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By Brad Callen

Longterm Strategies For


Getting And Keeping
A Top Search Engine Ranking...
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents..................................................................................................................................................... 3
0 Introduction ........................................................................................................................................................ 7
1 The SEO Mindset ............................................................................................................................................. 9
What is SEO? ...................................................................................................................................................... 9
What is NOT SEO? .............................................................................................................................................. 9
Understand How Search Engines Work ............................................................................................................ 10
Customize Your SEO Strategy ........................................................................................................................... 10
Think Long Term .................................................................................................................................................11
Think For Yourself .............................................................................................................................................. 12
Create A System ................................................................................................................................................ 12
Prioritize Your Work ........................................................................................................................................... 13
Rankings Are NOT Everything! .......................................................................................................................... 13
Review ............................................................................................................................................................... 14
2 Understanding Search Engines ................................................................................................................... 16
The Search Engine Index ................................................................................................................................. 17
The Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) ..................................................................................................... 19
What Google Wants ........................................................................................................................................... 21
Yahoo, MSN, etc. ............................................................................................................................................... 23
Google vs Yahoo vs MSN .................................................................................................................................. 24
Tracking Search Engine News ........................................................................................................................... 26
3 Search Engine Ranking Factors .................................................................................................................. 27
Ask The Forgotten Search Engine .................................................................................................................. 27
Google Sandbox Time-Based Quality Indicators ............................................................................................ 28
Google PageRank Still Important.................................................................................................................... 29
On-Page Ranking Factors ................................................................................................................................. 29
Site-based Ranking Factors............................................................................................................................... 31
Link-Based Ranking Factors .............................................................................................................................. 33
4 Your SEO Master Plan ................................................................................................................................... 37
Part 1: Doing Research...................................................................................................................................... 37
Part 2: Building / Optimizing Your Site ............................................................................................................... 38
Part 3: Site Launch ............................................................................................................................................ 38
Part 4: Long Term SEO ...................................................................................................................................... 38
5 Setting Goals ................................................................................................................................................. 40
What Is Your Websites Purpose? ...................................................................................................................... 40
Who is your target audience? ............................................................................................................................ 41
What Does Your Site Do? .................................................................................................................................. 42
4
Existing Site Analysis ......................................................................................................................................... 43
Building a New Site ............................................................................................................................................ 44
Success Objectives and Tracking Progress....................................................................................................... 44
6 Keyword Research ........................................................................................................................................ 45
Build Your Keyword List ..................................................................................................................................... 45
Using Keyword Research Tools ......................................................................................................................... 47
Evaluate Keywords ............................................................................................................................................ 56
Shortlist Keywords ............................................................................................................................................. 61
7 Competitive Analysis .................................................................................................................................... 62
Competitive Analysis Overview .......................................................................................................................... 62
Your Top Competitors......................................................................................................................................... 65
Competitor SEO Checklist ................................................................................................................................. 66
On-Page Factors................................................................................................................................................ 68
Site Factors ........................................................................................................................................................ 68
Backlinks Research ........................................................................................................................................... 69
Summary ............................................................................................................................................................ 71
8 Keywords and Site Content .......................................................................................................................... 72
The Search Engine View ................................................................................................................................... 72
Matching Keywords to Site Pages ..................................................................................................................... 72
SEO Copywriting................................................................................................................................................ 74
Optimizing Site Content on Existing Sites.......................................................................................................... 74
9 On-Page SEO ................................................................................................................................................. 75
Title Tags ............................................................................................................................................................ 76
Meta Tags .......................................................................................................................................................... 79
Keyword Usage.................................................................................................................................................. 80
Avoid Duplicate Content .................................................................................................................................... 81
Other On-Page SEO Factors ............................................................................................................................. 82
10 Site Architecture .......................................................................................................................................... 83
URL Structure .................................................................................................................................................... 83
Sitemaps ............................................................................................................................................................ 84
Internal Linking................................................................................................................................................... 85
11 Link Building Basics ................................................................................................................................... 88
Trust and Links ................................................................................................................................................ 88
Authority and Links ............................................................................................................................................ 89
Link Popularity ................................................................................................................................................... 89
Link Evaluation................................................................................................................................................... 90
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12 Site Launch Links ........................................................................................................................................ 94
Trusted Directories ............................................................................................................................................. 95
Highly Trusted Websites .................................................................................................................................... 97
13 Link Sources ................................................................................................................................................ 98
Directories .......................................................................................................................................................... 98
Paid Links / Reviews ........................................................................................................................................ 100
Article Submissions / Guest Blogging .............................................................................................................. 102
Link Requests .................................................................................................................................................. 103
Link-Worthy Content ........................................................................................................................................ 103
Community-based Sites (Profles / Content) .................................................................................................... 104
Industry News Blogs ........................................................................................................................................ 105
Press Releases ................................................................................................................................................ 106
Contests / Free stuff ......................................................................................................................................... 107
Quality Web Design ......................................................................................................................................... 107
Blogging Conversations ................................................................................................................................... 108
Social Media Marketing.................................................................................................................................... 108
14 Finding Potential Link Partners ................................................................................................................111
Directories ......................................................................................................................................................... 111
Search Engines.................................................................................................................................................112
Backlinks Analysis.............................................................................................................................................113
Topical Research ..............................................................................................................................................114
Local Search .....................................................................................................................................................114
15 Link Valuation .............................................................................................................................................116
Quality Content / Providing Value .....................................................................................................................116
Backlinks Analysis.............................................................................................................................................116
Outbound links ..................................................................................................................................................117
Site Topic ..........................................................................................................................................................117
Site Authority .....................................................................................................................................................118
Link Format & Destination.................................................................................................................................118
Value / Competition in niche .............................................................................................................................118
Traffc Value ......................................................................................................................................................119
Link Popularity / PageRank...............................................................................................................................119
Site Age.............................................................................................................................................................119
16 Link Worthy Content ................................................................................................................................. 120
What is Link-Worthy Content? ......................................................................................................................... 120
Quality .............................................................................................................................................................. 121
Originality ......................................................................................................................................................... 122
Usefulness ....................................................................................................................................................... 123
Timelessness ................................................................................................................................................... 123
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17 Campaign Tracking ................................................................................................................................... 124
Site Analytics and Search Marketing ............................................................................................................... 124
Tracking Search Engine Rankings ................................................................................................................... 125
Tuning Your Search Marketing Campaign ....................................................................................................... 125
18 In Closing... ................................................................................................................................................ 127
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0 Introduction
People often ask:
What can this product / e-book / service do for me?
The SEO Mindset is a book on how to bring targeted traffic in from search engines on a long-term, consistent
basis. Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important component of any online business strategy, and this
book will show you the most effective methods to dominate search engine rankings for any niche or set of
keywords.
It is also a book on how to think about search engine optimization (SEO) partially to combat the vast loads of
misinformation floating about in forums and blogs and other e-books, and partially because as an industry, SEO
is constantly evolving and the only way to stay ahead of the curve is to know its final destination.
What this book does not teach you:
Web design
PHP scripting
How to upload files to your webhost
Product creation (or any other Internet Marketing techniques)
Anything unrelated to search engine marketing
Unfortunately, I dont have the space here to tell you everything about how to design and setup websites.
Thats enough material for a whole new book, and it would not be fair on you if I was to hand you a 1,000+ page
book which had everything you needed to know in order to operate computers, build websites, do SEO, create
products, write sales copy, build e-mail lists, manage blogs, etc.
Such an approach will only serve to overwhelm you and will not help you actually learn anything. The smarter
strategy is to use dedicated guides for each separate topic.
This book concentrates on teaching you SEO, and in case you need help in areas other than SEO, Ive created a
comprehensive Resources section at the end of the book with links to reference books and websites that you
can use to learn about other subjects.
Now, on to what youll learn in this book.
What this book DOES teach you:
How to develop an SEO mindset
How search engines think, and what they want from websites
How to do keyword research
How to evaluate your competition
How to setup your websites to be SEO friendly from the start
How to do on-page optimization (and what to really focus on)
How to get links free and paid
A step-by-step method for dominating page 1 rankings in Google for your target keywords
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I made these two lists so that you would have a clear idea of what it is that this book will do for you.
Ideally, I would suggest that you print it out (or even print out just the first few chapters), grab a pen/pencil and
a notepad, and start reading it right now.
Because if you are interested in making money online, you need to know this formula:
Targeted Traffic + Conversion = Money
This book will show you how to drive hordes of targeted traffic to your websites (mostly free traffic, I might
add). Conversion after that is a simple process of getting them to click on your ads, sign up to your e-mail list,
subscribe to your blog or simply read your sales pitch and buy your product / service.
The first few chapters will help you develop a SEO mindset this will allow you to build websites along the
same principles that search engines use to evaluate their search engine results. The end result will be that as
search engines continue to improve their algorithms and try to make them perfect, your websites will also keep
improving their rankings because you are ALREADY doing what the search engines ultimately want the top
websites to be like.
This SEO mindset will be the foundation of everything else you learn in this book, so I would ask you to make
sure that you read it first, although if you need specific help on a topic you can always jump ahead and take a
look.
Alright then, lets get started.
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1 The SEO Mindset
What is the SEO Mindset?
It is a specific way of thinking about online marketing and search engine optimization in order to achieve
long-term, consistent, page 1 search rankings.
It is a set of guidelines that you will constantly refer to during the SEO process and use as filters for what
to do and what not to do.
But before we start with the Mindset, lets answer a fundamental question what is SEO?
What is SEO?
Most people ok, almost everyone outside the SEO industry equate SEO with getting the #1 ranking for your
website in Google.
But SEO is much more than that. There are 3 main steps in the SEO process:
First, like any business, you need to identify your audience (your target market). Not only are you setting your
websites goals and profiling your audience, at this stage you are also scouting your competition and evaluating
what you need to do in order to dominate this particular sector.
Second, you take steps to get your website rank as high as possible in the search engines for those keywords
that this audience is most likely to use. This involves things you do to the site itself (if you are setting up a new
website then you should ensure that it is search engine friendly from the ground up). It also includes off-site
activities which are all geared towards the process of having other websites link to yours.
Third, you constantly track your websites progress in the search engines and make adjustments to your SEO
strategy as necessary.
While we define SEO, it is important to also clarify that SEO does not encompass other online activities that are
designed to bring traffic to (or promote) your website.
What SEO is NOT
Online advertising (buy advertising for traffic from other websites) is not SEO (it is site promotion,
although the advertising links can help your search rankings).
Public relations (press releases, media mentions, blogging coverage) is not SEO (although once again, it
is site promotion, which may lead into your site getting links).
Building a website that exploits a loophole in search engine algorithms to rank #1 for select keywords
for a short period of time is not SEO (thats search engine spamming, which were not going to discuss
here).
SEO is not a gimmick designed to drive X thousand visitors to your website in 24 hours.
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SEO is not always free traffic several very effective SEO techniques will cost you money.
Writing a book and giving it away for free to your sites visitors is not SEO
The thing about most of these activities is that they CAN be part of your SEO strategy IF you chose to use
them that way. However, as SEO is usually part of an overall strategy designed to promote your site, separating
other promotional activities from SEO work is important.
Understand How Search Engines Work
It goes without saying that if you want to rank #1 for your target keywords, you need to understand how search
engines work. This means that you must not only know what factors search engines use in ranking websites, but
also how they read web pages and index them (This topic is discussed in detail in the next chapter).
Search engines have evolved considerably in the last few years, and continue to update their ranking algorithms
periodically. So apart from learning how search engines work right now, it will also pay if you:
Understand what each search engine is trying to achieve when ranking websites
How you can track changes in search engine algorithms
How you can keep a pulse on the latest developments in the search engine world
The next chapter discusses search engine behavior in more detail for now, just keep in mind that a key
component of your SEO strategy will be to stay on top of developments in the SEO world, especially when it
comes to how the search engines are evolving.
Customize Your SEO Strategy
The most important thing about SEO is that an out-of-the-box formula for achieving top rankings will not work
as well as a customized, one-on-one strategy for each project.
Yes, a cookie-cutter approach will work but it wont be as effective as a custom-made battle plan for your
website. The general principles will always apply to your website, but theres a significant component of
analysis, drawing conclusions and then determining what to do in light of those conclusions.
At the end of the day, it is YOUR SEO plan. You will decide what to focus on, you will be the one doing
competitive analysis and evaluating how difficult or easy it will be for your website to rank for particular
keywords.
Every website has different goals these goals will in turn determine what type of keywords you will be
targeting, what the composition of your audience will be, the competitiveness of your target market and your
willingness to spend money / put in the time and effort.
Heres an example of how you would customize the SEO process based on your project:
Site A is focused on a very niche topic and is an informational site (as opposed to a product-oriented site). This
has an influence on the keywords targeted for the site. Those keywords (as well as the target niche itself) have
weak competition, so it will take less effort and time (and money) to get Site A to rank #1 for its target terms.
Also, Site A will depend exclusively on search engines for traffic.
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Based on this information, you would have two choices you can save money by doing free SEO and not
paying for directory submissions and links. Or, you could save time and pay for inclusion in highly trusted
directories to give your websites rankings a kick up the search engine results.
Heres another example:
Site B is a corporate website of a rapidly-growing company in a fairly competitive industry. This sector is not as
competitive online, however some terms have little competition while others have moderate competition (later
on well also define what competition really is and how you can determine your top competing websites).
Search engines will only be one aspect of their online marketing strategy. Primarily this site is being set up to
highlight their services, which means targeting some top level keywords (which have plenty of competition).
Based on this information, you know that to be #1, you will need to invest both time and money in the project.
Paying for directory submissions is a must and so is spending money on purchasing links. Some of these
keywords will also take a long and concerted spell of link building to allow for page 1 rankings.
In this case, your SEO strategy will also depend on how much freedom you have to spend money and make
changes to the website you may be asked to show results before paying for links (although in my experience
paying for directory submissions is usually accepted without hesitation) and making changes to a corporate
website is usually a painful experience in dealing with red tape and people afraid of change.
All in all, youll have to think for yourself here I can give you the tools and show you how to do each task, but I
cannot be there with you at every step of the way or make decisions for you.
The good thing is if you stick to the guidelines mentioned below, you will do just fine.
Think Long Term
Search Engine Optimization (or, if you want to be technically correct, Search Marketing) is not a get rich quick
scheme nor is it about getting short-term, temporary results at the risk of getting your website banned by the
search engines.
Just to make things clear, this is not an ethical concern for me as far as I am concerned (you might think
differently), search engines provide a service, and their guidelines are not the law, they are just generalized
statements on what works best.
Those statements are a bit misleading and do not give a complete picture of what it takes to rank for keywords
in the search engine result pages (SERPs).
However, putting your website at risk by actively pursuing optimization policies that openly violate search engine
policies and are detectable by search engines is foolishness.
Personally (once again, you are entitled to your opinion) I think there are far better ways to dominate the SERPs
without resorting to tricks or anything that will get your website banned from Google or MSN or Yahoo.
So that is one aspect of thinking long term if you are doing SEO for short term gains, in most cases it is not
SEO but tricks to take advantages of a search engines limitations.
Another aspect of long term SEO is your SEO strategy itself. SEO is a process that invariably takes time
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certain factors used to determine rankings in Google, for example, use time as an element in their calculations.
Concepts such as link-aging, the sandbox (or the trustbox, depending on your perspective), quality filters and
domain-aging (do not worry, I will explain these concepts in full detail later on in this book) mean that you
cannot be #1 overnight at least not in Google.
For the two examples I listed above (Site A and Site B):
Site A would take anywhere between a month and 6 months to get to #1, depending on what you do and
how strong the #1 ranked site really is.
For Site B, it would take you 6 to 12 months to get to the top, once again depending on how fast you
move and which keywords you are targeting.
Bottom line SEO takes time to be effective, so whatever you are planning, make sure you plan for the long run
and consider long term consequences of your actions.
Think For Yourself
Quite often I meet people in the SEO industry who blindly follow what a certain guru says, or believe
everything that Google says to be gospel.
But as I told you earlier there is no one way of doing SEO, and there definitely is no right or wrong when it
comes to Search Engine Optimization. It is all about what tactic is most effective in taking you to the top of the
SERPs, and that is all that you should be really focused on.
Blind faith in Googles idea of SEO, or some gurus idea of SEO, is usually a bad idea. Listen to all sides of the
argument, see the results for yourself and if possible, carry out your own experiments if you have to.
One such example involves paid links. Google has explicitly said that paid links for ranking purposes are not
acceptable and will be penalized, where as paid links for traffic purposes are fine. This has caused a lot of
debates in the SEO industry on whether paid links are right or wrong vis--vis
Dont be a slave to Google or what other people tell you about SEO there is no set pattern on doing SEO and
there is no right or wrong either
The most successful SEOs I know of publicly question some of Googles policies and preaching when it comes
to Search Marketing. Thats not to say that you should go against Google, but that you should keep an open
mind and focus on what works and what is guaranteed to be successful in the long run.

Everything else, whether told to you by Google or the SEO gods or me, is irrelevant. Stay on top of the ball as
far as developments in the SEO world are concerned; focus on what works, and what your experience tells you
works.
Create A System
Having a system to accomplish goals is a natural progression for anyone that has to do one type of project
more than once. Web designers who put together 10-20 sites every year have a system, programmers working
on large projects swear by their system of doing things, and so on.
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If you do not already, it is time to think of SEO in terms of developing an effective system of activities and
processes that will help you bring in targeted traffic to your website from the search engines.
A system is only effective if it can help you achieve your targets each time you do a similar project.
And as I said earlier, makes sure that continue doing that which is most effective in the long run, not what is
easy or cheap to do, or what saves time, or what the search engines tell you to do.
Do what works now, and what will work in the future.
Prioritize Your Work
Once you have a basic system to do your SEO activities, you will find it much easier to prioritize which task gets
done first.
In SEO, as in real life, there are some key activities that take less time and effort but have a large impact on
search engine rankings. Remember the 80-20 rule (the Pareto principle) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_
principle) ? It works quite well in SEO, thank you very much, and it certainly makes life easier for us SEOs.
The most important SEO tasks will take roughly 15-25% of your time, and will yield 70-85% of the benefits
associated with search marketing. For example:
Optimizing your blogs Title tags takes less than 2 minutes, but it has a major impact on how your web
pages are ranked in SEs.
Paying for (and submitting) a directory listing in Yahoo takes 5 minutes, but that link is more valuable
than submitting to 100 free directories that have been spammed to death.
Make it a habit to ask yourself the importance of any SEO task before you do it it will help you save time as
well as refocus you on the more important things in SEO.
Rankings Are NOT Everything!
The hard truth about search engine marketing is that sheer traffic (achieved from page 1 or #1 rankings) does
little good to you if you have no way to use it.
If you have set specific goals for your website, you will also have a clear idea of what audience you are targeting
and what exactly they are supposed to do when they arrive at your website.
This could be asking for signups, selling them a product or service, getting them to click on ads, getting RSS
subscriptions, etc.
And if your website is not doing this part of its job properly, those rankings and all that traffic will be wasted.
Bottom line Search Engine Optimization is great when it works well, but you also need to know how to make
best use of that traffic.
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Review
We have covered a lot of basic ideas here, so it is time for a short recap:
What is SEO?
Identify audience and set targets (research)
Do on-page and off-page tasks to increase search engine rankings
Track progress and adjust as necessary
SEO is NOT:
A short-term solution
Online advertising or public relations
Free
Understand How Search Engines Work
To be successful as an SEO, we need to know how search engines work, how they have evolved in the last few
years and in which direction they are moving.
Customize your SEO Strategy
Each project and website is different in scale and targets. A non-profit website has different goals than a site
that is geared to earn money from ad clicks. Do your research, and adapt accordingly.
Think Long Term
Long term planning where SEO is concerned allows you to do things once and then not worry about periodic
changes to the search engine algorithms.
Search engines are using time as a variable in evaluating several ranking factors, so expect to be in it for the
long haul.
Think For Yourself
Do not blindly follow what other people tell you there is a LOT of misinformation spread about SEO, and the
funny thing is that no one knows for sure what they are talking about.
SEO is an art, but more importantly, the only thing you can trust is what WORKS (in the long run).
Create a System
Having a system to do your SEO will save you a lot of time as well as help you be more effective.
Prioritize Your Work
Follow the Pareto principle (80-20 rule) and make sure that you do the most important things first.
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Rankings Are NOT Everything
Rankings and traffic are not worth much if you cannot convert them to meet your sites initial targets.
I hope that the ideas presented in the last few pages have helped you understand better what SEO is about and
why it helps to approach it with a specific mindset.
This chapter was just the first part in building that SEO mindset. In the next chapter, I will discuss how search
engines work and how you can use that information to streamline your SEO strategies and build a search
engine-friendly plan to dominate search engine rankings.
And once that is done, we will move on to the actual process of doing SEO on a project, from start to end.
Everything we have talked about here customized approaches, SEO systems, prioritization, long term planning
will show in the processes and strategies that are discussed in this book.
But I am getting ahead of myself first, we must understand how search engines work.
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2 Understanding Search Engines
Search Engine Optimization is the process of driving targeted traffic from search engines to a website.
Learning this process is not possible without understanding how search engines work. And when I talk about
understanding search engines, I am specifically talking about:
How search engines index (read) websites
How search engines rank websites
Why search engines change their ranking algorithms
How (and when) search engines update their algorithms
Points 1 and 2 are relatively easy to grasp (even if #2 is the main reason SEO is such a thriving industry). There
is plenty of misinformation, but if you have the right sources, practice SEO yourself and learn to separate the
wheat from the chaff, you will have a pretty good idea of how search engines rank websites (the next chapter
gets stuck into ranking factors in detail).
Points 3 and 4 give SEOs a lot of grief, mainly because:
Changes in the ranking algorithms can cause site rankings to change, and there is the possibility of your
website losing its high rankings.
Not knowing when search engines update their algorithms (at least until you start seeing significant
changes or someone in the forums notices it) means webmasters never know when their rankings could
be negatively impacted by a search engine.
The unpredictability of search engines (SE) means that if traffic from search engines is your only source of
traffic, and your websites are your only source of income, your livelihood hinges on the whims of Google.

That is a very scary thought, and is the primary cause for much of the panicking you see (or will see) in SEO
forums whenever SE updates are discussed.
Do not place all your bets on one mode of income. If your traffic is primarily from search engines, diversify and
get traffic from forums and other websites, as well as building a regular readership. If your income is primarily
from running AdSense ads on your websites, diversify into affiliate marketing, creating your own products, etc.
And if all your bets are hinged on your online income, diversify further and think about making money offline as
well.
Smart money-making principles transcend industries and the offline / online divide. Once again:
Do NOT place all your bets on one website, one mode of traffic, one mode of income, or one source of income.
Diversify.
The second important thing to note is this:
If you know what the search engines want, it is easy to plan ahead and shape your SEO campaign as such that
each update actually benefits your site rankings.
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Think about that for a second usually, search engine algorithms are a time when webmasters scramble to find
out whether their sites have lost their #1 rankings or not.
What if you could set up a system that allowed your sites search engine rankings to improve every time Google
or Yahoo did an algorithm update?
That is going to be a recurring theme throughout this book, and that is one of the main targets that I have set
out to achieve here.
So how do search engines work really?
The Search Engine Index
While it is important to know how a search engine reads websites and stores them in its index, it is even more
important (or more relevant) to know how to get included in it.
There is only one serious way to get included into search engines, and it is this:
Get links from other websites to point to your website.
Submitting to search engine inclusion forms, using software that guarantees to get your website included in
search engines, paying spammers who offer to get your website indexed in 100+ search engines
All of that is a waste of time. Avoid any such schemes like the plague, and steer clear of search engine
submission forms.
Why?
Because getting indexed by search engines is a piece of cake IF you know how to do it.
But how do I get links?
There are several ways to easily get links for free pointing to your website (and if you are willing to pay, more
power to you) and you can usually have your website (or at least your sites front page) indexed in Google in 2-4
days of launch.
Note: Later on in the book you will find a whole chapter on building links for the site launch phase, so do not
worry too much now (or skip ahead to that chapter if you wish).
Crawling Frequency
Crawling is a term used to describe the behavior of search engine spiders (also known as bots (short for
robots) which are computer programs written to read websites. These spiders use links to go from one website
to the other (hence the need to get links to your website).
Crawling frequency is a measure of how often a website gets read by a search engine. This frequency depends
on a number of factors but the two main factors you want to worry about are:
Freshness (how often is the site content updated)
Site importance (measured by the number of links pointing to that website)
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If you get links from a website that is updated daily and has a lot of links pointing to it, you are bound to have
the link to your site found quickly and get your website indexed.
Example:
Performancing.com is a very popular online resource for professional bloggers it is updated daily and has tens
of thousands of links pointing to it.
A link from such a website would have the search engine spiders knocking on your websites proverbial door
very soon.
Another example:
Article directories such as EzineArticles.com are usually updated several times a day (with new articles
uploaded every day) and have thousands of links pointing to them as well. Submitting an article to such article
directories (if done the right way) will also help you get your website indexed quickly.
Recommended Resource: Article Submitter (http://articlesubmitter.imwishlist.com)
Weve created a free program that will submit your articles to hundreds of popular article directories across the
internet. Note only will this get you a quality link pointing to your website from the article directory, but many
other websites will likely pick up your article and syndicate it on their website, which will lead to many more links
pointing to your website!
A paid example:
The Yahoo Directory (http://dir.yahoo.com/) is the biggest and most popular online directory. Inclusion costs
$299/year, and as such it is not a cheap proposition.
The benefits, however, are often worth the costs. Inclusion in the Yahoo Directory (a process that takes a weeks
time as they review your site) will not only guarantee that your website gets indexed in all search engines, your
site rankings should also receive a boost (especially in the Yahoo Search index, which mixes directory results in
its search results AND gives more importance to sites included in its directory).
These are just a few examples of how you can use high-powered links to get your website indexed quickly.
There is one caveat though the examples I gave above, and other such sources of power links are easy to
get, but only if you know HOW to get them. I will explain how later, so for now let us look at the next part of the
puzzle search engine results.
Recommended Resource: Directory Submitter (http://directorysubmitter.imwishlist.com)
Weve created another free program that will submit your website to literally thousands of other website
directories across the internet. While the Yahoo directory is an excellent, paid directory to submit your website
to, there are also thousands of completely FREE website directories you can submit to.
Doing this submission manually will take you days and days of time, but using out free Directory Submitter
software, you can do this much faster. Directory Submission is something that I highly recommend doing at the
time I am writing this book. The more directories you can submit your website to, the more one-way links youll
get pointing to your website, and the higher you will rank.
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The Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)
Note: Search engines rank web pages, not websites. This is a basic but crucial distinction, because it says that
you can optimize individual pages for different search terms, thus giving your website more points of entry and a
greater chance to gain traffic.
Each search engine (by the way, we are only considering the top 3 search engines, and even then we will focus
mainly on Google more on this later) ranks and displays search results differently.
Knowing how each search engine (Google, Yahoo And MSN) displays search results is important because they
give you clues to various entry points to the first page of search results for any of your target terms.
Also, understanding the components of the information displayed for each individual search listing will better
help you optimize your websites.
Most searchers do not go beyond the first page of results. Reason? Searchers either find something they need
(from the first 10 results or one of the sites they click through to) or they go back to the search box and change
their search query to be more specific.
To verify this, think about your own searching patterns do you delve way deep into the 20th page of search
results to find something, or do you click on the first few results, browse a few sites then return to refine your
search query?
Search habits have evolved into a somewhat iterative process (search,
browse, refine your query, repeat until you find what you are looking for).
Because of this, the first page of search engine results is prime real estate
(just like the home page of a website is prime real estate when you are
considering what goes on it).
The more you know about what goes on it (and how it gets there), the better
your sites chances are for being on that first page.
Note:
The best way to
understand the following
paragraphs of this section
is to run a few search
queries across all three
search engines.
20
The SERPs
Each search engine shows some common information in their SERPs:
Sponsored ads (above search results or in the right sidebar)
Related searches (to help refine the search query).
Links to internal search / content properties such as:
Google News, Google Finance, Google Groups, Google Images, Google Maps, Google Video o
Yahoo Shopping, Yahoo News, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Answers, Yahoo Maps, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo o
Video, Yahoo Directory
Live QnA o
At the time of writing, MSN lags some way behind Google and Yahoo in promoting its own content
verticals in search results Yahoo does it heavily, while Google has increased this practice as well
Each of these options are excellent ways to enter the top 10 results for your target terms and offer alternative
entry points to the first page of search engine rankings. Image Search, for example, can drive plenty of traffic to
your websites, so can the News sites.
Individual Search Results
Each search engine displays a search result pretty much the same way page title + a brief snippet of
description for that page either picked up from the page itself or from that pages DMOZ listing. (Note: dmoz.
org is the largest human edited website directory on the internet)
Sometimes, Google and Yahoo also offer additional links to internal sections of a site. Yahoo also lists the
directory page where the site is listed (if that site is in the Yahoo directory) as well as referencing sections of
the page itself (named anchors).
MSN offers the least amount of information, but this should change as the search engine matures.
Having links to specific sections of your website will help searchers narrow down their search on your site,
making it more likely for them to find the information they are looking for (and if you have done your work right,
earning you new site readers / users more easily).
Not every website gets such treatment. Having a popular site (lots of
backlinks) helps, but what helps even more is having a clear navigational
structure on your website / web page, one that is accessible to search engines
as well as users. In other words, how you organize your website and where you
place your site navigation links is important.
Yahoo also offers an option to get more results from a site, while Google offers
a similar pages search (which displays pages similar to the one you have
selected (based mainly on backlinks analysis and site topic).
Note:
Expect search engines to
also offer the ability to
bookmark search results
for future review Google
already does something
like this with their Note
this option.
21
How is all this relevant?
If you have a popular website, getting site categories included as site links in search results helps.
But if that is not the case, then the main thing you are looking at is the page title and description that comes up
as a search result.
As you can see in the image above, there are four main parts of the individual search result.
The page title is taken from the Title tag of that page (or website, in this case).
The site / page description is usually taken from the meta description tag if present (as it is in this
case). If not, search engines usually pick up snippets of text containing the search term, or use the Dmoz
directory listing description.
Keep the page URL descriptive to make it easier for searchers to quickly assess where they will land.
Site links are rewards for good navigation as I mentioned above not to mention that good navigation in
itself is very helpful in getting good rankings to begin with.
The big deal here is that your page title, your page description and your page url are the first impression
a searcher will get of your website in the search engine results. What the searcher will read will determine
whether they want to click through to your web page or move on to the next search result.
Search marketing is not just about getting the technical aspects right you also need to know how to write well
in order to maximize clicks and fully benefit from your site rankings.
What Google Wants
In February 2007, Google was used by 48.1 percent of the US search market almost double than that of Yahoo
(28.1 percent) and more than four times of MSN (10.5 percent) (comScore, February 2007).
22
Those numbers are powerful, but what is more telling is that while Googles market share is on a consistent rise,
MSN seems to be falling and Yahoo has not made up any ground on Google either.
Note: There is no big secret behind Googles popularity. Google positioned itself as a pure search engine;
Yahoo has always been a portal and MSN joined the race too late. The purity and focus of Googles search,
combined with their head start (Google provided search results for Yahoo early on) means that Google are
simply way ahead, and too hard to catch.
What this means for us search marketers is that we have to pay close attention to what Google says, and more
importantly, to what Google wants to achieve with its search engine rankings.
Ranking for Google is a matter of finding that web page that is considered the most relevant to the search query
and is from a website that is considered an authority on the subject and is trusted.
Relevance
Relevance is measured by the information the search engine can read from a web page. As I mentioned earlier,
each web page is a point of entry for your website, and you can (and should) optimize your website so that each
web page is targeting a different keyword.
There are several factors on a web page that are used to measure relevance, with the Title tag and keyword
usage on the page being the two most important factors being used to measure relevance.
If a page is about how to lose weight and the searcher has entered how to build a boat, this page is not going
to be considered relevant and thus will not be part of results. On the other hand, a page on building your own
boat on a budget may be considered moderately relevant to the search query and therefore would stand a much
better chance of appearing in the SERPs.

On-page SEO changes made to your web pages to improve search engine rankings is mainly concerned
with increasing the relevance of your web pages to their target keywords (you will read more about this in later
chapters).
Authority
Authority is a social indicator of how much a particular website or a particular web page is considered THE
source on a particular topic. Authority measures expertise, and more importantly, the acknowledgement of that
expertise within your industry and outside as well.
If you run a golf accessories website and you have many other golfing sites linking to yours, it implies (to
Google) that your website is considered a somewhat authoritative source on golf accessories. And if you
have non-golfing sites linking to you as well, this will further enhance your authority status, although this is
tempered by the fact that the opinion of sites within your niche holds a greater value (because they themselves
are considered authorities on the subject).
Here is a quick list of the types of links that will convey authority to your website from least useful to the
most:
Site with few backlinks and unrelated to your sites niche.
Site with many backlinks (some authority) and unrelated to your sites topic.
Site with few backlinks and closely related to your sites niche.
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Site with many backlinks (some authority) and closely related to your sites niche.
Authority links are a key part of the link building process hunting such links is an art as much as a science, and
I will be showing you how in later chapters when we discuss link building.
Individual web pages can also have authority on the same lines as websites do - which is why getting links
to individual pages of your website (also known as deep linking) is a very important part of the link building
process.
Trust
Trust is a measure of how reliable a website is in providing accurate information. Google uses several factors to
measure trust authority and relevance are two of them and so are links from other trusted sites.
Another trust-measuring factor is time, and it is this bit that has had SEOs and webmasters going crazy over
what is now commonly called as the sandbox.
The sandbox refers to a number of filters in Googles ranking algorithm that prevent a website or web page
from ranking highly until it has reached a certain threshold.
Does the sandbox really exist? Google says that a set of quality-measuring filters could be mistaken for a
sandbox because sometimes their effect can be the same as that of the suggested sandbox effect.
SEOs disagree, but here I tend to side with Google there is no need for Google to intentionally hold back
websites, but they do have a clear need to establish a websites quality, and time-based filters that measure a
sites age, rate of updates, age of authority links, etc are a useful means of measuring that quality.
Trust takes time to develop, but there are several strategies (all within Googles guidelines) that you can just
to boost your sites trust and authority. However, ranking in Google is still a long term game, so expect to have
to wait. Depending on your chosen niche and your SEO strategy, it could be anywhere from 6 months to 18
months.
All three factors have some measure of overlapping amongst them. Anchor text can be used both to measure
relevance and to measure authority, while links from a high ranking, popular website can convey both authority
and trust to your website.
In the next chapter I will put together a cheat sheet of the main ranking factors that apply specifically to
Google and also to other search engines. Before we do that though, lets take a look at the other search
engines.
Yahoo, MSN, etc.
Googles dominance has meant that Yahoo and MSN come a distant second and third in importance for SEOs
(and Ask doesnt even feature, getting only 5% of total market share).
Heres an interesting thought for you many SEOs report that it is easier to get high rankings in Yahoo and
MSN than it is in Google.
Personally, I think it all depends on your SEO strategy. I have websites that receive traffic exclusively from
Google and almost none from Yahoo or MSN. I have other websites that have very high rankings in Yahoo but
24
not so good rankings in Google. The only difference I see there is the way I promoted those sites and the link
building methods I used.
Which is more valuable? Google controls almost 50% (I expect this number to keep climbing and may be
much higher when you read this) of all search traffic, so yes, Google is
definitely more valuable.
Which is easier to optimize for?
Common consensus in the SEO community is that Google is the toughest
search engine to optimize for. I think thats an unfair statement, mainly
because most SEOs are (or have been in the past) pursuing outdating
strategies and have paid attention to factors that Google has progressively
downgraded over the last 3 or 4 years.
The old way of doing things can still get you good rankings in Google, but with
those methods you are far more likely to rank highly in Yahoo and MSN than
in Google.
But the big question is what ranking factors do these top 3 search engines
use, and how can we use them on our sites?
The second part is answered in the rest of this book. The first part, I have answered below.
Google vs Yahoo vs MSN
Ever wanted to know how Yahoo and MSN rank websites as opposed to Google?
Here is a quick look:
Google
Note: Based on the model of academic citation, uses relevance, trust and authority to rank websites and is
biased towards informational sites that serve as resources (based on backlinks analysis) within their specific
industries.
Is the best search engine at determining whether a link is a true editorial citation or an artificial link
Prefers natural link growth over time a site getting many links quickly that are not editorially earned will
most likely get the site penalized
Biased towards informational resources (as opposed to commercial results)
Much more biased towards link-based data than either Yahoo or MSN
Site age matters a lot in establishing trust
Keyword variation is important; heavy keyword densities will trip quality filters and will work against the
web page
Note:
Most (if not all)
discussions on ranking
algorithms in online
forums and on blogs
are speculation the
SEOs do not share their
best secrets that they
have gleaned through
experience and only the
search engines know which
algorithms they use and
they dont publish that
information.
25
Anchor text variation is important, for the same reason as above
Reciprocal links and site wide links (and especially those link lists in the sidebar (or blogroll) and the site
footer) have very little benefits Google prefers in-text links as they are more likely to indicate editorial
citations.
Effective at eliminating duplicate content
Site crawling (and indexing) is determined by a certain threshold of PageRank and link quality
Uses a series of quality filters that simulate a sandbox effect for websites it will normally take your
website several months to achieve good rankings in Google, more if it is a competitive niche
Uses a sites history in search engines as part of its ranking algorithm
Google takes time to get top rankings in and its ranking algorithm forces SEOs to adopt new practices that take
more than just old-fashioned link building and link-exchange networks (even though those still work).
Yahoo
Note: Based on the model of academic citation, uses relevance, trust and authority to rank websites and is
biased towards informational sites that serve as resources (based on backlinks analysis) within their specific
industries.
A Yahoo directory listing can do wonders for your sites rankings in Yahoo search results
Responds much better to sheer link popularity as compared to Google thus links from non-related sites
and reciprocal links (as well as those blogroll links) still work well in Yahoo
Less biased towards links than Google
Gives much more weight to site metadata (such as page titles and descriptions) than Google (even
though Title tags are fairly important in Google as well)
Better than MSN but far away from Google in determining link quality as a result uses site authority
more than link type (editorial, paid, reciprocal, link list, etc) itself
Pushes Yahoo Answers heavily in its search results and is constantly looking at ways to include the social
side of ranking into its algorithm
Search results in many competitive industries (or those prone to spam) may be manually edited to
minimize spam
MSN
Note: New to the search engine race, and not very good at it.
Relatively new to the search engine races
Relies heavily on Microsofts dominance of the OS market to push MSN
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Poor at link analysis
To compensate, they place more weight on on-page factors than either Yahoo or Google
Fresh links matter a lot if your sites backlinks grow consistently, this could help you in MSN
Is quick to index and rank websites
Poor at determining relevance
Favors frequently updated sites
Tracking Search Engine News
There are a handful of websites that track search engine news comprehensively, so that the rest of us dont
have to.
Here are my 3 main picks for keeping track of search engine news:
Search Engine Land (http://searchengineland.com/) The mega powerhouse of search reporting. Danny
Sullivan and Barry Schwartz lead the show with regular contributions by Eric Ward, Gord Hotchkiss, Greg
Sterling and Bill Slawski, amongst others.
Search Engine Roundtable (http://www.seroundtable.com/) Barry Schwartz brings you the best topics and
discussions from the search world (and especially from forums).
Search Engine Journal (http://www.searchenginejournal.com/) Loren Baker mixes up search reporting
with SEO tutorials, including the excellent SEO Clinic, where contributing columnists combine to provide free
consulting twice a month.
These three should keep you busy and in the loop, as far as SEO is concerned.
If you are looking for heavier reading though, I would recommend Bill Slawskis SEO by the Sea (http://www.
seobythesea.com/) for his analysis of different algorithm and rankings patents filed by Google, Yahoo and
MSN. It makes for fascinating reading, but I should warn you that this might not be your cup of tea if youre not
interested in being involved professionally in SEO.
Up next, we look at the key search engine ranking factors and why they matter (and more importantly, why they
will continue to matter in the long run).
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3 Search Engine Ranking Factors
Not all ranking factors are important some, like PageRank, become important in limited circumstances.
Others, like META tags, are there for usability and getting the small details right instead of having a massive
impact on your search engine rankings.
The goal here is to establish what ranking factors we need to look at in order to dominate all 3 search engines
effectively. In this chapter I have included the most important search ranking factors and discussed how each is
treated differently by the search engines. In specific chapters later, we will look at more factors and examples on
how to optimize for them.
It is quite difficult for a website to obtain top rankings on one search engine, let alone 2 or more at the same
time. Webmasters often complain that their sites rank well in Yahoo but are no where to be seen in Google, or
that they rank well in Google but have no presence in MSN.
Developing a strategy that can take on Google, Yahoo and MSN all at once (lets throw in Ask as well for good
measure) is difficult, but not impossible.
In the previous chapter you saw how each search engine behaved and ranked websites. In this chapter, I am
going to start off by giving you a brief overview on Ask (the 4th most popular search engine) and then we will
talk about the key searching engine ranking factors that will help you rank high on all search engines.
I will also be talking about the Google Sandbox and PageRank, and why these two are important to understand
and how you can benefit from them yes, once you think about it, there is a definite way to benefit from the
Sandbox effect.
Will you automatically top Google, Yahoo and MSN after following this advice to the letter T? No, you will not.
However, I can assure you that there are different keys to ranking in all three search engines and based on the
principles described in this book, you can do very well in them.
Top? Cannot say for sure.
Page 1? Very, very possible.
Ask The Forgotten Search Engine
Ask.com has often been praised for its accuracy of results, but a lack of exposure and the market dominance
enjoyed by Google and Yahoo means that there just isnt any space for alternative search engines.
However, even if Ask commands 5 percent of the search engine market share, thats a 5 percent that you CAN
capture using good search marketing principles, so why hold back?
The main things to remember about Ask are:
Heavily biased towards topical authority and link relevance
Slow to rank and index websites
Closer to Google in its preferences for links over on-page optimization
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Ask gives a lot of weight to on-topic links, so ranking on Ask.com is a good test to determine if your website is
getting the right type of links (relevant and authoritative). Their emphasis on clustering topical communities also
means that unless your site has several links pointing to it from within your niche, it will not be ranked well (and
may not even be properly indexed).
You do not have to worry about Ask.com and I probably will not even mention them in the rest of this book.
However, keep in mind that checking your sites rankings on Ask.com is a useful way of judging your sites
topical rank and if that is an area your site needs further strengthening in.
Google Sandbox Time-Based Quality Indicators
Regardless of whether you believe that there actually is a Google Sandbox or not, you should keep in mind the
fact that Google establishes quality (of your site or web page) using time-based indicators.
Now these indicators could be related to the sites link profile (link age), the site itself (domain age) or maybe
some other factors as well. The reality is that no one can pretend to know exactly what factors Google uses or
how it uses them.
What we do know for sure is that Google uses time-based indicators to establish trust in a website. The best
way to take advantage of these is to continue your regular link building practices but get the best links as early
as possible, and to factor time into your ranking expectations.
Whereas you can rank for your target terms in a month or two in MSN and in 2 to 4 months in Yahoo, Google
can make you wait for as long as an year and in really competitive niches, more than that.
Of course, in very competitive niches you also have aggressive competitors to contend with who probably
already have a head start on you.
You will hear many theories related to the topic of getting out of the Sandbox and they all tend to say the same
thing get lots of relevant, authoritative, trustworthy links, and then wait.
If you want to take advantage of these time-based indicators, here are a few simple rules:
Go for quality 4-in-1 links (links that are relevant, authoritative, are from trusted sources and from high
PageRank web pages / sites).
Start your website today, and start building those links today too. Every day you spend not working on
your link building is another day you are wasting in getting top rankings in Google.
Get your best links the ones that will deliver the most trust first.
How can you benefit from the Google Sandbox?
Site age and link age delivers plenty of trust, so old websites with a good link profile tend to have good rankings
in Google in face of young websites with more links. If you have an already-established website and have done
some link building in the past, chances are that it will already have passed the trust test and will be out of the
Sandbox.
Established sites have a clear advantage over new websites and Googles quality factors perpetuate that
advantage.
29
The downside is that if your website does not have great link profile and has not passed Googles quality
indicators, you will have to follow the same path as other new websites (although you will still manage to get
out of the Sandbox quicker).
Google PageRank Still Important
Note: To see your websites Page Rank, you need to download and install Googles free Page Rank toolbar. You
can do that here: http://toolbar.google.com
Today SEOs make a point of saying that PageRank (PR) is irrelevant, but thats a limited worldview and the
reality is that not only a lot of link buying and selling is based on PR and ignores the fact that Google still uses
PR in its crawling, indexing and ranking processes.
How does PR help you?
A web page needs a certain threshold of PR before it can be crawled so for your website to be deep-
crawled (with Google hitting all your site pages), you need to get some high PR links to your site. *Keep
in mind that the Page Rank we see in the toolbar is an outdated Page Rank, but its the best indication
we have.
Although not always true, PR is usually associated with authority websites. High PR links (relevant and
in-context, of course) are a good way to build authority links.
With all other factors being the same, a high PR link is more valuable than a low PR link.
PR is a measure of link popularity as well, and considering how Yahoo and MSN give more weight to
sheer link popularity, it is a good indicator of how your website can perform in other search engines.
PageRank by itself does not automatically convey high search engine rankings. PR + proper keyword usage
does not help either (as it used to once).
But PageRank is still an important metric in calculating value of links and plays a (limited) role in ranking search
engine results.
On-Page Ranking Factors
The following factors are on-page items different parts of a web page that affect its rankings.
Title Tags
Denoted by the <title> tags in HTML, this tag always shows at the top of a browser window and appears in the
SERPs as the title of the web page. A Title tag will tell the search engines and users what the current web page
is about, so it is important to:
Keep each pages main keywords in the Title tag
Make sure the page title is written to attract click-throughs
Keep Title tags unique (for each page) and specific to the content of the page
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It is, effort-wise and time-wise, the single most effective SEO technique that will get you maximum benefits for
the little time spent fixing them.
Title tags are important across all three search engines, and the general advice on this subjects works well for
all of them.
Keyword Usage
The use of queried terms (keywords searched by users) on the page. While unrelated pages can still rank
for search queries, in most cases keyword usage throughout a page gives search engines establish topical
relevance.
Keyword frequency (amount of usage) is important, but there are a few things to keep in mind:
All 3 search engines use different thresholds to determine what is too less (not relevant enough) and
what is too much (spam) when it comes to keyword frequency, so you have to find middle ground.
Keyword variance (varying the usage of the target keyword) based on keyword clusters (groups of
keywords related to one term) is more important for Google than for other search engines.
Related terms (loosely related to the main term but not as similar as clusters) are important as well
as they help establish strong topical relevance and can be used to establish the depth of the writers
knowledge of the subject (and thus serve as a possible on-page metric for topical authority).
The best strategy is to have very focused pages on specific keywords this forces the writer (whether you or
your content writer) to 1) naturally repeat the main keyword and 2) use multiple keyword variations and related
terms as he writes about the topic.
Using a natural approach you will a) not worry so much about it and b) still do enough to rank well (on keyword
usage, at least) across all 3 search engines.
URL Structure
Like Title tags, URL structures are those simple SEO things that take a few minutes to set up, have long term
benefits (in branding and in search engine rankings) and still most webmasters end up ignoring them / messing
them up.
Here are some tips for maintaining search-engine-friendly URLs:
Use static URLs instead of dynamic, database-driven URLs where possible. If it becomes necessary, use
as few parameters as possible
Keep them short (instead of long folder sequences and sentences) and descriptive (instead of numbers)
Use keywords
Use hyphens for term separation
Remove extra data (instead of site.com/category/category1/page1.htm, try site.com/category1/page1.
htm)
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You can miss one or two of these and still rank well. However, when youre building a new site you need to get
as many things right out of the box as possible, and URL structures are fairly easy to get right.
Meta Description Tag
The meta description tag has little to do with search engine rankings, put is extremely useful in controlling the
SERPS description of your web pages. Just as the title tag should be written with branding in mind and should
encourage search engine users to click, the meta description should perform the same function.
Keyword usage in this tag (and the use of the meta keywords tag as well) does not have enough of an impact
to search rankings to be considered a worthwhile time investment - although if you are building a new website,
make sure you are setting up each page with unique (and targeted) title tags, meta description tags and meta
keywords tags.
If you have the chance to build a website that does as much as possible to tell the search engine what your web
pages are about, why wouldnt you?
Main use is for controlling the description of your site in search results, and even that is important enough to
get this tag listed here.
Duplicate Content
Search engines have different ways of dealing with duplicate content and it is difficult to conduct experiments in
isolation or account for all potentially-influencing factors.
Two things to keep in mind:
While search engines usually do a good job of filtering out duplicate content, some (many) pages survive,
and with good reason. Those websites (and sometimes those pages) in general provide a lot of unique
content of their own.

If you are worried about falling foul of dupe content penalties, think of what your web pages / web site
offers to its users. If you can add something that is significant enough to make the web page unique,
youll do fine.
Duplicate content is more of a negative-only filter you get penalized if your web pages are copies of
other pages, but if you get the all-clear from these filters it will not give you any boost in search rankings.
Site-based Ranking Factors
Apart from on-page and link-based ranking factors, there are some factors that are calculated for the whole
domain (and not just the ranking page). These have a considerable impact on what sort of rankings your web
pages can achieve individually.
Link Popularity
Link popularity measures the number of all links pointing to a website. Search engines use link quality to
measure the value and importance of these links, and then give each link a different weight depending on its
quality (more on link quality in the link building chapters).
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Why is this important? Because as much as link quality is important, having more links more web pages
voting for your website will always help. And as you will find out later, if you can avoid those links that are
disregarded completely, every link that you acquire will help your search engine rankings.
Topical Authority
A topical community is measured by the search engines as a group of websites who interlink to and with one
another frequently and carry a similar topic or theme.
Links from websites within your topical community carry more weight because they offer a better chance of
critically evaluating the information your site offers than an outside website unfamiliar with the topic. Editorial
citations from within your topical community are thus considered more valuable.
Usually you will find that for each niche a core community or hub exists with the most
links from websites also those with the most links from within the topical community at the centre of focus
and discussion. These sites are considered topical authority sites, and for each sector your goal should be to
position your website as the authority in that niche.
Site Topic
A websites primary topic (which the search engines will determine through analyzing its hosted web pages)
influences how well those pages are able to rank for on-topic (similar) and off-topic (different niche) search
queries.
Thus, websites on specific subtopics may be able to rank higher than websites that cover the general topic. This
also works in reverse, as large websites (like BBC or Wikipedia) cover a myriad of subjects and thus may be
able to rank well for many or all of them.
Site Architecture
How your website is structured internally how pages link to each other, how different categories are divided
and how content is segmented across those categories.
Just as external links pointing to your website are considered votes, a link from one site page to the other
counts as a vote as well. Proper internal linking (accounting for navigation as well.
The way you setup your site determines along with the number, PR and quality of links pointing to your
website how quickly it is crawled by search engines, whether all internal pages are found or not, and also how
well your pages rank in the search engine results.
Have clear, distinct sections on your website and chunk content in them. If necessary, cross-link (a page
that is relevant to two or more categories) but make sure that you are creating clear subtopics on your
site and not a mishmash of random information.
Highlight the key sections via navigational menus across the whole site.
Build a reusable system of internal linking standard navigation + internal linking strategies to
maximize exposure for key pages.

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Use sitemaps to help search engines find all pages of your website (no, the absence of sitemaps will not
harm your search engine rankings, nor will the presence of one necessarily improve them it just makes
it easier for search engines to find and index new pages).
Trust
How do search engines measure trust? It is a difficult question, and no one knows the exact answer to it
(except Google themselves).
How do we define trust? There are three different ways to look at it:
A website is trusted to provide accurate, reliable and timely information
A website is trusted to vote only for other websites that fill the above criteria
A website is voted for by authority sites from other sectors as being a topical authority
In other words, trust is established by authority (points #1 and #3) and linking out habits (point #2). If a site is
considered a topical authority and links out only to authority sites, then that website is trusted by the search
engines.
But what does trust mean in this case?
Trust is used here to evaluate links to a website a link from a website that is trusted will count for more than
a website that is not trusted.
In other words if Site A consistently links out to high-quality websites (as established by search engines) and
also sends a link your way, that is a valuable link in the eyes of the SEs.
On the other hand a link from site B that links out to everyone without regard for quality or review will not be
as valuable.
Trust is an increasingly important factor as search engine algorithms evolve and start using site histories
(rankings, link building patterns, linking out patterns, content addition patterns, etc) more heavily to evaluate
links and web pages.
Link-Based Ranking Factors
Links-based analysis forms the core of search engine algorithms even the site-based factors mentioned in the
previous section are based one way or the other on links.
Now while I do not want you to start obsessing about links worrying about SEO will not help when you already
know what to do and how to do it (through this book) it is very important to have a clear idea of what link-
based factors are important for your sites search engine rankings.
Looking to build links? Make sure you read the following, as well as the chapter on evaluating links, first.
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Link Age
As search engines evolve and try to filter spam out of their search results, one measure of authority and quality
in links as been link age the time since that search engine first discovered that link.
This ties into our earlier Sandbox discussions closely older, established websites generally have a mixture of
aged links, well-linked internal pages and some measure of topical authority assigned to them. If search engines
are to use that generic profile as a minimum threshold of trust then quality links from topically-related sites must
also age before they can deliver their full benefits.
Another aspect of link age has to do with trusting the permanence of a link (editorial citation) itself. For
better or worse, older links are given more importance because they imply a long-term citation whether this
is because the website owner has forgotten about that page or it is a manual decision to keep that link is a
different story.
Link Growth
Does a website continue to accrue links over a period of time? Does a web page continue to do the same?
A web page / web site that keeps acquiring links (editorial citations) is a strong indicator that the information is
still relevant and useful keys to establishing authority.
Search engines are very effective at measuring rates of link growth and in analyzing whether those patterns are
natural or artificial.
One drawback of this approach is that the popular sites continue to accrue links (as more and more people find
them and link to them) while equally valuable (or even more valuable), less popular websites fail because few
people find / link to them.
Anchor text of link
The anchor text is used to describe the destination of a link so a link to a web page that has reviews on
Bluetooth headsets would ideally have Bluetooth headset reviews in its anchor text.
Search engines use anchor text to determine how linking websites describe topics of certain links. Since this is
a factor that can easily be gamed, I think that search engines combine their trust of a link with how much weight
they give to the anchor text.
Not only is the anchor text important but also the content surrounding the link as those are often used to
describe the link much more effectively than the anchor text itself.
Topical authority of linking page
As discussed earlier, topical authority is determined by aggregating the value of editorial citations to that page,
both from within the topical community and outside it.
This is a tighter method of establish authority than simply using PR or the topical authority of the website
hosting the page (although those two impact link value as well).
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Topical authority of site of linking page
Same as above, except that this is applied to the website instead of the individual page.
Topical relevance of linking page
Established by:
Analyzing the content of the linking page
Analyzing the link profile of that page to determine the key subject matter of that page
All other factors being equal, links from closely-related pages are more valuable than off-topic pages.
Topical relevance of site of linking page
Same as above, except that this is applied to the website instead of the individual page.
PR of linking page
The link popularity of the linking page has a direct impact on the value of the links that page creates.
PR of site of linking page
Same as above, except that this is applied to the website instead of the individual page.
Degree of editorial citation
To simplify the degree of trust the search engine can accord a particular link based on how it is used on the
page.
The navigation menu of a page has obvious importance, so links in that menu (usually internal pages) are
trusted implicitly, even if they are not necessarily what youd call in-context.
A list of links in the sidebar might have little importance if there is no editorial content surrounding them
mainly because these are not links that are considered important to the sites functions.
In-context links are important but two things have to be taken care off topical relevance and the history of the
site itself. Sites with a good linking history can even have their link-lists categorized as trusted links, while sites
with poor a linking history will have their in-context links discounted as well.
Co-Citation
Co-Citation is a method used to establish a topical similarity between two items (in our case, two web pages or
two websites).
For example, if A and B are both cited (linked to) by C, they may be said to be related to one another even if
they do not link to each other directly. If A and B are both cited by many other pages, they have a stronger
relationship i.e. they are considered very similar. This similarity can be used to determine the quality /
trustworthiness of a page / website / source.
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How does this affect your link building practices?
In-context links are important, but its equally important to target websites that regularly reference the top
authorities in your topical niche and avoid the non-topical, non-authoritative sites. In other terms, get links from
websites that link to the top sites in your niche.
Now that we have a basic understanding of how search engines work and what the main search ranking factors
are, we can move on to the nitty-gritty of running an SEO campaign.
The next chapter will tell you more about whats in store.
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4 Your SEO Master Plan
Information without the knowledge and will to use it effectively is useless if you cannot put it to use, you might
as well not have it in the first place.
You are reading this book, so the will is not an issue.
However, you still need a plan and the best plan is one that is flexible yet detailed enough to guide you and
allow you to customize it to your own needs.
This chapter introduces / previews the rest of the book. There are 4 main phases of this plan
Why 4 phases, and not 5 or 3? Maybe I like the number 4. Maybe it is because this is the system that works
best for me and has continued to work for me as a basic template for my SEO campaigns over the last few
years. I am always tweaking it, and so should you. If you find it easier to split the site launch phase into two
parts, do so. If you want to combine phases 2 and 3 (site optimization and site launch), do that too.

Customize, but make sure you do the necessary steps.
The rest of the chapter summarizes what you will be reading and doing in the rest of the book. Skim through,
and then get started with the next chapter.
Part 1: Doing Research
A necessary (and not as boring as you might think) part of SEO.
Ill admit, Im not the sort of person who likes to over-elaborate or over-do the planning and research phase. I
follow the ready-fire-aim school of thought, so my goal with every website is to just get started and fix things
later.
However, there still is that ready bit of the whole ready-fire-aim process, and there is some research that you
will have to do in order to be ready to conquer your target niche.
But what is your target, really?
Setting Goals

Understand your targets for the website and profile the ideal audience.
Keyword Research

Once you know your topic (and have a feel for your audience), find out what keywords they are using.
Competitive Analysis

Find out who your top competition is, and what they are doing in terms of SEO / online marketing.
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Part 2: Building / Optimizing Your Site
This section will vary from project to project depending on whether you are working on a new website or an
already established one.
Keywords & Site Content

How to use your keywords, how to split them between pages and how to organize your website based on
them. Using keywords, competitive analysis and site goals to write your site content.
On-Page SEO

Optimizing your pages title tags, meta tags, keyword usage and avoiding duplicate content.
Site Architecture

How you organize your websites pages (internal linking), search engine friendly site URLs and sitemaps
usage.
Part 3: Site Launch
Link Building Basics

Basic principles behind effective link building, the types of links you will need and how to approach link
building on a long-term, day-to-day basis.
Site Launch Links

A comprehensive look at the type of links you need to procure during site launch to get your site crawled,
your internal pages indexed and your site according the trust and authority necessary to help your pages
get rankings in search engines..
Part 4: Long Term SEO
Search marketing is a long-term, persistent commitment. It involves consistent content building, link building
and monitoring the success of the search campaign (site traffic and site rankings) to fine tune your activities.
Link Sources

Where do you get links from? This chapter discusses more than 10 different major sources of links and
gives you strategies for finding more.
Finding Link Partners

How you can use search engines to find potential link partners.
Link Valuation

How to place a value on links, and how this can help your link building campaign.
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Link Worthy Content

What is link-worthy or quality content and how you can build a habit of creating link worthy content for
your sites.
Campaign Tracking

Using web analytics and search ranking data to refocus and target your link building / SEO campaign.
Lets get started you can read through the book in one go, or you can use the table of contents to directly
jump to any specific chapter in the book at any time.
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5 Setting Goals
Your SEO efforts will be wasted if you do not have a clear picture of:
what you want to achieve through your website
who you are targeting
what you want them to do
what your long-term destination is
what your progress is (from time to time)
In addition, you also need to know what the best method is to reach your audience (what are your best
keywords) and how much work you will have to do to be to meet your goals (competition analysis).
The next two chapters will look at keyword research and competition analysis the rest, I am going to discuss
below.
Let us start by making two lists.
What Is Your Websites Purpose?
The first list will be a collection of points that answer the question posed above what purpose does your
website serve?
For some people, a website is an extension of their lives / interests / business it is a means to bring attention
to what they are doing offline.
For others, their website IS their interest / business and that brings with it a whole new set of priorities.
What are the overall goals for your website? Is it to sell something? Is it to generate leads for your consulting
business? Is it simply to maintain an online presence and use it to provide basic information to your customers?
For some companies, branding will be an important part of their sites purpose. For others, it could be
community building around their products and / or services.
Your goals (or your companys goals) and business strategy will have a strong impact on how you will setup your
website and how you will define its purpose.
To help you out, I am going to give you two examples to help explain how you can pinpoint your sites purpose
a real-life analysis of an online company, and a fictional situation of an offline business that wants to use their
website to generate clients.
Example #1:
For example, consider the situation of popular traffic tracking online service, StatCounter (SC). SC provides an
easy-to-use, non-intrusive hit counter for free to its users, but that is the sweetener they use to make people
test their service before pitching them the paid version of this service (which removes certain restrictions that
come with the free version).
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So how would we define StatCounters primary goal?
Primary Goal: To provide the best paid hit tracking services.
Your sites primary goal will help you keep grounded and on the right track when you are deciding what to do on
the site.
Sometimes, your website may have more than one purpose in that case you would split them into one primary
goal and one (or more) secondary goals.
For StatCounter, their secondary goal is (Im guessing) something like this:
Secondary Goal: To sell ad space to capitalize on the sites traffic and popularity and earn a steady second
income.
Example #2:
Consider the hypothetical case of a freelance web designer, Brian, who wants to use his website to get design
gigs. He also has a passion for teaching and wants to channel that into sharing his knowledge through his
website. In addition, Brian wants the website to earn him a secondary income (apart from the design gigs) so he
wants to sell website templates and custom site scripts on his website as well.
Lets see how that reflects in his website goals:
Primary Goal: To generate leads
Secondary Goal #1: To write about web design techniques and share what he knows
Secondary Goal #2: Make money by selling templates and scripts
What is really good here is that the two secondary goals tie-in and overlap with Brians primary goal his site
templates and his articles are just two more ways for Brian to generate more leads.
Ideally, you would want to limit your secondary goals to a maximum of 3 (the fewer, the better). Having a
singular focus for your website can help you get laser-focused in your search marketing efforts.
However, sometimes your aims might be grander and there could be more than one thing that you want to make
happen through your website. Just make sure that you do not lose focus of the overall picture or muddle up your
goals by having too many of them.
Who is your target audience?
Whether you are selling shoes or asking for donations, you need to pin down who your target audience is.
Usually people define their target audience in broad terms:
someone selling resume writing software could define his audience as people who need new / better
resumes
A company selling high-end stereo equipment would be targeting for audiophile enthusiasts.
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If you want to be successful, it is far easier and simpler to find a specific type of audience, build your ideal
client image and then work your socks off in serving that client. Once you are dominating your niche of the
market you can afford to spread out and broaden your focus, but till then, it is niche, niche, niche.
Brian (a freelance web developer) talks about his audience:
Im targeting serious entrepreneurs and small businesses that need an impressive and quality web presence
that helps them achieve their online business goals. I want to target people who place a high value on quality
and results.
However, I also know how hard it is for people to pay for quality web design, so I want to provide a low-cost way
for people to get started and to teach them the same techniques I use to build websites for my clients.
I want to target web-savvy people with a basic understanding of how websites work. Age is no barrier to
entrepreneurship, and thanks to the Internet I have a worldwide audience. However, I will be targeting an
English-speaking audience because web design and getting clear requirements from the client is hard enough
without getting tangled in language problems.
In an effort to allow for different (and possibly overlapping) audiences, Brian is using his skills to provide
website templates and web design tips on his website. These will in turn get his design skills more exposure so
they benefit him in several different ways.
You need to use your website goals to paint a detailed picture of your audience web-savvy, English-speaking
and an understanding for web design. Unfortunately, we realize that Brians goals are detailed but not specific
enough, and as a result he will have trouble competing in this already-tough niche.
So what does Brian do?
He rethinks his goals and his audience, and decides to narrow down his area of expertise to WordPress (a
popular blogging software). http://wordpress.org/
Thats a smart move, because more and more people are moving towards WordPress and blogging, and as big
companies start to embrace blogging as part of their marketing and branding strategy quality designers like
Brian will always be in demand.
Brian also decides to target local businesses first, so that he can build a local, community-based profile and use
that as a launching pad for the future.
You dont have to go local, but its a good idea to give more attention to your own community / pick a narrow
niche to start in. Dominating them is easier, and it gives you the momentum to move up to bigger niches.
What Does Your Site Do?
How does your website solve the core problem your target audience has?
What information does it provide to its users?
What are the steps you want your readers to take on each page, and how do they tie in with your primary
goal?
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You might read the above and think thats not SEO!
And you would be right. Thats not traditional SEO.
But in the last couple of years, SEO has radically changed as more and more people realize that it is just one
part of the process in building websites that make you money. It is still a separate skill set from web designing
or copywriting, but you need to know elements from both of those sectors in order to have a website that brings
in search engine traffic AND converts them properly.
After all what good is free traffic if you have no way to put that to work into making you money?
We will do a more detailed conversion analysis later on, but for now I want you to make a list of:
What information / pages / functionality your site will provide to its users?
How does each item in the above list work towards fulfilling your websites primary and secondary goals?
What steps do you want your readers to take on these pages?
Once you have all that, it is time to review your website and see where you stand now as opposed to where you
should be. If you do not have a site (and are building one), skip to the next section that talks about incorporating
this advice into new sites.
Existing Site Analysis
Evaluate your website using the following checklist:
Does it focus on your audiences core problem? If not, why not, and what can you do to fix this?
Does it provide users will all the necessary information? If not, why not, and what can you do to fix this?
Does each page tie in with your primary / secondary goals? If not, then why is it there? Can you remove
it and place the information on a more relevant page?
Does each internal page have one clear objective? The main page and category pages usually have to
share attention, but internal pages can focus on and should have one main objective only.
Put yourself in the shoes of a random user, who has just landed on an internal page of your website from a
search engine query.
What will you want them to do?
This will depend on the context and purpose of your website, but if you can adopt this mindset for every page,
you can have a laser-focused website that not only brings in traffic but converts it as well.
Building a New Site
It is easier to build a new site from scratch focusing on conversion and good on-site SEO than it is to optimize
and improve an already existing website.
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On the other hand, existing websites already have a set of backlinks pointing to them, so the link building efforts
are definitely easier (plus you already have some search engine visibility).
Incidentally, a site redesign is an excellent time to focus on SEO you can treat the project as a new website
and do SEO, content writing and conversions right from the start.
Success Objectives and Tracking Progress
The flip side of setting goals is that you also need to set success markers and then track their progress.
For example, for a recent site I setup, my success objectives were (for 1 year):
To reach 5,000 hits / day. The niche Im working in has room for lots more, but thats my bare minimum
target.
To reach $1,000 per month. I am using a combination of affiliate programs, direct ad sales and AdSense
here.
To hit page #1 for my main keywords, and top 5 for all second and third tier keywords.
To build a community (forum) of at least 300-500 active members.
These are very achievable goals, and definitely on the low end of what I would expect to achieve in terms of
traffic and revenue if I worked on the website fulltime.
How will you measure your success? For some items such as AdSense revenue or keyword rankings, your
goals could differ drastically based on how competitive your target niche is and how much traffic your keywords
get every day. A #1 ranked site for a popular term could easily garner 10,000 hits a day but then the
competition would be equally tough.
You will probably need to do some keyword research and competition analysis before you can have a complete
picture of your success objectives, but for now simply focus on completing a picture of what it would mean to
accomplish your primary goal.
Once you have set your objectives, monitor them monthly (for traffic and search ranking numbers I will show
you a few tools that you can use). Keep working hard at your website and if you see that youre not making
month-to-month progress (i.e. your traffic / rankings go stagnant), it would be time to do a review and figure
out what you are doing wrong.
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6 Keyword Research
Despite the changing landscape of SEO (from on-page optimization to links to social marketing) and evolving
strategies, keyword analysis and research are still important. You could also say that in essence we are only
talking about topical analyses and how to optimize for specific subtopics.
Search engine users, however, do not always think in terms of broad topics they are concerned with what
information they want to find at that instant, and they will either type in a natural language question or a bunch
of key terms (or keywords) related to the problem facing them at the moment.
If establishing your site objectives and identifying your audience is part of focusing and narrowing your niche,
keyword research is used to learn what language and terminology your target audience is most likely to type
in when using search engines.
We are going to use a number of processes to:
Create a master list of possible search terms that your audience can use (and uses)
Calculate the approximate number of actual searches carried out on major search engines for each term
Evaluate the competition for each search term websites that you will be competing with for ranking for
that term.
Use this list to pick those keywords that have high search volume (many people searching for that term
every day) but less competition (not too many websites promoting themselves for that term).
Build Your Keyword List
There is no one special formula to build a keyword list in this chapter I have listed several strategies that you
can use, and ideally you would be using all of them in conjunction. For smaller projects, however, it could be
easier to skip a few steps and then come back later as the site expands.
Step 1: Brainstorm
Who are you? Your company name (abbreviations and full name), as well as individual names in case you
are a small business and are identified by your owner(s) as well.
What products /services you offer? Write down generic terms used in your industry but also specific
product names that you offer.
Where are you situated? Optimizing for your geographical location is very important if you are a brick and
mortar organization.
What specific needs does your website fulfill? You will get more ideas from looking at the research you
did in the previous section.
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Put yourself in the searchers place use your target audience details, and for the next few minutes,
imagine yourself as the person who you will actually be serving. What will you type in the search box?
Use variations for all the keywords you have listed so far. For example, search engine marketing and
search engine optimization refer to the same thing, but are variations of each other (and so is the term
search marketing). Use singular and plural forms in your list as well.
Pay attention to various themes used in your business (seasonal or niche) and list them as well.
The idea is to put together as large a list as possible when you start out. You will not be doing this alone so
there is no need to worry about having a complete list just make sure that you list everything you can think of
at that moment.
Next Step? Get help.
Step 2: Expand Your List
There are plenty of sources you can use to help you add more keywords to this list. In several cases these
sources will probably know more than you about the subject, and it is always valuable to include industry-
specific expert terms. In other cases the source will be using laymen terms; this gives you a different
perspective and is quite useful as well.
The idea is the same to compile a list of terms and phrases that people use in your niche / audience.
Your team If you are working in an SEO firm (or working on a SEO campaign with another person), it
pays to brainstorm together. If you are an in-house marketing / web person, consult your web team and
co-workers in your organization.
Industry media Go through online forums, news sites, reference sites as well as offline journals and
magazines to see what terminology they are using to describe your product or service.
Customers Experienced customers will be familiar with the terminology you use, but most people will
have no clue what specific terms and abbreviations mean. And even if they recognize the terms, they may
not know what they mean and they may not use them while performing their searches.

Poll your target audience to get a handle on what variations and phrases they use.
Competition A quick and easy way to get a head start in keyword research is to find your top 5
competitors (pick the broadest term in your list, search for it in Google and take the first 5 websites)
and see what terms they are using on their websites. In the next chapter Ill show you how to study your
competition to your maximum advantage, but for now just go through the major sites in your niche and
note down any keywords that you might have missed.
And if you already have a website:
Your website Go through your website and see if there are any terms that you might have missed.
Website Statistics if you have a stats monitoring program that tracks traffic on your website, review
it to see what search terms your audience are currently using to come to your website. Add them to your
list as well (more on website stats later).
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Using Keyword Research Tools
There are several free (and paid) keyword research tools available online that can help you build keyword lists as
well as gather search data about those keywords.
You can use these keyword tools to supplement (or replace) the keyword research process I have detailed
above. Ideally, you would want to combine the two approaches use keyword research tools to get a general
idea of the niche and then the manual approach described above to customize the list to your target audience.
Each of these tools will use your base keyword to generate a list of relevant phrases for that niche based on
the tools internal keyword database. All tools rank keywords based on estimated search popularity (number of
searches the keyword gets in a certain time period) each tool uses different methods to get to this estimate.
How to use these tools? Load the tool up, enter your base keyword, press a button or two and you should
have a list of keywords generated pretty quickly. In most applications there will also be a way to export that
information to a text file or an Excel (.CSV) file. If not, you can always copy-paste.
To get a detailed, comprehensive look at your keyword options, you should also search for the top categorical
keywords in your list subtopics that you can identify immediately just by looking at your list.
For example, your base search term could be home theater systems and your subtopics in that case would
be home theater audio, home theater speakers, home theater design and so on. Digging into these terms
and creating a list of focused keywords around these subtopics is important if you want to cover every possible
angle for your audiences preference.
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Keyword Elite
Link: http://www.keywordelite.com
Keyword Elite is the software we use for our business and had custom developed to do everything we would
ever need for our own keyword research. In 2005, we decided to release the tool to the public and since then its
become the leading desktop keyword research in the world. The pro is that Keyword Elite does much more than
any other keyword research tool on the market, but the con is that it is not free. I highly recommend this tool
over the others.
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Google AdWords Keyword Tool
Link: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
Cost: Free
Google AdWords Keyword Tool is offered by Google to help potential Google AdWords users to estimate
keyword search volume and advertiser competition for their target search terms. The Google Keywords Tool
uses a relative scale to represent which search terms are more popular than others what you get is a general
idea of which terms get plenty of searches and which terms dont.
The Google Keywords Tool also gives us a picture of advertiser competition on a similar, relative scale. So if you
are also interested in driving Pay per Click traffic to your website, the Google AdWords Keyword Tool can be a
very useful starting step to help you select keywords for your campaign.
Because you are not seeing any actual numbers, you cannot use the Google tool to predict search volume
accurately. However, it is an excellent resource for generating keyword lists as it is based on what terms people
use to search on Google. And since it has the largest user base compared to all the other keyword research
tools, you get a lot of depth when research keywords and building lists.
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Google Suggest
Link: http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=1
Cost: Free
Google Suggest works by showing you specific and targeted keyword alternatives for your search query while
you are typing in your search. As you can see from the image above, it also gives you the competition the
number of pages ranking for that keyword in Googles index for those terms as well.
Google Suggest is another tool that you can use to quickly gauge the general search demand of a niche and
you should ideally use it at the beginning of your keyword research process to help you add high level keywords
to your list.
As you add letters and terms to your keywords the displayed alternatives narrow down, which can give you a
quick visual picture of the terms that are popular in that niche and subtopic.
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WordTracker
Link: http://www.wordtracker.com
Cost: Free trial / Paid - multiple subscription options
WordTracker offers search popularity numbers and a diverse set of tools in generating keyword lists and in
comparing keyword popularity with search engine competition (the number of pages deemed relevant to rank for
that keyword).
WordTrackers search popularity numbers are of little use on an absolute scale it only uses data from a couple
of meta search engines and its data set is severely limited. However, you can use WordTracker to discover
relative popularity, although with such a small data set theres a chance of errors creeping in.
The great thing about WordTracker is that it can help you find related terms thanks to its built-in thesaurus and
lateral search facilities. That makes it an excellent tool to go broad in your keyword research and to find related
subtopics to target.
In short, WordTracker gives you more tools than any other web based keyword research service online, but is
limited because of its search popularity numbers and it is web-based.
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Yahoo Search Marketing (Overture) Keyword Selector Tool
Link: http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/
Cost: Free
Note: At the time of writing the Overture search term suggestion tool is defunt.
The YSM tool (popularly known as Overture, after their parent company that was acquired by Yahoo) is one of
the first keyword research tools you will turn to when you need hard data on search popularity.
Overture is easy to use and is based on the Yahoo PPC network, so it offers a larger user base than that of
WordTracker. It shows search popularity data for the last month, and it also allows you to target your research
by geographical location.
However, because every keyword tool and bid management tool query the Yahoo network, data on Overture for
search traffic can be skewed toward popular terms. It also combines plural and singular versions of keywords
(theres a serious difference in sites ranking for keyword services and keyword service in most niches try
it yourself).
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The YSM Keyword Tool does not give you related terms, but because it offers 100 terms per keyword (more
than the free trial of WordTracker offers) it is a useful way to build a deep keyword list around a specific topic.
Overall, its a good tool to use to get a quick idea of the search popularity of a term and the demand in a
particular niche.
Keyword Discovery
Link: http://www.keyworddiscovery.com
Cost: Paid / Subscription options
Keyword Discovery is a direct competitor for WordTracker and claims to do everything that WT does (but only
better).
People often wonder how Keyword Discovery works and where they get their data from, so heres what KD
have to say for it: (http://keyworddiscovery.com/engines.html)
Keyword Discovery currently collects search term data from just over 180 search engines world wide. Our
database contains approximately 32 billion searches from the last 12 months.
We do not use other keyword research sources like Google or the Overture search term suggestion tools in
our data. These may be provided as part of the Keyword Discovery service, but are separate from our core
database.
How we collect the data
The search engines listed below either provide their complete search logs and these are imported in full into our
database, or samples are collected by scraping search statistics from ISP logs and other sources.
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Data is collected on daily basis however due to the index size, the online database is updated monthly.
Premium Database
If you are looking for a pure search results without skew caused by automated web agents, we also have the
Premium Database (http://keyworddiscovery.com/premium-keyword-database.html). It contains over 600
million keyword searches based purely on user panel data.
You can see the full list of search engines Keyword Discovery states that it tracks here. (http://
keyworddiscovery.com/engines.html)
Keyword Discovery claims that it tracks 32 billion queries from the last year this number has probably gone
up since KD last updated that page. In comparison, this comScore metrics report (http://www.comscore.com/
press/release.asp?press=1167) shows that in December 2006, Americans conducted 6.7 billion searches.
At that rate, Keyword Discovery apparently manages to track the equivalent of half of the search queries
conducted in the US (worldwide figures will inevitably be higher). Thats not a bad number when you consider
how far behind other keyword databases are.
Keyword Discovery offers spelling mistake research, related terms, seasonal search trends, industry-specific
keywords and several other tools (including keyword reports on specific industries).
WordTracker is the traditional choice, and my personal favorite of the two, but KeywordDiscovery may be
worth a look as well.
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Digital Point Keyword Suggestion Tool
Link: http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/suggestion/
Cost: Free
The DP Keyword Suggestion Tool is a quick n dirty solution to comparing data side by side from the Overture
and WordTracker databases. It uses WordTrackers free service, which is limited, so you dont get the full
benefits of WordTrackers database.
The DP tool is a good choice if you want to quickly compare search popularity data across both tools and if
you are not inclined to pay for WordTracker (even for their 1-day service), then this tool combines Overture and
WordTracker for you and is the one you should use.
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Evaluate Keywords
Once you have a list of keywords closely related to your niche and your audiences search habits, its time to
find out which of these keywords will be most valuable to you.
There is no set way to evaluate the value of a keyword the method / criteria I have used below works well for
any niche or audience, but also leaves room for customization in case you have some mitigating factors that are
not discussed here.
There are three main levels you can judge keywords on:
Competition

The number of web pages you will be competing with for a particular keyword, as well as the ranking
strength of the top websites in this niche
Demand

The number of estimated searches carried out for this term
Relevance

How relevant is this keyword to your site goals as set in the previous chapter?
Estimating Demand
There are several ways to estimate demand, but the core problem is that you cannot get an accurate number
of searches conducted from any search engine. So we rely on keyword research tool such as Keyword Elite in
getting a clear picture.
One big problem when dealing with search popularity data is that because the data is taken from a smaller data
set than what you would usually get when you took the same data from Google, you will get lower numbers.
The easy method to deal with this is to use Keyword Elite and simply multiply the number of monthly searches
shown in Keyword Elite by 8, which will give you a rough estimate of the total Google searches for that keyword,
for the specific month.
However, keep in mind that these are just predictions and not hard numbers. Its not a perfect system, but it is
good enough for our purposes.
Estimating Competition
Note: For this section, we will be using search results from Google exclusively.
There are several metrics that you can use to measure the competition for a particular keyword. Basically, you
are looking at the number of web pages that your website will compete with for that keyword.
You can get this number by searching for that term in Google so, for example, lets take wordpress theme
designer as our target keyword.
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If we search for this term in Google, we see that there are x million results for this phrase thats a LOT of
competing web pages.
However, here is one thing about search engines quite often, web pages that are not optimized for a certain
term may get included in the search results because the page may qualify because of some ranking criteria.
The way to really narrow down your search and to find your actual competition, you can use the following
commands in Google:
allintitle: this search modifier shows only those pages which have all of your target keywords in their title
tags. This produces a focused set of competing pages, but it may exclude some high ranking pages if your
search term is drilled down to 3-4 word terms.
intitle: this search modifier shows only those pages which have one ore more of your target keywords in their
title tags. This will give you a broader look, and is usually a good indication of general competition.
inanchor: this search modifier shows only those pages which have inbound links with anchor text that
includes one or more of your target keywords.
There are other search modifiers you can use (such as allinanchor: or enclosing search phrases in quotes
for more specific targeting) but using the above 3 modifiers is enough to give you a good overall picture of one
keywords competition.
Heres how our terms competition would look like if we used these search modifiers:
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1) Search results for allintitle:wordpress theme designer

2) Search results for intitle:wordpress theme designer
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3) Search results for inanchor:wordpress theme designer
For estimating keyword competition, you would ideally need search results from all 4 searches basic search,
intitle, allintitle and inanchor. For search terms that are not highly optimized for, you will find that the search
results for a basic search could be very high but for intitle results, that number would be low.
Because links are such an important factor in search engine rankings, the inanchor modifier is necessary to
determine the level of competition as well. In the above search for wordpress theme designer, you will see that
there are 10 million web pages that have one or more of the keywords in our search term in the anchor text of
their links.
The comparative search for allinanchor turns up 1.2 million web pages this tells us that while there are few
well-ranking web pages that are directly optimized for wordpress theme designer, there are many other
websites that also appear in the general search results because of their backlinks and on-page optimization for
the wordpress / wordpress themes topics.
After listing (and reviewing) competition figures for basic search (without quotes), intitle, allintitle and inanchor,
you can rank competition using the following 5-point scale:
1 Very Low
2 Low
3 Moderate
4 High
5 Very High
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Essentially you should compare competition figures for different types of searches and use them to estimate
how tough the actual competition is.
I would rate wordpress theme designer as having moderate competition on the other hand, a term as
popular as wordpress themes would be rated as high competition, and something as generic as wordpress
would be very high not to mention that it would also be too broad to effectively target.
Generally, targeting very competitive terms is not a good idea because then you are usually working on a much
broader scope than before.
The only exception to this is when you already have a well established website with a strong history of backlinks
and rankings in the search engines.
Estimating Relevance
In the previous chapter we talked about setting specific goals and objectives for your website. In keyword
analysis, you will want to take each keyword and compare it to your websites goals and objectives, and
determine whether it is relevant or not.
Why would you measure relevance?
To establish a direct connection between what a user is searching for and what your website is providing. If you
target the wrong keywords and a searcher looking for home theater systems comes to your website which
talks about contemporary theater, youve got a problem.
Not only have you spent time and energy (and probably money) in ranking for a term your website is not built
for, but youve got traffic and theyre not converting into customers because of the lack of relevance of your
websites content to their keywords.
Relevance is as important as knowing the level of search popularity and competition for a keyword.
Using the same 5-point scale that we used just now, you can rate keywords on their relevance to your websites
goals.
To continue with our WordPress example, the term wordpress theme designer would be rank a 5 very high
on the relevance scale. In contrast, the term wordpress forums would be rank as 1 - irrelevant to what your
website offers and as a result would not bring in the right audience.
Incidentally, your name (or your website / company name) would also be a 5 as your website becomes more
popular, more and more people will start typing in your name in the search engines to look for you. The same
goes for any products that you are promoting.

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Shortlist Keywords
Once you have search data showing you search popularity and competition for each keyword, you can now start
sifting through them to pick the most important keywords for your website.
There will be 3 types of keywords you will be looking for:
Brand terms

Keywords that are related to your name, your website / companys name and your products. These are terms
that will be less important in the beginning but as your business grows they will become good funnels of traffic
for your website as people start searching for you directly by name.
High Relevance + High Search Popularity terms
Terms that are highly relevant (4 or 5 on the relevance scale) are no-brainers for your targeting. However,
theres no point in targeting terms that dont get any traffic, is there? Ideally you want keywords that are both
highly relevant AND get decent search traffic.
High Relevance + Low Competition terms
If search popularity is low but you still have highly relevant terms in your list, check their competition if there
is little competition for them you might want to target these keywords (as second or third tier keywords) and
use them to dominate search results for very relevant terms. In general, low competition means less difficulty in
reaching the top 5 search results for a keyword.
Your brand terms will be highly relevant but will probably have low competition (unless you are working as an
affiliate, in which case competition could be high for popular products). You will probably find other search terms
as well related your business but not used by users searching for it.
Two handy rules for short-listing your keywords:
If a search term is NOT relevant, do not include it in your shortlist.
If a search term has low search popularity, do NOT include it in your shortlist UNLESS it is also highly
relevant.
Your final shortlist can include anywhere between 10 to 50 keywords (or more) depending on the size of your
website and the scope of your business. A large, established website with plenty of products could even have
100s of keywords.
Congratulations by now you know everything you need to in order to build a focused, traffic-pulling keyword
list. The next step would be to match your keywords to internal pages but we will do that in Phase 2 when we
build / optimize your website.
Now that we have a better understanding of doing keyword research, lets move to the next (and final) phase of
the research process: competition analysis.
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7 Competitive Analysis
Competitive analysis is a process of doing background research on the top search results in your niche (and for
specific target terms) to find out:
Who your main competition is
What they are doing to rank at the top of search engine rankings for your target terms
How you can beat them
One way of looking at SEO is to consider that in order to rank #1 for your target search terms, you have to
show search engines that your website is more relevant and accurate in its information for a particular search
term than the current #1 search result.
To do this, you need to find out what your top competitors are doing and devise a strategy to beat them.
The rest of this chapter will discuss competitive analysis in detail and show you the tools and strategies you can
use to scope out your competition.
Competitive Analysis Overview
When researching your competition, you will be making several lists of competitors and analyzing them one by
one.
How?
You do this by separating your keywords into sub topics depending on the size of your keyword list you will
have anywhere between 3-6 or more sub topics in your keyword list.
Once you have separated your keywords into subtopics, you will take each sublist, and find the top 5 websites
in your niche for that sublist. You can find them by comparing search results for all the keywords in your keyword
list across the 3 main search engines (Google, Yahoo and MSN) and using a points system (explained later) to
rank the competitors.
Once you have the top 5 competitors for your first sublist, you just repeat the process for the rest of the
sublists.
Why are we doing this?
Creating competitor lists for your niche will give you an overview of which sites are the strongest for a particular
set of keywords (sublist) in your niche. Because these websites enjoy high rankings over for several keywords
and across different search engines, you will want to study their sites and learn as much as possible about how
they are ranking this high in the SERPs.
This analysis will include looking at each sites backlinks as well as their on-site optimization efforts. Which
sites are linking to them? What anchor text are they using? Are those links in context or on link pages? What
keywords are they using on their site?
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Overall, you are looking for two things how difficult it will be to beat your competition, and what steps you
need to take (where to get links from, what to optimize on your website) in order to get to #1 in your niche.
We are also looking for possible link sources and optimization clues for specific internal pages; as you learned
in the keyword research chapter, your main keywords should be mapped to internal pages. And if you are
optimizing for specific keywords, it makes sense to go after those strategies that are helping other websites do
well for them.
Example: Medical Billing
Heres a quick example on how to segment a keyword list.
This a partial keyword list generated for a fictional New Jersey-based firm offering medical billing and medical
transcription services to doctors and healthcare providers in the US.
Electronic medical billing
EMR software
Free EMR software
Free Medicaid eligibility
Medicaid eligibility
Medical billing
Medical billing companies
Medical billing company
Medical billing service
Medical billing services
Medical billing software
Medical claims billing
Medical insurance billing
Medical transcription
Medical transcription companies
Medical transcription company
Medical transcription service
Medical transcription services
Online medical billing
There are 19 keywords on that list, but they can be divided into sub topics.
First you pick the primary keywords (using search popularity and relevance data from your keyword research):
Medical transcription
Medical billing
Medical billing software
Medicaid eligibility
Medical billing company / service
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And then you set up sublists around these keywords:
Medical transcription
Medical transcription
Medical transcription companies
Medical transcription company
Medical transcription service
Medical transcription services
Medical billing
Electronic medical billing
Medical billing
Medical claims billing
Medical insurance billing
Online medical billing
Medical billing software
EMR software
Free EMR software
Medical billing software
Medical billing company
Medical billing companies
Medical billing company
Medical billing service
Medical billing services
Medicaid eligibility
Free Medicaid eligibility
Medicaid eligibility
Now once you have your sublists, you can create a list of top 5 competitors for each sublist. The next section
will show you how to.
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Your Top Competitors
As I said earlier, to get a complete picture of your competition you want to track the top 10 rankings across all 3
search engines and then rank them according to their overall niche rankings.
For that to work, you need to have a ranking system.
Ranking System
This sounds more complicated than it is
Each website is listed once for a particular sublist (even though that website may have more than one 1.
page showing up in search results for the same set of terms).
Assign 10 points for #1 spot, 9 for #2, and so on, with 1 point for the #10 spot. 2.
All 3 search engines are assigned a multiplier to signify their market share. MSN has around 10%, Yahoo 3.
28% and Google 48%. Keeping this in mind, Live gets a multiplier of 1, Yahoo a multiplier of 3 and Google
a multiplier of 5.

This multiplier is then used on the points assigned to each top 10 ranking achieved by a website for a
particular keyword.

This means that, for example, if Site A ranks #3 (8 points) in Google for keyword X, #1 (10 points) in
Yahoo and #10 (1 point) in MSN, its cumulative score for that keyword would be:

(8 x 5) + (10 x 3) + (1 x 1) = 40 + 30 + 1 = 71.
You calculate the cumulative score for each keyword for each website that appears in the top 10 results, 4.
and then you add the keyword scores for the competitors. Sort them by their ranking, and voila you
have your top 5 competitors.
This will give you an approximate overview of the strongest sites in your niche. It will also help you focus
subtopics within your niche and using the advice in the rest of the chapter help you dominate them as well.
I would recommend that you do this exercise once manually to get an idea of this works. However, this is just
tedious number crunching and your time is valuable there are several automated options available to you.
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There are other tools that will allow you to do a bit of analysis on your competition, if you do not own SEO Elite.
One such automated option is We Build Pages (http://www.webuildpages.com/ ) Top Competitors Tool
(http://www.webuildpages.com/seo-tools/top-competitor-tool.php). While this doesnt use the same formula
as Ive described above, its an effective method of finding the top sides across the 3 main search engines for
your keywords.
The downside is that it only measures the top competitors per keyword. You can compensate for this by search
for the primary keywords only to build your competition list.
Competitor SEO Checklist
What we are now looking for is to establish the difficulty for each subtopic in our niche. We do this by
examining the top sites in each subtopic competitors list for key search ranking factors.
This part of competitive analysis relies on approximation and experience rather than hard numbers. Because
search engine ranking algorithms are so complex, it is difficult to place an exact value on how difficult it will be
to beat a website thats top dog in your niche.
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The best you can do is to understand what they are doing, and then ensure that youre doing it better than
them.
One simple way of establishing difficulty would be to rank a subtopic on a scale of 1 to 3:
1 Competition has done little optimization / easy to beat
2 Moderate optimization / Competition will take time (and money) to overcome
3 Heavy optimization / Have to work hard for an year or more to beat this competition
This will simplify and probably generalize things, but we are not looking for specific indicators, just general
guidelines.
Key Search Ranking Factors
The main search engine ranking factors you will be looking at are:
Title and Meta tags optimization
Keyword usage
URL structure
Backlinks Analysis
Site Age
Internal linking
Directory listing check Yahoo, Dmoz, BOTW, Business.com, bCentral.
Lets look at these factors one by one and see what we can learn about our competition.
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On-Page Factors
When you review on-page factors on your competitor websites, you are looking at three main things title and
meta tags, keyword usage (and linkage with specific pages) and URL structure.
It should take you a maximum of 5 minutes to review the on-page factors of a competitor heres what you do:
For each page (main page and top product pages), check title and meta tags. Pay close attention to
keyword usage, unique titles and descriptions and tying in keywords with specific pages.
Establish what the URL structure is keyword rich, dynamic pages, etc.
For each page, find primary keyword (or subtopic) and see page for optimal keyword usage (H1 tags, title
tags, keyword occurrence in every paragraph, keyword variance, etc).
This may seem a little difficult, so if you are not sure about what good on-page SEO is, please jump forward and
read Chapter 9 (On-Page SEO) for a quick primer.
Site Factors
In Site factors you are looking at sitemaps usage, site age (used to predict link age) and internal linking (anchor
text and link destinations).
Sitemap usage
Usually you can find links to a sites sitemap in the footer (near the privacy policy and contact type of links).
A sitemap is used to assist search engines in finding all site pages thus getting them crawled and indexed.
The presence of a sitemap in itself does not give ranking benefits; however the usage of sitemaps at the very
least indicates a basic understanding of net usability and search engines.
Do your competitors use sitemaps? Are they linking to all internal pages or just a handful?
Internal linking
Internal linking (part of site architecture) is one of the key principles of good on-page / site SEO.
What youre looking for:
Your most important (top product / category) pages linked to from the main page
Keyword-rich and varied anchor text being used in all links
Top-level category pages acting as doorways to all pages that fall under that section.
Cross-linking between pages pointing to related information
Evidence of internal linking being used to specifically raise search engine rankings for specific pages
(site-wide links to a set of pages (apart from the menu area) with optimized anchor text)
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Site Age
By itself the site / domain age does not matter for ranking purposes, but usually it indicates other positive
ranking signs such as domain authority, trust and aged links.
You will want to use site age in conjunction with your backlinks research to determine the authority and trust
levels you are dealing with, although in most cases (or after a bit of experience) you can estimate in a couple of
minutes whether you are dealing with a well-established, heavily-entrenched (and optimized) site or not.
Backlinks Research
What we are looking for
Link authority
Link popularity
Link quality
Directory listings
Yahoo Site Explorer
Using the Yahoo Site Explorer (http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/) to view a websites backlinks is a quick
way of approximating the authority status and trust accorded to it.
In this example were looking the backlinks of www.adsc.com, a medical software firm.
How do we do this?
Go to 1. http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/
Enter site URL in search bar (e.g. 2. www.adsc.com) and click on Explore URL
The page that will load shows all pages indexed in Yahoo for that domain. 3.
On the left, below the Results heading, find and click on Inlinks 4.
Change options (below Inlinks) to Except this domain and Entire Site youll have to wait after 5.
selecting the first option because the page reloads when you select it.
This process gives you a list of ALL the backlinks detected by Yahoo pointing to the target URL, listed in order
of approximate importance. With 50 links per page, it usually takes 5 minutes to skim through the first 2-3
pages and find out if:
The links are from on-topic sites (keywords in domain name / semantic relationship between domain
name and niche)
The links are from authority sites (directories, big content sites like wikipedia and about, top industry
sites)
The links are in-context / in-content or as part of a link list / links page
The links are pointing to internal pages or to the main site (you can do this by randomly selecting
backlinks and seeing what their links looks like anchor text, in-context, and all that).
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Do you need to check each link manually? No. Pick 1 in every 5 links and check it out with experience, it takes
less than 10 seconds to determine the quality of that link.
Check Directory Listings
Another way to check directory links (a good indicator of whether the webmaster is aware of SEO concerns or
not) is to search the top directories directly for your target URL.
Yahoo Directory: http://dir.yahoo.com/
Dmoz: http://dmoz.org
Best Of The Web (BOTW): http://botw.org
Microsoft bCentral: http://sbd.bcentral.com/
Business.com Directory: http://www.business.com/directory/index.asp
For Business.com, you will need to search for the company name instead of the URL. In other directories, a
simple URL search will do.
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Summary
Find out who your top competitors are for your subtopics across the major 3 search engines ideally you
are looking at the top 10 results on Google, Yahoo and MSN.
Use a points system to rank competitor websites based on their search engine rankings on the three
search engines, assigning weights according to SE market share.
Manually analyze the top 5 websites for each subtopic and find out what they are doing to ranking in the
top 10 for those keywords.
Analyze backlinks for each competitor, using Yahoo Site Explorer.
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8 Keywords and Site Content
In the Keyword Research chapter we talked about tying in your keywords with specific site pages. This
chapter will discuss how to do that as well as talk about SEO copywriting and why writing for search engines is
the exact same thing as writing for your target audience.
The Search Engine View
Tying in one page with one or two keywords allows you to develop optimized landing pages / entry points for
your website.
In the long run, you want search engine users to go directly to the page that is most relevant to their query
if you are able to answer their question quickly and directly, your website is immediately more valuable than
another site that requires users to hop around the site search functions.
Internal pages, that have focused content and are more relevant to specific keywords, will result in better
rankings AND will attract relevant deep links themselves.
And when you go onto the long tail of search and target hundreds of low-traffic keywords, it pays to have
individual pages optimized for them instead of lumping everything to one page.
The best proponent of this approach (match keywords to individual content pages) is Wikipedia (http://
en.wikipedia.org/) their vast reservoirs of content means that they are dominating Google SERPs for
hundreds of thousands of low-traffic queries.
How do you decide to match keywords with site pages?
Matching Keywords to Site Pages
Heres a simple step-by-step strategy to doing this:
Match main site keywords (1-3) to the main page these are major keywords in the niche and are usually
the most general terms in your keyword list.
Match top level subtopic keywords to top category pages these are the big keywords that correspond
directly to the categories on your site.
Match second-tier keywords to internal pages try to stick to 2-3 keywords per page (maximum) to keep
content focused.
Heres a live example of how to carry out this process:
Keyword List
Electronic medical billing
EMR software
Free EMR software
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Free Medicaid eligibility
Medicaid eligibility
Medical billing
Medical billing companies
Medical billing company
Medical billing service
Medical billing services
Medical billing software
Medical claims billing
Medical insurance billing
Medical transcription
Medical transcription companies
Medical transcription company
Medical transcription service
Medical transcription services
Online medical billing
Site Pages
Here Ive listed the site page with the keywords (taken from the above list) enclosed in brackets. Not all site
pages have been listed, only the ones that can directly be tied together with keywords:
Main page (medical billing, medical billing company, medical billing companies, medical transcription
company, medical transcription companies)
Medicaid eligibility (free Medicaid eligibility, Medicaid eligibility)
EMR software (EMR software, free EMR software)
Medical billing services (medical billing service, medical billing services
Medical transcription services (medical transcription, medical transcription service, medical transcription
services)
Medical billing basics (online medical billing, electronic medical billing)
Medical claims processing How-to (medical claims billing)
Medical insurance FAQ (medical insurance billing)
Medical billing software (medical billing software)
Youll notice that in some cases, were targeting more than 2 keywords these are usually simple plural
variations (company, companies) and because of that there isnt any loss of focus in using them.
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SEO Copywriting
Most people when they think of SEO copywriting have the wrong idea in mind. SEO copywriting is not about
keyword density or using X number of keyword variations.
SEO copywriting is about writing tightly-focused, high quality content for your site users.
The SEO benefits?
Keeping content focused on 1 / 2 keywords allows you to naturally include keyword variations, use
related terms and automatically cater for all the other fancy stuff that search engines use to evaluate
content relevance to certain keywords.
High quality content is link worthy providing information that genuinely helps your readers will earn you
organic links and make your link building campaigns easier when other site owners can immediately see
the value your site provides.
The best part about keeping things focused and writing naturally is that you do not need to learn anything new
about site copywriting decent writing skills and the ability to write about one topic at a time will do.
Depending on your site goals and your own priorities, you might want to outsource your copywriting work.
Thats fine as long as you can ensure that the following instructions are followed:
One topic / keyword per page, going as general or as specific as the keyword itself
Write naturally and focus on informing the user about the page topic (and how your company can help
them, if you are selling products / services)
Insist on high quality writing skills
And once you have your site content taken care of, its time to put your site together and work on On-Page
SEO.
But before we move to the next chapter, I want to discuss the scenario if you already have a website and need
to optimize your site content.
Optimizing Site Content on Existing Sites
If you already have a website, you will hopefully have followed and completed the process of doing keyword
research on your site.
Use your keyword list and match it with your site pages. Notice discrepancies and note all pages that have
unrelated / unfocused content.
Depending on how focused your existing site pages are, you will either have to rewrite your pages and rearrange
your site structure completely, or make minor adjustments in removing chunks of unrelated information and
doing minor rewrites of your pages.
In any case, make sure that you are matching keywords to specific site pages and are following the advice given
above in the SEO Copywriting section.
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9 On-Page SEO

On-page SEO can seem to be very easy and basic once you know how to do it, but the reality is that most
people dont know how to do on-page SEO the right way, dont know which factors to focus on and sometimes
dont realize the value that on-page optimization brings to the table.
On-page SEO is not as critical as it was a few years ago Google has lead the line on increasing the importance
of links (and in the last two years, the type of links) and other search engines have followed suit.
However, on-page SEO is still important from controlling how your site is described in search engine results to
how your site pages are indexed and ranked according to on-page factors.
On-page factors matter less for very competitive keywords, but for most terms a combination of good on-page
SEO and basic link building (which we learn in the next few chapters) is good to get your site indexed and
getting traffic from search engines for your target terms.
There are 4 main things that you need to consider when doing On-Page SEO:
Title Tags
Meta Tags
Keyword Usage
Avoid Duplicate Content
Things like internal linking, proper url structure and sitemaps come under site architecture and are discussed in
the next chapter.
Lets look at each item individually so you know how to optimize your web pages for each of them.
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Title Tags
Denoted by the <title> tags in HTML, this tag always shows at the top of a browser window and appears in the
SERPs as the title of the web page (this has other implications as well for your site, as Ill discuss below).
A Title tag will tell the search engines and users what the current web page is about, so you have to cater for
both audiences when setting up Title tags.
Note: I would strongly recommend that you use a template for your Title tags so that you can simply plug in
the relevant details Ive given a sample template later on in this section.
To improve your search engine rankings, use that pages target keywords in the Title tag as we discussed in
the previous chapter, it is important to match keywords with specific pages.
To cater for regular readers, keep your Title tag short and readable, and if you wish, you can also brand each
page with your main domain URL. Since your Title tag will appear in search results as the title / name of
the web page, you also would want to write clear, attractive web page titles that attract attention and invite
clickthroughs.
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Writing Title tags is a balancing act between optimizing for search engines and users but there some
guidelines you can use to make it simple:
Match keywords to pages to keep page content focused and leave you with one or two keywords per
page.
Your domain name is an identifier (on what site is this page?) and a branding tool. Use it accordingly.
Vary page title according to page function (e.g. home page, category page, inner page, etc).
Title tags should be unique to each page.
Use natural English to make the meaning of Title tags clearer.
Keep Title tags short.
Note: Your Title tag is also a branding tool for you, so do not stuff unrelated keywords to boost your rankings
search engines react negatively to keyword stuffing and it can backfire on you.
Template Title Tags
I use the following structure for my pages:
Home Page title tag: Site name + site tagline / main keywords. Sometimes you can skip the tag line and just
put in the site name along with the main keyword for the site.
Article / individual page title tag: Article title first, site name second. Some sites use the site name first while
other sites use the site URL instead.
I put the article title / page title / page keywords first as a usability concern you put the article title first
because that is most relevant to the reader. Site name and URL and secondary concerns.
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Site section / Category title: Category / Section name / keywords first, site name second. Same as above.
Title tags are, in terms of time investment, one of the most effective SEO techniques you can implement.
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Meta Tags
Meta tags are used to describe the contents of a page. In the early days of search engines, they were used to
determine rankings, but thanks to excessive SEO abuse they are totally discounted for SEO purposes.
However, the two main Meta tags (meta description and meta keywords) are still useful for telling the search
engine what the page is about. This information is used in different ways (but not for ranking) for example, the
Meta description tag of a page is used to describe that page in SERPs (see screenshot below for an example).
Meta Description Tag
The Meta description tag is extremely useful in controlling the SERPS description of your web pages. Just as
the title tag should be written with branding in mind and should encourage search engine users to click, the
Meta description should perform the same function.
Keyword usage in this tag (and the use of the meta keywords tag as well) does not have any impact to search
rankings although if you are building a new website, make sure you are setting up each page with unique (and
targeted) title tags, meta description tags and meta keywords tags. If you have the chance to build a website
that does as much as possible to tell the search engine what your web pages are about, why wouldnt you?
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Tips for writing the meta description tag:
Use one or two sentences to describe the page keep it short but not too short (as a rough guide, stay
between 50 and 150 characters).
Use that pages main keywords and keyword variations in the meta description.
Remember that this description will most probably be seen by searchers when they see this page as a
search result make sure you can convey what this page is about quickly.
Meta Keywords Tag
The meta keywords tag is often ridiculed, but while it may not help in search rankings its accuracy and proper
usage causes no harm.
Tips for writing the meta keywords tag:
Use only those keywords that are directly related to the page.
Make sure you do not spam this tag by entering 30 keywords. 5-10 keyword variations (maximum) will
suffice.
Keyword Usage
This refers to how a pages keywords are used throughout the text on the page. Although pages on unrelated
topics can still rank for search queries, keyword usage is the main indicator for search engines in determining
topical relevance of a web page.
As we discussed in the previous chapter, the first step in page optimization is to match keywords with specific
pages. Once you have each page limited to 1 or 2 keywords, you are able to write more effectively (and
naturally) about that topic and thus create content that is laser-focused- on your keywords and will give you no
problems in terms of topical relevance.
SEO Copywriting 101
You may have heard this advice: write naturally it is excellent advice, and if you can follow it (as well as a
few other simple guidelines), it will take care of everything else (that is, all the technical stuff).
Write to inform your users.
Write about one topic per page using your page keyword as the starting point, and going as detailed or
as general as the keyword itself is.
Instead of repeating just one form of the keyword, use different forms of the keyword as well as related
terms.
Use your main keyword in the Title tag and in the H1 tag of your page.
Once you have written your page, review it and confirm that your keyword is used evenly throughout the
page, and ensure that variations and related terms are used as well.
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The 3 search engines use different criteria to judge the topic of a page and its topical relevance. The best
strategy to use is to adopt a middle ground when it comes to using keywords not too much, not too little, and
throw in related terms and keyword variations.
Avoid Duplicate Content
The duplicate content penalty comes into effect when a search engine finds an exact copy of a certain amount
of content on two or more web pages.
In order to avoid listing duplicate results, the search engine selects one of those web pages as the original
page, and penalizes the other web pages.
This penalty can be a reduction in ranking for those pages or banishment to the supplemental index (for
Google).
Search engines do a pretty good job of filtering out duplicate content, and because of this you need to be
careful about pages on your website and if there are two or more pages that are identical in content, you will
want to change things around and add original content to them (or remove those pages).
Common elements across a website such as the menu links and information in the sidebar are usually not
something to worry about duplicate content filters are more concerned with the actual content rather than
these side elements.
To avoid duplicate content penalties, you should:
Keep content unique on each page.
Add significant content to each page (250-350 words minimum).
Supplemental Results
Google uses two indexes to display search engine results from a main index and a supplemental index. Here
is what Google itself has to say about the supplemental index on its webmaster support section (http://www.
google.com/support/webmasters/) :
Supplemental sites are part of Googles auxiliary index. Were able to place fewer restraints on sites that we
crawl for this supplemental index than we do on sites that are crawled for our main index. For example, the
number of parameters in a URL might exclude a site from being crawled for inclusion in our main index; however,
it could still be crawled and added to our supplemental index.
The index in which a site is included is completely automated; theres no way for you to select or change the
index in which your site appears. Please be assured that the index in which a site is included does not affect its
PageRank.
What this means is this for Google to throw a page into the supplemental index, there are 3 main reasons:
Duplicate content if you are copying content from some other web page (from your site or another site).
No content on the website empty pages with only navigational menus and sidebar content have similar
content and are kept in the supplemental index.
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Orphaned web pages pages that have no links pointing to them, including from your own website.
In such a case, you need to add new / unique content to those pages (and follow the internal linking guidelines
explained later on in this book).
Note: Remember that duplicate content filters are negative-only filters you get penalized if your web pages
are copies of other pages, but if you get the all-clear from these filters it will not give you any boost in search
rankings.
Other On-Page SEO Factors
A handful of other on-site SEO factors (url structure, internal linking and sitemaps) are discussed in the next
chapter.
But are there any other on-page SEO factors to work with?
The fact is that while search engines may be using over a 100 different ranking factors, there are a handful of
these factors matter the most and are indirectly responsible for determining the rest.
For example, proper keyword usage throughout the page takes care of all possible ranking factors such as the
presence of the right keywords in the Title tag, in H1 tags, etc.
The point is that you dont need to know every single SEO factor to succeed in fact, if you know the end goal
(what search engines want), and the means to get there (what Ive told you in this book), youll do just fine.
Plus youll have a lot less to worry about.
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10 Site Architecture
The term site architecture refers to how a website is organized how the pages link to each other, how you can
access the web pages, etc.
In this chapter, we will talk about three main site-related SEO factors:
Optimal URL structure
Sitemaps
Internal linking
URL Structure
Like Title tags, optimizing URL structures is a simple and time-effective (but important in terms of SE rankings
and site branding).
However, many webmasters ignore them, especially those that use database driven websites to generate
dynamic pages.
The technical aspects of optimizing your URLs will depend on how you build your website. If it is a simple
collection of HMTL pages, it depends on how you name your files. On the other hand if it is a database driven
website (using a content management system such as a blog), then you will have to look into the packages own
help files on how to change the URL structure.
Whatever the technical specifics, there are a few generic rules that you can apply to your site pages to make
them search engine friendly:
Use keywords (specific to that page) in the URL. You can also use the page title (not the full Title tag but
just the page name), or use variations of your keyword phrase.
If you are using more than one word in the URL, use hyphens to separate them.
Keep URLs short.
Use static URLS instead of dynamic, database-driven URLs where possible. If it becomes necessary, use
as few parameters as possible.
Note: Dynamic URLS are the type of URLS that contain database query parameters for example, http://
www.yoursite.com/products.php?id=12&cat=45&page=2 has three query parameters: id, cat and page.
This could easily be rewritten as a keyword-rich, SE and user-friendly URL such as: http://www.yoursite.com/
pink-widgets.html
Remove extra data (instead of http://www.site.com/category/category1/page1.htm, try http://www.
site.com/category1/page1.htm)
You can miss one or two of these and still rank well. However, when youre building a new site you need to get
as many things right out of the box as possible, and URL structures are fairly easy to get right.
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Redirecting Old URLs to New URLs
If you are fixing your website, you will run into a familiar problem for webmasters your pages already rank in
search engines, but if you change the URLs, you risk losing your search engine rankings.
The solution that search engines provide is to use a code that indicates to search engines and users that the
old page (where the links are pointed, and is already ranking well in search engines). The right way to do this is
to use the permanent redirect code, also known as a 301 redirect (301 is the code).
How do you do this? It depends on your web host and whether you are using Unix-based hosting or Windows-
based hosting.
Your web host should be able to guide you in this matter while there are plenty of online tutorials that offer
help in redirecting your site URLs, it is easier (and safer, if you are not a technical person) to ask your web host
support staff.
Just make sure that whether you do it yourself or ask someone to do it, that you:
Use 301 redirects that is, permanent redirects
Ensure that the redirects work by visiting the old URLs if everything is correctly configured, the URL
will change in the browser window to the new URL
Heres an excellent resource for implementing 301 redirects. (http://www.isitebuild.com/301-redirect.htm)

Sitemaps
While sitemaps do not provide any ranking benefits, they help search engine robots in finding all your web pages
and in the case of the Sitemaps protocol (http://www.sitemaps.org/) agreed to by Google, Yahoo and MSN,
they present the foundation to build a relationship between site owner and search engines.
Why should you use sitemaps?
When starting a new website, a sitemap is a handy index for search engines to know more about your site if
you have a website with more than a handful of pages, normal crawling may not get to all your internal pages.
A sitemap, linked to off your main site, will be able to give the search engine a full list of all pages on your
website and as a result will aid in rapid indexing of your sites pages.
Note: There are more techniques you can use to aid crawling and indexing of your website, but the two main
ideas are to a) build high-PR links and b) use sitemaps to inform search engines of all your site pages.
Google Sitemaps
Google Sitemaps (http://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/ ) now under the Google Webmaster Central
(http://www.google.com/webmasters/) are an effective way to monitor how your websites status in Google.
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Submitting your sitemap to Google will not necessarily help Google crawl/index your site quicker, but it will be
able to tell you certain important things, such as:
The last time your site was crawled
The pages indexed
Pages included in your sitemap that were not indexed
More index stats
Additionally, Google Webmaster Central will also:
Tell you the common words Googlebot sees on your site
Give handy shortcuts to see your sites status in the Google index
Pages on your site that have external links pointing to them (not a full list)
Internal linking analysis
Popular search queries driving traffic to your site
Average search rankings of your sites pages for terms you get traffic from
All in all, its a useful tool and a good way to point out any problems your site is having in Google. And as
Google improves the functionality of Google Webmaster Central and adds more tools, this will become an even
more integral part of your search marketing campaign.
To create a Google Sitemap:
Use XML Sitemaps. (http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/)
If you are using a WordPress blog, use Arne Brachholds Google Sitemap Generator WP Plugin. (http://
www.arnebrachhold.de/2005/06/05/google-sitemaps-generator-v2-final)
And if you want to build your own sitemap generator or want to understand more about how the Google
Sitemap works, see Googles own script. (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/docs/en/
sitemap-generator.html)
Internal Linking
Depending on the size of your website (i.e. the number of pages on your site), internal linking can have a
minimal impact (on small sites) or a very large effect (on big websites) on your sites search engine rankings.
There are three main aspects of internal linking site navigation, in-context linking and anchor text.
Site Navigation
Proper site navigation is a basic and integral part of on-site optimization. You want to link to your top pages
from the navigation menu whether those are main categories (big site) or just key internal pages (small site).
You will probably have more than one navigation menu a main menu for site navigation, and a secondary menu
for informational pages (about, contact, sitemap, FAQ, etc).
The site navigation has just one purpose to highlight the main sections of your website. Think of which top-
level pages are the most important, and add them to your main navigation.
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Informational pages that need to be included (for usability reasons) can go in the secondary menu).
Note: If you have a blog and your website has several dozen categories, you can list them in a third menu in
the sidebar of your website.
In-Context Linking
Search engines give more weight to in-context links than link lists (on a links page or in the sidebar). This makes
in-context linking important for off-site links as well as internal links.
Ideally, you want to make it so that all related pages and terms are interlinked amongst each other through in-
context links (using the right keywords as anchor text).
For an extreme but effective example of in-context linking, see Wikipedia. (http://en.wikipedia.org/) Many
terms used on the site are linked to internal pages or internal searches for example, all mentions of the term
carbon footprint in Wikipedia articles are linked to the article on carbon footprint on Wikipedia.
End result a combination of site authority and heavy internal linking means that the Wikipedia article is the #3
result in Google for carbon footprint.
Wikipedia is an excellent example of how authoritative domains with smart internal linking practices and proper
on-page optimization can dominate search engine rankings for all types of keywords.
However, instead of linking every word (which would be over the top and counter-productive) try to link to
relevant pages once in each page. For internal linking to have a noticeable impact on your search rankings, you
need to be working with more than a handful of pages.
Inter-linking on a site with hundreds of pages will have a bigger effect than just a handful of pages.
Anchor Text
Links are important but without using the right keywords they will not deliver the required benefits. Links
without related keywords are like shooting arrows blind you are sending link juice to those pages, but youre
not telling the search engines what topic those pages are relevant to.
The best way to explain this is to show you some examples.
Lets say you are linking to a page on wireless modems. There are several ways to link to it.
#1 This is a page on learning spanish. (note: the link goes to this URL: http://www.yoursite.com/wireless-
modem.html)
#2 To learn more about wireless modems, click here. (note: the link goes to this URL: http://www.yoursite.
com/wireless-modem.html)
#3 Learn more about wireless modems. (note: the link goes to this URL: http://www.yoursite.com/wireless-
modem.html)
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#1 uses the right format (keywords in the anchor text), but has the wrong keywords. The topic is unrelated and
this will not help that page rank well for its main keyword, wireless modems.
#2 is a sentence on the right subject but is not using the right keywords. This is better than #1 (its on topic),
but it could be better.
#3 is done right on topic, and with the right keywords in the anchor text of the link.
Not all links will be as well done as #3 quite often the people linking to your pages from their own sites do not
use the right anchor text.
Search engines realize this and as a result the text surrounding the link as well as the page topic is also
considered important and taken into consideration when judging the value of links. This is why getting links from
related pages and related web sites is so important.
Site Architecture
How your website is structured internally how pages link to each other, how different categories are divided
and how content is segmented across those categories.
Just as external links pointing to your website are considered votes, a link from one site page to the other
counts as a vote as well. Proper internal linking account for navigation as well.
The way you setup your site determines along with the number, PR and quality of links pointing to your
website how quickly it is crawled by search engines, whether all internal pages are found or not, and also how
well your pages rank in the search engine results.
Have clear, distinct sections on your website and chunk content in them. If necessary, cross-link (a page
that is relevant to two or more categories) but make sure that you are creating clear subtopics on your
site and not a mishmash of random information.
Highlight the key sections via navigational menus across the whole site.
Build a reusable system of internal linking standard navigation + internal linking strategies to
maximize exposure for key pages.
Use sitemaps to help search engines find all pages of your website (no, the absence of sitemaps will not
harm your search engine rankings, nor will the presence of one necessarily improve them it just makes
it easier for search engines to find and index new pages).
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11 Link Building Basics
In all major search engines, links are the direct route to top search engine rankings.
There are tons of ways to acquire links, but before you do that there are a few things to discuss such as:
Trust, Authority and Relevance in links
How search engines evaluate a link
The value of link popularity
The different types of links
Lets start with the 3 key factors in evaluating links trust, authority and link popularity.
Trust and Links
Trust is a measure of how well a search engine trusts a website to provide accurate and reliable information
(whether it is content on the site, or links to other websites).
How do search engines measure trust? It is a difficult question, and to be fair theres no one trust metric
that search engines use rather, its a name given to a set of metrics that appear to influence search engine
rankings in a similar way that one would if evaluating trustworthy and non-trustworthy resources.
Looking at these metrics (not all of them are known) can help us actively go after optimizing our sites to be
trusted by the search engines.
Trust and Authority overlap (and are similar in that they are names given to sets of ranking factors), so you
might see some information repeated here and in the next section.
Lets look at some of the key factors coming under Trust:
Links from high authority and high popularity websites
A websites linking out policies
Link ageing and link popularity growth patterns
Power links from outside the niche with relevant link text - denoting the site as a topical authority
Status as a topical authority links from within the niche
Link popularity (but only in combination with other factors)
Trust is an increasingly important factor as search engine algorithms evolve and start using site histories
(rankings, link building patterns, linking out patterns, content addition patterns, etc) more heavily to evaluate
links and web pages.
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The reality is that no one can pretend to know exactly what factors search engines use or how they use them.
What we do know for sure is that search engines use time-based indicators and link quality to establish trust in
a website. This trust in turn helps boost your search engine rankings.
The best way to take advantage of this approach by the search engines is to:
Get your best links as early as possible (remember that link age is a factor)
Adopt a natural link building pattern (rate of link growth is also a factor)
Balance your link building practices by actively seeking out these power links
Authority and Links
Like Trust, Authority is a term that refers to a set of ranking factors (that overlap with the Trust factors).
Search engines use authority to measure a sites reputation within a niche a site may be considered an
authority on one topic but not rank at all for another, unrelated topic.
Key factors:
Quality links from within the topical niche
Links from outside the niche but using relevant link text
Link popularity
When you combine Trust and Authority you get a situation where a domain can not only easily rank for search
terms within their own niche, but they can also start ranking for low-competition terms from other niches
without any problems.

Community-based websites such as Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/) , About.com and HowStuffWorks.com
are perfect examples of domains that have built sufficient trust and authority that a new page on them can rank
quite well in the search engines thanks to the domain being so powerful.
This factor is more prevalent in Google than Yahoo or MSN, but its an important factor to keep in mind link
building is a balancing act between deep links to your key pages and getting power links to your domain to
increase its trust and authority.
Having an authority domain can make it much easier for your inner pages to rank well in search engines.
Link Popularity
Link popularity measures the number of all links pointing to a website. Search engines use link quality to
measure the value and importance of these links, and then give each link a different weight depending on its
quality (more on link quality in the link building chapters).
Why is this important? Because as much as link quality is important, having more links more web pages
voting for your website will always help. And as you will find out later, if you can avoid those links that are
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disregarded completely, every link that you acquire will help your search engine rankings.
We have already seen in the Search Ranking Factors chapter that PageRank helps websites in getting crawled
and indexed.
Despite protests by some SEOs to the contrary, PageRank is still a relevant ranking factor and link popularity
still plays a significant role in search rankings, whether in Google or in Yahoo and MSN.
So how does link popularity help search rankings?
Links from high PR pages (relevant and in-context, of course) are a good way to build authority.
Link popularity (sheer link power) will help less relevant domains rank over more relevant but weaker
domains. If you have a website that wants to dominate a related niche, high PageRank and link popularity
can help you get there quicker.
With all other factors being the same, a high PR link (site with higher link popularity) is more valuable
than a low PR link.
On the flip side, lots of relevant links (increasing your sites link popularity) is a better approach than
going after a handful of links from high PageRank pages.
PR is a measure of link popularity as well, and considering how Yahoo and MSN give more weight to
sheer link popularity, it is a good indicator of how your website can perform in other search engines.
Link Evaluation
These are the primary factors that search engines can consider when evaluating link value:
Anchor text
Topical relevance of linking site / page
Authority of linking site / page
Co-Citation
Link popularity / PageRank of linking page
Different types of links
Link / Site Age
Note: In chapter 15, we will be using this material to discuss how you can value potential links during the link
building process.
Anchor Text
The anchor text is used to describe the destination of a link so a link to a web page that has reviews on
Bluetooth headsets would ideally have Bluetooth headset reviews in its anchor text.
Note: The HTML code for a link goes something like this: <a href=http://www.yoursite.com/bluetooth-
headset-reviews.html/>Bluetooth headset reviews</a> - the bit in quotation marks is the page link and the
text between the <a> and </a> tags is the anchor text.

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Not only is the anchor text important but also the content surrounding the link as those are often used to
describe the link much more effectively than the anchor text itself.
Because of this, citation factors (discussed later on) and the different type of links (next section) are also
important considerations.
Topical Relevance
A topical community is measured by the search engines as a group of websites who interlink to and with one
another frequently and carry a similar topic or theme.
Links from websites within your topical community carry more weight because they offer a better chance of
critically evaluating the information your site offers than an outside website unfamiliar with the topic. Editorial
citations from within your topical community are thus considered more valuable.
Topical relevance is established by:
Analyzing the content of the linking page
Analyzing (and determining) general subject matter of the site
Analyzing the link profile of that page to determine the key subject matter of that page
Doing the above for the site as well.
All other factors being equal, links from closely-related pages and sites are more valuable than off-topic pages
(and sites).
Authority
As discussed earlier, topical authority is determined by aggregating the value of editorial citations to that page,
both from within the topical community and outside it. This is a tighter method of establish authority than simply
using PR or the topical authority of the website hosting the page (although those two impact link value as well).
To judge a pages authority status, we generally look at the links pointing to that page. However, considering
that authority and trust are usually associated with sites, it is perhaps more relevant to state that the
authority (on-topic) of a linking site is determined by looking at its link profile and data already at the search
engines disposal regarding that site.
Usually you will find that for each niche a core community or hub exists with the most
links from websites also those with the most links from within the topical community at the centre of focus
and discussion. These sites are considered topical authority sites, and for each sector your goal should be to
position your website as the authority in that niche.
A websites primary topic (which the search engines will determine through analyzing its hosted web pages)
influences how well those pages are able to rank for on-topic (similar) and off-topic (different niche) search
queries.
Thus, websites on specific subtopics may be able to rank higher than websites that cover the general topic. This
also works in reverse, as large websites (like BBC or Wikipedia) cover a myriad of subjects and thus may be
able to rank well for many or all of them.
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Link Popularity / PageRank
The link popularity of the linking page has a direct impact on the value of the links that page creates.
For Google, it is the PageRank of the linking page that has an impact.
Link popularity (global) of the linking site and that of the target site matter more than the link pop (or
PageRank) of the individual pages.
Co-Citation
Co-Citation is a method used to establish a topical similarity between two items (in our case, two web pages or
two websites).
For example, if A and B are both cited (linked to) by C, they may be said to be related to one another even if
they do not link to each other directly.
If A and B are both cited by many other pages, they have a stronger relationship i.e. they are considered very
similar.
This similarity can be used to determine the quality / trustworthiness of a page / website / source.
Acquiring links from websites and web pages that regularly reference the top authority sites in your topical
niche (and conversely, avoid off-topic links or links to bad neighborhood sites) will show your website as being
part of the same high-authority topical community as the top sites in your niche.
Co-citation plays a distinct role in establishing trust for a domain.
Co-citation works both for on-page links (getting a link from a page that links to other top sites) and for on-site
links (getting a link from a site that regularly references other top sites in that niche).
Different Types of Links
The degree of value the search engine can accord a particular link is based on how it is used on the page.
The navigation menu of a page has obvious importance, so links in that menu (usually internal pages) are
trusted implicitly, even if they are not necessarily what youd call in-context.
A list of links in the sidebar might have little importance if there is no editorial content surrounding them
mainly because these are not links that are considered important to the sites functions.
In-context links are important but two things have to be taken care off topical relevance and the history of the
site itself. Sites with a good linking history can even have their link-lists categorized as trusted links, while sites
with poor a linking history will have their in-context links discounted as well.
Site / Link Age
The age of a domain is usually thought to be a relevant factor in ranking websites in Google. The proponents of
this view point to the number of websites that seem to rank well in search engine simply because they are old
domains.
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However, there is a second school of thought that points to link age as opposed to site age pointing to
cases where old domains do not rank well because those domains do not have many links pointing to them from
the early days of a domain.
Personally, I think that the later is more accurate link age is one of the key trust-based ranking factors for
search engines, and the persistence of a link as well as its age means far more than the age of a domain.
Note: Old, established domains with a good backlinks history are often bought by webmasters in an effort to
jump ahead of the ranking race. If you chose to do this, please research the topic more extensively and take care
to research the backlinks profile of the site in detail.
Whats Next
When youre starting a new site, you want to pick up the best links that you can not only to get crawled and
indexed but also to gain some trust and authority from the search engines so you can rank high for your target
terms.
The next chapter will show you exactly which links to get for a sites launch.
And if you already own a website and are looking to improve its rankings, skim through the next chapter and
see which links you might have missed out on these links are crucial for a sites rankings and can be easily
attained.
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12 Site Launch Links
There are certain types of links that are known as site launch links. These links are:
Easy to acquire (paid and free)
Powerful, with plenty of trust & authority
High PageRank (for quick crawling and indexing)
I usually divide a sites link building into two distinct phases the site launch phase where links are acquired to
maximize the trust and authority conferred to the sites reputation, and the everything else phase where you
go after links with a long-term view for dominating search engine rankings.
The separation is more semantic than real, however the divide helps you in going after certain types of links in
the beginning and forces you to get those links that will benefit you the most during a sites early stages the
most.
There are two types of links that you need around a websites launch period:
To get your websites crawled and indexed, you need several links to your website as well as a couple of
high-PR links.
Links to build trust, such as sites that enjoy top rankings in Google / Yahoo. These also include a few top
directories such as Dmoz, Business.com and Yahoo Directory.
The right links will check all the boxes that make up an ideal link- they will be from authoritative sources and
pass PR and trust to your website.
However, some elements of trust and authority can only be earned over time. Your links will need to age as well.
Do not let this deter you in acquiring quality links. Rather, use this as an incentive - the earlier you get those big-
hitting links, the quicker they will mature and help you get those top rankings.
Where to find such links? Heres a quick list:
T&A Directories

These are the top 10-20 web directories online. Plenty of trust, authority and PageRank, and with your
site listed in relevant sections, theres an element of relevance and co-citation that comes in as well.
However, these links are not your ideal in-context text links from relevant pages so you also need the
next two types of links.
T&A Community-based Sites

Find the top 10-20 community sites where you can either post your own content (with links) or create
profile pages (an excellent strategy for online reputation management as well).
Lets look at both types of sites individually.
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Trusted Directories
You should get links from all of them if possible, but if not, try to get them from Yahoo and Dmoz at least.
Yahoo Directory 1. ($299 per year) (http://dir.yahoo.com/)
Best of the Web 2. ($69.95 per year or $199.95 lifetime) (http://www.botw.org/)
Business.com 3. ($199 first year, $149 to renew) (http://business.com/)
Dmoz 4. (Free) (http://www.dmoz.org/)
JoeAnt 5. ($39.99 review fee) (http://joeant.com/)
GoGuides.org 6. ($69.95 review fee) (http://goguides.org/)
Microsoft bCentral 7. (if they ever open for submissions again) ($49 per year) (http://sbd.bcentral.com/)
Gimpsy 8. ($40 review fee) (http://www.gimpsy.com/)
Starting Point 9. ($99 per year) (http://www.stpt.com/)
V7N Directory 10. ($49.95 review fee) (http://directory.v7n.com/)
Note: The Dmoz directory is now open again and is accepting submissions since many people are not aware
of this (the reboot was done without much fanfare), this is an excellent time to get included in the Dmoz
directory really fast.
There are plenty more (Umdum (http://www.umdum.com/), RubberStamped (http://www.rubberstamped.
org/), Aviva Directory (http://www.avivadirectory.com/), Webotopia (http://www.webotopia.org/),
Webxperience (http://www.webxperience.org/), Uncover the Net (http://www.uncoverthenet.com/) and Jayde
(http://www.jayde.com/) to name just a few), but these links will be part of the second phase of your sites link
building. For now, you need the biggest bang in the shortest period of time and smallest number of links. These
links will get you there.
However, these web directories can be expensive if you are running a one-man operation or if you are just
starting out and cannot afford to spend around $1k on directory submissions.
If you have this issue, heres a shortcut for you to get the ball rolling so you can come back to the directory
submissions later on.
Remember that this means that youll have to use other creative methods to bring in traffic and links instead of
relying on the early push these directory links will provide.
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The Low-Budget Option
Submit to the Dmoz directory.
Start a blog on your website, fill it with 10-15 posts, then submit a link to the Best of the Web Blogs
(http://blogs.botw.org/) site its free (so far), and you get all the benefits of a link from the directory.
If you can afford it, put down $299 for a Yahoo Directory link.
If you cannot, put down $150 for JoeAnt (http://joeant.com/) ($40), GoGuides.org ($70) and Gimpsy
($40).
If you cannot even afford that, then you have to take the long route sign up as an editor for JoeAnt in
the same category that your site belongs to and add at least 10-15 sites in the category (along with your
own site).

This approach works best if you have a long-term interest in that niche, because going through that much
effort just to get a $40 link is often not worth your time.
It all depends on how much you can spend at the start stay flexible and squeeze as much as you can out of
your budget for these early links.
However, equally, dont fret if you cant get these links. There are plenty of other ways to get links to your site,
but they will take more time.
Recommended Resource: Directory Submitter (http://directorysubmitter.imwishlist.com)
Weve created another free program that will submit your website to literally thousands of other website
directories across the internet. While the Yahoo directory is an excellent, paid directory to submit your website
to, there are also thousands of completely FREE website directories you can submit to.
Doing this submission manually will take you days and days of time, but using out free Directory Submitter
software, you can do this much faster. Directory Submission is something that I highly recommend doing at the
time I am writing this book. The more directories you can submit your website to, the more one-way links youll
get pointing to your website, and the higher you will rank.
Blog Directories
If you have a blog on your website (or as your site), you can get links from the following top blog directories (all
are free):
BlogFlux 1. (http://dir.blogflux.com/)
Best of the Web Blogs 2. (http://blogs.botw.org/)
Eaton Web 3. (http://portal.eatonweb.com/)
Blog Catalog 4. (http://www.blogcatalog.com/)
Blog Hub 5. (http://www.bloghub.com/)
Blogorama 6. (http://www.blogarama.com/)
We Blog a Lot 7. (http://www.weblogalot.com/)
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As you might have noticed, blog directories are free, and that makes them both easy to spam and easy to get
links from.
But if you are targeting the top blog directories (where sites are always editorially reviewed), you have a good
chance of getting the requisite link love without worrying about that directory being filled with spam.
Highly Trusted Websites
Sites like Wikipedia are excellent targets for acquiring links during site launch and beyond as well. Ill let you find
alternatives yourself - think popular, community-based websites with extremely good search engine rankings in
Google.
These websites may not allow their members / pages to pass link value through use of the no-follow tag.
However, these sites are an excellent way to dominate the search engines for your sites brand, and along the
line, to build your search engine rankings for specific terms.
A few examples to get you started:
Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/) despite the no-follow links, a good source for traffic considering
that Wikipedia now has page 1 rankings for a vast array of long tail keywords.
Squidoo (http://www.squidoo.com/browse/homepage) good for some domain-level love, and if your
page is informative and gets links, that will only help your sites rankings. Squidoo is also a good idea if
you want to own the top 10 rankings for your sites name in the search engines.
LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/) a social network for business contacts.
MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/) social network, good for setting up an information page about
your site (or yourself).
Live Spaces (http://spaces.msn.com/) same as above.
Yahoo 360 (http://360.yahoo.com/) same as above.
My Blog Log (http://mybloglog.com/) same as above, but targeting blogs.
Sites such as eHow, (http://www.ehow.com/) wikiHow (http://www.wikihow.com/Main-Page), Work.com
(http://www.work.com/), Newsvine (http://www.newsvine.com/), WordPress (http://www.wordpress.com/)
and About.com are top-notch community-based sites that can give your site plenty of link juice and rankings, but
getting links from these sites takes time (although not so much from About.com if you have direct access to an
editor and have a quality site).
What were looking for are popular sites that allow for profile pages, and high profile community-based
knowledge sites.
In the next phase, well look in more detail at open-source knowledge sites and how you can earn links off them.
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13 Link Sources
There are many, many ways to build links to your website.
If you just have directory submissions and link requests in mind, youre in trouble your competition is probably
using 5 or more different link sources for their link building campaigns, and to be competitive in your market you
need to know as much as possible about link building.
This chapter discusses the various ways you can build links. It is part of the next series of chapters in which we
will discuss:
Link sources 1. the different ways you can get links
Finding potential link partners 2. how to find link partners using competitive analysis and search
engines
Evaluating links 3. how to place a value on a link and how to evaluate a linking sites value
Quality Content 4. how to create link worthy content on your site
Lets get started with the different sources you can build links from.
Directories
The easiest and most basic type of link that you can acquire. You can target general or on-topic directories.

Directories are usually paid for so this may not be your best bet if you are looking to cut costs, but the best
directories are worth the investment.
Heres a list of trusted general-topic directories (including the top-10 listed in the previous chapter) that you
can / should submit your sites links to. Youll notice that I havent listed more than 20 directories here there
are two reasons for that.
You should be looking at in-context links instead of directory links as a bulk of your inbound links.
Keeping this in mind, Id suggest that you only focus on these 20 general directories (depending on your
budget, of course) in the very beginning. During this time, you should also build links from sources other than
directories.
After you have links coming in from sources other than directories, you can start to submit your website to far
more directories with a program such as Directory Submitter as mentioned in a previous chapter.
General Directories
Yahoo Directory 11. ($299 per year)
Best of the Web 12. ($69.95 per year or $199.95 lifetime)
Business.com 13. ($199 first year, $149 to renew)
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Dmoz 14. (Free)
JoeAnt 15. ($39.99 review fee)
GoGuides.org 16. ($69.95 review fee)
Microsoft bCentral 17. (if they ever open for submissions again) ($49 per year)
Gimpsy 18. ($40 review fee)
Starting Point 19. ($99 per year)
V7N Directory 20. ($49.95 review fee)
Umdum 21. ($40 / $100)
RubberStamped 22. ($29.95)
Aviva Directory 23. ($49.95 / $74.95 per year)
Webotopia 24. ($10 / $30)
Webxperience 25. ($10 / $30)
Uncover the Net 26. ($59 / $199 per year)
Jayde 27. (Free)
Elib 28. (50 Euro / 150 Euro)
Skaffe 29. ($44.99)
Web World 30. ($25)
Submitting to thousands of Website Directories the EASY way
Recommended Resource: Directory Submitter (http://directorysubmitter.imwishlist.com)
Weve created another free program that will submit your website to literally thousands of other website
directories across the internet. While the Yahoo directory is an excellent, paid directory to submit your website
to, there are also thousands of completely FREE website directories you can submit to.
Doing this submission manually will take you days and days of time, but using out free Directory Submitter
software, you can do this much faster. Directory Submission is something that I highly recommend doing at the
time I am writing this book. The more directories you can submit your website to, the more one-way links youll
get pointing to your website, and the higher you will rank.
Topical Directories
Note: Im using soccer and soccer news as an example in this section.
When youre looking for topical directories, there are three easy ways to search for them.
You can look for them using search engines. Lets say you are searching for on-topic directories for your
soccer news site. Heres how you could quickly turn up a list of sites to get links from search Google (or
Yahoo) for the following:
soccer directory
soccer resources
soccer submit your site
soccer add url
soccer links
You can replace soccer with soccer news or soccer equipment for better targeting (depending on
your site). If you are supporting a particular team, you can go even deeper and search for them for e.g.
Manchester United directory, or soccer world cup directory.
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The possibilities here are endless use your primary keywords, combine them with common link terms such as
directory, resources, links, add url, etc and you will generate a long list of sites where you can get links from.
Note: If you enclose the whole search term (e.g. soccer news directory) in quotes, you will get targeted
results and a shorter, more manageable list to deal with.
The other strategy is to use mainstream directories to help you find niche directories. Just looking at Dmoz, you
can find lists for Sports Directories (http://dmoz.com/Sports/Resources/Directories/) and Soccer Directories
(http://dmoz.com/Sports/Soccer/Directories/). Using the directories as a launching point, you can easily find
topical directories to get your link building campaign rolling.
Of course, the first strategy is also an excellent way to find potential link partners something that well come
back to in the next chapter.
Paid Links / Reviews
Paid links from websites can take different forms you can buy text link ads, rent pages on websites or pay for
reviews. For all three types of links, you can hire companies, use automated (paid) services or do it yourself by
contacting webmasters directly.
Search Engines and Paid Links
There is a lot of debate and contention in the SEO world about how search engines treat paid links (and whether
they can determine if a link is paid-for or not).
I want to give you practical, usable information (and not drown you in long, endless debates). The bottom line
with paid links is this:
Links are used by search engines to determine rankings. Buying links will increase your rankings, but it
will also amount to a manipulation of a search engines ranking algorithm (its equivalent to buying your
way into the top 10 search rankings). Because of this, Google has taken a very hard stance against paid
links.
Search engines are getting better at detecting if a link is naturally earned or not. This means that if you
exchange links or pay for a link, theres a chance that the search engine can detect such a transaction,
and this chance is improving every year.
The factors go into detecting the nature of a link are varied and complex search engines use a sites
reputation, its history of linking out, the type of link, topical relationship between the two sites, a sites
history of acquiring links, etc.
On-topic, in-context links are taken as the de facto standard for natural links. If your linking strategy
follows this pattern, it doesnt matter if youre doing reciprocal linking or buying links such links become
very, very difficult to detect manually or algorithmically.
Based on my understanding, Google and other search engines use different degrees / thresholds to value
a link if the doubt about a link is below a certain threshold, the search engine will give full value to that
link (depending on other factors as well). If the link has some doubt, that will be translated into a lower
valuation of that link.
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Following the threshold model, a website that is selling links is not penalized until a certain percentage
of its outbound links are considered to be un-trusted. The higher this percentage is, the bigger the
penalty for that site (in preventing that site from passing link value to other sites).
Sites buying links do not suffer any penalties because of un-trusted links only outbound links that are
un-trusted are penalized against (see above).
So thats that about paid links. There are several online services that you can use to buy links, or alternatively
you could offer to buy links on sites directly (targeting the link partners youll learn to find in the next chapter).
Text Link Ads (http://www.text-link-ads.com/) and Text Link Brokers (http://www.textlinkbrokers.com/) are the
two most popular link buying (and selling) services online. I would recommend using one of these two instead of
a smaller service mainly because of their experience and their large ad inventory. Smaller competitors are liable
to have smaller inventories this translates into fewer options and more chances of leaving behind a pattern in
your link buying.
The other option is to do this manually, or to ask an SEO consultant to do this for you.
Should you buy links for search engine rankings or just traffic?
Both, if you can manage it. A link that brings in traffic but not search engine ranking benefits is still valuable.
Paid Reviews
A relatively new development in online promotion is organized services for paying bloggers and websites for
reviews either for one of your products or your whole site.
Sites such as ReviewMe (http://www.reviewme.com/) have popped up over the last year, offering advertisers a
chance to buy a review on on-topic, popular sites to build an audience and get exposure for their products.
As with paid links, there are question marks over the acceptability of paid reviews (and the links generated
from those reviews) the issue is that if a review is paid for (positive or negative), the link generated cannot be
trusted.
However, there are three issues with this. One, it is a problem for the search engines on devising a better
algorithm to evaluate links. Two, allowing reviews to be open (positive and negative) makes the process more
honest. Three, search engines do not penalize at the granular level of one link or one review.
Should you use paid reviews?
Think of paid reviews as a customized form of news coverage of your product it should be targeted to a
relevant audience and your product must be good enough to capture the interest of the reviewer and his
audience.
Note: Weve covered several of paid methods for linking now lets look at some free link sources.
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Article Submissions / Guest Blogging
The traditional way to make this work is to submit articles (complete with links back to internal pages of your
website) to general-topic or on-topic article directories or article aggregators (with the same criteria applied
here as for directory submissions).
However, thats not an effective way to work submitting your article to 10 different article directories is time
consuming (note: if you do it manually) and yields little benefit compared to other link building methods.
My solution for this is to use a three-step approach. Here Ill assume that you have 3-5 articles written and
ready for distribution.
Step 1: Submit a fresh and original article to 2-3 article directories (changing only the main keyword
to specific phrases such as changing home theater systems to home theater audio systems and
fixing the article where necessary to make sense.
Step 2: Find topical article directories (search for keyword + directory or keyword + articles in
Google) and repeat Step 1 there, but with a second, different article.
Step 3: Contact potential link partners (next chapter) and ask them if they will allow you to add content
to their site in the form of an article (in exchange for a link back to your site). In most cases this will
amount to a paid link, but as a strategy for getting in-context links from on-topic sites its a no-brainer.
Now, as I mentioned above, article submitting manually is time consuming, tedious, and not very effective
because of that.
Weve created a free software program that will automate the tedious task of submitting your articles to popular
article directories. The program is called Article Submitter and you can download your free copy here: http://
articlesubmitter.imwishlist.com
Guest Blogging

Another way to submit articles is as guest submissions on blogs in your niche (or in related niches). In fact,
many blogs will allow you to sign up as a contributor and either give you a full profile page or the ability to link
back to your site (and internal pages) through bylines in every post (just like traditional article submissions).
However, since we are dealing with blogs and not article directories, the posts you write will probably have some
editorial criteria and will need to be original and fresh material. Usually people start guest blogging on popular
industry blogs as a means of building their reputation and audience, which is a good strategy for you to follow if
youre in a niche for the long haul.
The ideal strategy to get a guest blogging gig on a popular industry blog is to have a portfolio of articles
plus a handful of ideas ready before you pitch yourself to the blog owners. Having a portfolio (and especially
something that showcases past blogging experience) is very critical you might want to start off by writing on
your own site blog first.
A good place to learn more about blogging is Performancing.com.
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Link Requests
Link requests refer to the process of sending e-mails to webmasters and asking them (directly or indirectly)
for links. These can be reciprocal links, one-way links (free or paid), asking for reviews, just pointing them to a
contest on the site, sending them to a cool article in the hope that they will link to it themselves, etc.
Link requests are usually seen as very time-consuming, but the actual effort and time put in goes into finding
link partners and evaluating them, not the link request process. In fact, with a link request template and step-
by-step criteria for framing your link request based on the link value, you can greatly reduce the time spent on
making link requests.
Even then, the traditional method of link requests can quickly become tedious which is why you should
consider hiring someone and training them to build links for you.
In the next chapter (Finding Link Partners) Ive included a template for link request emails and some tips to
follow when requesting links. And in the chapter after that (Link Evaluation), I talk more about the criteria to use
when placing a monetary / time value on links and how you should treat such links differently.
As time goes by, reciprocal linking gets less and less effective. So, if you choose to do reciprocal linking, be sure
you use it as a supplement to the other link building methods. Do not solely rely on reciprocal linking, as it just
wont work in the long term. With that said, it can be an excellent supplement to other link building methods.
Link-Worthy Content
Quality content. Link bait. Flagship content.
No matter what you call it, the core values and motivation remains the same: creating resources (information,
tools, audio/visual media) that provide value and are interesting, usable and shareable.
Value is the central theme here everything you do in marketing or product creating or business management
must be qualified with the value it will eventually provide to your customers.
Value attracts in a get-rich-quick world where we are being scammed left, right and center, genuine quality and
value goes a long way in attracting customers. Value converts customers who view you as a helpful, valuable
resource will come back for seconds.
Information needs to be interesting to attract your audience it should stand out and be different and perhaps
even project itself as more valuable than everything else that is vying for your attention.
Anything you provide on your website or elsewhere under your name and brand must be usable / useful / of
immediate use. This factor can turn your content from just interesting to indispensable. If you can get people
to follow your advice or use the tools you build, you will be building up your word-of-mouth campaign as these
same people will start talking about your product / content.
Shareable is more a mindset than anything you actively create. Making your quality content shareable means
removing all obstacles between the user and his ability to share information with his friends / colleagues.
How do you remove these obstacles? I discuss this, and more ideas about what makes your resources
linkable, in a future chapter titled Link Worthy Content.
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The basic idea here is that if you have quality content, it becomes a lot easier to build links to that page (as
opposed to asking for links to a page that provides little or no value to users).

It is one of the most effective link building and promotional strategies that you can use in SEO and online
marketing (and indeed, in any form of marketing).
Community-based Sites (Profiles / Content)

The social side of the Internet is growing exponentially and as a result there are many community-based sites
where you can a) build your own profile (or your sites) and b) post content on it.

These profile and content pages will rank well just on the basis of the domains high authority and rankings, and
you can also use them to build links back to your website.
You can see this example working in extreme with Wikipedia, where the domains extremely large amount of
backlinks make it such a strong authority domain that a page on the site will often outrank many other more
relevant websites.
Wikipedia is the most popular example, but it isnt the only one. Newspaper sites (International Herald Tribune,
Guardian), profile sites (LinkedIn, MySpace, MyBlogLog), and content sites (Squidoo, About, Work.com) are
all high-authority general-purpose domains that you can use for your search ranking and SERP branding
purposes.
Profile Pages
You can use profile pages to dominate search engine results for your own name / your company name as
well as sending some authority links back to your own sites. This falls under the practice of online reputation
management, which Ive briefly explained below:
Note: Reputation management refers to the practice of monitoring public discourse about yourself / your
company and participating in this discourse to answer queries, reinforce (and offer thanks for) positive
comments and resolve any issues that lead to negative comments.
While were not going to cover online reputation management in further detail in this book, it is important to
discuss what impact it can have on your SEO campaign.
The top-10 results (in Google and other search engines) for your own name, your company / site name and
product names are usually comprised of online conversations on those subjects as well as pages from your own
site.
As your website gets more popular, people will start typing in the name instead of the domain (youll be
surprised at how many people actually do that) in their browser bar or search engine to get to your website.
Along the way, they will also catch a glimpse of the rest of the top 10 results for your sites name.
You have a chance to control those results if you build profile pages on high ranking domains and if you promote
selective pages for your companys name (a positive review of your product in an industry blog, or something
similar).
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Content
Community sites are also an excellent avenue for promoting your sites content / your products.
Using content-based community sites you can easily build pages that are on-topic and send backlinks back to
your website (as well as talking about your products). The way you will do this depends on the sites editorial
policies, but in general you should keep the quality content criteria in mind (see above section and the separate
chapter on quality content).
Remember that youre not just looking for backlinks here but traffic as well in several cases (such as Wikipedia
and Yahoo Answers (http://answers.yahoo.com/)) you may not get ranking benefits but you will certainly get
loads of traffic.
Resources
Heres a list of resources for both profile-management and content-promotion community sites.
LinkedIn
MyBlogLog
MySpace
Live Spaces
Squidoo
Yahoo Groups
Google Groups
About.com
Work.com
Wikipedia
Yahoo Answers
Facebook
Yahoo 360
Topix.net
Industry News Blogs
Most popular niches have industry news blogs, and they are almost always looking for interesting items to write
about. Submitting a tip to one of these blogs (or better yet, submitting your own news article) can often result in
the news item being picked up by the rest of the news sites.

Interesting and quality news items can easily earn you plenty of links just by getting in touch with the news sites
that are actively looking for that sort of news.
To find these news blogs youll have to do some digging and research on your niche. Your best bet, however, will
be to know your industry to get a good idea of the top sites.
To find the top blogs for a niche, just do a search in Google or Yahoo for:
keyword blog
keyword blog news
keyword news
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These three searches will point you to the top ranking sites, which you can then use and explore to find even
more relevant news sites in your target industry.
Once again, your results here will vary greatly depending on the composition of the SERPs for that keyword and
topic. You would be better off actually knowing your niche and knowing which sites accept contributions and
which dont.
For example, in the SEO world, the top results for the above keyword combinations dont give us much, but I
know that:
Search Engine Journal (http://www.searchenginejournal.com/)
SEOMoz (UGC) (http://www.seomoz.com/ugc)
Search Engine Guide (http://www.searchengineguide.com/)
Search Engine Land (http://www.searchengineland.com/)
Search Engine Watch (http://www.searchenginewatch.com/)
Batelle Media (Search Mob) (http://www.battlemedia.com/searchmob/)
Bruce Clay Blog (http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/)
SEO Buzz Box (http://www.seobuzzbox.com/)

Are just some of the SEO blogs that either encourage contributions, accept tips or have ways where you can
contribute posts online provided that you are meeting the blog owners goals as well.
Press Releases
Similar to submitting news to industry news sites, press releases can be used to target the traditional news
media.

The main trouble with press releases is that theyre poorly done 95% of the time.
Using proper keywords and $500 distribution packages is little good if you are not producing something
interesting and the most important part of a news / press release is the hook that will interest readers.
A press release is a lead to a story. Ideally, it should be tied-in with current events and / or industry news so
that the resulting story is that much more interesting for the readers.
Ill say it again. A journalist is looking for a story that he knows the readers will want to read.
And that is all you should be seriously worried about. That your press release has a story that people will want
to read. Thats what journalists are looking for. Thats how you should be writing your press release as well.
Put your journalist hat on and think about what you would attract you towards a press release, and then use
those insights in writing your sites press release.
There are plenty of online resources available that can help your format your press releases and promote them,
but unless your press release is a story worth listening to theres no point in writing it.
There are many tips, tricks, and tactics involved in writing a compelling and effective press release. Weve
written an entire eBook on this here:
http://www.PressReleaseFire.com
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Contests / Free stuff
One strategy you can use to effectively build links is to run an industry-based contest. It could be as simple as
asking for articles on a specific topic and then offering a cash prize to the best article you can usually find a
sponsor to pay for the prize, and the articles will give you free content to post on your site.

This works better with websites that already have a sizeable audience for a new site it would be pretty hard
for such a contest to gain momentum unless you promoted it very heavily.

Alternatively, you can offer items for free in exchange for reviews again, this can take various forms such as
sending product samples to site owners and bloggers, or just announcing on the site that you will give away
something free for anyone that writes a review for your website.

Once again, having an established website with a large audience will make this easier.
Quality Web Design
If you are a talented web designer (or if you have a good designer working for you), building beautiful websites
and site themes (or blog themes) can earn you links as well.
Ill give you two strategies here and Im sure you can adapt this for your own use.
Using Blog Themes
A more viral way of getting links is to build a free site template and distribute it for free, asking for a link back
as compensation. You can port that approach to blogging software such as WordPress (http://www.wordpress.
org/) (which Im using here for my example) design a WP theme, promote it across the right channels and
if your theme is any good, it will be downloaded and used by many people, getting you valuable inbound links
(though not necessarily on-topic links).
The key with WordPress themes (or any other blog platform theme) is to focus on building something that
people will be sure to use. Many WordPress theme designers make the mistake of building a beautiful theme
that is not very usable.
With WordPress, design is important but usability is far more important.
This approach will work best if you are a WP designer yourself barring that you find someone who can do
WP themes, and you can hire them to build a theme for yourself, and then release a free version of it to the
directories below:
Themes.WordPress.net (http://themes.wordpress.net/)
Alex Kings WP Theme Archives (http://alexking.org/projects/wordpress/themes)
Template Browser WP Themes (http://www.templatesbrowser.com/wordpress-themes/)
Make sure you also drop a line to the sites below these are blogging-related websites and will cover / feature
your theme if it is good enough:

Performancing (http://performancing.com/)
Weblog Tools Collection (http://weblogtoolscollection.com/)
Lorelle on WordPress (http://lorelle.wordpress.com/)
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Another alternative is to do a download wordpress themes search on Google and contact the top 10 / top 20
sites with your submission.
Blogging Conversations
This applies to blogs and bloggers if you dont have one on your site, browse through and find out what youre
missing on.
At its heart, blogging is more than just means of publishing online information its a mindset that encourages
webmasters to:
Link to interesting stories
Publish fresh content
Link to like-minded sites (bloggers)
Read and comment (provide feedback, discuss, participate in conversations) on other sites
As an analogy, a blog is a cross between a traditional content website and a forum using the owner-oriented,
content-rich format of a website and the social aspects of a forum.
Understanding the nature of a blog is important because you dont need a blog to adopt the same practices
you can do the same thing on your website. The thing with blogs is that blogging platforms quite often make
such activities a piece of cake, and giving it a name and a specific methodology makes it easier to adopt.
If you have a CMS that allows readers to make comments on your articles, its as good as a blog and can allow
you to perform the same functions.
And what does that have to do with blogging conversations?
Remember that 3 of the mindset items I talked about involve other sites either in the form of linking to them
or interacting on their sites.
An integral part of earning links from other websites is engaging in personal relationships with webmasters and
sharing interests whether it is through email, through forums or through blogs.
If you run a blog on your website (or if your website is a blog itself), the best advice for getting unsolicited links
is to network with fellow bloggers and to engage in blogging conversations.
Social Media Marketing
At this point there are a few basic concepts that I want to touch upon:
What is social media?
Social media is a system of personal recommendations that usually involves some element of group voting (not
necessary) to deliver interesting and useful information to readers / users.
How can it help you?
Leveraging the power of social media means gaining access to a large audience using the recommendations
of other people (instead of a hard-sell where you send people emails or buy ads). These recommendations are
viewed as trust-worthy and bypass the BS filter people raise when they are pitched a sale.
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Social Media Online = Word of Mouth Offline
Social media marketing on the Internet is nothing more than an online version of real world word of mouth
marketing. The same rules apply what you are promoting has to be interesting, shareable and useful and the
people sharing it have to be influential.
Now that we understand the basics, heres an overview of how you can make social media marketing work for
you.
Build your Profile
Being an authoritative voice in your community has a lot of value if you are at (or near) the top of the pile as
far as influence is concerned, you have a bigger audience to work with, and your recommendations carry more
value than those of people at the bottom of the pile.
This way of influencing public opinion can suck but it works well.
People who are well-known and trusted can get thousands of people to listen to them when they recommend a
story, or a product. This happens in the real world (in your circle of friends even), and it happens online too.
In social media marketing sites, your profile determines your influence. For each site, there will be a different
means of building your influence. Learn, and master.
Help Readers Share Your Content
Building link worthy resources has already been talked about (and will be discussed in more detail in a later
chapter), so what I want to focus on is sharing.
Online media is not always easy to share. Quite often, we place obstacles in the paths of our readers.
If you require registration to read an article, thats an obstacle. A .pdf file, while an excellent format for sharing
information, is an obstacle (but also an advantage). Complicated and long URLs are obstacles. Site policies
(preventing users from copying your content for non-commercial purposes, for example) are obstacles.
Other times, we dont do enough to help them share our site content.
Using social media icons on your website (putting a digg / stumbleupon / del.icio.us icon on each article) makes
it easier for readers to share your articles.
Providing email to a friend links on articles helps people share your work.
Providing easy links for bookmarking your site / page helps people return to it later.
There are many ways you can use to help your readers share your content and simultaneously remove obstacles
that prevent them from sharing.
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Customize Approach for Target Audience
Each social media network has a different set of users, different practices and different strategies for success.
Content that will be easily accepted and promoted on one network may totally bomb on the other.
Biases may spring up in certain social networks, once again based on the predominant composition of the user
base.
Your requirements for SMM may determine which tool / social network you will use.
Build Your Network
Success in social media is determined by how many people you can influence your audience.
However, theres a section of your audience who will also be influencers, and as such, have their own audience.
These are part of your network people who can help you promote your content by pitching it to their own
respective audiences.
Connecting with influential people in your niche through social networks and through personal communication
is a critical part of succeeding with social media marketing.
Social Media Marketing Sites
Heres a list of the top 15 SMM sites (rankings are totally subjective and based on personal preference).
Digg 1.
Del.icio.us 2.
Wikipedia 3.
Flickr 4.
Reddit 5.
Newsvine 6.
StumbleUpon 7.
Technorati 8.
MySpace 9.
Yahoo Answers 10.
Yahoo 360 11.
LinkedIn 12.
Squidoo 13.
Wikihow 14.
Facebook 15.
Whats Next
In the next three chapters we focus on the core skills in link building:
How to find potential link partners
How to place a value on a link from a potential link partner
How to create link worthy content for your site
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14 Finding Potential Link Partners
In this chapter Ill discuss how you can find potential link partners using:
Search Engines
Directories
Backlinks analysis
The objective is to build a long, comprehensive list of potential link targets. We will then evaluate these links and
pursue them according to their importance (next chapter).
Directories
The easiest source of finding quality links; and depending on which directory you are getting these listings from,
also very valuable.
The top directories have a strict editorial process that ensures that only trusted and high-quality sites are listed
(although this is a subjective process, so there might be some bad apples slipping in).
Picking from this list allows you to easily target sites that you know are editorially vetted and are quality, trusted
sites.
Take out the directory list from the previous chapter, then for the first directory:
Find the right category for your primary keyword make sure you go deep and dont stop at Internet or
Sports those are too general. A good way to judge this is to find the category you would submit your
own site to.
Make a list of each site in that category you might have a category with over 50 sites, but dont give
up, just make a list name and site Url.
Repeat this exercise for the main secondary keywords for your site.

For example, a soccer news site will have this category (http://dmoz.org/Sports/Soccer/News_and_
Media ) (soccer news) as its main category in Dmoz, but if the same site also hosts a soccer directory,
it would also fit in this category (http://dmoz.com/Sports/Soccer/Directories/) (soccer directories).
Continue till you run out of high-level keywords.
Repeat this exercise for each directory on the list, and take care not to repeat sites (this will make your job
easier as duplicates keep popping up in subsequent directories).
Also, note that you can download our free directory submitter software here:
http://directorysubmitter.imwishlist.com
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Search Engines
The search engines will remain your best source of finding potential link partners. There are at least four ways
you can use search engines to find link partners:
Top results for your keywords
Sites asking for / accepting links in your niche
Finding topical authority sites
Using search engine tools to track the sites linking to top ranking results for your keywords
This section deals with the first two methods, while subsequent sections explain the last two methods.
High Ranking Sites
How do you find high ranking sites?
Well, if you remember the chapter on Competitive Analysis, we talked about analyzing the SERPs for your
keyword list and determining your top competition using a formula that ranked sites based on how high they
were ranking across each search engine for each keyword on your list.
While that list is still relevant and important here, Id like you to expand on that and instead of working with the
top 10 sites for each keyword, work with the top 50 sites for each keyword.
Is that too much?
Actually, depending on your niche of choice, that may be too little (or too much).
However, you should also consider these mitigating factors:
Not all sites will be quality sites.
Not all sites will link to you.
A list of 2000 potential link partners may seem quite large, but if 500 if them are spammy sites, and only 1 out
of 10 of the remaining sites agree to link to you, that gives you a grand total of 150 links.
Decent, but if youre in a competitive niche its not enough.
Searching for link pages
We came across this in the previous chapter when we were talking about searching for topical directories.
The same approach can also yield non-directory linking opportunities, so lets recap the process.
You can use search queries to look for link partners as well. Lets say you are searching for on-topic links for
your home theater system info site. Heres how you could quickly turn up a list of sites to get links from
search Google (or Yahoo) for the following:
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Note: For best results, vary your queries by removing the quotes around the keyword phrase and using the
allintitle: operator to narrow down your search.
home theater system links
home theater system resources
home theater system submit your site
home theater system add url
home theater system links
home theater system review
Replace home theater system with the more generic term home theater for a broader list of sites.
You can also repeat this exercise for other keywords (home theater audio, plasma tv, etc.).
The possibilities here are endless use your primary keywords, combine them with common link terms such as
directory, resources, links, add url, reviews, etc and you will generate a long list of sites where you can get links
from.
As before, add these sites / pages to your potential link partners list.
Backlinks Analysis
One of the easiest ways to find link partners is to research the backlinks of your top competitors. The theory is
that if the sites that are top of the pile have links from a specific set of sites, the chances for your site to reach
the top (or be near the top) will be much higher if you get links from within the same set of sites.
There are two different ways of making lists:
Backlinks for each top-ranking site this is a straightforward technique of finding the top 100-200
backlinks for each top-ranking site and adding them to your list (taking care to avoid duplicates).
Common backlinks sites that are linking out to one or more of your competition are important not
only are they more likely to link to your site as well, but chances are that it is a high-value link.
One way to do this is to use the Yahoo Site Explorer (http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/) and note the sites
linking to your competition. For more information on how to use the Yahoo Site Explorer please see chapter 7
(Competitive Analysis) where Ive given a short tutorial on how to use it.
You can also export the backlinks of any website into a document, making it easy for you to refer to the list later
on.
For common backlinks, theres a tool providing by We Build Pages (http://www.webuildpages.com/) called
Common Backlinks (http://www.webuildpages.com/tools/common-backlinks/) can give you the common
backlinks for up to 10 of your competitor sites.
Definitely an easier way of doing things than matching backlinks manually.
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Topical Research
The most effective way of finding the authority sites in a particular niche / industry is to know that niche.
So, for example, I know that in the SEO niche, SearchEngineLand (http://searchengineland.com/),
WebmasterWorld (http://www.webmasterworld.com/) and SEOmoz (http://www.seomoz.org/) are
big, big names. However, I also know that less known names such as SearchEngineJournal (http://www.
searchenginejournal.com/) and SearchEngineGuide (http://www.searchengineguide.com/) can deliver plenty of
link value as well a newcomer to this industry wont know this, because they dont know the people behind the
sites and they likely arent aware of the history.
In the blogging niche, ProBlogger (http://www.problogger.net/) and BlogHerald (http://www.blogherald.com/)
may be considered the top sites when it comes to talking about blogging. But study the industry for a while
and youll find that sites like Performancing (http://performancing.com/) and Weblog Tools Collection (http://
weblogtoolscollection.com/) are quite popular and easier to get links from, whereas a relative newcomer like
Daily Blog Tips (http://www.dailyblogtips.com/) is valuable in getting links as well.
Quite often, youll have to do some legwork to get a list of topical authority sites in your niche. If you can find
out who the top 5 sites are in a particular niche, quite often its a simple matter of following the sites they link to
and building your list of authority / on-topic sites.
One excellent method to find top authority sites is to use the related: operator in Google. Heres how it works:
Pick a top site in any niche lets say we choose the top ranking site for the term medical billing software
adsc.com and enter the following text into the search box at Google:
related:www.adsc.com
This will return a list of 30 or so results all sites that Google associates on a topical level (and to an extent,
authoritatively as well) with adsc.com. Note that this site is #1 in Google for one of the most important
keywords in the medical billing niche.
How long did it take you to find a list of 30 on-topic, authority sites?
The steps you have taken here are:
Pick your top keyword
Search for that keyword in Google
Run a related: query for the top result
It takes less than a minute, and it delivers to you a list of sites that, if you could get links from, you stand a very
good chance of ranking in the top 10 results for that particular term in Google.
Local Search
If your website / online business is geographically-specific, it would be a good idea to get an understanding of
how local search works and how you can optimize your site for it.
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What is local search?
Local search is about users finding businesses in / information about a specific locality (geographical region).
This could be a country, a city, or a group of countries.
Who needs to optimize for local search? A Chicago restaurant, for one. A real estate agent in Los Angeles. A
laptop retailer in Singapore. A book store in France.
Local business and resource centers need the benefits that local search provides, and while search engines
do not currently dominate the local search market they are making considerable efforts in doing so and search
engine traffic is still a strong driver of visitors to local sites.
The best online resource (currently) for local search is this series of interviews conducted by Michael Gray:
Local Search Interviews (http://www.wolf-howl.com/local-search/local-search-interviews-information-and-
resources)
Its a collection of short interviews (Q&A sessions) on local search with the top SEO and local search experts in
the industry. If you want to learn quickly about local search, you should definitely read all of them.
Links for local search
If youre looking for links to help you with local search, target:
Local sections of general directories (most directories have a regional category drill down and you
can find your geographical location)
Local directories (for example a directory for Canadian sites, British sites or Australian sites)
Geographical sections of on-topic authority sites
Geographically-topical sites (SEO in China, etc.)
In addition, you should already have optimized your site for geo-targeted keywords e.g. Houston real estate,
or web design new jersey.
And then those keywords also form a key part of your search for link partners as well.
Whats Next
Of course, if youre in a competitive industry a few links wont be anywhere near enough in getting you ahead of
the competition. Only a sustained period of building quality (and quantity) links will get you anywhere near page
1. Even then its still hit and miss (which is why SEO is an art and not an exact science).
Before you start sending out link requests though, you still need to evaluate these links (in order to determine
how much time and money you should spend on pursuing them).
The next chapter tells you exactly how to do that.
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15 Link Valuation
There are 10 different factors you can use to evaluate a link (and the site / page providing the link):
Quality Content / Providing Value 1.
Backlinks Analysis 2.
Outbound links 3.
Site Topic 4.
Site Authority 5.
Link Format & Destination 6.
Value / Competition in niche 7.
Traffic value 8.
Link Popularity / PageRank 9.
Site Age 10.
Lets look at them individually.
Note: Both the site and the linking page have characteristics that make that link a good or a bad link.
Quality Content / Providing Value
Does the site have original, quality content? Is this a site that provides valuable information to users?
While this is not a direct indicator of link value, the quality of information on a site denotes its ability to acquire
natural links (unsolicited links). This helps that sites ranking on a variety of levels regular link growth, link
popularity, varied anchor text, in-text links, etc. and this in turn makes it a good, powerful site to get a link
from.
Backlinks Analysis
If youre using Yahoo Site Explorer (http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/) , you can easily analyse the
backlinks for a particular page and that of the site itself.
There are three things that were looking for in backlinks links from trusted sites, links from on-topic sites
and the anchor text used in those links.
Site Backlinks
When you are looking at the linking pages sites backlinks, pay special attention to trust and authority links.
Youre looking for a link candidate that will deliver the necessary topical authority and trust to your site / page,
and for that to happen the linking site itself must have authoritative and trusted links pointing to it.
On-topic links are important as well, because they establish the sites topical link neighbourhood. However, if
the linking site is on a more general niche than your own site, you might want to look at the on-topic links being
pointed to the linking page itself.
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Page Backlinks
A page with several off-site links pointing to it is always an ideal candidate for getting a link from that page is
doing well not just because of its domain but has the added benefit of direct links to it.
Track the pages backlinks and look for topical clues are the links from topically-related sites?
Anchor Text
The anchor text (and text surrounding the link) remains the primary method for a search engine to find out what
the destination page is about. Keyword-rich anchor text that is varied (all 100 of that sites links having the
exact same anchor text would be unvaried) and on-topic is what youre looking for.
Outbound links
Using the Outbound Links tool (http://www.linkvendor.com/seo-tools/outbound-links.html/) , you can easily
generate a list of pages / sites a page is linking out to (for larger pages, this is a faster method than looking at
it manually).
Once you have this list, take a look at the number of sites that page is linking out to the fewer, the better
ideally there shouldnt be more than 10 links going offsite on that page, but in several cases you cant apply
that (links page yes, they still work), so try to stay on the right side of 100 outbound / offsite links on that
page.
Also look at the topics of the sites being linked to are they similar to your site? Is the anchor text used
relevant to the topic of the sites being linked to (and to yours)?
Theres no fixed formula, so use your judgment and if you see a page that is predominantly linking to unrelated
topics and/or is linking to too many sites (100+), its not a good page to get a link from.
An exception can be made for directory links and links from known authority sites.
Site Topic
Is the site on the same topic as yours?
There isnt always an exact match, so you should also be looking at related topics for example, web design
and computer programming are related topics.
Ideally you want the site topic to be related to your sites topic. An exact match is good but not always
necessary diversity in linking sites is always good and quite often the topic of the linking page itself matters
more than the subject matter of the linking site.
In some cases youll have a general-purpose site (a directory, or maybe a content portal such as Squidoo),
in others youll have a site that is only slightly related to your topic. In both cases, as long as the site is
authoritative in its niche and can drive link juice and traffic to your site, you should accept the site (and link).
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Site Authority
In chapters 2 and 3 (Understanding Search Engines and Search Ranking Factors), we discussed authority sites
in detail. To get a full picture (or a recap), review those chapters here I will provide a summary.
Site authority is:
Tied to a topic an authority site on apples is a site that is expected and known to provide timely,
relevant, useful and accurate information on apples.
Measured using a combination of backlinks analysis (who is linking to this site) and topical analysis of the
site itself (what is the site about).
An authority site has plenty of sites on a similar topic linking to it, and it also as plenty of authority sites in other
niches linking to it with relevant anchor text.
If you come across an authority site, note that it is a must-get link.
Link Format & Destination
Is the link in-context, or is it in the footer / sidebar / link list?
Is the link on a links page alongside 50 other links or is it on a article with only a handful of other offsite links?
Does the linking page allow you to link to an internal page (deep linking) or are you only allowed to link to the
main site?
In-context links on a topically relevant article that allows you to link to both the site and its internal pages
are ideal. Id take the deep link over the site link, although you have to understand that both serve different
purposes site links are to build the sites authority and trust (while also getting search engine rankings for
primary keywords), deep links are for keyword-targeted search engine traffic for internal pages).
Value / Competition in niche
In a very competitive niche, you need link popularity as well as link quality.
In a high-revenue niche, the rewards of top search engine rankings are very high.
If you are working in a competitive niche, you may have to focus on quality links in the start to get you going but
you will definitely need link quantity as well. This could change your approach to link building, making you accept
some low quality links.
If you are working in a high-revenue niche, youll need to spend more money than usual on link building in the
form of offering money in exchange for links.
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Traffic Value
Is the link going to bring in traffic for you?
This is a very important question because if you are going to pay for a link, youd want it to do the maximum for
you, and that involves driving traffic to your site.
A low quality link that brings in traffic is good, just as a high quality link that brings you search engine rankings.
Link Popularity / PageRank
All other things being equal, a link from a PR 5 page is better than a link from a PR 4 page.
Why? Because link popularity still matters despite what everyone else may tell you.
Yes, going by link popularity / PageRank only is a bad strategy, but using it as part of your calculations /
evaluation is necessary.
Site Age
Like content quality, the age of a site is not directly relevant, but it is an indicator of other factors aged links
(more trust), regular pattern of link growth (trust, authority) and lots of on-topic content (authority).
While getting a link from a site registered in 1999 is good, you also have to check for other factors link
analysis, content quality, etc.
Were almost done with link building theres just one more thing I want to discuss with you on this topic, and
that is the value of link-worthy content.
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16 Link Worthy Content
Viral marketing. Word of mouth. Quality content. Linkbait. Flagship content.
There are many names given to an ideology, a method of writing and providing information and tools (whether
on your website or otherwise).
Im going to throw my own name into the hat (link-worthy content), but Id also qualify this with:
It doesnt matter what you call as long as you understand it and consistently use it to bring results.
Knowledge is important because without understanding what makes content link-worthy, your efforts will be a
hit-and-miss process.
Practice is important because not only do you need to know how its done but you also need to be good at it
to make it really work.
Lets look at these two separately.
What is Link-Worthy Content?
Link-worthy content, in its simplest terms, is content (articles, tools, resources, media) that attracts links.
Links are to the Internet what personal recommendations are in the offline world. In other words, link worthy
content can be understood as content that we would recommend to our friends.
However, not all resources / ideas have mass appeal. One persons brilliance could be another individuals
absolute tosh.
For content to be link-worthy, it has to appeal to a large group of people. It has to attract an audience, and the
only way you can do that is you understand what classifies as attractive to people.
Heres a quick list of characteristics that attract people:
Out of the ordinary 1.
Original 2.
Humor 3.
Something outrageous 4.
Anything that evokes a strong emotional reaction offensive material, extreme views (political, religious, 5.
philosophical, etc)
Information on a particular topic (that already has enthusiasts and an audience) 6.
Useful advice / tips 7.
Traditional advertising is usually based on a combination of these 7 characteristics, however they tend to focus
on points 1 through 4 (have you noticed how we complement originality in ads, and how much we appreciate a
funny ad?).
Thats good they are creating material that attracts attention but thats not enough.
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Temporary attention the sort that TV ads attract is no good. Taking this example to the website content
model, funny and outrageous material will get you noticed and get you links, but this is temporary love.
You want the really powerful stuff the type of content that continues to attract links over a long period of time.
There are two ways to make this work by combining #5 (evoking strong emotions) with one or more of the
first four characteristics, or by creating content that accommodates the 6th and 7th items on the list as well.
There are upsides and downsides to using #5 quite often this strategy can get you a lot of attention and you
can use the response and the success of that strategy to create a long-term link building solution. However, it
can also garner you a lot of resentment and can backfire on you as well.
Personally, I dont actively seek to polarize public opinion or use offensive or extreme content to promote my
sites. It is a given that some people will disagree with what I say. Thats acceptable. Whats not acceptable is
for me to actively seek conflict. On the other hand, #6 and #7 are central to getting people to refer to you over
a long period of time.
So lets recap:
A useful, informational resource that is original and funny (with a non-traditional perspective) is your best bet
for creating content that attracts links.
Note: You dont always have to funny tools and software arent funny. Remember to apply each characteristic
in the context of your current situation and site needs.
Now that we understand what is link worthy content, lets look at the next step.
Throughout this book I have emphasized quality content and in the previous section you got an idea of what
Im talking about.
But theres a specific reason why quality, originality, usefulness and timelessness are emphasized whenever we
talk about link worthy content.
Quality
Quality is a subjective, indirect influencing agent. Its effects will differ on each person.
Quality can mean different things for different types of content. For a video, this may mean paying attention to
detail, having a coherent script and an acceptable level of resolution. For a written article, this may mean well-
written, clear and mistake-free language. For software, this could simply be that it delivers on its promises, is
simple to understand and use, is mistake-free and manages to wow the user.
Im sure you can add your own criteria to what Ive listed above. What youll notice is that its a similar theme
across different types of content quality means being clear and understandable, eliminating mistakes,
delivering on expectations (or over-delivering) and doing all the above with some style.
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Originality
Being unique does NOT mean original. You can jumble up the sentences in this chapter and call it unique
content.
But if all youve done is simply rehash the same information already out there and are offering nothing different
and new, you are adding to the noise.
How can you be original?
Use personal experiences
You can use your personal experiences in that field to enhance your content. Not only does it allow for the
reader to relate to you, it also allows you to bring an original touch to your content with very little effort
on your part.
Use innovations from other niches
Using innovations from other niches is often a good idea. For example, sectors at the bleeding edge
of technology web design, blogging, search marketing are all sectors where you see many different
mediums of content generation and community building.

However, take the video tutorial format to another niche, say, learning spanish, and you might just have
hit the jackpot.

This doesnt apply to technological innovations though you can use marketing strategies and tips
learned from those on the frontline of marketing development and apply them successfully in your own
niche.
Repackage to explain better / make things clear
If there is plenty of information in your niche but its hard to understand, make the effort, take the time
out, understand whats being said, and repackage it in simpler, easier to understand terms. Break large
articles down into smaller pieces.

Or you could pay someone to do it for you.
Elaborate and complete
The opposite of what youre doing in the previous tip. If there isnt enough detailed and complete
information about your topic of choice on the Internet, start writing and fill that gap in.

This is rarer as more and more people come online, but you will always find a good opportunity for this
whenever there is a new development in an old sector (or if a new niche pops up).

And even in established niches, there are still pockets of incomplete information if you know how to
look.
Use a different medium
Switch mediums to help readers get a different view. If your niche predominantly uses articles, go to
reports and video. If its an e-book oriented niche, start publishing articles.


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There are plenty of ways to be original. However, you cant be original and gain links if you dont get the next
bit right.
Usefulness
One of the biggest problems we face is information-overload too much information being thrown at us at the
same time. Advertising, news, sports, family, friends, work it just doesnt stop.
With such fierce competition for a persons attention, there are only three ways to get it:
If you have something that they are looking for
If your content is original
If you use a shock-and-awe approach
The last tactic works, but loses its effectiveness if it is used more than a few times. In fact, it just raises the bar
and makes it harder for yourself to get attention in the future.
The key is to flip the funnel and create a resource that people are actively looking for so that they are seeking
you out instead of you running after them.
What do people usually look for? That depends on which industry / niche you are working in. For example, in
the resume writing niche, people are usually looking for tips to improve their current resumes, or templates that
they can use to just plug their info in. In most gadget-related niches, people are looking for product specs,
comparisons and product reviews.
Find what your audience needs, and then provide it (and be original) they will love you for it.
Timelessness
News gets old and outdated very quickly. As a result, building a business around news requires you to
continuously pump information out in order to keep your customers satisfied.
On the other hand, how to information (especially in non-technical fields such as self development, hynosis,
palmistry, sports, games, etc) does not get outdated for a long, long time.
Heres a handy test look at the content youre creating, and ask yourself if it will still provide real value to your
readers several months (or years) from now?
I wouldnt suggest that you plan for a thousand years, but planning for the long term (depending on your niche
of choice, that could be anywhere from 1 to 5 years) is smart.
However, sometimes timely content regarding current events in your industry or on things that will be outdated
in a few months or years is necessary - your audience will demand it, and plus it makes for good linkage if you
can push it out earlier than anyone else.
Whats Next
The next chapter discusses how you can improve and fine tune your site promotion campaign by tracking your
site traffic and monitoring your search results.
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17 Campaign Tracking
Site analytics is the analysis and reporting of user activity on your website to help you make informed decisions.

Tracking your search marketing campaign involves use site analytics, monitoring your search engine rankings
and tracking inbound links to get a complete picture of how your search marketing campaign is progressing.
In short, Ill talk about how you can:
use traffic data to aid in your search marketing campaign
how to track your search engine rankings
how to use feedback from site analytics and your rankings to retune your search marketing campaign
Site Analytics and Search Marketing
Tracking search engine traffic can help you uncover new search terms and providing you a real-time view of your
search marketing campaigns success.
Before we can talk about how we can use analytics data though, we need to know which data to use.
While tracking search engine traffic, you need to:
Track search terms that bring in traffic

Which search terms are bringing in visitors to your website? Knowing the answer to this helps you in two ways.
First, it helps you measure the success of your search marketing campaign. By knowing which search terms are
bringing in traffic, you can track how much traffic they are bringing in and which pages they are driving traffic to.
Also, combining this information with your search engine rankings you can easily predict future search traffic.
Second, you will almost invariably find keywords variations bringing you traffic that you might not have included
in your original keyword list. Depending on the volume of traffic these variations are bringing in, you can further
optimize your pages to bring in more traffic.
You should also be tracking which search engine sends you traffic for a particular search term. This will help you
predict the value of each search engine for sending traffic for your chosen niche and help you in fine-tuning your
search marketing focus.
Measure traffic volume per term
How much traffic does each search term bring in?
The real value here is in using traffic data for aggregation and reporting how much traffic does a particular
search term bring in a day? In a week? In a month?
You should also be tracking which search engine sends you how much traffic.
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Match search terms to landing pages
Which pages are getting search traffic, and from which search terms? Does the search traffic data match your
initial search marketing plan?
Once again, the real value here is in using this information to optimize your campaign.
Before you do that though, you need to track your search rankings as well.
Tracking Search Engine Rankings
Tracking search rankings is a simple (but tedious) process of finding out where your keywords rank across the 3
major search engines on a regular basis.
There are a couple of things you should keep in mind:
Search rankings fluctuate, so during the start you might have a situation where your sites rankings for a
certain keyword go up and down every day.
Depending on your location and the Google datacenter you are using, you may get different rankings
(based on search personalization, geographical location and slight differences between datacenter
updates).
Because of this, checking rankings on a daily basis is a futile and time-wasting exercise. Youd be far better off
in checking your rankings every two weeks, and ensuring that you recheck them on back-to-back days so you
can eliminate any fluctuation errors or API errors (if youre using rank-checking software).
How do you track your search rankings? There are a couple of ways to do this.
One, you can check them manually this is time-consuming, so I wouldnt advise this method.
Two, you can use online tools to track rankings The program we use for this is SEO Elite
(http://www.seoelite.com/)
Tuning Your Search Marketing Campaign
After tracking your search traffic and rankings, there is plenty of information you can now use as feedback to
fine tune your search marketing campaign.
New Search Terms
Mining your traffic stats can point out more search terms and keyword variations for you to use.
Depending on the volume of the traffic, you may consider adding a new page to your site optimized for that
keyword, or optimize the page getting the keyword traffic to tune in and rank even higher for those terms.
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Low ranking search terms
After a period of time, you might notice that certain terms are not improving in their rankings at all. This could
mean one of three things:
You need better on-page optimization on that page
You need more links to that page
You need to wait
If youve followed the advice given in this book, you usually dont have to worry about on-page optimization not
being enough.
If the keyword youre worried about is a broad term or a very competitive keyword, you might need more links.

Usually though, its a combination of more links plus patience that will get you there.
Knowing which keywords are failing to achieve desired rankings can help you refocus on your marketing
efforts.
Untargeted search traffic
Are your pages getting untargeted search traffic?
Traffic is not bad per se, but one reason for a page getting untargeted traffic is the lack of proper optimization
on that page.
If thats taken care of, it is usually because you lack the right type of links to the page / site.
You wouldnt know this unless you were tracking your search terms.
Nonperforming search terms
What about those search terms that bring in a LOT of traffic but dont convert into something tangible; that is,
an ad click, newsletter signup, product purchase, etc.?
This could mean one of two things either that keyword is not in sync with your offer (you are selling a $49
e-book on a page that receives traffic for free ebook), or your landing page is not optimized for leading visitors
towards the desired outcome for that page.
Whats Next
Finally, well wrap things up and finally let you get started optimizing your website for the big 3 search engines;
Google, Yahoo, and MSN!
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18 In Closing
I hope youve come away with quite a bit of practical examples and methods for ranking your websites higher in
the major 3 search engines. I wont drag out the conclusion to this course any longer than I need to, as I know
there was A LOT of information to digest.
You should now know plenty to get your website to the top of the search engines; but for those that are 110%
dedicated to seeing their online business succeed, and want to take their knowledge of SEO to the next level,
weve created the most comprehensive SEO Homestudy course available anywhere in the world.
It took us 8 full months to put EVERYTHING I know about SEO onto videos. You can learn more
about how to get ahold of this limited quantity Home Study Course here:
=> http://www.seomindset.com/HomeStudy/
With that said, all thats left is for you to take action on what youve learned. Go get em!
Brad Callen
Bryxen Software, Inc
http://www.affiliateelite.com
http://www.keywordelite.com
http://www.seoelite.com
http://www.nicherevolution.com
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