Many articles have came out recently stating that reciprocal link exchanges are a waste of time. This is true if you can afford to spend a bunch on links, but if you are a bootstrapper you will need to do all the little things. Reciprocal link exchanges can still help boost link popularity some.
Shawn over at Digital Point creates some of the best free SEO tools on the market. Recently he whipped up this free reciprocal link checking script, which reads a file of link partners (in the same directory) by the name of sites.txt. sites.txt is a list of URLs to check (separated by a carriage return).
$mydomain = "yourdomain.com"; // Set this to your domain
Update: Backlink Analyzer is free link analysis software which has probably the best feature set of any of the link analysis software products on the market.
Recently another PageRank analysis tool came out by the name of PageRank Prowler. PageRank Prowler ($97) is somewhat of a hybrid between OptiLink ($224) and the recent free PageRank tool by SEO Guy.
PageRank Prowler allows you to set a PageRank level which it will look through Google search results to find sites at or above that PageRank. These results can be saved as an HTML sheet or in a CSV list. The benefits PageRank Prowler has over other PageRank software are
It allows you to search for multiple terms at once. For example, you can search for sites linking to any of your main competitors all at the same time.
PageRank Prowler also allows you to search for specific search terms and not just backlinks. (OptiLink just searches the backlinks of a given site).
PageRank Prowler will also allow you to search starting from URLs within a given site / sites and return results from there.
SEO Guy PageRank Tool
The SEO Guy PageRank tool is the quickest of the three, but it has the least features and the search depth is limited to 100 documents. This means that if your competitors backlinks are listed at #102 then you will never know they exist. If you can not afford to spend money then this free web based tool is a real time saver.
The biggest downside to OptiLink is that it costs $224, but it is well worth that if you can afford it. It allows you to query different databases and comes with free lifetime updates. Leslie Rhodes is a smart marketer and programmer who will probably even include Yahoo! Webrank in future releases of his software.
All three are real time savers, it's up to you to decide which one is right for you though...
Lots O good Google PageRank info below. Still not much out on Yahoo Webrank though... What is Google PageRank?
Google PageRank is a mathematical approximation that a random web surfer would cross any given page prior to starting to surf over again. It is a measure of link popularity on a 1 - 10 logarithmic scale. One powerful link from a strong site is worth way more than many links from small sites.
Rusty Brick also created a tool for figuring out future PageRank which is somewhat questionable in it's exactness, but fun to look at. It has been telling me that this site will rank as a 10 or 11, so that will require you providing manu links into me :)
How do I check my Competitors PageRank?
The same way you would check your own. OR
There are automated tools which process portions of the web to help you find link partners quicker. Here are two interesting tools:
SEO Guy has a tool which allows you to set PageRank levels and perform a search for any given term. It will return a list of top ranking websites which have a PageRank equal to or greater than the # you requested.
For deeper link analysis, OptiLink link analysis software - orders the backlinks of your competitors in order of PageRank so you can Quickly view his most important backlinks (in the eyes of Google).
More on PageRank
PageRank is only one aspect of website promotion. It does play a huge role in the current Google ranking system, but there are many other factors. Generally some sites could really do well by making sure their site is well integrated into their local community and then buying a link or two to suppliment their rankings.
The web does self organize into micro communities and PageRank does not take that into account as well as search engines such as Teoma do (see also: Teoma review).
It is probably worth it for many sites to buy 1 or 2 PR7 or so links. I have been able to locate them for under $100 a month and sometimes cheaper than $50...a few times even free. I have seen run of the site PR7 links around $200 per month.
There are many many reseller networks of people selling PageRank. You want to make sure you are as close to the source as possible when buying links. IE: you may want to buy off a website, a link broker, or link brokers friend, but you start to run into heavy inflation when you buy links off a link broker from a different link broker from a link broker...
The prices of the links are spread extremely wide. There are many important factors such as
How well the webmaster knows what their links are worth.
The PageRank of the page.
The number of links on the page.
How well that page fits the theme of your site.
The direct traffic that link will bring.
The length of the contract.
Sometimes you can get discounts for quantity buys.
On my other site I have listed more PageRank resources and more in depth Google PageRank coverage.
As you can see there is a ton of info out there on PageRank. Since Yahoo! Webrank is new and expiremental there is no solid data out there on it.
They are currently testing Yahoo! Webrank in a beta test which is closed. In Danny Sullivan's article he pointed me to a backdoor link he found in Webmaster World which will allow you to download the toolbar that will show the Yahoo! Webrank. In addition Digital Point has a Yahoo! Webrank tool which sometimes provides sporadic or random results. Its inaccuracies may actually be due to the fact that Yahoo! Webrank is still in a beta test.
You can not gauge competitiveness of a term based upon the total number of search results for that term. The best way to tell is to evaluate search results. Pages which have had professional optimization done (page copy & linking campaign) are easy to spot after you know your industry well enough.
Three quick ways to tell how fierce the competition is for any word are by checking the associated ads (price, quantity, and search quantity), using advanced operators, and by viewing the linkage data for the top ranking websites.
Using Advanced Search Operators
A simple mention on a page is not enough data for a page to be competing.
Inbound Link Check
Recently I noticed a simple tool at IBL Check.com, which oddly enough checks the number of inbound links to the top few websites. Once you click the link to check who is linking to each site it pops open a little window showing the URL of each of the links.
McDar Keyword + Link Tool
Another link tool which can tell competition by keyword exists at http://www.mcdar.net/KeywordTool/keywordtool.asp. The McDar keyword + link tool checks the the top 10 Google search results for the number of pages in each site, the number of site backlinks, and the position of that site on the allinanchor Google search for the same keyword.
Link Tools to Build a Linking Campaign
A quicker way to build a link campaign is to evaluate link data on a more mathematical or higher level. A couple inexpensive link tools I think are neato are Linktree (free) & Optilink ($149.)
Basically, subscribe or I beat you up...your IP address has been logged :)
I try to give away some free stuff in every newsletter. I usually give away at least 1 copy of the SEO Book and then try to give away random other stuff like books I read or coupons I get or SEO software.
What does a Server Side Include do?
Server side includes allow you to (dare I use the word) include a remote file in the current page. The server constructs the page on the fly. When a browser or search engine spider comes through they see the whole page as one unit.
Why Should I use Server Side Includes?
They make it extremely quick to update navigation and other common page elements by only changing one file.
Are Server Side Includes Evil?
Server side includes were a bad thing in the past. Slower server speeds would sometimes cause errors when a spider spidered the page. With faster server speeds the server side include is no longer a problem. On sites with a large amount of traffic SSI will slow down your server speed ever so slightly.
What do Server Side Include Requests look like?
<!--#include file="navigation.htm" -->
if the SSI file is in the same directry as the file calling it, or
if the SSI file which is to be included is in the root directory. Using virtual causes the server to look for the file location based on the root URL.
How do I use a Server Side Include?
To use server side includes you must change your file path to .shtml .shtm or something with the .s at the begining to tell the server it needs to construct the page. Place the include file in the code where you want it to show on the page.
Note: you can controll the layout using an external CSS sheet if you like.
Why Changing Filepaths is Bad
The problem with changing filepaths is that you can lose much of the inbound link popularity you have built up with your site. Any links to the root domain will still be there, but interior links fall away. Blindly changing filepaths is extremely bad:
You lose link equiyy.
People who were linking to you end up owning a bunch of broken links.
How do I Use SSI without Changing FilePaths?
Our good friend .htaccess is here again to save the day.
Here is the .htaccess file you should use to allow a server to parse .shtml and parse other file extensions as .shtml
AddType text/html .shtml
AddHandler server-parsed .htm (.htm is whatever extension you are using)
301 redirect is a catch phrase often used in SEO where nobody really explains how to do it. Many people feel too dumb to ask "how do I do a 301 redirect?" because they feel they should just know what one is.
301 redirects are used to permanently move a site to a new location. Search engines do not apply penalties to 301 redirects the way they apply them to many other types of redirects.
When you create a .htaccess file make sure you transfer it in ASCII and not binary. You will probably want to CHMOD the file to 644 for security reasons as well. .htaccess is an Apache technology and not a windows server technology. Learn more about .htaccess
I recently started posting again over at The Search Engine Journal. If you have not visited recently, The Search Engine Journal is working with the Kelsey Group to promote a new Paid Search Survey which your feedback will help improve. If you buy pay per click advertising, feel free to participate.
The Kelsey group is one of the main data aggregators of information about the growing local search industry, and this quick survey is looking more at general paid search practices.
Bonus: Getting Cheap Feedback
Survey Monkey is free for up to 100 responses a month. Their more full featured survey costs as low as $20 per month.
If you do not appreciate how valuable feedback is, or how hard it is to get feedback then juist look at how few comments are posted on this blog. Yesterday I had over 1,000 page views and 0 comments.
I will be the first to say that most SEO software is garbage. A complete waste of money. Most of what you want for SEO software is 100% free. This amazing find is no different.
Link Tree is a free web based link analysis software program which compares the links to other websites to your own. This is not a boring overly dressed up link tool (like what Marketleap offers), this tool is super duper cool. What does Link Tree Do?
Link tree looks for topical hubs which are not yet linking to your site.
How does Link Tree Work?
Enter the URLs of up to seven of your competitors and then your own URL at the bottom. Any page that links to at least two of your competitors which does not link to your site will display on the results.
What does that do for my site?
It shows you where some potential easy link opportunities are. If you have done a good job concentrating on creating quality content, then getting the links should be a snap.
If one of your competitors moves websites you can tell the people who were linking to them that the site is no longer there. You can also state that you have a wonderful resource they may want to link to. People are more likely to help you after you have helped them.
Find where link popularity is comming from if you have a couple competitors who are building bogus link popularity in kahoots. Perhaps you can also rent some quality inbound links to level the playing field.
Find quality resources you did not know about by viewing the pages that link to many resources in your field.
You can also set one of the test URLs to an extremely popular topical website, which will aid you in viewing the hub links which go into any one competitor at a time.
You can set one of the URLs to a really popular site. It will act as an overly generic catch all to make it easier to find hidden smaller hubs in your field. After you have completed your task you can then switch to another generic link to find more micro hubs.
When people talk about hubs and authorities, these are some of the most authoritative sites in the SEO industry. Search Engine Watch - considered the bible of search engine information. Danny Sullivan keeps up with all angles of search. He provides an excellent free newsletter (SearchDay) and also hosts Search Engine Strategies.
Search Engine Guide - probably considered the #2 site in search, Robert Cloude collects articles from various authors which provide an in depth review of what is going on in the search world.
Pandia - a bit more of an old school website, Pandia still provides many quality articles about SEO and the search engine industry.
Search Marketing Info - this is my article and general information website. While not as powerful as the above sites yet, I look to keep improving throughout the next couple years to increase the usability and quality of my content to where the site is equal parts beef and cake.
Black Hat SEO - nobody has made a worst practice SEO guide until I created this evil being. It will probably never garner amazing support, but the site is fun and I have been told it has helped many webmasters.