Sunday, April 26, 2009

High Value Link Building: What to Do and More Importantly, What Not To?

On the chart of a website promotional plan, link building (read high value link building) comes second to no other strategy. Long term success to your website is relative to the value of the backlinks you obtain from reputed websites, but then the big question- how do you actually go about obtaining these links?

What to do to obtain high value links?
  • Set the right targets: You can’t just blindly aim at the clouds, but if you aim accurately and wisely, you might very well shoot the stars down! Setting the right targets needs lot of research work to be done beforehand. You need to know your current position and you should envisage a futuristic position for yourself too. Say, if your competitor has a dozen of ‘high-on-value’ links from reputed sites, you can’t just catch forty winks after you’ve fetched a couple of equally valuable links. You need a couple of dozens, don’t you? So, plan wisely and have a more subjective definition of your ‘targets’.
  • Recognize the authorities or reputed sites: This is not going to be simple and advice from other peers on this matter
can be of great help. Here are, few possible consideration:
  1. Leading authorities in your space: Lookout for companies, not necessarily your competitors, but other respectable independent authorities in your space.
  2. Backlink competitors: Target the domains with the highest pagerank linked to them.
  3. Media: Columnists/ eminent media persons anyone near you in the cyber space?
  • Content strategy: Plan out a content strategy once you’ve found out your targets. Devise a more individual or target-specific strategy. What would attract them or interest them in your website? Obviously, they aren’t going to link your website if you are of no use to them or their users! The content strategy or plan will be dependent on your goals or targets and the diversity of the authorities you are intending to pursue. Assemble your best cards together and play them rightly, something similar to a marketing tool package should get you there.
  • Finally, the contact content: Again, be more target-specific. Let them know you have been through their website with utmost concern and you really want yourself linked with them. Be as creative as possible and expressive. Remember, this is the beginning of what might possibly be a long term relationship (a profitable one).
What not to do?
  • Do not buy in the easily available spam links or do not link yourself to such websites either (it might result in the downfall of your Pageranks). A single link from a reputed website is a hundredfold worthier than 1000 of spam links (too much of numbers, huh?)
  • Do not generate mass emails to all the target websites, no matter how good you are in camouflaging them as customized ones. Talk one-to-one for better relationships (I know this doesn’t quite work after marriage though!).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Flickr shuns the usage of photos for SEO!

This should be bad news to all the SEO buffs, but being informative about the bad news is good news, isn’t it? Flickr, as we are aware of is the in-vogue photo sharing website. Interestingly, the usage of flickr was recommended as one of the tricks of the trade called SEO.

How did it work? Well, the point was simple. You don’t need to have a hawk’s eye to observe that youtube videos and flickr photos do prop up in search results. So, there you go? A potential chance of getting higher pageranks and web visits! This aspect of flickr was noticed by many of the SEO specialists and it soon became a vital ingredient in many of the SEO related discussions, lectures and recommendations.

This recommendation of using flickr extensively would usually go by the tagline ‘image optimization’. The steps to be followed were quite simple in nature too. All one needed to do is to open a flickr account (it’s free, so that isn’t a big deal). Next, the person needed to find out or click by himself or herself and upload unique and interesting photos to the flickr account. Again the keyword research spells its shadow here. Better headings (read keyword optimized headings) and descriptions are always beneficial. Basically, every photo that’s put up on the filckr account is its own web page- a web page with a title, a tag and a description. When the search engine scans for various websites for relevant keywords, the title, tags and description of the flickr account photos too are taken into account and thus, the photo may find itself a good position in the search results attracting good number of visitors and links. Further, the user could enhance his or her chances by linking back the photo to his or website. Sharing of these photos through social networking sites and through other relevant websites was another good way of marketing. Flickr photo submission to directories and related websites was treated like submission of HTML pages. So to say, flickr, which was supposed to be ‘personal’ platform for sharing of photos, soon went on to become a ‘business’ platform for SEO!

Great idea indeed! Unfortunately (for some), the idea won’t work anymore. Flickr has now decided to crack down the usage of its account for such business practices, a step they believe will help make flickr a cleaner place! A letter saying ‘usage of flickr for selling products or services will lead into termination of your account’ was all that many of the SEO guys got in reply when they contacted for the reason behind the sudden axing of their account! So you see, not all on the internet go easy with guidelines and terms and services. All the SEO conferences will now have no ‘image optimization’ slides and perhaps, its one count down on the number of SEO tactics until, of course, the SEO guys figure out a new method!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

SEO outing: Double standards!

The SEO outing strategy is based on a strong belief that manipulation of SEO is harmful and deteriorates the quality of the search engine. On the face of it, these thoughts are buyable but on second thoughts, isn’t the entire concept of media formulated to manipulate and garner attention (that’s how they make money!).

What’s hot- sells!!

Media follows a simple rule of selling what’s hot, be it any form of media- T.V, newspapers etc. The flowchart to success is quite simple too- create a bubble (or take an existing one) then promote it through media channels, make your gains and then hunt for the next bubble, most probably larger than the last one! Of late, we saw the mortgage fraud bubble taking place of the tech bubble. Soon, the bubble of mortgage fraud will see itself losing sheen to something else (say, green energy or counter-terrorism!).

Media pandering isn’t something unknown to you and me. It’s the second nature of media to make things seem more important than it actually is. Further, to flow with the tide is innate with media. Take for example, the same ones who show stats on mortgage fraud that causes panic and suggest you to cut down expenses, secure your finances etc were suggesting you to opt for a second mortgage, take advantage of the loans and credit cards few years back!

Advertisers’ interests top the priority list!

FOX news fired few of its reporters for a quite weird reason of wanting to report the potential link between cancer and rBGH. Well, the actual reason behind the firing of the reporters was that if the beans were spilled, it would have led to a cut down of rBGH ads! Yes, this is shockingly low media standards!! However, not all belong to the same standards. Some biggies like Google try to strike a balance (notice the usage of ‘try’) between advertisers and ‘ethics’ and this can be bluntly attributed to the enormous revenue they make!

Channels of misinformation

There are numerous ways of dressing up misinformation:
  • Hyped public relation- Google actually came out by initially that page ranks leveraged the unique democratic structure of the web! Why couldn’t they just say it was an indigenous algorithm that’s supposed to mechanically calculate and assign relative rankings to each website?
  • Sensationalism and distortions: Sensationalism works and so does some flashy images and fancy lines! Further, what about billboards with scantily dressed models or magazine page cover alike?
  • Reductionism, lies, politics, and capitalism: Better not speak much about this topic; coz its existence is an open secret and talking about it seems like prattling.
Even governments manipulate the media. Take for example, the biggest economy of the world U.S. twiddling with information regarding the Iraq war or of inside trading prior to the credit crunch!

So, why are SEO techniques like selling links considered a taboo? At least it isn’t as harmful as lying! People need to carry out a living and thus, they practice some tricky SEO techniques for gaining profits. The game’s been played smartly not by harming others, so even if it isn’t fair it isn’t completely unfair either. SEO outing to some websites by Google seems foolish coz even they hire SEO’s for search engines and what about their ads being the favorite hotspot of spammers and illegal websites?! It’s time we shunned the double standards of SEO outing!

Monday, April 06, 2009

15 Link building tactics to market your website effectively!

Link building plays a pivotal role in marketing your website and thus, it becomes more than just necessary for you to play your cards smartly with the use of the right tactics. Make yourself aware of the effective link building tactics to market your website by reading on:
  1. Are you aware that robots.txt and meta-nonindex will block the search engine bots from indexing specific sections of your website? Do keep a track of the people visiting these sections of your website. Contact their webmasters and provide them with a URL to another relevant page of your website.
  2. Grammatical errors, spelling blunders and poor English are the biggest turn-off of netizens. Let your articles be free of all those and pleasure the reader rather than exasperating him/her.
  3. Do not forget to leave comments on the blogs/websites/communities you visit. Just type few lines of frank opinion about the website or blog- it would just consume a minute extra but thetime is worth it at the end!
  4. Do create a ‘link to us’ page and update it regularly. It’ll ease the way other websites can link to you (many bloggers do not go out of the way to link to some website unless it’s damn necessary!).
  5. Error 404!! We all know what a letdown it is! Monitor the 404 statistics and rectify it by providing a working URL to the respective webmasters.
  6. Constant optimization of your links by requesting the webmasters to change the ‘click here’ hyperlink to a hyperlink containing relevant keywords will make it more enticing to visits.
  7. Advertising the sorted after keywords by using various search engine advertising programs should be the preceding step before you canalize the targeted traffic into links!
  8. Keep in good contact with the high traffic generating websites. Use Google Adwords content network to figure out which websites generate huge traffic and conversions.
  9. Affiliating with other websites (useful ones) should be a profitable trade. Similarly affiliate yourself to other upcoming good websites too.
  10. Find out the websites that mention your personal name or URL and business name or URL but is not yet linked to your website. Further, just link them to your website! Yahoo can be of great help in this task.
  11. Use breadcrumbs- its one of the good internal linking tools that can be used for anchor differentiation and usability.
  12. Ensure a smooth navigation persists throughout your website. You could equip your website with text-based navigation or image based navigation (supported by appropriate alt attributes).
  13. Use a sitemap as it facilitates easier navigation to the users and is found to be useful for search engines.
  14. Optimize the usage of in-content links. They are found to have a higher click through rate given in the relevant surrounding text or image.
  15. Submit your URL’s to the right place- high quality niche directories, social media websites, general directories, RSS feeds to RSS directories, blog directories, CSS directories (to flaunt a good design), use ezinearticles and twitter to publicize posts/articles etc.