There’s only so much of me to go around, so in the interest of expanding the company (and because she’s been pestering me for years), I’ve agreed to teach my younger sister some techniques of my trade.
She’ll be blogging here about her experiences, as she learns from scratch, one of the most challenging aspects of search engine optimization – organic link building (link building for the intention of ranking).
She’s 27; her name is Jodie, she fully rawks and I know you’ll adore her. Watch for her first post next week. For now though, you’ll have to settle for me (hi!) and a recap of our first lesson…
Examining Competitors for Relevant Backlink Opportunities
We began with a lengthy discussion about the different value of links (anchor text, vs. straight url, followed vs. nofollowed, high PR vs. low PR, image vs. text etc) and some of the different types of links available (directory listings, blog comments, article mentions, lists, news resources, etc). After a couple of hours, I felt she had a firm grasp on some of the concepts so I gave her an example site to work with and set her loose with the following scenario and instructions.
The sample client site is: www.canadianseo.com
The sample client keyword is: “SEO Canada”
Perform a search for the client’s keyword on Google.com. These sites are the ones that Google considers most relevant to “SEO Canada” and are our client’s direct competitors. Visit each of the top 20 competitor websites and look for backlink opportunities. It may be in the form of a blog comment, a product review, a directory submission, a play list, content submittal, a profile page etc. Record possible opportunities on a word (or excel) doc. And, for future reference, make notes on what exactly will be required to get the link.
Next, you’ll need Yahoo.
Using Yahoo’s Linkdomain Command
Perform the following search on Yahoo, substituting the url for a competitor’s (the one’s within your word doc):
This shows you the majority of websites that link to this competitor. Start visiting these sites and keep a sharp eye out for backlink opportunities. It helps to start by locating the competitor’s link within the page to see if it’s a viable prospect. For example, if it’s a page from CNN and the link comes from the competitor being quoted in a story, then there’s probably not much possibility of us duplicating that or getting a link off the same page (without some planning that is). If, on the other hand, the link comes from a mention in a resource list from a blog, then there’s a decent possibility that we can get added to the same list by contacting the blog owner.
If you find a backlink possibility, take note of the following:
- Will the link be “nofollowed”? If so, it won’t help with PR or rankings but it might still be good for traffic purposes. Record it anyways.
- What’s the PR (pagerank) of the page? We’ll want to give more importance to pages with higher PR. We won’t discount pages with little or no PR though… we just won’t try as hard for them.
- Will we be permitted to use anchor text or will the link be a straight url (i.e. “this is a Canada SEO company” vs. http://www.canadianseo.com). Although links with anchor text are definitely better for ranking purposes, we won’t discount a straight url link because they can still help increase our client’s PR.
Use the Yahoo “linkdomain” command on each of the competitors within your word doc. Yes, visiting each of the sites may seem daunting, especially seeing as some competitors will have thousands of backlinks, but try to think of it like this; uncovering more competitor backlink’s = uncovering more opportunities for our client. Record all prospects on your word doc (which should be getting fairly big by now).
Finding Directory Links
Next, we’ll look for some good directories to submit our client to. Perform the following search on Google.com:
- allinurl:directory “Canada”
This shows us some popular directories that have Canada related categories. Visit the top 20 (or more) and look for ways to get our client listed. Some directories are free to submit to, others cost money. We’re mainly interested in the ones that are free. Keep in mind that if a “submit site/url” option isn’t readily apparent on the homepage, you may have to go to the category we want to submit to, and look for the “submit site/url” option there. If it’s a paid directory, you should then be presented with a pricing page and you’ll know it’s not a prospect.
Hopefully by now you’ve got a healthy little list of link opportunities, with detailed instruction on how to go about getting the links. If not…
Digging Within Related Industries
If your list isn’t as big as you’d like and you can’t really find any viable opportunities for links, you can try researching the backlinks of sites within industries that are highly related to the client’s keyword. In the case of “Canada SEO” some highly related industries may include:
- SEO Consultant
- SEO Services
- SEO Specialist
Although the terms are broader, it stands to reason that any sites ranking for the above terms will be direct competitors of ours and therefore are good prospects for backlink examination. As long as it’s a related/themed industry we can go after links within it.
Basic Link Building Tools You’ll Need:
Since she already uses FireFox (converted her months ago) I told her to either get the Google Toolbar or install one of the many FireFox plug-ins, which shows Google PageRank (a list was provided). You’ll now be able to see the PR of every page you visit.
After that, you’ll need Greasemonkey so the “nofollowed” links on every page you visit will be highlighted in pink for you. This will save you a lot of time. You’ll need to enable the “nofollow highlighter” option either during installation or right after.
Lastly, if you have a Google account (gmail etc)…. make sure you are logged OUT when you’re performing your research. When you’re logged into your account, Google tends to show you more “personalized” results based on your location and habits. Same with Yahoo.
Oh and I wrote a well received link building article awhile back that I think you should read it as it pertains to what I’m trying to teach you. Lastly, don’t forget to use the “find” command (ctrl+f) if you need to find a word, phrase or url on a heavily worded page. It really helps for finding those tricky “submit site” or “add url” links and also locating competitor backlink’s on crowded pages.
She’ll be giving me the results of her research after the weekend. Can’t wait to see if we’ve got another link ninja in the family
Keep you posted.