SEO is a confusing topic. Many people run away from it because of a bunch of confusing jargon and the black box nature of Google’s ranking system. Other people hire professionals to help boost their rankings. I respect the pros that devote their lives to this field but I don’t feel that basic SEO is all that difficult. In my opinion, SEO is something that should be hands on and done in house. There is NO substitute for excellent content, however, it helps to have some back links from other internet sites to bring in people to see your excellent content. If you are trying to tackle long tail keywords, this gets even easier because you aren’t up against so much competition.
Pick a strong anchor – There are countless articles on the web regarding anchor text. Don’t get silly with it. Make the anchor something that someone would ACTUALLY click on, not just something some keyword-packed garbage that clutter’s the site and makes you look like a spammer. If you can use it in conversation within your content, even better, it gets counted as more relevant.
Spread out your links – This is not what you think. Make sure the sites are linking between are on separate classes C IP ranges. In other words, if your domain mydomain.com points at ip address 10.10.10.2, make sure the site(s) you are trading with are one a different ip range like 192.168.0.1 or even 10.10.11.2. These are fictitious ip addresses but they are meant to illustrate my point. Google gives more relevancy to OTHERS talking about you rather than you talking about yourself. If you are on 10.10.10.1 and 10.10.10.2, those two addresses are in the same range so google decides you are just pointing two of your own sites at each other. This is good for your user experience meaning that you need to cross link your sites so your customers have the benefit of finding all of your web properties but if you do too much of this, Google’s ranking system could penalize you.
Purchased links – This is a waste of time and money. Most of these sorts of services use link farms. Link farms are a kiss of death to your search engine ranks and I highly recommend you follow that link and read about them because you could potentially get blacklisted from a search engine altogether for appearing in link farm.
Reciprocal link trades – sometimes you want to link two or more of your sites together so that your clients can see that you have many web properties to serve their needs in different ways. For instance, I use my blog www.rostadrealty.com as a portal to all of my web properties. Conversely, I link from all of my other sites, back to Rostad Realty. If you do this excessively, you could potentially drive your page rank down. How much is too much? Only Google knows. It’s all locked up in Google’s black box algorithm and they aren’t telling. Ultimately the SEO should never be at the expense of user experience. I don’t think you really need to worry about too many cross linking sites unless your sites have no actual content.
ABC link trading – Here is a way, if done correctly, to boost your page rank more dramatically compared to some of the other strategies. Say that you own www.siteA.com and www.siteC.com. Now you have a friend who owns www.siteB.com. Give your friend a backlink (with his choice of anchor text) from your siteA to his siteB. Now, your friend will give you a backlink (with your choice of anchor text) from www.siteB.com to www.siteC.com. Now you EACH have one-way links pointing at each other and google won’t see these as reciprocated links which are ranked lower. By the way, there is no rule against using this strategy for yourself if you have enough sites at different hosting companies. Here are the caveats:
- Make sure EACH site is on a different Class C IP range.
- Make sure you and your friend have similar traffic on www.siteA.com and www.siteB.com so that it’s an equal trade.
- www.siteB.com and www.siteC.com get a boost but www.siteA.com does not.
- DON’T get the bright idea to link www.siteC.com back to www.siteA.com. That could be seen by Google as intent to manipulate your page ranking.
- Don’t get greedy with this concept or it will start looking like purchased links or trades which will be counterproductive.
- The trade should make sense from a user base standpoint. If you are a Realtor, don’t do an ABC trade with a waterbed factory for instance. Keep everything relevant to your content.
- Finally, most importantly, make sure you have the content to back up your efforts. This is all a waste of time if you don’t have something to “close” the client or lead them down the next step of your funnel.
- Don’t do more than one of these without some additional reading and reasearch. There are risks to this strategy but most of them stem around getting greedy or going overboard with it.
I will come right out and say that some of this is heresay. Google locks their secrets away to protect them from exploitation. Their ultimate goal is for people to find what they are looking for. They are always re-evaluating what they are doing to make sure this goal is met. This goes back to my advice that you need to prioritize quality of content over the any sort of SEO effort. The BEST chance you have at truely getting instead Google’s head is by reading Matt Cutts’ blog starting with this post he wrote on page rank sculpting. Matt Cutts is the head of the webspam team at Google.