Small Business Marketing and Web Presence

Today I’m playing devil’s advocate. I’m offering up 3 options for fully automating your backlink building, but before we get started I want you to know a few things:

  1. I’ve tried all of these methods in a “testing” capacity, but don’t currently use them because I don’t approve of their methods.
  2. None of the links in this article are affiliate links because these products don’t have my full support.

That said, today’s post is for “educational” purposes only , should you ever find yourself, you know, lost in the woods and need to build a shelter from backlinks. Survival tactics, people, survival tactics.

WHY AUTOMATE?

So we know why backlinks are important to your blog, right? We’ve covered that territory before, but we’ll refresh by saying that, in a nutshell, search engines see each backlink (each link pointing to your blog) as one “vote” so the more votes you have, the better your search engine rank. Normally you would build these backlinks naturally by contacting other bloggers and spreading your content to people who would be interested and might link to it from their own site.

That strategy is great for someone like me. I’m in a niche that, for better or worse, is crowded. There’s no shortage of community and no shortage of potential links. But what if you’re in a smaller niche? Or in an affiliate saturated niche where everyone is your competition? Where do your links come from then? On the one hand, building backlinks with just the help of automated software sounds great.

On the other hand it sounds dangerously close to SPAM. And make no mistake: it is. But if you’re in one of the positions I mentioned and you have no where else to go for backlinks, one of these services might be a good fit for you.

LINKVANA

The first place you can turn is Linkvana. Linkvana offers you the chance to do something close to guest posting. Linkvana has gathered over the years a large number of blogs that it uses to generate backlinks for its subscribers. These blogs range in Pagerank and subject matter, but the idea is that you submit short “blog posts” of about 200-300 words with links pointing back to your blog and Linkvana will post these snippets around their blog network.

What I do like about Linkvana is that they put an emphasis on quality and originality. They encourage their subscribers not to just post the same old junk and not to copy and paste duplicate content. Their hearts are in the right place, but in practice it doesn’t mean much. When I tested Linkvana I found a few of the blogs they had posted my content on and was really turned off by their quality.

They’re nothing but shitty automated blog and it’s that kind of blog farming that is bringing the quality of some niches and the internet as a whole down. They’re full of spammy, shitty content and I can’t believe for a second that quality search engine’s like Google would be fooled.

There’s also a pretty steep price for Linkvana ($197 a month!) and the fact that the niche site I tested on saw no improvement in search rankings after 3 months. I chose to list Linkvana in this post only because I’ve had other niche bloggers tell me they’ve had great success with it. Me? I got nada so do with that information what you will.

BOOKMARKING DEMON

Social Bookmarking Demon is a piece of software that automates link building by helping you automatically submit your stuff to social bookmarking sites – sound great so far, right? The software creates accounts for you on 100+ social bookmarking sites and then automatically submits the web pages you give it to each site. All you have to do is provide the content and the answers to captchas when necessary.

It’s a cool idea and has some great features. I personally found it useful for driving traffic to articles I had submitted to Ezine Articles. For search engine ranking though, it’s pretty useless. But that’s not why I don’t recommend it. I don’t recommend Bookmarking Demon because it’s frickin’ SPAM and there’s no way around that.

The idea is to create multiple accounts on 100+ sites and constantly submit your content 100′s and 1,000′s of times. That’s SPAM and every feature Bookmarking Demon has is designed to keep your account from being detected and deleted as a Spammer (which happens constantly anyway). Plus of those 100 sites, most of them are crappy sites no one ever visits anyway. So why even include this software on the list?

  1. It’s high quality software for what it does.
  2. When used in a non-Spammy way, it can be great for spreading your normal social bookmarking practices farther.

But make no mistake, most people aren’t using it in non-Spammy ways.

ARTICLE MARKETING AUTOMATION

Article Marketing Automation is Linkvana for article marketing. The idea with AMA is that you write a unique article about your specific niche, then you manually go in and “spin” the content. Spinning means that you go through each sentence of your article and provide different alternative wordings.

You can give alternate sentences or words, but the idea is that once the article is “spun,” AMA’s software will choose each alternative at random and create a brand new, “unique” article every time. Once again it sounds great, right? Work hard up front, have unlimited unique content from one article and then AMA will spread that unique content among its content providers.

I did like AMA over Linkvana for two reasons:

  1. You manually spin the content instead of using an automated software so you control the quality of the alternatives.
  2. AMA content spreaders choose what they want to publish so higher quality articles are rewarded.

I did see some improvement in ranking and traffic when I tested AMA and the much lower price point is welcome, but I’m not wild about spinning articles. To do it well requires a lot of time and in my experience I’ve found that one high quality article submitted to the right place can beat the pants off 50 mediocre spun articles spread far and wide. But, if you must, I would recommend AMA over any other automating service.

BUT REMEMBER…

No matter what marketing and backlink methods you use remember one thing: quality matters above all else. Backlinks might win search positions some of the time, but quality content that readers love will get high search position every time. Use a service like Article Marketing Automation with great quality content and you’ll improve human traffic as well as search rankings. Use it to spread shit and, no matter how far and wide you spread it, it will still be shit.

The bottom line is this: don’t be a part of the problem. Quality is rewarded and SPAM is punished. Good stuff rises to the top and makes money, bullshit stays exactly where bullshit ought to stay. But, should you ever find yourself alone in the woods with nothing but your blog and one of these services, do what Bear Grylls would do: drink your pee and build backlinks.

3.5 TITLE TAG TWEAKS THAT CAN BOOST YOUR SEARCH ENGINE PERFORMANCE

Search engine optimization isn’t sexy. There’s no two ways about that. It’s humdrum and aggravating and a lot like sacrificing a virgin to a really pissy god who may or may not destroy your harvest. All hail the great fire-dragon, Google!

But, hey, it’s gotta be done and it’s gotta be talked about because damn it, it’s important. SEO, not virgin sacrifice, we don’t have to talk about that. Today let’s look at some simple, but important, tweaks you can use to help your blog perform better in the search engines.

1. KEYWORDS ARE A NECESSARY EVIL

Making sure that your site’s target keywords are in your title tag is a must. It’s the fastest way for Google to categorize your site and put you in the proper place. We’ve talked before about cracking Google’s secret algorithm and how keywords alone won’t rank you number one, but this step is so basic that bloggers sometimes miss it.

The first step in Google’s process is to figure out what your blog is talking about. To do that it uses title tags, among other things, so try not to make Google work too hard to put you in the right spot. Give it the right keywords to categorize you quickly. But of course Google isn’t going to read your stuff, so you also have to think about catching your reader’s attention with your title, which brings us to #2.

2. SEPARATE YOUR HEADLINES FROM YOUR TITLES

Title tags aren’t headlines and headlines are title tags. What captures the attention of a blog reader isn’t what captures the attention of a searcher. People go to Google looking for clear, specific answers. Blog visitors are looking for the interesting and eye-catching. To cater to both of their needs, use WordPress’ custom title tag feature to separate the two.

This way you can keep your headlines attention-getting and provocative while keeping your title tags keyword rich, search engine optimized and highly targeted.

3. PUT YOUR SITE’S NAME IN THE TITLE TAG

Add your blog’s name at the end of all your title tags (for a good example of this just check out the title tag of this post). This not only helps with brand recognition but with keyword association as well. As your following grows you’ll begin to pull more visitors from search engines as people recognize that content from your site is high quality.

If you use a WordPress framework theme like Thesis or Genesis you can do this easily with built in options. If you don’t use a theme like Thesis, you can always play around in the code of your WordPress header.

3.5  IF IT’S IMPORTANT, IT GOES UP FRONT

This one is pretty important so I thought I’d throw it in as a bonus: Testing has shown over and over that putting your keywords at the front of your title tags can improve your search engine rankings. It also improves click through rates since putting the keywords up front means that the search engine will put those terms in bold, attracting visitor attention.

DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS

No, SEO still isn’t sexy. I know everybody likes to talk about getting more traffic or making more money, but you have to make sure you’re covering these small SEO details. It’s part of owning an online business and you can’t really afford not to pay attention to these details since they are what will help drive more traffic toward your site and make you more money.

For more ways (and sexier ways ) of improving your online business results, why not subscribe to the free bi-monthly newsletter?