Sunday, June 3, 2012

Day 20 - Backlinking you probably can't afford

Secret Sauce to earning extra income online might not include articles, Squidoo, or Hubpages
(Secret Sauce sub-series 06)
Now, this is a change from what I've gone over, but you are going to run into these things and I have to tell you why I don't use them (anymore). Plus, I'll also tell you how they can be done - if you have the time to spend.

Pre-reading on this from The Online Sunshine Plan was pages 263-265.

Now I did a thorough number on researching this area after the book was published, as I kept hearing about Squidoo and Hubpages. These two have long been held to be a standard for getting backlinks. And article directories have been held up even longer. You keep running into various mentions of these, hyping them as the latest and greatest thing to use.

My research showed that while they can contribute backlinks, the search engines have moved on, so they don't have any particular reach beyond other platforms. So I'm covering these to let you make up your own mind.

There are 2 reasons I don't use any of these as part of a regular campaign for the web development clients I support (or my own online promotion):
  1. They are no longer reliably able to rank on the first page of Google.
  2. They take a lot of individual time to produce and maintain.

But they are all three a great way to get backlinks if you do have the time to commit yourself. And all have valid communities which they support. As well, if you study how they became a success (and how they lost it) you will see a greater understanding of the basic natural laws at work (IMHO).

Article Directories

There is more on article directories in The Online Sunshine Plan (pg 254-257) than the rest of these. And that write-up is still valid. But, as noted, you are going to have a nice time investment to take advantage of them.

This area was researched extensively, since AD's had a long run in being popular with the search engines - and were just as extensively promoted, especially by people using them to acquire list opt-in's.

Unfortunately, the AD's didn't change fast enough to remove duplicate content and both gradually were down-ranked and also slapped by the "panda" algorithm updates. Interestingly enough, the top 10 AD's (which are also the ones which routinely send traffic to your site) were also the ones which regained their rankings almost as quickly as Google lowered them.

If you want traffic, the top 10 are really the only ones you need to submit to. Unfortunately, they all insist on non-duplicative content and on top of that are each different in their submission process to the others. So they must be dealt with individually - for the most part.

Another drawback is that the best AD's all have individually-reviewed articles. So it can sometimes take 3 months to get a submitted article approved and online. This is faster after you've gotten several approved, but most won't let you submit more than a handful until you have proved you can abide by their rules. Now, after a hundred or so approved articles, you can basically get away with murder (unless someone reports you). So AD's have a long ramp-up time.

That said, if you've submitted before, they will probably start checking your work quickly, as they really do want people to submit there. So don't close old accounts with them. Might be useful, later.

While I'd (mostly) given up on these for my own submissions, recent research has discovered a relatively inexpensive one-time-payment tool which is designed to actually help solve this problem. As well, it can post non-duplicative content to dozens (or hundreds) of other AD's, which would then give you some backlink juice. (More on this with a later day, after the "Secret Sauce" series is complete. You don't need AD's as part of your own success sauce.)

Squidoo

These next two get short shrift in my book - only part of a page, in fact (pg 263).

What prompted my research into these was my studies of "Conversation Domination" which gave extensive write-up's on how to utilize them.

Squidoo was built by marketer Seth Godin and was loved by Google for a long time. This, of course, brought in spammers. Squidoo changed their requirements and were mostly able to keep showing up in the standings. As well, they have a solid community of people who go around and comment on other's "lenses" - which gives them points in Squidoo's internal awards system, and this helps raise their own sites within Squidoo rankings.

However, you really have to spend some time each week within that community to keep your own Lenses alive and expanding. If you are adding new content each week, and helping other lenses with theirs, then your various lens will "stay alive". If they go dormant, they will become invisible. And if invisible for too long, will be deleted.

The other point which came up during ranktracking just around the Panda update, is that they don't show up on the 10 ten anymore - unless you do extensive work to freshen their content and get comments as above. It's probable that a bookmarking and pinging campaign could raise a lens - but you have to decide if all this time and effort is worth it, compared to other approaches. (And after today's post, we'll start stringing my favored approach together for you to study on your own.)

Hubpages

This is a tough community to be part of. Mainly because they were top of the heap for a couple of years for Google. And the spammers hit them hard. So now, they review every single hub. And if your hub is flagged, it takes a ton of work to get it off that list. Hours per week, actually, just to build and maintain a hub.

Too many flagged hubs and your profile get flagged.

My setbacks far outnumbered my successes, so I simply dumped this as an unworkable scene. As well, since Panda, they have also not been able to rank very well for content (at least not page 1 or 2, which is all I look at.)

Before Panda, they were one of the Internet Marketing darlings - and were easy to set up hubs. Now, it's like a Fort Knox with guards coming around every few minutes - well, maybe not that bad, but compared to how easy a free blog will rank and can be posted... I decided that I didn't need their approvers looking over my shoulder and the time it took to make things all nicey-nice for a hub which would barely rank.

Probably the kicker is that they only allow one backlink per hub. Hell, I could get 2 or 3 with any submitted article. And not so stringent lookovers.

My view on this one is to completely forget it. They've gone anal with their internal community and really don't want outsiders creating content for them (IMHO.)

Summary:

I didn't really want to scare you off using these or trying them out. Articles are very good for backlinks, and once approved can be promoted with bookmarks and pings. Both Squidoo and Hubpages will tell you exactly what you need to make great content - and are actually telling you what search engines like. So if you want some training on how to build content, post a few lenses or hubs and get them approved. Great training.

However, the added time you need to invest in these make them hardly useful for a serious production line-up in terms of being able to roll out content which routinely ranks well.

And again, I'll show you what I mean over the next (and last) 3 days of "Secret Sauce" posts.

- - - -

Freebies today are numerous. But at least they are simple and fast reads. I couldn't let you go without seeing some of the marvelous marketing that was done for Squidoo. Note that these PDF's I include tell you basics which can be transferred/applied to other social media or regular websites as well.

Everyone is an Expert
Who's There?
Squidoo It Yourself