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SEO Basics Course. Module 10
Becoming an Authority
OK lets recap!
In Module 1 we looked at SEO Scams and Cons so you can avoid the companies that could cause your website considerable harm.
Module 2 covered personalized search so you don't make the very common mistake made by many website owners and think you have good rankings when you don't!
In Module 3 we saw how Search Engines go about deciding who should be in their Search Results Pages and in what order they should rank.
Module 4 was all about how you can decide what you want to rank for in the SERPs so you don't waste your time trying to compete with much larger players or ranking for phrases no one searches!
Module 5 outlined how we can help search engines understand the basic structure of our website.
In Module 6 we went through how to check if the key elements of a web page are optimized.
In Module 7 we got to grips with how to audit and optimize our code without needing to know anything about programming to ensure it is correctly marked up for search engine bots to read and understand clearly.
Module 8 was all about structuring the pages of a website so search engines can understand the topic areas in which the site excels.
Module 9 covered key areas search engines look for in terms of security, page loading speed and content presentation and how you can shine in all of them.
Everything we have learnt so far is on-Page SEO and it can be enough to rank a website at the top of the Search Results. But search engines also use another major factor to determine your position. Authority.
There are numerous signals that search engines use to calculate your authority but a key driver is gaining links from other websites. But, but, but not just any links.
Lets return to our How to be a Carpenter website and our page, Types of wood. We've made sure the content is jam packed full of really useful and well presented information about different timbers.
Bob the blogger came across the page and was so impressed he created a link to it in one of his posts.
You can imagine a link as a pipe winding through the internet. And what's that goo moving through the pipe. Its called link juice. The more link juice that is passed to your site this way, the more authority your page has and the higher it will rank.
How much link juice a link passes and the power of that link juice depends on 6 factors
Factor One: Where the link comes from
A link can basically come from one of three types of website. The Good, The OK and the Ugly
The good are websites with a lot of link juice. They are highly respected by search engines as they can see a long history of well run domains.
A small selection of these are treated by search engines as Seed Sites. Search engines keep their list of seed sites a closely guarded secret but we can be pretty confident that some of the mega-sites out there such as Wikipedia are probably seed sites.
You'll also get a rankings boost if your website has a link trail back to one of these.
For example lets say Wikipedia is a seed site and they create a link to Bob's Health and Lifestyle website. Bob will get a rankings boost from the link juice but also because the link is from a Seed Site.
Now if Bob links to our website we'll get a rankings boost because we are one step away from a Seed Site.
But if Bob linked to Jen's site and then Jen linked to use we would be two steps away from a Seed Site. We'd still feel a boost but not as strong as if we were one step away.
So your distance from a seed site affects the power of your link juice.
The OK are your everyday websites that can range from the wildly popular blogger to a little known small business. Some have a little link juice, some have a lot.
The ugly are websites that have been made purely for the purposes of creating links. Content farms masquerade as article sites and Private Blog Networks, or PBNs as they are often called, pretend to be genuine blogs.
You'll know them because they are bulging full of eye wateringly bad articles and verbal vomit.
Content like Why you need Car Insurance.
Car insurance is important because if you are in an accident and you don't have insurance you will have to pay for the repairs. These repairs can be very expensive especially if the accident was a big one. But if you are insured someone else will pay so that you don't have to ... and on, and on, and on.
Link Farms usually try to disguise themselves as directories but are no more than lists of links.
Content farms and link farms are not always spotted immediately by search engines and so they have some link juice for a while. But they get rumbled in the long term. Links from these places can be dangerous for your website as we'll see in a moment.
Let's start with the good and say our Types of Wood page gets a link from the New York Times and a link from Wikipedia. As these are highly respected domains search engines count their links as important.
They pass on what is known as link juice. The link juice is coming directly into our Types of Wood page but because that page has internal links to other pages on the site we are passing some of that link juice around.
The page with the two links benefits the most but the whole site benefits to some degree.
What about the not so good. They will still have a little bit of juice to pass on and it all counts so don't go ignoring these. Immensely popular blogs, for example, will have a fair bit of link juice.
And the ugly? They usually have little juice to pass on and once discovered by search engines their link juice is discounted completely. If the search engines believe you created these on purpose there may also be a price for you to pay so avoid these like the plague.
There are three common types:
Link farms - websites that just contain lists of links
Content farms - websites full of low quality articles that no one ever reads
Private Blog Networks - set up to look like a real blog but really just a a content farm
Juice flows around so what if Sally's blog gets a link from a highly respected site like harvard.edu. Now her link to our Types of Wood page has more juice to pass on so our page benefits even more.
That's why you can sometimes see an improvement in your rankings even if you don't get any new links. It is also why the best links come from real, solid websites likely to attract more links of their own over time.
Factor Two: Link Placement
A link from a highly respected website, or even a good website gets some link juice flowing but how much is also dependent on where the link is on the page.
Links outside the main content of the page, say in the side bar or footer area carry less juice. Obviously the owner of the page does not see them as being of the same importance as their main content so neither do the search engines.
The also look suspiciously like paid for ads, especially if there is a list of links, so search engines might ignore them altogether.
The ideal link is inside the main content of the page, and the higher up it is, the greater the share of link juice you will get.
Factor Three: The 'in context' link
Link juice is more powerful if it comes from a page or website with a similar theme. A link from a Wikipedia page about Red Oak has strong overlapping themes with our page about types of wood so our link juice counts for more!
The link from Bob's blog post about building your own Bench Press has some contextual overlap but the main theme is different so the power of the link juice is reduced.
Factor Four: How many links
Bob's link to our web page is not the only link on the page and so whatever link juice Bob has gets spread around. Some goes to his other pages via his navigation menu. If he has included a link to someone else's website further down the article they'll be taking a share as well although we'll get a little more for being higher up the page.
Factor Five: The age of the link
Search engines register when they first find links to your site's pages. If one of your pages got some links 5 years ago and nothing since they assume you are less relevant than a web page with a similar topic that got five similar links (in terms of link juice) this year
Factor Six: The no-follow link
Any webmaster can choose who they are going to pass link juice onto and who they aren't.
Bob's link to our sample website, in code form, might look like this.
But if he changed it to this
then by adding 'no follow' into the code of the link he is telling search engines not to let link juice flow that way.
The first type of link is called 'Do follow' while the second, for obvious reasons, is called 'No follow'
So just because you can see a link to your website on a highly respectable website and all you want to do is party you first need to view their source code, as we did in an earlier module, and see if the link has 'no follow' beside it.
It doesn't? OK get on and party!
That was a lot to take in so let's go back to where we were and see it visually.
Here's Bob's Health and Lifestyle blog. The blue represents how much link juice he has available to pass on.
He's created a link to our website and we've checked the source code to verify it is a do follow link so we know its passing on link juice.
Its also a link in the main content of one of his pages and fairly near the top so that's all good news.
Lots of lovely link juice flowing to our carpentry website. But the link juice from Bob's page is being shared between all the links on his page so we only end up with some of it.
Now lets say Bob's website gets a do follow link from Wikipedia. This is going to benefit us in two ways.
First, Bob is going to get more link juice ... and so he has more to pass on to our Types of Wood page.
Second, we can be fairly confident Wikipedia is a Seed Site. If it is then Bob's going to be getting some powerful link juice and we'll also get a bit of that extra power because we are one connection away from a seed site. Even better news.
But let's say we fall for a scheme which offers us a link from a Private Blog Network. It might send us a little link juice for a while but as soon as the Search Engines spot the PBN for what it is ... that site will have no link juice to send.
... and if the search engine thinks we had a hand in creating this link well ...
We call this type of link juice, toxic link juice
So lets summarize that, the best link is:
from a page on another website that has authority and will probably gain more authority over time. That gives it link juice
in the main content of the page
early on in the content of the page
on a page whose theme is similar to yours
without a 'no follow' tag
So how can you actually get links. You'll hear people say 'create great content and then the links will come'. A process known as 'link earning' where you hope your content is discovered rather than 'link building' where you play an active part in the creation of links.
But after a few weeks of living in link earning hope you might find yourself asking "OK .... when exactly?"
The truth lies in the middle. Your content does need to be great. No one links to rubbish. But sometimes the process of gaining links needs a little help.
There are many methods but as this is a basic course we'll just touch on two of the most popular.
Method 1. Just ask.
You could, for example, carefully research related websites where you truly believe adding a link to your content would benefit that Webmasters readers and reach out to them.
Lets say our carpentry website didn't have a link from Bob's site
We could send Bob an email which says
"Hey Bob, I see you wrote a blog post about building your own bench press. I've got a page about types of wood that your readers might be interested in as it would help them choose the right timber for their needs".
Notice we're being detailed, specific and personal. We explain exactly where we think the link would work and why and we've taken the trouble to find out the webmasters name It doesn't harm to be humble either. Use words like "If you don't think it merits a link I'm sorry for wasting your time".
You want to avoid being treated as spam and maximise your chances of getting a positive response.
Bob might say, "Hey cool, that would make the article a whole lot better for my visitors" and you get a quality link that will last for years and won't get you into trouble.
Method Two. Broken Links
We can also search websites with similar themes to ours for broken links using apps like Screaming Frog, Scrutiny or DeepCrawl and reach out to them like this.
"Hi Jen, I see a link on your resources page for construction timber is broken. It's the one that uses the words 'Timber choices'. I think I have the perfect alternative.
If you don't feel it fits then sorry for wasting your time"
And she might say "Thanks for spotting my broken link. I've updated it so it points to your page!"
Such work requires a great deal of time and effort to research and execute but each link you earn will count for far more than hundreds from spammy sites which could end up sending you toxic link juice.
There are many more ways to earn links which we will cover in later courses alongside how you can do the ones shown here with greater efficiency.
Link building can be the most difficult part of SEO and it is an area bulging with shark and cowboy companies that can often, on the surface, look very legitimate.
The purpose of this module is to make sure you understand what makes solid long term links so you don't get taken in by bogus schemes and methods which could do you far more damage than good in the long term.
If you are approached by someone offering links for sale now you can ask the right questions which are usually enough to make the con artists leave you alone and go after emptying the wallets of those who don't understand SEO.
So we've covered on-Page and off-Page SEO but how can we know if the changes we make are working? That's in the next module.
Has this video highlighted issues with your SEO work or with a website you are working on but you don't know how to resolve them?
There are simply too many ways a website can be built for us to offer a comprehensive how to part to these tutorials however we would recommend the following steps.
Google it! If you know what platform your website is built on (say XCart or Wordpress) just try googling what you need. For example "How to make WordPress urls SEO friendly" to find out how you can make changes to the urls of your WordPress based site.
You'll be surprised how often issues have already been resolved by others and sometimes they have even created plugins so you can make the changes you need to without needing any technical skills.
If this doesn't resolve your issue you probably will need the help of a programmer. In this case see the 'Need Help' link below this video or in the module text for options.
That was module ten, becoming an authority. Next up Module eleven, monitoring your progress, and, as they always say at the end of these videos, if you like what you saw, remember to subscribe.