The Wordtracker Academy

Link Building Q & A

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Here’s a collection of link building Q & As from Ken McGaffin’s weekly link building webinars. You can join Ken live at his next link building webinar on 1st March 2011

How is it possible for a young site with no PR to get on the ladder of getting links from high quality sites? My site is healthylifestylesuccess.com and I want to start a program of getting quality links.

The first thing I’ll say is don’t worry about a Google PR of zero – just continue the good work you’re doing, concentrate on creating good content and contacting people in the online community that exists around healthy lifestyles – bloggers, experts, reporters, writers, retailers, suppliers and so on. Good activity in your community will automatically bring you links.

When you start off and have zero PR, some people will not link to you as a matter of course – there’s not a lot you can do about those people. However, there are others who know better and don’t care about zero PR – it’s your content that matters to them so concentrate on finding them.

Healthylifestylesuccess

It is entirely possible to get links for a new site with no PR. I’ve had a quick look at your site and the links pointing to it. There are a number of steps I’d recommend:

1) The first thing I’d advise you to do is contact people you know – people you follow (and followers) on Twitter, Facebook friends and other social media contacts. Approach people you’ve talked to, had conversations and fun with at conferences, meetings and so on. Approach people you’ve done favors for in the past or who’ve done favors for you. Building up a personal network of contacts is an essential part of link building.

2) You’ve already identified sites and blogs where you’ve left comments. The point of making comments on other blogs is to get the attention of the writer, not just to get a link back to your own site, whether it is follow or nofollow. Once you start a conversation with the writer, that can blossom into a mutually beneficial relationship.

If I was in your shoes, I’d make my comments more specific – give a real example from your own experience that really backs up what the writer is saying. Or even better, ask a great question that just screams out for an answer.

3) Look for guest blogging opportunities. Look through the sites you’ve identified and see if they accept guest posts. If they do, go right ahead and submit your best work: if they don’t, drop them a quick email. Many sites accept guest posts but don’t explicitly ask for them. You might try out Ann Smarty’s service MyBlogGuest.com - I hope to do a review of that service in the near future.

4) Do a link analysis of the sites you’ve already identified and from the results you’ll find many more quality link prospects.

5) Sign up with helpareporter.com. It will bring you a stream of journalist queries every day. If you get featured you’ll get great publicity and you’ll often get a quality editorial link.

6) Create a terrific reason for someone to link to you – a fantastic or unusual idea such as petairways.com can get great coverage and links straight off, a clever video such as those on willitblend.com will attract links. A report or publication can also bring a lot of attention. Create some content like that and people in your network will be glad to link to it.

7) Once, I’ve got my ‘terrific reason’, I’ll send out press releases, respond to reporter’s queries and write articles. No matter what industry you’re in, there’s always media that will write about you.

You might find The Link Publicity Book useful.

Do you know any way to get "follow" links at Facebook?

Google sees your nofollow links on Facebook and Twitter and it rewards you for them. Rather than worry about their follow status, think more about the authority of the user giving a link. That’s what Google does.

Does Google's Page Ranking take links in Facebook under consideration when ranking?

See above.

Do you still see a relevance to site sculpting for internal link building? Or the use of nofollow and noindex attributes for some pages to help raise importance level of your premium pages?

The organization of internal links in your site is very important. Your home page will usually have the most links and therefore the most link power to pass on to the pages it in turn links to.

So your home page can use that power to promote a new product page, article or other important page. These links should be combined with anchor text.

Nofollow links do not work for link sculpting. Google might not follow a nofollow link but it will send link power into the black hole that nofollow tag has made.

Do you cover thorough keyword/link analysis for the Dutch language (eg, the markets in the countries Belgium and The Netherlands)?

I think it's best to answer this question with an example. On twingly.com I found a list of the top blogs written in Dutch

I'll take a selection of them and enter the URLs into Link Builder ...

Dutch blogs 1

Here are the results overall:

Dutch blogs 2

If wanted, the results can be filtered to show .nl pages.

Dutch blogs 3

Can I use Wordtracker in Spanish?

It is possible to use the Link Builder tool in Spanish – you can enter Spanish URLs as in the Dutch example above or you can use a keyword search on Spanish Google.

Spanish link building

“I’m currently subscribing to an ‘article wizard service’ and slowly cranking out new content that's getting submitted out and back linked to our sites. What's your take on this service and do you offer something comparable or better?”

Submitting articles as guest posts on other sites can reward you with great links. It can also build your online reputation in your target marketplace and that will lead to even more links. But it is hard work and the temptation is always there to find an easy or automated way of doing it. In my early days of link building I tried these approaches but dropped them when I realized that I got far better results if I made individual approaches and used articles that really were unique.

Submitting articles to article directories (for example ezine articles) is a different tactic. I doubt that the links in articles in such directories bring anything other than a very small amount of link juice. The last test I did with 20 such articles produced no noticeable immediate results.

Many article directories offer the articles they list to other sites to publish. It’s quite possible that such published articles will pass back some link power. Perhaps submitting hundreds, even thousands of such articles could work. Plenty of sites are doing so and hoping so. And I’ll guess the software you refer to starts with one original article, rewrites it many times and then auto-submits to hundreds of directories.

Perhaps that works if you do enough of it. But I wouldn’t want to find out because even if it did work today, tomorrow Google might deem it the spam that it is and remove all link benefit. Or penalize your site.

Then you’ll have wasted your time and money.

A final piece of advice that Mark Nunney and myself give is that you get good at what you practice.

Practice writing quality articles - and make them really unique. Practice finding really good sites that are relevant and could publish the articles you write. Practice approaching such sites and persuading them to publish your articles. Practice quality link building and you’ll get good at quality link building.

Is article spinning a good idea to boost SEO ranking?

See answer above.

Are press releases still effective in obtaining long term backlinks?

Press releases are still terrific for getting your story in front of journalists and bloggers. If your story is good enough, then you’ll get written about and you’ll get links as a result. Getting your story on external websites is the real purpose of a press release.

Press releases from online distribution services as a quick-hit link building tactic had their heyday many years ago. They used to work a treat but Google no longer considers the link value of links from press releases on online distribution services.

It may be that if your release is picked up and published on a different site, your links start to pass value. Or that just appearing on hundreds of sites via feeds impresses Google a little. This may work over time as Google sees your site’s profile of links and mentions across the web.

How are Google's local results going to affect link building?

Two answers to this: one for Google Places results and the other for localized versions of Google’s ‘standard’ organic results.

Google Places results use a different algorithm and don’t appear to be affected by many SEO link practices. They are affected by your Google Places account configuration, reviews and mentions in Google Maps that people have saved.

Google’s organic results are sometimes affected by a searcher’s location.

Certainly if I wanted to get results from Google UK I would mostly target links from UK-based websites. Whether or not this works down to regional or city level, I don’t know. Either way, get links for prominent Chicago websites and you’ll have more chance of getting results from both searchers in Chicago and those making searches containing Chicago.

Since there are different types of linking; reciprocal, anchoring, link baiting, internal, external - what would be the order I've got to have?

I’d definitely start with organizing my internal linking properly. Many people take a lazy hierarchical approach, but you should also link directly from your home pages to your most important pages.

Once you’ve got that right, you’ll automatically increase the value of any external links you get.

As for the order in which you start with external links, I think that depends on what you are really interested in. My own favorite methods of link building are writing articles for other sites and large PR efforts that can bring me hundreds of quality links at a time.

Link publicity book

What kind of links does Google deem useless?

You might think that nofollow links are the obvious answer here but in practice any link from a quality site appears to be considered and therefore is not useless.

So if nofollow links are useful, what is really useless?

Paid links it discovers, links from directories offering no editorial value, links from link farms and artificial networks. Plus anything its algorithm (or a rare human intervention) considers to be spam.

[Mark Nunney (editor): And on one famous occasion, links to a page that contained a ‘news story’ that was obviously a joke to all but the journalists who wrote about it.]

If I have a link to a wine website from a pool website, on their resources page, for example, ... valuable "at all" or not worth it?

A link from ‘wine to wine’ would be better but ‘pool to wine’ is ok. However, a link from an obvious resources page is weak. Worth having if you're not putting much effort into it but it is better to concentrate your efforts on finding links from relevant pages.

Adding links (and content) to a blog (ie blogger.com) are they valuable even though there are no followers to that blog?

Google might be a little influenced by the followers a blog has, but of more interest is how many and how powerful the links the page linking to you has.

If you link images on outside domains to specific pages on your site, does it count as link building?

Image links aren’t as good as text links with target keywords as anchor text. But you can improve them by using your target keywords in the images' alt tags.

Why does the Link Builder remove nofollow links as this makes link building to a web page look unnatural and I believe there's enough evidence out there that links from Digg and Twitter seem to count for something?

I agree such links do count and sometimes for quite a lot. Your site will achieve links other than those your link building work gets, some nofollow. Plus the option of including nofollow links in Link Builder’s results is being considered.

Are there APIs for Link Builder to automate the processess?

Not yet.

How do I submit my website to Ask.com and other good web search engines without going through a general web submitter site?

Don’t. Get links and then search engines will find your site by following those links.

Can you write about something totally unrelated to your niche ... as long as the anchor text in the resource box is pointing to the niche ... is this correct?

Yes, but the links might (now or in the future) be worth less than the same on a page about a related subject.

Does it make a difference if I build links all at one time v building links over a regular period of time?

Bursts of activity within a steady flow should be fine. Bursts with no other activity might be seen as a negative signal by Google.

Is there a way to tell what date a link was on a site?

You could try the wayback machine.

Any limit on the number of websites we turn up with your monthly service?

No.

Using the tool, can you tell the anchor text of the link on the relevant page?

You can use the 'anchor text' link on the results page to see all the anchor text to a particular page or domain.

If you want to see the anchor text for a specific link, click on the 'page containing the top link' you’ll be taken to the page: you should see the link in place.

If it is not immediately obvious, use the search function on your browser to search the text on the page and if that doesn’t work, view the source code of the page and search for the domain within the code.

I've heard the issue with link exchanges is that Google now heavily discounts mutual link exchanges - so is there still a benefit?

If, for example, your link is from a poor links page or in a list in a footer and the reciprocal is too, then expect a discount. Google discounts poor links. Reciprocal or not, a good link is a good link.

About Ken McGaffin

Ken McGaffin is a writer, speaker and trainer in online marketing. He provides webinar and video training in link building, online PR and content marketing on his site at LinkingMatters.com You can join him at Google+ or on Twitter

He wrote The Definitive Guide to Successful Link Building with Mark Nunney, and has created two in-depth online courses, 'Get Links: 7 Weeks to Link Building Mastery' and 'Broken Link building Video Course', both with Garrett French.