Who Said Links Were Dead and the Challenge of Selling Product Online

Posted 3 years ago


Before I begin this newsletter I just want to make one clarification about the “Majestic SEO” trust ratio, the topic of recent newsletters. Different SEO companies calculate the ratio differently. In the end, it’s a difference without meaning as long as you remember that trust is more important than citation. Think of Trust Flow as how important the sites are that link to you and Citation Flow as how many sites link to you. Originally Majestic calculated the ratio as follows: trust flow divided by citation flow = trust ratio. The closer to zero the better. Now they calculate it as: citation flow divided by trust flow = trust ratio. The closer to infinity, the better. I prefer the former method. To me “zero” is concrete.

And, please remember this, Majestic says that it’s extremely difficult to have more trust flow than citation flow simply due to the nature of the web. However, in our program, overwhelmingly, partners have more trust flow than citation flow (e.g. 0.8) or the trust flow equals the citation flow (1.0) or the citation flow is only slightly greater than the trust flow (e.g.1.1). But our scores are splendid no matter how you calculate the ratio. Now to the newsletter…

Who said links were “dead”? Can you rank in Google without links? Not according to the latest research from MOZ.com


A new barrier to rankings for those who sell product.   I was helping a client rank for “outdoor tables” and I looked at the #1 listing for outdoor tables. It’s this page at http://www.lowes.com/Outdoors/Patio-Furniture/_/N-1z0wemr/pl   What’s remarkable is that there’s not a single reference to the phrase “outdoor tables” anywhere on the page, not even in the meta tags. It has virtually no on-page optimization for the phrase although the keywords are there separately, which only serves to diminish their weighting. However, the page does have some link trust, with links from 35 referring domains, but that isn’t much compared to most websites and the few referring links I checked don’t seem to use “outdoor tables” as the anchor text. There’s just nothing that would make this page in itself trustworthy enough to be the #1 ranked page for the two-word search phrase “outdoor tables”.   Except for one thing, the TLD (top level domain) is Lowes.com. It’s as though lower level pages from sites like Lowes, Walmart, Home Depot, Ikea and so on, don’t need to be algorithm-vetted in order to rank at the top. That’s what a lot of you who sell product have noticed over the last year or two. The lower level pages of Lowes, Walmart, etc, get page 1 placement simply because the pages belong to Lowes, Walmart, etc.

Our program works so well for professional websites (lawyers, doctors), the trades (plumbers, roofing contractors, etc.), and even certain small business websites that can, in various ways, side-step the shadow cast by the big players. For example, my friend Mike in Newfoundland (http://www.sk8clothing.com) sells skateboard clothing. On Google.ca, in a search for “skate clothing”, I had to go back 9 pages before I saw a seller I personally recognized, apart from Mike’s site, and that was Adidas. Sure, Mike has competition but it’s the sort of competition you expect to have and Mike can compete with those guys. It’s a level playing field. But these days sometimes I’m doing a search for a product and I recognize almost all the retailer names going back even three pages. They’re all big players. It’s not easy to side-step them. But folks, I suppose, if you want to compete globally, sometimes, you have to compete against global players.

I recently helped another great client, Jimmy of http://floridapatio.net, rank #1 in Google Local and #2 in organic for “patio furniture manufacturer florida”; meanwhile, Lowes is only on the page as a paid ad. But we fall several pages back when “florida” is taken out of the search phrase. Can you imagine the potential sales if we could get him on page 1 for simply “patio furniture manufacturer”? Well, I had him there a few years back and I have an idea as to how I can get him there again but we haven’t tested it yet.

But this is one of the angles, if you sell product; you have to side-step the big players. I used to suggest that you just chase long-tail search phrases; those are search phrases that are more rare and get fewer searches and hence have less competition. But now if you search for ”outdoor dining tables for 10” you still see Lowes and all the other big players, not because they have competitive lower level pages chasing these long-tail search phrases, but because they are “Lowes”.

I think it’s still possible for smaller players to rank locally if they have good link trust and suitable on-page optimization, but it’s tougher than ever to rank globally. All I can say is that I’m researching this and if any of you have input, please share.

Since we’re talking about Lowes and we’ve spent the last couple of newsletters talking about the Majestic SEO’s measure of link trust, have a look at the graph for Lowes.com:














The trust flow ratio, using the method I prefer, is exactly the same as our program average of 0.7 (57 divided by 74) but you can see by the links that hug the bottom citation flow axis, that Lowes has its share of low trust links. But it has links from 48,854 referring domains and a lot of them are good links and so that averages out to a huge amount of trust. They deserve to rank. But I still think that whereas a couple of years ago, when the lower level pages of such sites ranked if they deserved to rank, now I think they rank simply because they belong to these big players. Trust by association.

Quantity matters, too. Since you can see how dense the Lowes graph is, let me remind you that both quality and quantity matter.   If you are in our program then you have trusted links, great quality links. But some of you should probably try to get a few additional links. I don’t think you need another “program”. Most of them will just send you zero trust links. I can see that on your sites already from previous linking adventures. I really feel my program is the only “program” you need, but in addition to my program please be on the lookout for other linking opportunities.

But don’t go crazy. In the real world how likely is it that someone is going to take the time to link to you? When is the last time you linked to someone because you really, really liked their website? I think Google has a sense of realism about this. So, I’m not talking about 200 additional links. I’m talking about maybe 10 or even 20, just to round out your links profile, diversify your profile, and add a bit more link juice.

One source for additional links is legitimate directories. The top ones still matter but you have to pay to get into them. The top five seem to be Dmoz.org (free but very difficult to get in to), the Yahoo Small Business Directory, BOTW (“Best Of The Web”), Jasmine Directory, and Elizon Directory. There are also some good niche-specific directories tied to geography or industry. But stay away from directory programs!!! They are usually spam programs involving directory sites created purely to pass on link trust. Google squashed most of them a few years back. Please take a measured approach. And if the cost is too much, then maybe do one directory now and another one in 4 or 6 months.

Consider one-to-one linking opportunities when they come along even if they’re reciprocal links, but remember that most of the time, when someone contacts you, they are really just doing a form of “cold calling” for some links service. In future newsletters, we’ll explore other legitimate ways to get good links.

Competitor comparison. Speaking of other programs, I have an acquaintance, Kris, who specializes in bringing link trust to his clients. His father used to be a client of mine maybe 5 years ago and a few months ago, the son, all grown up and now an SEO, contacted me selling his services. It’s a small world. Anyway, on his home page he refers to his service as “totally pure white hat link building”. Well, that’s just so much salesman puffery. But it’s an intriguing service and it appears to work. He buys old domains that have some link trust and he builds completely fake but industry specific websites at those domains. Fake websites is as old as the industry but Kris takes the time to make those sites as “real” as he can, and they do have link trust from their previous history. He has a few other bells and whistles such as boosting Google Local rankings, social media link posts, etc. and he has several levels of service, the cheapest is $297 a month for links from 5 of these “fake” websites, and a few of the other bells and whistles. He has lots of clients it seems and he is bold enough on his home page to call SEO a license to print money.

Well, when it comes to fees I know I’m still driving with training wheels but I wanted to see how his service compares with mine. The problem is that comparators are often more like apples and oranges and what you see is what you want to see. But then I found maybe the perfect comparator. I was searching rankings for a client when I saw Kris’ father’s site, the site that was with me a good five years ago. By coincidence, I have another client in the same MLM niche, chasing more or less the same keywords. I compared their rankings.

My client (http://www.lead-king.net) ranks #1 in this niche for “business opportunity leads” (that was at the time I did the comparison a few weeks ago, today he is #3), but Kris’s father isn’t on the first three pages. But he ranks #4 for “mlm leads” while my client doesn’t rank for it. It appears to be close to a saw-off except that “business opportunity leads” gets twice as many searches as “mlm leads” based on Wordtracker. When you sort of combine the above search phrases into “mlm business opportunity leads” my client ranks #3 while the father ranks #8. There are other search results but overall my client seems to get in front of more traffic for a fraction of the cost, and I have to assume that Kris’s father doesn’t have his son’s cheapest service but his best service which is about $1000 a month. Of course, I can’t account for all the variables that might affect these differing results, but I think my program is better.

By the way, for any one interested, there is only 1 MLM site in my program. Yes, “relatedness” is largely a myth.

But you know, even though Kris’s service is truly “black hat” because of the fake websites, its low key. I think he can help people rank and I think the risk of penalty is very minimal. For someone with the budget and the need to push their rankings to the next level, you could do a lot worse that try this fellow. And he seems to be stronger with social media that I am presently, though I plan to improve this in the coming months. So, if any of you want his contact info, let me know. Just don’t leave me!!

Client of the month. We have so many great program members, I want to link out to at least one of you each newsletter. Today, I want to acknowledge Sue of http://www.corporateladderresumes.com. If you need resume or other writing services, contact Sue in Dallas, Texas. She has a way with words. The only negative is that she has this nasty habit of sending out old-fashioned Christmas cards with green glitter. I once made the mistake of opening one of her cards in my nice new Jeep Wrangler. I spent a year cleaning green glitter from the vehicle interior. And believe it or not, I have another client who actually sells glitter as a prank product (http://glitterpal.com/). Glitter really does get everywhere!

And finally. Last newsletter I introduced you to my new links program website and today I’d like to introduce to my new on-page focused SEO site at http://handsubmit.com. The original site goes back to the year 2000 (hence the dated domain name) and was sorely in need of updating, not just due to the requirement for mobile accommodation. I built it myself at WordPress with some last minute “save the day” help from my friends at http://printingpeach.ca/.

That’s all for now, folks.





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