Finally got a few ideas down for entries, been a bit slow getting them out of the box. I went to the Scary SEO conference in October though, and it really got me thinking again(been so insanely busy lately I’ve hardly had time to just sit and think). So today we’re going to cover site structures/elements, and how to arrange them to milk the internet for as many links as possible using them. This is going to be a surprisingly whitehat post methinks, but I’ll add in some odd tricks to fill my shady quota. Massive thanks to Jeff Quipp for getting me to take Web 2.0 seriously.
No matter how pretty your commercial site is, people are not going to be inclined to do that true *organic* link that we so desire. By building out non-commercial(read: Web 2.0) aspects of it, we can increase the likelihood of links. With a little bit of thought, we can use those to funnel their respective link juice into our mothership(commercial) site. There’s also a few off-site sites that we can build that would survive nearly any manual review, but can overtime get some decent power behind them.
The Commercial Site
Ok. So purchased links to commercial sites always stand out because in reality, people don’t find a miscellanious productX store to link to when they mention productX. So what we’re going to do is keep the homepage to having strictly defensible links. Links that are not questionable, (rarely if ever) purchased, and are just generally high quality. We’re setting it up this way because we’re not trying to drive the homepage up with external links: of all the pages on a site it has probably the least amount of plausible deniability. For it think high quality directories, press releases/media mentions(if possible), perhaps a few discussions of it around misc. related messageboards, nothing heavy duty at all.
A few basic articles linked to from the homepage/menu constantly. These are going to be targetted to top search terms, generally answering a specific question. Think of them as the sub-keywords we’re going after. More content on these is better, since we’re going to be driving a substantial amount of our link juice to these at the expense of a lot of other pages(so we want to get some serious longtail action going). Get your <h#> tags under control, and really optimize these pages.
That’s right folks. The articles aren’t the end of the content nightmare. The blog is going to be the primary source of links. That said, we’re going to keep it relatively weak itself. It can be used to weigh in on controversy, or if you have a commercial-friendly niche, can be used for linkbait. Sound boring? Not done yet.
Strip down the theme so it has as few internal links as possible. Essentially a link to the blog homepage, some nofollowed categories, then the “Articles” mentioned above, and of course your home page. Outbound links are acceptable, but this is going to try and horde and target the link juice flow internally, using as little nofollow as possible hopefully. This means “next/previous post”, etc all is a no go. Obviously you do have to factor in (bleh) user experience, but try and maintain a simple blog structure if possible. Any post that wishes to survive and rank can do so on it’s own.
Optionally, you can have the blog show a couple “hot” entries or something like that, if you want to cash in on some current controversy within the topic.
People like pictures. Basic fact, true, and can be applied anywhere. Screw flickr, put your own gallery on your own domain, and take the link juice yourself. Don’t disable hotlinking, and watermark the images. Prepare for some serious bandwidth damage, but it’s worth it. Social icons, pre-prepared text to link and display the image(both html/bbcode), the works. Don’t just throw any old images up here. If you don’t have any of your own and don’t mind scraping, do so(be prepared to take down images if requested though: it will happen).
Most niches have a weakness for some kind of image. Stoner/Marijuana sites for example, will almost always have a image gallery(sometimes with voting) for different buds/plants. The ever-dirty “Make Money Online” niche seems to have a check fetish. You get the idea. This is another section of the site that is driving juice, not trying to rank itself(though image search can be fan-tastic when properly handled).
If you’re really feeling masochistic(this requires real administration) you can even set up an image host for others in your niche(Niche-flickr kind of). Just make sure you actually watch what’s going up there to an extent. Spam e-mailers and kiddy porn junkies do so love free image hosts.
This is one of the largely overlooked elements in link building.The application doesn’t even have to be good. It can be random and pointless even. Why? Because you can still get accepted on a bunch of different download sites, and you get links. The more platforms you port it to, the more places you can submit it to, and the more links you get. Think about it. You write a piece of software, and pay a bit of cash to get a PC/Mac/Linux version, an IPhone version, a php version, maybe even a stripped down open source version.
That opens up a bunch of different niche sites you could never get a link from otherwise, that will gladly(and normally freely) give you a link simply for a piece of software. Sticking to the iBeer example(linked to as “random and pointless”), it has managed to get over 2000 links and it’s only available on the iPhone. Or for a more useful script, the SEOBook keyword tool, which has over 3000 links now. Just make sure there’s some reason to link to your actual site, and not just the executable. FAQs, installation guides, anything like that is tremendously useful.
The Off-Site Linkbait Blog
Having issues with linkbait due to a blatantly commercial domain? Pick up a new, non-commercial domain for it. 301 redirect it after a given amount of time to a page on your real site, with the content still in place. SearchEnginePeople has a redirect plugin for wordpress that can let you schedule when it’s time to redirect each post over.
The Employee (Fake or Real) Blog
If you have employees, get them set up with personal blogs. If not, make fake employees and just pay someone to update the blogs. These don’t have to pass much juice(it’s hard to get links into them) but can be used as links that are normally above question. Put them on different IPs if possible.
Adding a Bit of Shadiness
- The real beauty of all these different features is that they get so much more latitude than a flat commercial homepage in terms of the links they can get.
- Linkbait for example, can be dropped in dozens of places under different names or through different associates and it looks like a legitimate viral effect.
- Imagehosts and gallerys can both be watermarked and used by paid posters in different forums(find people actually interested in the topic; not a clueless pro-poster). The image provides the hotlink, the watermark gets the site name out.
Ok. So no, I’m not going soft on everyone (I surprised myself as I typed the words “user experience”), but more and more the trick is becoming how to look like the cleanest site in a niche, while putting in the minimum amount of time. The elements I’ve described above get much more latitude, and can have nearly any BH tactic you want(except perhaps cloaking) applied to them in an intelligent way, and they will survive much longer than any other method I’ve seen so far.