Day 11 - Off-Page SEO

Ryuzaki

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Today we will discuss Off-Page SEO, a very critical aspect of search engine optimization that helps your site rank and receive organic traffic.

Introduction

Although it's one of the more technically simple aspects of SEO (and can even be done without ever doing it!) off-page SEO is perhaps the most confusing aspect for newcomers. What worked even one year ago doesn't work today. What was safe yesterday will get your site penalized tomorrow. What's a Builder to do?

The first step to understanding off-page SEO, often called link building but that doesn't tell the whole story by a long shot, is to understand the three types. Any definition someone creates can have holes poked in it, because these three types or areas all blend and bleed into each other. So don't get caught up in the particulars. Just seek to understand the concepts, and they are...

White Hat
Technically, any type of link building is manipulation of the SERPs. So the proper way to think about White Hat off-page SEO is to think of the term link acquisition instead of link building. The goal here is to simply be an internet marketer who knows how to produce top quality content and put it in front of the right people in order to attract links and social signals. A white hat link acquirer doesn't care about concepts such as no-follow, do-follow, anchor text, etc. They just keep promoting and allow the nature of the web to run it's course.

This is the safest type of off-page SEO and usually the most powerful due to it's ability to acquire links on the most powerful websites online.​

Grey Hat
The color grey is a mixture of white and black, which is exactly what Grey Hat off-page SEO does. Typically, it's someone with the capability of performing White Hat marketing but with the impatience or the ability to play it more risky. When you hear of topics such as Tiered Link Building and Private Blog Networks, this is usually an attempt to be Grey. This means you usually present a clean layer of links (or what appears to be clean) and then power those links up with Black Hat efforts hoping that this buffer layer will keep you safe.

This may provide more longevity than than Black Hat tactics and quicker results than White Hat efforts, but the castle does eventually come crashing down.​

Black Hat
In the general world of SEO, Black Hat typically refers to spamming links where ever possible. But those serious about achieving results without earning them will go as far as to hack other websites and inject their links. They may bribe editors of large websites to insert links for them or even blackmail individuals. If you wanted to summarize Black Hat tactics, you could say that any activity meant to manipulate the rankings of the search engines are included, whether they are fairly innocent or completely nefarious.

This used to be a viable method to earning a lot of money very fast, and still is, but Google has become increasingly effective in making sure these campaigns take long enough to become effective that they are caught before much money is made. You should never apply these tactics to your long-term assets. They will crash and burn quickly.
In general, we are going to focus on White Hat SEO in this guide, although we will introduce you to Grey and Black principals and tactics, largely so you know what to avoid. If you're interested in making fast money, cheating the search engines is no longer the best approach. You'll find yourself most enticed by our discussion on Pay Per Click advertising and media buying in the future days.



The Terms You Should Know

Before full-blown discussion and guidance can be offered, you need to understand certain terms and their definitions. We're going to cover those now.

Page Rank
This is a metric created by the founders of Google that allowed them to dominate the search industry, named after Larry Page but fittingly since it is a measure of the power of each web-page on the internet. Every webpage creates out of thin air a small amount of "Page Rank Juice." When a page links to another webpage, it passes some of this juice (estimated around 70% of it's total). So naturally pages that receive more links receive more juice and rank higher. This is an important ranking factor, but only one of hundreds.

It is a logarithmic scale that measures a page from PR 0 to PR 10, where a PR1 is exponentially more powerful than a PR 0, and so on.


This metric used to be public facing but hasn't been updated publicly in over a year at the time of this writing, due to it's contribution to helping spammers find target domains and pages to use.

Do-Follow & No-Follow
These are relational attributes that exist on HTML anchor tags. These are your two options. By default all links are do-follow and don't need to be explicitly stated as such. Do-follow links DO flow page rank juice to the destination page.


No-follow links do NOT pass page rank juice. Links must be explicitly coded as no-follow or they will default to do-follow. There is a lot of misconception regarding no-follow links. They do allow page rank juice to flow through them, but that juice never makes it to the destination link. Some people believe that a no-follow link acts as a plug allowing you to preserve page rank juice. This is incorrect. You still leak the juice, it just doesn't boost the page you link to.

This was created as a way for webmasters to link to websites without "voting for them" in a positive fashion. It is also meant to be used on any user-generated links that aren't controlled by the webmaster, and therefore not votes for higher ranking.

Trust / Quality Metrics
While it's not clear exactly what makes up these factors, we know they exist. Generally we accept that they include items such as content without grammatical and syntactical mistakes, factual statements, source citations, contact information, etc. Anything you would expect out of a real institution contributes to being trusted and perceived as quality. For instance, an eCommerce website with a security certificate is going to be more trusted than one without.

Authority Juice
This is also a difficult metric to measure that nonetheless exists. It is why Edu and Gov links tend to be more powerful. It works on the "King of the Hill" concept where the search engines have decided upon a list of the most authoritative websites in existence. For example, we can assume that WhiteHouse.gov is among these. It can be assumed that this juice flows like any other metric, being dampened by about 30% per link. So the less number of leaps you have to make from page to page between WhiteHouse.gov and your website, the more authoritative your site can be considered.


Anchor Text
This is one of the most easily manipulated factors in link building and therefore the one that is being most closely guarded by the search engines. A link can either be naked, in which it appears as a raw URL such as www.BuilderSociety.com, or it can appear with an anchor text such as BuSo Forums. Search engines read this anchor text to help them understand what the page being linked to is about and what terms it should rank for. Using the exact match keyword for your anchor text more than 5% of the time these days (unless it's your Brand term), is likely going to result in a penalty. The game goes much deeper than that and we will discuss it further into today's guide.


These are your core link metrics and factors. Google likely measures each vertical and niche separately and uses statistical models to find outliers. If you're the nail that is sticking out, the hammer is likely to come down on you unless you can validate being an outlier, in which you'll likely rank in the number one spot. Manipulating this has become increasingly difficult, shorter lasting, and less valuable. Expect this trend to continue.

Other Off-Page Factors

Like it or not, you are judged by who you keep around you. You can't always control every little aspect of what your neighbors do, and especially not thieves and vandals who wander in, but in general birds of a feather do flock together.


The same goes for your website.

There are all kinds of ranking signals that lead to your website's current ranking in a specific SERP. Talking about each at length is simply going to be a waste of time, as they are largely self-explanatory. Let's list some of them off below:
  • The on-page optimization around the topic of the page linking to you
  • All of the above and below metrics of the page linking to you
  • The total number of referring domains linking to your domain
  • The total number of referring domains linking to your page
  • The total number of referring pages and number of links going to your page
  • The user metrics such as click through rating and pogo-sticking on the SERPs
  • The number of social signals pointing to your page that actually receive traffic through them
  • The age of your domain and of those linking to you
You can see how each one of these metrics can be manipulated, which is why Google and other search engines have begun giving more weight to the overall domain metrics rather than the individual page, even though the goal is to rank a page and not a site. This has led to a diminishing quality in the search results but has led to a decrease in spammer activity and effectiveness.

Various Link Types and Concepts in the Wild

As you venture into the world of off-page SEO, you'll encounter all types of situations where you can "get" a link. Not all are equally powerful, not all are safe for your long-term asset.

Here are some types of links out there. You'll notice they largely are named for the platform on which they exist:
  • Blog comments
  • Forum profiles, posts, and signatures
  • Wiki links
  • Guestbooks
  • Social bookmarks
  • Social signals
  • Sitewide links in the footer or sidebar
  • Contextual links within articles
  • Profiles on sites where users interact
  • Trackback links
  • and on and on...
While some links slip through the cracks and are very powerful, generally you can think of the value of a backlink in terms of how hard it is to acquire.


Anyone can capture a squirrel or possum. Nobody cares. You capture the rare and elusive Sasquatch and your life is going to change forever. The same goes for links.

If an off-the-shelf piece of software can automate the platform, such as Scrapebox does with blog comments, then they aren't going to be very valuable. Most blog comments are no-follow for this reason. However, many blogs moderate every comment and your contribution may earn you a no-follow link there that others haven't been able to receive easily. That is valuable. Any site that is moderated and requires human intervention to receive a link will be the most powerful, unless they ask for payment (even under the guise of a moderation fee).

The Strength & The Weakness of Different Black & Grey Hat Approaches
As a spammer, you may get links all over the place on various IP's and domains. But you get greedy and use the same set of anchor texts too often. Or other spammers ruin those sites. Or you receive too many links compared to others in your niche. Or your link velocity isn't remotely natural during indexing. Then someone panics and lists every site in the disavow tool for Google. Eventually all of the sites become devalued, the link types become devalued, and the guilty parties are deindexed or penalized.

You know that data only becomes statistically relevant when there's a large enough population to gain confidence in the numbers. So instead of spamming a million links, you decide to purchase 100 extremely powerful ones. Following that logic then, going onto a forum and purchasing posts on someone's Private Blog Network should be extremely powerful right? Nobody will know you paid for them. The problem is that there are a million ways to uncover a footprint that links all of these sites together. Some other buyer will spam his or her site and then the investigation begins. They find that one of the sites linking to the spammed site has a statistically unusual pattern of outbound links that match a handful of other websites and they all use exact match anchor texts. Some of them even share IP addresses or C-blocks, which isn't very likely. The investigation continues and the whole game unravels.

Maybe you were smart enough to use the Tiering methods where you build layers of links to keep your site safe behind a buffer layer or two. It all still crashes down and your buffer layers lose the power they once held and possibly become deindexed or devalued themselves. It's always back to ground zero with these methods. So the question is, can you turn a large enough profit in the small window of time in which your site thrives before it crashes to make it worth the effort? Unfortunately, the niches where this is possible are watched more closely, even with sets of human eyeballs watching beyond just algorithmic thresholds.


^ There it is. Your tiny black hat window of opportunity. It's a purposefully moving target. You go for it, Google slides it over by two feet, you splat against the wall, and they paint over your smear mark. You might as well have never existed.

The Logical Approach of White Hat Marketing
Google's Penguin algorithm filter changed the SEO game forever. It has ruined entire careers and fortunes, raised the barrier to entry tremendously for newcomers, sent all hobbyists and hopefuls in search of other get-rich-quick schemes. The off-page SEO game has quickly become one of just typical marketing, which is actually much more difficult and much more rewarding for you, your site, and your brand.

Obviously, as you've studied through the days of this guide up till now, you realize how much effort it takes to properly execute in the online arena while seeing no results for as long as six months or longer. It's simply not the path to take to manipulate and crash and burn any more. PPC is where you want to be, or anywhere else other than trying to earn organic search engine traffic.

Too much is asked of you before seeing a reward, unless you plan on sticking it out for the long-term. That's how they keep the spammers out. And this long-play will be the focus of the rest of the Off-Page SEO guide, because we are builders of businesses, not scams, schemes, and snake oil.


When it comes to internet monies, you're destined for one of the two options above. There's not much in between. If you can be patient and disciplined, you can enjoy the right hand side.

Walking Through an Example Link Building Campaign

Before you take a single step, you need to know the rules of engagement. Not Google's rules, not Hot-Shot Blogger #1824's rules... but the rules that'll make sure your site never comes under fire no matter how many times Google changes the rules and no matter who spams you. Stay the path, be diligent, and persevere and you will find off-page SEO success.



The off-page SEO portion of your career may seem intimidating, but it really boils down to a few simple axioms that all center around not being greedy. They are...
  1. Never buy or hack a link.
  2. Never accept or acquire a link on a site that is obviously spammy or compromised.
  3. Watch your backlink profile and build a disavow list as you go to negate any spam and scraper links that come your way that you didn't ask for that aren't natural.
  4. Any time you are able to choose the anchor for a backlink, choose a raw URL, Brand name, or let the other webmaster decide.
  5. Never scale link building with computer automation. If it can be automated, only take the link if it is relevant to your website and on a website that is itself clean and clear of spam.
  6. In general, don't build links. Acquire them through traditional marketing methods.
Stand by these axioms steadfast, except for the note below, and you will thrive and survive if you're willing to be patient and put in the work. Remember, off-page SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep that in mind and walk the straight-and-narrow, and you'll do fine.

The only rule that has any wiggle room is number six, and that's why it is prefaced with the term "In general." There are times you can build links that are totally acceptable.

For instance, if you sign up for Pinterest, you should definitely place your URL in your profile. If you pin a photo from your website, go ahead and use your page as the reference link. If you sign up for a forum, it is perfectly acceptable to place your link in your profile (as long as you aren't using software and doing this en-masse on 100,000 unrelated forums). You're probably better off not placing your site in your signature if you intend on actually using the forum, or you'll end up with a quickly scaling number of links from the site that can be misunderstood by the algorithm as spam.

The only other concern of yours should be the speed at which your site is receiving backlinks. Consider a link "received" when it is crawled, not necessarily indexed. You want to receive a steady stream of links without spikes, unless the spikes are natural and from the viral spread of a piece of content on yours. Google knows how to validate that this spread is genuine and reward you greatly for it. Don't fear spikes. Embrace them. But in general keep a steady pace by planning ahead with a calendar or list of some sort for your marketing and promotional efforts. Think of it like the Freshness Factor for publishing and indexing content. Slow and steady wins the race and quality always trumps quantity. Quality and Quantity together will rock your world.

With that being said, here's one way you could approach the link building for a brand new site that you truly care about and intend to earn a living from...

Tip: Save all of your login details to every site, and use randomized passwords. You never know when you'll need to return to one, and there will be hundreds that you will want to return to and keep using.​

Claim your Main Social Profiles


The first set of actual links coming into your site should be the main social profiles. You'll want to register these as soon as you choose your brand name.

The best time to claim your social profiles is before you register your domain, because spammers have bots that crawl registration lists and will steal them out from under you and try to sell them to you or hold them hostage. You will also begin to receive do-follow and no-follow links immediately from sources that scrape registry lists and Alexa and the like. Start building your disavow list immediately and comment them out by link type and date. If anything ever happens in the future, this will be your meal ticket right out of penalization.​

Register your social profiles on sites such as:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • Tumblr
  • Instagram
At least grab those. Do it on day one, even if you can't populate them with content or fill them out yet. Over the course of a week (or on day one if you can), go ahead and upload cover photos, avatars, and fill in the profile details including your URL. Get those links. They are legit as possible and expected of any brand.

As time continues, you can begin to populate them with content, news, and images from your vertical. Your goal is to build a following of your brand as an information and entertainment hub where you can slip in promotions of your own content as well.

If you want to get craft, go ahead and build a second set of profiles on these sites that aren't based on your brand itself, but on the niche in general. You can use it to disarm social users into not realizing you control it and promote your own content more heavily to them through these profiles (along with others too to keep up the facade). Don't place your URL in the profile here though.

You aren't done with these profiles EVER. Continue to post to them. Go out and follow others and gain followers. Interact with them on their profiles. Respond to any outreach to you. The more you weave yourself into the site as a whole, the more juice and other metrics you pull to your own profile, which move on to your website.

Here's a tip: http://knowem.com - They'll sign up and flesh out profiles for you on as many as 300 social networks. However, I truly doubt 300 of them are worth having or not spammy. But you can opt for the top 100 or even top 25 (that's what I'd do, except I don't. I do it by hand and control every aspect).

Find Communities in Your Niche


This step could be quite large. The first thing you'll want to do is populate a list of all of them that are highly relevant topically to your niche. Then expand out to the whole vertical. After that, you could add any generalized communities to the list as well that encompass all niches. These will largely be forums will include a spattering of other types of communities like mini-social networks.

You won't be able to smash all of these out in one day and you won't want to. The reason is is that they will largely all be profile links, and you don't want an onrush of just one type of link coming to your site all at once. It's not natural. Sign up to a few every day, flesh out your profiles, and then post to the forum or community about 5 times. This will bring more juice to your profile and on to your site and leave more entry points for spiders to come crawling. The better you flesh out your profile, the more likely it will be to be indexed as well. You can assume a link on a page that gets indexed is more powerful than one that doesn't, but they both count if crawled.

This process could go on for a month or longer. You could take a break from it and move to another type of link or marketing promotion, but the goal is to establish yourself on each site and in the community. You will return to these as you create worthy pieces of content to share with them. Over time, the power and worth of all of these profiles and links will grow as you continue to use them more. Don't waste time trying to entrench yourself in abandoned forums or communities that are obviously dead. Set up your profile and post a few times, then don't come back.

Tip: It seems that Google, like an elephant, never forgets. Even when a link is removed, the memory remains and the ghost of it still provides some benefit. So don't worry if a site goes down in the future. You lost the link but not all of the benefit.
When you find the communities with the most engaging traffic, remember the image I shared above of the Participation Inequality Pyramid. It's real easy to become a top 10% or even a top 1% member. That's how you influence your vertical and position your site as one of the most important (to visit constantly, refer to, link to, buy from, etc.).
Never Stop Blog Commenting

"But guys, you just said blog comments are 99.9% no-follow!" Yep, you're right. But we also talked about increasing the number of referring domains from sites in your vertical and powerful general topic sites like newspaper sites. This is your chance to dilute your anchor text usage to make sure you stay in the safe realm and spread your brand footprint. Also, god forbid you increase your brand awareness and get some traffic!

Feel free to scrape a giant list of blogs to comment on, or just find new ones every day. A good method is to set up a Google Alerts for blogs only based on the big keywords in your niche. This will keep you filled with new blog posts that are being monitored and moderated, increasing your chance of having your comment approved.

Your goal is to skim the article and post a high quality and relevant comment. A few sentences is perfect. Asking questions helps approval rates. Don't go for the flattery path, as spammers have destroyed that. Just get involved in the conversation or start one.

Post three to five comments on new domains daily, every other day, or whatever pace you can manage. You want to aim all of these at your homepage, never your inner pages as that's not natural. Don't drop the URL inside the comment itself, but only in the URL field that appears with Name and Email. "Name" becomes the anchor text for the link, so use a real name (and be consistent) such as John B. or use your Brand name. Don't use your keywords, ever.

Other Easy Wins

You had to design a website to some degree, right? And a logo? Submit those suckers to CSS Galleries and Logo Galleries, but only if they've been updated in the past few months and aren't spammy. They should be human moderated. You can even go as far as to check their backlink profiles if you want.

Eventually you're going to create an infographic for you site. While you do outreach with it to all of the top sites in your vertical, go ahead and submit it to the high quality infographic galleries. Go back to the forums and communities and share it there too, of course with a link back to your site. A reference link is always legit, if done in reasonable quantities. No need to hit all 300 forums. Rotate through them so they don't learn to hate you.

Pay someone or do it yourself, but fire up your microphone or webcam or whatever it takes and record some kind of small jingle or song. This will allow you to build profiles on all of the music upload sites. Do the same with a video. You can even make it a music video for your new song. But now you can create profiles on all of the video upload sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Did you know there are tons of graphic artist communities out there for digital painting and hand-drawn work? Have someone draw something for your brand and join those sites.

These are all fair game and legit methods of promoting your brand. Just don't get greedy. Don't submit to trash sites, unmoderated sites, any sites that are linking to sites with exact anchor texts that submitted, etc. Keep it high quality. Only be where you would be proud for your brand to be seen. Some links are toxic and will hurt you.

Get creative and you'll find a lot more of these types of ideas that will allow you to promote your brand and generally receive a legit profile link. Remember to interact on them to help the spiders find your profile.

Now for the Powerful Campaigns


The methods above are buttering up your domain... Getting it out there and prepped to be able to accept more powerful links without tanking with the Google dance for a solid week or more each time. Velocity has to do with the number of links but also the quantity of page rank juice. One powerful backlink will be enough to bounce your rankings to kingdom come for a while if it doesn't have a decent grounding before hand. Of course you can not worry about the bounce, but the tactics above should be tackled at some point, so they might as well happen early on to help establish velocities.

Once you clear out every easy win, what you should have on hand is:
  • A set of social network profiles to promote your new content
  • A set of forums and communities to rotate through
  • A constant drip of new domains from blog comments
  • And a hunger for some big boy links
It's time to shave off your neckbeard and put on your marketer's cap.

Big Editorials


You know those links people are selling on forums for $300 each from PR8 sites? Those can all be acquired for free. I won't list them here, but go find them and register to be a writer. Either take the time to write a killer article or pay for one, but make sure you get accepted. Remember that each post will be moderated by an editor moving forward as well. The way people are getting these links is to bribe an existing author or editor. But forget that. You're going to become one and save tons of money and create an insane exposure engine for your new content that will net you tons of links, social signals, eyeballs, and rankings.

Let's say you signed up for Medium, a very powerful and higher-standard web 2.0 style of website. You're struggling to submit enough different things to Reddit to stay within their 10:1 promotion ratio. Guess what you can do? Submit your Medium post, along with all of the other big sites you are now an author for. If each post is a solid piece of work, it should gain traffic and links, and some of that traffic and juice will flow through to your page. This is essentially repeatable forever, but not easily scalable. It will take time and effort, but will be more than worth your time. You'll be landing links your competitors are too lazy or broke to build or buy. And yours will be legit and not on compromised author accounts that get deindexed.

Outreach


We are going to have a future day based around outreach, so don't worry about the details. The concept is that through all of these forums and communities and blog comments, your brand is receiving visibility. You've met folks digitally through your social networks and from being on Big Editorial sites. Leverage those relationships and start asking for guests posts. Ask if you can contribute out of love for the topic. Ask to be included in resource pages, since your site is good enough (I hope, unless you're not actually taking our advice here). Tap out your relationships and then form new ones through email and social message outreach.

Remember, the goal is to contribute and acquire links, not build them. Don't even ask for them. If you can provide content, it's fair to include a link back to your site or to a page of yours, but don't be greedy with the anchors.

Traffic Leaking


We also have an upcoming day entirely dedicated to Traffic Leaking, so don't worry about the details, but understand the concept. You can apply this to forums and communities, blog comments, and the big editorial sites. You can leak Reddit and Voat, Stumbleupon, Buzzfeed, and more. You'll learn how to do this effectively, and you'll add this to your rotating schedule of tasks that to be done constantly.

The benefit here is immediate traffic without waiting for it to be given to you. You will land yourself in front of millions of eyeballs, some of which will link to you, share your page on the social networks, and so forth. It will build your brand in the real world, in the mind's of internet users, and in the search engine. This is one of your main weapons in marketing your brand that will never cease operation. So get ready to master this tactic.

Clickbait



We will cover this in the content days of this guide, but this is crucial to your success. Clickbait is killer in combination with traffic leaking. It is meant to awaken the reptile mind of your users, to draw them to your site and keep them there. You want to polarize them, make them mad, make them happy, make them feel smart. Do something to their ego and do it in a big way, and they will spread your site like wildfire through links and social signals. They will become addicted to feeling alive thanks to your work, and they will become regular visitors.


Conclusion

If you've been paying attention, you're convinced that you don't want to become a spammer. You don't want to manipulate the search engines. You don't want to do anything off-page that compromises the safety of your business.

Yet so many "innocent" businesses are getting tagged left and right for these bad practices for one main reason: They get greedy. They want more faster.

You can have more faster without trashing up the internet using the weapons in the arsenal above. Traffic Leaks, actual Marketing, high profile Guest Posting, journalist Outreach... If you go after traffic, the links and social shares come naturally and you rise in the search engines. Plant the right white hat seeds along the way and you'll find that your site eventually explodes in red hot, targeted, organic search traffic.

Patience is the key when it comes to search engines. If you can't wait, don't try to force them to give you more traffic. Go get it yourself and you'll be surprised at the results!

Additional Day 11 Study Materials
 
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Some advice that i've seen being peddled around is:
  1. Avoid getting side wide links.
  2. Remove or don't accept foreign links to your site.
  3. Avoid links from irrelevant sites.
What's your take on this?
 

Ryuzaki

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Some advice that i've seen being peddled around is:
  1. Avoid getting side wide links.
  2. Remove or don't accept foreign links to your site.
  3. Avoid links from irrelevant sites.
What's your take on this?
My view on each is:

1) Sitewide Links: Gimme. All Day. I'll take as many as I can under three circumstances:
  • They link to the homepage with a Brand anchor
  • They link to the homepage with a URL or Generic anchor
  • They link to an inner page with a non-targeted anchor
Any of those three circumstances will arise if I'm not asking for the sitewide. If it appears naturally, there's a very high chance, 95%+, that it will fall into these boundaries. If they don't, I'll ask to have it changed and explain why.

2) Foreign Links: If I see these pop up, I'm going to do two things:
  • Translate the page live and make sure it's contextually relevant
  • Check the backlinks to the site and make sure it's not a spammy site
If it passes both of those criteria, it stays. Google knows how to translate sites and determine their topic and apply relevancy to your site. I don't care where the IP is hosted. A legit site is a legit site. I've had my own sites receive huge bumps in rankings when a foreign forum started co-signing my site as a solid resource for its users. Just make sure it's a real deal link and not you getting caught up in a foreign spammer's co-citations.

3) Irrelevant Links: It depends completely. Is the site a real site? Does it have a spammy history? Here's a few scenarios where I'll accept a link like this:
  • A Newspaper or Magazine that covers any or all topics cites my site as a source. The site might not be relevant as a whole, but the page is and it's a legitimate website.
  • A "Water Cooler" section of a forum mentions my site in their off-topic discussion. I don't care if it's relevant or not here, honestly. If it's organic, I'm keeping it.
  • If it's no-follow on a legit site.
So really, there's no "avoid this type of link every time" case. There's nothing that absolute. A link is either valuable or damaging, and there's no one type of link that's always considered damaging. Every link is a case by case basis. There's no shortcuts or heuristics in thinking when it comes to links.

Any link that I don't like, whether it's no-follow or not, I put into my disavow file. That includes all wikipedia scrapes, data publishers, etc. Even if they are already no-follow, I include them strictly for the sake of proving that I'm watching like a hawk and interested in keeping a clean profile. I use time stamps and update every couple of weeks. If I ever get caught in negative SEO or just in general, most of my work will already be done and I can prove my good will and intentions in staying within the guidelines.
 

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I have a question. I found a weak competitor site, his links are Web 2.0 kind of links.

Do I replicate these? Or is that short sighted thinking?
 

Ryuzaki

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I have a question. I found a weak competitor site, his links are Web 2.0 kind of links.

Do I replicate these? Or is that short sighted thinking?
Replicating weak competitors can help you when it comes time to replicate bigger competitors, because you'll already be exceeding them in other areas. So your goal might stop being "match and exceed" on that particular campaign and just become "match."

However, never replicate spam. I'd take a look at their web 2.0's and see just how clean they are. I'd look at the backlink profiles of the web 2.0's themselves, which may be spammed. I wouldn't replicate that. While this is generally safe at the moment, and very safe if your second tier of spam is lightly sprinkled across a larger tier one, there's zero doubt that Google's ability to justify crunching all this data will rise. They have already purchased D-Wave quantum computers. It's only a matter of time before tiered spam link building takes a fall and penalties start flying. They will have enough data to build enough confidence and distinguish who intended to use these methods and who just ended up falling into it innocently as well.

Another angle to think about is... is it going to be worth your time building some kind of random 5-20 page Web 2.0 if you don't intend on interacting on it or spamming it to increase the juice? This is going to demand your time and resources for what potentially will be a weak link or a dangerous link.

What I mean is, are you better off spending that time building a web 2.0, or performing outreach and promotion? I'd rather land one solid guest post, even if it took me the time to build five web 2.0's. Web 2.0's are okay, but to pull it off powerfully and safely requires a time or resource investment that may be better spent elsewhere. If you can outsource the content, the build, and the interaction to someone at a decent rate, then by all means go for it though. Your own time, however, can be much better spent elsewhere.
 

Jared

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Great stuff, Ryuzaki, as always.

I have a question about a certain method of link building I've been thinking about using. Briefly:
  1. Scrape tens-of-thousands of industry-related sites using Scrapebox.
  2. Run these sites through GSA Platform Identifier, keeping only platforms which allow contextual links (using both GSA's footprints and some I've manually added).
  3. Run these sites through Majestic; toss out those with spammy metrics (a lopsided Trust Flow-to-Citation Flow ratio, in particular).
Essentially, this will find quality, industry-related sites that allow user-generated content: blogs, pages, etc.

The problem is, while the filtering process is meticulous, it's still manually-created links, and so it's still on the black hat side of things.

So, my question is: Is this a viable way of link building, or would you consider it too risky for someone who wants a site that will stand the test of time?

Thanks.
 

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So, my question is: Is this a viable way of link building, or would you consider it too risky for someone who wants a site that will stand the test of time?
User-Generated Content is one of the foundations of the internet. I think it's great, if and only if the platform is moderated. You'll likely know and filter out most that aren't with the lopsided metrics (people tiering spam through their posts).

Think about this in relation to the Six Rules of LinkBuilding I posted above:
2. Never take a link on a spammy site (You've addressed this)
4. If you can choose the anchor, go URL, generic, or Brand.
5. Don't scale and keep it relevant. (You've addressed this)
6. Don't build links, acquire them, with exceptions.
I think what you're doing is okay if the posts are moderated. That's keeping you on a clean platform. Some sites moderate posts and still let crap through, so take a second to browse each one and decide if it meets your criteria.

Rule #4 says to basically watch your anchors. Don't screw yourself here. You can use money anchors and long-tails, etc, but the temptation is great to abuse it. I'd use the exact anchor or a long-tail with the exact anchor in it maybe once in twenty-five links I created, if at all. This number will change based on your on-page optimization (higher here means you need less off-page, vice versa).

Rule #6 talks about times when it's acceptable to build your own links. This is one of those times. You could do it with your own branded account on these sites or pretend to be someone else and drop in several links to various sites, including your own. Yes, like you said, this is teetering on the black side of things, but it can be done safely. The main goal is to do it in a way that never grabs the attention of the algorithms (mainly the anchors and not scaling it too fast.)

If you're using high quality, manually written content with manual posting, it shouldn't scale. If you can outsource enough of it that it does scale, then I would recommend putting a limitation on how many posts you create per day, and keep it steady and small, especially since they are contextual. Don't tier spam through them.

Think about sites like Examiner and Medium. I'd post on those daily and include links to myself. These are no-follow examples but I'd do the same with do-follow. And they are user-generated. Just never get greedy, don't start cross-linking them and using them to tier each other, etc., and you'll be fine.

I think these type of links create a great solid base. They give you a chance to distribute links across your entire site so the spread of the juice really powers up the entire domain. It shows that you create high quality content in general, and not a lucky winner once in a blue moon. They won't be the most powerful links you'll ever get, but they are a great base. After you collect a solid spread, I'd turn my energy and focus towards legit promotion and marketing to acquire the crazy powerhouse links.
 
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Although I know my niche very well, I'm not a great writer, so I'm going to get a quality writer to write me some articles, perhaps get them to base them around some existing articles I have written to give them an idea of what to write as it's a complicated niche. Then submit to the big sites...
 
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Ryuzaki

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Although I know my niche very well, I'm not a great writer, so I'm going to get a quality writer to write me some articles, perhaps get them to base them around some existing articles I have written to give them an idea of what to write as it's a complicated niche. Then submit to the big sites...
That's precisely what I would do. I'd outsource every bit of that off-site content, and if I had to I'd make them rewrites of my own on-site content. And in this scenario, I'd link back to the original article. Talk about relevancy!

The beauty of this too is that you now have more stuff to promote across more domains. For places such as Reddit, who algorithmically check to see if you're sharing your own stuff too much by counting domain-based submissions... you're now not only in the clear but safeguarding yourself while self-promoting. You could also register forum accounts and drop these links as well, juicing them up and disarming readers since it'll be a big domain they're aware of already.

With proper pre-planning, you can boost the ranks on a specific page greatly through this clean, tiered effort.
 

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I've been doing some blog commenting and now I have a crap load of nofollow links. Is this something that will hurt me? Literally 70%+ is now nofollow links because they went site wide etc

Should I disavow them?
 
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Ryuzaki

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I've been doing some blog commenting and now I have a crap load of nofollow links. Is this something that will hurt me? Literally 70%+ is now nofollow links because they went site wide etc

Should I disavow them?
No. This is a good thing. Your link profile should include no-follow. If a post goes viral and a ton of forums share it but have their outbound links set to be no-follow, they are still organic links that are sending real traffic. It's a very natural thing to have.

In regards to some comments going sitewide, they will "un-go" sitewide soon when others post. But this is part of why, when you make blog comments that you should use a real name or a brand name in the Name field, which usually becomes the anchor for the link.

What you're doing is intertwining yourself into the web. There are now strands of webbing everywhere. No matter where Google looks in your vertical, there you are. Your crawl rates will increase, your authority will increase, etc.

Do this properly, as mentioned in the OP:
You want to aim all of these at your homepage, never your inner pages as that's not natural. Don't drop the URL inside the comment itself, but only in the URL field that appears with Name and Email. "Name" becomes the anchor text for the link, so use a real name (and be consistent) such as John B. or use your Brand name. Don't use your keywords, ever.
and
"But guys, you just said blog comments are 99.9% no-follow!" Yep, you're right. But we also talked about increasing the number of referring domains from sites in your vertical and powerful general topic sites like newspaper sites. This is your chance to dilute your anchor text usage to make sure you stay in the safe realm and spread your brand footprint. Also, god forbid you increase your brand awareness and get some traffic!
There's nothing wrong with user-generated content, unless the user does something that screams "I'm a manipulative SEO."
 

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What’s a thread all about Off-Page SEO if it doesn’t mention the riskier side of the game?

Musings on the Present and Future of Spam
Here’s the truth of the matter. Most of us on BuSo, myself included, talk about focusing on one main project and doing it the White Hat way. That’s because we’ve already gone down the Black Hat path of spamming 100 sites and decided the prior is better than the latter.

But that’s not to say there’s not much to learn (and gain monetarily) from a foray into the darker territories of internet “marketing.” Black Hat is a broad term and a lot of implications. I’m talking about the currently popularized version that basically means:

{Spun|Duplicate} Content and Link Spam​

…And nothing more. I’m not condoning or suggesting anything illegal or ethically corrupt.
Had to add that disclaimer for the knuckleheads out there.

Testing out all of these methods does help you wrap your head around:
  • What doesn’t work for anyone
  • What can work for a White Hat
  • What works really well for a Black Hat, if only momentarily
The reason a lot of us don’t like spam tactics is because the “momentarily” aspect (this is Builder Society, after all, where we focus on legit businesses that last and last). But those first two points are critical. Knowing what to do and what not to do, especially when it comes to walking the razor’s edge, is crucial for White/Gray Hats.

The Goal of This Post
My goal is to explain how certain backlinking concepts work out in the field in a simplified manner, while also adding on where I think the search engines will ultimately go if they intend to raise quality and reduce resource waste. I'm not going to delineate between the two, nor will I be suggesting tools to build these structures, because I don't suggest building these structures. But knowledge is power.

By reading this, you'll grasp why people spam, how people spam, how search engines detect and stop it, and how you should proceed to avoid the problems associated with future incoming fixes, no matter how you decide to perform Off-Page SEO.

With that being said:

In a Galaxy Far Far Away...



Let me introduce you to the new and imaginary RyuRank!™ RR is a metric that ignores everything but link equity, topical relation, and relative popularity (neighborhoods). RR is only produced when a page in indexed by Ryugle. I don't do authority. I don't do internal RR flow. I don't do anchor texts.

Every indexed page generates 1 RyuRank out of thin air. That's how it gets into my link graph. By linking to another page, it can pass its RyuRank on while keeping its own, but what it passes on is reduced by a dampening factor of 0.75. That means only 3/4th's of Ryuice gets passed on.​

Here's the thing with Ryugle. I have like 90% of the market share, so everyone uses me and a lot of people try to abuse me. They try to manipulate my algorithm with their link schemes. Unlike my competitors, I cut most of it off before it even leaves the starting blocks.

My competitors are funny. One in particular has enough money that they think the way to gain an edge over me is to index everything possible and sort it out later. These guys weren't able to understand your content that well at the start, so they relied on stupid stuff like anchor text and meta keywords to figure out what to rank you for. They are still so heavily dependent on this method that they are having to apply side-algorithms and filters to get rid of you spammers, but that takes time and leaves you a (albeit small) window of opportunity.

I don't even play that game. Here's how I solved it:
  • I ignore anchor text completely, saving resources to spend elsewhere.
  • I don't index crap content, saving resources to spend elsewhere.
- You syndicated/copy-pasted someone else's content? Cool! I'm not indexing it. The original gets it. First to publish and ping wins.

- You clever dog, you. You added a few original paragraphs to your page to try and trick me! That's cool, I'm only indexing the new paragraphs, if that.

- Sweet, sweet child. You spun your content? My robots know the difference between broken English and straight up nonsense. I'm not indexing a lick of this. If your broken English has too many grammar, spelling, and syntax errors, I'm not indexing that either.

- Profiles, sidebars, headers, footers... not indexing it. Contextual content only.

- Forums, comments, community blogs? That's cool, I've created a moderation log submission feature for every CMS out there that I can cross reference with what links remain live. I can ignore links and even deindex individual comments and forum posts. You can't spam this crap and convince me to index it, no matter how many times you ping it.

Now if you want to spam, I've at least created a giant content hurdle for you to get past. Everything has to be original and later my A.I. bots will know if your post is just rewritten too. I won't be indexing that. I only deal in high quality and original content.

Tiered Link Building
You guys already figured out that if you manage to straight spam a page that I thought was worthy of indexing that I'll just ignore all the Ryuice you've sent flowing. It's easy for me, I have the resources available. I'm not going to open my search engine up to Negative SEO attacks. That literally works against what I'm doing. It inspires you to create more spam to take down the innocent and then inspires them to create spam in an attempt to manage their online reputation. I'm not that stupid.

What I will do is the opposite of what my competitor is doing but he'll likely copy me soon. Instead of deindexing the target page, I'll just clean up the link graph by deindexing the linking pages. This works because I know it was malicious because I only index contextual content or moderated content. In Ryugle, you can only hurt yourself.

"Ah," you think... "Then I'll just lightly sprinkle spam to giant vertical tiers and let that flow to protect my main money site." NOPE, and I'll show you why.

"Well then I'll just create extremely wide horizontal tiers so there's less depth and more breadth. Maybe even loop them together." NOPE, nice thought though. I'll show you why this fails to penetrate the defenses.
The reason you can't spam your money site and get away with it will be explained later on. Here's why tiers don't do much for you in Ryugle... Remember, each page generates 1RR and passes 0.75x of its RR.

Here we look at four options with raw RR numbers and no normalization or logarithmic calculations applied so you can see the real impact. Green means I'll let the content keep its link equity. Red means I'm wiping it back to 1RR or whatever it's actually earned.

In the real world, tiers are working great. As you follow the trail of popularity, each piece further up the hierarchy is assigned a larger RR number and thus ranks higher. Due to my dampening factor of 0.75, a 7-level tier doesn't have twice the impact of a 3-level tier even though it has twice the number of levels, because the pages are too far away from the money site node. Perfect, they probably aren't even aware of the money site.

A spammer would want to create two 3-level tiers instead of one 7-level. (2.73*2)-3.60 = 1.86RR extra. This because it's a tighter neighborhood. It's less about rumors and hearsay and more about direct experience. I don't even care if a spammer does this, because if he's getting past my content indexing hurdles, then the content is contributing quality to the net to some degree.

Spammers are de-incentivized to create mass low-quality crap because I'm disregarding it anyways, leaving them worse off than if they left it natural. Sprinkling 10RR to each of the 7-leveled tiers doesn't work either, as you'll see.

Now, Ryugle disregards authority. Each link stands on its own. I don't consider the trust of a website as a whole and I don't let it pass Ryuice from one of its own pages to the next. My competitor, however, has to consider authority because he's got too many manipulative parts to his algorithm. So a spammer could "theoretically" not sprinkle spam at all and still get a giant boost of juice in that "other" search engine if he was getting links from authoritative domains, possibly even ones he owned himself. One might even say that would protect his money site and let it absorb some "sprinklage." Doesn't work in Ryugle though.

Link Wheels
What an obvious exploit... so obvious that even my competitor realized how to stop it. Why did this work so well before? Because it creates an infinite loop of juice and no dampening factor can stop it. My competitor treats this like a "sore thumb link node," which we'll talk about next. Ryugle just flat out doesn't calculate more than one iteration around the loop. Problem solved (duh).

My competitor is kind of dumb. He used let his spiders run around a wheel over and over. You can see that even after 10 times around things get out of control on as small as a 6-spoke wheel. It doesn't even matter how many spokes it has. It's going to explode with large numbers like that. So while my competitor might dampen his juice flow and stop his spiders from looping more than two or three times, word on the street is that with a large enough wheel (100-spokes even!) that he can't figure it out. God forbid you toss a little "sprinklage" on there... You could really make things confusing and leave 2d circles behind and start creating 3d Platonic Solids.

As for Ryugle, we knew better from the start. We start all of our spiders crawling from the lowest RR numbers in our graph and don't let them loop at all. We treat it like a tier and let the dampening factor do its job. Sure, there will be some natural loops, but we won't recount the Ryuice until the spokes reach at least 10 or so and we still treat it like a tier. So you might get a tiny boost, but it's going to be on the order of the hundredths decimal place.

Sore Thumb Link Nodes
The same way that my competitor spots link wheels is how I spot "sore thumb nodes." He can spot them too, but only if you get real greedy. Ryugle, on the other hand, catches that shit right off the rippy, because we have the extra resources to compare local popularity instead of only global popularity. I'd say my competitor is going to catch up on this one pretty soon.


Say this is a portion of my competitor's link graph. Everything is green and fine! All is well with the world! That's because they calculate internal links, navigation links, sidebar links, footer links, user generated links, no-follow links, and on and on. To get a real clear picture of what's actually going on, they'll need to spend a lot of resources and time filtering data. To be frank, it's not worth the money, so instead they use filters. Filters require thresholds to be tripped. The spammers above never tripped a threshold, which is to say they flew right under the radar and are ranking garbage. Guess which nodes aren't very natural?

In Ryugle, you already know which pages would be deindexed and which pages would have their RyuRank!™ stripped clean. When it's visualized like this, guess what else doesn't fly in Ryugle? Sprinklage across horizontal tiers.


If I Was That Other Search Engine...
I'd want to be like Ryugle.

By only looping once around wheels, by employing a more aggressive dampening factor, by deindexing spun and duplicate content, by not indexing supplemental links and content, and by not indexing non-moderated user generated content, I'd have a very clean, very high quality link graph and the best SERPs any engine could hope for.

The thing is, I got off on the wrong foot, too early in the game. So what I'd do to combat spammers is index everything and allow everything and reward them for it... for a while. Then I'd deindex and penalize them. Then I'd create filters to save resources and still be able to use my current link graph I'd spent almost 20 years building. I'd let the greedy, wreckless spammers still out themselves and go to war against each other using negative SEO, even though we can detect it. We'll create a way to heal the civilian casualties if they choose to pursue it.

And I'd slowly clamp down on those filters. While I was doing that, I'd slowly start restricting the information I allowed spammers to have. I'd also slowly but surely de-weight factors in my algorithm I wanted to get rid of, like anchor text for instance. I'd also increase ones I didn't want either, such as authority, to further cock-block spammers until they were reduced to a very negligible percentage of internet "marketers." At that point, the clever ones could stay because if we can't detect them reasonably easy, then the public can't either so it must be of decent quality. The stupid ones won't get any leeway and will phase the rest of the way out, especially after we drop the axe on spun and duplicate content.

That's where I'd be headed if I was in charge of operations anywhere in THIS galaxy. And that doesn't even mention how I'd handle On-Page SEO...
 

Ryuzaki

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When creating profiles on forums, should the usernames be random, or brand-tied?
It's situation-based. Look at the forum and see what others are doing. Is it for industry professionals? In that case many probably use their brand as the username and their logo as the avatar. In other scenarios that will make users and moderators highly suspicious of your motives.

Since the context here is link-building, I'd suggest doing what it takes to get the link, period, while flying under the radar.

Your goal is to expand your referring domains footprint. First, check and see if the profile is set no "no-index" in the meta data and robots.txt (I would argue that the value is there though to some degree if it's able to be crawled. Check for no-follow on the link). If it is no-index, still flesh it out, but don't worry too much about it. Try to look like a real, non-chalant, casual user. Your goal has shifted from profile link to signature link (I wouldn't worry about a link in the content. These are low-power links. You want quantity of domains, which means moving fast).

I'd post a solid 5-10 times on newer threads in every section. And I'd especially hit any stickied threads where possible. You're guaranteeing yourself a high crawl rate. You can do it up front or go back later once the heat is off of your new account, but add a URL or Brand anchored link to your signature. Most of the time this in no-follow. Also you don't want too many from one domain (especially with any anchor other than URL, brand, or generic). You want to drop enough posts that your account doesn't look like a one-time user, but someone actually joining and contributing.

If the profile itself can be indexed then I'd do all of the same things above but leaving out the signature link. Your goal is to post in new and stickied threads that are being crawled. Every username link will send dofollow juice to your profile, which will include the link back to your site. It may be do or nofollow but all we're worried about is indexation and the number of domains we can get referred in (that are relevant to our site).

Another trick is to see if the forum CMS has one of those "Last Visited By:" lists that shows which members have been viewing other members profiles. You can view a ton of inactive profiles and the top users to help push juice and open up ways for spiders to find your profile.

Back to the username situation. See what everyone else is doing on the forum and make sure you blend in. Are they using real names? Are they using names like "xoxoBaBByxo99"? Are they using brand names? It all boils down to the question, "What do I need to do to get this domain to link back to my site?" Same goes with the anchor text of the link and where you put the link. Do what you need to do and nothing more. Greed will get you nowhere on forums. You have a lot more people to trick and once the pitchforks come out you can forget about it.
 

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@Ryuzaki When grabbing blog comments, can you expand on the impact of aged posts vs new?

I am watching google alerts for new posts in my niches and grabbing comments when I can there. I am also actively searching for topical posts.

I've found your comment is less likely to be approved on older blog posts. Is it unnaturally or detrimental in any way to gain links on old posts (years old) vs new posts (say within the last year)?
 

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It's not going to be detrimental in any way to post a blog comment on an old post.

But yes, this is why I suggest Google Alerts so you can hit up the new posts. The reason is is that authors are going to be more engaged in their recent posts, always seeking validation for them. For the most part they can safely ignore comments on old posts (most CMS's let you expire the ability to comment on a post after X days), because usually that's the world of scrapers and spammers.

I honestly wouldn't bother with anything beyond what hits Google Alerts. You can find some gems and comment and within months find that it went through. But are they really gems and is it really worth the lost time to have only 5% stick? These are 99% nofollow links.

The benefit is in weaving yourself into your vertical's web, so that all active and relevant paths ultimately lead to you. I wouldn't bother seeking old posts to comment on just for the sake of hyper-relevancy. I wouldn't even bother trying to drop a link within the comment itself. I'm either the name of a person (don't randomize, build a "profile" for yourself or a fake persona or two, tops) or my brand in the Name Field, and then my homepage in the URL field. This will decrease your workload tremendously and increase your success rate astronomically. The goal is the link, in this case.

But the other benefit of new posts is that you can strike first and have the top comment and get traffic as well. The results will depend on your effort in the comment and the site you're posting on and their posting schedule.

This is the type of activity I recommend spacing out over time. 1 a day, 3 a day, 5 a day... whatever you can accommodate. Just be consistent. It's not really the place you want to spend a lot of time or energy, because even a home-run is nothing. What you're looking for is the accumulated effect over the long haul (in regards to Off-Page SEO, not Traffic Leaking). There are better ways to Traffic Leak as well.
 

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A good quality website has proposed to me that he'll make a post linking my website in exchange for making a post linking his website. Would such an exchange be beneficial or harmful?

I 've read many times that this type of exchanges is harmful, but I don't know to what extent it's true.
 

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A good quality website has proposed to me that he'll make a post linking my website in exchange for making a post linking his website. Would such an exchange be beneficial or harmful?

I 've read many times that this type of exchanges is harmful, but I don't know to what extent it's true.
In every single case, no matter how the links are arranged, it's beneficial. Some are less beneficial than others, but none are harmful (unless done over and over as a link scheme).



For example, if Site A on the left links to Site B on the right, and then Site B decides to link back to the same page on Site A from the same on Site B, they've created a cross-linking miniature link wheel. Algorithmically by definition they have to be dampened in power more than usual or they'll cycle page rank between each other through each iteration. You can understand why by reading the section of the post in this thread on link wheels and the sections above for context. These links have to be weaker, but they're still beneficial if it happens once in a blue moon.

The bottom example shows a far more beneficial arrangement. The mini-link-wheel happens naturally and thus isn't a problem if it happens occasionally. But it's not nearly as common as normal cross-linking, where separate posts on each site link to separate posts on the other. I wouldn't even worry about the time frame in which it occurs, since it's very natural for two sites to get on each others radars and form a relationship in a short period of time. In this situation, you'll be getting the maximum amount of power out of the links as is possible.
 

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Hey @Ryuzaki ive got a question about the "ABBC" (always be blog commenting)

I've been doing exactly as recommended in the guide. Hand written comments on non-spammy blogs using the same name, email, and dropping my site only in the website field.

Since my site is new, I've only been updated once in Moz's Open Site Explorer. When I look there, it appears that all or nearly all of the linking domains they crawled are blog comments. The anchor texts (the name field) are all the same and the spam rating for my site is in the red at 9/17.

This was concerning to see. I realize it's just a tool and now I have many more non-blog comment links pointing to the site.

I was wondering if there is a case of overdoing it? Should the ratio of blog comments to other link types be kept in check?
 

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@animalstyle, People really took the blog commenting section here to heart, and I stand by my statement but at a certain point it should be de-prioritized. Here's why:

Once you have a ton of comments out there on relevant sites and relevant posts on non-relevant sites, you'll have boosted every metric there is to boost except one: page rank. The reason is is that comments are 99% no-follow. The do-follow ones are going to be spam city and you won't want links on those pages.

If you're sitting on a ton of no-follow, legit, relevant links, as soon as you start sending some do-follow, contextual links, naturally obtained, you'll see your rankings begin to explode exponentially. It's usually over the course of months and months these days but it's still the case that there's a missing piece to your puzzle and once it's clicked in, the algorithm will favor you big time.

OpenSiteExplorer is nonsense. Here's how they responded to my main site. At first, I had a medium red flag score because my site was too big without enough links. Then, I ended up with a ton of links and had a medium red flag score because my site wasn't big enough for all the links. Now, as I just checked, I have a light red flag score because my site's markup is too small (too well optimized). They're nonsense, slow to crawl, and manage to find garbage links and never the good stuff. I pay them no mind.

I also wouldn't worry about anchor text ratios to the homepage. It's going to be your Brand Name, your Commenter Name, or your URL, nearly every time. And you'll rank for your brand regardless, and brand homepages rarely rank for informational or buying terms any more, unless they're brand related. No need to worry about that.

As far as keeping a ratio of no-follow to do-follow, comment to forum, contextual to non-contextual... I think that's archaic at this point. Google has a much better handle on link classification and telling what's natural or not. By all means, if you have enough comments out there, stop creating them and focus that time on outreach.

I know I said "Never Stop Blog Commenting," but the caveat was this:
Post three to five comments on new domains daily, every other day, or whatever pace you can manage.
At a certain point too, you'll have tapped out most everything you could want a link from anyways. I wouldn't bother stacking extra nofollow comment links from the same domains. Once you get a success, you can move on from it unless you see that you're getting substantial traffic from them.

To summarize what I wish I had typed in the original post is "never stop blog commenting until you've tapped out the possibilities or are ready and capable to focus on "non-easy wins." There comes a point where all you need to be doing is focusing on high-level outreach and marketing, because it produces the by-far-greatest ROI. You'll know when it's time because you'll have enough SERP exposure that other's do the easy wins for you.

My main project gets forum and blog comment links nearly daily now from others referencing the site. So I don't bother with that level of work now. The same will happen with outreach-level contextual links too, and at that point I'll only focus on high-level marketing to pick up huge editorial links from the top sites around.

So yeah, you let the boat carry you across to the other shore and then put it down, versus continuing to carry the needless weight. When you hit the next link-river to cross, you'll have to construct a bigger, hardier boat anyways. The old one won't do. But it did get you to the point you're at as well.