A lot of people asked me tons of questions in the past few months.
I’m gonna’ state some of them here, with the relevant answer that I would offer/offered :
Q1: I submitted my website to $#223@@ directories. Why is my PR only 4 ?
A: Web directories are a good way to build some links to your website, but they are not a high PR source. Only a few old, quality and established web directories have enough PR on their index page so that it can transfer PR to the category in which your website actually resides. Most of the usual day to day directories don’t even have PR on their third level.
You can only go to a PR5 or a PR6, as a maximum level IMHO, with a LOT of hard work, and by submitting your website to all the damn directories available worldwide, including DMOZ, Yahoo, Business.com, Microsoft SBD, Joeant and all the other great ones.
Web directory submissions are great as a starter action, to get your website indexed and to receive some keyword anchor weight for your website.
Q2: My website has a PR7 on it’s index. I have so much valuable and unique content. Why do my competitor’s websites outrank me ? My website is also older than theirs. One of my competitors has his website for a year. The other one has his website only one month ago.
A: First of all, please disregard PR when we are discussing search results ranking. Pagerank is just a result of your link building, primarily a results of your inbound links’s pagerank. It’s not a ranking factor.
The real answer is: Anchor text. What’s an anchor ? It’s this part of a text link :
It’s been so long (years) since original and unique content was king. Now all the major (Google emphases the anchor’s importance even more) search engines count the anchor text of an incoming link as the major ranking factor when ranking websites in their results.
As for your competitors… The one with the 1 year old domain, may be ranking higher than you because he has a lot of links towards his website/pages with an optimized anchor text.
If you optimize for green widgets, and you have links towards you with the anchor text blue frogs you’re nowhere near the top 50 results, guaranteed.
One other important fact about anchors: they are so important that i could get a blank page (o bytes) #1 in the search results, for any 20 mil. results keyword, if i have enough links pointing to the page, with a specific anchor.
Please note that a blue widgets link anchor will not count as much (actually it will count a hell of a lot less) as a widgets link anchor, if you want to optimize for widgets. So use the exact same keyword or keyphrase that you want to optimize for. Don’t just stick a lot of keywords in an anchor. It won’t do you good at all.
The competitor with the one month old website will be out of the top search results in one month or so, don’t worry. Every new website gets an extraordinary boost in Google, for the first 1-2 months, and then drops way low. If the owner slowly builds quality links towards it, and maintains the quality content, it will slowly grow in the SERPS over the next 6 to 12 months.
Q3: How the heck can I get more links ? I’ve done all I can do.
A: First of all, the art of link building is not just about buying links, doing link exchanges and submitting to article or web directories.
Actually those are the worst links you can get :). The best links are those natural links, gained from people who seen a quality resource, post, advice, tool, article and so on, on your website.
My advice to you : stop building/promoting websites for the search engines and think more about the visitors. Write controversial articles, interesting stories, good advices, offer a free service, put up a contest and so on. Stuff that helps and enlightens people.
Q4: Are those .edu and .gov links really that much more important ?
A: Well, yes. As a DMOZ link (since most of the DMOZ editors and other web users try to explain people that it’s not just like that, have a look at The ODP effect on search engines in Resource Zone) is much more important than a normal weblink, so is a link from an .edu or .gov website.
You’ll ask why ? Tell me when was the last time you saw a web directory/mortgage/replica watches/casino/insurance page on one of those TLD’s ?
I for one have seen a few, but those are really rare exceptions and end up been banned right away. Here’s a .edu directory spam case (which I described some time ago) that got banned, and here’s some other example of .edu domains getting spammed (and who lack maintenance).
It’s for this reason (the very low percentage of .edu and .gov domains that have spam on them) that Google places a much higher importance of a reference from there to your website.
In most cases, .edu and .gov domains have a very high PR too (they get heavy, quality high PR linkage), so that’s why most spammers haunt them and try new automated ways to spam, each day.
Q5: I keep doing a lot of site-wide links. Is that good ?
A: NO. Site-wides were extremly nice methods of gaining weight for certain keywords or keyphrases in the past. With today’s algorithms, you will loose a lot with site-wides. From indexed pages to rank in the search results.
If someone who owns a PR6 website with 100.000 indexed pages wants to offer you a site-wide links for free, just refuse it. If he can offer you a link only from the index page (and 2-3 other pages) than you’re a happy bastard. If not, decline to offer.
I would only recommend a site-wide, if all the links you will get from that website (count 1 IBL for 5 indexed pages) do not exceed 20% of your unique natural inbound links.