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Niche Site Duel 005: My Backlinking Boo-Boo

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Niche Site Duel 005: My Backlinking Boo-Boo

By Pat Flynn on  | 

Backlinks, or links to your website from another, are the key to moving up the ranks of search engines.

What’s important to realize though is that it’s the quality of those backlinks that really matter, not the quantity. By quality, I mean backlinks from other websites that primarily have a high Google PageRank (PR).

To be honest with you, SEO is not my forte. After spending the last week or so reading some tremendously helpful threads on the Warrior Forum, specifically the 40 Day Challenge – Top 5 in Google Within 40 Days thread by Joseph Archibald (warning: it’s 19 thread pages long and literally sucked 6 hours of my time this past week reading the entire thing two times over – yes, it’s that good), I feel like I now know how I can intelligently increase my ranking in Google.

Unfortunately, I read this thread a couple of weeks too late. I had already done some things to my niche site that you should never do:

I was scouring the Digital Point Forums and ran across a thread that was titled: [WTS] Professional and Quality Manual Directory Submissions Service Fast – Slow – GUARANTEED. Basically, this is a person who is selling (WTS = want to sell) a service that will submit your website url to hundreds of website directories, manually, with the option of doing it all at once, or submitting them slowly (aka. dripping) at maybe 50 a day. Because I had manually submitted to directories before without a hitch, I thought it might be smart to take advantage of this offer so that I could spend more time writing articles for article directories.

Not smart. A backlinking boo-boo, if you will. Looking back, I don’t know why I went through with it, because I didn’t do it on other successful niche sites that I’ve gotten to rank on the first page. Maybe it was because I wanted things to happen fast…but you can’t speed up stuff like SEO, or else you’re going to get penalized.

What I later found out is that submitting to directories such as these is totally meaningless. There are only 2 directories that matter for SEO purposes – the Yahoo Directory, and DMOZ (these are the two directories that you see in the SEO competition module of Market Samurai).

Unfortunately for most of us, we’re not going to end up on these directories. The Yahoo Directory costs $299 just to apply, and if your site does not get accepted you don’t get your money back. And DMOZ, well, it’s virtually impossible to get on anymore. I’m guessing the manual approval process they use is backed up at least 5 years worth of applications. If, however, you can get a link back from a site that is listed in either one of those directories, some of that powerful link juice will spill through to your website and you will rank higher. Ok, I’m getting a bit of subject here. Back to my stupidity…

So like I said, mass submitting to directories doesn’t help at all.

The real question is, does it hurt you?

By submitting to hundreds of directories in a short period of time, you’re not only building a large number low quality backlinks to your site (which can lessen the impact of high-quality backlinks coming to your site), but you’re basically announcing to Google that something is going on.

Now, there is some debate as to whether getting a massive load of links in a short period of time will hurt your site. I don’t think it hurts you directly because just think of all of the viral articles that get massive backlinks on a daily basis, from places like Digg and other social networks and bookmarking sites. Those articles actually pop up to the top of Google relative to their keyword, so obviously a load of links doesn’t hurt them. Plus, if this were the case, I could easily blow away my competition in this niche site challenge by buying a mass load of links and pointing them to their sites instead of mine. There would be so much arbitrage going on, it just wouldn’t be right.

What I do think can happen is that Google will pay closer attention to your site, and if it looks like you’re just trying to cheat the system, you’re going to get penalized.

I don’t know for sure, but I have this gut feeling that my niche site may be temporarily “sandboxed”. The sandbox effect is just a theory, but many website owners (especially owners of new sites who try to speed things up), experience this phenomenon where no matter what SEO tactics and strategies you use, their site doesn’t really go anywhere. Maybe I’m just a little impatient and my site is fine and well on it’s way to where it should be, but my site has been slow to move lately despite natural SEO tactics.

Plus, it doesn’t help that my competitors are ranking much much higher than I am at the moment. Yes, we’re in different niches, and honestly I shouldn’t even worry about the numbers and rankings at this point, but I can’t help it. Tyrone and his niche site are sitting at #15, and Mark from MasonWorld.com is sitting at #10. (Kudos to both of them!)

Nothing really matters until one of us hits maybe the top 5 spots in Google, which is where the traffic and money really are. I will get there, especially because I’m super stoked about my content strategy, which after publishing last week helped me figure out a very profitable monetization plan…but more on that later.

Luckily, getting sandboxed is kind of like getting a warning or a “time-out”. What would be the “end-all” would be if my site were de-indexed, which I could tell by typing “site:url.com” (with no spaces) in Google and seeing absolutely no results. When your site is de-indexed, it’s pretty much gone for good. You’ll have to have done some nasty stuff to make that happen though, and trust me, I’m not even going to try.

(Note: your site has to be indexed first before it can be de-indexed. If you just started a site and you don’t see it there just yet, don’t worry, Google just hasn’t picked it up yet!)

I’ve read and been told that if I continue to do what I’m doing (which I’ll get into more detail in the next post), I should climb out of the sandbox and be placed much higher in the rankings. As to when this will happen, I’m not sure, but I know it will.

The lesson here: don’t be tempted to pay for services like the one I used. You get what you pay for, and you can climb the ranks of Google without having to take any shortcuts.

Before I go, let me remind you that I’m not an expert at niche sites, so go easy on me. Again, I want to keep things honest with you so that you can learn from my mistakes and we can all learn what works and what doesn’t together.

If you’re itching for backlinking strategies (and don’t have 6 hours to read the 40 Day Challenge thread I mentioned earlier), check out Tyrone’s latest post where he shares some of his. They are similar to what I will be talking about on Wednesday.

Thanks for your support! Cheers!

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