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Link-building Tips and Tools for Bloggers in a Post-Panda and Penguin World

This guest post is by Corey Northcutt of Northcutt.

There have been several great link building posts so far this year on ProBlogger, including 10 No-Nonsense Ways to Build Links, How to Systematically Build a Mountain of Links, and A New Linking Strategy. And of course, Darren wrote earlier today advocating a more level-headed approach to backlinks.

So you might be asking what more can be written about link building for bloggers? The answer is, a lot. Bloggers have an advantage that static and retail websites don’t. There are tons of great link-building strategies that can be utilized to increase backlinks.

Link building post-Panda and Penguin

Before we get started, I just thought I would mention a few Google algorithm changes that you should know about when thinking about link building in 2012.

Google’s Panda update

In February of 2011, Google released the Panda update that took rankings away from websites with low-quality content and sites with more advertising than content.

This affected anyone who used article marketing as a way to build links and drive traffic to their websites, since article networks were hit the hardest, though some—like HubPages—regained their rankings in subsequent updates.

Later, social networks like Digg, Last.fm, and others were affected as well.

Digg's search engine rankings

Not sure if your favorite website, link source, or network was hit by Panda? Check by going to the following URL, and replace domain.com with the website’s domain.

http://www.semrush.com/info/history/index.html?domains[]=domain.com

You will then see a graph showing the website’s estimated number of keywords in search. If you see the graph going up, that means they are gaining more visibility in search. If it’s going down, then they are losing visibility.

You can even use the Google Algorithm Change History chart to match a spike in search rankings with a specific Google update.

Google’s Penguin update

If that wasn’t enough, along came Penguin. Penguin, announced in April 2012, decreased search visibility of websites that participated in black-hat SEO, keyword stuffing, cloaking, link schemes, duplicate content, and other activities that violated Google Webmaster Guidelines. This affected anyone who built links through link exchanges, reciprocal linking, paid links, spammy links, and any links that Google interpreted as “intended to manipulate PageRank.”

Hence, if you want to avoid being penalized, avoid the following:

  • over-use of keyword-based anchor text (aka, hundreds or thousands of links built to the same keyword phrases)
  • lots of sitewide sidebar and footer links
  • paid links (with the exception of those from directories)
  • always linking to your homepage (as a blog, you should have lots of links built to your blog posts too).

The goal to any and all link building is to make your link profile look natural. Links from a variety of different types of websites with an extremely varied usage of anchor text make for a great, natural profile.

Link-building strategies for bloggers

Now that you know some things to avoid, here are some things you can actually do to build links to your blog. You have probably heard of some of these strategies before, but hopefully those will at least include an extra tip or two that you might not have tried yet.

Remember that link building should not just be solely for increasing search engine rankings or building up PageRank. The point to building links, in the eyes of Google, is to increase your traffic and build useful relationships.  This should be your immediate goal as well. Links can do this regardless of whether or not they contain the “nofollow” attribute, contain redirects, come from a site with a high PageRank, and so on.

With this in mind, it’s a mistake to focus on any one type of link as if it were the most valuable trick in the bunch—the web does not work this way.

1. Submit your blog to blog directories

One advantage blogs have over other websites is the ability to submit to tons of various blog and RSS aggregators. These directories will either list just your blog, or your blog’s latest posts, or both. Although it has been several months since the list has been updated, there is a huge compilation of blog and RSS directories listed at TopRank.

Don’t have time to submit to them all? Then you will want to at least submit to quality ones like Alltop (free), Best of the Web Blogs (fee required), and Technorati (free).

2. Complete your social network and forum profiles

If you participate on any social media network, social bookmarking site, community, or forum, you will want to make sure that you have a link to your blog on that website in your profile.

If you are an active member of the community and contribute valuable information, chances are people will want to get to know you better by visiting your blog. Don’t leave them without a link to click on! And when it comes to forums, if the forum allows a link in your signature for each post you submit, be sure to include one as those will get more clicks than the ones in your profile.

links on social profiles

3. Become a guest author

Guest blogging is really the best way bloggers can build links to their website that will not only count for search rankings (99% of the time) but will also lead to increased traffic generation. So how do you find blogs to submit guest posts to? There are a few good ways.

  • Search Google using queries with the keyword of your niche plus “submit guest post,” “guest post guidelines,” “guest author guidelines,” “guest post by,” and so on.
  • Check out lists like the 202+ High Quality Internet Marketing PR3 – PR8 Blogs That Accept Guest Posts.
  • Join communities like My Blog Guest.
  • Use Google Authorship. If you know a blogger who writes a lot of guest posts, search for their name and Google+ on Google. For me, you would search Corey Northcutt Google Plus. Then, under the link to my Google+ profile is a link to More by Corey Northcutt. Click on that link to see what blogs I and other prolific guest bloggers have contributed content to.

Of course, finding opportunities to guest post is only a quarter of the battle. If you want have a high rate of guest post acceptance, you will likely need to meet these criteria:

  • Be a recognized name to the blog owner by commenting on the blog (with valuable comments) as often as possible.
  • Follow the blog for a little while to get a feel for the topics, length of posts, writing style, and formatting. If the blog has guest post guidelines, be sure to follow those in your submission.
  • Research the topic you are about to propose to see if someone else has already covered. The easiest way is to use the search box on the blog itself or go to Google and search site:domain.com topic keywords and change domain.com to the domain of the blog.
  • Submit only original content. No one wants a post that you’ve already published elsewhere.
  • Make sure your post content includes links to the blog’s other posts. See the first paragraph of this post as an example.
  • Format your author bio similarly to other guest authors. For example, if they generally have no more than two sentences, a link to their blog, and a link to their Twitter, then yours should not be five sentences with three links to different websites.

4. Contribute unique content to quality article networks

Article directories get a lot of legitimate scrutiny by professional SEOs, but I’m going to mention this anyway.  I’m not talking about hiring someone in India to write you a $2 article.  I’m referring to legitimate, high-quality editorial contributions to only the sites with the highest standards.

While guest blogging has many more benefits than article networks, some bloggers may find it difficult to score guest posting opportunities if they are new which makes article networks the next best thing. When I say unique content, I mean content that hasn’t been “spun” or published elsewhere. And when I say quality article networks, I mean ones that:

  • have some sort of moderation: they shouldn’t just let anyone post anything they want
  • fit your niche, like Self Growth for the self-improvement and personal development niche
  • have a built-in community that actually wants to read articles, like HubPages and Squidoo (You can typically tell this from the number of followers authors have and quality comments their articles receive. Note that the comments also need to be recent.)
  • feature authors on their homepage, newsletters, etc.
  • don’t have too many ads on article content or the site as a whole. This is because A) Google tends to penalize sites that do (see Google Panda update information above) and B) the more ads on your content, the less likelihood that anyone will click on your link.
  • allow you to add more than just text to your content—include images and video.

5. Get your content on weekly roundups

A trend in the blogging world is to create a weekly or monthly roundup of the latest posts on particular topics. For example…

These are only a few examples, and mostly in the online marketing niche, but chances are there are others in other niches. Your goal, if you want to be included in these roundups, is to get on the radar of the people who create them. Ways to do this include interacting with them on Twitter (I included their Twitter handles for this purpose) and commenting on their blog (especially recap posts) with your blog link.

6. Comment on blogs

Blog commenting is powerful for a variety of reasons beyond just link building.  Again, this is not to be abused for anchor text links and generic comments, but if you leave valuable engagement, you will likely get the attention of the blog owner and authors of the blog plus other members of the blog’s commenting community. This will inevitably drive traffic back to your website.

The key is to comment on active blogs. In days of yore, link builders would search only for dofollow blogs (blogs that removed the nofollow attribute from comment author’s links) and seek out posts that were months or even years old simply because those posts have gained some PageRank over time. Doing this is pretty much worthless in terms of getting attention from people in your niche or driving traffic to your website. Instead, aim for new blog posts, and aim to be the first comment on the post.

When it comes to leaving links, leave behind our blog’s URL in the website field. And use your real name—preferably first and last name because John Johansen will stick more in someone’s mind that simply John.

To get an extra link to your blog in your comment, look for blogs using the CommentLuv plugin (do a Google search for your niche keywords + CommentLuv enabled to find them). They allow you to add a link to your latest blog post to your comment.

commentluv-enabled blogs

Also, if you use the Livefyre comment system on your blog, look for other blogs using Livefyre. Some have a feature called My Latest Conversations enabled which will automatically link to your latest blog post at the end of your comment. These links back to your latest post are even more powerful than the link to your main blog since people can easily see your latest and greatest headline and click through to it.

7. Use your blog’s design

Looks can get you far when it comes to building links. If you have a unique design, there are galleries that exist purely to showcase blog designs. If you use WordPress, there are galleries that are all for WordPress designs (like We Love WordPress) or at least have a category for them (like Best CSS Gallery and CMS Designs). Some theme designers even have a showcase of blogs using their designs, like Organic Themes, WooThemes, DIYthemes, Templatic, and StudioPress (to name a few).

So search for galleries for your blog’s platform and theme, then see if your design has what it takes to get listed in their showcase.

Link-building tools

Of course, a link building guide wouldn’t be complete without some helpful tools. Here are some inexpensive (and even free) tools you can use to research link opportunities, keep track of your links, and measure the fruits of your link-building labor.

  • Spreadsheets: If you need a place to organize your top links, spreadsheets can be an inexpensive (if your use Microsoft Office) or free solution (if you use Open Office or Google Docs). Be sure to enter the URL your link will be placed upon, the URL of your website that you are submitting, the anchor text you use, and whether the link is live or pending. Marking pending links will help you be able to go back and follow up on them later.
  • Webmaster Tools: If you want to take inventory of the links you already have, you can find them by visiting either (or both) Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. Both are free to set up and can give you lots of valuable information about your website.
  • Open Site Explorer: Open Site Explorer is part of the SEOmoz toolset. You can use it to get limited information about any website’s backlinks by signing up for a free account, or get full information by signing up for a Pro account. It’s pricey at $99 per month, but if you are planning on doing lots of link building, it’s a useful tool set to have access to. If you just need it for a short amount of time, you can get full access to all of the pro tools for 30 days with a free trial.
  • Authority Labs: Authority Labs allows you to see your website’s rankings in Google, Yahoo, and Bing for keywords you specify. Once you have completed the free trial, you will be asked to either enter your billing information of stay on with a  free account that will monitor the rankings of ten keywords for one domain. Additional keywords and domains start at $9 per month.
  • Google Alerts: This counts as a tool and a strategy. Chances are, there will be people who mention your name or your blog on their website but don’t actually link out to you. Set up a Google Alert for your name or blog name, and Google will email you any mentions it finds. Then all you have to do check out the mentions (which is good for reputation management anyway) and kindly ask that someone who mentions you links to you too!

There are lots of other link building tools out there (almost too many to mention), so shop around.  Often, the best tools are simple hacks that are almost too obvious to cross your mind. You can learn about more of these little tricks and reviews of the larger titles in these posts by Point Blank SEO, Search Engine Journal, and SEOmoz.

I hope that the information, strategies, tips, and tools help you in your quest to attaining more links to your blog to help increase your visibility in search and overall traffic. Any questions? Let me know in the comments!

This is a guest post by Corey Northcutt , CEO of Northcutt, an inbound marketing agency.

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Comments

  1. Kim Rosas says:

    There are several tips here that I haven’t been following up on well enough. As a very niche blogger my network is very small but also highly competitive. I am trying to do guest posts more often these days. I always feel like I am losing the SEO fight.

    • @Kim Rosas I feel your pain here. Its not an easy battle and you got to keep at it. I have found that writing blog posts for the sake of regularity is not always the best strategy. Pillar posts do a lot better, you know the ones that take time to write, with a lot of content and a great resource for all that come to visit.

      Your Blog is great though. I must tell you that point number 7 has really hit home for me. I read a lot of great blogs out there that give really good content, but the design and layout of the blog is not so hot. So good traffic shows up and although you may have written a great post, they don’t stick around, because the design of the blog doesn’t appeal to them. I have been working on this one aspect a lot lately to try and improve my own branding.

      • Thanks guys.

        I agree, the site does look great Kim (although a bit slow-loading at the moment, might work on that). But hang in there!

  2. Dominique says:

    I do a monthly round up of Midwest U.S. travel-related blog posts at Midwest Guest – my most recent one is here http://www.midwestguest.com/2012/08/midwest-travel-links-for-july-2012.html – and I find that doing the round up also benefits me. It helps me keep on track with reading in my own niche (Midwest U.S. travel). I also make sure that people I include in the round-up know that I’ve done so, and opening that line of communication has often resulted in numerous RTs on Twitter, Likes on FB, folks linking back to me at a later time, invitations to guest blog, etc.

  3. It took me 20 minutes to read your complete article – more than the time I take reading other articles to post my comment on.

    When I was in conclusion of your article I thought this could be title – A Guide, instead giving something you gave currently. Your article contains everything, everything that a person requires to make his/her blog a quality one. And raise it on the top of SERP.

    Guest blogging & Commenting have got popular these days as these are the easiest and free to carry method that everyone who starts a new venture would like to do these two things first before trying any other method.

  4. Saad says:

    Commenting on other blogs is what works best for me :)

  5. Jay Vance says:

    Great post Cory, excellent information here on link building. Webmaster tools is hands down the best ways to see your backlinks. Sometimes it takes a while for Google to update the list but it is still better than any other tool. Really wish yahoo explorer was still around, that was the best link viewing tool around.

    • Thanks Jay. I’m a big fan of SEO SpyGlass or (when I’m feeling lazy) OpenSiteExplorer. They seem to work just as well these days as Yahoo! Site Explorer ever did. I’d try giving one of those a shot if you haven’t!

  6. Christina says:

    We are just now transitioning to a full time consulting business but our earlier test runs at affiliate marketing websites were successful thanks to many of these tips you gave. While we never did get into guest blogging I know that will certainly be a strategy for this new venture.

    We particularly used items #2 & 6 to our advantage.

    Google Alerts is particular favorite of mine! I use it to research niches and then also to see how well our own sites are doing. Its a fantastic – and FREE – way to see where you stand.

    I have a feeling I will be referring back to this post a LOT over the coming weeks. Thank you so much for sharing such a complete and relevant set of guidelines.

  7. Robby G says:

    Penguin and Panda really screwed me. Took my traffic down to half. I feel like all I’ve been working on was ruined, so now I barely post anything.

  8. Great article thanks for the tips, we are trying a mixture of the above for links so just got to wait and hopefully will start seeing results soon.

  9. Great article as always Darren. I am in the process of building a new and rebuilding my old websites and your information is priceless.

  10. That is very useful blog post. A must for a blogger to read it time to time.

  11. Donna says:

    OMGoodness! I have been looking for useful info on backlinking for the past 2 weeks and couldn’t believe my eyes when this popped into my Google reader! Thanks so much for posting this, I’ll study it more closely and use some of the resources you suggested. Thanks also to Darren for always having such great content, whether it is him or a guest posting!

  12. Corey thanks for your excellent guide and for me Guest posting and targeted blog commenting is working great. I also work on Youtube videos, which at times generate additional backlinks when people embed it on their site… Thanks for useful resource and I also recommend to check out ahrefs.com which is another useful site for Bloggers to keep a track of their new and old backlinks..

  13. Hi Corey,

    Create helpful, targeted content. Build your social network. Share other blogger’s content. Leverage your presence. Create. Share. Persist. Smart tips here.

    Google readers people who create value, stay on topic and remain social. Post to your blog daily. Build each post around a set of niche specific keywords. Increase your activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus. Share content across each network. Comment. Do the same on blogs. Expand your presence. Rank higher on search engines.

    Thanks Corey!

    Ryan

  14. John says:

    Are blog carnivals still a good way to get known, or linked to?

  15. DHgate says:

    Open Site Explorer indeed is an excellent tool ! I feel not able to work without it.

  16. I have started to create a series of satellite sites on article sites like Squidoo, blogger, WordPress, Tumblr etc, I normally write a summary of the main article on the main blog and post that to the other sites. That is something I am looking into more and more now.

    Cheers
    Andi

    • Satellite sites can work to a degree, but I’d definitely be careful about getting carried away (ie. I’d generally stray from just syndicating raw blog posts). If you’re building a Squidoo, try to take the time and also build up a useful community there, and make it the most useful lens for the topic. I’d do the same for other communities. If you can succeed in that, it should also start attracting 2nd tier links on it’s own.

      Tumblr can be great too, reblogging definitely builds interesting links… especially if you have a lot of cool/funny images.

  17. Surminga says:

    Great tips – I’m one for spreading the word and getting as much of an online presence as possible for my sites and blogs. Through guest posting, blog/forum commenting and great content(seo) I’ve found that link building grows steadily and quickly.
    Link building takes time and is best to do it by yourself and not hire a piece of software

  18. Matt Coffy says:

    Creating valuable and insightful content will drive your audience to engage with you. Through social media, you relate with others and help their situation or issues and the better the value you share with your community, the better your ROI will be of course. Smart tips indeed, Corey.

  19. Thses all are impoints to be consudered, indeed. However, Google algirithm keeps changing and is not constant.

    Thanks for the tips.

    • That’s true, but the fundamentals stay pretty well consistent (it seems that it’s just the sly tricks that Google is constantly going to war with). If you stay in line with what Google expects to see in responsible marketing (no paid links, no fake web sites, building links that also send real traffic), you’ll do well.

  20. Rich says:

    Thanks very much for the information, Cory. I’m going to be referring to it a lot as I go along…

    You know, from a *user’s* standpoint, Panda and Penguin are not bad. I can’t tell you how annoying I found some of the SEO-optimized sites that would make it near the top of the page! But the level to which Google now elevates the sponsored stuff from big players is a bit scary, both as a consumer who doesn’t always want the same four companies to appear in search results and as a marketer.

    I have one question about a recommendation in your post: what is the practice of “always linking to your homepage” and what’s wrong with it?

    Thanks again!

    Rich

    • Agreed, the result does seem to be a net positive.

      The issue of always linking to your homepage is just a study of what’s natural and organic. Many link builders default to this, but that’s just not the reality of how natural linking works; and it can skew your backlink portfolio. (for example, a huge percentage of ProBlogger’s links are surely the articles like this, and not their homepage)

  21. hey there and thanks in your info ? I have certainly picked up something new from proper here. I did on the other hand experience a few technical points using this site, as I experienced to reload the website a lot of instances prior to I may get it to load correctly. I have been pondering if your web host is OK? Now not that I am complaining, however sluggish loading cases occasions will very frequently have an effect on your placement in google and could harm your high-quality rating if ads and marketing with Adwords. Well I’m adding this RSS to my email and can glance out for a lot more of your respective interesting content. Ensure that you replace this once more very soon..

  22. Justin says:

    Get your content on weekly roundups.

    I like that idea! I’ve also had this idea of posting my blogging schedule as well.

  23. Great ideas, so much to think about everyday in terms of building a great site. Seems like it is really about time to do more research into guest posting – that is find some places to write that are within my niche.

  24. As a highly experienced SEO that invests a lot of time and resources into testing things I have to disagree with some of your points-

    “This affected anyone who used article marketing as a way to build links”

    At the time this happened only a few of my websites got hit. Of the ones that didn’t were sites I had ranked purely by getting 25x 500 word articles written, submitting them to ezinearticles and then submitting them to as many other high quality article directorys as possible. No spinning, just pure syndication.

    At the time every forum was a blaze with conversation that article directories are dead and to this day I still see people blindly saying they no longer work and are worthless. This is simply not true by any measure.

    “Penguin, announced in April 2012, decreased search visibility of websites that participated in black-hat SEO, keyword stuffing, cloaking, link schemes, duplicate content, and other activities that violated Google Webmaster Guidelines.”

    Most of that is false, Penguin did not target black hat SEO, keyword stuffing, cloaking, link schemes or duplicate content.

    It is important to highlight that just before the Penguin update was applied, Google went on a deindexed rampage against public high PR blog networks and high pr homepage backlink networks. This caused mass confusion and hysteria among the SEO world that had grown to rely on such simple linking techniques.

    Peoples rankigs were crashing through the sky as their sites lost huge authority from all of the high PR trusted links they had.

    It was during this hysteria that Google launched the Penguin update which just added to the confusion of most SEO’s. Certainly the ones that believe everything they read as they were scouring forums for answers which were mostly just peoples wild guesses and opinions.

    What the penguin did specifically target was the over optimisation of the inbound anchor text profile. I had sites that were hit and sites that weren’t and performed an analysis across them. The common factor? The exact match anchor text of all the sites that were hit was over 65%. Here’s a tutorial that shows you exactly what I mean with real world data http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tutorials/how-to-analyse-your-backlink-profile-for-current-future-penalties/

    “The goal to any and all link building is to make your link profile look natural. Links from a variety of different types of websites with an extremely varied usage of anchor text make for a great, natural profile.”

    That is solid advice and should be the backbone of any link campaign. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more spammy approaches in your link building, you just have to approach it in the right way.

    Although I do have sites that are ranked high for competitive phrases with nothing but high PR blog networks that Google recently targeted (all the old tricks still work) I am expect them to get caught out eventually, but on the flip side now the entire SEO community is scared to use these networks, is it worth Google spending the resource to uncover and deindex them? I bet 95% of the people that used to use them don’t use them anymore.

    You can probably tell that I like to dabble on the darker side of SEO, I’ve always been the type to experiement and just try things out based on my own thoughts/experience over what I read on popular seo blogs and forums.

    However I have recently came to the lighter side of the SEO world and your link building strategies for bloggers offer some great take aways for me.

    I wanted to put the Google Webmaster Guidelines to the test for once, I hadn’t read them in a while and that Matt Cutt’s bloke worships them so I thought I would give it a try. So what I have done is create an SEO blog that will not use SEO to drive traffic. More details on the experiment here http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/experiments/google-webmaster-guidelines-experiment/

    As someone that has always relied on link building and SEO to drive traffic I’m in unchartered waters. At the moment I’m focusing 90% of my efforts on producing quality content and the other 10% of the time commenting on blogs and participating in forums and social media.

    So far things have gone well and the ball is slowly rolling as more people discover and share my content but I’m at a loss as to how to further the promotion.

    Guest posts for example, I refuse to produce anything that isn’t of the highest quality. But if I spend 14 hours making a video tutorial or weeks doing an experiment/case study do I really want that content on someone elses blog?

    I’m sure if I keep my head down and keep producing the content to the standard I am everything will come together in the end :)

    I’m using Google Alerts in a slightly different way to you as well. I have alerts setup so I can get involved in conversations that interests me. So instead of just monitoring for my name/blog name etc I also monitor for a range of terms such as “link building” or “penguin update”.

    You can go one step further than this and include the footprint for wordpress plugins like keywordluv and commentluv which allow you to use anchor text and more importantly shows one of the last 10 posts from your blog at choosing.

    There are lots of clever ways to use Google Alerts when you think out of the box with it, far more many ways with my white hat on than my slighlty muggy grey one.

    What would you do to take your blog to the masses? I am by no means a blogger.

    • Wow, I think you could make this it’s own blog post! :) Seriously though, thanks for the meaty comment, I can tell that you’ve actually got a healthy amount of real experience here; I’ll do my best to honor all pieces with a worthy reply.

      “At the time every forum was a blaze with conversation that article directories are dead and to this day I still see people blindly saying they no longer work and are worthless. This is simply not true by any measure.”

      I actually agree with this completely. I’m not sure where you found disagreement there (in fact, item #4 above is to still use articles). It is true that they don’t have the weight that they used to, which seems always be what happens when Google slaps a trick that works a little too well. They just can’t be used in anywhere near the manipulative scope that they used to be.

      “It was during this hysteria that Google launched the Penguin update which just added to the confusion of most SEO’s. Certainly the ones that believe everything they read as they were scouring forums for answers which were mostly just peoples wild guesses and opinions.”

      You’re correct in that all of this can’t be attributed to Penguin, perhaps my statement was a bit too sweeping (all of that did happen, but not directly related to Penguin). I’ve actually read hundreds of posts like the one you’ve linked, this is what I do every day. :)

      I would add, that even what you’ve attributed to Penguin is probably a bit of a stretch. In 10 years of SEO, Google/SEO’s have only put out 20 “named” updates like Panda and Penguin for bloggers to rant about. 20. That’s it. I’d recommend looking at Dr. Pete’s presentation from MozCon this year, where he talks about MozCast… he outlines that the reality was that in 2010, Google actually did 8,157 side-by-side experiments -> 2,800 click evaluations -> to roll out 516 PERMANENT changes, in 2010, with only 8 events tracked via labels with “Panda” or “Penguin” iterations (1.6%). Comparing with the Google Inside Search blog, that rate of 516 – nearly 2 per day, every day, is consistent.

      So, when Barry Schwartz asks Matt Cutts if there’s an update rolling out they should know about after a big shift, his answer should always be YES. The days that he answers NO just mean that there’s nothing he wants to talk about right then. As SEO’s, just like Google, we’re using ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’ for simplification, what’s actually happening is 100x more complex. All of the types that I mentioned took new hits, for sure. But writing for ProBlogger, not everyone is a professional SEO, so a lot here is distilled (arguably a bit too much, in places).

      “That is solid advice and should be the backbone of any link campaign. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more spammy approaches in your link building, you just have to approach it in the right way.”

      I respect why you’d take this kind of approach. I’ve honestly taken a very similar approach in the past, and just seem to veer whiter and whiter with time. I have written another post on why most white hat SEO’s are wrong to totally ignore the black hats:

      http://www.northcutt.com/blog/2012/02/black-hat-seo/

      I also recently wrote a review explaining how I used to cringe at SEOmoz’s pedestal “your white hat isn’t white hat enough” posts, without actionable items, and how my opinion/practicing there has changed over time:

      http://www.northcutt.com/blog/2012/08/mozcon-2012-and-one-awesome-milestone-in-review/

      In short, having done this for about 10 years, Larry Page’s scare tactics, slapping iAcquire totally out of the rankings, enacting an actual off-page penalty to enable negative SEO, and so on, has been enough for me to take notice. I’m increasingly becoming a firm believer in that real companies need to do real company stuff. That’s not to say that the black/grey doesn’t have a place, I just see it as a shorter term game, with a place more on burn/rinse/repeat sites. Google is just getting too good at wiping the dirty “tricks” away.

      What makes a great SEO, however, is the ability to see what’s actually happening first-hand, and form the best creative strategy to match. I can see that you’re doing that as well, which is awesome.

  25. Ed says:

    You’ve got some good tips here and I’ve bookmarked this post and will be back to re-read it a few times. One thing though, you give most of your attention to niche blogs & such which is all well and good however mine isn’t in any one niche, it’s more of a general topics / anything I feel like writing at the time sort of blog. What would you recommend for non-niche blogs like mine?

    • I’d recommend picking a niche. :) That’s not just good advice for link building, it’s good advice for building an audience in general. In any type of business or competitive online activity, you need to build a unique following first.

  26. Sumit Rawat says:

    Thanks for the tips, unfortunately many of them are now spam

    • Not true. In fact, the very premise behind this post is building links using legitimate brand activity – with no spam. Yes, you can take some of these methods to the extreme and spam with them (like participating in blog conversations, like this one), but the point, again, is to not spam.

  27. I’ve been using commenting on blogs and guest posting for traffic generation and it has helped build up my blog traffic. Haven’t really dwell into hubpages as yet but will be revisiting that site soon.

  28. Steven says:

    Good article. People do have to follow the news and make sure that they keep themselves updated as to what Google is doing with its algorithms. Google has to make sure its advertisers are happy and that they have as little spam as possible so they are always tweaking their search engine procedures.

  29. Madison says:

    I am quickly becoming a fan of this site. The tips on this article are great, I have not been following many but after reading I’m going to invest sometime in following a lot of the advice. Thank you for a great piece!

    Madison

  30. Great article. I’m glad to see SEM Rush mentioned. I love that tool! It’s such a great snapshot of search engine visibility. What about white paper marketing to attract links?

    • White papers can totally work. I’m a big fan of doing up a study in infographic form, and then slicing it to accompany a more detailed white paper format. Both can yield some really interesting / powerful backlinks if they hit the right spot.

  31. Well at first I thought this post is just focused on a common link building scheme but I was surprised it has lots of guides and tips. This was also my biggest problem right now after the penguin update. I thought my sites and blogs were okay when nothing happens on my blogs during the panda update. All of my SEO efforts are white hat and I avoid duplicate content. I was thinking that since there are lots of blogs disappeared during the penguin update, along with it are the links I got from them. So back to square one again and thanks again for this article so I regain my ranking and traffic back.

  32. Hi! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to
    give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading your blog posts.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that
    cover the same topics? Thank you!

  33. Ryan Cote says:

    The world of blogging and SEO has changed radically over the past decade. It is difficult for many businesses to keep up the current changes. Social media plays an important role. Adding a few keywords simply doesn’t cut it anymore and can even hurt a website’s ranking. I also agree guest blogging is an excellent way to put yourself out there.

    • Very true, yet the search engine’s overall missions have stayed the same (rank the best stuff, that’s promoted the most responsibly). I hate to say this, as I wasn’t always so much of one, but it’s getting better and better to be a ‘white hat’ SEO.

  34. Sameer says:

    Dmoz.org is another directory where you can submit your blog. A link from Dmoz can raise PR of your blog.

  35. This information will help me improve my website rank

  36. Very informative strategies that everyone should follow. With the recent google updates, these smart tactical steps will sure help your ranking in search engines. Great post!

  37. We are a gaggle of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your site provided us with useful information to paintings on. You have done a formidable activity and our entire group will be grateful to you.

  38. Shaun Obermeir says:

    This is without a doubt one of the greatest articles/guides made about link building post Panda/Penguin. And the comment made by Corey and Matthew’s reply should be featured by its own article (Amazing).
    I am registered as a guest blogger on blogsynergy but i would also check myguestblog and i would also submit my blog to your suggested directories ( i thought it is a wrong practice post Panda/Penguin)

  39. Eru says:

    Press release syndication for our clients seem to be working pretty well in the post-penguin world. We have seen people getting recovered after diluting their anchor texts a lot, using more brand anchor texts.

  40. Mark Matador says:

    A great article with some very useful tips.

    Thanks

  41. infowaylive says:

    Informative!! here is my little contribution about Link Building Strategies.
    You should start with basic link building methods such as social book marking, directory submission, article submission, classified etc. Than you should do forum posting, blog commenting, rss feed submission, video submission etc.

  42. Ehsan Ullah says:

    After the animal updates from Google, I think guest blogging is one of the most effective link building method which Google itself love.

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