Archive for February, 2006

Link Development vs. Traffic Development and Staying with the Times

If you’re sending out hundreds of reciprocal link requests each week and have a 14 page links section on your site, please do the following:

1. Find the time listed on the bottom right hand side of your monitor.
2. Place your mouse cursor over it and double click
3. Please change the year on your calendar from 2003 to 2006

Now you might actually get to focus on doing some productive marketing for your website. Notice I said marketing, and not link development. The bar has been raised. You can fight it or meet it – the choice is up to you. There is more sophistication in the algorithms of today, there is more sophistication in the level of competition and there is more sophistication from our sites expected by visitors.

Traffic Development

Link development has morphed into traffic development people. Stop going after the exclusive 146th listing on the tenth page of an unrelated site’s reciprocal links section thinking you’re going to fool a good engine into thinking that means you’re worth something.

Stop aiming for the engines and aim for real, live human beings. Aim for obtaining traffic and not backlinks. Aim for obtaining attention and not pagerank. Stop aiming for the affections of a mathematical computation and aim for commendations from breathing individuals.

Out With the Old (Link Development), In With the New (Traffic Development)

Send out hundreds of reciprocal link emails each day you find with an automated program explaining to webmasters how SEO works and how linking to your brand new website can help *them* in the search engines to the three separate emails your program scraped from their site.
Find sites that are about your topic in general but are missing pertinent information that you provide on your site or that you can create an angle to merge with their topic and email the webmaster at one email address with a personal email that notes things about their site only a human visitor would and explain why you think linking to your content would benefit their readers.
If you own a site selling film, write an in depth article on getting the best low light results on your site and then contact photography clubs explaining that you have an article on your site that their members might find useful and you were hoping they would consider including it in their resources/favorite sites/information section. Get enough camera clubs linking to you and you’ll start to see a nice trickle of visitors as well.

Buy links on any site with pagerank hoping the engines will see the links and think wow, your site must be great to be linked from such a popular site. Even better if you can get a range of site in the bottom footer and get 5000 links for the price of one. Just find a big network with a stable of link sellers and buy from their handy dandy list.
Buy links to get the resulting traffic and having that link placed somewhere on the page where visitors will actually see it and pretending search engines don’t exist when debating a purchase. And if you’re going to buy a link, make private deals with site owners or use brokers who do the same with a very limited clientele of purchasers.
If you wouldn’t purchase a link if it had a link condom on, then you have no business purchasing the link without one. Buy traffic, not green pixels on the Google toolbar. You will need to sustain a link for a long period of time to get maximum effect and you can’t do that if you’re not getting any ROI from your purchase. Enough said.

Write 300 word articles of medium quality and submit them to 50 article directories. Wash, rinse and repeat 50 times for the same site to the same 50 directories using the same bio line in all of the submissions at the bottom of the article.
Write 800 word articles for sites that accept submissions that publish based on merit and not that you know how to fill out a form and giving them a custom article written only for their site. Link out generously to other sites in the article and be sure to include a link of your own (to something legitimately helpful to readers of the article) within the article if possible.
Own a site that caters to business owners? An article on a site like is going to be worth far more than submitting an article to 30 article directories in terms of traffic. Sure it takes more time, more effort and is less certain – but the rewards of success are also much greater. Be sure to ask about linking guidelines within the article. Most sites are ok with you linking from within an article provided it isn’t biased, repetitive and makes sense.

Find the top 50 keywords for your sector and write a drab article aimed at each one basically regurgitating the same information available on every other site. AKA – “How to find online deals on discount widgets.”
Find the top 50 keywords for your sector and write an interesting piece that relates to the topic in an unusual fashion that won’t bore people to death if they bother to read past the first paragraph.
If you have a content site focusing on widgets, contact the big companies who make them and ask what their media policies are for an interview about their newest product or their company in general. You get new, unique content no one else has (because you’ve created the questions – i.e. the area of the answers) and people are far more likely to link to a page showing an interview with ABC Widgets talking about their new widget development techniques than a page talking about how great (yawn) ABC Widgets are.

Submitting press releases for no reason aside from getting your site another inbound link from the press release distribution sites.
Waiting until you have a newsworthy topic (or creating one) and submitting a carefully crafted press release focused on getting media attention and making sure it is viewable in all the big news engines.
If you have a site selling 16 different brands of the same widget, create a comparison engine that allows users to select four widget brands and see a comparison between them. Then create a press release that mentions how your site developed this “propriety technology” to help consumers of widgets and how your site is the only site in the industry offering such a service. Cross your fingers and hope a reporter gets interested. At worst, you get a ton of traffic when people search your topic at a news engine for a week or more.

Submitting your site to 200 free directories and a handful of paid directories with decent pagerank and a low listing fee in an effort to increase your link count.
Not wasting your time unless the directory itself has a large following or pageview tallies (meaning it will send a lot of traffic).
Submit a test site (or simply take a look at the logs of a website following the tired tradition) and after six months, take a look at the total referrals from your logs. Anything that doesn’t produce a valued amount of traffic or sales (depending on your objective) should be cut from the list. You’d be better off during those 2 days of submitting to those directories to put that time to good use on another method that will actually bring you eyeballs.

Deciding on ten keyword phrases and developing links to fit within that mold (having all of your links using 1 of your top ten phrases). Contacting webmasters who don’t give you the desired anchor text and requesting changes.
Encouraging extreme variety in anchor text of your inbound links and letting people link to you using whatever anchors they feel necessary.
Stop sending out pre-written anchor text in requests for links. Let the site owner know about your site and if they choose to link to you, do so using whatever anchor text they feel necessary. There is no better way to accrue *natural* anchor text than by letting people label your anchor with whatever they deem fit. Site owners know how to speak to their readers and how to make them interested.

Making hit and go forum posts to get a handful of backlinks a piece from 50 different domains.
Finding one (or a few communities) and becoming a regular, valid and helpful contributing member.
By making yourself at home at a limited number of places, you give yourself time to really contribute and be a visible and helpful member. Rather than grabbing a few links on various identifiable forum domains, you build up a reputation (aka trust) which gets you a good amount of traffic through your profile or signature (targeted traffic too, since you will be posting to people on a forum relating to what you do or sell) and can also get you off forum mentions as well (for example, someone may go post on their blog that your name did a great post on widget making – linking your name to your site and widget making to the appropriate forum thread).

Button pushing to get thousands and tens of thousands of automated links on blogs, guestbooks and forums.
People pushing via hiring people to help out with traffic development efforts and ideas.
Blind mass links are going the way of the dodo (though mass, mass quantities still work – at times – for now). Spend the efforts of your programmers on developing useful tools for consumers/site visitors and employ people to write great, quality content rather than buying cheap links from reciprocal link farms – excuse me, I mean firms. You can get a lot more *long term* bang for your buck and it will get you visitors who appreciate your content – not angry victims of comment spam looking for ways to dig your heart out with a spoon.

Creating a blog on a free subdomain to put up nothing more than posts about how great your products are and linking to yourself freely in each one.
Creating a blog that has real value and traffic attraction on your own domain (or a separate domain if branding is an issue) which leads readers into the commercial area of your site during opportunities within posts or the blog design where it makes sense.
If you sell widgets, make an accompanying blog that acts as a review center for *all* widgets. Be fair and include all products whether or not you sell them. Do a write up of each product that acts as a general “spec” overview and allow users to leave reviews in the comments section (I recommend you set them at moderated to check for quality, spelling, language, etc if that matters to you.) and link in to the products you *do* sell where appropriate.

Well, I’m going to stop there as I like my farm. ;-)

The best part is that all of these ways of developing traffic have the side benefit of doing exactly what you wanted to do with traditional link development. By aiming for traffic, you end up acquiring (purposely anyway, scrapers will continue to exist) a dream team of inbound links for SE purposes.

Does this mean there are no sites ranking on the old methods?

Sure there are. But, I’d have to venture to say the age of those links acquired from the old methods may have something to do with it. In addition to the fact that being at the top of the engines several years ago probably got them a handful of traffic as a result from good sites. I don’t think people trying the 2003 approach to link development would find the same success in a smart search engine in a half way competitive industry on a site they launched tomorrow. Traffic development, in my honest opinion, is the road to long term success.

Hopefully this gets a few people thinking about ways they can apply traffic building to their own sites and gets some others moving towards to realization the standard, tired methods of link development that used to work are no longer the best way to assure new site or long term success in the engines .


How to turn an average forum into a successful one

First, i know this is probably not going to work for every topic, but i hope one can use some ideas in this post…

One of my sites (educational,very low paying niche) had a forum that attracted maybe one or two new members a week with about 5 posts a day. Here my story how i made it the biggest in its niche. The first problem was that there were already other forums in this niche that existed for years, second problem was that it was not only a small niche but also a very low paying one (Adsense). First i needed to get more people…

1.Get more people to sign up

I placed on all of my content sites a little line at the end of the article that says “If you would like to discuss “name topic” join our forum and share your ideas…

I made a News section in the forum were only the headline and the first sentence is visible for people that are not signed in…

I put the most interesting thread of the week on the front page…

I contacted “superstars” of my niche (Authors, Scholars etc..) to post in my forum (the time just before or after they published a book is a good time as they are more willing to do so and most of the time for free…

Another way to make people sign up is to get the “opposition” to come to your forum, for example if you have a fan forum for “Manchester United” I would start a thread like “10 reasons why Chelsea sucks”, then i would go to a Chelsea fan forum sign up there as a huge Chelsea fan and would post something like “have you seen those suckers over there what they talk about us?”, some people will most propably register at your forum just to bash your views on Chelsea ;) This brings me to my next point how to make them post, now that you have a regular stream of sign ups…

2. How to make them post

The Daily News section; this is at my place the most viewed subforum, but relatively few replies, nevertheless, some will reply…

The content pages error forum; One section is for errors, (factual and typo) you will be surprised how many people will make a post just to get a typo corrected (and it helps to keep the content part as error free as possible…

Promoting as early as possible the most active quality members to moderators; This is a very special point, a moderator will not only moderate but will post many quality posts…

Rewards; The most successful part of getting people to post on this particular forum was the introduction of Usergroups based on participation. Everyone starts as a guest (in my case they are not called guests but something not realy nice (nothing derogatory but nevertheless no one wants to be called that in my niche”, so already i get some posts why the heck they are “fill in your term”! They have some restriction, (no signature, no avatar (again posts why this is not working), after 10 posts they are automatically promoted to full member, which gives them rights to have avatars, signature and a nicer usergroup name :)

The next Usergroup is the bulk of my members, to get to the next lever one has to participate for at least 3 months, must have several high quality posts and the admins/mod then decide if this particular should be promoted to the next level, he gets then a personal mail congratulating him and he gets access to more features (own blog on the site, personal email adress, own picture gallery)

People in that usergroup are sometimes promoted to the highest Level, to get there one has to write articles for the content site, if they are well written they will then be promoted to this particular level, with access to a special member section and a freebies like books etc..

Now why want people to get promoted? Well people (at least in my niche)love to get free books, so many work (post) really hard and lots just to get to that “VIP” level

Giveaway; We give allot to the community for free, actually almost 30% of our income goes back to the quality members, this creates a constant stream of new content (almost every book is rewied by the member and then published on the content site in the book review section), I also alway contact the author about the review, many just say thank you, but many also start participating in the forum…

3.Interaction of Content and Community

Every article that is written by a community member gets a link on the main page for 2 weeks (i use a blog software as front page which has the advantage of making it very easy to update, an archive for a nice sitemap and the article gets spidered extremely fast by the engines) and an ego boost for the member who has written the article…

Members Blog; because i offer a blog for special members (which surprisingly allot of them are using) most of the time i only have to link to the members blog for the recognition and the link juice stays within the domain…

Every article we write gets thrown into the forum for discussion, that way the article gets dissected, improved and often a spin off article is produced by a community member…

I check regulary my access logs for search phrases people arrive on my site but without having the exact content for it, (search engines are not perfect), once i have identified such a phrase, i start a thread about it, and once you are big enough and you have a dedicated community, chances are that either a popular thread or even a content with the exact phrase is the end result, hence making the previous top ranking search phrase a self fulfilling prophecy.

Using members as watch dogs; Everyone knows big content sites are the target of scrapers, copyright violations etc..
I explained once the ramifications and that we had to protect “our” content, now i get almost daily mails or posts about sites that are using our content, some are even contacting the owner of those particular sites, complaining about the infrigement…

To summarize; My content part is now basically community driven, i hardly have to write any articles myself, all i have to do is to give directions…

4.Monetizing the community

As i mentioned previously, the niche is very low paying and if it wasnt a labour of love, i would never have bothered, but 3 years later this “low paying niche” is one of the biggest money maker of all of my sites…

I made it from the start very clear that at the end of the day i would like to make money in order to maintain not only the quality of the forum/site but also to be able to give back to the community. This open approach was very well received and clearly understood.

Adsense; This was the first real money that poured into the site, while the earning per clicks were rather poor, the amount of clicks made some up for it and it made it actually possible to start giving back to the community. However the content sites were getting much more EPC, so my focus was right from the start making the community produce content pages.

Amazon; In my niche, books play a significant role; thats why i put on evey article an on topic amazon product link. I made it clear in the TOS that i will add my amazon affiliate code in every book title that gets mentioned in the forum, again this is understood and no problems, i actually have my moderators to do this for me, they have my affiliate code and know how to make a static amazon link with my referal Id. I have a most popular book of the month section, and a book review section, the book reviews from forum members are generating the most money from amazon, people trust people they know…

Demographic Monetization; The moment i realized that with trying to make money with my niche wont get me very far, but trying to monetize the demographics of my visitors i had a winner. While the niche might be relatively small and the potential to earn real money from that are remote, the people that visit the site have one thing in common, they are mostly highly educated and have lots of disposable income. I actually figured that only out once YPN came on board. Suddenly i had ads that were not really targeted to the content, but that paid so much more then what the contextual correct ads from Adsense were paying. My focus shifted then from monetizing the content to monetizing my visitors.


Since i switched about 3 years ago from gaming the engines to building a community driven site, i have not noticed an algo update, other then the rankings went up, I do only basic on page seo, no link building (still i get plenty of links every day, mostly from .org and .edu sites) and have other then checking the access logs for new phrases i can build sites for, completely forgotten the search engines. I get now about 5 to 10 new members a day, about 5000 posts a month (which seems probably small for some, but in my niche i am a giant ;) ) and have a the fun of my live. I created a community that pays my bills..

As i said at the beginning, not all of that i just mentioned is probably applicable to your topics, but i hope you got at least some ideas how you can make your community site a bit more successful…


« Previous entries ·