Today we are going to talk about back links. Yes, yes we all know you need em, but how important is it where they come from? We are also going to talk about your outbound links. The two of them put together make up what is know as your Link Profile. When the Search engines look at your site for the purposes of determining how it will rank, one of the main things they look at is your profile. Some would have you think that quantity is king and that Google is only looking for an arbitrary number to gauge your site by. This is a common misconception. They also look at the quality of your links and whether or not they have the no-follow tag, and that is another factor but not the most important. I see it all the time. Site A has 10,000 inbound links and ranks number 5 while site X has a meager 120 inbound links and ranks number 1. Is that because of the quality of the links? That is a factor but far more important is the Link Profile.
The search engines look at the big picture and you should to. They like naturally occurring links (do those really exist anymore?) and they have filters in their algorithm to detect natural vs artificial. Are these algo’s entirely accurate? Far from it, but they are still there none the less. If your links don’t fit through their sifter then they are deemed of less value if not discounted entirely. Sometimes even good links don’t make it through either. So that site with 10k back links might only have 100 or less that don’t get caught in the trap. How do they determine the good from the bad? Your profile gives you away. You can change that though and get most all of your links to count, even the artificial ones. All you have to do is think like the spiders that crawl your web pages. They sift through infinite amounts of data and their job is to map it all out. That’s really what they do, is make maps. Now take and visualize your website as a point on the map and imagine that the links going back and forth are roads. If you have been paying attention to your link profile and consciously shaping it you can draw that map out on a piece of paper. You should probably do that. I prefer to use a whiteboard myself.
Once you have an accurate picture of your profile you can really begin to sculpt it. You can see the weaknesses and the strengths. You can see what is obvious filter bait and what looks more natural. How do you tell the difference? It gets easier the more you look at it. You just have to put yourself in the search engines shoes. If your link profile consists of 23 Diggs, 190 blog comment links and a perfectly symmetrical 2.0 link wheel with little to no inbound links into the perimeter sites, it gets pretty obvious. Your profile should contain an element of randomness. Not just in terms of your own back links but other sites that closely link to you should be varied and have a different profile from you. Now this can be a real pain to keep track of. Unless you draw it out. Then it gets real easy. It becomes a no brainer to figure out where you are lacking and what you need to do in order to take it to the next level. This all works a lot better if you do it right out of the gate with a new site. It really allows you much more freedom to create. It’s never too late to start though.
I apologize if I lost anyone in that last paragraph when I was referring to symetrical link wheels, blah, blah, blah. I will get into a detailed description of those later. I will explain what they are, why they don’t work anymore and also describe a much better linking strategy that does work. I’ll post something on that later in the week. It all ties back in to your Link Profile though, so I thought it was appropriate to start here. SEO is an art form as much as a skill. Maybe even more so. You really have to be able to visualize and be creative. On the flip side you also have to do your homework and come up with a good plan. Then you have to exercise due diligence and follow through with it. If you don’t think SEO is an art and you don’t enjoy it you will never succeed at it. There’s just too much labor involved in it and few can go the distance if they aren’t enjoying themselves in the process.
I love search engine optimization. It’s a constant challenge and the rewards are as big as the obstacles that you have to overcome along the way. That’s why I started Strong Island SEO . I have been quietly ranking all manner of websites in different niches for years. I never had a site where I talked about what I did. For many, the real SEO tactics are kept hush hush. Everyone is afraid to share the really valuable stuff. Either that or they give you bits and pieces. I’m going to go ahead and fill you in on the big picture. No holds barred.
One by one I will share every little piece of information I know about SEO. Why would I do that? Aren’t I afraid I will lose customers who end up doing it themselves? Aren’t I afraid my competition will use my own tricks against me. Nope, not a bit. I’ll tell you why. It’s one thing to know how to do something. It’s entirely another ballgame to execute it properly. As I said, SEO is an art. I am an artist and my brushstrokes can be imitated but never quite duplicated. What I hope to do is to help you develop your own stroke, your own style of SEO. I do it because most other people in the field don’t. I was lucky enough to run across a few masters of the art who were willing to share. I am forever in their debt. Their is no way for me to pay them back and so I have decided to pay it forward. Enjoy!