Q) What should I write about?
A) The same sorts of things you’d write about in your blog. (See ‘Writing useful, unique blog posts’
Q) How long should my article be?
A) The same length as a blog post.
Q) How often should I submit?
A) Whenever you write an article.
Q) What kind of writing should I use?
A) The same style as you’d use for a blog post.
Q) Should I focus on keywords?
A) Yes! Optimize your articles just as you optimize your website. If possible, turn a few keywords into links back to a relevant page on your site. And always try to include keywords in the headline and byline of your article.
Q) Do I need to vary the byline?
A) Preferably. The search engines prefer varied anchor text in links back to your site, because that’s how naturally generated links look.
Q) Should I always link to my home page or should I also link to other pages?
A) Link back to the most relevant page. This makes the most sense to visitors, and will be the most beneficial from a search perspective because that page will tend to contain the same keywords as the article. My earlier suggestion to link back to the original article in your bio actually has another benefit. These links are considered ‘deep links’ – because the articles are nested relatively deep within your site structure. These are exactly the kind of links that the search engines like to see, because they suggest your site has good quality content right down through its hierarchy.
Q) Where should I submit my article?
A) If you’re using content syndication only to supplement your other link building strategies, I’d recommend you stick to just the most popular and relevant 5-10 article directories and the most popular and relevant 5-10 distribution lists.
Q) How long does it take to submit a single article?
A) It all depends on how many sites you submit it to. It can take 1-3 days to submit a single article to 300-odd submission sites and distribution lists. But if you’re only submitting to the top 5-10 article directories and the top 5-10 distribution lists, it should only take you a couple of hours.
Q) Who will publish my article?
A) There are hundreds of thousands (maybe even millions) of companies publishing blogs, online newsletters, ezines and article pages. No matter what your industry, you’re bound to find quite a few who are interested in what you have to say. Note, however, that your article will also be published by a lot of search engine spammers.
Q) How will I know when my article has been published?
A) Set up a Google Alert (http://www.google.com/alerts) that notifies you when your URL has been published on a web page. You can also set up an alert for a specific phrase from within your article – something unique that’s unlikely to be used anywhere else. Whenever you receive an alert, you can visit the page to make sure the article is unchanged and the link back to your site is functioning (and it’s tagged as a ‘follow’ link).
Q) Will the publisher change my article?
A) No, generally not. Changing articles is just extra work. I’ve had my articles published thousands of times, and don’t recall a single instance of an article being changed without my permission.
Q) Should I post my article on my website?
A) Yes. In fact, ideally, you’ll be drawing your articles from your blog posts.
Q) Will my reputation suffer if my article appears on a dubious site?
A) No. People recognize spammy sites for what they are; they know the articles they contain are written by someone totally unrelated.
Q) Do links from dubious sites adversely affect my ranking?
A) The short answer is no. In Google’s words: “In general, you don’t have to worry about bad links like that which point to your site that aren’t under your control.” (Quoted from Google Answers Some Tricky Questions at WebProNews)
Leveraging 404 links
Google Webmaster Tools tracks all links that point to a page on your site that no longer exists. These links are called ‘404 links’. These links are wasted PageRank, so you should add a 301 redirect for each.
To identify your site’s 404 links:
- Log in to Google Webmaster Tools
- Go to Diagnostics > Web crawl
- Click Not found, and you’ll see a list of the URLs
- These URLs are the non-existent pages that the incoming links are pointing to
- Create a 301 redirect for each of these URLs
TIP: If the URLs point to a post on your WordPress blog, you can redirect using the Redirect plugin for WordPress. (See ‘To redirect URLs’ on redirecting for WordPress blogs.)
‘Legal’ link buying
Rand Fishkin, head-honcho over at SEOmoz, wrote a great blog post in November 2008 about how to ‘legally’ buy links. I won’t attempt to re-hash it all here. You’ll be far better of hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth!
Wiep Knol advocates another interesting (if slightly predatory tactic): monitoring for bankruptcies and acquiring their sites. These sites may already have an established online presence (i.e. established PageRank and no risk of Sandbox), and if relevant, could provide some valuable backlinks. (Alternatively they could, as Rand suggests, be rolled into your own site with 301 redirects.) Slide eight of his slideshow from SMX London 2008 includes tips for finding these bankruptcies.
- Use link ‘generation’ methods only to supplement your natural link ‘baiting’.
- Look for natural link partners.
- Submit your site to some directories.
- Check where your competitors’ links are coming from.
- Syndicate content (but cease if it undermines your link baiting strategy).
- Leverage 404 links.
- Investigate ‘legal’ link buying.
- Don’t use auto-link-generation software.
- Don’t set up websites simply to host links to your main site.
- ONLY use content of the highest quality for content syndication.
- Add your site to DMOZ & Yahoo Directories.
- Submit your site to local and industry directories (but don’t spend too much time on it).
- Look for link partners (but don’t spend too much time on it).
- Link generation takes a long time no matter how you do it.