SEO can be made as complicated as quantum physics, but the reality is much simpler. While there may indeed be the oft-cited “200 ranking factors,” anyone with experience knows deep down that backlinks are the lynchpin to scaling the heights of Google. However clever your keyword selection and copywriting are, there’s no getting around the fact that you need more links, stronger links, or more relevant links pointed back at your content than the next guy’s.
Like everything else in SEO, the best way to get backlinks is to write outstanding content that compels other bloggers to refer readers to your site. But, let’s face it, that’s a little pollyanish. Even if you think your own content is outstanding, there’s no guarantee that the rest of the world will. If you don’t want to leave anything to chance, you need to take a more deterministic approach to getting your content recognized by Google.
Simply put, this means that instead of writing stuff that you hope will attract backlinks, you write content to create the backlinks yourself. You write posts on other sites that contain links back to the on-site post you want to promote, and repeat the process until you push your main post to the first page of Google. In other words, you’re essentially writing guest posts in exchange for links whose anchor text contains the keywords your want your main “money” article to rank for.
If you intend your money article to rank for “compact treadmills”, your backlink article would include a sentence like, “Compact treadmills are suitable for use in apartments,” where “Compact treadmills” is hyperlinked with the URL to your money article using the HTML: <a href=”http://yoursite.com/your-article”>Compact treadmills</a>. Most off-site posting systems allow one to two links.
There are three main off-site places to post your link building content: on the top blogs in your niche, in article directories, and in guest posting systems. This article will focus primarly on the latter two, since there’s not much detail I can offer on the first method.
Guest Posting on Mainstream Blogs
Submitting guest posts to A-list blogs is simple, but not necessarily easy if you’re shy about contacting them. You email bloggers or webmasters an offer to write a post for their site, making sure that it’s tailored to their specific audience. They might turn you down, or they might not even reply, but you’ll probably get more bloggers taking you up on the guest post than you would if you were just asking for a link without offering anything of substantive value in exchange. Most bloggers are either jaded or skeptical about two-way link exchanges, but a guest post saves them the work of writing a post, while you get a one-way link back to your site, which carries more weight with Google than a reciprocal (two-way) link.
Submitting to Article Directories
Article directories work by syndicating your content across multiple sites. Directories like Ezine Articles, GoArticles, Buzzle, ArticlesBase and Article Alley typically allow you to submit articles with a minimum of 250-350 words and one to two links—usually one in the body of the article, and one in a “resource box,” which is an author bio or note at the end of the article (find the terms for each directories submission policy and follow them to the letter). Most people use the link in the resource box to provide their home page URL, but if you’re a clever wordsmith, you can usually figure out a way to work in a second keyword without looking spammy.
These directories allow other sites to download your articles and post them on their own sites, turning your initial one or two backlinks into dozens or hundreds of backlinks. The quality of the links tend to be poor, since the articles are duplicate content, but the quantity of links makes the process a net positive. Some bloggers have questioned the value of article directories, claiming that they’re not as powerful for SEO purposes as they used to be. While this is somewhat true in terms of delivering link juice, the links are still good for sending traffic. If you write a good post on a high traffic directory like Ezine Articles (the ones listed above are the top ones), you can sometimes get hundreds of visitors.
Submitting to Guest Posting Systems
A guest posting system is a network of individually hosted blogs connected by a single admin panel. When you submit a post to a guest posting system link PostRunner or Build My Rank, it’s technically the same as submitting a guest post to an A-list blog—or your own blog, for that matter. The main difference is that once you’re finished editing your post in the admin panel, you select where it gets posted from a menu of participating sites.
Instead of having to email a blogger and ask permission to submit a post, you simply pick from hundreds of blogs that have already consented to publish user submissions. They still have the discretion to reject posts on the grounds of inaccuracy, poor English, or other criteria, but the bar for most of these sites is fairly low, on par with article directories. Unlike article directories, guest posting systems cost money—current $33 a month for PostRunner and $59 a month for Build My Rank. BMR is all the rage right now, but I’ve been quite satisfied with PostRunner, so I’ll use the latter for describing the details.
PostRunner allows you to submit a post with a minimum of 300 words and up to two links, though some of the pickier blogs in the network have a higher word minimum (usually 400) or only allow one link. You have over 1200 sites to choose from, most of which accept posts on all topics, while some are niche sites that only accept certain types of content.
While many article directories accept duplicate content, guest posting systems do not; so a duplicate content checker is run prior to any post submission. The lack of syndication and duplicate content gives each PostRunner link more valence than a link from an article copy-pasted from a directory. It’s possible to do all of your link building exclusively through a guest posting system. Unlike a typical link farm, each blog has a different owner, theme, IP address, index count (i.e. the number of pages indexed by search engines), and PageRank, so you’re not in danger of creating a suspicious link profile unless you link too aggressively. 20 links a day will look suspicious under any circumstances.
The drawback of many of these networks is that they can be labor intensive, since they don’t accept “spun” content. Article spinning uses automated tools that “rewrite” a post to qualify as “unique” content by substituting synonyms and rearranging phrases, sentences or paragraphs. The vast majority of spun articles read poorly—worse than articles written by writers with poor English skills. Networks like Article Marketing Automation and Unique Article Wizard specialize in spinning and posting submitted articles to low-quality blogs. The effectiveness of article spinning is questionable, so sites like PostRunner will ban users who submit anything judged to be spun.
This means that you have to write each post individually. With practice, and depending on your subject matter, you can train yourself to write a 300-word article in under 15 minutes as you become more familiar with the topic. The standard practice is to take some aspect of your money article, write a 300-word version of it, and repeat the process for each pair of backlinks you need to create.
If you’re not inclined to write the articles yourself, you can outsource the process to writers (usually in developing countries like India or the Philippines) for $3 to $10 per article. Some Internet marketers find individual writers on Elance, vWorker or Craigslist Manilla, while others use firms that use a team of writers. Companies like The Content Authority, TextBroker and Need-An-Article typically charge $0.01 to $0.02 per word, depending on the quality level. Build My Rank actually offers in-house article outsourcing. BMR article submissions are 125 words and one link, and the company charges $2 to have each article written for you.
Good Enough Article Writing
Whether you write backlink articles yourself or outsource them, it’s important to understand that the main purpose of these articles is to have their links followed by search engines back to your money site. They’re primarily written for search engines, not readers. They do need to be readable, and they do need to answer the search query adequately, but you don’t need to be high quality like your money post.
This is a controversial point for some people, who insist that these kinds of link building posts are “littering” the Internet. For better or worse, Google’s algorithm works by following backlinks with the appropriate anchor text, so even if you decide to avoid link building and rely on high-quality posts, you still have no control over the keywords used for the anchor text chosen by other sites. Systematic link building requires a mindset that accounts for the logic of search engines. Writing good content for your main site is necessary, but not sufficient.
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