Small Business SEO Link Building Series Part 1 Published

Small Business SEO Link Building Basics Published

Small Business SEO Link Building Part 1We announced the link building series two days ago and here’s the first part covering anchor text, hyperlink HTML code, and NoFollow and DoFollow tags. There’s a video that shows how to find HMTL code in FireFox and Internet Explorer. The video also shows how to determine if a link is followed or nofollowed in both browsers.

Here’s what you’ll find in Link Building Part 1:

  • Link Structure
  • Link Anchor Text
  • No Follow Links
  • Do Follow Links
  • Natural Links
  • Natural Linking Patterns

We’ll be publishing a new small business SEO link building session every few days. To get the new content as it’s published, please subscribe to our RSS feed or sign up for email notifications in the box at the top of the right column.

Link Building Series

Link Building Basics – Part 1
The basics of link structure including HTML code, anchor text and dofollow and nofollow taqs. Link Building Principles – Part 2 Basic principles that must be followed when building links for small business SEO.

Small Business Link Building Principles – Part 2
Link building principles that must be followed when building links for small business SEO.

 

New Small Business SEO Series – Link Building

Cobbler Building LinksLink building for small business SEO is one of two biggest challenges of the process. The other is creating content on a regular schedule. I know that many of you already have content, so we’re going to start this series before the content creation series.

SEO Link Building 101

This is going to be an extensive series over the next few weeks. We are going to cover a lot of material, but I’m going to keep it simple. We’ll start with the description of a good link for SEO and the link source. Then we’ll progress systematically with different sources for links and how to generate links properly from each of those sources. A few link sources will take more than one session. Article syndication and authority site creation are two examples.

The techniques I’m going to cover are white hat SEO. At least, they’re my interpretation of white hat. Some may disagree, but I stay away from black hat techniques because the risk is too high in my markets. Following these techniques should not cause any problems with the search engines.

Link Sources

Here is the list of link sources that we’ll cover in the coming weeks. As I said, I’m going to try to keep it simple, but I will provide links to other sites that will go into more technical detail. I’m thinking that you’ll want practical before technical.

Update July 15, 2011

Published

Part 1Small Business SEO Link Building Basics – covering link HTML structure, DoFollow Links, NoFollow Links, Natural Links and Link Profiles

Coming Soon:

  • Link Practices
  • Authority Sites
  • Blog Comments
  • Social Media (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter)
  • Article Syndication
  • Guest Blogging
  • Press Releases
  • Profile Links
  • Reciprocal Links
  • Directories
  • Industry Organizations
  • Forums
  • Blogging
  • Link Exchanges
  • Your Own Sites
  • Internal Links

Ground Rules for Link Building

Here are my rules for link building:

  1. Thou Shalt Not Spam – there is no single good definition of spam, but let’s use the working definition of doing it for the link only.
  2. Contribute To The Conversation – “Great post, keep up the good work” is not contributing to the conversation.
  3. Best Effort / Best Content – content for blog commenting, authority sites, articles, etc. should be at least as good as what is on your site.  It should be your best effort.
  4. Relevance – if you sell flowers, make comments on flower related sites to build relationships. Don’t send links from a power tool site to your flower site.
  5. Treat Links as Gold – It’s not about getting the maximum number of links. It’s about getting the highest authority most relevant links.

I Would Love Not to Do Link Building, But…

In an ideal world, Google, Yahoo! and Bing would find the best content for each keyword phrase and display those results. We don’t live in an ideal world. The search algorithms are weighted heavily to external links. High value external links are difficult to get unless your content is excellent and unique. We advocate producing the best quality most relevant content for your customers whenever you publish – including links.

So, keep one thing in mind when creating backlinks for small business SEO – go to other sites to add value to that site. The exchange for you adding value is the link. Consider the power of the link to be directly proportional to the value you add to the linking site. If you create strong relevant content, regardless of where you post it, good things will happen. People will begin to notice you and start linking to you naturally. Let’s not think of it as link building, let’s think of it as promotion for the wonderful content on your site.

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Small Business SEO – SEOMOZ Link Building

Backlinks ImageLink building is a challenge for most small business owners. It’s a lot of work and the temptation for often disastrous shortcuts is always there. But, link building is a critical component to small business SEO success.

Josh Gill over at SEOMOZ, published a good post this morning at the SEOMOZ blog – The Daily SEO Blog. His The Five Linking Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making, is a great start for anyone new to link building, and a really good reminder of some link building basics for the more experienced practitioners.

First, I agree with Josh’s Five Link Building Mistakes to Avoid:

#1- Judging a Site’s Authority by PageRank Alone:
#2 Building Links with Only One Keyword or Keyword Phrase:
#3 Aiming for a Billion Links!
#4 Only Link to Your Homepage:
#5 Analyze Competitors Backlinks Who Don’t Rank for your Target Keywords:

That being said, there are a few points that I believe add to the conversation (remember these are mistakes to avoid):

#6 Don’t Have a Plan for Linking:

Linking when you get the urge usually means that you’re not going to do much linking. Once you figure out what you need in the number and quality of links, put a plan in place to get those links. For small business and local SEO, I usually set the goals of building links over 3 months period. The first three months for a campaign will be the most intensive. After that, it’s a regular, but reduced schedule for a year. Finally, once all the targeted rankings are reached, a link maintenance plan is put into place.

#7 Link Once in awhile with a big push

Sending a bunch of links to a site and then dropping down to nothing is not a good idea. It’s not natural and there’s a good chance that the links are discounted by the search engines. If your going to send 1,300 links to a site over 13 weeks, make the rate about 100 per week, not all at once.

#8 Forget About Your Internal Links

I see it over and over again. Site owners, blogger’s, small business SEO practitioners, and others are on an internal link diet. There are no links in the content. Your pages count just like external pages. If your pages are in the search engine index, link to your money pages, your main content and other pages that need a boost. Put in one link to one of your own pages or posts for every 100-150 words.

Read Josh’s post here ==> The Five Linking Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making.

Understanding Small Business SEO Video

If you are a small business owner or small business manager, then this video is for you. It explains small business SEO and what’s needed to get your site and its pages to rank in the search engines in the long term.

Take 10 minutes now to watch the small business SEO video.

Small Business SEO Video

 

 

The video covers:

You’re not going to learn SEO from a 10 minute video, but you will know a lot more than you do now, especially if you’re just getting into search engine optimization.

We know that many small business owners are gaining competitive advantages from using local SEO and small business SEO. It’s important to understand that unlike print advertising, the results are not immediate. It takes time to rank and keep the rankings in competitive markets. It’s a bit of a leap of faith, but the results can be impressive.

Even better, you are making an investment. Unlike the continuing expense of print and broadcast media, the money you spend on SEO builds an asset. You don’t need to keep feeding the machine dollars once you’ve reach your ranking goals. There’s ongoing maintenance costs, but those are a fraction of the initial costs. Do you know of any other advertising media that cost you less as it becomes more effective?

There’s a lot of information in the video. If you have questions about small business SEO or local SEO, give Mike at call at 386-295-2049. You can also go to our contact page.

Assessing Local SEO Competition – Part 3

This is the third part of Assessing Local SEO competition and this one is where we introduce our:

Local SEO Secret Weapon

In Part 3, we’re going to talk about the tool I use to assess small business SEO competition quickly. The entire process shown here takes less than 10 minutes. The tool is Market Samurai. Of all my SEO tools, this is the one I use most often. It’s not free, but it’s the big time saver for assessing local SEO competition, helping you develop your SEO strategy and getting ranked and keeping ranked. Go to Assessing Local SEO Competition – Part 1 to start at the beginning of the series.

Market Samurai Logo

I’m not going to go into a lot of details of how to use Market Samurai. Instead, I’m going to show you the results

Keyword Research

We open Market Samurai, enter a new keyword and the go to Keyword Research – Biloxi Seafood Restaurant.


Keywords Full Screen

We click the Generate Keywords button. After Market Samurai churns for a bit, we get a list of relevant keywords. These keywords are coming from the same Google Keyword tool that we used in Part 2. 59 results are returned.

Keyword Results

The next step is to get more data and now you’ll see where this application really shines. Clicking the bottom right button marked “Keyword Analysis” takes us to that screen. After adjusting for just the data we want to see, I deleted unrelated keywords and got a list of 36 keywords. Here’s a look at part of that list.

Biloxi Seafood Results Biloxi Seafood Results Only

Let’s look at what each column is showing us:

Searches = Total Daily Searches
SEOT = Traffic the number one ranking could expect daily
PBR = Phrase to Broad Ratio (higher is better)
SEOC = SEO Competiton (anything under 200,000 is good)
AWCPC = Adwords Cost Per Click

We see that Biloxi Seafood Resturants has about 13 searches per day, or about 395 per month. Other terms are showing more traffic and we would want to target them as well, but we’ll stick with our targeted Biloxi Seafood Resturants for now. The PBR at 15% means that only 15% of search terms are exactly for the phrase “Biloxi Seafood Restaurants”. We would definitely need those other terms to get good traffic. The SEOC number of 10,500 is low, so that’s very favorable. There is some Adwords bidding at $1.40, and that’s good to see as well.

There’s plenty of more information available, but this is all we need to assess local SEO competition. The other information is great when you start laying out your site structure and content. That’s the Keyword Research Module, now let more on to finalizing of SEO competition assessment with the SEO Competiton Module.

SEO Competition Module

Here are the SEO Competition results for Biloxi Seafood Restaurants.

SEO Competition Results

We are going to dive deeper into Yelp and Mary Mahoney’s.

Here’s the column key:

DA = Domain Age
PR = Page Rank
IC = Google Index Count
RD = Referring Domains or how many unique domains are sending backlinks
BLP = Backlinks to the Page
BLD = Backlinks to the Entire Domain or site
Title = Keyword in Title of the Page
URL = Keyword in URL of the Page
Desc = Keyword in Description Meta Tag
Head = Keyword in a Heading Tag

We are primarily interested in BLP and Title, URL, Desc and Head. The BLD, DA, PR and IC are for reference. Big numbers in the second group make ranking a bit more difficult, but as long as the first group numbers are good, we’re okay.

Yelp is number one, but it’s based entirely on the strength of the domain and the size of the site, not the page. We covered this in Part 2, but a quick recap shows 15 links to the page, but over 39 million links to the site. They have the keyword term Biloxi Seafood Restaurant only in the Title tag.

Mary Mahoney’s is the first local restaurant showing. They have 226 links to the page, but as we’ll see in a minute, they are only ranking because of the number of links to the site. They have not included the keyword in their title, url, description or in heading tags.

Link Analysis

Now lets dig deeper. There a little arrow to the right of each URL listed. After I click that down arrow for the number one listing, we see:

Backlink Dropdown

We click the PR Analysis Button and after a minute or so, the following list shows:

Yelp Backlinks

These are the backlinks to the page, but there are only a few and they all come from the same site. We should be able to do better and beat this page.

Now let’s turn to Mary Mahoney’s. Here are the results of our backlink analysis:

Mary Mahoney Backlinks

Mahoney’s is showing 213 links to the page, but not a single one uses the anchor text – Biloxi Seafood Restaurant. We could not beat this sites ranking for Mary Mahoney’s, but beating it for Biloxi Seafood Restaurant should be doable.

Summary of Local SEO Analysis

No site has optimized aggressively for the search term – Biloxi Seafood Restaurant. For this term, we could create a few pages targeted to the term and generate backlinks until we rose in the rankings and stay near or at the top.

I also looked at the term – Biloxi Restaurants. We see much the same thing with the exception of a site on Biloxi Tourism in the number 2 spot. Their backlink profile includes only 1 backlink to the page. They are ranking because they have the keyword in their title, and the name of their site includes Biloxi. We should be able to rank for this term with a little work.

We are going to conclude this series in a few days with Assessing Local SEO Competition – Part 4. In part 4, we’ll recap the process and show a video of the actual process using Market Samurai. Please use this link if you’re interest in obtaining Market Samurai. In the interest of full disclosure, it’s my affiliate link. The software is a bit quirky and stalls sometimes, but the developers of the program keep up with changes in Google. I use it everyday. It saves me a tremendous amount of time in my Daytona Beach SEO and local SEO efforts. There’s a free trial. So give it a try.

A funny sidenote. The first part of this series is ranking number 74 in Google for Biloxi Seafood Restaurant based on having the keyword repeated in the body of the post.

Assessing Local SEO Competition – Part 1
Assessing Local SEO Competition – Part 2

Part 2 – Assessing Local SEO Competition

This is the second part of our Local SEO competition assessment series. In the first part we talked about the major factors in assessing your local competition. Be sure to read Assessing Local SEO Competiton – Part 1 before reading this second part.

We’ll continue with the example we used in Part 1 – Biloxi Seafood Restaurants. Using the Google Keyword Tool, we saw that there are over 33,000 monthly keyword searches related to our term. That’s significant traffic. The next step is to evaluate the top three positions for our example. When you actually perform this assessment, you will probably want to go at least 10 deep. If the competition is really strong, I would go out to 30 and more.

SeoQuake FireFox Plugin

The Firefox Browser is the browser used by many SEO specialist. It’s a great tool for small business SEO. The first step is making sure you have Firefox installed. If you don’t, go to http://mozilla.org and download it now.

The tool we’ll be using for our assessment in Part 2 is the SeoQuake plugin for Firefox. Go to http://seoquake.com and click the install SeoQuake button.

SeoQuake Install Button

You’ll see the following screen in Firefox.

install SEO Quake

Wait until the Install Button counts down and then click it. You may be asked to select whether you want parameter data to display automatically. Don’t select automatic, you don’t want the search engines hit every time you do a search; only when you want to analyze a page or site.

After the plugin installs, the Firefox Add-On Screen displays, click the Restart Button at the top on that screen.

Restart Firefox Button

When Firefox restarts, you’ll see the SeoQuake Toolbar.  I’ve shown only the left portion here. Let move on and start our analysis.

SEOQuake Tookbar

Top Three SERP Analysis

Let’s use the SeoQuake plugin to quickly look at the top three results on the Google search engine results page (SERP) for Biloxi Seafood Restaurants. I’m typing the term in without the quotation marks so that the Google Places results show.

Google Results Biloxi Seafood Restaurants

Let’s assess the first result – Biloxi » Restaurants » Seafood – Yelp. Click on that result to bring up the page. Now click on the Info Button on the SeoQuake Toolbar. A new tab displays with competitive information.

Yelp Result Parameters

There’s a lot of information on the page, but here are the factors where we will focus:

Page:

PR

Domain:

Google I (Indexed)
Rank (Alexa)

Backlinks:

Yahoo L (Links to Page)
Yahoo LD (Links to Domain)

Keyword Density

Keyword density is the number of time a keyword phrase in mentioned in the page title, page description and in the page itself. Keyword density is often expressed as a percentage.

First Result Analysis

Is the phrase targeted? The page has a PageRank of 2 from Google which is just a relative measure. For local SEO, PageRank means very little. I include is here because you will hear of its importance as you reseach SEO. In local seo, it’s not very important unless the competition is very high.

Under the Domain section, we’re interested in the number of Pages Google has indexed. In this case over 32,000,000 for Yelp. However this is for the entire site. It means this is a huge site, but we are not competing with the site, we’re competing with the page. This is the most important point to remember for local SEO. You can beat larger sites for specific pages with a more targeted page and targeted links.

The Alexa Ranking, under Domain, is another relative indicator. It shows where Alexa ranks this site among all the sites on the web. Yelp is rated by Alexa at 195 out of all sites. This means Yelp gets a lot of traffic, but not necessarily to this page.

Under Backlinks, we see Yelp for this term has very strong domain results, but weak page results. There are over 39 million links to the entire domain (entire site) but only 15 to the page. They are ranking number one because of the weakness of the competition, not the strength of their page.

Under Keyword Density, we find what we’re looking for, by not finding what we’re looking for. Looking at the top 3 word phrases, we don’t find out term, but we need to back to the Yelp page and do one more quick check.

Yelp Keyword Density

The last button on the toolbar is Keyword Density. From the Yelp site page, click that button. All the keywords used on the page display. Now press CTRL+F (PC) on COMMAND+F (MAC). In the Find: box, type biloxi sea. The display will turn red and you’ll get a beep if you have sound on. This means Yelp does not even include our term on its page.

The results for Yelp are:

PR: 2
Google Indexed: 32,100,000
Alexa Rank 195
Yahoo Page Links: 15
Yahoo Domain Links: 39,037,953
Number of Times Keyword Phrase Used: 0

Don’t be scared off by large numbers of pages and links to the site. Yelp is not specifically targeting this page. They have the number one ranking because Google’s algorithm gave it to them because of the lack of real competition.

Results 2 and 3

Result 2 Assessment Results:

SERP result 2 is Seafood Restaurants in Biloxi, MS on Yahoo! Local.PR: 1

Google Indexed: 29,400,000
Alexa Rank 4
Yahoo Page Links: 0
Yahoo Domain Links: 1,747,824
Number of Times Keyword Phrase Used: 0

Result 3 Assessment Results

SERP result 3 is Biloxi Restaurants: Read Biloxi Restaurant Reviews – TripAdvisor.

PR: 3
Google Indexed: 26,400,000
Alexa Rank 287
Yahoo Page Links: 39
Yahoo Domain Links: 29,429,411
Number of Times Keyword Phrase Used: 0

Local SEO Assessment Analysis

Looking at these three local SEO results, I would feel pretty confident in getting on the first page of Googles for this keyword phrase by optimizing on page factors and then assuring 20-30 good quality links point at the page with the anchor text “Biloxi Seafood Restaurant” and closely related terms.  The top three sites are ranking because of the lack of an SEO campaign for the term.

Note that you can also download a CSV file of the SEOQuake data and import it into MS Excel.

Summary

In Part 2 of the local SEO assessment series, we covered the use of the SeoQuake Firefox Plugin. If you are doing one page, or a few pages, this is a great tool. It’s also a great tool for quickly checking pages and sites. However, if you have a large number of terms that you’re after, there’s a much faster way. We’ll cover that in a few days in Assessing Local SEO Competition – Part 3.