Hanging Out At Established Places

Aug 11th
posted in

In 2009, Google places a lot of trust in authority.

Authority, in terms of ranking, typically means "an established site with a high number of inbound links from authoritative sources".

Ranking might also have something to do with a sites popularity. And the usage patterns. And various other signals of "establishment" known only to the Google alchemists.

Whatever way you look at it, a new site is difficult to get ranked in competitive keyword areas.

So what are you to do while you're waiting for your authority signals to build?

Way, Way Off Site SEO Tactics

Consider placing content on established sites.

There are a number of reasons why you might do this, including increased exposure, the obvious back-link advantages, and the kudos that comes with appearing on a high profile site. Compare the effort of writing one killer article for a high profile site, with - say - begging other webmasters for links. The effort may be comparable, but the rewards of following the former path can be significantly higher.

Even if you get no link value from content placement, at very least you'll get your name seen. This can lead to people seeking you out, whether you rank or not. We'll look deeper into branding aspects shortly.

Piggy Back

Try putting up a page on Work.com, Squidoo, HubPages, Knol and any other established sites that allow user contribution. This also provides a testing ground to see if the keywords you have chosen are worth ranking for, before you attempt to rank for the same keywords on your own site.

Are you good with video? Make a few video's and place them on YouTube.

Win Friends And Influence People

A good, meaty reply to a popular blog post can garner you a lot of attention, particularly from the webmaster who runs the site.

Because webmasters deal with constant spam and low quality contributions, a well-considered comment from a new writer will really stand out. The webmaster may follow your link back to see where that great comment came from. You're now on their radar, which increases your likelihood of getting a mention.

Make sure you already have similarly high quality content on your own site that is link worthy. BTW, I follow every comment left on my SEOBook posts, and find it a great way to learn about what other webmasters are doing. Lurkers never appear on radars.

Q&A sites, such as Yahoo Answers, WikiAnswers, and LinkedIn Answers, often have well-ranked pages. If you provide a great answer to questions, people may follow your link back.

You'll also get a reasonable idea of the amount and quality of the traffic that a page ranking for your chosen term, receives.

Position Against The Market Leader

If you have a competing product to a product already reviewed on Amazon, it can be a good idea to provide your own lengthy review. This is an online way of positioning against the market leader.

Here's an example.

Check out this singing course. Now scroll down to the review comments. The first long review you see is by the author of a competing singing course product.

This is a cunning way to leverage the popularity of the established leader. Get your own product alongside the market leader, which will then encourage readers to draw comparisons. In this case, the first review is associated with a product that is significantly cheaper than the product it reviews, a point the writer alludes to in his opening line.

Why Brand Is Important

Some webmasters only consider the back-link possibilities of these strategies, but they're missing the big picture.

Links are, of course, important, but also aim to build brand recognition. There is little point getting in front of people if they don't remember you, so to get the most out of the above strategies, you must be consistent and memorable.

Individuals make themselves memorable by adding a personal photo. Companies make themselves memorable using brands. Brands are a way of helping consumers make associations between your products and their problems. Aaron goes into depth on branding and how to leverage brands for SEO in the members area. In short, your brand, as well as being memorable, needs to hit empathetic points with your customers. A brand must resonate.

If you can convince people that your brand is what they need, regardless of where they see it, then they will seek you out by typing your brand name into the search box. Whilst you're waiting to rank for generic keyword terms, direct your efforts into making people aware of your brand.

As an aside, when choosing a brand name, check out Aarons post on Domain Names As Natural Brands. Aaron quotes this great line from Rick Schwartz, which is killer:


This alone is worth the price of admission. Brad told us his story of spending millions and millions to advertise and brand with his original 3 word creative domain name. When he switched and used a fraction of those ad dollars to buy a category killer domain name, he transformed his business. The dollars he was using to brand was now freed up to do other acquisitions and grow his business in a more dramatic way. NATURAL BRANDING may be the simplest way to describe what a great domain brings to the table."

Few small operators are going to have much money to spend on brand building, which is notoriously expensive. Weigh up the cost of getting a really good, memorable generic name. You're telling people who you are and what you do at the same time.

Try not to position yourself against an existing market leader with a strong brand. Instead, define a category you can be first in, and establish your brand there. I talk more about this aspect in my post"Marketing Driven SEO Strategy".


Look for ways you can contribute to other sites in order to build awareness, links and brand recognition. Find out where your competition is mentioned and try to get mentioned in the space. Leverage the authority of existing sites.

Published: August 11, 2009


August 11, 2009 - 11:34am

Try putting up a page on Work.com, Squidoo, HubPages, Knol and any other established sites that allow user contribution.

This is a good tip, however I have experienced that it helps the site where you are posting articles, visitors rarely click-through to the authors site as they are already satisfied with what they have read.

  • 95% of visitors rarely read the article in full, so most do not reach the bottom where the author’s link is present.
  • Most of them who do visit have a very high bounce rate – i-still-do-not-trust-you could be the factor.
  • Yes, initially your article do get ranked well in the search engines, then they RIP as more and more articles with fresh content come up on the same topic.
  • Articles readers are mostly article readers – they don’t buy.
  • Most Important – when you see this happening you lose interest and take up a job / leave your online venture for good.

Disclaimer: These are some of the cons of this tip only. The readers should not get discouraged. Keep trying.

August 11, 2009 - 2:57pm

Do knols even rank for anything? Our brand knols don't even show up in the top 100 search results on Google and I can't really recall the last time I saw a knol result in the top 10 for something I searched on.

August 14, 2009 - 2:58am

They still might need a few inbound links from external websites to rank well for fairly competitive keywords.

August 11, 2009 - 7:05pm

In regards to individual-branding online, do you have any suggestions on what to do if your name is difficult to spell?

For instance, I've been torn whether I should use an alias such as "Wezzzley", or my real name "Wesley LeFebvre"? Then also associating myself with SEO.


August 14, 2009 - 2:57am

If I had a hard to spell name I would not replace it with another hard to spell nickname. I would go with "Wes" or something like that.

August 14, 2009 - 4:11am

Thanks for the advice Aaron!

I have just found that "Wes" has been taken on most of the sites I use, and many of them use your login name as your display name. So I was trying to come up with something unique, and not already taken, which I could use exclusively. Perhaps I should come up with something with a little less "z"s. :)

August 12, 2009 - 3:40am

"BTW, I follow every comment left on my SEOBook posts"

another excellent post Peter, also nice comment-bait :p

On the topic of placing content on trusted sites - I purchased and purchased an exact match for a semi-competitive keyphrase offering a service in my city. I've been using adwords and generating some business but then thought I would utilise another trusted and well-linked site in a related niche that my brother and I blog at to try and rank organically for my keyphrase.

I created a post with the keyphrase as the titletag and wrote a post with a testimonial linking to the new site. This post almost immediately ranked 10th and I was stoked, I tried to point some more internal links to it and links from another site and in a couple of days the post was nuked and ranked like 80th.

If both of these sites are mine (of different hosts) and related niches should I be able to rank on the trusted blog and redirect to the business site?

Would the issue here be because I tried to position it as a third party review and that it looked like a paid link? What would you suggest would be the wisest way to go about positioning the content that leads to the new site? Waah I don't know if I killed my chances of using my trusted site for these purposes now :(


August 14, 2009 - 2:57am

Hi Jack
given the depth of your question (and how personalized it is to your business) it would be best for us to answer that type of question in the member forums.

August 12, 2009 - 6:53pm

Great tips Peter. This is very encouraging information. I am particularly interested in your blog replying strategy:

"A good, meaty reply to a popular blog post can garner you a lot of attention, particularly from the webmaster who runs the site. Because webmasters deal with constant spam and low quality contributions, a well-considered comment from a new writer will really stand out. The webmaster may follow your link back to see where that great comment came from. You're now on their radar, which increases your likelihood of getting a mention."

Do you think it was more useful to leave the webmaster with a link to your blog index or a particular article within your blog? What would a webmaster be more encouraged to click, and what does Google favor?

Joel Gross

August 13, 2009 - 10:32am

@Joel Most blogs put a nofollow attribute on links in comments (such as the links you provided above). So they won't help you for link authority.

If you've written a relevant article, it would be best to provide a link to that to add to the conversation.

@WebMarketingArt That's a cynical view of the world, but I think you're being realistic :) Any one article might not be of any help to you despite your best efforts. But I do think that if you manage to build up a good few relevant articles pointing back to your site, you'll benefit from it in the end.

August 14, 2009 - 2:03am

Thanks Aaron, as usual, you've posted some innovative and worthwhile reminders for seo's who get into a rut or are competing in aggressive markets

August 14, 2009 - 3:12am

Heyas Aaron,

cheers for your reply and you're absolutely right, my apologies

I was just emo after I screwed up my rankings :p

November 17, 2011 - 12:01am

I agree that a lot of sites have nofollow but there are also a lot of bad spiders out there that ignore nofollow and then create a valid link to your site when they create their own directory of content. Plus do you think that search engines would really ignore nofollow completely? If the link is to the root of a domain then where's the harm in them going to take a seaky look?

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