The Google Dance

Well, well, well. It seems my last post How to Get Legitimate Backlinks, had come at just the right time. It is obvious to any marketer that right now Google’s index is dancing around like a cat on a hot tin roof!

There has been a lot of discussion and speculation as to why suddenly many thousands of sites are disappearing from the SERPs altogether, while others that previously ranked well for their keywords have dropped considerably.

So what is happening?

Well, I can speculate just as well as the rest of ’em, but I’m going to base my own theories on a fairly strong foundation of observation, knowledge, listening to what other experienced marketers say and weighing the odds.

Back in my last post, I made it clear that my own methods of obtaining links to my sites were slow, ponderous, hard work but natural. The way one would expect to see a site grow over time, slowly and surely. I also know that there are many marketers who don’t have time for all that, or want to see results quickly, so use other, more automated methods of obtaining links to their sites.

Well, its pretty obvious to me that getting links to your site fast using social bookmarking software and automatied comment producing software is unnatural and seen by Google as trying to game the system by artificially pushing your sites up in their index. This is exactly what Google does not like to see, because these are similar to tactics used by spammers to rank quickly in order to make some fast cash.

The way you have to look at it is that Google wants quality, information strong sites at the top of its index, so that when someone types in a serach for, say “how to make money online” they actually get sites that tell them how to make money online and not sites that hit them with a page full of ads and nothing to read. Same goes for every keyword search that is made of their index. If you’re looking for information on what are the the most honest ways of promoting a website, then you should be presented with sites that tell you exactly that. This is why Google are the number one search engine. Their results are pretty much as relevant as is possible and why when you type in the same search in Yahoo or MSN etc, you get widely different results.

Well, recently a lot of information on how to game the system has been published in various blogs with only the best of intentions of course, for instance how to go up against the big boys and stand a chance of competing. Unfortunately, that information is exactly the sort of thing that Google does not want made so public, as it has enough trouble on its hands as it is with spammers.

So when this or that great new piece of software or method of getting links to artificially climb the SERPs gets made public, what do you think Google are going to do about it?

Exactly what they’re doing right now!

And that is tinkering with their index yet again in order to counter the new influx of marketers using artificial tactics and techniques for gaming it. They have the ability to simply not count links that are created by artificial means. So what do you think are going to be ignored first? The easiest ones to spot, ie rapidly obtained social bookmarking tags, blog comments and links contained in duplicate content sources.

I repeat, this is only conjecture on my part, but I reckon I’m not too far off the mark from what I can observe for myself and from what people are saying.

Duplicate content has always been a no-no if you want your site to rank well in the SERPs. Every marketer knows this, yet so many fail to see that by writing one article with a link back to their site in its resource box that is then sprayed all over the net to hundreds of article submission sites using article submission software is going to be a target for ignoring by Google. Not penalising, as that would cause more problems than it would solve, but merely by ingnoring links contained in duplicate articles, Google can easily weed out a big proportion of the sites that have gotten links faster than they would have done naturally.

Similarly with social bookmarking links that have been obtained unnaturally rapidly. No penalty needed, simply ignore the links and the receiving site suddenly gets ranked as it should.

Another type of site that is obviously not welcome in Google’s index is the thin affiliate, or commercial sites that contain lots of ads but very little or no informative, relevant content. These include BANS sites, or eBay store type sites that contain mainly links to eBay auction items but very little true content. Recently GoDaddy had a domain sale of .info sites for 99c each , which many marketers jumped on to use as BANS or thin affiliate sites. Well, many of those sites either failed to get indexed, or if they did, were soon de-indexed again. The problem that was not forseen is that the .info qualifier is meant to identify “information” sites, as .com indicates “commercial” so using .info domains for commerce is viewed by google as wrong.

Google has for many years been at war with MFA (made for adsense) sites. These are sites that contain little useful content and mainly lots of adsense (or similar) PPC ads with the intent to attract visitors from the SERPs who will find the site of no value and click an ad to navigate elsewhere. This has the potential to make the site owners a lot of money if they can get their MFA sites onto the first page of Google’s index, which is why spammers and other get rich quick marketers constantly do battle with Google to get this type of site indexed and highly ranked. By Google ignoring automated software generated links, this is a powerful way for Google to beat the spammers.

So if your own sites are bouncing all over the place in the SERPs at the moment and you are wondering why this is happening, I hope to have shed some light on things. It may not be exactly as I’ve pointed out, but I’ll bet that I’m pretty close to the mark. If your sites are legit, contain plenty of good, original and relevant content and you got your links the slow and steady way, then yuou should have nothing to worry about.

For my part, that is exactly how I’ve been building my own sites – slowly and naturally over a long time. For me then, I hope that Google is stamping out the automation in getting links by simply ignoring them. It makes the playing field more level for me and those like me that do things the honest way!

Terry Didcott
The Honest Way

How to Get Legitimate Backlinks

Looks like I’m back with another post after a long absence. Such is the nature of this game. The last one was about the Bidvertiser Blues, where I lost my account with them thanks to a spammer clicking my ads on a certain site. Happily, I got it back when I could prove it wasn’t me clicking my own ads and now, hopefully that spammer has been banned by their host too – as I said, people who live in glass houses should not throw stones!

Moving on with what this post is going to cover, which is that of how to get legitimate backlinks to your website or blog.

With the current trend in buying links, using link farms, or using software to generate hundreds if not thousands of spammy links via social bookmarking sites and the like, it seems people are forgetting that these methods are quick-fix and are unlikely to give lasting results.

Why is that? Well, several reasons.

1. Buying links is frowned upon big time by Google, who will slap any site it catches selling the links. That means the high PR links you have paid for will at some point become worthless as the site selling them loses its PR. You might think you’ve got a great deal for your money, but site owners who sell links eventually get greedy and fall under Google’s radar.

2. Using link farms is also a dangerous pursuit as Google sees this as trying to game its system. You might start off with tons of authority links and see your sites rise swiftly in the SERPs. That is until the day Google uncovers the link farm and wipes it out – all your links become worthless and down you go again. Worse is if Google then tracks those links back to your sites – by association, your sites could be considered a part of that link farm and all your hard work will go down the drain!

3. Using software to generate links is nothing more than spam tactics and Google is very much on the case of spammers. Again, it is seen as trying to game their system and will not be tolerated for long. You’ll eventually get caught and if those links point to your main sites, you could get a penalty or worse, de-indexed.

So where does that leave site owners who want to compete for the top places in the SERPs? How do you get enough legitimate authority backlinks so you can be placed high enough to get some of that coveted organic search traffic that will make money for you?

Traditional methods such as article marketing are still there and still produce good links for your sites. Write some good keyword rich articles on your niche and submit them to the likes of Ezine Articles, GoArticles etc. Just make sure your submission to Ezine Articles is original as they will not accept duplicate content! Other article directories are not so strict, so you’ll have to gauge that one for yourself. The more articles you have out there on more different sites each with a keyword anchored link in your resource box, the more legitimate and good authority inbound links you create for yourself.

If you own several sites in the same niche, you can link them to each other in such a way that they all get a one way keyword anchored link from each other without linking back.

You can still comment in do-follow blogs although the link juice from comments is very low.

You can also join and post in many forums related to your niche, with a keyword anchord link in your signature. This is a good way of getting mediocre links that still give your site keyword authority, which is what you want.

You can create Squidoo lenses and Hub Pages and link to your sites from them. You need to make each page or lens legitimate with lots of good original and relevant content to give your links more weight. Hub pages need posting to fairly often to get your score above 70 so that your links are do-followed. This is just a way of preventing spammers from misusing the system, so use it to your advantage and write quailty hubs.

A similar but quite new place to have a look at is LookUpPage. From what I can see there are several options, but the one that interested me was the free one (as it would!). You can set up a simple personal web page here, but the part that really grabbed my attention was that you can enter a keyword anchored link to your website without having to write a lot of content. That means here is another place to increase your online presence with your own look up page that doesn’t have to take you a lot of work to maintain and that will provide an extra useful link.

Contributing to Yahoo answers also gives you backlinks as long as you don’t abuse it. These backlinks are no follow, but I have seen them showing up in Google Webmaster tools as links, so they can be counted.

Submit your sites to as many link directories as you can. Again these are low quality links, but they do add up. Go for those directories that don’t require a reciprocal link, as your link will be worth more.

When you write your website articles and blog posts, make sure you include a keyword anchored link near the beginning of the first paragraph, so that if a scraper steals your article and posts it on their own site, you stand a good chance they won’t remove it and you get a free link from them.

Other than that, you can try directly contacting owners of other websites and blogs and asking them for a link exchange. That usually only works if they are going to get something out of the exchange, so don’t even think about asking the owner of a PR6 site for a link if you can only reciprocate with a PR1.

Finally, there are the social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, stumbleupon, etc. Every time you bookmark a site you get a link for each tag, so it makes sense to use plenty of tags when you bookmark. These links are low value, but build up over time.

Also, make use of sites like digg, sphinn and bloggingzoom to bookmark your blog posts – especially the last one will give you some authority for your keywords as long as you use it properly, ie wirting a min 350 character summary that includes your keywords and then getting it voted for at lest 15 times to get it onto page one and more juice for your link.

All of these methods are slow, but natural ways of obtaining links. As long as your site is legit and contains plenty of quality, relevant subject matter in the way of written content, and you have obtained sufficient natural links, then Google will index you and give you SERPs authority.

Of course the best way of getting quality inbound links is the one that you cannot do yourself. That is for another website or blog owner to view your site as such a good authority on its main subject that they will link to you all by themselves without you asking. That is rare, but very nice when it happens.

Well, I hope that gives you some ideas on how to obtain legitimate links to your sites in order to make them grow naturally. As I said it’s a slow process, but a natural one that will stand you in good stead in the long term, which is what you want. If you want to go fast and furious, you can, but be prepared to take a hit along the way as any type of method that games the search engines system is seen as spamming and will not be long lived.

Your choice.

Make money fast, lose your sites fast and start all over again, as spammers do, or take it slow and steady and win the race slowly but surely and have it figured out how to make money online for years to come.

Terry Didcott
The Honest Way