I’m a bit overdue for a cheesy title, so Secrets to Google Ranking was the first thing that popped into mind.  First off, this is an SEO myth-buster of sorts.  Secondly, I’m not sure everyone realizes how simple it can be: we tend to over-think the whole SEO process (speaking with firsthand experience on that one).

Know What Google Wants

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a book that told you what Google wanted?  Actually it’s everywhere – blogs, forums, books – SEO isn’t really a “secret” but there are some easy ways to figure this out.

Read What Google Says They Want

I linked to Google’s “SEO for Beginners” handbook in my own book, Duct Tape SEO.  They didn’t spill all the beans but it’s a place to start.  May as well learn from the horse’s mouth – it’s their index and they dominate SEO traffic.  Get it here.

They didn’t stop there, thankfully – you ought to subscribe to Google Webmaster Help on YouTube here.  Lots of ‘cutting edge’ stuff so long as you can read between the lines…

They’re not forthright as you’d hope (like “building tons of links” from articles – um – still works in 2011…just as an example), but they’re still spilling the beans.

All that’s pretty ho-hum basic – you should know about those places already I’m thinking.  What might be new though, is the 125-page guide that Google just published (like 7 months ago) for their manual reviewers.

This has everything to do with Panda, since it was released after the Panda update took place – and it trains their quality reviewers (those human parts of the algorithm that check the SERPs for quality) what Google wants.

Sadly it’s news to me – I just read about it recently on PotPieGirl here.  So here’s the “secret handbook” of what makes up a quality site in Google, from Google’s own mouth.

Edit: Google has asked me to stop linking to that.

Actually I lied – they did no such thing – but they DID simply make that link end up on a weird page and they asked PotPieGirl to stop linking to that page…(I guess I’m chopped liver.)

But after reading it – I’m glad I wrote Duct Tape SEO. Because I nailed it in that book. Just sayin. Thanks for the validation, uncle Google.

If you didn’t get the book, I’ll be talking about some issues that “may or may not” come from that book in the future.

Why all the secrecy? Well I’m not supposed to have that book, and not admitting if I actually downloaded it or not – but I did read the thing. So stay tuned. Getting back to the post here…

Did I Miss the Mark in Duct Tape SEO?

I had no idea that quality guidelines book existed until Jennifer (PotPieGirl) published her post – credit where it’s due – so I was sorta biting my nails when I read through the PDF from Google.

Then I danced a jig since I nailed it dead-on.  Mwahahahahaahaaa!

OK, I don’t normally dance a jig – it was more like a fist pump sort of thing – but happy to say I did nail it and my rankings show it.

My big “A-Ha!” moment is simply this: experiment.  Lots of people are asking questions like “How many links can I build a day?”

“If I manually build links, should I stop at 10?  Is that too much?”

If you’re manually building links, build as many as you can.

You won’t get a penalty for manually building links, and it’s pretty hard to get a penalty for automating your link building…

A Few “Do Not’s”

There are some things you can and can’t do in link building.


Don’t do the stuff in red.  Just in case.  :)

SEO Do’s

  • Do build as many links as you can manually without worrying your pretty little head.
  • Build your links from a variety of sources.
  • Build your own list of private resources for linking.
  • Copy your competitors for new opportunities in link-building.
  • Experiment and test the boundaries…like automated links of stuff that works.
  • Experiment by using the most free resources first.
  • Pay attention to Google on link-building no-nos.

SEO Don’ts

  • Build all your links – automatically or manually – using the SAME EXACT ANCHOR TEXT…
  • Keep using the SAME sources on EVERY page…use variety.
  • Use everyone else’s “private list” for linking…
  • Be afraid to trail-blaze and keep your linking practices private…
  • Conduct SEO tests on your money-pages: use a disposable blog on a different C-Class IP address to test.
  • Assume that you need every new tool, method, link wheel or submitter just because the cool kids do it – test free versions first.
  • Be afraid to push their boundaries – they don’t publish what works for SEO’s like automated methods.  Make your life easier and test.

By the way – I haven’t touched a submitter of any sort since about June.  My “new” method involves a lot more up-front research, competitive analysis with Market Samurai and patience.

Panda Feeds on Content, So…

Give Google what it wants.  They release an algorithm update – pay attention.  What’s the big focal point?

Content.  Everyone knows the backlinking ‘game’ already – but what about the content game?

What about proper site architecture?  Internal linking that makes sense?

What about sticking with a site so long (once it’s proven to make money and not before) that you actually become an authority on the subject and know what you’re talking about?

The idiotic MFA model of “Stuff keywords and write 500 words” is (sadly far from) over…but what that’s done to online publishing is made everything a bit more pathetic.

What does a user want to read?  When they search for a term, are you diving into their actual intent or just trying to rank some flotsam higher than it belongs with a barrage of links?

You’ll make a load more money if you know your subject, and your audience. 

Do they want to buy?  Let them buy.

Do they want information?  Give them information…

Simple stuff – and pay attention to what the top 10 are offering that you’re not.  You’ll start seeing patterns and realize that sometimes content won’t rank, but it’s expected to be there.

An example might be a “buying guide for [product]” – those search volumes stink but everyone sorta expects that on a website about that product.  Doesn’t matter if you’ll rank all your content - give people what they expect to find.

If people expect it, I’m sure that Google Panda will, too.

Tracey Edwards a while back wrote this post about Building a USEFUL Authority Site and another later about Originality being a ranking factor.  Both have solid tips missing from most affiliate sites (read: build more trust than your competitors and make more dough).

If Link Building Works…

…it doesn’t exclude epic content.  I don’t care if you write about white socks, if you can’t write epic posts to that market then get out of that market.

(Or hire someone who can write epic posts in that market.)

It’s a poor excuse that “I can’t write epic posts about socks” or whatever your subject is.

Read this about Mezcal.  Epic.  It’s a liquor.  How epic can you be?

Before reading that post I would have called you an idiot (under my breath and behind your back of course, like a real man) for spending $200 on a bottle of booze of any sort.  After reading that post I want a case and I don’t really drink.

Read at ThinkTraffic.net how to write epic…stuff

You want natural links?  Earn them already.

Google wants a quality index?  Give it to them.  Readers want something to read?  Bring it.

A lot of this depends on targeting the visitors you want, so it starts with keyword research – but honestly they’ll bounce if they find the same old same old on your site compared to the three others they’ve already tried.

My content strategy is to be the last place they look for their answers.

People search for answers…so I simply try to give it to them.  Meaning: I write much longer than most (if I had a nickel every time someone said, “Wow, long post…” I think I’d buy Apple).

I want to exhaust their objections, concerns and sales barriers with an authoritative answer.

What Are You Building Links TO

This is the big hairy question.  Before you build your links – what are visitors coming to see?  1 review post on a thin site with nothing else but a glaring “BUY NOW!” button up top?

Really?  That’s the best you could come up with?  People are that stupid?

OK.  Maybe they are sometimes…I’d rather assume people are much smarter than that and they’re all a little skeptical when they arrive.  So my job and yours as a content publisher is to win their trust, be legit, and overwhelm with quality.

That means you should actually give a rip about your “about” page, your contact page, your website design and theme…(why I bought Flexsqueeze and OptimizePress among other things) not to mention your content itself.

Want to look like the 259,987 scam artists in your niche with their hapless content and 3 page sites?  Fine.  You’ll get traffic and get lucky if it converts…

But if you’re actually ready to compete online, then compete already.  Bring your best to the table – spend more time on content than your limp-willed competitors want to do: then mop up when you overtake them.

Feel free to laugh on your way to the bank.

The time for the MFA to die has come – good riddance – and with it: your opportunity to rise in the ranks and stake your claim in your niche is right now.

Stop playing by everyone’s rules when they’re in the kiddie pool, acting like $20 a month from AdSense per site is a good income…which brings me to my AdSense rant.  Actually I’ll publish that laters.

The Real Secret is Elbow Grease

Nobody wants to work for it these days…But my goodness – if you don’t then you’re working too hard.  If you slap up your quickies and keep mashing them out – you’ll take too long to get anywhere significant.

But if you put the time in (to proven niches) and make your content and link-building count, then you’ll get somewhere worth writing about.

Your competition likely thinks they can slap up a few quickies and keep running.  That’s a fine way to burnout and bankruptcy, or to become one of those complaining they’ve been online for X years and haven’t made any money.

No disrespect to people struggling…My heart goes out to the frustrated…been there, done that.

But at some point you can quit spinning your wheels on unproven niches or in places where money is hard to come by – and move on and camp out in places where you know the money’s good (or better).

It takes work.  Work to build a site, research, write, rank it up – but what else did you think this was?  It’s work.

Publishing is work – ranking in Google takes work – getting visitors takes work – making money takes work – so quit belly-aching and dive in.

This isn’t a business for the faint of heart, and it sure helps if you already have an income that you can fall back on while you build an income online.

But for those willing to dive in and do what it takes: welcome to Sparta.


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