Archive for the ‘Links & Link Building’ Category

Are URL Shorteners Bad For SEO?

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Well the quick and dirty answer is yes and no! Actually the answer depends wholly on the type of URL shortener and the way it’s redirected to your website.

For example if you’re URL is redirected using 302 redirection then you’re not likely to be getting all the link juice that you could from any links pointing to your short URL. But on the other hand if it’s a 301 redirect you’re more likely to get all those dofollow links pointing to your short URL counted to the page URL it’s short for. For more info on how 301 redirect effects anchor text check out our post on How To Create A SEO Friendly Redirect.

So any URL shortner that does not do a 301 redirect to your website is not going to be likely that it will pass any link juice on to your full URL page. The other thing to watch out with on many of the URL shortener services out there is that they 301 redirect to something else that 302 redirects to your site. I’ve noticed a few services do this, such as the su.pr even though it’s in beta right now.

One way to check and make sure the URL shortener is actually doing a 301 redirect to your site is to read the headers sent to the browser and see what messages are being passed to them about the redirection. The easiest way to do this is with a tool I’ve found called Check Server Headers Tool. Make sure to look over how it’s redirecting on your own site too. Since some of us have our sites setup to 301 redirect from non www domain address to a one with it, if you use a non www when creating the shorter URL you can have too many 301 redirects to get to your page.

For example:
You have the URL http://www.seosean.com/blog/are-forum-links-any-good
and you want to shorten this URL.

Now I make a short URL http://seosean.com/akes
(I made this with a script I wrote to create and manage short URLs).

Now the short URL may redirect to a www version of my site and then redirect to the page. This can cause problems as Google seems to only follow so many redirects. And if there was an added step in there that made it redirect to some URL shortener service’s domain then to your web page that would be 3 redirections.

The other thing many people have a question on is, do I get credit for the anchor text from the short URL? Answer is yes you do - at least most of the time (that’s basically the water down version of what Matt Cutts said about that).

And on the other side of that I also usually get questions about whether the keywords in the short URL’s count towards the redirected to page? I image you would not get credit for this. Since you’re redirecting your telling the world that the old address is no longer valid and the new one is so I image all things with the old address are discarded and only the new one is counted. So you should only get credit for the keywords in the end URL (the one you redirected to).

Are Forum Links Any Good?

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

A few weeks back I got into a debate about forum links and whether they had any value or not. I do believe that forum links bring link value. Although I’ve found many people disagree with me. So I did a little experiment with this. I took one of my client’s website and got it about 50-100 backlinks between 2 forums and then I watch the stats in Google for any change. Amazingly the site after 1 1/2 to 2 weeks shot up the ranking onto the first page for the keywords I was targeting. Now of course other factors could have come into play but I then ran the same test with another site and sure enough again this site it shot up on to the first page.

But here is the catch, first I did the homework on my experimental sites, they had all the on page optimization done and did have other quality links from other sources. So when if you try using this link tactic keep that in mind. As well, just like any off page or link optimization you must have the correct keywords for the anchor text, which does involve doing a bit of research and analysis your competitors’ links. On top of that obviously making sure the links will be dofollow links and that your not spamming the forum, instead are providing quality content. Providing quality content is important, because you can get other sites to also link to the forum post which passes on more link juice to your site

Lastly the one big downside I found was that these sites I ran the test on started to slide back down the rankings after a week or two. I am suspecting this has to do with the fact that as more forum threads are posted the threads that contained my links where pushed off the first page of the forum directory and onto the next or third page. Thus my link was not receiving as much PR and value as it once was. This can be a big problem with forum links as you will get a yo-yo effect from the links and the only way to combat that would be posting on forums where the threads will not eventually be pushed to another page (which is almost impossible to set up a forum like that) or continuing to make posts to threads week after week. And because of the improbability finding a forum where threads don’t get pushed down as new threads are posted, the only logical way around this is continuing to make posts on new threads in the forum.

This also sparked another realization. The same sort of this happens with blog posts. They start out on the first page of a blog and then move down and finally off the first page as more blog posts are added. Therefore your link will be less valuable as time goes on. But both blog posts and forum threads can remain with a high level of link value if other website link to that thread or post, so in some cases the link value may not change much over time.

So there you have it, forum links do have value but that value could be decrease as time goes on due to new threads being posted or if linked to by other sites that value does have a chance of remaining the same or increasing due to the forum thread’s inbound links.

Free Link Hub Finder SEO Tool

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

With SEOBook’s recently pulling their link hub finder tool and making it only available for paying customers I wanted to get the word out there about our free link hub finder tool. Our tool runs off Yahoo links just like the one at SEObook.com but ours is 100% free.

This tool will allow you to check the common links between several websites (you’ll need to enter at least 2) and see what links they have in common. The theory behind this is that Google places authority on links from specific website and generally most of the top sites for a given keyword will be linked to from one or a few of the authority sites. Finding which sites those are can be quote a task, so we’ve developed a tool that will compare the links between a give set of websites.

Our tool was developed based of the idea of the original link hub - this was prior to SEOBook setting on up on their site. Although are tool was written completely from scratch and then tested to ensure accuracy against raw results and in comparison to the original link hub tool.

Starting using our free link hub finder tool today!

Why Link Exchanges Are Devalued

Friday, January 9th, 2009

If you’re reading this post you’ve most likely came across it because I’ve emailed you a link to it as you’ve requested a link exchange with one of my clients’ or one of my own websites. I applaud and admire your enthusiasm to increase the ranking of your website but currently disagree heavily with link exchanges and you should understand why as it will help your site too.

After receiving countless numbers of such emails and requests I’ve decided the best way to respond was to write this post on why I will not participate in your link exchange and why current link exchanges usually offer no or very little value to a site.

As many website owners, webmasters and SEOs know link building is one of the pillars to success in organic search engine optimization. And the methods and ways they go about obtaining links can be as varied as colors in the rainbow. But over the evolution of search engines and SEO some methods of obtaining links have been depreciated or devalued due to their negative effects from spam and quality control. Among those devalued link building techniques is link exchanges.

In the early days of search engines and optimization, link exchanges where an effective means of link building. During that primitive time a website could indeed optimize a few factors on there website and then trade a few links with high PageRank or authoritative sites and ZIPPP! your at the top of the search results. But as time went on search engines got wiser and spammers becoming more vigorous. As more and more people caught on to this so did spammers only they took it to another level. Search engine spammers created massive link exchanges offering little or not actual value but just many… many pages of links. Quickly search engine caught on to this and begun making steps towards recognizing and devaluing such types of links.

In fact here is what Google currently says about link exchanges:

…some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. This is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results.

So as you can see link exchanges can not only be totally non-effective at counting as a link pointing to your site but also can have rather harmful ramifications on your rankings in the search engines. There have even been many reports that sites have been severely penalized for participating in link exchanges and even gone as far as being banned from search engines.

I have confirmed with MSN Search staff (Janine Crumb) that my site [titled] Most Popular Sites was banned from MSN Search for having a link exchange forum area.

Due to this devalued response to link exchanges from search engine many leading SEOs have written and said many things including warning against participating in such activities. I’ve listed below some response to link exchanges that these industry leading SEOs have said.

I think most link networks are not worth participating in…

…don’t waste your time getting on someones “Links” page…

But what about 3-way link exchanges, you might ask. Well same goes for 3-way exchanges, it would be rather dimwitted to concluded that Google and other search engine could not figure out that you have participated in a 3-way link exchange. Their algorithms and interpretation of websites’ link structures are very advanced from what they once where. In fact here are some statements on this from other expert SEOs.

3 way linking is usually bad because most sites that need to use it are not worth linking at and do not have links which carry much link weight…

So now you understand that link exchanges are a poor means of link building. But many of you now I’m sure now have no idea what to do in order to obtain links. Well not to worry, there are so many methods of link building I would be hard pressed to leave 1/4 of them on this blog post. But so as not to leave you totally out in the dark I’ve provided a list of several currently effective link building techniques. Each has it’s own set of rules and scale of effectiveness, it’s up to you now to decipher which will work best for your site.

  1. Social Media Links - obtaining links through popular social media sites. Examples include Digg.com, flickr.com, wordpress.com
  2. Submit Articles - write informative articles and submit them to article directories and sites.
  3. Submit Press Releases - write or have someone a press release about your company and get it published on a PR site.
  4. Create a Useful Tool, Theme or Widget - come up with and create something that other would find interesting and useful enough to link back to you.

If you have any questions, need help or want someone to preform link building services for your website please feel free to contact us and we’ll give you a free consultation on what we can do to improve your link building.

Please link to this, spread the word, and feel free to email others this post when they send you link exchange requests. It’s the only way to stop yourself from receiving annoying link exchange requests and it will effectively help make better search results.