It seems like everyone pitches the same “tips” for conducting good SEO, “Make sure you only build natural backlinks“, try to focus on “gaining natural followers” and “never pay for any links”. While these fundamental aspects of SEO are certainly true, many people find them difficult (if not impossible) to achieve. Tutorials, guides and blogs often fail to provide actionable tips on how to actually acquire these natural links to rank your sites using legitimate tactics.
Fortunately, I’ve complied a list of the five best kept secrets that will certainly provide an overwhelming boost to the rankings of your site. Many of the top SEOers in the nation are well aware of these secrets, but refrain from spreading the word about them, (they fear that their value will be diluted). While SEO takes a considerable amount of practice, following these tips will make your life drastically easier.
The Five Greatest SEO Secrets:
- Google HEAVILY relies on “User Metrics” (Bounce Rate & Time on Site)
- Natural links and anchor text cannot rank a website for competitive keywords
- You can pay for links without “paying” for links
- Proper On-Site SEO is more important than backlinks
- Finding high volume & low competition keywords is KEY.
Google is Using User Metrics
Matt Cutts and many members of the Google webspam team claim that they do not collect user metric data for ranking purposes. However, numerous case studies and correlation data show that the exact opposite is true.
Here is an example of how they may collect this data:
When you quickly click a website then use the back button to return back to the SERPs, something interesting happens. A small snippet appears next to the website that you clicked. Low dwell times (time on site) is the direct cause of Google’s “Block all results from example.com?” snippet to appear. Although Google claims that they do not directly use time on site as a ranking metric, they certainly use it as a form of quality control.
Which User Metrics Count?
- Dwell Time
- Time on Site
- Number of Long Tail keywords getting clicks
- Amount of searches for “branded” keywords
Natural Links CANNOT Rank a Website
As a leading SEO agency, we are very big on promoting “linkbait” as a legitimate way of gaining natural links. However, no matter how many links you build, you need manipulated anchor text to rank a website. Anchor text is an extremely powerful signal that simply cannot be obtained from natural links.
While you certainly should focus on building natural links, you can still control the anchor text through guest posting, webmaster outreach, viral media campaigns, and paying for blog reviews.
You Can “Pay” For Natural Links
Paid links involve logging into a link sharing network and selecting which links you want, with what anchor text you want. These networks often show numerous “footprints” to Google, and thus, are bad for long term SEO. Buying these links is bad.
That being said, there are many legitimate ways to buy natural links that are actually endorsed by Google. For example, webmaster outreach is a legitimate tactic to gain natural links. Offer a webmaster an incentive to post a link to you. Tell them you will do some SEO work for free, or better yet… offer to write a guest post. Hire someone to do this outreach for you, pay them on a commission structure. At my agency, we pay our staff $10/link for each natural link that they build. Most of our consultants and link builders are able to build 2-3 natural links per hour with good outreach strategies.
Proper On-Site SEO is CRUCIAL
Many SEO companies charge extraordinarily high fees to big brands and fortune 500 companies that are seeking better rankings. What these agencies fail to explain is that the “on-site” SEO plays a huge role in ranking. You can have 6000 natural, organic referring domains but still fail to rank if you do not properly build your website.
Make sure you do all of the following:
- Use your Keyword as the H1 & Title Tag
- Use the exact keyword in the article a few times
- Adding images with good alt text
- Turn on SEO friendly URL’s
- Add content frequently
- Add Schema.org tags to gain rich snippets
Finding Good Keywords is KEY
Keyword research is the practice of determining what keywords you will be focusing a website around. These are the keywords that you will use throughout the articles you write. These are the keywords that you want the site to rank for. But most importantly, these are the keywords that will be physically driving visitors to your site.
In order to actually see increased and conversions from SEO, you MUST target good keywords. There is a very high amount of human psychology involved in analyzing which keywords will drive qualified visitors.
Let’s say you write a blog on the meaning of life. After doing your keyword research, you found out that the keyword “what is life science” is extremely easy to rank for. Since it has a high search volume and is easy to rank for, you focused on getting that number one spot. Well… Guess what… It does not matter if your blog ACTUALLY has the answer to the meaning of life, your blog will fail. It will fail because the visitors coming to your site were not looking for the meaning of life, they were looking for “what is life science”.
4 Ways to Build Natural Links
Establish relationships with bloggers and create a schedule of days that you will be posting guest posts on their blogs. You can hire a content writer to create the content if you do not have enough free time.
Get a list of E-mails of the owners of blogs in your niche. Message them, or create a tool to message them. Offer some sort of incentive for posting a link to you. Offer to do a press release for their website.
Submit your site to free social sharing sites. There are many. Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Visually are some great ones to start with.
Submit free press releases to announce the launch of new products or business developments.
While natural SEO can be tough, knowing the insider secrets can certainly help. Black hat tactics often fail to work in highly competitive niches, but using work arounds to gain “natural” links does. The above 5 tips are just the start of the many tricks to the SEO industry. If you are interested in learning more about these, feel free to give me a call anytime. My contact information can be found on my website.
About Guest Author:
Jesse Leimgruber – Jesse is currently studying Computer Science at Stanford University and the CEO and Founder of Rank Executives, an SEO Agency that offers professional link buidling services and free SEO consulting.