5 Ways To Diversify Your Links

It’s obvious from the latest Page Rank update that Google is strongly buffering the effect of certain kinds of links. What kind of links? That’s a complex question, but I think I can answer it with two words: undiversified links.

The key to linkbuilding in 2007 is diversification. Below I explain five ways to diversify your links moving forward.

1. Stop pointing incoming links to your homepage

Let me set the record straight. At this point in time, if you focus 80% of your linkbuilding into non-homepages of your site, you’re going to get a lot more bang for your buck. After the last PageRank update, I had the intuition that Google was severely buffering the PageRank of sites that had an inordinate ratio of links going into the home page as opposed to those going into sub-pages. It’s much harder to manipulate deep linkage than homepage linkage, and Google has noticed this. The majority of my linkbuilding efforts (whether TLA, social voting, linkbait, whatever) are now aimed at pushing pagerank into the domain through the backdoor.

I can’t emphasize this enough. Even if you only pick 2 or 3 subpages of your domain to focus your linkbuilding efforts, you’ll get much more bang for your buck. The evidence is pointing to Google considering and weighting *whole domains* as units of measurement as opposed to single pages. Now more than ever, by building into subpages, you are helping your entire domain. The good news is that PageRank seems to flow a whole lot better throughout a site when you bring it in the backdoor.

2. Diversify the location of your links

Stop putting all your links in sitewide sidebars and footers. If you run a WordPress blog, consider doing targeted sidebar links per category as opposed to site wide. Also, consider throwing links around in old posts. Post level links are the most powerful, but take the most work. Text Link Ads now offers the chance to buy links at the post level, and I think it’s a great idea.

If you’re savvy enough with CSS it might help to change the semantics of your stylesheet div sections. Instead of “footer” you might use “the-end-is-near” … instead of “sidebar”, you might use “we-recommend” … and instead of “entry” you might use “juicy”

The most important thing is to diversify the location of your links. Sitewide is fine, but only if complimented by a nice dose of post-level links.

3. Diversify your anchor text

The worst thing you can do at this point for linkbuilding is get five sitewide links, all pointed at the homepage, all with the same anchor text. That’s a recipe for severely diluting the value of the links you acquire.

Instead, you might get three links into your homepage with anchor text like “Widgets for Wingnuts” , “The Best Widgets” and “Professional Widgets” and then get two links into each category of your site with variations on the category like “Sports Widgets” and “Widgets for Athletes.” Doing something systematic like this is a recipe for successfully avoiding the Google Link Buffer.

4. Get article level links from strong sites

Promote your site at places like Digg, Netscape and Reddit. Right now, I have a little secret in this regard that I discovered by being patient. Nothing mind blowing, but it works. I’m willing to share the “secret” with anyone who sends me a private message.

Pssssssst…another secret….Performancing is a strong site that rewards good content with free article level links. Give it a six month try and you’re golden.

5. Comment at other blogs

There’s good reason to believe that comment level links with the no-follow directive still pass linkjuice. But that’s not the reason to comment at other blogs. The real reason is to get noticed, and to get linked to from other participants who think you’re one of the cool kids. If you have useful things to say, you’ll gain respect and respect almost always turns into free links.

One of the best places to start off with your commenting career is at the Link Nazi’s Blog. Lots of people take him seriously, and lots of the cool cats make posts over there. Friends tell me that a single quality comment can yield your site dozens of respectful glances.

14 thoughts on “5 Ways To Diversify Your Links

  1. I agree with those five ways. Especially with the first explanation about linkbuilding. I will do it soon coz i want to know if it impacts my pagerank or not… thx

  2. Brett, the category slug is chosen on the oldest category you select. Good luck whatever you decide to do, but I’m with Raj. Unless you have a never-changing set of categories, you’ll run into trouble the minute you decide to manage your categories differently!

  3. Having played quite a lot with the category slug, nowadays I start with the standard year/month/day permalinks and the first 50-70 entries I don’t really focus on a limited number of categories.
    In UTW I use ‘assign tag for category’ (or similar expression) and then after 50-70 entries I trim down the numbers of categories (and use Dean’s permalink migrration plugin for the 301)

    Especially after last weekend’s PR update I think it could become a great strategy since I have seen many tag-slugs end up in the supplemental index (no worries, I know it’s not bad and don’t bother too much with the HELL part of it).
    When following that strategy I think it is a good way to improve the value of 8-12 (depending on the number of categories) keywords.

    But yes, I agree… starting with categoryslug from day 1 might bring problems in the long run.

  4. @SEOguruIndia: I haven’t a clue what you’re saying, other than trying to advertise your site.

  5. I’m never using category slugs in my permalinks. Category archives are still fine by me.

  6. I like using categories in the slug. The thing is I use multiple categories when I tag an article. This allows my readers to cross reference topics on my blogs. Only the first category gets slugged (I think its either alphabetical order or the first one checked).

    I have been writing a lot of articles on the same topic and when I categorize them I then use the category url as a link into my blog from other sites. For example, I have written a dozen or more articles on Voice Recognition and use that category to send people to my site utilizing the flagship content concept aimed at the category level.

    This also brings people into the site pre-funneled on the topic they were originally interested in and they do not need to go looking through my infinitely long list of categories (ok the long list kind of sucks, but no one is perfect). The point is you can go into the site and read 12 articles in succession on voice recognition. or similarly through the other categories.

  7. Gerard is right. I discovered this the bad way. I accidentally blew away my database on a new blog a couple of weekends ago. I fortunately had backups of each post, but I lost a few important comments. My URL structure uses only category and post name. I usually don’t like to use category, but someone suggested it here. When I had rebuilt the database by hand, sans comments, a couple of URLs had changed, since those posts used two or more categories.

    Fortunately, it’s a new blog and only had 8 posts. But imagine if it had hundreds. Of course, had I done a nightly/weekly backup, maybe it wouldn’t be an issue. Still, i’m never using category slugs again.

  8. ifranky – I implemented category slugs on a blog at the start, and it became enormously popular. The problem is, if I change category names or do any sort of category maintenance, it changes the url structures of old posts. The upshot is you have to keep your category structure rigid as hell or you risk breaking stuff – internal and external links.

    If I’d known this at the start, I would never have used the categories to form the URL. Bad idea unless you’re prepared to set your categories in stone.

  9. Good points, Brett. I’m going to have a “why deep link” article up at SearchEngineJournal.com – probably tomorrow. As per most of my articles there, it’s technical. I have a variation for this site that’s 80% done, but I have to make sure I don’t overlap too much.

  10. I started seeing deep linkage manipulation last fall myself. It was used by a company that will remain nameless, to hide information as opposed to promoting it. (ask yourself why someone would want to hide information online if you want to engage in some fun conspiracy theories).

    Regardless, the technique to hide can be used to illuminate as well, hence I signed up as an Illuminati initiate. (just kidding or am I?).

    Truth be told I agree with you there is a lot of bang for the buck in promotion of deep links. There’s a lot of ‘logic’ in it from Google’s perspective, because for your average website , not talking blogs here, the front page rarely has the information you are looking for. The good stuff is on the inside typically. So a strong deep link is probably where the surfer / reader wants to go anyway. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to pay attention to your deep pages and what you are doing with them.

    I for one am currently orchestrating a lot of movement in this area right now. . .

  11. Ok. Forget the “first 20” provision. Anyone who sends me a PM gets to learn about my effective, yet simple strategy with social voting.

  12. Awesome analysis Ryan. Especially #1 and #2 (CSS divs).

    One thing I often also notice is that people have too many internal links on their home page (or site wide even). This can in my experience lower the amount level of directly inherited domain PR juice. But if applied correctly every permanent link in fe. the sidebar will inherit [domain] PR-1.
    Usually I link on the main page to the articles I really want to pimp out (best of) and most read ones (keep the traffic coming).

    Another idea, to strengthen the power of keywords, is to use the category name in the slug. This is much better SEO than to use the date (standard) permalink structure such as the case is with WP. Use in WP /%category%/%postname%/ to obtain that structure. A simple plugin takes care of redirecting your old links to the new structure, and that without losing juice.
    Inconvenience with this strategy is that it isn’t too smart to assign entries two or more categories, but isn’t that what we have tags for?

  13. Love to write you an email but the contact form doesn’t seem to be working (hangs up) about the social bookmarking “secrets”. 🙂

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