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May 05

Article Syndication, Gaining Steam?

A few signs that article syndication is becoming more mainstream as a link building method:

  • new article banks are popping up left and right
  • I’ve seen a lot more posts on webmaster forums on article syndication

This thread from SEOChat introduced me to a pretty comprehensive article submission list.
If you are promoting multiple sites, it’s a good idea to come up with a
good article submission list; if you do, each 500 word article that you
have written can provide you with over 50 relevant, permanent backlinks. Not a bad deal.

May 05

More on TrustRank and Directories

There’s been quite a bit of hoopla about TrustRank [PDF] lately. In my opinion, this hoopla is much deserved, and in the coming months we will see TrustRank more heavily integrated into Google’s algorithm.

How does it affect link building? Well I can think of a couple ways that TrustRank will affect my link building strategy:

1) Links from "trusted sources" such as DMOZ (or DMOZ-listed sites, or .gov’s, etc.) will become more important than ever.
2) Links from low-quality sites that are heavily integrated into spammy SEO link networks may not only not help your site but could possibly hurt your site.

Many directories that are favored by SEO’s to inflate link popularity are heavily integrated into spammy link networks; they often lack any sort of "trustworthy" inbound links, and, conversely, they tend to link out to sites that also lack "trustworthy" links (a double whammy!)

Aaron Wall, besides being a Leonardo DiCaprio look-alike, is a pretty darn smart SEO. He talks about how links from spammy directories could hurt a site in his new article, TrustRank & the Company You Keep.

You are the company you keep. this means:

  • their inbound linkage data will likely come from many low trust sites
  • many sites which have limited trust scores (a disproportionately large percentage) will be included amongst their listings.
  • too many links from these sites may thus pass AntiTrust (or a negative TrustRank score) to listed sites.

Now, my own qualification: TrustRank will devalue many spammy directory links, but high quality directories may be closely linked from the couple hundred "seed sites" Google uses. Here is my short (and by no means comprehensive) list of directories that I think will help a site’s rankings via TrustRank. I am listing those directories that I think have a high percentage of "trustworthy" incoming links, and that have a high percentage of outbound links that are to "trustworthy" sites.

The obvious suspects (mentioned by name on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines page):

2) Yahoo! Directory

The less obvious suspects:

3) JoeAnt
4) Gimpsy
5) GoGuides  
6) Uncover the Net (a W3C member!)

When you are considering paying for that directory listing, you may want to ask yourself: is this directory making an honest attempt to categorize high quality Web sites? Or is it just listing any random site that’s willing to pay $20? ;)

May 05

Roundup: Links About Links

May 05

Does Google Hate Directories Now?

So you’ve all probably heard about TrustRank by now, and if you read SEO Book, you know that it could possibly screw low quality directories (i.e., 95% of them), making the links they hand out worthless.

Meanwhile, it appears the Google may be publicly taking some steps to combat spammy link building via directories. From Threadwatch:

According to the members at the DP forums, several directory categories in high profile sites such as Dmoz and Yahoo have been blanked out of PageRank.
We’ve talked in the past about Google targeting directory sites for
various reasons, but this time it comes with a twist, cutting off PR at
major sources. Those blanked out categories include…

Personally I am surprised they would combat spammy directory links this way (if in fact it is what they are doing). Why wouldn’t they just greybar obviously SEO-inspired directories, or make the links from them worthless?

May 05

Like It or Not, That DMOZ Link Still Matters

I remember when I first got into SEO, back in the "old days" when PageRank was king. A recurrent question in webmaster forums, even then, was "Is getting listed in DMOZ important?" The answer, depending on who you asked, was either "Absolutely, yes" or "No way".

But every SEO seemed to obsess about it. The SEO community has always had a bit of a fetish with DMOZ.

Jill Whalen chimes in on the matter in a High Rankings thread, Buying A Dmoz-listed Domain From An Owner, Is it worth it?

Why people (who you’ve read) think that means dmoz puts a lot of
emphasis in Google as far as rankings are concerned, is beyond me.
There’s no reason to suspect that a dmoz listing is given any more
emphasis than any other link.

I have to disagree here, on grounds of TrustRank [PDF]. If Google is basing a link algorithm on the principle of starting with 200 or so trusted "seed sites", and calculating a site’s link strength by measuring it’s degree of integration with the outgoing link structure of those seed sites, then getting a single incoming link from any trusted seed site is going to have a very powerful effect on a site’s ranking.

What is true is that getting a link from one of the other 199 seed sites would also be very helpful. We don’t know what those sites are, though, and they probably aren’t willing to hand out links like DMOZ does. Therefore I believe the importance many people place on a DMOZ listing is quite justified.

Yet Jill seems to imply that a DMOZ listing may even have a negative effect on your Web site, because it has the potential to give your site an unwanted description in the SERPs.

What they are doing is stealing the dmoz description and using that in
your Google listing. This is why I say that it’s actually a hindrance
more than a help.

Actually, the fact that Google uses DMOZ’s description of these sites in the SERPs just shows how much Google trusts DMOZ. They trust it to describe a Web site more accurately than they trust a webmaster to describe his or her own site!

What I do agree with Jill about is that fact that there is no use worrying about a DMOZ link. Why? Because worrying about it doesn’t help anything. If you have time to be worrying, you have time to get a different, non-DMOZ authority link from a well-respected site in your topical community–or, failing that, you have time to add more good content to your site that will ensure it’s listed in DMOZ eventually.

Your scheme will waste you time and money that you could be putting
towards something that will actually make a difference to your site,
like building more content, starting a newsletter, or pretty much
anything else besides thinking about dmoz.

So my advice is to submit your site and then forget about it. Three months later, if you’re still not listed, submit to a different (but still relevant) category. There is at least the chance that the editor of that category will like your site better and will list it (or, perhaps, the second editor will be actively checking the queue of unreviewed sites, while the other editor wasn’t).