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Want a Free PR8 Directory Link?

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

Ahh damn. I’m really pissed off that Subvert & Profit sign up is broken. Even though it’s not my fault, I feel guilty for those who read my Easiest Way To Make Money Online post and then couldn’t sign up. I’ve e-mailed them and they haven’t responded yet. I guess they already know and are working on it. I’m pretty sure the “sign up” feature is pretty high on the “should be working” list for websites. I’ll keep you guys up to date and post an update once I see it working again.

In a way of weird geeky SEO compensation I thought I’d share a tip about how to get a sneaky link from a PR8 site’s directory and grab some juicy Keyword Real Estate.

The Target
Occasionally on some of my sites that I don’t deem “appropriate” to run Google Adsense on, I will opt for Adbrite as an alternative. I was checking through the backlinks for one of my sites the other day and I noticed that I had a link from the Adbrite Publisher directory. Nothing too strange about that, after all I run their ads on the site. However, what did strike me was the strength of the link…

Yahoo! Site Explorer
tends to put links in rough order of importance. My site has over 30,000 links, some of which are from massive sites, yet the Adbrite Directory ranked #26. There must be some pretty nice link juice there!

A Little Investigation Work
Right, lets check this out then. If we run Adbrite through SEO Quake we can see that it has around 18,600,000 domain links and is PR8!

Excellent. Just one more thing to check. If we look at a random directory entry, we can check the source code to make sure the link is followed. Bingo. We even have some space to cram in some keywords.

How we get the link
Okay, firstly head over Adbrite and sign up as a Publisher.

I’m working on the assumption you’re not going to want to show Adbrite adverts, so you need to tweak a few things, so listen up. When you sign up you’ll be asked to create an “Ad Zone” which is similar to a Google Channel. More specifically, an Ad Zone is a page, or set of pages that you will display adverts on. So an example Ad Zone might be “Homepage – Top Banner” or “Site Wide – Footer”.

You can pretty much fly through the sign up. Make sure, if you don’t want to display adverts that you turn interstitials and inline ads off, otherwise you’ll have horrible pop-up windows appearing on your site all the time. Adbrite will ask you some fairly basic questions like what keywords you want your site listed for, what advertisers can sell to your visitors and a few questions about site demographics.

When you’re setting up your “Ad Zone Description” make sure you get your site keywords in here. The Ad Zone Description is the only thing displayed on your basic listing page, so if you can type a nice long description mentioning your keywords, you’ll skew the content of your page towards your niche, making Google think it’s all the more relevant.

At the last stage, Adbrite will give you your advert code, which will need to be pasted onto your site. This stage is required because you will not be listed in the Adbrite directory unless your adverts are getting impressions…

So take the code and stick it in a hidden div :)

Add this to your StyleSheet:

margin: 0px 0px 0px 20px;
display: none;

Then when you paste in your Adbrite Javascript, put it inside the “adbriteAds” div on your webpage.

The result
Congratulations! Once the impressions are registered, you will appear in the Adbrite directory and you have just nabbed yourself one juicy link + keywords!

I might do a review of Adbrite in the future as they have proven to be a good alternative to Adsense, when you are working on projects that for one reason or another would violate the Adsense TOS.

Enjoy and accept my apologies for not being able to sign up to Subvert & Profit :(

Posted in Grey Hat, Search Engine Optimisation | 43 Comments »

Over 160 Relevant Link Following Blogs

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Edit: If you want a blog or forum added to this list – you can contribute it here. Also please read the latest update of this search engine.

The original nofollow list was sourced from third party sources, with the original list being created at http://courtneytuttle.com – I have taken this list and made over 200 additions and listed them by PR and category for SEO purposes.

I’ve had a pretty rough few days this week, so I dedicated quite a lot of time putting together a rather special resource for you. It may not look much, but it’s a list of over 160 categorised, PR ranked blogs which all don’t use the “nofollow” attribute in their links. Before you jump to the end of this article to download it, I’d like to say one thing: This list is not for blog spamming! Seriously, spamming it would be a waste of your time and a waste of the 10+ hours I spent putting this list together. Since I was feeling extra generous, I’ve also built the blog list into a Custom Blog Search Engine, so you can simply search for your niche and find relevant blog posts! Anyway, as I said…

Me no spammy list?
No, you no spammy list. For a start, it probably won’t work – plugins such as the awesome Akismet pretty much stop most automated spam, also if you piss the blog owners off, they’ll probably just nofollow the links anyway and then the fun’s over for everyone. There’s a much better use you can put this list to.

Ok, I’m listening. What’s there to do?
Okay, as I said, we’ve got a list here of over 160 blogs that will follow comments. All of them either have a lot of traffic, or high PR. (Some I believe have a high PR, but display PR0 because the Toolbar PR hasn’t updated yet). So for instance, lets take an example that you run a Travel Insurance website. The best thing you can do is look down list this and make your own mini-list of all of the blogs that cover travel and culture. These are going to be the blogs we want our links on, they have authority, traffic and more importantly, they are highly relevant.

It doesn’t take long to scan read a post, so have a look at the latest posts (who knows – you might learn something too!) then leave a comment on the blog, using your “name” as the keywords you want to rank for (try and keep it the least “spammy” as you can). In a standard comment you’ll want to compliment the post, make a relevant comment on the post content and a closing remark. Keep it short & sweet but try and add some value, this will get your comment approved.

If you factor this activity (say an hour a day) into your SEO/blogging schedule you’ll be picking up some nicely weighted, relevant links every single day – as well as the traffic you can generate from click-throughs. It is a safe method of building pretty good quality links that you can be sure will get indexed fast. The main leg work is in sourcing a list of blogs that don’t use the “nofollow” attribute, but I’ve already done the hard bit for you!

Isn’t there an ethics issue here?
Even for white hatters, I don’t think there’s an ethical issue here. So we’re putting our comment there for the sole purpose of getting a link, yes. However, if the blog author can read this comment and they think it adds value to the post, where’s the harm in that? If bloggers are so concerned about who they are giving their link juice to, they should be use the nofollow attribute in the first place.

That sounds like a lot of work!
Well, it really isn’t, but for your lazy types – you’re in luck. Jon Waraas has recently launched a service called Buy Blog Posts. His service essentially offers the above technique for 100, 500 or 1000 blog comments in your niche. Now, there has been a lot of criticism over Jon’s service saying it is “evil”, “vile” and it will “destroy the blogosphere”. These people, really need to get outside more, if not only so we can give them a kick in their blogospheres. As I stated earlier, if the author of a post can’t tell the comment is “pseudo-spam” then I don’t see what the problem is.

As usual – Give it a try and let me know how you get on! You are welcome to put a copy of the PDF list on your on website or blog.

Edit: If you want a blog or forum added to this list – you can contribute it here. Also please read the latest update of this search engine.

(This PDF is out of date now – use the search engine)

Posted in Grey Hat, Search Engine Optimisation | 288 Comments »

How to Fake Good Content

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

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.

Link Profiles
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:

Hehe :)

Posted in Search Engine Optimisation, White Hat | 26 Comments »

Making Money With An Affiliate Network Empire [Part 1]

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

A quick note before we begin: I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of months now and I’ve re-written it several times. I tried to shorten it, so as not to bore the more advanced readers, however I decided in the end, to leave it at the original length – so everybody can benefit, regardless of your level of experience in affiliate marketing/seo etc. Generally, I write posts with just the “what you need to do” aspect in mind. For this guide though, I have included a lot of background information, because you will all need to do your own thing and by giving key bits of knowledge, I hope to give everybody what they need to make their own informed decisions and most of all make as much money as possible! With that in mind, enjoy part 1….

This is a commitment
Affiliate marketing is a huge area with a lot of players in it, as well as “super affiliates” who spend vast amounts of money on pay per click models to drive traffic to their sites. My personal approach with web projects has always been to keep my expenditure low, this keeps profits higher and guarantees that in the worst case scenario where I don’t succeed, my losses are minimal.

In the long-term, affiliate marketing has been my best earner, which is how you have to look at projects like this. If you’re going to make decent money on the web (save a lot of time) you’re going to have to invest time. For those of you who want a quicker route to making about $1,000, check out the guide to making money with a video blog. Lets hammer this home for the skim readers: The strategies outlined in these posts will take a serious investment of time, it is not a get rich quick scheme! Affiliates will provide you with the most stable revenue – but you will have to put the hours in!. If you want to make a living online, affiliates are something you want to get into in a big way. Now that’s clear…

A quick overview of the plan
Okay, so it would be nice to be able to open a massive affiliate store with all manner of popular products and having some good Google rankings, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy – but it is possible. I’m going to give you the bones on how to start building a large network of websites selling affiliate products, which ranks well in Google. I’ve had this post on backburner for a while and it wasn’t until I started writing it I saw just how detailed it was going to have to be to be of any good to you guys, so I’m breaking down into parts. I’m not sure how many parts there will be, I’ll just write the parts in stages, so you can action them, then publish another part in a month or so. Here’s a basic overview on what we’ll be doing:

1) How to find and select a niche
2) Keyword research – how to find gaps in search competitiveness
3) Building niche affiliate sites
4) Interlinking affiliate sites into larger network
5) Production of well ranking “super affiliate” site (that’s fully automated)

I certainly wouldn’t label myself an “expert” on affiliate marketing and there are a lot of other ways you can approach the challenges I’ll be writing about. I found a way that works well for me – using knowledge of search engines to get massive visibility and drive sales and I’d like to share this with you. From what I’ve read on affiliate forums – there’s a lot of other people having a harder time than me!

So lets get started with part 1……….

Sign up to an affiliate network
Choosing an affiliate network, or several affiliate networks is going to be your first step. There is a massive choice of networks about, so it’s worth finding one with a decent amount of merchants and a good interface. I’m not going to get bogged down on this particular area, my favourite affiliate network at the moment is Webgains, but I’ve also used Trade Doubler and Affiliate Window with no problems. The only network I’ve ever had trouble with is Affiliate Future, who have (in my experience at least) been somewhat slow in updating feeds, leaving you to filter out the duds. Outside of affiliate networks, the original is very generous with its payouts, so if you’re thinking of selling anything Amazon stock, I’d definitely sign up there. As I said, I’m not going to go into gory detail about this at the moment because at this stage, it’s not overly important and it is something we will cover again when we come to building our “super affiliate” site.

Finding a niche market
Okay, this bit is important, so don’t rush it. Before you can start breaking into competitive areas you’re going to need to identify niche that fills a few criteria:

1) It has enough monthly searches to produce some sales
2) Not much competition for the core terms
3) It is something you can easily buy over the Internet
4) Preferably – expensive

Here’s a nice one for free: Pregnancy Clothing.

Why choose something like that?

Pregnancy clothing actually as a lot going for it:

  • The search term “pregnancy clothing” has a healthy amount of monthly searches
  • The top site for “pregnancy clothing” only has ~350 links – not hard to beat at all
  • Pregnant mums will spend a lot of time home, on the Internet
  • When you’re pregnant (I imagine) you don’t want to huff around the city!

I’ll probably use this as an example throughout this guide, you’re welcome to go for it if you want (although if all of you do, you’ll be competing with each other!), so try and find something else. It only took me about 45 minutes research to find that little gem and there’s a lot more out there! You just need to put the effort in!

At this point, it is worth having a look at a very basic overview of the buying process (apologies to those with qualifications in marketing for this gross simplification).

The Buying Cycle

Okay, this is the basic “process” that most people go through when deciding to make a purchase.

Awareness: This is the awareness of the solution to a problem or the possible fulfilment of a need. So, “I got a bun in the oven and I got really fat and none of my clothes fit anymore”. Is a need. Hopefully our young mother-to-be knows that there are clothes out there for ladies of her figure. If not, at some point when surfing though pregnancy forums or hormonally stumbling through Mothercare, she’ll make this discovery. Awareness is deeply ingrained in our sub-conscious, so if someone says “I need a burger, fast” a lot of people will instantly think “McDonalds”, even if the term “burger” must be taken loosely. It is the awareness of the solution and possible provider, which is connected to our final stage, loyalty. For our current affiliate project, we’ll leave awareness for now.

Research: The bread and butter, the real meat, whatever you want to call it. This is where the Internet comes into its own. No longer must you rely on journalists in magazines or the sales clerks in the store, with the Internet you can hear what actual consumers are saying about products, compare the prices of 50 different outlets and make your own views heard – all while trying to work out how to get Outlook to auto send and receive.

The research part of the cycle is what we are going to be focusing on. We want to draw people in from the search engines, give them everything they need to know about the product they are after, then kick them off to an affiliate so we can make our bucks. It is worthwhile having a look around at some other websites doing similar products and take note of what they provide in terms of item description, price comparison, images, delivery, specifications, advice and reviews. Make a list of this information for later as we will be basing our page design around it. We’ll come back to this later, but the thing to bare in mind is you are aiming to become a key resource for your chosen product or service.

Purchase: So, we’ve summed up all our options got our shortlist and made our final choice. Do I buy? There are a lot of factors that go into this critical purchase decision stage, some are out of your control, some are well within your control. This is the make or break for e-commerce sites. Most of the final decision will rest with the affiliate site you send your customer to, however there is a lot we can do in terms of wording, design and content to “prime” this customer to make the purchase immediately and from your site.

Loyalty: Was your site useful? Was it designed well? Was it easy to find? Was the payment process easy? Again, this final stage is split between your site and the final affiliate site. In the first part of our project, we won’t be too worried about loyalty, because we will be grabbing all our traffic from search engines. Later however, when we build our ultra-automated-mega-all-knowing-all-selling affiliate site, loyalty will be one of our key focuses. Getting people to come back and back and back. $-)

Stop! Keyword Research Time!
I’ll just clear up some jargon before I move on:

Affiliate Network: Middle men so to speak, who put Merchants in touch with Affiliates and sort out all the nitty gritty payment issues and such.
Merchants: These are the actual guys who are selling the product/service. They decide their commission levels and product offerings and join the affiliate network in the hopes that affiliates will join their scheme.
Affiliates: Hey! It’s you! Affiliates are the “end sellers” who build and optimise their own sites and advertise merchant’s websites and products, in the hope of passing them a sale to earn commission.

Now that’s cleared up, you should be logged into your chosen affiliate network and browsing the list of merchants for inspiration. Most affiliate networks have them ordered in categories, so for your own sake pick something you have an interest in.

A typical merchant directory

A quick and easy way to decide whether a product is worth going after is to perform a little bit of keyword research. Have a think about a couple of main keyterms you would chase and run them through some keyword research tools.

This is a full list and brief summary of the keyword research tools I use:

Google based tools:

Google Keyword Tool
Provided free by Google AdWords. Shows basic search volumes and related terms.

Google Suggest
As you type, Google will offer suggestions. Good related keyword search.

Google Trends
Provides useful insights into broad search patterns across the world.

Google Zeitgeist
Weekly Google Search patterns and trends.

SEO Book Google Suggest Scrapper Tool
Scrapes Keyword Suggestions from Google Suggest.

Yahoo! based tools:

Overture/Yahoo! Keyword Suggestion Tool
Official Overture Keyword Selector Tool.

Yahoo! Buzz
Statistics of Top Searched Terms on Yahoo! by Category.

Overture SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool
Scrapes the Overture Suggestion Tool but includes much more useful information. You can also target by country.

DigitalPoint Keyword Suggestion Tool
Used Suggestion Tool and Wordtracker and compares the two results.

MSN based tools:

MS AdLabs Search Funnels
You can use the adCenter search funnel tool to help you visualize how people search by entering related keywords in certain sequences and analyze these search behaviours.

Other keyword research tools:

Trellian Free Keyword Discovery
Another good, free keyword tool. Also offers advanced features on subscription.

Free wordtracker Keyword Suggestion Tool
generates up to 100 free, related keywords and an estimate of their daily search volume.

Keyword Suggestions by CheckRankings.com
Shows number of searches, competitors and competing AdWords in Google. Also provides a free ranking monitoring tool.

Lycos Top 50
Top 50 keyword list from Lycos.

Nichebot Classic
A 3 in 1 keyword suggestion tool: keyword discovery, overture and wordtracker.

Find exactly which competitors there are in your niche.

GoLexa Search Tool
The Search Tool with Complete Page Analysis for each Result and much more.

Keyword Lizard
By Google AdWords Expert.

Ontology Finder
Related Keywords Lookup Tool by goRank.com.

It’s worth having a peak at most of those tools. Which tools I’m using will depend on if I think I’ll be targeting a specific country or if I want to check results for a specific search engine. Generally you’ll want to use 3 or 4 as a comparison, such as the Google Traffic Estimator, Overture and Keyword Discovery. You’ll find a lot of tools give a rather large variance in search frequency, so the best thing to do is enter a keyword that you know how many searches there are and how much traffic this delivers and just math it out.

So for example if overture says “pregnancy clothing” has 2,000 searches a month and Google says it’s 6,000 I’ll enter a keyword I know, and say okay this keyword I know gives me 10,000 visitors a month and Yahoo says there are 20,000 searches a month. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume “pregnancy clothing” will give me 1,000 visitors a month. (I did just make these figures up as an example of how you would work out traffic before anyone e-mails me!)

You can use a lot of common sense here, so don’t waste your time looking under the loans section for instance. We are specifically after low/medium traffic terms So anything between 200-5000 searches per month is perfect. Once you find something in about this range, we need to move onto step 2 of our selection, which is checking how competitive it is.

Finding out how tough those search terms are
The more SEO you do, you’ll develop a good instinct as to what is going to be tough and what is going to be easy. One of my essential tools for having a quick glimpse at the competition is SEO Quake extension for Firefox. If you don’t have this, download it immediately!

Okay, I’m assuming you’ve installed SEO Quake now. Head over to Google and perform a search for your main keyword in the niche you are looking at. SEO Quake tools will be overlaid and provide you with a “Request Parameters” button (circled in green). Click that badboy.

SEO Quake gives you information such as:

  • Google PageRank
  • Pages indexed in Google
  • Links to that page according to Google
  • Last cached by Google date
  • Pages indexed in Yahoo!
  • Links to that page according to Yahoo!
  • Links to that domain according to Yahoo!
  • Pages indexed in MSN
  • Links to that page according to MSN
  • Alexa Rank
  • Archive.org Age Date
  • Server IP
  • and some links to whois and info on robots and such

In seconds, you’ve got a great idea of what you’re up against. One of the most important metrics here is the Yahoo! L & LD (links to page and links to domain). Factor this in with how old the domain is (the newer the better) and you’ll get a rough idea at how quickly they are getting new links. If you can find a site with less then 2,000 links to the domain, you could well be onto a winner. If you click on the Yahoo link number, Yahoo will kindly order their incoming links roughly in order of importance. Check through this list just to make sure they don’t have any super-linkers (relevant PR7+ linkers) or that they are part of a much larger network.

Take stock of your new enemy, look through their website and ask yourself some questions: How professional does their site look? Is it updated regularly? Are they supported by any offline promotion? Is their site out of date? Anything you can think of to try and gauge how serious they are. Later, when we go into our aggressive SEO phase we will be deconstructing our competitor’s site, making sure that everything they have going for them, we have going for us – plus a little extra on top of course.

I would like to continue here, however I donâ??t want anybody rushing this research stage, which is one of the most important parts of our project. You should look at doing the following:

  • Make a list of half a dozen niche areas
  • Investigate all possible search terms related to these niches
  • Go a little deeper and use Google Trends to see how they are affected by season and so forth
  • Make a list of all the information that you will need to provide your users on your selected product/service
  • Research and make notes on your competitors, what features their sites have and how well entrenched they are

  • In Part II we will be looking at taking this information and how to logically start building your seed niche sites which will be the foundations of your affiliate empire!

    What are you waiting for? Scram!

Posted in Affiliate Marketing, Google, Paid Search, Research & Analytics, Search Engine Optimisation, White Hat | 22 Comments »

Exploiting Digg To Rank Better

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Yes, I haven’t blogged in a while – apologies. I got burnt out this first part of the year, with long work hours and personal projects so I took a couple of months break doing “non-computer” stuff. Writing a decent post takes a lot of effort, so I figured rather than drag Digerati down with low quality posts, I’d just save a bunch of stuff up for when I had the energy to get it all down. I’ve started catching up on some reading and I’m ready to start you off with a teaser article about using Digg to get yourself ranked better.

What’s the plan?
Okay, the plan is this. We are going to produce an article, get it to the front page of Digg, grab all the links that this gives you and turn them into something valuable for your website. A lot of people try similar methods and fail miserably, never getting off the “upcoming stories” page on Digg. So we’ll be looking at solutions to:

  • How to make a powerful Digg account
  • How to write a “Diggable” article
  • How to guarantee front page coverage
  • How to make your links relevant

With no further fanfare, lets get cracking.

A little about Digg and Digg accounts
The Digg community, much like Wikipedia does not really take kindly to “SEO types” or people trying to promote their own articles or websites. If you’re caught Digging your own stuff, or just spammy crap over and over, you’ll get your account suspended. Building up a “powerful” Digg account is a reliable (but long-term) method of making sure this strategy works well. If you create a new Digg account and Digg a story, your Digg (vote) carry less weight/authority, whatever you want to call it, than say a user who has been registered for 2 years and has Dugg thousands of stories. There is a kind of “trust” game going on with Digg and you need to get in on it. One way Digg looks at your behaviour and measures trust is by which stories you Digg. Do you only vote for the crap stuff? Or are you joining in voting on stories that are really popular? How long have you been around on Digg? When you post a story, how many Diggs does it get?

You essentially want to build a “upstanding citizen” profile on Digg. This will take time, but I mention it now because it will save you the (albeit small) expense that this tactic incurs in the future. So, as a beginning and side note to this strategy, make a point of logging into Digg everyday and doing these things:

  • Look at the first dozen or so top stories and give them a Digg
  • Search for stories posted by powerful Diggers and add these Diggers as your friends
  • Whenever your friends post a story, make sure you Digg it immediately

The last point there is one of the most important. If you have 200 friends and you make sure you Digg their stories when they post, they will, generally without question return the favour to you. When I post a story on Digg I can get 30-40 Diggs within an hour or so just from my friends list which helps me reach the top of the “upcoming” stories list, which is your first milestone.

Bare that in mind and I’ll write the rest of this post for those who do not have powerful Digg accounts.

Choosing a subject and writing a successful article
If you’re not an experienced Digger, I suggest you take a quick trip over to Digg.com and have a look at some of the top voted stories over the last month or so. Try and get a ‘feel’ for what makes a successful story and think about the Digg audience (which is mostly techies, geeks etc…) and look at what kind of stuff interests them. To give you an idea, I’ve noted down some observations I’ve made:

  • Top Tens! Very, very popular. A lot of articles are “Top 10 list of…” or lists of… stuff… To make a story hugely successful, it has to be accessible. A lot of people will be put off if you Digg a 3 page long text heavy story, no matter how funny.
  • Sarcasm, humour, parody. “High brow” kind of jokes, poking fun at corporations, politicians, or simply well photoshopped images go down a storm. You know all those “Fw:Fw:Fw:BRILLIANT JOKEZ!!!11″ emails that land in your inbox from loved ones? Think the opposite of this type of humour and you’ll be well away.
  • Retro stuff! Nostalgia is a powerful tool. Think thundercats, transformers, spectrums, amigas, all your base are belong to us.
  • Weird geeky science stuff.. Black holes, UFOs, teleportation, time-travel. In list format where possible. Everybody loves off-the-wall useless facts.
  • Once you’ve got a theme, tie as much is as possible. If you can squeeze some current buzz in like the release of a film and tie it all together with a “thundercats versus the new movie transformers” or such like, you’re onto a winner.
  • Lastly, make sure it hasn’t been done before! (Or do it a hell of a lot better).

Okay, hopefully you’ve started thinking along the right lines now. You want to try and pick a topic that is related to the content of your website. This is probably the hardest part and you might need the help of a friend or two to brainstorm. A good example I saw recently was for a travel insurance company, a list of “the top 10 most dangerous travel destinations” was created, with brilliantly photoshopped images of each country, making it worth Digging just for the photos, let alone the article which was written dripping with sarcasm and good humour. Making a story controversial, may seem risky (don’t worry about that for now), but it is exactly the kind of buzz you’ll need.

Putting your article up
If it’s your first attempt, it might be worth getting a friend or two to cast an eye over it, to get their thoughts and make sure you’ve hit the nail on the head. Once you’re happy with your article, things get a bit more sneaky. Create an orphan page on the domain you want to boost and put your article here. An orphan page is once that is not linked from your site (or sitemap) or linked back to your site. This will reduce any negative impact if you’ve written a particularly controversial article and throw people off the scent of what you are trying to do. If you’ve written an excellent article that really sits well with the rest of your sites content, then by all means, put a link with anchor text of your choosing at the bottom of your story to your website. Lastly, you’ll want to add a “Digg this” and at a later stage perhaps a “Reddit” (or social network of your choosing) button to your page. This will encourage more people to Digg your story, who land on it from other sources. Now. login to Digg and post your story and give it an exciting title (this doesn’t mean CAPS!), and a taster intro. This bit isn’t too hard. If you’ve already got some friends they will hopefully Digg it for you.

Nobody is Digging my story!
Okay, if you want to make the front page of Digg, there are people that can help you. If you head over to www.subvertandprofit.com, you’ll find an entire network designed to giving your Digg stories than initial “boost” they need to go viral. In a nutshell (I’ll let you read through the site), you pay $1 per Digg you wish to buy and users on the site who have Digg accounts are paid to Digg your story for you. Now, if you’ve written an okayish article, you’ll only need to buy about 50 Diggs (so $50/£25) worth to get you front page. The rate at which you receive Diggs (and the previously mentioned “power” of a Digg have a lot more to do with your stories position than the total amount of Diggs. Once you’re story has reached this critical mass, it tends to snowball.

Wait! Wait! $50?! Does it work? Is it worth it?
I’ve used this tactic half a dozen times now, with what I would consider “okay” articles and I’ve hit the front page every time giving me thousands of visitors and more importantly, thousands of links. Yes it works, yes it damn well is worth your fifty bucks (sorry my fellow English readers, but $ is the currency of the net, deal with it). So, buy your initial Diggs, sit back and make sure you have well hell of a server! The first time I did this, I crashed my server due to the visitor load!

What’s the point of all of this? Explain!
Right, your getting thousands of visitors to an orphan page, what the hell use is that? Okay, cool your jets. What we’re really gaining here is links, lots of natural, beautiful website citations! If you’ve chosen your topic well (such as travel insurance: travel destinations) a lot of your incoming anchor text will also be relevant to your main site content. As mentioned in a previous article, you’ll be giving your website a massive shot in the arm when it comes to link velocity, which will help your rankings across the board. Having a #1 Digg story will give you the so called “long tail Digg effect”, which will see you get a whole bunch of links over the next couple of months, after the first massive influx.

What good are links to an orphan page?
A contested point, which I have experimented on (in the most controlled way possible – nothing’s perfect). Google has a “trust/authority” scoring for your domain as a whole, not just individual page strength. If you get a few thousand links to any page on your domain, Google knows the page is part of that domain and will raise your domain’s authority as a whole. Using this method, I have simultaneously jumped rankings over a dozen or more keyterms (usually going to 30-40 places in SERPs), using no other method. So it definitely works and let the nay-sayers do as they wish. Having more links to your domain, from a variety of good sources, with relative anchor text will give Google a clearer indication of your site’s content and authority, thus improving rankings.

A few tail notes
To put the last nail in the competitions’ coffin, a few months down the line when your article isn’t receiving many links anymore, remove the page and 301 it to an internal page of your choosing. This will give a specific page on your site a shot in the arm and increase rankings for that specific page. I generally just go for my main homepage, as the anchor text will be fairly mixed and you want to keep individual pages very targeted in terms of incoming anchor text.

A closing note, don’t bother putting Adsense/ads etc on your Digg article to try and squeeze some extra bucks out of it. Digg users are notoriously savvy and you’ll get the lowest click-through rates you’ve ever seen in your life and may well damage the popularity of your article.

There we go, a nice and easy way to gain a few thousand decent links! This was a taster article to get you guys (and me) back into the swing of things. I’m sitting on a massive 4 part guide to building a network of affiliate sites and automating the whole process. I’m not quite sure what to keep/remove from these next articles yet, but I’ll be posting on roughly a weekly basis for a while, so there’s a lot more to come. As always, good luck, let me know how you get on and drop me a line if you want to be my Digg friend!

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