I like to think of websites as flowers. Now just before you unsubscribe to my feed, de-bookmark my site and thumbs down me on stumble, hear me out. It’s actually a pretty good analogy!
Okay, so I don’t literally think of websites as flowers, but I’m going to roll with this because I think it makes everything a bit more interesting to imagine pretty flowers than Googlebots (what does a Googlebot look like anyway??). I was looking at some SEO forums today and I saw some pretty bad advice being dished out, unfortunately a lot of people were agreeing as well. So I guess this post is really to bust some link building myths and most importantly, give you a perspective where you can make your own link building decisions.
Simplifying things, there are two main things that are measured when looking at link profiles with websites:
Gaining links from highly ranked powerful sites, will of course pass some of this authority onto your website. Getting some authority links shows your website is trusted and isn’t a pill-popping-phishing-farm.info. Obtaining these kinds of links tends to be tricky, because you generally have nothing to offer these websites and a lot of them will rather just compete with you than help you out, because they are in the dominant position. Google has to be more careful nowadays and use a series of measures to rank websites as there’s a lot of webmasters who are whipping up their own authority real estate and using it to their own ends [insert evil laugh]. While helpful, in competitive market link building, a few big authority links aren’t going to have you sitting #1. So Google also takes close stock of…
Link popularity! Diving head first into dangerous PageRank “is it meaningful, is it not”? territory. I’m not even going to touch on that subject, there are a lot of people who’d rank a whole lot better, if only they spent the time they stare at that stupid green bar actually doing some SEO! I really want to talk about Link Profiling.
To understand how important this is, we’re going to use my wonderful flower analogy. So lets imagine we’re at a flower show and everyone has put their flowers (websites) out on display. The flower judge (Google) is going to come along and rank these flowers in order of how big and well developed they are. Unfortunately, our judge is blind. So he can’t tell how beautiful the flowers are, only how big they are. However, our judge can still judge the show, because he has a clever way of working out how beautiful the flowers are as well.
Since this is a kind of weird flower show, there are some extra rules. Everyone with flowers is allowed to take some of their flower food and give it to what they think are the beautiful flowers in the show to help them grow some more. Naturally, the biggest and most beautiful flowers attract the most food and grow even quicker. However, there are also some small flowers with really nice, um “buds” on them that attract a few people so they get a nice boost too.
So the flower judge goes around and ranks the best flowers as he sees (hawhaw) fit and takes notes on how well everyone is doing. He sees some really bad flowers too, seriously, they’re like f**king twigs and nobody has fed them at all.
Since the flower show as over 100 billion flowers in it, the judge really never gets a rest. He kind of does laps constantly re-ranking flowers, getting minimum wage in his never ending job. So when we get back to our first group of flowers again, everyone has been working hard on growing them. Poor old twig man’s flower is still looking as crap as ever. So twig man walks around the field before the show and picks up all the flower food he can find that other people have dropped. This flower food is a bit rotten, but it’s certainly better than nothing. The food makes his flower grow a lot bigger, but not all that beautiful. “That’s okay” he thinks, “The judge is blind, he can’t see my flower isn’t beautiful and I’ll be sure to win!”.
When re-ranking the flowers, the judge comes twig man’s flower and has a feel and thinks “Well, this is has certainly grown quickly compared to the other 100,000,000,000 flowers in the show. It must be quite a beautiful flower, I’ll rank him a bit higher”. Twig man is dead chuffed and his flower gets 10th position in his flower niche.
Before the judge comes around again, twig man sets off to find more dropped flower food. Crap! There’s nowhere near as much as last time and what is left is really rotten! Still, nobody is feeding twig man’s plant for him, even though it’s a big plant, it’s an ugly plant. So twig man feeds his plant what bits of rotten food he can. When the judge finally returns and examines twig man’s plant again, he thinks “That’s strange. This plant had grown a lot last time I saw it. Now it has hardly grown at all. Almost all of the other plants, when they start to bloom, grow faster month on month. I think this man is cheating…”
..and so twig man of course loses his place in the flower show…
WTF? Can you say that again, without the patronizing story?
Okay, so what we’re describing here (if my little story wasn’t too abstract): flower food is links, the size (authority) of the flower (site) is relevant to how much food (links) it has and how beautiful a flower is describes the quality of it’s content. The amount of flowers in the show is trying to demonstrate how much comparative data Google has at it’s disposal. So, what you may think you can squeeze by, will stand out like a sore thumb when compared to the profiles of millions of other pages in your niche.
Googlebot’s are not human so they really read your content and decide on it’s actual quality. Googlebots rely heavily on links and most importantly, trends in links. The best term I’ve heard used is the “organic bloom” effect, which describes a continued up-surge in links. The theory is; if you write some excellent content, people will link to it, people follow these links, agree it’s good content and link to you as well. This effect is exponential, the more links you have, the more new links you are likely to attract overtime. It can be quite obvious to Google that you have poor content if you try wham 100 top directory links at your site, they get indexed then the following months you get nothing. If you had great content, your website would continue growing.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn into one of those people that says “The best SEO is just write good content”, because that’s not SEO, that’s just writing good content and having a worthwhile website and frankly people that say that are cop outs. There are ways that you can mimic the “organic bloom” effect and make Google think you’ve got the best website in your field.
Which brings me neatly to the crap I saw on an SEO forum today…
A chap was asking how many directories he should submit his site to and if he should outsource the work. He said he had found people offering 500/1000 directory submissions for $200. The advice given to him by the resident “SEO Experts” was “only to submit to the top 50 directories, everything else is a waste of time”.
My outlook is this; a “top” directory is obviously popular and therefore normally has 2 million other links in it, reducing the quality of the link you receive, so although the link will get indexed, it’s still only a directory link at the end of the day. Also, as we just demonstrated what good is having 50 new links just suddenly appear to your website? Guff all.
Yes, small directories may seem like a waste of time, however they also provide this “organic bloom” effect. If you pay $300 for 1,200 directory submissions, you’re guaranteed to get new links indexed every month for absolutely ages. Not to mention the time you’re going to save. If you can find someone with a good reputation to manually do these links for you, it’s worth forking out so you can spend your time working on more advanced tactics.
The organic bloom effect is the exact reason that link laundering and exploiting link velocity works so well. I’ve been approached many times by e-commerce clients asking for help with SEO, because they are in a sticky position with content. People don’t go to e-commerce sites for great content, they skim a variety of sites for research then land on a chosen e-commerce site to buy. Sometimes optimising a page for links/search engines is at the other end of the scale to optimising for purchase conversions.
If you’ve got a site like this and your competition is outranking you just because they’re older and bigger, copying the organic bloom effect can make Google think your site is more beautiful and you’ll have an advantage that your competition didn’t even know existed. That will give them something to think about when their staring at their silver medal!
Found this search “recommendation” somewhat amusing:
Like this article? Then subscribe to the feed!
Over 160 Relevant Link Following Blogs »
« 3 Tips to Increase Adwords CTR