Last week a client ordered a competitive analysis report that I was just reviewing….
They gave us 3 phrases that they wanted us to analyze the top 10 sites for. The goal being so that their and our teams would know why these sites where ranked on the first page and to see what we can learn from these competitors so that we can rank on the first page too.
Wouldn’t ya know it… the phrases they gave me were “cheap widgets”, “discount widgets”, and “buy widgets” (not really widgets…but the cheap, discount and buy were real).
Simple enough…. well, until you see that 98% of the top 100 sites for those phrases are buying links to their website with these phrases (cheap widgets, etc) as the link text…
Natural link text like “cheap widgets” don’t happen much in the real world… and since it doesn’t happen much in the real world, it doesn’t take much… say like 1 link with that exact link text of “cheap widgets”…to instantly beat all the sites that don’t buy links. Now, if you’re in a market where over 100 people are buying links.. then he who buys the “best” links, with that exact anchor text, w/o getting “caught” is going to win that game….for as long as he doesn’t get caught.
And this client and their in house SEO doen’t want to get spanked by Google. Their in-house SEO used to work for another SEO company which worked with a Ticket site…and last year many of the ticket selling sites got spanked..and she doesn’t want that to happen at this company.
So buying links isn’t an option for them or for me.
So what can we do… we’ll… let’s look at the top 10 sites to see what we can learn from them…
hum…. 7 out of the top 10 don’t even have the word “cheap” on the page at all …this phrase only appear in links pointing to this page…hehe… and the average length of non-link text on these pages is 57 words…hehe… ok.. so should we do what the top 10 sites are doing… let’s not mention the phases, and don’t worry about content… just think about users… not the search engines… nope… I have to say..ok..here’s what the top 10 sites are doing.. but we’re not going to do that.. we’re going to put 500+ words on your homepage to get all the longtail we can off the homepage… we’re going to start writing content on product pages… where they don’t really need content… but god bless food for the search engines…..yea… that’s not what the top 10 sites are doing… because they’re buying links… but it’s what we have to do to compete with them.
The top 10 sites are all taking a risk by buying links… so, to compete, we make our clients buy content.. we give them all sorts of content.. content for homepages, content for product pages, content for common questions in the industry, content to help get links, etc, etc…. wonder if google will ban sites for buying content one day… hey… you didn’t write that content, you Bought It! You Bloody Bastard! ….I can see bots crawling the web with spam filters looking for words like “guest post” or “written by X” where X has to equal the site author…
opps….got off on a tangent there…where was I…oh, so can a non-link buyer compete for “cheap widgets”?… somewhat…Sure, we can optimize for those phrases 100% on the site…and that will help… but then there’s only so much value…once you’ve done your on page optimization …it’s done (though creating new content never ends).. now it’s down to backlinks… and if lots of other sites are buying that exact link text links, its going to make your dreams of getting into the top 10 a lot harder.
My end advice… don’t worry about these phrases or those sites… yes, they taught us we can utilize our site much better than they can. Keep writing (or having content written) for the site.. keep adding quality pages, and keep doing the things that are attracting natural permanent trust backlinks. Look at your website traffic, watch it increase over time as you keep doing this.
So do tell me We Build Pages Blog Reader…. If you’re targeting Rankings…
Do you prefer Fast and High Rankings for competitive phrases…with a risk….
or do you want slow and steady…keep writing…keep getting non-paid links…build up your trust methods of getting links?
What is your risk tolerance?
FYI… I can understand both sides of the coin here… don’t think I don’t… I’m Jim Boykin…not some white hat you may have seen on here before….and I’ve done almost everything when it comes to link building…and how I built links yesterday is not how I build them today…and how I build them today, will not be how I’ll be building them next year…it evolves…sometimes slowly, and sometimes faster..but I’ll probably be building links until the day I die…or until links don’t have a huge factor in rankings (which I don’t see coming any time soon).
Jim you nailed it… Slow and steady will make your life a lot less stressful whether it be for work, a client, or an affiliate site. While there are many questionable linking methods creating valuable content won’t do you wrong in the long term.
Great post Jim. (although it does not help my business over at LinkXL much, but we can still provide good links. ) you showed a great example of doing the right thing for the customer.
Good to see you blogging again, Jim.
Great post. Especially in competitive markets, risk evaluation and expectation management comes before any link building activity. I’ve seen companies that built two (or even more) websites, one for the quick & easy route, and one for the long white hat path.
But boy oh boy is it sometimes hard to sell. Everybody knows they must go slow. But nobody is actually patient enough. It HAS to go fast. But it can’t. People get it, but don’t (wanna) accept it. Such a dilemma. Well, some DO understand. And then it is a pleasure to work for them 🙂 (It’s no different in the german market.)
Fortune 500 firms are buying links, we know this and so does Google, but if Janie’s Flower Shop buys links, it is all kinds of penalties. And how does Google know it was not the competitor across the street? They don’t!
And how does Google know it was not the competitor across the street?
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