Article Marketing *IS* Sexy

Article Marketing Strategy1 300x200Article marketing is not the sexiest thing in Internet Marketing. There. I said it. There’s nothing new about article marketing. It’s been around forever, doesn’t feature the word “social” in it, nor the word “bookmarking”. And it’s got nothing to do with Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. So, why bother?

The clue is in one of the statements above. It’s been around forever. If it served no purpose for internet marketers like you and me, it would have died a long time ago like software directory backlink (remember when that worked…?). Oh and let’s not forget that fact that Google owns a little site called Ezine Articles. That’s an endorsement if ever I saw one!

With article sites, you get to create content – that’s what they are there for. You get to include anchor contextual backlinks and tonnes of long tail keywords. Most of the time, you get get anchor text backlinks, too. So what possible reason is there no to use articles sites as a means of increasing your SERPs with quality backlinks?

I can’t think of one, so I put together this list of 15 “underground” article sites. The good news is that most of these are auto approve, too. So no sitting around to get hold of the URL where your fresh content is located.

Article Online Directory Page Rank 2

Article Mania Page Rank 2

ABC Articles Page Rank 5

Article Field Page Rank 2

Zuarticles Page Rank 4

Smarticle Directory Page Rank 2

Articlicious Page Rank 2

Article Cube Page Rank 4

Article Cell Page Rank 2

Upublish Page Rank 4

Galoor Page Rank 3

Search Articles Page Rank 3

Isnare Page Rank 5

Bukisa Page Rank 5

Sooper Articles Page Rank 4

As you can see there’s a nice Page Rank spread there. At the time of writing all of these sites are fully operational and I have been posting there for a while with good results. What’s stopping you? Get creating some articles, because Article Marketing IS sexy.

Are You Really Not Indexed Yet?

snail traffic warning sign  9Since the release of my last product, Backlink Alchemy, I have been getting a few mails from guys concerned that the content they have created hasn’t been indexed. It is, after all, a very valid concern. You buy a course on finding premium backlinks. You put the hours in creating your fresh content. You make sure your backlinking is as natural as natural can be. And then Google just ignores you.

There’s ways you can use to try and find out if and when your efforts have been recognised, but how can you be sure that the method you’re using to pump Google for indexing data is actually going to work? The standard way of checking on indexing is to make a note of the URL of you newly created content and then stick “site:” in front of it in a Google search like this:

“site:http://Yoursite.com/Yourpage.html”

That’s great some of the time, but what about something like this:

“site:http://www.warriorforum.com/warrior-special-offers-forum/671104-google-page-1-seven-days-proof-inside-4.html#post7053463”

The truth is that it’s difficult to check on content you have placed on forums, blog comments or when you use methods like Backlink Alchemy and EDU Rank Surge. The URLs generated by methods like that don’t generate search friendly URLs. As a result, when you use the standard means of check whether you’re in Google’s index does not work and it looks like you’re being ignored. I know, as it’s a brick wall that I used to hit.

Until I hit upon a really great way of finding out exactly whether my backlinks actually counted for something. It’s really simple and totally fool-proof. All you need to do is to insert a unique phrase into your content and then search for that phrase on Google. Here’s a perfect example. Try the “standard” search string below and you’ll see that nothing comes up in Google:

site:184.106.206.87/editions/html/comment/reply/198/7311

But enter this phrase between quotation marks:

“Doo Wop Rocks and Broccoli”

…and as if by magic, suddenly the webpage is visible. The standard method failed, yet using my method, it’s a clear as daylight that my content is actually indexed.

That’s because I included a unique (and admittedly stupid) phrase, making it very easy to track in Google. And you can do exactly the same to find out whether you’ve actually been indexed anytime that you need to. It needn’t be as long or stupid as “Doo Wop Rocks and Broccoli” – I just used that to prove a point. You can use something simpler and less intrusive – just use a unique code at the end of your content like “Sprocket737” or “Retina6x6”.

The important thing is that you note exactly what code/phrase you have inserted into which piece of content. That way you can easily track and check when you’ve been indexed.

nofollow

Why You Need No-Follow Backlinks

When internet marketers are searching for places to post quality content and get backlinks to their sites, one of the most often asked questions is whether or not any given use uses the dreaded rel=”no-follow” tag (let’s just stick with no-follow from here on in). It’s a fair question to ask, given the circumstances – after taking the time to find a good place to post content, you want to make sure that your hard work is paid off with a nice jump in the SERPs.

Irrespective of the on-going argument on the issue of whether or not no-follow links actually help sites to rank higher (some high profile SEOs and internet marketers have gone on record and stated that they do, whereas others have taken exactly the opposite stance), it’s worth taking a little time to know a bit about this much maligned type of link.

A very short Internet history lesson quickly reveals that the no-follow tag was dreamed up as a means of combating blog comment spam. I will leave it up to you to decide whether it worked or not… Let’s see what Google has to say on the matter. Take a look at this post on the Google support forum. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture of the no-follow tag for those looking to climb the greasy pole to page one:

In general, we don’t follow them. This means that Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across these links. Essentially, using nofollow causes us to drop the target links from our overall graph of the web. However, the target pages may still appear in our index if other sites link to them without using nofollow…

So, at first glance, it seems that using no-follow backlinks is a waste of time. In terms of using backlinks to increase SERPS per se that may be true. Until you factor Panda into the equation and one all-important phrase that you should always bear in mind with your backlinks strategy – “natural link profile”.

Of course, there’s several other factors to consider like this for a start, but one important thing you can do to make things your backlinks efforts look natural is to actually include no-follows. Think about the backlinking process from the perspective of an individual who is writing a piece of content online and wants to include a link to your site as a vote that it’s a good resource for the topic in question. That individual could not care less whether the link he’s embedded in his content is do-follow or no-follow. He’s going to include that link and (if your site is popular enough) so will others. That means that there should naturally be no-follow links pointing to your site.

If you’ve been creating only do-follow links to your site, because you’re aware that they have little SEO power, it’s going to present a suspicious backlink profile to Google and will be taken as a rather obvious attempt to manipulate search engine results. Do you think that Google’s gonna like that and reward you with a nice fat page one ranking? So, if you are disregarding sites that use the no-follow tag, you know what you need to start doing.

The Truth About Footprints

Since launching EDU Rank Surge and Blog Net Dominion, I have had quite a few questions relating to footprints and making backlinking look “natural”. So, this post will take a quick look at the steps I take to ensure I am keeping Google’s Penguins and Pandas happy.

Mix Things Up

The most important thing with creating blogs and getting backlinks is to make sure that you mix things up as much as possible. To set this in context, let’s take a look at what happens if you do the exact opposite of mixing things up. You will have:

  • The same username for all accounts created
  • The same article title
  • The same article
  • Backlinks in same same position in your article
  • The same anchor text in your backlinks
  • Backlinks all pointing to the same webpage

To make this example even more extreme, you could conceivably use the same type of backlinks from the same source (e.g. using only article sites or blog commenting). Not a very good blueprint for a successful blog network, eh?

I have first hand experience of what happens when you create your blog networks using the blueprint listed above. A client of mine was not able to index a high percentage of a blog network he had created. It took me about 2 minutes to find out the root cause – the guy had been using the same username for his whole network and had been linking to exactly the same webpage in all of his blogs posts. There was also practically no variance on the backlink anchor text either.

If it took me just a couple of minutes to expose this guy’s backlinking efforts, you can bet your bottom dollar that Google’s algorithm knew about him and had decided not to bother indexing nearly half of the blogs he’d created. The backlinks in his blogs that had been indexed probably didn’t count for much, either.

The Moral of the Story…

So, using the above example, it’s quite clear that mixing things up is essential to get the most out of your backlinking efforts. You need to build your blog networks in a “natural-looking” way. By this I mean that every blog you create should look as much as possible as if it had been created by a different person. That’s the way Google’s whole backlinking algorithm is supposed to work – independent individuals pointing a link to your site to show that it is relevant to the anchor text used in the HTML. You need to make it look like someone has found a page on your website and is impressed enough to create his own content online and inlcude a link to your site. The more people that do that, the more relevant your site is in Google’s eyes and the higher it gets ranked. Simple.

A perfect blueprint for blog network success is to to the exact opposite of the bullet point above, namely:

  • Use a different username for every account you create. Not just Jack1, Jack2, Jack3, but totally different names.
  • Create different titles for your blogs. Keep them niche-specific, but vary the amount of words and sentence structure.
  • If you can’t write (or pay to have written) a unique article for each blog post, spin to a minimum of 70%. Where possible, do it manually to make for better results. Embed images in some posts and not in others. Add bullet lists to some posts and not in others.
  • Make sure you vary the position of your backlinks in your posts. Different paragraphs. Create a “Resource” section at the bottom of your post.
  • Using a wide variety of anchor text is essential nowadays. Include some “Click Here” or “This is a Good site”. Create your anchor text as somebody that is not trying to increase rankings would. Throw in a few raw HTML links too (e.g. http://google.com)
  • Link to different pages on your site. It is not  natural to see a load of backlinks to your home page and no others for example.

And that’s it. Stick to this gameplan and get the most out of your backlinking efforts. As has always been the case, slow and steady wins the race with Google. There are no shortcuts if you want lasting rankings.

Keeping It Above The Fold To Keep Google Happy

In addition to raking in billions of dollars from its Adsense program, Google’s prime focus with search is to provide its users (i.e. practically everyone using a search engine to find something online) with the most relevant, accurate and spam-free results. It wouldn’t take long for people to turn to alternatives if Google couldn’t manage to return the kind of webpages that its users expect when searching.

It’s for that reason that I was not at all surprised to learn of one their most recent algorithm tweaks that penalizes excessive “above-the-fold” advertising on websites. And by penalize, we mean rank lower than more compliant sites in search results. Taking it straight from Google’s very own Matt Cutts at Google’s own blog:

In our ongoing effort to help you find more high-quality websites in search results, today we’re launching an algorithmic change that looks at the layout of a webpage and the amount of content you see on the page once you click on a result…. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away. So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change. If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience. Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.

Looking at it from Google’s perspective, it’s an update that should deliver higher quality results to the end user. No one like to see a site that’s jam packed with adverts. There’s enough advertising in every day life, without having to stomach it online too. So, what does it mean for webmasters looking to comply and not see their webpages tank in search results? Well, the good news is that this algo-tweak will affect “less than 1%” of searches”, and that websites who use above-the-fold ads “to a normal degree” should not be affected. The only question is what constitutes “normal degree”? First, let’s see what the fold actually is, as defined in this image.

fold

Simple enough, until you consider that different monitors have different screen resolutions, so the fold is not always in the same position for every viewer. How to gauge whether you’re being as compliant as you can? Google has this nifty little tool to help you out!

Enter your URL and Browser Size tool super imposes a selection of browser sizes over your site to help establish what percentage of searchers can see your content without the need to scroll down. Using this tool it’s relatively simple to see whether your on-site adverts would be considered excessive and result in penalization. This is what it looks like when super imposed over IanAinslie.com:

Ian Ainslie 1024x402

The image shows how many people can typically view areas of your web page. The diagram is calculated from browser height and width information collated at Google.com. For example, the top 600 x 300 pixels can be immediately seen by 99% of users. My sweet-spot is around the 950 x 500 range, where the belly of content is visible to a high percentage of viewers without the need to scroll past adverts to get to the good stuff. How do you think that this site fares? Pretty massive ad slap bang in the centre of the page.

As always, the best strategy is to deliver the best and most relevant quality content. Monetization should always come second to providing a good user experience. This is how you should have been running your site before this algo change and it’s obviously even more important now that Google’s made it official. Adapt or die.

Google Slaps Private Blog Networks

It’s no great secret to those in the SEO and Internet Marking worlds that backlinks fuel Search Engine Rank Position (SERP) increases. Obviously, only Google knows the exact workings of its infamous algorithm, but essentially the more backlinks pointing to a site for a particular keyword, the higher that site will rank over its competition with lesser backlinks. Sure, there’s a whole lot of other factors that are taken into account (on page SEO, Page Rank, domain age, exact match domain name…), but the basic equation is “More Backlinks = Better SERPs”

seohosting11 300x225As with most things, it’s not quite as simple as that. It’s widely recognized that a site needs backlinks from as many different sites on as many C Class IPs as possible. The big question is how to get those backlinks to your site in sufficient amounts to drive SERP increases. The answer is Private Blog Networks. They tick all the right SEO boxes, allowing network participants to get high quality contextual backlinks from a wide footprint over hundreds of sites. That is until Google got wise and took action earlier this month by de-indexing one of the biggest Private Blog Networks at BuildMyRank.com (BMR) and sending a very strong message to other networks that gaming the algo like this won’t continue to carry as much weight as it once did.

I cottoned on to BMR rather late in the day and started using it in Jan 2012 for a few sites as a test. It didn’t take long to see results in the web-pages that targeted, with sometimes quite dramatic SERP increases that came as a very pleasant surprise. The question now is whether BMR’s very public de-indexing has had an effect on the sites I targeted. The answer is a definite yes. The keywords I targeted with specific anchor text backlinks have dropped. Never good news, to be sure, but the SERP drops are not as bad as some of the stories strewn over the net. I have typically experienced drops of 3-5 positions. This is not the result of my sites being directly slapped, but more the result of the backlinks that propelled the sites upwards having been removed from Google’s index and therefore loosing potency.

Lesson Learned

The essential lesson to take away here is that it is also very important to source links from a wide variety of types as well as IP addresses. Stick to just one method (as I did in the above example and many others did for longer periods of time) and you will pay the price. Mix your backlink types up and when one method becomes less effective you can still maintain your ranking and traffic flow thanks to a solid backlink foundation from article directories, blog comments, forum posting, web 2.0 sites as well as other traffic generation strategies (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest…). Thankfully, this is how I built the backlinks for most of my other sites, so I’m not feeling the crack of Google’s whip. The sites that I did run through BMR will recover as I continue to diversify their respective backlink profiles.

Bottom Line: Always use as many types of backlink as possible.

SDZH Music

Some time ago, before I was seduced by the darkside (aka SEO and Internet Marketing…), I used to make music in my spare time. Just for the fun with no financial motiviation, you understand. Just as well really, as about three people ever listened to it. Of all the tracks I made, this is just about my favourite and was, in fact, pretty much the last thing that I produced on my own.

Before totally giving up the ghost and retiring my midi controllers, monitors and misguided belief that I could actually write music, I worked with a very talented guy called Kevin Ingham who goes by the name of Pupilar. We collaborated on a project called Cymophane. This is my favorite track from the CD that we put out on Bandcamp.

Enjoy!