Getting free links

When I started my first site selling woven silk ties from the UK I signed up with a SEO company called 123rankings who guaranteed that they would get me into the top ten on Google for five search terms within six months. I paid their fees for four months without any noticeable results. Then my web developer told me that they used a piece of software called SEO Elite and had good results, he gave me an ebook by the softwares author a SEO expert called Brad Callen, you can download a pdf copy of the ebook here and go to his website here. I was shocked at how easy it was when I followed the instructions. I was also surprised at how badly the SEO company 123rankings I had been paying each month had been doing and now do it all myself. Here are the steps I went through.

First up was on-page factors, which means getting the keywords on your site right. This has only a small effect on your ranking but is important to get right. First up I found that the SEO company had changed the title page of my site and webpages to a meaningless list of keywords most of which were not the main ones that were selling my ties. Not only was this reducing my rankings on the keywords I really wanted, but if someone did dig deep enough into their google results to find me then the text that apppeared was a meaningless list”Print, theme, woven polyester, cartoon, novelty ties and cufflinks.” that does not include silk ties or even tie. Instead I changed the titles back to a meaningful phrase that would look good in google and on top of my site and would have all the right keywords. The keyphrases I have been targeting are woven silk ties, silk ties, silk tie, English silk tie and UK silk tie. My title page now reads “ Luxury English handmade woven silk ties. Satisfaction guaranteed with every tie.”. This works as both a sales pitch when coming up in search results and contains all my keywords. I went through all my header tags and keywords and as this has just reminded me I have just gone through again and made quite a few changes based on what I have learnt over the last month. This needs to be a continuous process of adding new words, creating cross-links across the site (to help Google to understand your site and to get some key sub-pages on to the search engine results) and polishing up the text so that it converts well with people and looks good to the search engines. I also bolded keywords on the top page and ensured my main search phrases were sprinkled over the page with one near the top and another near the bottom for each key phrase.

The main grunt work in search engine optimisation (SEO) is getting links. Google uses links as the main factor in search results so this is the key to high rankings and therefore free clicks and customers for you. Google uses several factors including the importance of the website (Page Rank), the keywords on the page, the title of the page, the text your site is linked from (known as the anchor text), the other links from that page, whether your site is linked back to the site that links to you (reciprocal links). To assess the page rank you need the Google Toolbar that you can download here this puts a little guage in internet explorer that shows you a ranking for every page you visit. The page rank runs from 0 to 10 and if it is greyed out then the site is not on or has been banned by Google. After four months I had got up to a Page Rank of 3.

The first point of call for links should be directories, by which I mean hand-edited lists of sites not search engines. The key site to be registered on is the Open Directory Project at My SEO people had registered my tie site with this, but had used the crappy list of keywords above. Once I corrected my listing I gained 30+ places on Google on some search terms. Google and most of the search engines place a high importance on the ODP and their search results are syndicated out to 100’s of other sites so a listing there rapidly spreads. Submit your site there now if you havent done so already. You can also do a Google search for more directories and register on at least all the ones specialisting in your product.

The next thing to do is to type your target key phrase into Google. For me it was woven silk ties. I then picked the top ranked site which had a Page Rank of 5, next fire up SEO Elite and type in the url of the top ranked site and select analyze backlinks. The software will then show all the sites that are linked to that top ranked site. If you can get the same links then you will be on your way to the top of the list too. Th software lists them in Google Page Rank order so you then simply go to each of the websites in turn from best first and submit your site listing or submit a link exchange request or failing those options by far the most common approach is to email them with a link exchange request. You get the best response if you add a link to their site first and then send an email like mine:
“I run a website selling silk ties I like your site and am interested in link exchanging. I have added a link to your site from: I would appreciate a return link as follows: English woven silk ties. Every silk tie comes with free worldwide delivery.”A few hours doing this gave me 20 or so links. I have also tried searching for tie listings in Google and getting listings on all the sites that came up. I have also searched for listing sites for markets I am interested in such as weddings. I sell a lot of ties for weddings with grooms and ushers often bulk buying and because I offer big quantity discounts I get quite a lot of these orders and want more. There are also link exchange sites. I have used used LinkMetro and this site allows you to find people to exchange links with and it helps to automate the process some what I have got 30 links for each of my sites with a few hours work on this site. It works particlularly well for my reproduction oil paintings site art specialist. I have exchanged links with lots of art sites, poster and print sites and also gifts and birthday sites were both ties and oil paintings make great links that will help my rankings on those search terms.

It is worth pointing out that pretty much any link exchange is worth having although those from high ranking sites count a lot higher. It makes sense, if your site is linked to from the front page of the BBC website (which has a page rank of 9) then it is clearly a very important site. The only links you do not want are those that are greyed out on Page Rank these could be banned sites. Google bans sites for trying to manipulate rankings in ways that it finds unacceptable. If you are linked to a bad site this will drag your ranking down. The SEO Elite tool also allows you to view how your website apppears to Google by analzying your backlinks, showing you the keyword ratings this generates and the number and rank of each site linked to yours and listed on a search engine. I am currently up to 73 links showing in this way. Which is now enough to have catapulted me to top ten on Google, MSN and Yahoo for “english woven silk ties” and “UK woven silk ties” and top fifty for “UK silk ties”. Now I am targeting shorter search phrases. To break into the top for very competitive phrases you can need hundreds of phrases for example a guy at one of the internet marketing companies said they had over 17,000 links. But now I was adding links at the rate of 30 a month to each of my sites but I am after more.

My next step which brought hundreds of top quality links was article writing for search engine rankings. When I started my search engine optimisation I was targeting relatively easy phrases to get going such as “English silk ties” and “uk woven silk ties”. Initially I focused my attention on my MSN ranking as they do not use site age or link age as a ranking factor unlike the others, particularly Google which puts a high importance on link age, the so called “sand box” that you are in for the first six to eight months. I got into the habit of actively getting link exchanges, both by using SEO Elite to find good link partners and by using Link Metro.

After less than a month I had fifty links for my tie website and was starting to get top twenties for my easy phrases on MSN for example I was ranking 14th for “English silk ties” and 8th for “UK Woven Silk Ties” whilst for better phrases I was not yet on the first page with “woven silk ties” (35th) and “Silk Ties” (245th).

The next boost up the rankings was to come from article writing. I discovered that there are lots of websites out there that publish articles. The search engines rate these sites highly as they offer lots of content with text heavy pages and are human edited. Most article sites let you have hyperlinks in your story and all of them allow a resource box at the bottom with links to your site(s). So if you write some articles related to the product you sell and then post the articles on many sites, you get lots of high quality links to your site.

First job is to come up with a topic. It is best to write articles related to your product, how to buy it, choose it, use it, reviews etc. This means your text and title will have lots of related keywords and you may even get some customers from people reading it. It shouldnt be too hard to come up with a few thousand word articles for almost any site. For ties for example, I have articles on a history of ties, tie tying and tie cleaning. These are on my web site and I publish them to article sites. For art, I am starting to write articles on buying art to use for this purpose. You can get ideas and content from searching the internet and using sites like wikipedia for facts. You can also use the article sites for free content to add to your site. Most of them allow re-printing of an article as long as the links and attribution are left in.

The process is pretty easy. Search in Google for “submit articles” and your topic and then register with each site and submit an article. It can take a couple of weeks for each article to get reviewed and published. Sometimes I get emails saying article rejected and the reason. The reason is usually something to do with links or overly commercial content, but I simply make edits to address their point and then re-submit. If you submit a number of articles spaced out by a month between each one across 100’s of article sites then you can build up a lot of links that will do wonders for your ranking.

After I had done this about ten timesI wondered if there was tool that might help, and found Article Submitter Pro this is a pretty cool tool that semi-automates the process. It has more than 700 article sites in it’s directory and using a window in the tool you can sort the sites by Page Rank and starting with the best sites register with each one and record the log in info in the tool. Then when you want to submit an article you enter it into the program and it takes you one by one to each of the sites and auto-fills in all the boxes with your login and then the article, biography and resource text. It keeps track of which articles you have submitted to which sites and helps to keep it all organised. Using Article Submitter Pro I can submit to a 100+ sites in a few hours which I do as a once a week task. After three weeks of article submission I am up to top fives for my easy phrases on MSN for example I am ranking 1st for “English silk ties” and 3rd for “UK Woven Silk Ties” whilst for better phrases I am now on the first page with “woven silk tie” (3rd) and “silk tie” (4th) and “silk ties” (25th). The results are really good so I am going to keep on publishing articles.

If you want to make pdf’s of your articles for your other sites then try here at PDF Converter the PDF Forum there offers information for people looking to learn more about using PDF.