This week flew by and I didn't get everything done. Not to worry, I deliberately gave myself too much to do. If you read last week's post, you'll know I was talking about getting new articles written, compiling a list of other blogs in my niches (I'm working with two sites), and maybe starting a backlinking strategy.
In today's post, I'll talk about what I got done, my logic behind each move, my plans for the next week, and I will also clarify my stance on backlinking. Backlinking is such a broad term, a lot of people can misunderstand it.
Getting My Articles Written
As much as I love writing my own articles, I really want to just get some basic ones written and added to the site. I'm planning to use a variety of 500 and 1,000 word length articles, as some topics really don't need 1k words.
As of writing this post, I've submitted the articles to the writers, but not yet received them back or added them to the sites. I'll let you know next week when they're up, so you can take a look. Of course I used my usual writers for this.
The idea is that I will have 10 articles being automatically published between now and the end of the year, so that a few months from now Google will be viewing my site as up to date, fresh, and with a growing amount of content. Hopefully some rankings too.
As I now have a few keywords starting to rank well, I decided to make these new articles a mixture of keywords. Some were targeting long-tail keywords just to boost the sites reach, and others targeted keywords related to my already existing posts.
By having more “related content” and articles on similar topics, I can link more of my content together and improve their rankings. Remember that Internal linking is a great way of boosting a page's rank.
Over time I will focus more and more on just making 2-3 really successful pages that rank, and all other content will be designed to send more traffic and links to those pages. This is the best way of getting success with a small site.
The thing I focused on most this week was how to approach blogger outreach. It just so happened that I stumbled across a fantastic article on the subject by Pat Flynn.
I was originally going to just make a list of sites to comment on and take notes as I went, but after reading that article, I decided to approach it differently.
Instead I am going to create a kind of “niche dossier” for both YourOwnGymZone and DateAndSimple. The dossier will contain the top 50 sites in each niche. As well as the sites, I'll take note of various other factors, like whether or not they allow guest posts, what their preferred social networks are, what their own product or services are and so on.
This will really let me arm myself with a list of people to reach out to, where to find them, and some ideas for how we can work together. If I can build up a relationship with just 10% of them, that's 5 sites per niche that I can try to borrow an audience and some links from.
When targeting small keywords with low competition, just having a few sites giving you the vote of confidence (in link form) is often enough to get to page 1.
I cannot stress enough that those who reach out and interact with other webmasters will be a million times more likely to succeed than those who go it alone. Every. single. time.
A big part of this case study is going to revolve around this.
I'm not just interested in reaching out to other sites for backlink purposes alone though, I want to be able to present my sites to their audiences as well. On top of that, reaching out to others forces you to up your game, improve your content quality, and check your site for errors.
The process of getting accepted as a guest poster for an already existing site is a great confidence boost.
I haven't finished compiling these lists at all, as they're going to be time consuming and I might end up hiring somebody to do it for me. I want to offer these dossiers as a service in the future, so it will be good experience as well.
In the meantime, let's talk about backlinks in more detail.
My Stance On Backlinks
There are two types of backlinks, relevant, and non-relevant. You could also call them high quality and low quality as well. Low quality, non-relevant backlinks are pretty much worthless these days and in a lot of cases will do a site more harm than good.
These are things like forum profiles, blog comments, article directories, and various other submission directories. If you spent a day or two creating dozens of links at places like that, you probably would gain a small amount of rank juice, but not enough to justify the time spent.
Additionally, if you did it too much, you could get slapped with an “unnatural linking” penalty or a Google Penguin penalty. Neither would be ideal.
I have no real desire to teach you to chase after these kind of backlinks. I DO feel that blog comments have value in their own way (you'll get to know people and might get traffic via the comments you leave, and build a brand), but not in terms of backlink power.
Relevancy is the new PageRank
Relevant, high quality backlinks on the other hand, are something that I encourage (and so do some of the top SEOs online). Of course, the absolute best kind of backlink like this, is one that is created completely organically. Somebody finds your content, likes it, and links to it.
How often do you think that happens though? In some niches, never.
People are generally willing to link to good content and happy to help out a fellow enthusiast in their niche, but they more-often-than-not will need some prompting. A friendly outreach can go a long way, and can land you a highly relevant link from a high quality blog.
Google has absolutely no issue with this kind of link, and WANTS you to build links this way. Every link that you gain through outreach has been moderated. You can't just go and sign up and create a profile link. The webmaster in question has to like your content enough to link to it, which means it is quality.
Google wants to know where the quality articles are, their algorithm just isn't good enough to “know” your article is quality, unless it gets a few votes from other sites.
The best thing is that it rewards this kind of link highly. I've had sites that stormed up the rankings just by receiving fewer than half a dozen quality backlinks. Whether this was because I got a guest-post on a high quality site, or because I was luckily enough to get a link is irrelevant.
Can You Succeed Without Them?
Yes you can, and more and more people are taking the “no backlink building” approach. You're going to need at least 6 months before you get your first page 1 ranking if you use this method though. Maybe even a year (depending on the niche).
Personally, I don't want to wait 6 months to find out if my niche site is going to be maybe successful.
So if you are currently wondering whether or not to build backlinks, let me answer you here.
If you have time to wait, then blog twice a week consistently for six months, and don't worry about building backlinks. You DO still want to connect with others in your space though, or how else are they going to find you?
If, on the other hand, you only have a few hours a week, and aren't sure if the site is worth building out, then you should get the site to 20-50 pages of content, while reaching out and slowly gaining backlinks.
You honestly don't need a whole lot before you'll find out if the site is something you want to build out.
Remember, there's no guarantee a site will be successful, so try to find out it's viability as soon as possible.
Don't Let Fear Dictate Your Actions
A lot of people think it is safer to not build any backlinks. It's definitely safer to not build any spammy low quality links. It's also safer to avoid creating artificial links like PBN's. They'll work, but sooner or later your site will get slapped.
Is it safer to avoid reaching out to others though? No, it's just shortsighted.
Over the course of this case study, my overall strategy is going to be to build good content, and reach out to others to let them know about it. It's that simple.
The results will speak for themselves, everything else is just conjecture.
Between now and next week (November, wow!), I'm going to do the following:
1.) Finish my niche site dossiers.
2.) Schedule the new posts to go live.
3.) Brainstorm my first wow-post.
No idea what a wow-post is? You better stay tuned then!
Speak to you next week.