What is SEO Pathfinder?

The SEO Pathfinder Project is a venue for discussions about how to get to the top of the Google search engine results. I am not an SEO “guru”, I am simply a person interested in learning how to get results from internet marketing using organic and paid search, and is not afraid to share what I have learnt.

My intention is not to sell any products or services; but more to share viable, effective techniques. However, when I do recommend something, there is a good chance that I will get a small commission if you buy using my links. That is what internet marketing is all about, and if you hadn’t already realized, most websites that don’t directly sell their own products and services use this as a model. I just want to be a little more upfront about it.

Either way, when there is a free method of doing the same thing, I will always tell you. I am a Scrooge, who would not knowingly spend any unnecessary money, and nor would I expect you to…

What is Googlebombing?

Googlebombing is a term for the deliberate manipulation of search engine results, usually for humorous, satirical or political reasons.

The idea is that by using particular keywords in the the anchor text from many different websites, all leading to one page on the internet, that one page will rank highly for a search term that is not actually appropriate to its content, and that the webmaster did not intend it to.

To explain how this works, it is necessary to understand a little about how search engines create their results pages.

In the early days of search engines, before Google, all a webmaster need to do to get a high ranking for a particlular search phrase was to use that word or phrase often enough in the text on their page. This naturally lead to websites competing to stuff as many keywords onto them as possible.

This keyword stuffing would often take the form of using type in the same colour as the background, or very small letters, so the search engines could see the keywords, but the visitors could not.
Obviously, the search engine results pages became full of poor content, so a new way of deciding which pages should be displayed was needed.
Google came up with the idea of judging the merits of different websites with a complex algorithm, which still used the content on the web pages, but relies more on the text used in incoming links to say what a page on a website was about.

This was certainly a much better way of determining the search engine results, but it did leave room to manipulate the results, by creating as many links as possible using a particular search term.

This loophole was most famously exploited when a large number of bloggers all created links to the White House’s official biography for George Bush, with the anchor text “miserable failure”.
<a href = “http://www.whitehouse.gov/president/gwbbio.html”>miserable failure</a>

Soon, as a result of Googlebombing, if you did a search on any of the search engines for the term miserable failure, number one in the results would be George Bush’s biography page.
A similar campaign was used on Radio Maria, an ultra-conservative, Catholic Polish Radio station, which was googlebombed with the Polish for “Satan’s Headquarters”.
The reason that these Googlebombs were able to work is that the linking text was for phrases that were fairly obscure, with no obvious competing, relevant pages. Clearly, there is unlikly to be many websites aiming to rank for “miserable failure”!

Google has since introduced a “damping factor” to its algrithm, meaning that googlebombing is less easy to achieve, nowadays, so long as the words do not appear anywhere on the targeted web page.
Nonetheless, it is still a possibility. Typing “click here” into google will produce a number 1 ranking for Adobe, who get this ranking purely because of the sheer number of websites that link to it with that text. Although this is not an example of a Googlebomb, as the aim is not mischievous or malign, it does clearly illustrate that a sufficient number of links can still get a web page ranked for an obscure or meaningless query.

Anchor Text Explained

Anchor text is the text that a website visitor sees on a web page that when clicked will lead them to another site or another page or place on the same site.
Anchor text is also one of the factors that the search engines use to determine what a web site is most probably about.
As the purpose of a search engine is to provide its users with the most relevant results, the keywords in anchor text play a major part in what results come up for a given search term.
Think of each incoming link to your site as a vote of quality. And then think of the anchor text as being an explanation for the serach engines about what subject(s) your website is likely to be an authority on.
So, simply put, the more votes for your site, from different sites, the more highly the search engines will regard your site. But the anchor text allows the site to rank higher, because it is essentially a vote saying that your site is a good resource for (insert keyword).
If your site is about “Used Cars Alabama”, then for sure you would want some of your links coming to your site to say “Used Cars Alabama”.
This link would look something like this, in the source code:
<a href = “http://usedcarsalabama.com”>Used Cars Alabama</>.
(The site doesn’t actually exist, at time of writing.)
Anyway, the more links like this the the imaginary site gets, the more likely it is to rank highly for the search term than a similar site where all the anchor text in most of its incoming links said “Cheap Used Cars”. And of cause this second site will probably rank higher than the first for the keyword “cheap used cars”.
To give an example of how powerful the text in anchor links can be, type “click here” into Google’s search box.
Unless something very drastic has happened since the time of writing, the site that ranks number one should be http://get.adobe.com/reader/
If you search through adobe homepage, you will find NO text saying “click here”, nor titles, subtitles, meta tags or anything else saying “click here”.
The number one ranking for this term is simply due to two factors:
The high number of websites suggesting that “If you do not have Adobe Reader <a href = “http://get.adobe.com/reader/”>click here</a>
The second factor is admittedly that there are probably not that many sites that are trying to get found for the search phrase “click here”!
Nonetheless, this example does rather neatly illustrate the way that in sufficient quantities, anchor text used on incoming links trumps the actual on-page content.
Another example of the power of the anchor text is  what is termed “Googlebombing”. This is a method that is usually used for humourous, satirical or political purposes, where a large number of links are deliberately pointed at a page, to create unexpected results in the search engines. Less effective than it once was, due to search engine algrithm changes, it is works to a degree. You can read more about Googlebombing here. (Enough links like this to my “googlebombing” page will allow it maybe one day to rank for the keyword “here”.)
One problem that many web masters find is that the natural, incoming links that point at their pages often do not include the keyword anchor text that they would like. A link that another web site owner might point at your site because they feel it has useful, relevant content is more likely to link using text such as “here”, or use your actual url as anchor text.
The incoming links that do include the right keyword that you want to get ranked for are probably going to have to be ones that you buy or create yourself!
Find out some ways of getting back-links with relevant anchor text!
Final Word: One thing to remember when using anchor text, is that you shouldn’t over-optimize. Some of your backlinks should be using different keywords, some may use none at all. It’s all about keeping it (at least partially) natural.

Link Building Strategies

Link building is essential to your online success in the Search Engine Results. Nothing else is as important if you wish for be in the top results for keywords with high competition.

You do still need to be aware, though, that without decent content and web pages that are capable of converting visitors into customers, all the search engine visibility in the world will not help your business.
There are various strategies for link building, all of which may play a part in your online campaign. These linking stategies may be faster or slower,and some may be very expensive, while some may be able to be managed on a shoe-string SEO budget.
One thing is certain: if you wish to compete for any term that is fairly or very competitive, you will need to make an investment of one kind or another, be it money or time. And in most instances it will be a bit of both.
It is possible to have a very effective link building campaign entirely managed by yourself (or your staff), but you shouldn’t underestimate the time it will take. It is also, for many people, a very tedious, mind-numbing process.
Another possibility is to outsource the link building aspect of your business. For many businesses, the key to success is to outsource as much as possible, and concentrate energies on the business itself, rather than the marketing. If the business owner is able to delegate and outsource, then the business becomes much more scalable. And without scalability, your business will struggle to expand.
We intend to explain the concepts behind a successful link building strategy, where your links should be coming from, and how to outsource your campaign when the time is right for you.

What is a Number 1 Ranking on Google Worth?

Okay, this is kind of a trick question!

I don’t know how well you have done your keyword research, so it may be that you rank extremely well for “best and cheapest car washing service in Wisconsin”. I haven’t checked how many people search for this term, but my guess is not many.

So, in this instance, probably a number 1 ranking is worth, more-or-less, nothing. But for a moment, let’s pretend that this search term is “googled” 100 times a day. (Just bear with me on this…)

You probably know from your own experience, that most people click on the first website that shows up on the search engine results pages. The further down the results a website finds itself, the lower the chance of it being clicked on. So far, so obvious, right?

However, what if you are able to predict the amount of traffic you are likely to get from a different position? This would be a great help in deciding how much of your energy and money it is worth to get your website to rank better for a particular keyword.

As it happens, studies have been done, showing the comparative click-through rate you may be able to expect at different positions.

It turns out that high rankings are probably more critical than you realised.

42.13% of all searches result in the site that ranks number 1 getting clicked. Just 11.9% of the time will the second result be clicked. This tails off, until at #9 you can expect a click-through rate of just 2.7%, and at #10, 2.9%.

89.82% of searches will start and finish on page one, leaving page two with a tiny share of 10.18% of visitors.

It is very rare for people to search as far as page three, so if you are not on the first two pages of the Google results, you may as well not exist.

This information is rather powerful, as presuming you have a fair idea of the monetary value of a visitor, you can work out how much you can afford to invest in getting a better ranking. A move from 10th place to number 1 can potentially get you 14 times as many visitors.

So going back to our search term of “best and cheapest car washing service in Wisconsin”, with its fictional 100 searches a day, a number 1 ranking will get you 42 visits per day, as opposed to 2 or 3. This equates to 1263 visits per month, compared to just 87.

Say each visitor is worth 50 cents, then you know that a number 1 ranking will be worth $613 per month, compared to your previous $44.

So you now have a fairly good idea of how much you can realistically afford to spend on SEO. You can do all of this on spreadsheets, and if you have a number of sites this will save you some time.

Don’t forget that these figures are averages, and in many instances the click-through rate at different positions may be much higher or much lower. And don’t forget that it is possible for you to influence the click-through rate if you have compelling titles and page descriptions!

 

The New Google Algorithm Updates and What They Mean…

Google’s gone and done it again!

I’ve resisted writing about this until now, as I wanted to get an actual idea of how the update would affect different sites, rather than just speculate on what might happen. There’s been enough noise about this as it is.

A couple of weeks ago, we were given a forewarning that the Google spam team would be looking at overly SEO-optimised sites. At the time it wasn’t made clear what aspect of SEO we should be worried about. Would we be penalised for key-word stuffing, or would it be off-page stuff, by which we generally mean link-building?

As far as I can tell, it does appear to be only the links that they seem to be concerned with.

Link Networks

We already know of some link networks that have been completely de-valued/de-indexed. Some of these are private, and some of these are paid services.

The fall-out from this will probably be quite immense. Those SEOs who have relied too heavily on link networks will suffer, as will their clients’ sites.

And there has been a lot of talk about sites being de-indexed. Generally, this has not been the case. If your web page ranks a few pages behind where it did previously to the update, that is not a penalty, and you haven’t been de-indexed. In this case, it will probably be because the links that you have built to your site are not valued by Google in the way they were previously. In which case, be happy! This is fixable.

I have sites that have received a 40% drop in visitors; I have other sites where the traffic has doubled, and others which have stayed more-or-less static. But nothing de-indexed.

No drama! This is what we do as SEOs. We see that certain things we do don’t work as well anymore, and we adapt, and do what does work.

Link Diversity

The one lesson that we are taught is the need for link diversity. You simply can’t have all of your links coming from one source, even if it is cleverly made to look like many sources.

The links that are most valuable and the ones that will probably continue to be most highly valued are those from genuine authority sites, and those from the big social networks. These are some of the most difficult, and some of the most easy, links to get.

You should also have some directories, forum profiles etc linking to your site, along with the article marketing sites, RSS feeds, Web 2.0 sites, and as many different types of links as you can.

Crowing White Hat SEOs…

There are a number of SEOs out there in the Blogosphere, telling everyone that “I told you so.”  For one thing, this is not especially helpful (it never is!), and for a second thing, it’s not strictly true. Whiter-than-white SEOs will tell us that all unnatural links are a bad thing. Realistically, it takes a lot of resources, time, and contacts to create an SEO campaign with only natural links. Plus you do need a fairly interesting product. There are some products and services that are far to dull to go viral.

…and Whinging Internet Marketers

Many Internet Marketers are complaining that Google has it in for them. Google is destroying their business, etc etc etc

And it’s true.

If your strategy is to throw up (almost literally!) a few pages of content that could easily be got from wikipedia, and then get as many links pointing towards those pages with anchor text for the search terms you want to be found for…then of course Google doesn’t want your site at the top.

And when we say Google, we do, of course, mean all the search engines. It is in their interest to bury you, if you are producing crap. And they will. If Google was replaced by a newer model, would they feel that it was their duty to direct free traffic to your site? There duty will be to provide the best content for their users, so that they carry on using, so that advertiser keep advertising. Why would they let you break that?

There will be a few innocent victims each time one of these updates happen. But generally the situation will be recoverable.

Best Advice at the moment…?

  1. Don’t panic, unless you have genuinely been de-indexed.
  2. If you are using a link network service, think about stopping, at least until the dust settles.
  3. Carry on link building, but aim for quality, rather than quantity.
  4. Start working more on your Social Media presence.

Why SEO Moz is Such a Great Tool (& Why I Still Don’t Subscribe)

SEO Moz is currently offering a Free 30 Day Trial.

Although you may not be ready for the expense of a full subscription to SEO Moz, this free trial does offer you a great opportunity to find out everything they can do for you, first hand.

A word of warning, though. Although 30 days is longer than free trial offered by many companies, to try out everything they offer as a service or a tool in that time is quite intense. So, when you take on the Free Trial, make sure you are doing so when you actually have enough time to get to grips with what you are getting. It can be all too easy with free trials to try them, but because they are free, forget that they actually do have a real value.

To put it in crude terms, you are actually getting access to $99 worth of free stuff.

As long as you take the time to use it, otherwise it is worthless!

There are a number of very useful things SEO Moz can do for you.

  • It will calculate how easy/difficult it is to rank for a given keyword, and does this in a much more realistic and accurate way than most other tools. Where many tools just check the number of competing pages that use the keyword in the title, along with the number of backlinks, SEO Moz factors in the authority of the competition.
  • SEO Moz also can give you the backlinks of your competitors, and does this in a much more intelligent and useful manner than the late, lamented, Yahoo Site Explorer, by giving you information about the relative authority of the domains, and pages, providing those backlinks.
  • SEO Moz also tracks your ranking across search engine results pages, and sends reports to you/your clients.
  • A very thorough check of your on-page optimization is provided. This can be done to provide a direct comparison between your page and that of your competitors, so you can see how you should fare if all of the off-site stuff was equal. Worth trying out for this alone, as it can show room for improvement you may not have been aware of…

In a sense, the expense of subscribing to SEO Moz is a benefit if you are doing SEO work for clients, as it shows a very definite cost that you have. Whereas much of the time it is more desirable to give your clients reports with your own branding, there is a benefit to sending them a report, that, when they check if they could be doing this SEO thing themselves, costs $99 p.m to get.

PLUS, you get complete access to the forum and articles on the site, making it a complete SEO training course.

For what you get for your money, it is better value than most SEO resources.

So why do I not subscribe?

The only thing that puts me off is the fact that I do not use Google Analytics, anymore. If SEO Moz in the future decide to provide a way to connect with other, third-party analytics tools, you can bet I will be taking out my membership again! If you still use Analytics, then there is no good reason not to try out SEO Moz, who are currently offering a free 30 day trial, giving you full access to all of their tools, features and tutorials. Fancy giving them a whirl?

Access your Free 30 Day Trial here.

Alternatives to Google Analytics, and Why You Might Consider Them

There are a number of alternatives to Google Analytics. But which ones are best, and why should you be considering using them, anyway?

Removing Google Analytics from your site can be an effective way you can see an improvement in your rankings. I’ve done this with many of my sites, and am migrating the remainder over the next few days. Why am I doing this, and why should you do the same?

Put simply, Google has so many different ways of tracking your behaviour and that of your visitors, and while they do this with lots of excellent free tools like Analytics, the Chrome browser, gmail, Webmaster Tools, you do need to be mindful of the fact that they do this to collect information.

Sensitive Information

Information that will benefit their business.

I don’t blame them for that, I’m not one of the tin foil hat brigade who think that Google are evil and will sooner or later be reading our minds.

But I also don’t see why I need to be giving them information about keywords, conversions, visitor activity. This is sensitive information, that I need to know about, but I do not necessarily want Google to be getting information on my markets, and using it against me.

One thing that particular bothers me is the idea that Google will be able to monitor my bounce rate, or how engaged a visitor is on my site, and tweak search results pages accordingly. You should be bothered too…

If you are in the business of creating link networks, then this is another particularly good reason to cut Google’s apron strings, and switch to an alternative web analytics software. Google is not going to find it especially challenging to join the dots and work out that your link network belong to the same person, if they are all on the same Google Analytics account. The same applies, of cause, to Adsense, which is a good reason to think about removing it and possibly replacing it with something that pays better anyway!

So, which are the best analytics alternatives?

You probably expect me to suggest a paid alternative, from which I will get paid a juicy commission! And there are some great paid ones, which can really give you a staggering level of data.

But actually, in my view, for most people’s purposes, free tools like Piwik are perfectly capable of doing everything that Google Analytics does, and then some!

Open Web Analytics is good, also, and does a nifty Click Heat Map thing.

But in terms of usability, and a great GUI, Piwik gets my vote.

Some Benefits to using Piwik instead of Google Analytics

  • Use it for unlimited sites!
  • All of the data is held on your server. No third party has access to your information.
  • But if you want to give someone access, you can set levels of permission…
  • Another thing that I really like is that it tells you the position your site was in the visitor’s country for keywords that got you found!
  • Setting up goals is much more user-friendly as well.
  • You can schedule daily, weekly or monthly reports to be emailed to yourself, or your clients, in a PDF or HTML format.
  • And because it is in real time, you can get up to the minute information, rather than the time-lag that GA gives you.
  • Last but not least, it helps you to minimise footprints!

As far as I am concerned, I’ve got literally no idea why I didn’t make the switch sooner. Set-up took me a little figuring out, as I am not the most technically-minded sort, and it is a pain-in-the-arse to try to work out for Windows Hosting, but the benefits speak for themselves.

Anyway, why not give it a go? Get Piwik Analytics here…

Free SEO Tools

It is possible to spend a small fortune on SEO tools. There is always a new toy getting sold that is supposed to be helpful or even essentialBut if you do a little digging, there are some great programs that will do your keyword research for you, analyse a niche to find out how competitive the keywords are, and also track your ranking and backlinks.

Here’s a few free SEO tools that I like to use:

Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool (of cause!)

SEO Quake Browser Addon

Yahoo Site Explorer *

Traffic Travis (Free Version)

SEO Site Tools (another browser addon)

Ask.com

Google.com

*Yahoo Site Explorer no longer exists. A shame, and many of us used it, even though its functionality was naturally not as good as some of the paid tools. There are some awesome alternatives, however, that I had been using for some time prior to the long-threatened end of Site Explorer! I’ll compare them for you later…

 

Link Building using Web 2.0 Sites

This technique is considered by some to be a little dubious, but it still works, is free, and quite quick to do.

A Web 2.0 site is essentially one that allows, and encourages user-generated content. You may have heard that this is becoming very much the rage:)

Anyway, lots of these sites also have a very high page rank and authority with the search engines, even if they do seem to be somewhat full of spam! This, and the fact that they often make do follow keyworded links possible, make them an excellent place to build some effective links. So, for the moment, at least, ignore anyone who tells you that they are not effective.

Some of these you can build mini-sites, and in fact they don’t even need to be mini-ones, as you can often just keep on adding pages as much as you like. The potential is there to actually create an authority site, if that was your wish.

However, since any work you do on these platforms is going to be work on a site you don’t actually control, that can be sold, and that could potentially delete your content on a whim, it is not recommended to put too much time and energy into it. Put the real graft into your own properties, and use these simply to bolster your link building activities.

Here’s a list of some Web 2.0 properties that you can use for your links:

  • Blogspot.com
  • Webs.com
  • Hubpages
  • Squidoo
  • Tumblr
  • WordPress
  • Zimbio
  • Weebly
  • Wetpaint
  • Tripod
  • Wikispaces
  • Vox
  • Friendster
  • Ning
  • Xanga

…and many more…

The idea is not to create too much work for yourself with this. Use some outsourced or throw-away articles, get some links with your anchor text pointing  at your site, and also link these Web 2.0 properties together, using a combination of traditional text links, RSS feeds and pictures. It wants to look fairly natural; don’t have everything linked up! You certainly don’t want to go down the road of link wheels!

Finally, since these will mostly be hosted on subdomains, you can give those that are a bit of high powered link-love using the Tumblr backlink trick.

Don’t rely entirely on this as your only link building strategy, it should only be attempted as small part of a much bigger strategy.

Share your favourite Web 2.0 sites…

 

RSS Plug-in for Google Chrome

RSS feeds are extremely useful for SEO.

Fact.

If you are not using them, you should be!

Although “real” people don’t tend to use them very much, Google loves them. RSS feeds help to get your site’s pages indexed quicker, so your site should have one. If it is a WordPress site like this one, then RSS feeds are a default setting, which is one of the reasons WordPress is so good.

But if you are building “parasite” sites, like many of us do, to get extra links, then you will want to get those sites quickly found, otherwise your links are worthless. Again, RSS feeds are very useful for this, but, on many of the Web 2.0 sites that you will be creating these parasite sites, finding where to get the URL for your RSS can be, how shall we say, not very intuitive.

If you are using the Google Chrome browser, you will not have the little RSS icon that appears in your address bar when it detects an RSS feed as a default. You can however easily install a plug-in so that you will not waste so much time as I have trying to find those pesky feeds!

Here’s where to go

The same now incidently applies to Firefox. Although it used to provide an icon to show you that a feed had been detected, that is no longer the case, but you can get the plug-in here

 

No idea why these stopped being standard in the first place, but I hope they save a bit of time for you, and you find these addons as useful as I have!

And now that you have got them, get using them and reap the SEO benefits!

(Come back later for an explanation of how to get the most benefit from RSS!)

 

Why You Should Stop Compulsively Tracking Your Google Ranking!

Why you should minimise the time you spend checking the Search Engine Results Pages to See How Your Site is Ranking.

We all find ourselves doing it. We do it for our own sites, and we may do it for our clients’ sites, as well.

But this type of OCD is detrimental to your site’s success, in more than one way.

Purely from a time-management perspective, I’m sure your time can be better spent in other ways. If you spend ten to fifteen minutes a day checking how a site is ranking for its different keywords, then that’s an hour a week, easily, that you could have spent doing something more constructive.

As a rule of thumb, any job that you would not consider paying real money for someone else to do, if money was no object, is a non-job, one that you should stop immediately. Learning to put a monetary value to your own time can be very effective for eliminating the pointless tasks that we often find ourselves doing.

Rank tracking is a hard habit to break for many of us, so start by limiting yourself to once per week, and later reduce this job to once per month. Reducing this wasteful activity to once a month can create an extra four hours or more. How many posts/articles can you create with that extra time? How many new links? How many projects can you outsource?

But there is another reason why obsessive rank tracking is unintentionally sabotaging your business.

Think about how it looks to Google.

You type in the keyword you are hoping to rank for. You check the first page of results, and maybe a few more pages, until to get to your site. And then what? You don’t click on your site. Maybe you try a second query. What does this tell Google? It tells Google that your site, along with the other sites appearing in the results, is not a great match for the keyword you typed in.

If your search term only gets twenty searches a day, then by accident you’ve lowered your click-through rate quite significantly. The search engines do notice these things, and it is a metric they use to determine rankings.

On  the other hand, perhaps you decide to click through to your site. If you “bounce”, or leave the site after a very short time, that again tells Google that your site is not the best match for your targeted keyword.

Finally, if you are doing this too much, then Google will detect what it terms “unusual activity from your network”. This may be considered to be the use of automated tools, which are against Google’s terms of service. Google could easily connect your l0cation with your sites, as you are probably using gmail, webmaster tools, analytics, adsense etc from the same location. There are unlikely to be serious repercussions for you, but it is something to be aware of.

So break this habit right now, and find a better use of your time!

Blog Commenting – Giving Your Backlinks a Boost

Here’s a very quick thing you can do to boost the power of the backlinks you have had approved on blogs. Bookmarking and sharing.

As webmasters, we can be a bit too reluctant to do anything that might help someone else’s website rank better, even if it is in a completely separate niche.

But by doing this routinely, there are three benefits:

  • The blog owner will appreciate the extra authority that their site will get from you sharing their content. This in turn may benefit you if in the future you are leaving a comment on their site, and it’s a bit on the thin side. They may give you the benefit of the doubt.
  • But, more importantly, in SEO terms, you are boosting the power of your link from their page, and making sure that your link gets indexed by the search engines quicker. (I always find it frustrating when I have placed a nice link, and it doesn’t get crawled by the search engines.)
  • It also means that your Twitter Feed/Facebook page will not appear only full of self-serving links. (But it will be, kind of…)
Do you need any more reasons to start doing this?
Where the blog owner has included some buttons to encourage sharing, eg the Sexy Bookmarks that I use on this site, this makes it very easy to share on Facebook, Twitter etc but since not all sites bother with these, I recommend the Shareaholic addon for your browser. The Shareaholic addon can be customised to use just the bookmarking and Web 2.0 sites that you use, so it is perfect both for bookmarking all of your own webpages and boosting your backlinks.
Get sharing, people…

Getting a Free High PR Do Follow Backlink from Tumblr

There are plenty of sites that you can rent or buy a high PR backlink from, but this can get expensive pretty quickly.

At around $60 – $150 per month on average for a link that will in any way improve your rankings, you’d better hope that your niche is profitable enough to sustain the costs, and that your site converts well enough to justify them.

I’m not knocking paid backlinks; they can be a valuable way of getting your site to the top of the Google results pages, as long as it’s done discreetly. But we don’t all have the budget for this, and let’s face it, I’m sure even the most ardent fan of paid backlinks will agree with me that that if you can get a high PR backlink, quickly, and free, then it is almost rude not to!

There are some tricks for getting a high PR, do follow backlinks in minutes, completely for free. So I recommend you give this a try.

Tumblr is one of those sites that makes it very easy indeed to get those quality backlinks that your online success often depends on.

Getting a backlink from Tumblr is a well-known strategy. Tumblr has been around for a long while, and is a trusted website. But generally, the links are not really worth that much to the search engines, unfortunately.

While Tumblr’s Page Rank on its homepage is 8, at the time of writing, and on SEOMoz has a domain authority of 88 (my preferred metric!), the links you generate by the normal techniques will not have anywhere near this level of power.

But it is possible to get a great link, with your chosen anchor text, from them, using a slightly different method…

 

Let’s start.

Have an email address ready that you haven’t already used on their site. You will need a new email address for every keyword/site you want to promote.

Hopefully you already know what keywords you are trying to target. They will have to be ones that your homepage is optimised for, as this backlink method is no good for deep links to internal pages.

On the Tumblr homepage, enter an real email address, as you will be required to verify it.

Add your chosen password, and in the URL box, you do not put your domain URL; but instead put the keyword that you are trying to rank for. If your keyword is made from multiple words, that’s fine, but it has to be separated using dashes, not spaces. (Dashes are fine for search engine purposes, as you may know from domain name buying.)

Tumblr creates a subdomain for that URL, which is where most people try to place their links. But these will not have great value, unless of cause you wish to do a link building campaign for it. Why would you do that; it’s someone else’s site…

 

Instead:

  • Assuming your subdomain name (ie your keyword) is not already taken, after you have proven you are a real human being, and after you have verified your email address, go to the “text” button, to create your first post.

Here, you can basically write any old shite. But, assuming you are trying to create a bit of a brand for yourself – you should be! – then put something at least half-way decent.

  • Now, go to “customize appearance”, and pick a theme. By all means, if you want, buy a “paid theme”. I shan’t be doing that, however…
  • Save settings, and then go to “settings”.

This will give you the option to choose custom domain. And this is what this is all about. You don’t get this option, if you don’t customize appearance, so don’t skip that step.

  • Where you put your custom domain, put your homepage address, instead of the subdomain on tumblr that is the default setting. Leave out any slashes, so http://yoursite/ becomes yoursite.com

Ignore this warning, if you see it:

Status of “yoursite.com”

This domain’s A-record is not pointing to Tumblr. It is currently set to “xx.xx.xx.xx”.

Please contact your domain registrar for support. Our staff is absolutely unable to assist with DNS configuration.

 

From this point, you may or may not want to send your tumblr posts to twitter, and you probably will(!) want search engines to index your blog, so definitely leave that box ticked.

Save preferences and you are almost there…but you still haven’t got those high PR links I was talking about.

And you’ll get those by posting on high Page Rank pages within Tumblr. For this, you will need SEOQuake addon, which is available for Chrome and Firefox. If you are not already using this, WTF, why not? It’s free, by the way…

Once you have your add-on enabled, copy and paste into google the following:

site:tumblr.com “liked this”

This is one of those lovely, more advanced Google searches that gift you with the best google results for backlinks.

Click the SEOQuake icon (if it is not enabled, you will need to refresh the Google results), and now you can rearrange the order of Google’s results in order of Page Rank.

Obviously, you will now be picking the juiciest, gnarliest highest PR pages to get your links from…

Go to the Tumblr page you have chosen for your link, and click the heart icon, to “like” the page. The heart icon may be at the top or bottom of the page, but once selected (while signed into Tumblr) will turn red once selected.

Instantly, this will turn into a link for your site! Just refresh the page, and check the list of people who liked the page, and you should see yourself right at the top, with a beautiful, keyworded, do follow, high PR link right to your home page.

…And to think you might have paid $1000 a year for a similar quality link from a link broker…

Alexa Traffic Rank – How Important Is It?

If you do not know what Alexa rank is, you can be easily forgiven!

It is, in many ways, meaningless even to those who understand what it is.

The Alexa traffic rank is a number assigned to a site, on the basis of how much traffic it receives. Not all traffic though.

Alexa rank is calculated on the basis of visits by people who have the Alexa tool bar installed on their browser. In a nut-shell the lower the number, the better your Alexa rank is. But, clearly, since most people do not know what Alexa is or does, let alone have any wish to install a tool bar that tracks their visits to website to create statistics, the information created as a result will be based on a very small population of the internet-using public.

In fact, it is safe to say, I think, that virtually all of the people using the tool bar will be involved, at some level, in IT or internet marketing.

To say the least, this does skew the results, somewhat.

For instance, I have a small cosmetic surgery information site. Lots of its visitors, are, as you might expect, looking for information about breast implants and the like. So it would follow that a fair proportion of the visitors are likely to be female.

Instead, according to my Alexa stats, the demographic is overwhelmingly male.

Could this be due to the fact that many of my competitors are visiting, to see my site, and why I may be out-ranking them? Or borrowing content? IT and Internet Marketing are extremely male-dominated, so if so, that would explain why the stats are so unconvincing.

Because so many Alexa tool bar users are in the field of internet marketing, and are constantly researching niches, competitors etc, bounce rates may be higher, or indeed lower, than with “genuine” search engine visitors.

If your website is in the IT/Marketing niche, you may find that the information gleaned from Alexa is more worthwhile, but even then, it can be quite easily manipulated.

For instance, with the tool bar installed and enabled, try visiting your site several times a day, and watch your improvement in rankings.

Another way is to leave blog comments with a link to your URL. Since it is largely webmasters and internet marketers who will follow these links, just out of curiosity, and because they are more likely to have the tool bar installed, this can also give the impression of a larger number of visitors than is actually the case.

Why is Alexa rank important?

Well, as you see, it isn’t really. But it is one metric, by which others can judge you. Like Google Page Rank, we know we shouldn’t care. But there are times when these kinds of metric are all-important.

If you were planning to buy a website, two of the things you would definitely look at would be the Alexa rank and the Google Page Rank. You wouldn’t have access to the detailed analytics, so you need some information to decide if a purchase is worth your while. These would not be the only factors, but they would be among the first to help you decide!

Another instance where a better Alexa ranking may be desirable is if you are doing SEO work for a client. You may have improved traffic, helped the site owner to get better conversions, using more targeted buyer keywords, and improved their on-page SEO.

But then, they read somewhere on the internet about Alexa ranks, and ask you why their Alexa rank is still mediocre.

In exactly the way that Google Page Rank is important because it is perceived as important, Alexa traffic rank still does have its place, and we would be foolish to ignore it.

I can’t remember where I read this, but it bears repeating: perception is a metric, too.