Russian SEO

22.07.2011

(“Analyzing the 9 Most Common Link Building Strategies” Review)

Some time ago John Lynch posted his article to the Search Engine Watch. We translated it to Russian and wonder if this wheat will grow in our frozen SEO-lands. Simply speaking, will these strategies be useful for the Russian SEM? To begin with there are two major search engines — Yandex and Google — on the Runet (as we call the Russian segment of Internet). So all that we say below concerns these two only. Here we go, this is our 9 tough Russian commentaries to the 9 most common link building strategies.

1. Internal Links

Internal links occur within the site itself and offer webmasters two major advantages:

  • The ability to help search engine spiders find new content.
  • The ability to pass PageRank and develop silos of authority within the hierarchy of a website.

Cost/Benefit: Internal links are the low hanging fruit of link building and this tactic is frequently overlooked by webmasters. The most effective internal links are blended seamlessly within article, are not navigational, and are not clustered at the end of the content.

Penalty Risk Level: None.

Tough Russian Commentary: You shouldn't disregard the internal links. They not only increase your ranking, but are also useful for your customers if there is competent implementation. Especially it's important in SEM for online shops with wide range of goods. You can't promote every article of trade, so you get high ranking mostly by optimized texts and high page authority. Internal linking does provide the latter. And if there's a lack of external links internal links and texts provide you an advantage.

2. SEO Directories

By and large, web directories are the telephone pages of the Internet. No relevance, no ranking, and no human input.

Cost/Benefit: With the exception of Yahoo and DMOZ, directories are an enormous waste of time and resources. They're essentially a paid link that passes rank. I've done SEO directory tests on several domains and the results were a bit startling. Of the three sites tested, none improved rankings and two dropped to the third page for top rankings.

Penalty Risk level: Moderate/high.

Tough Russian Commentary: As a matter of fact there is a big argument about possibility of negative influence of external links on the Runet. People dissenting with it say that if there is one you can easily take the rival for a ride by building a lot of links to his site. We'd say negative influence is possible - manifested in decreasing of site authority on long-term outlook. But external links themselves can't be a reason for tough penalties. SEO directories been made only for posting a bunch of links are filtered out by search engines. So they work until the filtering is applied. Using a catalogue containing direct links to the site is good. Maybe that doesn't increase ranking with exact keywords, but it will improve the authority of the whole site. And this factor becomes more valuable in ranking formula lately.

3. Comment Links

The concept is simple, right? Find a bunch of article/blog posts that are thematically relevant and start posting links with your keywords in the anchor text. Cost/Benefit: In terms of increasing rankings, this no longer works. The vast majority of blogs are some variation of Wordpress or Blogspot, which set comment links by default to "nofollow," meaning your website won't receive the link juice. Simply put, it's not worth the time.

Penalty Risk Level: Moderate. Depending on the depth of your link portfolio, too many of these links can crush your link variance ratio. Dropping a URL in a comment isn't a big deal, but mixing in some anchor text in the "Name:" section is a spammy signal.

Tough Russian Commentary: Until now only Google have been accounting rel=''nofollow''. For Yandex this attribute didn't work. If you wanted Yandex not to follow the link, you have should put it in tag. In April Yandex start regarding to rel="nofollow", and now we have the same situation. Touching Wordpress there is dofollow plugin, and some Russian blogs have installed it. Well, spam in the commentary section is about reputation. It can be useful, but costs too much, so it's inefficient.

4. Paid Links/Sponsored posts

Paid links are the most common form of traditional link building. This is the process of finding potential link partners and offering them cash in exchange for a dofollow link with the anchor text of the webmaster's choices.

Cost/Benefit: I'm not endorsing paid links, which are against Google's Webmaster Guidelines, but they can be one of the most effective methods of building links.

Penalty Risk Level: Depends. Using a text link broker is like stamping a "kick me" sign to Google. Whether or not they penalize your site, the link networks of these brokerage firms often get uncovered and their links are seriously de-weighted (or removed from the index entirely). If you get caught in one of these schemes, it might be time to dust off the old r?sum?.

Tough Russian Commentary: Today that's the cheapest mean of mass link building on the Runet and so it's the most popular. Other strategies like SEO directories and link exchange have been discounted because of it. However search engines fight against such links harder and harder. They reveal it and undervalue its influence. So the efficiency of the strategy will have been decreasing, and in the end we will come back to the oldschool (or White-Hat) methods which are tedious but efficient.

5. .Gov/.Edu Extensions

Quite simply, these are the holy grail of links and have a massive impact in helping a page or website rank for targeted keywords.

Cost/Benefit: I wouldn't recommend a concerted effort in achieving these links. Political connections can go a long way, but a campaign dedicated to obtaining these links isn't the best use of time and resources.

Penalty Risk Level: None.

Tough Russian Commentary: Our specialists hadn't heard about this strategy implementation here in Russia. But we’ve got feedback from those who read our article on the Russian sites, and there is a rumor that search engines have Trust Lists which consist of Internet-oldbies including governmental and educational organizations. Way to the heaven is made of trusted links they say.

6. Social Media

These links are fairly easy to disseminate through channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube; however, these links are all nofollowed.

Cost/Benefit: While these links might not pass PageRank, the ancillary benefits can be tremendous. One powerful tweet can generate dozens of high-quality backlinks across the blogosphere, which will pass PageRank. In all likelihood, Google will become more active in monitoring and using these social signals as supporting evidence for sites that have suddenly increased their link portfolios.

Penalty Risk Level: None. Just don't turn your Twitter account into a spam zombie.

Tough Russian Commentary: SMM in Russia does the first steps. Few people realize putting all the buttons linking to the Facebook, Vkontakte (russian clone of Facebook, you should know it), Twitter and other social networks, blogs and microblogs is no less important than traditional SEM strategies. But things have started moving. By the year 2012 Russia will escape the crisis wearing social media goodies like guerilla wearing cartridge belts.

7. Link Baiting

The process of generating incoming links through the creation of engaging content and tools.

Cost/Benefit: Link baiting is the most reliable long-term strategy for developing a high performance domain in search engines. Famous examples of link baiting include the subservient chicken, Radiohead remixes, and Office Max's "Elf Yourself." When creating link bait, follow one simple rule: make your content something an audience will want to share with others.

Penalty Risk Level: None. In fact, Matt Cutts of Google has encouraged link baiting.

Tough Russian Commentary: The point is to make a hook. We all heard about successful cases, but you should realize that one win appears within ten or twenty fails. Making viral content is tedious and expensive, so it's like Russian roulette (yeah, we play it all day long), pure luck. Therefore there are risks. Not penalty risks but costs risks. You can afford it, if you are the big one.

8. Press Release Links

Using a press release firm such as PR Web or PR Newswire in the hopes of generating incoming links.

Cost/Benefit: This strategy is fine, so long as the press release is useful. When done well, releases can drive quality backlinks from reputable news sources. Tip: be sure to link deep within the site when relevant.

Penalty Risk Level: None.

Tough Russian Commentary: If your company has a good rank at the market, they will write about it. If not, you should sue Google — trade media will spread the news at once.

9. Reciprocal Links

My inbox is constantly flooded with endless requests from webmasters requesting link exchange. To be clear: building an example.com/link.html pages will do nothing for your rankings. Google discounts these outbound links and seriously de-weights incoming links.

Cost/Benefit: Don't engage in this strategy and don't play the fool's game of quickly unlinking to make them appear as one-way links; it's another spammy signal that won't get your far. Instead, develop relationships with other savvy webmasters and trade links deep within pages when there's semantic relevance. News portals frequently sign these types of partnership deals.

Penalty Risk Level: Low.

Tough Russian Commentary: We'd assess penalty risk level as moderate, and of you are stupid enough — it is high. Causing penalties by external factors is unlikely. And inappropriate content will probably cause penalties. Spam links section on the site which is off the topic and unorganized, they can't help applying penalties from decreasing ranking to the absolute ban. If you post links on topic, there is a risk too, because it's easier for search engine to reveal your working up if there is the «Links» section. Therefore this strategy is more risky than the others.

That's all, folks. From Russia with love…