority Author, go ahead and do it.
|Im still not sure about "Guest Blog Posts" - why would i turn down Matt Cutts writing a post on my blog? I think if it is a unique post by an Authority Author, go ahead and do it. |
Guest posts are not an issue. The issue is linking back to his site from this guest blog post, without using nofollow and with keywords rich anchor text for the phrase he would want his site to rank for - and having many of such posts.
|but if anyone says they have never paid for a single dofollow link |
Never have, never will, in fact I posted here a few years ago under a different moniker that I had never done it and never intended to, and that's across some 40-50 sites.
To be honest, within my widget industry, I do not know if it even happens with the companies who build their own sites, those using outside companies, maybe so.
|but if anyone says they have never paid for a single dofollow link |
I missed this before - no, I have never paid for a single dofollow link, but I don't post client URLs in forums (even when it's allowed), so you're just gonna have to take my word for it.
Can anyone post a link to a site that isnt a huge brand (facebook, micorsoft) and has a 100% natural backlink profile?
I'm not being funny, I would really like to see one because I haven't seen this yet....
It doesn't have to be your site, your client or your aunties site.. just pick a random site national site you know is clean?
>>so you're just gonna have to take my word for it.<<
I’m a firm believer in the phrase "if you cant trust a complete stranger over the internet who can you trust" but for my own growth I need to see an physical example ;)
Im not being rude it would be good for many of us here to see a site with a 100% natural backlink profile, im talking an average site not a semi famous person or HUGE brand. Anyone?
[edited by: CaptainSalad2 at 5:43 pm (utc) on Feb 25, 2014]
In my not so humble opinion, it should only be posted by the owner, because as soon as someone posts it here all kinds of people are going to be firing up their link tools and spy tools and whatnot on an unsuspecting someone's site. So unless the mods overrule it, I'd say DON'T post a site unless you're verifiably in control of it.
Sorry Capt Salad, but that's only fair.
|Please try and avoid the usual motherhood statements about concentrating on quality content and all will be well. |
I can tell you that it's a strategy of many new websites from their day1.
[edited by: Zivush at 5:51 pm (utc) on Feb 25, 2014]
^ ^ ^
What netmeg said, I don't want loadsa numpties trying to rip my sites apart however I will give you a clue, all the answers to my sites are here:
|because as soon as someone posts it here all kinds of people are going to be firing up their link tools and whatever else on someone unsuspecting site. So unless the mods overrule it, I'd say DON'T post a site unless you're verifiably in control of it. |
Sure people will fire up the link tools but if its clean the site has nothing to worry about, or does it? Sorry I must be missing something... Whats the worst that can happen? What about posting the keyphrase you know a clean site ranks for? Then it will be 1 of 10, ill check them all? Nevermind (Sigh)
Maybe this will clarify the linking thing, from the forum charter [webmasterworld.com]:
|Do not post links to a specific website (yours or any other) or suggest a search query, search words, or any search phrase.... |
Well we're under a temporary change of rules (more like a test) about posting links - see the item pinned to the top of the forum for more information on that.
|Sure people will fire up the link tools but if its clean the site has nothing to worry about, or does it? Sorry I must be missing something... Whats the worst that can happen? What about posting the keyphrase you know a clean site ranks for? Then it will be 1 of 10, ill check them all? Nevermind (Sigh) |
Right, now you're getting it. Doesn't matter how "clean" the site is (and who decides what's clean anyway?) and it's not fair put that kind of exposure on someone who didn't sign up for it.
The bottom line here is that it doesn't matter what other people do and it doesn't matter what Google thinks other people do, it only matters what YOU do. I might not be able to get away with doing the same thing(s) you do and vice versa. And frankly, you can drive yourself nuts trying to dissect other sites to figure out which combination of things (out of thousands of possibilities, most of which you can only guess at anyway) they're doing right.
Stop worrying about what Google is letting everyone else get away with, and promote the hell out of your site.
Let's get back on-topic - What advice would you give newbie about links for Google?
Off-topic messages will be deleted. If you want to discuss another topic, go and start a new thread :)
I am about to resort to PPC from various suppliers, any tips for getting links from the resulting visitors?
|What advice would you give newbie about links for Google? |
Learn how to use public relations (including what someone referred to as "journalist outreach" earlier in this thread). Or hire someone who does.
In other words, don't think in terms of acquiring links; try to get coverage or become a resource that will result in links.
For jmccormac 's more expanded comments, along with some discussion and my references to his other posts, and to several others about link growth patterns, see this thread (which discusses what can happen when you build links artificially)...
Traffic Shaping / Throttling Prior to Deindexing
jmccormac 's long post is at msg:4477422. Later in the thread I link to a longer post of his, which he'd published in Supporters.
Also referenced is Google's Historical Data Patent, which should be required reading for anybody thinking about building links.
This is the post with a few tweaks:
This following is based on actually running a search engine rather than trying to divine what Google thinks is a natural links profile. This is a rough explanation of how sites develop link profiles as seen by a search engine operator. The SE that I run actually tracks domains from registration to deletion and builds a snapshot of a small country's webscape each month for analysis thus it sees domains turn into functional websites or drop without ever being developed.
Stage 0: Website launch.
Minimal links - typically outbound links to analytics, the web hosting provider and the web developer. If it is a DIY site, there may be some "useful sites" links but these will be outbound links. A site can go for months or years before ever getting any inbound links.
Stage 1: Friends and family.
The launch of a new website is quite commonplace now and some of the new inbound links will be from the sites owned by friends and family. This is often a very limited spike of new links and the sites are often in the same geographical areas.
Ideally the website owner should be heavily involved at this stage as it is their contacts that build this set of links. Many of these links will have corresponding links in Social Media networks so if you overlay the ownership of these sites with the Social Network of the website owners, there will be many direct hits.
Stage 2: Businesses and acquaintances.
Businesses will often ignore other businesses in their niche but will link to non-competing businesses in their chamber of commerce or local business network. Shopping malls tend to have clusters of interlinked sites with the common factor often being the shopping mall's main site. A typical link type to see at this stage is supplier/seller especially where there is a brand name involved. Often it is an outbound link from the new site to the national or regional brand name supplier. The brand name site may list the new site as their seller in a particular area. Big name brand sites are notoriously mean when it comes to top level/index page links to other sites (other than their own group sites).
Stage 3: Customers and blogs.
This is a later stage where customers of the business may recommend the business's website in forums or on blog discussions. These are deeper links than the relatively shallow links of stages 1 and 2. They are also transient in that they do not stay at the top level of the website for long and will move deeper into the site's link structure over time.
Unmaintained blogs are red flags for potential link spam. If the comments are unmoderated all sorts of rubbish links (drugs/warez/pron) will appear rapidly and the blog will be blacklisted as a problem site.
Stage 4: Directories and other resources.
While directories used to be good resources, the improvement of search engines has changed the submission pattern. However some directories with a good exclusion policy (no spam) can be useful and the business website may be included either as a submission by the owner or by the directory operator adding content. Personal links (favourite sites/useful links) also appear around this stage. There's also a secondary linkrot issue with a lot of directories in that the directory owner might not have the technical resources to ensure that the links in his/her directory are current. It is possible that the sites in some of the links in directories could have been dropped and reregistered and at best repurposed or at worst used for malware distribution.
Stage 5: Promotion.
Good promotion tends to be highly targeted. Bad promotion is not. Sometimes new sites may use spam services to get links but in search engine terms this stands out because the links are frequently "out of area" links. A localised business targeting a particular geographical or business niche with non-relevant and or foreign country links (off topic/out of context links) tends to look strange. Comment spam also looks strange in links terms. A natural profile might have links based on the business owner's interests and business. Comment spam tends to appear as a pile of one-way links with no common linkages for the blogs.
Natural link profiles tend to build gradually over time and may be somewhat spikey along the time axis. Promotion can show up as increased inbound links but there is a relationship between a site being a continually developed, interactive, non-brochureware site and a gradually increasing number of inbound links. A rapid increase in inbound links to a brochureware site with no interaction is a red flag. Promotional campaigns that run in parallel with launch tend to fade away over time.
The set of sites that I work on each month is actually fairly comprehensive for the particular country so most of the links will be within the larger set of pages from these sites. This makes it easier to see abnormal or unnatural link profiles by simply analysing the link profile for a site compared to the larger set of sites.
The other use for link analysis by search engines is in determining if a website has been compromised or has had an SQL link injection hack. Google is years behind the curve in this respect. Normally when you see a site going from having the bare minimum of links to a large set of outbound links to sites in known problem ccTLDs well outside the geographic reach of a site or links to sites on known iffy hosters or recognised bad links (Google could solve the Payday loan/designer goods problem quite easily), it is a pretty good indication that the site has been hacked.
I don't know if Google has managed to arrive at the concept of in-context links yet as they are busy chasing butterflies with their "AI" and "Star Trek computer" PR windbaggery. While there are true global sites in country level markets, most sites have a clear geographical or socially defined market and lots of links from outside those defined markets are obvious indications of dodgy link building activities. Link building should be about quality and context rather than merely quantity.
@jmccormac - this is one of the master posts that make Webmasterworld a haven for sharing knowledge. Thanks.
I wondered how folks might adapt these sound principles in highly competitive markets which are less localised[ as in bricks and mortar or local services], and more multi national. Any thoughts out there?
Well, being that we have this site with 92% internal links, and we rank that site in the top 3 for a majority of their highly competitive keywords, I'm not sure you even need to worry about all of that. ;-)
I've been in SEO for over 6 years. I don't link build. It's a waste of time. Stick to the ole fashioned way. Worry more about link gaining than you do link building.
@jmccormac - v. helpful thank you
Question for you though - when you say "If the comments are unmoderated all sorts of rubbish links (drugs/warez/pron) will appear rapidly and the blog will be blacklisted as a problem site." - what happens then? As in, should webmasters then disavow them or do they start to get penalised by association?
Ideally you won't have so many links in that situation that it will be a problem. If I make half a dozen posts in a forum that include links to my site and a year later that forum has gone to rot, I'm hoping by that time I have enough other good signals (and backlinks) to make up for it. If I have 10,000 posts with links in that forum, well, then I will no doubt have a problem.
When it comes to links, basically anything that you can automate or blanket, or bulk acquire or scale up is dead dead dead.
@Whitey Almost every website has its own context. The hard part is finding it and its users.
@Roshaoar It depends on the search engine but from a user point of view, if they see a website in a heavily spammed blog in the middle of a bunch of drugs/warez/pron links, it does not look good. And if the same website keeps showing up on generally unrelated blogs, it could indicate that it is being promoted by comment spamming. A blog that is not being maintained may also indicate a website that is not being maintained and that could reduce the value of a link from such a site.
|Promote your site. Online, offline, on Mars if you have to, but *promote your site*. It's all just marketing. |
Yes, if your spending all your time obsessed with gaining links, in the hopes of improving ranking, what are your really accomplishing?
|Can anyone post a link to a site that isnt a huge brand (facebook, micorsoft) and has a 100% natural backlink profile? |
Its all about brand now, or building your brand - if your chasing links to improve the rankings of a site that has very weak brand appeal your in for a real battle. Don't put the cart before the horse - I'm not saying this is a good thing, but the reality is these days Google is totally infatuated with "brands", its like their 15 years old and sitting next to the prettiest girl in the class - its the only thing their thinking about.
Backlink profiles? Think "Brand" profile - build the brand and the links will follow - work all day creating a "back link" profile and your going to need twice the horsepower to rank well over a site with a stronger brand.
|Let's get back on-topic - What advice would you give newbie about links for Google? |
Make sure the domain name is strong and easily remembered, its not pure key word, the site has a real purpose that people benefit from, your logo is unique and radiates the brand, work till 25% of your visitors come to the site direct. - After all that, maybe think about links.
Trust me, I know all this sounds like Google puke, but after doing this for 16 years I cant believe it myself, but I'm ready to say Uncle - Its a Google world and until that changes if you want to rank well in their search engine your going to have to look and act the way they want you to, and the first thing they want you to do is stop obsessing over how to get other sites to link back to you.
One pretty good tip:
Read and get to know the topics and experts discussed here in the link development forum.
|and the first thing they want you to do is stop obsessing over how to get other sites to link back to you |
And therein lies the problem. Remember we are talking here about brand-new startup sites. Until some other sites start voting for (linking to) the start-up, it is going nowhere... it will remain in a linkless purgatory of oblivion. The newbie has no choice... they HAVE to obsess over finding some IBL's before anything will start to happen.
@randle - this is really interesting: work till 25% of your visitors come to the site direct. - After all that, maybe think about links
One thing we lack is insight into successful and not so successful sites, both in terms of overall traffic (ie percentages coming direct) and things like comparative engagement. I think that might be quite a useful exercise - ie guidelines like you should continue improving the content of your site until (some percentage) visitors feel engaged enough to look at (some number of pages), and (some % bounce rate).
I wish there was some solid data and guidelines to aim for, even a progression scale if you like.
Personally I think Google could do well to give some simple comparative data like that in its webmaster tools, or some guidelines to aim at!
| This 38 message thread spans 2 pages: 38 (  2 ) > > |