Leaving Work Behind

The Mystery of the Single Post That Attracts 46% of All My Google Traffic

Written by Tom Ewer on July 18, 2013. 38 Comments
Photo Credit: Ryan Milani

Photo Credit: Ryan Milani

Over the past month Leaving Work Behind has attracted nearly ten thousand visitors from search engines. Of those ten thousand visitors, almost half entered the site via the same post — a relatively inconspicuous guide to finding your first freelance writing job.

I discovered a few weeks ago that the post was ranking #2 in Google for the term “freelance writing jobs”, which attracts in the region of eighteen thousand exact match searches every month. It’s a pretty popular keyword — certainly more popular than anything I’ve ever ranked for before. The post has stayed at #2 (excluding the occasional fluctuation) for over a month now.

The success of this post has raised all sorts of questions in my head. Why does it rank so high? How did it manage to rank for a keyword I wasn’t even targeting? Why haven’t other posts in which I have focused equally on onsite SEO not performed as well?

In this post I intend to discover the answer to those questions in the hope that I can duplicate the post’s success. Read on to find out whether I did!

There are affiliate links in this post. If you purchase a product through one of them I will receive a commission. It will cost you nothing extra. I only ever endorse products that I have personally used and tested extensively. Thank you!

The Power of One Post

As you will know if you are a regular LWB reader, I write about freelance writing here on a pretty regular basis. After I released my freelance writing guide back in November 2012, I realized that in theory I could boost sales by attracting search engine visitors through freelance writing-related posts.

So over the period of several months I published a number of freelance writing posts that targeted specific keywords relating to freelance writing. Here are a handful which you can find on this blog:

WordPress SEO

A couple of these posts do okay — one attracted 700 visitors in the past month, another attracted 250. But for the most part they don’t bring in a particularly high number of visitors; especially compared to the beast that is Freelance Writing: How To Find Your First Job.

That post alone attracted 4,500 clicks in the past month — almost 50% of total search engine traffic:

Search Engine Visitors

As you can see, the second most popular post (which also covers freelance writing) attracts just 700 clicks per month. Its contribution is puny by comparison. If the top post were to lose its rankings tomorrow, my monthly search engine traffic would drop by approximately half.

The performance of this post is a bit of a mystery to me, but there must be some underlying cause. Most importantly, if I can understand the cause I can attempt to replicate it, which means more search engine visitors.

The Big Picture

First of all, let’s see how Leaving Work Behind has fared in terms of search engine traffic over the past year or so.

It’s worth noting that me and Google have rarely got along. This blog was “Google slapped” back in April 2012 (ironically, the same month that my monster freelancing post was published). In that month LWB attracted just 1,408 visitors from Google.

Search engine traffic actually declined from that point to a low of just 1,052 visitors in July 2012. But later in the year referrals began to pick up and gained momentum from then on:

Search Engine Traffic

As you can see, from December 2012 search engine traffic has been consistently on the rise, increasing by 360% up to the end of June 2013. That’s a pretty impressive climb relative to the stagnancy that preceded it.

So it’s not like my monster post led the increase in search engine traffic — after all, it only attained its lofty rating for “freelance writing jobs” around six weeks ago. It seems that Google has been growing more and more comfortable with my site over the past ten months or so.

But that’s not all — Google seems to have been growing more and more comfortable with my site specifically as a resource for freelance writers. How do I know this? Simple — just check out the top queries by the number of clicks over the past fourteen months:

Keywords

Five of the top ten queries relate to freelance writing, and three of the remaining are branded keywords. If you exclude the wild card at number seven (boring? Me?) you have to go down to number ten to find the first non freelance writing related keyword that I have specifically targeted in a post (this post). It has attracted just 90 clicks in over a year.

I have written plenty of non freelance writing posts that target specific keywords for SEO purposes, but barely any have managed to elevate themselves into a position of any real relevance. Consider for example the top landing pages from search engine referrals in June 2013:

Top Landing Pages

Three of the top four landing pages are about freelance writing (with the other being the homepage). Both the first and second post are in fact the same post — I changed the permalink to optimize it further. Fifth and sixth are non writing related, but then seventh and eighth spots are taken over again by more freelancing posts.

Out of the top ten landing pages above (excluding the homepage), non writing related posts account for just 11% of total clicks. Furthermore, writing related posts accounted for 56% of total search engine traffic in June. With the subsequent higher ranking of just that one post, I can expect the proportion to be much higher in July.

It’s not like I haven’t targeted other keywords — I have targeted all sorts. Furthermore, my onsite SEO methodology has remained largely unchanged for the past year or so. The logical conclusion therefore is that Google considers my blog to be more of an authority on freelance writing than it is any other. While it is possible that I have selected a healthy handful of freelance writing keywords that happen to have performed relatively well for me, the performance of freelance writing related posts compared to others seems more than just a coincidence.

However, Google’s favor certainly isn’t all that is at play here. After all, if we strip out the most popular post, the proportion of search engine clicks that are freelance writing related drops to just 34%, which is far more representative of the balance of search engine optimized content on the site.

It would seem to me that there is something special about that one post in particular. But what?

Examining a Winner

The post in question is a guide for beginner freelance writers to finding their first job. I think it’s a good post, but no better than many other freelance writing posts I’ve written on LWB. At 1,636 words it is relatively long, but again no longer than many other posts I’ve written here.

Let’s examine the guts of the post, SEO-wise. It gets the green light from the SEO by Yoast plugin and enjoys decent ratings on various criteria:

Page Analysis

As you can see, there is only one red light, a couple of ambers, one yellow and a whole bunch of green. Quantifiably speaking, it’s a pretty well optimized post. In reality though, it was never that well optimized for the keyword in question (“freelance writing jobs”) as I never actually optimized it for that keyword! It was however a derivative of that keyword, so one could argue that the effect is largely the same.

Speaking of the keyword, how competitive is it? Let’s take a look with Market Samurai:

SEO Competition

There’s my post, listed in third place behind two aged domains with far more content and referring domains than me.

It’s a relatively competitive keyword — although onsite optimization and backlinks to pages aren’t massively intimidating, you’d want to have a domain with some weight behind it to hope to rank (at least, that would be my thinking).

How about backlinks? Market Samurai shows that it has just two referring domains pointing to it, which certainly seems low. Ahrefs shows zero backlinks pointing to the page, while Open Site Explorer shows just one link from this page. There are two interesting things to note here:

  1. The site linking to the page is simply a content aggregator — it’s not adding unique content.
  2. It also links to two other posts on my site — neither of which have experienced anywhere near the same amount of success.

Having examined the above evidence, it seems that a pretty unremarkable post, with unremarkable SEO (both offsite and onsite) has managed to rank for a pretty remarkable keyword. And after all of this I feel like I am no closer to understanding why.

So, it’s time to move onto the next step.

Comparisons

I figure that if there is something special about this post, perhaps it will stand out when put side-by-side against others. So, I made a list of ten posts from LWB, all which were written to target a specific keyword, and set out to produce a table that would quantifiably compare them. Here’s what I came up with:

PostWordsKwd in HeadlineKwd in Page TitleKwd in URLKwd in SubheaderKwd Density
WordPress Security: Everything You Need To Know2,461YesYesYesNo0.24%
Top Five Regrets Of The Dying - What It Can Teach Us About Living1,084YesYesYesNo0.09%
Organic Search Engine Optimization: How I'm Doing It1,582YesYesYesYes0.12%
How to Start a Mastermind Group (and Why You Should)1,676YesYesYesYes1.32%
5 Things I Have Learned from a Successful Information Product Launch1,998YesYesYesNo0.20%
Why All Bloggers Should Consider Creating an Information Product1,169NoYesYesYes0.17%
9 Steps to Writing Blog Posts Quickly (and Making Much More Money)1,750NoYesYesNo0.00%
How to Succeed in Business (and Life)1,014YesYesYesNo0.00%
How to Start Blogging: Everything You Need to Know1,768YesYesYesYes0.11%
Freelance Writing: How To Find Your First Job1,636NoYesYesNo0.24%

When comparing the highly-ranked post against others on this blog, it is utterly unremarkable. Both the word count and keyword density are almost bang on average and it actually performs pretty poorly in terms of other optimization factors.

So no magic formula is unveiled there. So how about the competition of each of the relevant keywords pertaining to each post? Using Market Samurai I compiled the totals of relevant offsite and onsite factors for the top ten pages of each keyword. Here were the results:

SEO Data

Don’t worry too much about that mess of numbers — what I was really interested in was the average of each field compared to the results for “freelance writing jobs”. The results were interesting. Some of the numbers were within ~20% of the average and thus were relatively unremarkable, but there were a few discrepancies:

However, there were much bigger discrepancies the other way, such as:

But over all, and just like the onsite SEO factors I covered above, my high-ranking post is almost bang on the average for both onsite and offsite SEO factors collected by Market Samurai when compared against another nine posts on my blog.

Obviously that is an extremely small sample size, but I am nonetheless left completely clueless as to what is causing this one post to rank so well.

Over to You

So now it’s your turn.

I am appealing to all SEO experts out there to unload their wisdom in the comments section. As a relative SEO amateur I have done my very best to uncover the reason(s) as to why just one single post on this blog has ranked so highly for such a relatively valuable keyword, but I have come up with no answers.

If you think that one of your Twitter followers may be able to solve the mystery (or if you just like challenging people ;-)) then tweet the following out to them by clicking on it:

Can you solve this SEO mystery?

If you’re not an SEO expert then please don’t feel like I am excluding you from the debate; please feel free to chime in with your comments and questions below too! As always, I look forward to hearing from you all 🙂

My Authority Site’s Content Marketing Strategy Revealed

Written by Tom Ewer on February 21, 2013. 25 Comments

The following is part of an ongoing series, The One Hour Authority Site Project. If you’d like to read more about it then click here!

Dice.Back in January I revealed my authority site’s plans for organic search engine optimization. Since then I have commented on related sites, had a few articles published on article marketing sites and have also created a couple of unique web 2.0 properties.

My work to date has had no discernable effect so far. While I don’t necessarily think this is an issue with the strategy — I’ve hardly been doing the process intensively enough to draw solid conclusions — my mind has been drawn to the efficiency of my efforts.

I have come to the conclusion that I could get better results in the same amount of time with an adjusted approach. In this post I am going to reveal the content marketing strategy for my authority site that I will be proceeding with immediately.

The Evolution of My Authority Site

For those of you who are new to the One Hour Authority Site Project, the overall aim is simple: to attract a consistent flow of traffic to an authority site with as little upfront and ongoing effort as possible. In effect I want to create passive traffic streams — quite different to the blogging medium, which requires ongoing input.

My approach to this project has been relaxed to date as I have used it as an experiment of sorts. First I wanted to see if I could rank pages in Google by targeting extremely low competition keywords using a brand new site with no backlinks. The answer was a resounding no. Stage two was to implement a conservative link building strategy based upon article marketing and web 2.0 sites, which is what I have been doing for the past few weeks. As I have already said, this strategy has had no discernable impact to date.

Stage three is “blog conversion.” This stage requires a lot of effort, including a complete redesign of the site and an ongoing commitment through social media and content production. As far as I am concerned, once you start blogging you can’t go back — the moment you cross that threshold, you are making a commitment to stick with the site. As I said in my post on the three stages of my authority site’s development:

…once you have a blog on the go, people will take note if you don’t post for a month. The same issue does not really arise when I’m still in stage 1 or 2.

I really don’t want to move to stage three unless it is absolutely necessary, as the whole idea of the project is to not have to commit too fully.

Finding a Compromise

In the past few days I think I have formulated a compromise in which I can get many of the benefits of committing to a blog format without actually diving in at the deep end. Most importantly, it will not require the establishment of social media profiles or involve a complete redesign.

My strategy is based upon a concentrated burst of activity followed by a period of observation in which I can gauge the results of my effort. Based upon those results I can then decide what to do next. The desired aim, quite simply, is to establish a base of consistent referrals via search engines and relevant websites.

There are seven steps to my strategy which I go through below.

Step 1: Tweak the Site’s Design

My site’s design is functional and intuitive. If you read the post on my site’s search engine optimized setup then you will know that it is a lightly modified version of the default WordPress Twenty Eleven theme. It is clean and simple, albeit not particularly eye-catching. In short — it’ll do for now.

However, I have decided to make one key change by adding a sidebar to the single post page. This means that people will be able to sign up to my email list and select categories from any post page.

I certainly could spend a lot more time working on the design, but in keeping with the theory of using my time efficiently, my logic is to start attracting the traffic first then react if engagement metrics are poor.

Step 2: Add “Bloggy” Content

As you will know if you read my post on my site’s search engine optimized content, my focus is on writing high-quality articles that are not overly optimized for search engines. In short, I want people to read and enjoy them.

However, the site is lacking a personal touch — you don’t really see any of “me” in it. As you will understand when you read through the rest of my strategy, this won’t work to my benefit. My site’s content needs to have a bit of personality — especially when you take into account the rather stark design.

Therefore, over the next few weeks I will be creating more “bloggy” content — stories, case studies and a biography of sorts as well. In doing this people who might consider linking to my site will see a much more “human” presence and theoretically be more inclined to send traffic my way.

Step 3: Build a List of Target Blogs

While creating my “bloggy” content I can start work on a list of blogs that I would like to attract links from. These will be blogs that are either directly or indirectly related to my niche. Each one will need to be active and regularly updated. Size won’t be so much of a concern as a healthy variety of links will certainly do no harm.

I’ll find these blogs in the good old-fashioned way: Google. I’ll start with simple search queries like “[my niche] blogs”, “best [my niche] blogs,” and so on. I’ll also search for related keywords from sites that Google would see as contextually related to my own.

Ideally I’ll have a list of at least ten top quality relevant blogs before I move onto the next step.

Step 4: Comment on the Top 10 Blogs in My List

This is the first step on getting on the radar of the bloggers that I plan to network with in the coming weeks. By leaving comments they’re not only more likely to recognize my name in the future and possibly even check out my site, I’ll get a free backlink to my site. Even if the link is no-follow, it does no harm in terms of diversity.

Each comment I leave will be thoughtful and insightful and I’ll comment with my name — not a keyword-loaded pseudonym.

Step 5: Guest Post on Each Blog

Once I have got my foot in the door, so to speak, my next step will be to submit guest posts to each of the blogs. I’ll do this even on blogs that don’t typically accept guest posts, as I can always re-use the article elsewhere if it isn’t accepted first time around.

I’ll take my usual approach of going straight in with a completed article rather than pitching something, in the hope that they will be more inclined to accept on the basis that I have already done the work.

Each guest post will result in a link back to an authoritative and contextually relevant my site. I’ll be careful to vary the anchor text accordingly and not always link back to my home page.

If you want to know more about guest posting then download my Kindle eBook on the subject.

Step 6: Create and Share an Infographic

Once I have had around ten guest posts published I should have established a decent relationship with a number of bloggers. I will seek to capitalize on this by publishing an infographic on my site and asking my new friends to share it and link to it from their own site. I hope that this will result in a number of fresh links and nice social signals (despite me having no social media presence).

The key will be to create something that is compelling and informative. I will probably spend a bit of money on getting a really nice design (something that I am terrible at).

What I Plan to Achieve

I estimate that the whole strategy will take me in the region of 20 hours over the next 4-6 weeks — a time commitment I can stomach for what is a highly speculative project. My hope is that the links from the guest posts, social sharing and so on will be enough to give my site a big of a kick up the backside in terms of Google rankings. At the moment my rankings are terrible:

Keyword rankings.

To be honest I am amazed that my rankings are so low despite the fact that my site has so few backlinks because the keywords I am targeting are extremely uncompetitive. Here’s an example (screenshot from Market Samurai):

Keyword competition.

I can’t help but think that with a few contextually relevant links to the homepage and other pages on the site that Google will sit up, take note and start moving me up the rankings. Whether or not this happens of course remains to be seen.

I’d love to know what you think about my adjusted approach and would especially like to read comments and criticisms — please let me know what you think in the comments section!

Photo Credit: darkmatter

Organic Search Engine Optimization: How I’m Doing It

Written by Tom Ewer on January 10, 2013. 28 Comments

The following is part of an ongoing series, The One Hour Authority Site Project. If you’d like to read more about it then click here!

The best SEO is organic and costs nothing to do (tweet this)

Padlock and chainSince I started with my authority site back in September 2012, my aim has been for it to be a case study in producing a successful website without having to resort to blatant “black hat” techniques. That aim remains the same as I advance into the SEO stage of my project.

My approach to date has been carefully considered and measured, and I intend for that to also be the case with what is one of the most pivotal strategies in attracting traffic. SEO can be a minefield — I have certainly been burned before — which is why I have decided to take what I consider to be a completely “organic” approach.

For the complete lowdown on everything I plan to do to get my site ranked in Google, read on!

There are affiliate links in this post. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission. It will cost you nothing extra. I only ever endorse products that I have personally used and tested extensively. Thank you!

What is Organic Search Engine Optimization?

The word “organic” has multiple meanings in the English language, but in the context of SEO we are interested in just two of them:

  • Denoting or characterized by a harmonious relationship between the elements of a whole.
  • Characterized by gradual or natural development: the organic growth of community projects.

This is how I define organic search engine optimization:

A gradual development of links that point to a contextually relevant site in a natural manner.

Ultimately, I intend to stick to one key concept — building links that align with what Google wants, rather than how its algorithm currently works. The idea is for effective, future-proofed and risk-free SEO.

The Source of My SEO Inspiration

At various times in the last six months or so I have added SEO ideas to a folder in my Evernote. My list gradually grew without the pressure of “needing” to devise a strategy overnight, and by December I was pretty happy with my collection of ideas.

Point Blank SEOHowever, my eyes were well and truly opened when I got my hands on a copy of Point Blank SEO — an SEO course devised by a chap called Jon Cooper. The course was initially introduced to me by Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits.

I devoured the course within a few hours and was able to develop my ideas list even further. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re looking for an exhaustive guide on search engine optimization, Point Blank SEO is it — I was seriously impressed.

With the brainstorming period over, it was then just a case of putting my ideas in some sort of coherent order and presenting them to you!

My Organic SEO Strategy

Phase one of my strategy (i.e. what I am covering in this post) represents all of the link building ideas I have that can be done to a site that is not yet ready for “mainstream” exposure. By this I mean that I don’t want to represent this site as a fully-formed blog to other bloggers in my niche — it needs some design work and social media accounts to get to that stage.

This is very much a link building (as opposed to “curating”) stage. Whilst I may engage in the likes of email outreach and guest posting in the future, my approach for the time being will be relatively limited.

Another thing to bear in mind is that my SEO strategy costs nothing to implement. I am relying upon no special software or link building automation services. It’s just me and my keyboard.

So let’s take a closer look at each link building method I will be engaging in.

Directory Submissions

This is an easy way to build some low-value links to your site. There are a huge number of directory sites out there and Point Blank SEO seemingly has a list of all of them, sortable by PageRank. Some examples include:

The key is in building relevant links to relatively high-quality sites. I’m not going to submit my site to 100 directories — more like a handful that have particularly appropriate categories for my site.

Blog Commenting

Blog commenting is a popular pastime of black hat SEO spammers, but my method will be far apart from theirs.

I have built up and fed into my RSS reader a long list of blogs that are directly related to my niche. I will check through new posts regularly and comment whenever I feel that I have something valuable to add. The anchor text will be my name rather than the domain’s name, in order to keep it natural.

Some (or many) of the comments will be nofollow, but that doesn’t concern me — a few nofollow posts will add variety to my backlinks portfolio. This method will also serve as a subtle way of introducing myself to my niche’s blogging audience.

Web 2.0 Sites

As with blog commenting, building web 2.0 sites is a mainstay of black hat SEOs. However, I plan to take a totally value added approach to my web 2.0 sites and establish them as worthwhile resources of their own.

I currently have an assortment of ideas for different Web 2.0 sites:

As you can see, each site is unique and offers something of value to people who are interested in my niche.

This is an area in which I intend to do a lot of work, and I will do it all myself to begin with. I might outsource it in the future if I could so whilst maintaining the quality of the content, but that’s not something I’m thinking about currently. I’m not going to make the same mistakes that I did with my mass niche site project.

Forums and Q&A Sites

I intend to take the same “quality responses only” approach to forums and Q&A sites as with blog commenting. I will browse relevant forums and Q&A sites and offer my advice when it seems pertinent to do so. Popular Q&A sites include:

I will try to target forums that allow you to include a website within your profile (and preferably within your signature) and Q&A sites that allow you to list a source (which would of course be my site).

Article Marketing

This is yet another celebrated black hat SEO strategy, but as with the others, I will be taking a far more measured and value-added approach.

I will add unique articles to what I consider the top article directories:

These will be rewritten versions of the best posts on my site.

A Bunch More Random Links

The Point Blank SEO course includes a huge list of assorted link opportunities, so I’ll no doubt be tapping that for relatively high-quality links that I can point towards my site.

Principles to Abide By

There are a few things that I will bear in mind as I build these links:

Finally, I must remember that patience is a virtue when it comes to SEO — this is a long play and it may take time for results to develop. As such, I am committing to this course of action for no less than two months. If I think of additional interesting link building ideas in that time I will of course consider integrating them into the strategy, but I won’t formally take stock of the results until two months have passed.

That’s It!

Above is the sum total of my phase 1 plan for search engine optimization. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear certain internet marketers scoff at it, but given that the articles I have written on my site target extremely low-quality keywords, I am confident that I will see positive results.

It remains to be seen whether or not this approach to link building will be sufficient for my ambitions. I suspect that it won’t be, but only time will tell. One step at a time. One thing is of course for sure — if I am successful in my efforts, I will be sure to give you a comprehensive guide as to what exactly I did.

Now I’d like to pass the discussion over to you — I’d love to know what you think of my ideas. Please fire away in the comments section!

Creative Commons image courtesy of Darwin Bell

Leaving Work Behind Has Been Google Slapped!

Written by Tom Ewer on April 25, 2012. 43 Comments

Leaving Work Behind Has Been Google Slapped!I once got slapped really hard by a girl once. Actually, it was more of a punch/slap hybrid. It would have made a good photo for this post.

From memory I hadn’t really done anything wrong, although I’m sure I must have done something to deserve such treatment. My attacker was then shepherded away by Gerit, the German foreign exchange student. We used to call him “Gerit the woman beater”, or words to that effect (we were very mature). So it was rather ironic that he decided to protect her (as if I was going to retaliate).

Just to clarify, I was 17 at the time. Playground politics, eh? That reminds me of a post I wrote on this blog many moons ago, the subject matter of which slots in with today’s topic rather fittingly. See how I’m weaving this all together? It’s a thing of beauty.

Anyway…

I don’t login to Google Webmaster Tools as often as I feel I should. But just last week I did, as part of the research I was doing for this article. And I got a rather unpleasant surprise, in the form of one of Google’s now infamous canned messages:

Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.leavingworkbehind.com/,

We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.

We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.

If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.

If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.

Sincerely,

Google Search Quality Team

Yep – Google has penalized Leaving Work Behind. I cast my mind back through the blog’s short history, trying to think of what I could have done to offend Google. Then I remembered – a few months ago, I built a few links using the now defunct Rank Jumpers. Since Google deindexed that private blog network, my guess is that they have penalized any site who used it (a wild assumption, but that’s how I roll).

The Effects

The message was received on 8th April. Here is how my search engine traffic levels have fared over the past 60 days, with the penalization date circled:

Search Engine Traffic

Yep – the day after the message was sent, I had a big spike in search engine traffic. But since then, there has been a decline.

It is not possible to draw a solid conclusion from the above data – especially since my site’s traffic numbers have been declining too (it seems my new casual approach to blogging is taking its toll). What I can draw a safe conclusion from though however is how my keyword rankings have been affected:

Keyword Rankings

I am only tracking three keywords (my SEO work on this blog is pretty woeful), but it would appear that Google has gotten a bit slap happy with my poor little blog.

No Mercy

I am surprised to be honest. There are plenty of completely natural links pointing to this blog, and the effect of those 20-30 links I built back at the end of last year must be absolutely minimal. In fact, I am pretty sure that Rank Jumpers said they would be removing the links (although whether or not they have done so is another question altogether).

I think we can see here another clear example of Google’s absolute ruthlessness in penalizing any and all sites that engage in any kind of overt link building whatsoever. There would appear to be little in the way of human consideration (as in a recognition of the fact that this is a site of substance). Robot says kill the site, and the site shall be dead.

What Next?

The first obvious step would be to submit a reconsideration request. I have heard so many stories of this having absolutely no effect, but I can’t see any harm in doing so. I have no problem with being up front and confessing to building the Rank Jumpers links.

But there is one thing holding me back at present. I would like to think that Google would see sense and lift whatever penalties it has imposed on the site, but I would be really pissed off if it didn’t. The whole canned message followed up by a canned message really gets on my nerves. If an actual person takes the time to manually review a site following a reconsideration request, you would think that they could take an extra 10 seconds to briefly inform you of the reason for their decision.

Of course I am anticipating something that might not occur, but just thinking about it gets me irritated. Some people argue that you shouldn’t complain, as Google owes you nothing, but that is absolute rubbish. Google wouldn’t exist without websites. Collectively, your blog, my blog, Amazon, theChiveCheese.com and every other damn site out there facilitate Google’s existence. So yes, if I submit a reconsideration request which is subsequently rejected without a human response, I do feel that Google is being an asshole.

What Do YOU Think?

So what do you think I should do? Submit the request? I guess I have to – but how should I phrase it – what should I say? Have any of you had success in submitted reconsideration requests? Let us know in the comments section!

Oh, and in case you were wondering – that girl who slapped me? We’re still good friends. I don’t know what happened to Gerit.

Creative Commons image courtesy of peterp

3 Niche Site Link Building Strategies Explored In Detail

Written by Tom Ewer on April 8, 2012. 22 Comments

3 Niche Site Link Building Strategies Explored In DetailLast week marked a big change in the approach I will be taking with my mass niche site project. It started with a decision to put my production line method on hiatus (with a reveal of the lessons I had learnt that led me to making the decision).

I then moved on to reveal that I will be experimenting with different link building strategies, in the hope of finding one solution that works effectively (which I can then scale up). Special thanks to the following guys who offered their thoughts:

Today I am going to reveal the “contenders” – those strategies that I intend to move forward with. They are not however set in stone – I am opening these strategies up to comments and criticism. I would love to get your feedback on them! If you are building niche sites yourself and experimenting with different link building strategies, perhaps the following list will be of some value.

1. Pat Jackson’s Mass Article Marketing

Cost: $16.40 per site (bulk discount)

“Mass Article Marketing” is not the name of this strategy – it doesn’t actually have a name. You can find this link building service over at the Traffic Planet forum, where it is has been available for nearly six months (edit 23rd May 2013: this service is no longer available). My sincere thanks go to Tory McBroom for introducing me to it.

Here is a breakdown of the service, in a nutshell:

  1. You provide 2x URLs and keywords
  2. A related article is written and spun
  3. The spun article is then submitted to the following services:
  4. All of the article URLs are then run through Pat’s Unique Link Indexer
  5. Finally, the articles are converted into a RSS feed and submitted through Bookmarking Demon.

In theory, this service provides a large quantity of well-indexed, low quality links across a wide variety of article submission sites.

Pat’s service has previously utilized article submission services that have subsequently been de-indexed by Google – and that may well happen again. But I think it highly unlikely that all 9 of the services listed above will be de-indexed in the near future, so I think the service is pretty safe on that front.

Article marketing is a tried and tested link building strategy (especially for niche sites), so I think that Pat’s service could work well for the low competition keywords that I am targeting.

I have just one main concern, and that is using just two anchor texts / URLs per submission. I would prefer to use say 4 in the following arrangement:

I have asked Pat if this is possible, and am awaiting his response. I will likely still use his service if the answer is no, but will be less comfortable in doing so.

2. Tory McBroom’s Stack Modulation Strategy

Cost: $12 per site (approx.)

Thanks again go to Tory McBroom for recommending this strategy to me. At its heart, it is akin to a garden-variety link wheel, but with a few differences. Most notably, it doesn’t include the use of any web 2.0 properties such as WordPress.com and Squidoo. Here is the strategy as I understand it:

  1. Sign up to 5 “do-follow” social bookmarking accounts, such as:
  2. Manually bookmark your “money site” (i.e. your niche site) with those 5 new accounts
  3. Hit those 5 links in addition to your money site with this social bookmarking Fiverr gig
  4. Hit the resultant links in addition to the 5 original social bookmarking links (but not your money site) with this comments Fiverr gig

So theoretically, your money site is hit with around 200 social bookmarking links in addition to 5 heavily backlinked high authority social bookmark links. The idea of a link building strategy revolving entirely around social bookmarks and comments is new to me, and instinctively feels like it is lacking any real “quality”. However, I do have to question the logic behind my thinking – is a social bookmark any less valuable in Google’s eyes than some low quality article link? I don’t know.

One of the best things about this strategy is its cost. The Fiver gigs come to a total of $10, and it wouldn’t take long for a VA to create the social bookmarking accounts and submit the links. I have two questions though:

  1. Which social bookmarking sites would you use?
  2. Would you create a new account for each and every site, or create just one account that you use for all of your link building?
  3. Are the particular Fiverr gigs Tory has recommended the best for the job?

3. The Link Wheel

Cost: $27.50 (approx.)

What post such as this would be complete without a link wheel strategy? A link wheel method got my very first niche site to #1 in Google back in August 2011 (for what experience has taught me is a relatively competitive keyword), so in my opinion it is definitely worth revisiting. However, I did all of the work myself and it was pretty labor-intensive – can it be effectively scaled? Here is what I have come up with:

  1. Take the primary article from your money site and spin it
  2. Create web 2.0 properties at each of the following websites:
  3. Add a spun version of your primary article in addition to some relevant images and a video
  4. Link back to your money site from each web 2.0 property with a variety of anchor texts
  5. Use a private link building service (contact me if you want to know more) to hit each web 2.0 property with a drip-feed from a mass article submission service (such as Unique Article Wizard).

I like this strategy. You get 6 links to your site that are relatively high-authority to start with, and you get plenty of link juice from the six mass article submissions. I know that web 2.0 properties of this type do not get taken down by at least the first five sites listed above (as I have previous examples that are still standing). Posterous is an unknown for me – has anyone used it successfully in a link wheel?

The main issues with this strategy are scalability and cost:

This is by far the most expensive strategy out of the three, but if it is the most effective, it would be money well spent.

What Next?

I have outlined above the three link building strategies that I plan to move ahead with in the near future. As mentioned in my previous post, I have 12 sites that I am going to be using in this link building experiment. Each strategy will be tested on 4 sites.

By the time you read this post, I may have in fact already ordered Pat Jackson’s service, but I will not have started on the other two strategies. Because before I start, I would love to know what you guys think about them. So please, be forthcoming with any questions, comments and criticisms!

Creative Commons image courtesy of Jakob Montrasio