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Linkbuilding with a small budget

     
10:28 pm on Dec 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I run a website in Australia with moderate traffic (around 200k uniques per month, 50% from Google) and we never built links since the site has been in operation which is over 8 years now.

Lately, we have had an influx of competition with almost all new competitors ranking on pure link building, some using outright blackhat techniques.

We have been spending on social and have a decent following and backlinks from social but it appears that Google still cares about links more than anything else (specially in the Australian market).

I am now thinking of spending around $2000 a month on SEO and all of that on good quality links (no analysis, no audits, no on-page, no other #*$!).

How should I spend that money in the best possible way and keep it as clean as possible? I want most of the money contributing directly to the new links than being lost to some middlemen.

Is it possible and how should I do it?
10:43 pm on Dec 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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do it yourself?
10:53 pm on Dec 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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do it yourself?


Thanks.

How do I do it? Just start sending emails to people asking for price?
10:54 pm on Dec 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

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And what sort of links I can build which will be seen as safe considering I have a clean profile so far?
1:22 am on Dec 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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How do I do it? Just start sending emails to people asking for price?


Are you asking about emailing SEO companies for a price or asking a website a price to pay to get a link?

You obviously know that Google frowns on buying links unless they are marked as advertising and are nofollowed. Going down this road can get you into trouble if someone reports you.

It depends on the industry you are in but I would take that $2000 a month and invest it into quality content that will hopefully get some linkbacks. Think of it as link bait. You could also post links on your social networking pages linking back to your content to drive visitors to your site. I am not thinking of these links as links to improve your ranking but to get visitors onto your site which will then hopefully link to your site directly and not to your social media pages. The problem with social media is it can become the center point and not your site if you post to much content on it.
1:25 am on Dec 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Links don't work as well as citations. Links is a general word for hyperlink, it encompasses many kinds of hyperlinks between web pages. A citation is more narrowly defined as a reference to a page, independent of any quid pro quo between the referring page and the referenced page.
2:43 am on Dec 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It depends on the industry you are in but I would take that $2000 a month and invest it into quality content that will hopefully get some linkbacks. Think of it as link bait. You could also post links on your social networking pages linking back to your content to drive visitors to your site. I am not thinking of these links as links to improve your ranking but to get visitors onto your site which will then hopefully link to your site directly and not to your social media pages. The problem with social media is it can become the center point and not your site if you post to much content on it.


We have done both with success in the past and will continue to do that. However, we find that it is easy for relatively new and unknown sites to beat us on key terms as long as they have pointed 3-4 anchor text links from paid sources.

We are the only ones who have built social profiles, have engagement on social networks, have attracted organic links from authority sources over time but we are not getting any better mileage than people who have done 1/10th of the work.
1:01 pm on Dec 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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...we find that it is easy for relatively new and unknown sites to beat us...


That may be a sign that your site is not established if a relatively new site can overtake you that easily. If a 90lb weakling can knock you down like a feather, is it because the 90lb weakling is strong?

Make sure your on page SEO is on target. Check that your title tags accurately reflect your page and that your content isn't diffuse or opaque. Additionally, make sure your content sitewide isn't strictly optimized according to keyword phrases, especially with longtail phrases. The opposite of diffuse and opaque.

Highly optimized titles and content for keyword phrases will flag your site as trying to manipulate the engines, it's a matter statistical probability that your site is spam, and precipitate a negative outcome. Then there are many signals tied to:
  • inlinks

  • outlinks

  • page structure

  • HTML code

  • page layout

  • template


All those and more send ranking signals to be crunched on a statistical analysis by the search engines. Get any of those wrong and you're spinning wheels and getting nowhere. Many common assumptions and so-called "best practices" about how to SEO a site are outdated and are being utilized by the engines as negative signals. The best practice for on-page SEO is making the content accessible and understandable, things like schema.org, etc. My opinion.
5:24 pm on Dec 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Unless you want to risk kissing 50% of your traffic goodbye, just don't do it. They folks above all have good answers.

You can, however, email sites to promote whatever content your create and if they happen to decide to link to you, that's legit. There are many tactics around doing this, but of course don't be spammy about it.
1:35 am on Dec 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Forget paying someone $2000/month to "build links" for your site. This will almost certainly end badly from a ranking perspective with you out a lot of money. Building links almost always means that you've put the cart (links) before the horse (truly great content/tools/resources).

Instead, spend some serious time thinking about how you can "earn links". In order to "earn" natural, editorial links, you have to have truly great content, tools, and/or resources on your site. No one wants to link to crap... or even mediocre content that can be found on hundreds or thousands of other sites. However, many sites will naturally link to something that is great.

I've been very successful with the following methodology for earning links both for my own sites and those of clients:

1) Determine who your targeted audience is.

2) Determine where those people that make up your targeted audience can be found "en mass" online. What types of web sites do they frequent in large numbers? Develop a list of hundreds if not thousands of such sites. Look to see the kinds of sites they already link out to and what such sites offer to their visitors.

3) Determine what you can build (content, tools, and/or resources) that is unique and truly great that those web sites and their users (your targeted audience) would find useful. By "unique" I don't necessarily mean that it has to contain information never before seen or written.

For example, you might build a resource that is made of information readily available but currently spread across many sites on the web, but you could take the time to go out and compile it and other related information into one great resource. By doing so, you could create a resource that provides all of that information in one place which might save users days, weeks, or months of research if they were to attempt to research it themselves. The convenience of having it all in one place could be what makes your resource unique and great.

4) Build it (whatever "it" is), but don't take shortcuts. You want what you build to be something that is truly great. If your idea is something that doesn't require much effort then it is probably something that already exists on hundreds or thousands of sites and it's not going to be "link worthy".

5) Promote that which you've built by letting those web sites identified in step #2 above know that your new content, tool(s), and/or resource(s) exist. Explain briefly what it is that you've built and how it might benefit their site's visitors. Ask them to check it out and share it with their visitors should they think it useful to them. They might do this via a link, via a newsletter with a link (newsletters often get published on association/organization sites), or some other way. Regardless, it should result in those sites sending your traffic at a minimum... if not also a link to help rankings.

This can be done lots of ways (email, phone, in person, etc.). If you can get them to take a look at what you've build AND what you've built is truly great, you will be surprised at the number of those sites which will link to what you've built... naturally... editorially. I use email and typically get links from 10-12% of the sites that I contact without ever asking specifically for a link. The links I get almost always send quite a bit of referral traffic.

So spend that $2000/month building something great that will pay long-term dividends instead of burning it on what is likely to be a bunch of low quality links which are more likely than not to become a boat anchor around your site's neck.
2:45 am on Dec 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks - these are great replies and I don't deny any of that. We have been doing all the above and it works great.

Now consider this scenario:

Lets suppose our website sells Christmas Trees. We have done everything right and get natural links with consistent Google traffic on a range of keywords.

However, there are 50 keywords that represent the highest amount of searches people perform when they are looking to buy Christmas trees. These keywords can be as high as 90% of all Christmas tree searches on Google.

Let's say some of them are following:
- buy chritmas trees online
- cheap christmas trees online
- christmas trees australia
- discount christmas trees

Now we could have all the content and natural backlinks in the world but someone will come and just build anchor text links for above keywords and outrank us very easily. Some of our competitors spend zero time doing marketing and/or content building but they squat on the top performing keywords just by doing blackhat.

My objective is not to stop doing all the good things but safely build some links to stop losing traffic to outright search spammers.

I have tried very hard to compete ethically but for individual keywords, you could write a book on a topic but still get outranked by someone who just has 1 home page anchor text link from a PR5 expired domain pointing to a largely empty page in some cases.


3:30 am on Dec 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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That may be a sign that your site is not established if a relatively new site can overtake you that easily.

If your on-page and off-page are done in a thorough manner then your rankings will be on solid foundation. If it's not then it will be subject to shifting because the barrier to entry is set low.
3:42 am on Dec 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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That may be a sign that your site is not established if a relatively new site can overtake you that easily.

If your on-page and off-page are done in a thorough manner then your rankings will be on solid foundation. If it's not then it will be subject to shifting because the barrier to entry is set low.


This is a valid response for US SERPs.

Australia is a different market and I think Google is a lot more lenient on Australian search results because of lack of local content and lack of competition which makes it a lot easier for spammers to do their work.

For example, these guys (http://<snip>/) run a private blog network which almost everybody knows about including Google (as it has been discussed many times on places frequented by Google employees) but Google won't do anything because 90% of their Adwords clients are part of networks like <SNIP> and if Google used the same algos as in the US, most of the big brands will also lose ranks overnight.

[edited by: bill at 4:49 am (utc) on Dec 15, 2014]

[edited by: martinibuster at 12:09 pm (utc) on Jan 21, 2015]
[edit reason] no outings - no links [/edit]

3:26 pm on Dec 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Google is a lot more lenient on Australian search results because of lack of local content and lack of competition...


We are on the same page on this. The lack of competition you cite relates to the low barrier of entry. I am familiar with Australian site promotion, it's a smaller market, I get it, been there done it.

Shifting SERP position is generally a symptom of something that needs to be improved. As you yourself said, Google is more lenient but I would suggest that the problem is less about Google's leniency and closer to Google making a pragmatic choice, because of the lack of competition you cited, which makes the barrier to entry lower. Google can't fill all ten positions with Wikipedia, so it has to pick from whatever relevant sites there are, regardless of the signal quality. GIGO. The SERPs are only as good as the pool of sites Google has to draw from.

In the US this is endemic to real estate and legal sites where it is not uncommon for sites to copycat the competition's SEO, resulting in the same spammy tactics across an entire region, with few sites standing on a solid foundation. The connection with the Aussie local situation is the low quality pool to draw from. But I've actually beat the aggressive tactics with better quality links and other strategies related to inbound/outbound, on-page factors.
10:55 pm on Dec 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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You've received some advice that you seem to object to, to some extent.

All the stuff you're saying your competitors do, work. It's simply a matter of risk. The more rough stuff you do, the higher the risk you're going to either get hand penalized, or caught in the next update. Hats off to the blackhats, but any individual site these folks run don't normally last longterm.

Hiring SEO's for link building also increases your risk - no matter what the SEO companies will tell you. At some point they're going to do something automated or with a footprint because it's replicated, and then your in the crosshairs once again.

Using the techniques that zydseo suggested will get you a much smaller number of much higher quality backlinks. They're not 0 risk either, but they are much much lower risk, and in my experience, more likely to leave your website ranking in years to come.
11:19 pm on Dec 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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This is great advice - thanks everyone.

Lets say I stick to what I have been doing for last 7-8 years and attract high quality links and I have received some really high quality links over the years without spending a dime.

What can I do to improve ranks on 'high traffic' money keywords without getting external links built?

I am considering following:

- Use of #hashtags on Google + posts and G+ likes on those pages.
- Use internal 'exact keyword anchor text links' from important pages of my site.

In the short term, the only thing that seems to be working is 'keyword stuffing' unfortunately.
1:06 am on Dec 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I have no science to this, but FWIW, this is my current approach. I rank for Christmas trees, I can write a piece of content and it will rank just by putting it on the site with some internal linking. Now I want to rank for Christmas ornaments. I've noticed after quite a while I'll rank a bit, but not real strong.

So my next step is to get a couple links from Christmas ornament sites. Not keyword rich, not keyword anything. Just links from one or two decent sites that are all about ornaments, and have their own decent backlink profile to do with ornaments.

But I don't measure this stuff. That's just what makes sense to me, and I believe it's likely in then neighbourhood of what Google's trying to do.
3:39 pm on Jan 17, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I am now thinking of spending around $2000 a month on SEO and all of that on good quality links (no analysis, no audits, no on-page, no other #*$!).
You might not want to hear this, but if your'e planning on spending $24K on links in 2015 - I'd at least spend some of that money on getting a proper audit and sorting out the on-page stuff.

How do you *know* that your new competitors are purely outranking you with links?
10:41 pm on Mar 5, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Just a little update.

We created a new corporate domain for the website with 3-4 pages (company profile, contact us, partners etc.). We then got a total of 11 backlinks pointing to the new domain. These backlanks are from high PR domains and completely natural. For example, we developed a short case study on the CMS we are using and they were happy to put it on a PR5 page on their site.

In the end, this corporate domain linked to multiple pages on our site. Nothing unnatural, all acceptable form of links.

Result: Around 70% increase in crawl frequency and 50% increase in Google traffic (gradual increase).

Moral of the story: You need to build some strong PR links and they can be very effective if you already have strong content and a long term strategy. These sites would not have linked to us if we didn't have a good site nor they would have linked on their own. I don't see if we could have gotten 50% more traffic from Google from any other way.

I am not suggesting that links are the only way. We have spent huge effort in building the user experience and content and a bit of link building went a long way for us.
11:42 pm on Mar 5, 2015 (gmt 0)

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<tangent>
good quality links (no analysis, no audits

I hope this meant: I'm not going to spend any of my A$2,000 on audits and analysis because I've already got those areas covered ... and not because you think those things are worthless.
</tangent>
2:56 am on Mar 6, 2015 (gmt 0)

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because I've already got those areas covered


Yes, we spent loads of time on audits and analysis. I won't say it's worthless but effectiveness depends from site to site.

From my experience, this is what has worked consistently.

1) Links (70% of rankings still depend on links)
2) Content/User experience (20% - a good user experience will result in more links anyways)
3) Technical SEO (10% - it becomes more important if don't have good links.)