I wrote a post earlier about SEO and the English Langauge that described the ways text can influance search engine placement and I want to talk briefly about one of the other factors that can affect search engine optimization and that is backlinking. A backlink is a link from any other website to your own. If I were, for example, to link to Spoonfed that would be considered a backlink to the Spoonfed site, an external link from my own. The more backlinks a website receives, from more reputible sources, the higher Google ranks them in the search results, and the higher page rank (PR) they are awarded. PR is an artificial indicator, created by the search engines, that indicates how important a page is perceived on the web. PR can go from unranked, which is lower than 0, to 10 which is the highest.
Of course, the trick becomes finding ways to get sites with high PR to give a backlink to your site. Of course, you can create content that other sites find interesting, causing them to link to your interesting information; you can contact them directly and ask them to place a link on your site, especially if you think they might find your content valuable – this is what I am currently working on for Spoonfed; you can purchase high quality backlinks OR you can find places where you can actually post your own link on someone else’s website. That might sound counterintitive – why would someone allow you to change their page to add a link? – but it’s actually more common that you might imagine. Blogs have comment fields where you can enter your own comments, forums as well allow visitors to take part in a conversation. By placing your link in comments or forum posts, you can manually increase the number of backlinks to your site.
Things become a bit more complicated, however, with something called the Follow tag. When you typically create a link in HTML code, it looks like this:
<a href=”http://www.name-of-website.com”>Name of Website</a>
However in that code, you can add special tags that cause the link to open in a new window, to open in a new tab, or even a tag that tells Google robots (discussed in the previous post) not to visit that page at all. Most blogs (including mine) include “no-follow” tags as a default setting in comments, so spammers can’t take advantage of the exact manual backlinking strategy I described above. However many forums and blogs have “do-follow” tags that allow Google robots to explore your site after you manually create the link, thus passing the high PR from their blog or forum to your page.
There are many directory listings of forums and blogs that are do-follow, so I won’t go into those lists here. What I want to discuss is how to find high PR pages within the forum or blog where you can post your link. Because each page on a domain has an individual rank (for example, this blog post alone is unranked while the homepage at www.thetopfloorflat.com has a PR of 3), sometimes it can be tricky to find high PR places to link even within do-follow domains.
The first step is to download the Firefox addon, SEO for Firefox, a fantastic tool that will show you, directly in your search results list, valuable SEO information about the pages your search has returned. This information includes PR, the number of backlinks that page itself has, and age of the site. Once the addon has been installed, you’re ready to find some high PR target pages to add your backlinks.
Pick one of your favorite do-follow forums or blogs – if you don’t know of any you can start with my favorite web developer’s forum, Digital Point. Go to the Google search engine and make sure your SEO for Firefox addon is turned on. Then, do a search for the phrase “site:forums.digitalpoint.com” of course replacing the URL forums.digitalpoint.com with whatever forum or blog you plan on using. As your search loads, the SEO for Firefox addon will show you the PR of each page indexed on the site, while the Google results will show you how many forums posts are on the page. A quick scan through the results can indicate some valuable results, such as this one here:
This image shows a result with a PR of 3, a fairly high PR, and only six other posts on the page. This is an excellent target – I can go to the page, add a post to the forum thread, and instantly have a PR3 backlink to my site. Then, I can return to the search results to find more easy targets and high PR backlinks. Once you’ve exhausted one site, there are thousands of other do-follow blogs and forums to explore.
One note – Google does not allow you to run limitless searches on their cached site pages, so it may be useful to do a few searches under one domain, then another, switching between them as you look for high PR backlink options.
This is a departure from my usual, less technical posts, and I do hope to start including more of my tech experiences in the blog here. If you have any questions about this information, feel free to leave a comment below. Didn’t understand a word? Don’t worry, the usual fluff will return to a blog near you soon :).