200 Tips for Building Backlinks in SEO

200 Tips for Building Backlinks in SEO

 Tips for Building Backlinks in SEO

The very best backlinks you can get to your site are the ones you do not create yourself. These are backlinks from other sites that you did not personally request.

 

In other words, another webmaster links to your site because they think it is worthy and offers value to their own visitors. People are constantly linking back to authority websites, which means the owners of those sites don't have to run their own link campaigns.

 

The ideal backlinks to your site would have the following properties:

  • 1. The link is on a high authority site.
  • 2. The page containing the link relates to the page it links to.
  • 3. The page containing the link is a high quality page, with high-quality content.
  • 4. The link is in the body of the article (contextual).
  • 5. The link uses your page title for the anchor text.
  • 6. There are very few outbound links (to other websites) on the same page.
  • 7. The page your link appears on has a lot of human interaction (social shares, comments, etc).

 

The Best Way to Get Quality Inbound Links

Inbound Links

The best chance you have of getting those Holy Grail backlinks is to develop Epic Content that acts as “Link Bait”. Develop content that your visitors love and want to share with others via their social media channels. Develop content on your site that other site owners will want to link to.

 

When other people WANT to link to your content, we call that content “link bait”, since it attracts links naturally. The best way of using Link Bait is to develop some awesome content, then make sure you get it seen by posting on social channels, or forums and various other websites. You can do this where people are asking for the answers to questions that your content covers.

 

So what types of content make good link bait? I’ll tell you my thoughts in a moment, but first, I recommend you read this article by Neil Patel, and then return here:http://www.quicksprout.com/2015/08/03/the-5-types-of-content-that-attract-the-most-backlinks/

 

Here is the list that I look to when trying to develop good “link bait”.

Infographics

1. Infographics are graphical representations of complex topics. They are favorites for sharing on social channels, e.g. Pinterest. They often get re-posted on other sites, which is great. When you create and post an infographic on your site, you can include the HTML code for other webmasters to copy and paste onto their own sites. This will display the infographic on their site, with a small link back to your own page:

 

2. Scripts & tools that people will blog mark and share with others. Webmasters will always link to useful tools, especially if they are free. Here is one example of a tool that searches for the nutritional information of food:

 

3. Another good example is a currency converter script, where you can convert one currency to another. A time zone converter could prove popular too. There's also a cholesterol conversion tool, converting between the two popular units for cholesterol - mg/dl and mmol/L. Any tool you can create, or have created for you, and that people find useful, will inevitably attract links from other websites, as well as through social sharing.

 

4. Free downloads like software or PDFs that people find useful. If you can give these away, and people really do find them useful, then they will share your URL with their friends on any forums they frequent, and through their social media channels.

 

5. Posts that include “lists”. People love to share lists on forums, in comments on other blogs, and via their social channels. For example, “Top 10 WordPress Plugins” on a site about building websites would be very interesting to people keen on constructing their own WordPress site.

 

A post like this could get a lot of social shares, plus other sites will link to it. A tip here is to contact the authors of the plugins that you recommend and tell them that you have made a top 10 list on the advantages of their plugins. Many will link to your post from their own site, to prove to their visitors how useful their plugin actually is.

 

6. Controversial posts are always popular. When people are controversial, they usually evoke a strong response. I cannot tell you how to be controversial in your own niche, but I would just say, make your controversy factual. Making something up just to be controversial won’t work, and it will annoy your visitors too.

 

A while ago, there was lots of information coming out about how good intermittent fasting was for losing weight and improving health in general. Everyone was jumping on the bandwagon. One website went against the grain with a headline something like “Intermittent Fasting Is Bad for Women”.

 

It caused quite a stir. The important point about this controversy is that it was factual. The article went on to explain that certain types of women developed problems during intermittent fasting (typically those with low body fat). This controversy resulted in a lot of natural backlinks as people debated it on blogs and forums. Of course, it also brought in a lot of extra traffic for the webmaster.

 

7. Include a forum. Let's say, for example, you had a website on “Husky dogs”. A forum would attract Husky dog owners, who would then recommend your site to their friends and through their social channels. Building user participation through a forum on your site is a great way to attract natural links.

 

Any member of your forum becomes a potential link builder for you when they are on other sites or talking to friends. Forums are very easy to add to a site using a script (check out vBulletin.com). The downside to forums is that they do take a lot of work to maintain, especially if they become popular.

 

8. Interviews. Interview an expert in your niche, and use that interview to attract inbound links to your site. You needn’t buy expensive equipment or software for an interview. A cheap headset and Skype is all you need.

 

If it is an audio-only interview, post the audio on your site with a transcript of the interview below it. The transcript will act as search engine bait, but apart from that, a lot of visitors actually prefer to read this type of thing rather than listen to it. You can also upload audio interviews to audio sharing sites.

 

Search Google for audio upload and look for opportunities where you can create a backlink to your site. You can create a very natural backlink on this type of audio sharing site by saying something like “Prefer a transcript? Read the full interview on…” and then link directly to your transcript page using the title of that page as the anchor text.

 

If the interview is a video, upload the video to YouTube, and maybe Vimeo and Dailymotion as well. Create a post on your own site and embed the YouTube video. Include the transcript of the video (for the same reasons as above) on your site. In the YouTube description of the video, add the URL where people can “read the transcript”.

 

Finally, remember to give the interviewee the page URL so that they can find the video on your site. They will more than likely link to it and possibly tell their own visitors/mailing list about the interview too. It’s a great way of attracting a powerful backlink from an authority site in your niche.

 

Attracted links are links you have no control over, and remember, these are the most powerful and natural links a website can get. They will prove your site’s worth to the search engines. I’d choose one link attained in this manner over 1,000 links from traditional back-linking methods.

 

Broken Link Building

Broken Link Building

Before we move on to look at the more traditional methods of building links, there is one method that you need to know about which works really well. This approach is 'broken link building'. This essentially means you look for broken links (related to your own site) on other websites. You then contact the owner to tell them about it, offering your own link as a replacement.

 

As an example, let’s consider a website on health and nutrition. If I owned that site, I’d go out looking for websites that have broken links to any articles on health or nutrition. Let’s say I find a page about the importance of vitamin A for good eye health, and one of the links on that page goes to a 404 Error - Page Not Found.

 

I would contact the webmaster of the nutrition site, informing them that the link went to a 404 error, and tell them I have a page on the same topic if they need a good replacement source to link out to. Obviously, I would include my URL for consideration.

 

The advantage of this type of link is that it is often on an aged page, possibly on an authority site. A backlink from this type of site would be a good one, added by the other webmaster and giving you no control over the link text, unless of course, the webmaster asked you what would like for the link text.

 

Let's now take a look at how you would go about finding broken links on related pages.

KEYWORD

There are actually a number of tricks we can use for finding broken links.

The first is to search Google for resource/links pages in our niche, using a “footprint”. Here are a few that work well:

  • “KEYWORD links”
  • “KEYWORD resources”
  • “KEYWORD web links”
  • inurl: links “KEYWORD”
  • Swap out KEYWORD for a phrase that relates to your niche/webpage.

 

That last one is an interesting search phrase as it looks for web pages that include the word “links” in the URL, and are about your keyword. Here is an example search for that “footprint”.

 

See how the top two results are clearly links pages about “juicing for health”?

Using footprints like this offers the quickest way of finding broken link opportunities. You first find the links pages and then check them out to see if any links are broken.

 

Now, before you think you need to go through every link manually, clicking on each of them to check for a broken link, don't worry, it's not that manual. Let me tell you about a free Google Chrome extension called Check My Links. Search the Google Chrome store for the plugin and install it.

 

Once installed, you’ll have a button in the toolbar for the extension. Now all you have to do is visit the page you want to check for broken links, and then click the extension button. You’ll get a badge in the top right of the screen, giving you a breakdown of the links on the page.I can see from this badge that three links are broken. Scrolling down the page, the links are color coded for easy identification:

 

 You can see how easy it is to spot the broken links. If I had a good page on steroids, I’d be writing to this webmaster about swapping out that first link with my own. I’d probably head off to the Way Back Machine: Internet Archive: Wayback Machine to check out the page that currently has the broken link. This free service shows you what that page looked like in the past.

 

Although that steroid page no longer exists today, the Way Back Machine keeps cached copies of most pages of most websites. Here is the steroid page as it was back in April 13, 2012. This archived page will give me some ideas for my own steroid page before I contact the webmaster about the broken link.

 

The easiest broken backlinks to find are on this type of resource page. The reason for this is because these are the types of pages webmasters typically post links to, and for good reason.

 

I know a lot of SEOs will tell you that links on link resource pages are a waste of time, but that simply is not true. Start judging ALL backlink opportunities by the quality of the page your link will appear on, rather than the type of page. To find out if the page is of value to you, ask the following five questions:

  • 1. Is the page good quality?
  • 2. Does the page only link to sites within a very narrow niche topic?
  • 3. Does the page only link to quality sites?
  • 4. Is the page genuinely useful to visitors of that site?
  • 5. Is the page part of a quality website? If these guidelines apply, then the page is a good one for your backlink(s).

 

Broken backlink building is a good way to get quality backlinks on aged, authority pages in your niche; that's if you can find them of course. The methods mentioned above are my favorite ones for back-linking. However, this chapter would not be complete without looking at the fall-back options.

 

Traditional Back-linking Sources

Back-linking

Quality backlinks can be difficult to get, so it’s a good idea to have a broad plan. I like to create a single piece of content that I can repurpose and develop into other formats. For example, I can create an article on a relevant topic, and from that one article create the following:

  • 1. A text-based article for submission to another site.
  • 2. A PDF version for submission to PDF sharing sites.
  • 3. A slideshow presentation of the main points of the article to upload to sites like Slideshare.net.
  • 4. An infographic of the main points.
  • 5. A video using the contents of the article. This can be the slideshow presentation with a voice-over. Alternatively, you could use flexible software like Explaindio to create an animated video or “whiteboard video” of the main points. 

 

From doing one piece of research you now have several different media types to use for backlinks. Let’s look at the types of places you can submit these documents to.

 

NOTE: What follows are the typical backlink resources recommended by most SEO courses and blogs. Use these with caution. And by the way, I really do suggest you ignore the popular advice to use keyword rich anchor text in your backlinks. Stick with page titles, site name or bare URLs, and try to insert the link so that it looks natural.

 

Article Directories

Article

This is a strange one because some experts believe that article marketing no longer works. I personally believe that it does still work, although it’s nowhere near as effective as it used to be. Worth mentioning also is to NEVER submit the same article to lots of different directories. A far more productive approach is to pick maybe 10 quality directories (niche specific directories are the best) and submit a unique article to each one.

 

I know a lot of people are tempted to write an article and use a spinner to generate 100s of unique versions of it to use specifically for article marketing. My advice is don’t be tempted. Unique is not just about the words on the page, but the information in the article. A spun article is not only spam, but it also duplicates content in the eyes of Google.

 

OK, I know what you are thinking. This means you have to write 10 unique articles. Yes, it does, but if you want to be completely “white hat” about this, and build your authority in a way Google cannot object to, then that is what you need to do. This really is the only safe way of doing article marketing. Don't forget too, that once your articles are up, they stay up, and so do your links.

 

When adding a backlink to your site, do not simply hyperlink a relevant keyword phrase in the article. Remember, Google’s webmaster guidelines advise you against this.

 

Place any backlinks you create when doing article marketing in the author bio box at the end of your article. I’d recommend you only link to your homepage from these bio boxes, and only by using your site name or site URL as the anchor text. Don’t link to an internal page from this type of backlink, and don’t link using the homepage title. Stick only to the site name or URL.

 

If you really want to get a backlink into the body of your article, go back and look at the example I gave you in the “Back-linking from now on” section. Here you will see how to naturally use links in the body of the piece. However, if you do this, do not link to the same site in the author bio box as well. Note also that some article directories will not allow links in the article body, so be sure to check out the site's guidelines first.

 

For the amount of effort it takes, I’d actually suggest you don’t use article marketing as the main strategy. Write the content, and look for guest posting opportunities on relevant sites instead. We’ll look at guest posting later in the blog.

 

Forum Participation

Forum

Forums have been heavily spammed by webmasters in the past, looking for easy link opportunities. There are two obvious ways to get links from a forum. The first way is by using your forum profile, which usually has a field to enter your website URL. This backlink is a forum profile link. Software exists that can create thousands of forum profile links automatically.

 

It seems obvious to me that Google can spot this type of linking very easily indeed. Imagine a website gaining 5,000 forum profile backlinks in a matter of days.

 

Think too about the page this link will sit on. Does it meet any of the requirements for a quality page? In most cases, the answer is no. It might be OK if you create a wonderful profile page with lots of content, but to create forum profiles simply for backlinks is a very bad idea. An even worse idea is to use automated software. Abusing forum profile links is a quick way to get penalized by Google.

 

When it comes to forums, the best way to get good backlinks is to get involved in the forum discussions and help people. Before entering a new niche, I recommend you scout out 2-3 forums that allow backlinks in their forum signatures, and then sign up to join.

 

As you build your site, pop into these forums and start contributing every now and again. By the time your site is ready to go live, you can insert your web URL into your forum signature and get instant backlinks, as well as traffic from the forum visitors who visit your profile; the latter of which will only happen if you become a forum participant.

 

When you register with the forum, make sure you use your website email address with an attached Gravatar image (check out Gravatar - Globally Recognized Avatars).

 

This image should be a photograph of you; the same one you use on your site. Your image will then appear next to your posts in the forum. People will see your posts on different forums and start to recognize you like that “expert” they’ve seen before. They will start to click through to your site when they see you helping others.

 

It’s natural curiosity to want to find out more about the people who you see every day, and the best way to do that is to have a profile image of yourself. This is certainly better than some cartoon or other stock Gravatar or avatar next to your profile name. Images of "real" people instill trust, whereas hiding behind a stock image or logo does not. So remember to put a face to the name.

 

On your website, they will see your picture again, and this further reinforces your perceived authority. The more people see your photo and read your contributions on these forums, the more they will recognize and respect you as an authority.

 

This is a great way to build a reputation, and it’s nothing to do with the backlinks you can get from the forums, though these are useful as well. Imagine how high your perceived authority will be when a visitor goes to several sites (in your niche) and sees you on all of them, answering questions and providing valuable information to others.

 

YouTube & Other Video Sites

YouTube

Creating videos that offer valuable information in your niche is a great way to increase authority and “social proof” (especially when your photo or brand image appears in the video).

 

Videos that you create do not need to be 10 or 15 minutes long. You can easily create short two or three minute videos that discuss issues briefly in your niche. Video descriptions can be quite long, and they can include a link back to your site. If there is a relevant internal page on your site that makes the most sense to link to, do that, otherwise just link to your homepage. At the end of this blog, there is a bonus chapter on YouTube optimization.

 

YouTube allows you to create a video channel, which lists all of your videos in one place. Your YouTube profile can even have a link back to your site, and other sites that are part of your network like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ etc. If someone likes one your videos, they can check out your channel to see what other videos you’ve created. They may even follow you on social media, post your videos to their own social networks, and/or visit your website.

 

There are a lot of other video sharing sites as well as YouTube, which also allow you to have a profile page. Try to use the same photo that you have on your main site and are using for your Gravatar. We are trying to build up the recognition factor here, so that people can automatically recognize you and think, “Oh yes I remember this expert.”

 

Twitter

Twitter

You can use Twitter to include a brand photo and link back to your main site. As you add tweets, your photo goes through the Twitter system and ends up again in front of people that have subscribed to your twitter feed. Even if you don’t have many followers, your twitter page will have links back to your main site, which adds further authority to your persona.

 

There are a number of WordPress plugins available which automatically send a tweet for each new post published on your site. I wouldn’t rely totally on these types of plug-ins for Twitter “content”. The reason for this is because it’s important to tweet interesting information that you find on a day-to-day basis, on other websites. A Twitter account that only sends tweets with links pointing to the owner's website is a spammy Twitter account.

 

Facebook Page

facebook

Another way that you can increase your authority is by setting up a facebook page for your site or your business. facebook only allows you to have a single Facebook account. One of the biggest concerns I hear from my students is that they don’t always want their friends and/or family to be aware of their business posts on facebook.

 

Don’t worry. If you set up a facebook page for your website, it is totally separate from your personal profile account. You need a personal Facebook account to set up a facebook page, but that's as far as the association goes. You can post specifically to your website facebook page, and none of your friends or followers will even know it exists unless you tell them about it of course.

 

You can have multiple Facebook pages if you like, promoting different websites or products. When you log in to Facebook, you will see direct links to your pages in the side column of your personal Facebook account, but these are not visible to your follows.

 

Web 2.0 “Blogs”

There are a number of websites which allow you to set up blogs on their own domain. Examples include WordPress.com: Create a free website or blogBlogger.com - Create a unique and beautiful blog. It’s easy and free. (owned by Google), Tumblr.com, and LiveJournal to name just a few. You simply go to their sites, sign up, and begin posting to your new blogs.

 

As you add more and more content to these blogs they become increasingly powerful, especially when you build backlinks from them. Since you add the blog content yourself, you can insert links into that content, but don’t overdo it. These blogs should add value and be high quality, just like every other type of backlink we are looking to build.

 

I recommend you create small blogs with just 5-10 pages of great content related to your main site. Then add a single backlink to your main site from the homepage of the mini-site. That’s right.

 

Each of these mini-sites will contain just ONE link to your main site. Make your link the only external link on the homepage. On the other pages in the mini-site, link out naturally to authority sites within your niche. Use different types of content and make the mini-sites look natural.

 

RSS Feeds

If you use WordPress to build your site, then you already have an RSS feed for it. An RSS feed contains all of the most recent posts in a single file. You also get to define how many posts show in the feed from within the WordPress Dashboard. You can find the feed by adding “/feed” to the end of your URL (without the quotes obviously). 

For example http://ThesisScientist.com/feed/

 

Once you have your feed URL, you can then submit that feed to a number of different RSS Feed websites. Every time you add new content to your site, the feed updates on these sites automatically, and you get a link back to the new content. I don’t believe that this type of link helps too much with a ranking of pages, especially as posts will eventually slide off the bottom of the feed, but it does help to get new content indexed quickly by the search engines.

 

I would recommend submitting your feed to only two or three of the highest authority RSS directories that you can find.

 

I’d also recommend that you set up your feed to only display excerpts (and a maximum of 10 posts). This should keep you safe from the spammers who try to scrape content by stripping entire posts out of RSS feeds. And having only 10 posts in the feed is more of a safety precaution than anything else. After all, we don’t want the last 100 posts hyperlinked on three different RSS feed directory sites. This would be overkill and look like we were trying to manipulate rankings.

 

Site Directories

Site Directories

Getting your site listed in directories is one of the oldest forms of back-linking. However, directory listings don’t give you much by way of a ranking boost, if anything at all. There are also a number of directories you should NOT submit your site to, namely low quality or niche directories unrelated to your own site.

 

There are software programs that can submit your site to multiple directories, but I would suggest you save your money and just handpick the most relevant ones (particularly the specialist niche directories that match your chosen niche), and then submit by hand. More is NOT better.

 

Always look for fewer, quality submissions, where the submission site is a close match to your own. For example, if you have a Paleo diet site, look for directories that specialize in nutrition. While these links won’t help your rankings too much, they will help diversify your backlink profile, making it look more natural, and this is always a good thing.

 

Guest Blogging

Guest Blogging

Guest Blogging is a powerful way to get high-quality links pointing to your site. It’s kind of like Article Marketing 2.0 where you submit articles to sites that accept “guest posts”.

 

The big difference between guest posting and article directories is that guest blogs can be higher quality and much more related to your own niche. For example, you could find a lot of health-related blogs that would accept health-related articles from you, but it would be harder to find article directories that were specifically health-related.

 

Guest posting works like this:

There are sites out there that are looking for people to write content for them. You write a piece of content and submit it to these sites. If they like your article, they will post it on their website.

 

When you submit your guest article, you include a resource box that can contain links back to your website (or a link in the body of your article). You will need to check the terms and conditions of the sites you are writing for to see whether it’s possible to include links within the body of the article. If you can do that, then make sure your links look authoritative, like we discussed earlier. Remember this?

 

That looks a lot spammier than this example:

The second one is also more Google-friendly as it is not using keyword anchor text. Instead, it uses the title of the article it links to, like a real reference.

 

Finding Guest Blogs

Guest blog

You can easily find sites that will accept your work by doing a Google search and entering the following: “write for us” + KEYWORD

 

KEYWORD is obviously your main niche word or phrase. e.g. “write for us” + health

This will return all of the websites that have the phrase “Write for Us” and are related to the health industry. Here are the top few Google results for that term at the time of writing:

 

NOTE: PageRank data displays in the actual SERPs using a free browser plugin called SEO Quake. This is available for Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari.

 

With guest blogging, you can pretty much guarantee to get your content onto high PR websites. These sites can have a lot of authority in the eyes of Google and are therefore excellent places to get your content published. However, there are other benefits too.

 

Not only do you get backlinks from an authority site, but you’ll also get to post your photo and site URL, which further boosts your personal authority in the niche. For each article accepted there are a new audience and one that your own site probably never gets. In this way, guest blogging is a great method to “piggyback” on other peoples traffic.

 

PDF Distribution

You can distribute PDF files, which contain links to your website, to a number of special PDF distribution sites. Again, each site you distribute the PDF file to can include your profile picture and link back to your own site. To create PDFs, you can use existing content or simply write new content for the file.

 

Microsoft Word or the free OpenOffice suite, both have built-in features to convert text documents into PDF format. One of the best-known examples of a site that you can upload PDF documents to is: http://www.scribd.com/. You can find a lot of websites that accept PDF submissions by searching Google for “submit ebooks” or “submit PDF”. Again, like everything else, look for quality sites and think less about quantity.

 

Blog Commenting

Blog Commenting

Blog commenting is easy. Go to a blog post related to your own niche, and leave a comment with a link back to your own site. Blog commenting has been heavily abused by spammers over the years, and gets a lot of bad press because of that. However, I’ve done some tests recently and found that they do still work when done properly. They won’t give you a massive boost in rankings, but they will diversify your backlink profile (important).

 

For the perfect blog comment, look for a quality site in your niche that allows comments, and preferably does not use the "nofollow" attribute on comment links. If it does use "nofollow", don’t let that put you off. Nofollow links may not count for much, but they are part of a natural link profile nonetheless, and should, therefore, be included as a part of your overall link building campaign. Don't forget too, that even a "nofollow" link can still send visitors (traffic) to your site when someone clicks on it.

 

To create a comment

1. Read the article you are commenting on and also read other people’s comments too.

 

2. Add a comment that interacts with the original author, or another commenter. The comment should add to the conversation on that page. Add something that the webmaster will want to approve.

 

3. When adding a comment, you’ll have fields for "your name" and "website URL". If there is no website field, don’t waste time leaving a comment. In the name field, add your real name (or the pen name you use on your site), either first or full name is fine. Never add a keyword phrase in the name field. In the URL field, enter your website homepage URL.

 

4. Note that many webmasters will delete comments with URLs in the body.

Never add links to the body of your comment, unless there is a good reason for doing so, i.e. answering someone’s question.

 

Backlink Velocity

Backlink Velocity

The speed at which you create backlinks to a site can raise a red flag with Google. If you have a site that gets 10 visitors a day, for example, does it make sense if that site has 50+ backlinks to it in a single day? If doesn't add up if those backlinks were all obtained naturally (other people independently linking to your site because of the great content).

 

I would recommend starting very slowly with any new site. Remember too, that it is very important that the backlink profile to your site is diverse so that it looks natural. This means lots of different types of backlinks from a wide range of IP addresses.

 

My primary goal for any new site is to create epic content that will attract links, and to then share it with social media channels in the hope that it becomes popular and gets shared around.

 

After creating several pieces of quality content, in an attempt to attract links, I will then turn my attention to creating a few links of my own. First up, I’ll look for broken link opportunities and try to get a few from sites related to my niche. Once I’ve exhausted those, I’ll look at using my “re-purposed” backlink content to get backlinks from some of those other sources we mentioned earlier.

 

IMPORTANT! Make sure you build links slowly. A link or two every week is perfect for a new site. Once your visitors pick up, you can go a little faster, but in 2015, the quality of backlinks is far more important than quantity; something I can't emphasize enough. In fact, quantity will actually work against you in the long run if those links are low quality.

 

This is because low-quality links are hardly "diverse", and therefore raise a red flag, indicating that someone is building those links in a cheap and underhanded manner.

 

When to Stop Back-linking

Stop Back-linking

If you have the link-bait style of content we discussed at the beginning of this section, then your pages will attract links naturally. When this happens, you should concentrate on adding new, high-quality content to keep your visitors happy and to attract new links. If you don’t have content that naturally attracts links, you will need to go out looking for backlinks, and I’d recommend you do so on a continuous basis. As discussed earlier, I’d suggest using the title of the page you are linking to, or its base URL, as the link text.

 

Avoid using keyword rich anchor text because there is a real danger of raising the over-optimization flag. Google may decide you have too many spammy links and penalize the site. If you want keyword-rich anchor texts pointing to a page on your site, then linking to it from other pages within the site is the best option, in fact, it's encouraged.

 

As mentioned earlier, don’t worry about trying to rank at the top of Google for specific keyword terms as this is old hat and no longer works. If your page deserves to rank at the top of the SERPs for a phrase, it will have more chance of doing so if you concentrate on building authority. Remember that Google knows what your page is about.

 

They don’t need over-optimized anchor text to tell them. If they think it’s worthy of the #1 slot, they’ll rank it at #1. If they don’t, then work more on the quality/value of the content, along with the authority of your site/page. Also, bear in mind that pages optimized for a keyword phrase (especially commercial keyword phrases) rarely rank well for that phrase.

 

Backlinks to Backlinks

Backlinks to Backlinks

Whenever you build a site you should be tracking a lot of information so that you can fine tune things when necessary. One of the most important things to track is the backlinks pointing to your project.

 

Majestic SEO is a good free tool to do just this. Once you have set up Majestic SEO, wait for the data to start coming in.

 

You will get a list of all the backlinks pointing to your site. Download the list (Majestic SEO allows you to download the list as a spreadsheet) and check them to make sure that the backlinks still exist/work. Delete any links from the list that no longer exist or work (highlighted). This way you only end up with a list of web pages that actively link to your site.

 

Work your way through the list, and create new backlinks for each of these backlinks. This is something called "link reinforcement".

 

You can use any method of back-linking you want to, but I would recommend you only point quality links at these backlinks. This obviously means more work on your behalf, but I’ll explain why it’s important a little later. The idea is to make each page linking to your page stronger, and therefore able to pass more link juice (authority) to your site.

 

In my opinion, many webmasters go wrong with this type of backlinks-to-backlink strategy. They often tend not worry about the quality of the backlinks to their backlinks. Instead, they blast thousands of profile links, social blog marks, spun articles, etc. at these backlinks in an attempt to boost them. It doesn't work.

 

Most webmasters who use this strategy assume that their site is safe, since these poor quality spammy links DO NOT point directly at their own site, but at the backlinks to their site (sites holding your backlinks are referred to as buffer sites or pages). Some webmasters assume that these buffer sites provide a type of immunity against penalties. They're wrong, of course.

 

Google hates linking schemes, and pyramid systems like this are no exception. Is it too farfetched to think that the negative SEO we saw earlier could render this type of link pyramid not only useless but also harmful to your site? In the diagram above, if those links to your backlinks are good quality, you have nothing to worry about. However, what if those links pointing to your backlinks are low quality, spammy links? Let’s re-draw that diagram.

 

Now, instead of quality links pointing at the backlinks, we have poor quality, spammy links. These, in turn, penalize the pages that hold the links pointing directly your website. What happens now, as those pages link to your site, is that Google can follow the trail, and here's what happens.

The penalty passes down the pyramid and your page is penalized as a consequence.

 

When Google decided to pass negative ranking factors through links (allowing negative SEO to work), it allowed penalties to pass down pyramid linking schemes, thus removing any immunity that was previously available through buffer sites.

 

A few years ago, everyone assumed that negative SEO was impossible, that is, if you wanted to take out your competition by pointing a lot of poor links at their site, it simply wouldn’t work. Google even told us it wouldn’t work. However, today we know this is no longer true. The reality is that poor-quality inbound links can hurt any webpage.

 

It makes sense though, doesn’t it? I mean, if Google introduced a system where poor links pass on a negative ranking factor, then they would be wasting a massive opportunity to wipe out a lot of spammers if they didn’t allow these penalties to trickle down the link pyramids.

 

So how do we stop someone else building spammy links to our pages in their attempts to get our site penalized? Well, the simple answer is we can't. You may remember a recent report I mentioned earlier by MicrositeMasters.com. In that report, they suggested that bad links were losing their ability to negatively affect site rankings. This was because Google was now simply ignoring them as opposed to applying penalties.

 

If this is true, we can stop worrying so much about negative SEO and just concentrate on building high-quality links. However, and just to make sure, I’d recommend you take a look at the Disavow tool. This is a tool Google gave us to help fight back against negative SEO. In giving us this tool, Google effectively said that all links to our website, good or bad, are our sole responsibility. Let's take a look at the Disavow tool and see how it works.

 

The Disavow Tool - How to Fix Bad Links to Your Site

Bad Links

Several years ago, webmasters were not held responsible for the links pointing to their own sites. Negative SEO just did not work, and Google themselves told us that bad links could not hurt a site’s rankings.

 

In the last year or two things have changed. Google altered the rules so that bad backlinks could now hurt page (and site) rankings. However, because of the whole negative SEO angle, Google needed to provide a system to make webmasters truly accountable for the links to their sites, whether they had created them or not.

 

In other words, if a website became the target of a negative SEO campaign, Google wanted the webmaster to fix it, and so the Disavow tool was born.The Disavow tool allows webmasters to report bad links pointing at their sites, in the hope that Google will not count them as part of that site’s backlink profile.

 

Therefore, if someone points a lot of spammy links at your site to try to get it penalized (wiped off the SERPs), Google gave you this tool so that you could use it to tell them about those links, and hopefully get them devalued to the point where they no longer contribute to your rankings.

 

Before we look at the Disavow tool in more detail, let me just state something: Just because we can report "bad" links to Google, it does not mean Google will listen to us or take action. Google has said that webmasters should use the Disavow tool as a last resort.

 

The first step should always be to contact webmasters who are linking to you and ask them to remove the offending link(s). If those webmasters refuse to remove the links, or simply ignore your requests, then that is what the Disavow tool is for.

 

I should also mention that if Google does disavow links, it could take some time. One of my sites was the victim of negative SEO, and after disavowing those bad links, it took around six months for the site to recover. I recommend you constantly monitor the backlinks to your site (Google Webmaster Tools will show you the recent backlinks it has found), and disavow spammy links as you find them, that's if you can't get them removed by approaching the webmasters first.

 

Checking Your Link Profile & Creating a Disavow File

 Link Profile

The first step in using the Disavow tool is to find the links that point to your site and evaluate them. You need to identify the links that may be causing your site harm. These links include:

  • 1. Links on pages with scraped content.
  • 2. Links on pages with spun content.
  • 3. Links on pages with very poor/limited content (in terms of language, spelling, grammar, etc).
  • 4. Links on sites that have been penalized in Google.
  • 5. Links on irrelevant sites, or sites with dubious content.
  • 6. Site-wide links that appear on all of the pages of a linking website.
  • 7. Any link that you would not want Google to manually inspect.

 

Fortunately, Google Webmaster Tools provides us with an easy way to do a link audit. You need a free Webmaster Tools to account for this, with your site linked to that account.

 

Assuming you have linked your website to your Webmaster Tools account, Google will list the backlinks to your project. It can take a while for these backlinks to start showing, so link up your site as soon as possible

 

To do this, log in to Webmaster Tools and click on the site you want to inspect.

  • In the menu on the left side, select Links to Your Site from the Search Traffic menu.
  • On the right, you’ll see a list of links to your site:
  • Google only shows you a few links by default, but if you look at the bottom of the list, you’ll see a link to "More". Click it.
  • You now have a button to "Download latest links". Clicking this button will allow you to choose the format of the download.

 

  • The CSV format will download a spreadsheet that you can view in Excel or similar spreadsheet programs. Alternatively, you can download the file in

 

Google Docs format.

Google Docs format

If you don’t use Google Docs, I recommend you give it a try. Just go to docs.google.com

  • You simply login to Google Docs with your Gmail email address and password.
  • Now if you select Google Docs from Webmaster Tools, and then click the OK button, the spreadsheet opens directly in Google Docs:
  • This spreadsheet will list all of the links Google wants you to know about.

 

Not only do you get the URL, but you also get the date that the link was first discovered. This means you can check all of the links the very first time you do a link audit. Then, in a month or two, you only need to check the new links that Google are reporting since your last check. OK, so you need to work your way through the list of links and pull out any that you suspect are harming your website.

 

Google gives you two ways to deal with bad links. You can either report them on a link-by-link basis, or you can report a whole domain. If you report the domain, then the links are disavowed which point to your site. You can create a plain text file to use as your disavow list.

 

To disavow a single URL, just list the URLs, one on each line.

The format for reporting an entire domain is as follows: Domain:somebaddomain.com

 

Google also encourages you to use comments in your disavow file. These comments can be for you, or for Google, outlining the steps you have carried out to get the links removed. For example, if you have tried contacting a webmaster to get links removed, and they have ignored your requests, you can include that information in a comment, before listing the appropriate URLs or domain.

 

To add comments, simply use the # symbol. A valid comment would look something like this:

# Webmaster has ignored my request to remove these links.

If you want to write more, just go onto a second line, with the # at the start. For example:

# Webmaster has not replied to my emails requesting link removal

# Contacted on 16/08/2018, and again on 06/09/2018

 

Once you have built up your disavow file, you need to upload it to Google. One thing I recommend you do is add the following comment to the beginning of the disavow file:

 

# Last updated 10/10/2018

Save the file to your computer when you're done. The next time you want to do a link audit, you will know the date of your previous audit and can just look at the new links since that date (remember that Google gives us the date a link was found).

 

Uploading the disavow file to Google is simple. Go to this URL: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main

 

You will need to log in using your Webmaster Tools login details.

  • Select the website from the drop-down list, and then click the Disavow button:
  • You will get a warning before you can upload the disavow file:
  • If you want to proceed, click the Disavow Links button.
  • Now you have a button to Choose File. Click that and select the disavow text file that you saved earlier.
  • Finally, click the Submit button to upload the file to Google.

 

Updating the Disavow File

Disavow File

When you need to update the disavow file, e.g. to include more URLs or domains, simply add the new URLs and domains to the file. Make sure you change the comment at the top to the current date so you can keep track. Once done, go back to the disavow tool and re-upload your updated file. Google only keep one file per site, so the last one you upload will be the file they use for any “disavowing”.

 

I’d recommend you do a complete link audit on your site, and then recheck new links every month or two after that. Now that you are responsible for all links pointing to your site, you need to know who is linking to it, and whether those links are potentially harmful to your rankings. If they are, contact the webmaster and ask for their removal. Failing that, disavow them without hesitation.

 

I also want you to think about something else.

 

If there is a spammy web page linking to you, and you know that it can only be harmful to your rankings, it is possible that the site in question has more than one link to your site, even though you are not aware of them all. In cases like this, I always disavow the entire site rather than just the URLs. Think of it like this: if the page on that site is so bad that you want to disavow it, the chances are the whole site is pretty bad as well.

 

Future Alternatives to Link Building

Google is pretty good at detecting backlinks created for ranking purposes, and they are happy to slap any site that runs aggressive back-linking campaigns. So what does the future hold? For the foreseeable future, backlinks will continue to be a major ranking factor, but there are other things you should start doing now.

 

Build Your Brand with Mentions

Brand

A "brand mention" is simply your “brand” mentioned in an article on another site. There is no physical backlink, just a mention of your brand.

 

There is a growing number of SEOs who think Google can actually recognize (and reward) brand mentions, associating the mention with the correct website. Quite often, your brand will be your domain name, so the more brandable your domain name, the more chance you have of Google correctly associating your brand-mention with your site.

 

For example, if your site is buycontactlensesonline.com, your domain is essentially a commercial keyword phrase that you have turned into an exact match domain (EMD). Any mention of “buy contact lenses online” on another site will not help your site since your site is not a recognized brand.

 

However, if you named your site BetterVisionContacts.com, and your site had some authority, then another site mentioning “Better Vision Contacts” would probably work out as a brand mention in the eyes of Google.

 

SEOs think that brand mentions will form part of the ranking algorithm, if not now, then in the near future. They certainly already help build your authority, and authority, in the eyes of Google, is King.

SEO

The beauty of brand mentions is that this is a very safe way to get a ranking boost. Google won’t be penalizing unlinked text any time soon. If you write guest posts for other websites, try inserting your brand into your article instead of a backlink.

 

Build Backlinks for Traffic Instead of Rankings, Using Nofollow I mentioned previously that if you would build a backlink, even if Google did not exist, then it is natural in the eyes of Google. The reason is that you are not building it to improve your rankings; you are building it because it can benefit you in other ways.

 

A good example of why you might build a link, even if search engines did not exist, would be for click-through traffic. If you can get a link to your site on a high traffic web page, then the chances are that link would bring you some decent traffic since it's visible to a lot of eyeballs.

 

The only danger here is whether or not Google appreciate the reason for the link. Google might consider it a link to improve rankings, rather than a link for natural reasons. Don't worry. In cases like this, where your intent is to drive extra traffic from the webpage, you just nofollow that link.

 

Google will then understand that the link is natural and not there to give you a ranking boost. It's always nice to get a boost in the rankings, but in this case, that's not why you placed the link on the page. The temptation is there to never use nofollow tags on links, but it is becoming increasingly important to prevent penalties. It might all sound a bit too much right now, but I can promise you that once you get these things into your mind, you will intuitively know what to do in any given situation.

 

Summary of Backlinks

Just remember these simple guidelines when getting links:

1. Try to get links from as many different places as possible (we want IP diversity).

 

2. Look for quality rather than quantity. A handful of quality links will do more for your rankings than hundreds or thousands of spammy links (which could actually get your site penalized). Look for the “Holy Grail” backlinks by creating content other people want to link to.

 

3. Don’t use keyword-rich anchor text in links you obtain from other websites. Always use your website title, URL, page URL or title of the page you are linking to as the anchor text.

 

4. Use internal linking (links that go from one page on your site to a different page on the same site.) to introduce keyword rich links to a page.

 

5. With links coming in from other websites, keep the percentage of keyword-rich anchor text to 5% or less.

 

6. Backlink to your backlinks to make them stronger, but only do this by using high-quality links. By strengthening your backlinks like this, you’ll need fewer of them to compete.

 

7. Carry out a link audit periodically on your site, and ask webmasters to remove any low quality, spammy links that may be affecting your rankings. Failing that, use Google's disavow tool.

 

8. What's in It for the Visitor?

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

 

When a visitor arrives on your website, you have a very short time to make a good first impression. That first impression will decide whether they stay or go. So the first thing you need to do is make sure your site looks good. If you’re using WordPress, then that’s quite easy as there are many attractive WordPress designs out there to choose from.

 

Apart from the overall design, another aspect of your site, which will add to a good first impression, is the speed at which the page loads. This needs to be as fast as possible to avoid having visitors waiting for stuff. In fact, most visitors won't bother to stay if the page is still loading after just a few seconds.

 

Install Google Analytics and Get a Google Webmaster Tools Account

Google Analytics

These two free tools can give you a huge amount of information on your site and its visitors. They are also Google’s way to communicate with YOU. If there is anything Google is concerned about, they’ll tell you about it in your Webmaster's account. They’ll also notify you when your site is down or when there is a WordPress upgrade (if you use WordPress).

 

A lot of webmasters believe it’s best to avoid these tools, thinking Google will use them against you, but I disagree. Google already has all the data they need on your site, and anyone who thinks otherwise is just deluding themselves. These two tools are a great way for Google to share that data with you.

 

Google’s “Webmaster Tools” used to tell you how fast your site was loading and show you a graph of load times over a period of time. However, they have since retired this tool, but you can now find that information in Google Analytics instead.

 

A great alternative to checking your page load speed is to use an online tool like GTMetrix: http://gtmetrix.com/. You simply enter your page URL and GTMetrix will measure the load speed there and then, in real-time. Not only do they give you the time in seconds for the page load, but they will also tell you which parts of your site are slowing things down, and what you can do to fix the problems.

 

Website Stickiness

Website Stickiness

In Google Analytics, Google will tell you the average time a visitor stays on your site, as well as the bounce rate (how quickly someone bounces back to Google search after visiting just a single page on your site). Bounce rate and time on site are measures of how “Sticky” your site is.

 

This is the average for the whole site. You’ll notice that the maximum bounce rate over the last month was less than 20%, with the average being around 10%. This means that only about 10% of people visiting my site go straight back to Google after reaching the landing page. Here are the averages for this site over the last month: The average bounce rate of 10.32% and an average time on site of around 20 minutes is good. I’d say that this site was quite sticky, wouldn’t you?

 

Important Aspects of a Web Page

You need to capture your visitor’s attention and let them know what you have in store for them.

 

In terms of articles on your website, this can mean an eye-catching headline that makes them want to read more. If your visitor reads the headline and finds it interesting, they’ll more than likely go on to read the opening paragraph. The first paragraph is almost as vital as the headline itself, so you might like to try creating an opening paragraph as a summary of what your visitor will find further down the page. Tell them what goodies lie in wait for them if they keep reading.

 

As you write content, try to keep sentences short (20–25 words). For paragraphs, look at four or five sentences each wherever possible. People hate large blocks of text, but they also hate sentences that are too long because they can become confusing and difficult to read. When you have finished writing your content, read it aloud to yourself.

 

If you find any part(s) that need rereading to fully understand them, then something needs fixing. Similarly, if you find yourself hesitating over a word or sentence, something is interrupting the flow, so fix that too.

 

To make your articles easier to read, use sub-headings and bullet points. Pictures and diagrams can also help break up blocks of text, making the piece easier on the eyes for your visitor. Like that old adage goes: "A picture is worth a thousand words." It's true too, providing the image catches the reader's attention of course.

 

NOTE: Use ALT tags on images, but do not stuff them with keywords. Simply use an ALT tag that describes the image clearly.

Another important point is to use colors and fonts wisely. Don’t put white fonts on a black background or any other combination that causes eyestrain. Black font, or charcoal grey, on a white background is the best. Also, use fonts which work well online, like Verdana, Trebuchet and Georgia.

 

If you want to see some truly shocking usage of colors on the web, search Google images for the term bad website design.

 

While we’re on the subject of content, be aware that people are a lot less patient than they used to be: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7417496.stm.

 

Be concise and to the point. Don’t waffle just to get the word count higher because it won't keep your visitors around for very long.

To make your site sticky, you need to give your visitors what they want. That's it, in a nutshell! In order to do this, you need to know your visitor. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is it?
  • What do they want?
  • What answers to they need?
  • What do they want to ask me?

 

Your homepage should guide the visitor quickly and easily to the section of your website that is of interest to them. Your visitor should be able to find what they need swiftly and effortlessly. Needless to say, a search box is essential for this purpose. Fortunately, adding a search facility is easy with WordPress ;)

 

Ways to Build Trust

Trust

1. The Mugshot: Include a photo of yourself in a prominent position on your website. The sidebars or in the logo are a good place for this. A photo helps build trust because the visitor can see who they are interacting with. Putting a face to the name is always a good thing when it comes to building an online reputation.

 

2. Create a Gravatar: If you use your photo as a Gravatar, then every time you post comments on other websites, your photo will appear automatically next to your comments. This goes back to what we were saying in the section on building authority. How much better is it for a visitor to arrive on your site and recognize your face? This can really help towards building a high level of trust.

 

3. Fresh content rules: If people arrive at your site and see that the content is several years old, this may be enough for them to click the back button. Keep stuff like reviews up to date. If you update a review, change the timestamp of the post in WordPress to reflect the new date. If the content is “ageless”, consider removing the date/time stamp from the post.

 

4. Visible links to A Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and a Contact Us page are great ways to help build trust. On your contact page, you should ideally have a real address as this helps further with the trust building. Again, it’s a good idea to have your photo on the Contact Us page as well.

 

5. Create an About Us page: Here you can mention who you are and what your goals are for the site. On many websites, this is often one of the highest traffic pages, so don’t be afraid to insert a signup box if you have a newsletter or short course to offer.

 

Types of Content Your Visitors Want

Visitors

1. Answer "real" questions on your pages: You can find the questions that people ask in your niche by looking at sites like Yahoo Answers, Quora and even Ask.com. Find real questions and create a Q&A section on your site using those questions. You can use the site: operator at Google to search for information on specific sites. Here is an example where I am searching Google for questions about juicing Vs blending at Quora.com:

 

I am sure you can see how easy it is to find relevant, on-topic questions to use as the basis for your website content.

 

2. Buyer Guides: For example, if your site is about Android Tablets, give your visitors a free PDF that tells them what they need to know when it comes to buying one of these devices. You can use that free guide to build a list if you want to, by making visitors opt-in to your list before they get the free download URL.

 

3. Tutorials: Provide helpful tutorials for your visitors if you can think of some that are relevant to your niche.

 

4. Videos: Create informative, relevant videos and embed them in your web pages. Put a great title above the video to entice your visitor's to watch it. Never have your vids start automatically, always give visitors that option. Make sure the video content lives up to the title.

Upload videos to Youtube.com and develop your own YouTube channel in your chosen niche. This will not only bring you extra traffic, but it will also build credibility and trust. You can link to this YouTube channel from your website.

 

5. Terminology Page: One type of page I usually include on my niche sites is a Terminology Page. A niche has its own vocabulary as we have seen, and often people want to know what certain words or phrases mean. A Terminology Page serves this purpose. When creating new content, or looking for new ideas, ask yourself this question: “What valuable information or resources can I offer that is not available on the top 10 sites in Google?”

 

Make Your Site Interactive

Site Interactive

1. Allow Comments from visitors at the end of your articles. Invite or encourage your visitors to use the comments box. It’s amazing how simple it is to say something along the lines of: “Hey, if you’ve got a question or an opinion on this, leave a comment at the bottom of this post”. A lot of people don’t bother, but it's a really effective call-to-action.

 

Fulltime blogger Darren Rowse, once wrote a nice article on getting your visitors to comment: http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/10/12/10-techniques-to-get-more-comments-on-your-blog/

 

A lot of webmasters turn comments off on their site because of the huge amounts of spam they receive. However, by using a good spam blocker like Akismet (commercial) or the WordPress "Stop Spammers" plugin (an aggressive anti-spam plugin that eliminates comment spam): https://wordpress.org/plugins/stop-spammer-registrations-plugin/, you can eliminate 99% of all spam.

 

Comments allow your visitor to interact with YOU, as well as with other commenters. If a visitor asks a question, make sure you always answer it. This starts a dialogue with your target audience and builds trust and authority. Visitors like to see that you’re actually answering questions personally. Answering questions bring visitors back to your site, especially if you have a plug-in installed that allows them to track responses to their own comments (recommended).

 

2. By using ratings and review plug-in (search the WordPress plugin directory), you can give your visitors the chance to award products their own star rating when they leave a comment.

 

3. Polls are a great way to get your visitors involved. They allow visitors to express their opinion by a casting a quick vote. There are a few free polling scripts around to choose from.

 

4. Provide Social Media Icons after each post so that people can spread the word on your great content. There are a number of free plugins available. I recommend you try a few of these out to see which one works best with your site and its theme.

 

5. Add a forum. Forums can have quite an issue with spam at times, and that means they take a bit of maintaining. Even so, if you have time to run a forum, just know that these discussion boards can be a great way for people to interact with you and others, but they may take a while to generate visitors and members. Several WordPress plugins are available that will add a fully functional forum on your site.

 

YouTube SEO

YouTube SEO

YouTube is owned by the search engine giant Google. Even if you didn’t know that, you might have guessed there was a close relationship by looking at how many YouTube videos rank in the top 10 of Google search.

 

YouTube videos that are ranked in the top 10 probably get quite good click-through rates (CTR), simply because they have a thumbnail image of the video displayed in the SERPs. Sometimes, they even have a full sized video taking up the top slot.

 

There are two videos for the above search phrases, ranked #1 and #2 on Google.

YouTube is also a major search engine in its own right. There are many people who use the search box on YouTube to find what they are looking for, thus bypassing Google search completely. However, just because Google own YouTube, that does not mean the ranking algorithms on YouTube and Google are the same. Look at this search on YouTube and then Google Search for the same phrase:

 

  • The video ranked #1 on Google is ranked #4 on YouTube.
  • The video ranked #2 on Google is ranked #12 on YouTube.

We’ve already seen that the ranking algorithm for Google is very complex, involving hundreds of different signals, both on the page, and off.

 

YouTube’s ranking is not as complex as Google Search, or at least it does not appear to be.

On YouTube, it is possible to rank a video using just on-page factors in less competitive niches. For example, in that screenshot above, my video is #1 (the top video (above mine) is a paid advert, so I’m not including that). If I search for that term in quotes, YouTube tells me that there are 185 videos using that exact phrase somewhere on the page. Therefore, with only around 185 direct competitors, I can easily rank #1.

 

The ease of ranking on YouTube in low competition niches has gotten some marketers excited, and here's why: By finding low competition phrases, and with good search volume, they can rank high on YouTube and get easy traffic to their sites. It sounds great, but let me burst that bubble. Ranking on YouTube is fine, but it's not the best. You really want your video ranking in the Google SERPs.

 

That is where the majority of traffic will come from, not from the YouTube search results. Let me give you an example.

Here is a search phrase that I found in Google Keyword Planner:

That screenshot tells me that this phrase is searched for 3,600 times a month. OK, the first thing to do is see how many videos are actually optimized for that exact phrase. A search on YouTube, using quotes, tells me 338 videos use that exact phrase on the page.

 

An entitled: "call to action examples" search tells me that only 11 videos use that exact phrase in the actual title. This is often a good indicator of how many videos have been optimized for a phrase.

  • It’s probably going to be easy to rank at the top of YouTube with the just on-page factor.
  • If you could rank #1 in YouTube for that phrase, how much traffic would it bring?
  • Well, Google Keyword Planner tells us that the phrase is searched for 116 times a day.

 

Let’s now go over to YouTube and see how many times the top videos ranking for that phrase have been watched:

The number #1 ranked video has been watched 561 times in the 20 months since it was published. This means the video's had around 28 views per month, on average. The video in position #2 on YouTube has been seen 14 times per month. So what happened to the 3,600 searches a month?

 

Well, there are two problems with using search volume reported by Google Keyword Planner.

  • 1. The search volume is for Google, not YouTube.
  • 2. The search volume is not very accurate.

For a video on YouTube to get decent traffic, it needs either a lot of search traffic ON YouTube, or the video needs to rank for the keyword phrase in Google Search, in the top 10, and preferably near the top of page one.

 

For any search phrase, if there are videos in the top 10 search results on Google, that’s a good sign. However, to make sure people are really using those search phrases, check how many times those videos are watched on a monthly basis. Before you spend time creating a video for YouTube, with the sole purpose of bringing in more traffic, ask yourself this: “Are there YouTube videos in the top 10 for this phrase, and how many views per month do those videos get?”

 

YouTube Video Optimization

YouTube Video Optimization

This really is a two-part process.

  • 1. Get the on-page factors right.
  • 2. Build backlinks to the video from the best sources you can find.

 

These two steps will allow your video to rank near or at the top in YouTube, but also have a chance of ranking in Google’s top 10 (assuming Google usually shows at least one video in the SERPs for that phrase).

 

Let’s consider the on-page factors for YouTube videos

The on-page SEO is much more like the Google SEO of old. Keywords are still King here, and spamming does work. I would, however, caution against creating spammy video titles or descriptions. It is only a matter of time before Google crack the YouTube whip and start to change things. In fact, the YouTube results are so spammy in some niches, that I am surprised Google hasn’t already dealt with the problem.

 

OK, here is a checklist of on-page optimization that you can use to optimize your video for a specific phrase.

1. Add the keyword phrase in the video title. Put the phrase at the start, and try to make the title as short as possible.

2. Use your main keyword phrase in the video's filename.

 

3. Think of the description in the same way as you would think of a short article for your site. This will give it more chance of ranking in Google. Create a well-themed description that uses the main keyword phrase in the first sentence, plus all of the important niche vocabulary further down. Include a link back to your website as a bare URL.

 

4. You need to add some tags to your submission. Make sure your main keyword is the first one. Include variations on that main keyword in the tags, and any other important niche vocabulary.

 

5. If you get comments on your videos, moderate them. Remove any spammy comments and reply to any questions you get. Engage with the people who leave comments.

 

6. Embed the video in a page on your own website, and provide some kind of commentary (as text) to accompany the video (a video on its own is scraped content even if you created it yourself). I often write longer articles and create a video to cover one aspect. The video then becomes a small unique part of the web page content rather than the dominant feature.

 

7. If your videos have a lot of speech, you might consider looking into the closed caption features provided by YouTube. YouTube will try to transcribe your video automatically for you, and it’s not always good, but you can download the file and correct it. If you do this, you can then use the corrected transcription on your own site to accompany the video.

 

That’s all there is to on-page optimization for YouTube videos.

After uploading your video, I recommend you use the social sharing buttons and share it to all of your social media channels. These will count as backlinks, albeit weak ones, but they give your video a chance to spread through social channels if it’s good enough.

 

Things Not to Do with YouTube

There are a lot of services out there that promise to help you with your YouTube promotions. The popular ones offer:

  • 1. To send visitors to your video, boosting the number of views.
  • 2. To provide your video with a gazillion “Likes”.
  • 3. To give you subscribers to your channel.

My advice is DO NOT use any services that artificially inflates the metrics of your video, not even if they say they are "real" people. They won’t be, by the way.

 

YouTube remains one of the safest forms of backlinks to your site, so use them for that, as well as driving traffic to your site through links in the description. You can even monetize your YouTube videos with AdSense if you want to, so look into that if it’s something that interests you. A video that goes viral with advertising on it can give you an unexpected and welcome windfall.

 

Fix on your Website

This section will take you by the hand and guide you through a complete checklist of things you should objectively critique/fix on your website. Before I go on, I need to point out that a lot of people are not very objective about their own work. It’s often hard to take criticism from other people and even harder to admit that you made a mistake somewhere along the way.

 

However, for this process to work, you need to step outside of yourself. It's time to try to view your website differently, as a complete stranger might view it after arriving at your pages for the first time.

 

I’d also like to say that although you do need to be constructively critical, I don’t want you to be too hard on yourself. Nearly everyone I know lost a site or two in the Google updates of the last few years, myself included. When Google first moved the goalposts, it caught a lot of people out, and I do mean a lot of people.

 

Pre-Panda and pre-Penguin, Google tolerated certain activities. Post-Panda and post-Penguin, they don’t. As a result, they are now enforcing their Webmaster Guidelines, something that SEOs never really believed Google would do, but they did. It’s Google's change intolerance that got so many of us into trouble.

 

Let me give you an example of their "moving of the goal posts".

We have known for some time that Google doesn’t like us building backlinks to our sites, especially with automated tools. How did we know? Google told us. So why did so many people engage in link-building campaigns using automated tools that created hundreds or thousands of low-quality links in a short space of time?

 

The answer is simple. At that time, Google tolerated this behavior; in fact, they even rewarded it. When you see your competitor building all these links and jumping ahead of you in the search engine results, it’s only natural that you want to do the same to get your rankings back, so that's what many of us did.

 

As long as Google tolerated (and rewarded) aggressive link-building, people continued to do it. Google knew that.

Google Panda, and probably more specifically, Google Penguin, changed all of this. Google went from being a very tolerant search engine to one of zero tolerance, overnight!

 

For as long as I can remember, Google has published Webmaster Guidelines to tell us what they consider acceptable and what is not. Before Panda and Penguin, these guidelines were simply that – guidelines. Most of us chose to ignore them because we had no choice.

 

If we followed their guidelines, then we could not rank above our competitors who did not. However, with the arrival of Panda and Penguin, these guidelines became strict rules, and rules that had to be followed or else.

 

All of the previously tolerated “illicit” activities, like link building, were suddenly a big problem for the websites that employed those activities. Webmasters who held the number one spot for years, suddenly found their site gone from page one. Many sites were gone from the Google SERPs altogether.

 

The reason why so many websites lost their rankings overnight was simply that those sites had not followed the guidelines in the past. I wrote this section of the blog to help you more easily identify and fix the problems you may have with your website. I use the same checklist on my own websites, and those of my students and clients, so I know it works when followed tightly.

 

What Does Google Want?

Google

Before we start the checklist, I thought it would be a good idea to have a quick reminder of what it is that Google actually wants. You can read their guidelines for yourself, here: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35769

 

Near the top of that page, it says:

“Even if you choose not to implement any of these suggestions, we strongly encourage you to pay very close attention to the “Quality Guidelines,” which outline some of the illicit practices that may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index or otherwise impacted by an algorithmic or manual spam action.”

 

It is important that you take this statement seriously. Google will remove or penalize your site if they catch you carrying out any activities they don’t approve of. Unlike the rhetoric of the past, Google actually means what it says these days.

 

There are a lot of webmasters out there who resent Google’s attempts to stifle their SEO “creativity”, and I often hear people say things like, “Who cares what Google want…” usually followed by “I’ll do whatever I want with my own site. Stuff Google!” This is all fine if you know the risks and can accept the consequences.

 

At the end of the day, this is Google’s search engine and they can do what they want with it. The bottom line is this: if you want free traffic from Google, then you need to follow their guidelines.