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Posts tagged with: Link Building

How to Build Authority Links (including .edu .gov .mil)

How to Build Authority LinksAfter I wrote a comprehensive Link Building Tutorial, I got few emails from my readers and I noticed a common trend in their questions. Majority of them wanted to know How to Build authority Links without buying them?

So I thought rather than replying to each of them individually, I’d just put it up a short answer here in my blog so that everyone else gets value out of the information that I’m about to share.

If you have been in this industry for some time, some of these techniques may not be anything new for you but then again I welcome you to go along with me as I talk about Authoritative Link building.

What are Authority Links?

As the name implies it basically refers to links that have high authority. Some time back a link coming from a High Page Rank site was considered Authoritative. Now that is still not 100% discounted as PageRank still is a good indication of how search engines like Google look and value a website. But obviously when I’m saying PageRank I’m not saying the small green bar that you see in your Google Toolbar. Toolbar PR is very different than what your actual PR is. Toolbar PR is just a small representation of your actual PageRank value.

Years passed and search became more complex. The demands of the users increased substantially and so did the spamming in the search results. So Google came up with another ranking system called TrustRank (Actually the research paper was released by Yahoo first I’m not sure how Google got hold of the patent). Anyway so TrustRank is basically built upon the concept of PageRank but it takes the concept further by taking a set of Absolute Quality Sites and then following their link patterns to find out other quality sites. [Read the Initial Research Paper (PDF) of TrustRank].

So basically educational institution & universities, government sites, military websites, News sites are of high authority. So if Google looks at their Outbound links then they are likely to find another set of quality websites and then can go another step down and look at the outbound links of the second set of quality sites and that will reveal a 3rd set of quality sites and this will continue on until the search engine dies. So the assumption with this concept is – Good sites will always link to good sites. And when there is an exception and a Manual reviewer at Google finds out – they penalizes that “Good site”.

Anyway back to the original topic, Authority Links are those links that helped create the 2nd, 3rd level of quality sites. So if you can get such links, your website will supposedly be treated well by the engines (Its like the President telling his Chief of Staff to give you a Job).

How Do I Find Authority Links?

Ok for those who just jumped to this section without reading the first section – I totally understand. You want to jump right to the nuggets without grasping anything unnecessary. Well I’ll just go right to the point –

  • Spy On your Competitors: Yes, that obvious! If your competitor is doing really good in the search engine, its possible that he has a powerful link profile. So you can easily spy on him by diving into his incoming links and as you do so, give particular attention to the links that you think are authoritative. Tools that I recommend you to use – Yahoo Site Explorer, BackLinkWatch.Once you find some quality sites that are linking to them, go to those respective pages and try to figure out why they are linking to them. If that seems like a natural link you might imitate the strategy that your competitor used to get the link. In most of the times quality sites links to other sites just as a citation or as “related resources”. So if you have any resource that you think can fit that article/research well, you can send an email and ask the webmaster to consider adding your resource in the list. If your resource is top notch its very likely that they will add it to make their resource page more rich.
  • Find out which .edu/.gov/.mil are linking to your competitor: I am often surprised to see how many people doesn’t know about this simple Yahoo Site Search command –

    linkdomain:www.google.com site:edu

    If you go to Yahoo Search and type the following, you will get all the EDU sites that are linking to google.com. So simply put your competitors URL in place of Google and you can change edu to gov, mil and other extensions that you like. Example: See how many EDU backlinks twitter has.

    Find out why those sites are linking to your competitor and then you will automatically know how to get links from them. E.g. Imagine that a university professor is doing research about semantic web and he referenced my blog post where I wrote about some advanced semantic web algorithm. Now if you are my competitor you can probably try to produce a 3 times better piece on semantic web and pitch that processor to include your work in his article. In many cases he will, if your writing is good and relevant to his area of research.

  • Get Links from .Edu/.Gov/.Mil blogs on your Niche: There is another simple search command in Google, that can help you to find .edu, .gov, .mil blogs on your niche. Go to google and type the following:

    Keyword+inurl:blog site:.edu

    Just replace “keyword” with your own keyword. So for example If I’m looking for edu blogs that talk about SEO, i can search for SEO+inurl:blog site:.edu. And it gives me a nice list of blogs that has talked about SEO and has linked to many SEO resources. So If I have something that is absolute quality, I may be able to pitch the author of the blogs to link to my resources as they are relevant to what they are writing about. But you need to be creative with the “keyword” when using that query in Google, because sometimes it may return irrelevant junk results.

Obviously there are plenty of other ways to find authoritative sites, but I guess the ones i mentioned here are probably the most easiest ways.

Read Some Other Resources Related to Authoritative Link building

The 4 Different Types of Authority Links – Wiep.net

The Wisdom & Folly of Directory Link Building – SEOmoz.org

TrustRank Algorithm – SEObook.com

Getting Links From Known, Quality Linkers – Search Engine Land

The Quest for Authority Links – Search Engine Guide

Beyond Link Building Tools – Search Engine Land

How to Get Links – Wikipedia – David Naylor

Some Link Spying Tools You May Like

Hub Finder: Simply Enter Two domains and you will find out which website (hub) Is linking to both of them.

SEOBook Link Tools – a variety of different types of Link tools

SEOMoz LinkScape – Gets you access to link information on more than 30+ billion web pages across 200+ million domains. [Its not Free]

InLinks: MediaWhiz Selling Links for SEO

InLinks- Selling Links for Search Engine Optimization Benefits Techcrunch just picked upon MediaWhiz for launching their new product InLinks that is a straightforward Link-buying system for SEO benefits.

How Does InLinks Works?

With InLinks advertisers can buy links to those sites are then added to publishers sites whenever certain keywords pop up in content. These aren’t pop-up ad links like Kontera and others – InLinks offers full blown links without any notation (like a nofollow) that tare primarily meant for giving out link juice for SEO benefits.

What Does Matt Cutts Thinks about InLinks

Techcrunch shared the following email from Matt Cutts (Head of Google Webspam Team):

Google has been very clear that selling such links that pass PageRank is a violation of our quality guidelines. Other search engines have said similar things. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also given unambiguous guidance on this subject in the recent PDF at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2008/03/P064101tech.pdf where they said “Consumers who endorse and recommend products on their blogs or other sites for consideration should do so within the boundaries set forth in the FTC Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising and the FTC’s guidance on word of mouth marketing,” as well as “To date, in response to this concern, the FTC has advised that search engines need to disclose clearly and conspicuously if the ranking or other presentation of search results is a function of paid placement, and, similarly, that consumers who are paid to engage in word-of-mouth marketing must disclose that fact to recipients of their messages.” Oh, but you say your blog isn’t in the U.S.? Maybe it’s in the UK? Then you’ll be interested in http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2008/uksi_20081277_en_5#pt11 which covers unfair trade practices and specifically mentions “Using editorial content in the media to promote a product where a trader has paid for the promotion without making that clear in the content or by images or sounds clearly identifiable by the consumer (advertorial).” But you’re not in the UK? I believe many of the unfair commercial practices directives apply through Europe, e.g. http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/rights/index_en.htm to prohibit misleading or aggressive marketing. The reality is that accepting money to link to/promote/market for a product without disclosing that fact is a very high-risk behavior, in my opinion.

What Others Bloggers are saying about InLinks:

InLinks.com – TLA Launches In Links, an Inline Link Buying Program : Aaron Wall – SEObook.com

Normally, It’s a Good Thing to Get Featured on Techcrunch : Rand Fishkin – SEOmoz.org

InLinks – These New Text-Link-Ads May Be Tough to Detect : Amit Agarwal – Labanol.org

Text-Link-Ads Debuts Inlinks.com — Hopes To Fly Under Googles Radar : Deep Jive Interests

My Two Cents

I won’t go into any debate of whether ‘paid links’ are good or bad. I think i have written enough of it already here. But I’d just say that both publishers & advertisers needs to be careful when signing up for these kind of programs due to the fact that they are ‘extremely’ dangerous when they get this kind of publicity and goes inside the radar…

Microsoft Teaches Black Hat SEO

Microsoft Supports Link ExchangeToday I was pretty amazed to read an article by the Sr. Product Manager of Microsoft, Skip Chilcott who openly endorsed that webmasters should participate in Link Exchange as it helps to boost the rankings in search engines.

That totally contradicts with what I wrote in my complete Linkbuilding tutorial and most importantly it contradicts with Google’s Webmaster Guideline as well as Microsoft’s very own guideline.

This is what Google has to say about participating in Link schemes:

…some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. This is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results.

This is what Microsoft’s guideline says (Important part in Bold):

..Techniques that might prevent your website from appearing in Live Search results
The following techniques aren’t appropriate uses of the Live Search index. Use of these techniques might affect how your website is ranked within Live Search, and might cause your website to be removed from the index….. – Using techniques, such as link farms, to artificially increase the number of links to your webpage.

Yahoo also takes a similar stance about Link exchange

What Yahoo! Considers Unwanted: … Sites cross-linked excessively with other sites to inflate a site’s apparent popularity (link schemes)….

Now I wonder why would Skip Chilcott of Microsoft would publicly recommend participating in Link exchange scheme (a semi black-hat technique) and also endorse certain software/firms for that purpose.

Why Do I strongly discourage Link Exchange Schemes

Search Engine has become competitive and more useful for people (like us). We heavily depend on search engine to find useful & relevant information everyday. The reason we find ‘search engines’ useful is because – It allows us to find what we are looking for in a quick time. But as more and more people starts to ‘game’ the search engine, there will be more ‘spam’ and ‘low quality results’ in the respected engines. One way of stopping that spam is to, making sure that the Search algorithm doesn’t take ‘certain’ attributes into consideration that can be artificially manipulation (E.g. low quality links). Google (The primary engine that I personally uses) has taken several measures in past and has discounted those ‘bad links’ from counting. They have discouraged and taken necessary action to prevent webmasters from gaming the search ranking using those ‘shady SEO techniques’.

Even though I may not 100% agree to what Google does (they do have some strict ruling about a lot of things), I do agree that Reciprocal Linking or participating in automated link exchange program does not benefit the user at all and it just benefits the webmaster to game the whole system! And if search engines are gamed, then it will lose it’s usefulness.

And when such ‘shady advice’ comes directly from the Sr. Product manager of Microsoft, it just makes everything clear to me that why Live Search has been so far away in producing anything but good results!

Update: Skip Chilcott has created another post, identifying the mistake he made in his first post. This time He has asked a colleague over at Live Search to share some expert advice on linking best practices. [ I’m really looking forward to that post ]

What Kind of Link Exchange Are Possible White Hat?

  • Links that helps the user to find more useful information on that particular subject.
  • Links that are not promoting or giving Link juice to a site that is spammy in nature
  • Links exchange that are primarily meant for Traffic and not for “search engine ranking”
  • Links that you would want to recommend to the search engine because of their quality and value to you and your users

Natural Link building techniques that many Search Experts recommend:

8 Ways to Buy Links Without “Buying Links”, Rand Fishkin – SEOmoz.org

Should I Avoid Link Exchange / Link Trading Hubs?, Aaron Wall – SEObook.com

The definitive link building strategy, Web Credible

101 Link Building Tips to Market Your Website, Aaron Wall – SEOBook.com

Link Building Tutorial – A Complete Walkthrough, Saad Kamal

Five Link Building Strategies That Work, Brian Clark – Copyblogger