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Playing the Google Search Game: How to Rank High in Google

Playing the Google Search Game: How to Rank High in Google

By Pat Flynn on

Editor’s Note: My recommended backlinking strategy changes frequently in order to keep up with Google’s evolving search algorithm. You can find the most up-to-date backlinking strategy here. (Updated 10/2015)

Joseph ArchibaldI’m honored today to publish a guest post by Joseph Archibald of There are a lot of people I respect online, but I must say that Joseph is right up there at the top for me.

You may recognize him from his presence within the comment section of my post entitled The Backlinking Strategy that Works, which currently has 511 comments.

65 of those comments are his.


Because the backlinking strategy that I shared with you in my most popular post to date was inspired and modeled after his own strategy that he generously shared free to the public in his 40 Day Challenge on the Warrior Forum. He was able to rank a fairly competitive niche in the top 5 in Google within 40 days.

(For everyone’s convenience, he has also since published The 40 Day Challenge eBook, which is a lot easier to read than the 1200 posts on the Warrior Forum. Check out his sample chapter here.)

He’s taken it upon himself to be totally active here on SPI and respond to everyone’s questions and concerns about the backlinking strategy, which just shows what kind of guy he is.


So, I’m happy to share his latest thoughts about ranking high in Google – especially after Google’s latest algorithm changes. Here’s what the expert has to say:

You may be wondering about the future of your Google organic search rankings for any one of the following reasons:

  • Maybe you have had some of your own sites ‘hit’ by the latest of Google algorithm updates
  • Maybe you know others who have had a serious dent made to their internet marketing income due to suffering a number of web page de-rankings in Google recently
  • Or maybe you are simply concerned that if you put in a lot of effort in ranking your sites, perhaps utilizing my own strategy which Pat very nicely laid out in his post The Backlinking Strategy that Works, is there any guarantee that you will STILL achieve high rankings in Google search?

All thoroughly valid points and credible concerns!

And so, what I would like to do in this post is to try to answer some of those concerns and furthermore, make some speculations as to what may occur in the future as far as ranking in Google’s organic search goes.

I must emphasize however that this is indeed speculation on my part. Unless I were a Google employee and working within their algorithm department up there on the 25th floor or some place, there is no way to know for sure what may occur in the coming months and years with regards to which type of website or webpages will rank well, and which variety of methods will help rankings in Google’s search results. And from this point of view, please remember these are merely educated theories and presumptions. You are for sure entitled to your opinion and do please share those opinions by leaving a comment.

Okay, so what has happened recently in Google search and where are things sitting right now just after their most recent algorithm updates, which have been termed “Big Panda” by Google (named after one of their staff who came up with the gist of the latest update, apparently) and termed as “The Farmer” by many search engine optimization folks because many of them decided that Google were targeting and penalizing content farms above all else.

How to Rank High in GoogleOne thing is for sure – a lot of non-unique content has been de-ranked. After all, Google did state that rankings for “low-quality” sites such as those utilizing copied content would be given a reduction of ranking penalty. And I can vouch for that occuring myself because I had a number of my own sites deranked in Google search for infringing on this issue. Naughty, naughty Joseph!

What to do?

Have a good grumble and get it out of your system, pick up the pieces and then move along and re-focus, is what I suggest. But its not just about that. It’s also a very good chance to stand back, take a well-deserved breath of fresh air (holiday if you can), think through your whole business philosophy, and come back stronger than ever before!


Those highly successful people in our society will tell you exactly the same.

What else has taken place besides the ‘dumping’ of a lot of non-unique content in Google search?

Well, lets get down to the nitty gritty for a bit and then focus on the bigger picture.

It appears that Squidoo has been left reasonably unaffected. You may remember or be aware of the fact that just over 2 years ago Google had a go at Squidoo lenses and many were penalized and deranked in search. But that does not appear to have happened this time around. The Squidoo management “cleaned up their act” and brought in a more stringent criteria set for those of us who utilize Squidoo to abide by.

Ezinearticles has for a long while been a darling of Google search (Google search US anyhow – they do not rank nearly as well in the likes of Hence the great successes of the interestingly termed “bum marketing method” where internet marketers simply targeted lots of lower end keyword phrases by writing articles for ezinearticles publication, and ranked those phrases highly in Google US with little to no backlinking.

Under ConstructionHowever, this time around ezinearticles have been hit bad and many ezinearticles publishers have found that their own submissions have lost rankings in Google’s search. (Ezinearticles has already introduced a new criteria for article submissions, which makes things a lot tougher than at any time previously).

Why is this so? Well, it’s open for tons of speculation, but there certainly could be a lot of truth in the fact that ezinearticles receives copious amounts of affiliate-type articles (articles that are targeted at selling affiliate products). There appears to be certain keyword terms that have been targeted by the recent algorithm updates as being spammy and not really the sort of content that Google would wish to have within their search index. Some of those terms are in the following niches:

  • acai berry
  • male “enhancement”
  • using PC for television
  • reverse cell phone lookup
  • how to get your ex back

You no doubt recognize most of those keyword terms/niches as being very highly targeted on the Clickbank marketplace.

Now, how about HubPages?

It very much appears that HubPages have been hit by Google also. But why so when there are not so many Hubbers intent on focusing upon such affiliate programs as those listed above for example?

Well, again – this is open to speculation and you could argue, just as Jennifer Ledbetter (the Pot Pie Girl) has very intelligently done so, that Google no longer appreciates the fact that HubPage management makes you jump through hoops before you achieve do-follow links from your Hubs. This is exactly the reason why I hit out at HubPages and discussed my reasoning for not using them in a backlinking campaign such as the Warrior Forum 40 Day Challenge. We want a relatively speedy work momentum and we don’t want to be having to jump through hoops in achieving our backlinks. Some would argue that a link from Hubs is more powerful, but this now is open to thorough deliberation.

And it appears that Google “may” have decided that the internet should not be about masses of no-follow tag insertion, but should be much more about do-follow attributes being used within our links. Again, this is open to interpretation and argument and there is no true concrete foundation in this argument.

So, with this all being said and witnessed (and grumbled about), how do we continue to progress with our own Google rankings – now and in future?

My own thoughts go along these lines.

We can continue to use article marketing (including, web 2.0 community sites, blog commenting and so forth, but we should be aware that Google are continuing to tighten up on what they define as “quality” and what they want to see within their attempts to formulate the internet with regards to organic search.

Try to put yourself in the eyes of Google here. If you “controlled” a big chunk of internet search and you were intent on out-doing your competitors by increasing the amount of searchers who use your interface (and thus vastly increase profits), how would you go about this?

If it were me, I would reduce the amount of content that is either the same or very similar from my search results. Thus if I were an affiliate marketer, I would be very wary of working with the most commonly targeted affiliate programs (Clickbank being the largest culprit here by far!).

I would be quite happy with spun content however. The spinning of quality content to make it highly unique adds value to the web on the whole. If I personally am gaining value from a certain article that I read in Go Articles for example, then I see no harm in the fact that the same topic has been introduced to lots of other article directories but that the content has been eloquently re-written. After all, I may have a preference for reading my articles in Go Articles, where someone else much prefers Article Dashboard or whatever.

I would also suggest, as previously mentioned and most of us agree to this already, that the use of non-unique content is not a good idea. Its not what Google wants to see and they have made that all the more clear in their recent routing of a whole mass of such content within their indexing system.

How about “thin” sites?

What are “thin” sites?

These are sites that do not have much content added. So for example, you would term a website with only a few pages of content as being “thin”.

My thoughts about these sites is that they can indeed add value to the internet, and thus to penalize such a site in Google search would be – well, stupid! If I read a super article on a site that has 5 pages of content, why should this site as a whole be penalized in terms of ranking? If I visited a site that had 100 pages and found nothing of any real value, then why should this site not potentially be penalized?

I rest my case.

But what about this whole thing of achieving high rankings in Google search?

My own thinking on this is that we should be more and more focusing in on the sort of stats that Google Analytics provides us with and focusing in more and more on achieving higher Alexa rankings.

Forget about the Google Page Rank thing. You will not necessarily achieve high rankings because your site’s home page is a Google PR6. You will still very possibly be outranked by a number of Google PR0’s and PR 1’s. Thus, its very wise to focus more on visitor retention, which in turn will tend to mean that your visitors read more than a single page of content upon any one visit.

Although I would say that this is not entirely necessary. After all, if you write a thoroughly engaging blog post on your site that takes the average reader 8 mintues to get through, then this its far more important for said blog visitor to read much if not all of that page, rather than fly from one page to another because they cannot find anything of value (this may be different on a large product site however).

And this then also relates to visitor returns. If your content is engaging enough or is offering good value in one way or another, then no doubt your visitors will return time and again. There are of course exceptions to the rules here – as mentioned, product related sites may not gain the same visitor retention, but they could see a very high rate of visitor returns.

And what about gaining masses of backlinks, which is supposed to prove that your site is popular and thus will gain rankings?

I would suggest to you that Google will slowly but surely be looking for more qualitative links. By that I mean that they will be assessing much more who links to your site – is the backlink coming from a site within the same broad niche to your own which also offers up quality content? I cannot imagine for the life of me that they (Google) will continue to value mass forum profile backlinks. I do not see how this proves any form of content value.

Article directory submissions and web 2.0 community type sites will continue to offer valuable backlinks also. It’s obvious to Google that we as internet marketers (over-) utilize article directory submissions and web 2.0 community pages, but I suspect that they will not penalize us for doing so, unless we enter the “mass affiliate market places” which seem to be now discriminated against by Google.

What about social “media” sites and how do they fit in with potential for ranking our own websites and blogs?

By social “media” I am indeed referring to the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to name the big 3.

There is little doubt that these sites will be playing a larger and larger role within the internet as a whole, and from this point of view it’s thoroughly sensible to contemplate how we can gain higher ground by grasping onto their coat-tails in some way.

It’s obvious that using Twitter and Facebook etc. in itself can benefit your business. It’s big business building up a Facebook fan page or whatever its called these days, and if you can funnel the popularity of your fan page (or Twittering habits) to your website, then you will for sure be better off for doing so.

I think that Google (and of course Yahoo Search, Bing, etc.) will be seeing this as a sign of true value, and thus this will help to rank your site accordingly. Google algorithms may not have the “intelligence” just yet to determine how to figure the social “media” funneled visitor flow but if they do not as yet, then they will do in future. After all, these huge social “media” sites are far too powerful a presence to simply ignore.

In summary, the key thing here is to ask yourself what YOU would do if you “owned” a large part of the internet search results, but your competition was intent on gaining ground on that ownership? What would you do to stave off your competition, and by doing so make the best return on your investments? By thinking along these lines and seeing and sensing things from Google’s perspective, you’ll be enhancing your own abilities to play the Google search game better and better by way of ranking your webpages and websites all the higher in search, and thus attracting a greater proportion of searchers to enjoy and benefit from your content.

I wish you every success!

Joseph Archibald's 40 Day Challenge eBookPat here.

I owe a lot to Joseph for showing me the ways when it comes to implementing a backlinking strategy that really does work. His 40 Day Challenge Case Study helped me achieve a #1 ranking for my very first niche site, which is currently earning an average of $30 per day, and I’ve achieved 1st page rankings for all of the niche sites I’ve attempted since then.

As a result of his generosity, and because I know first hand that the strategies in his case study work, I’m more than happy to recommend his eBook.

If you’ve benefited from Joseph’s backlinking strategy from him or myself, or if you’re just cracking into niche sites for the first time, I highly recommend picking up his 40 Day Challenge eBook. Yes – you can get that information for free on the Warrior Forum, but the thread is 1200 posts long on 24 pages (I’m not exaggerating – check it out for yourself here), and the eBook is much easier to read.

I’m sure Joseph will be around to answer any questions that you have about his guest post, his 40 Day Challenge and his eBook.

Thanks, and have a wonderful week. Cheers!

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