Our SEO And Linkbuilding Strategy Part 2
Last week we saw some pretty major changes as Google decided to aggressively target private blog networks through deindexing and forced quite a few of them to close their doors, including BuildMyRank, a network we had used quite a bit lately. I won’t get too much into this (For more information, check out what Pat Flynn, Spencer Haws, and Trent Dyrsmid had to say about the issue) other than to say that we’ve slacked off on linkbuilding efforts recently and these latest changes have been a wakeup call for us to revamp our linkbuilding strategy moving forward.
Note: The linkbuilding strategy we’re laying out here is the plan we’re moving forward with as of this week, but this has not been tested and it remains to be seen how successful/unsuccessful this plan will ultimately be. We’ll definitely be checking back in and sharing results in the coming weeks and months.
In the past we’ve tried to limit our linkbuilding spend to around $15.00 per site to keep our total costs per site to under $50.00 per site as laid out in our original linkbuilding strategy. There’s no particular reason we started out this way other than we hoped it would be effective, but we’ve come to find that we can expect our average site to eventually earn $9-10 per month on average. Our question is whether improved linkbuilding techniques would improve our ROI from the sites, so our intention is to test that out here. (We’re finding that our $$ per site, per month has actually slipped in recent months, but without holding onto the sites, it’s hard to say. We chalk this up to our cutback on linkbuilding a few months ago, for the most part.) Many others have used a much more expansive linkbuilding strategy than we have and their sites tend to earn quite a bit more as well. Could we do the same? SHOULD we?
We’re in talks with several different providers about a done-for-you service (One is from Virtual Miss Friday for SubmitYourArticle that would raise the cost per site by around $25-30 or so, to an overall site cost of $75-$80. Our costs would be significantly lower by performing this linkbuilding ourselves in-house, but it would require a significant increase to our staff for linkbuilding specifically. Our intention is to test out whether these improved links are worth it and, if they are, eventually bring the requisite staff in-house to take care of it for us. In the meantime, we’d like to take the new hires we’re interviewing and apply them to the process of creating more sites, not building out the sites that we have. It’s hard to find good staff, unfortunately, and we’re pretty choosy with our direct hires. We tried to use Virtual Staff Finder to find content agents in Davao and unfortunately, they thought that would be too limiting due to the geography and skillset. Ugh.
One of the concerns with outsourcing any of your linkbuilding to random websites or providers is that it requires you to reveal a significant portion of your niche site portfolio. This can be a bit uncomfortable, especially when you consider anyone that would understand the linkbuilding process for niche sites probably has their own portfolio of those niche sites as well. You also have to wonder…if they’re effective at building out and linking their own sites…how do they have the time to do the work on yours? When working with outsourced help for linkbuilding, we try to stick with providers or services that are extremely well established and even then we try to silo the work as best as possible between several providers.
What We Are No Longer Using
OnlyWire – We’ve used this in the past as a way to quickly get our sites indexed, but with the volume of sites we’re building we’re forced to create a ton of profiles on a bunch of different social sites to keep up and to separate the batches of niche sites. The rewards for this effort seem minimal at this point. While we may pick this up again in the future, we’re going to discontinue the use of OnlyWire for now. I do like and appreciate the effect of social signals, but I’m not sure this is the best way to go about it.
BuildMyRank – With the closing of their network, we won’t be looking for another private blog network to join. Google is aggressively targeting these done-for-you backlinking services and networks and we’d rather avoid this strategy for now. While there are definitely some private blog networks out there that are unaffected (and will remain that way as long as their owners keep them truly private) any blog networks that are public and actively recruiting new members will always be at risk, we think.
Our New Linkbuidling Plan And Tools
SubmitYourArticle.com (SYA) – We’d been using SYA for quite a while last year, but we ended up falling behind and ultimately stopped submitting articles through this service at the end of last year. In addition to just falling behind, one of the reasons we stopped using SYA was because we’d had quite a few articles denied and going through the process of fixing them and resubmitting was extremely time intensive. In looking at our post-November sites, we see that they don’t seem to be ranked as well across the board as our previous sites had been and we attribute this to our lack of article marketing.
We’ll be ordering original content for our SYA submissions (Through TextBroker and iWriter…click here for more on our content strategy and then having our agents use TheBestSpinner to put spintax on the articles and prep them for submission through SYA. Unfortunately, this is extremely time intensive. While we could use TheBestSpinner to automatically spin the content for the articles, we’ve found that the end result tends to be incredibly spammy and really not fit for human consumption. This ultimately causes us problems with the SubmitYourArticle editing process (and with ezinearticles as well) and is more hassle than it’s worth. We’ve found it better to have our agents go through the article and manually select the spins in TheBestSpinner so that we end up with a useable article at the end.
We’ll have our agents using this process and supplementing their work with a done-for-you service from Virtual Miss Friday I referenced above. We’ve timed this process and found that it takes approximately 3-4 hours per agent to complete a submission and we’re also paying for the original content as well. This means one of our agents can reasonably submit 2 articles per day or 10 articles per week. That means one agent can only keep up with about 20 sites created per week. We’ve temporarily assigned two agents to this project and will be catching up through the use of the done-for-you service providers.
UniqueArticleWizard.com (UAW) – This is another article directory submission tool very similar to SYA that will automatically submit your article to hundreds of article directories. While this service is probably more widely used than SYA, it’s new to us and I’ve been playing with it over the last week so that we can train our agents on how to use UAW to submit articles…or at least the linkbuilding manager. Ultimately, I don’t want to have to assign any agents to this and would rather use a done-for-you service to handle this for us. We’re looking at a couple of different people, both who we trust and know would do a good job on this particular project.
Unlike SYA, UAW requires one piece of original content and two additional re-writes that match, paragraph for paragraph. You’re allowed up to three links for each article, and we’ll be including 3 links in each of our UAW articles submitted. They use a mix of article directories and blogs that have opted-in to receive content, but each of the blog owners can decide certain thresholds, decline to accept content that isn’t readable, etc.
DoFollow Blog Commenting – This is something we’ve done for quite a while. I think our ROI on this is actually pretty limited, but we’re manually commenting on blogs after actually reading the content so our comments tend to stick. I think our real benefit here is that it just helps with link diversity. We’ll build 4-6 blog comments for each site and this is done by one of our agents part-time.
Varied Anchor Text
Recently, Matt Cutts from Google announced they would be targeting sites that were “over-optimized”. What did he mean by this? Well it’s definitely worth taking a look at your onsite SEO. Making sure that you’re not keyword stuffing and that your site has natural content that is built for visitors and not only search engines is a start. It’s also useful to link out to other authority sites in the niche, causing your site to be used as a hub of information. If your site only has inbound links and no outbound links it’s likely that doesn’t look as natural and definitely isn’t as helpful for users who find your site.
It’s also important to consider varying your anchor text links. Obviously, if 100% of your offsite SEO is building anchor text with the SAME anchors where ALL of them are to your homepage, that doesn’t look terribly natural. Our friends over at SEOMoz have a great video that explains the benefits of partial match anchor text:
It seems a bit crazy to us that partial match is actually BETTER, but these guys truly are the experts and know much more than we do about SEO. If you’d like to find out a bit more about SEOMoz, consider signing up for a free trial of their services here. In that vein, we’ve come up with the parameters we’ll be using to build article marketing links to our site:
- 2 exact match anchor text to homepage (i.e. “blue ski boots” to blueskiboots.org)
- 2 partial match anchor text to homepage (i.e. “cool blue boots” or “cheap ski boots” to blueskiboots.org)
- 2 non-matched anchor text to homepage (i.e. http://blueskiboots.org or “click here” or “check this” to blueskiboots.org)
- 2 partial match anchor text to inner pages (i.e. “cheap snow boots” to blueskiboots.org/discounts-on-snow-boots)
This means 75% of our links will be to the homepage with 25% of the links to inner pages. 25% of the links will be exact match, 50% will be partial match, and 25% will be non-matched.
Wrapping It Up
While we’re far from SEO experts, our intent was to show you an extremely low-budget option you can put together that will round out a linkbuilding strategy for your niche sites. We generally try to avoid some of the more spammy options that are out there and we’re putting more emphasis in our new/improved strategy back into article marketing. There have been some changes in SEO recently. Nothing to be particularly alarmed about, but it’s just another change cycle we’re going through that requires webmasters and niche site builders to look for new ways to play an old game.
With these changes, I’ve read quite a few blog and forum posts where people are screaming and gnashing their teeth, saying the sky is falling and that SEO is dead. We believe this fear-mongering is far from the truth and any experienced SEO expert will tell you this is just one of many changes and cycles we’ve seen over the last 6-10 years.
Lastly, I’d like to add that we’re looking for some SEO professionals to bring on the AdSense Flippers Podcast to discuss linkbuilding strategies for the types of niche sites we build. There are plenty of people talking about how to build 2-Tier links and how to put more robust strategies together, but what about our little sites? We’ve been dancing around with Joseph Archibald about having him on the show, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to call him out! Joseph, buddy, we need your expertise! Let’s set something up?
So there are plenty of you out there building niche sites and using backlinking strategies. What have you found to be effective? Don’t be shy…leave a comment and let us know what you’re working on!