So a couple years ago I spent a lot of time on forum simply reading and gaining as much knowledge as possible. After a few months, I finally picked a niche and decided to promote some useless clickbank product. I spent quite a bit of money and time trying to develop the site and move up it the rankings. Long story short, I had little success (panda update came around the same time as well) and soon lost interest and gave up on the site as well as SEO all together. Well anyways my amibition to learn SEO and make money in it has come back and I would like to put myself in the best position to succeed before I begin on this long journey so I am turning to you guys for the answers to some of the questions I have. Any and all advice is greatly appreciated. Here are some of the basic questions that I have: 1) I've noticed that google keyword tool has recentely been changed and doesn't appear to work quite the same as before. Is there a free alternative out there that can be just as effective? I've been looking at alternatives and thinking about signing up for wordtracker although is quite expensive. Anyone tried that out before? 2) Years ago when I first started doing research on SEO and till this day, there has been the debate about blasting links directly to your money. Common sense tells me that this shouldn't be able to hurt a site in the rankings as you would be able to hurt your competitors rankings. However, I have experienced the "sandbox" before when I was directing a lot of links to a newer website and often the site would dissappear for weeks at a time and then return at a lower ranking. Has this myth been busted yet or is still open for debate? 3) Because of the possibility of the sandbox (which I'm assuming still exists), I've decided it's most likely safer to build web 2.0 & social links pointing to my site and then blast those with a diversity of different links while building higher-quality links directly to my website. From what I've read, it extremely important to not leave "foot prints" with google. Ideally, these tier 1 (web 2.0 properties & social sites) would be built manually to ensure quality. My question is: Will it be ok to make all these tier 1 links from my computer all with the same IP or do I need to figure out a way to switch it up for every account? Also, once I build these tier 1 links, is it ok to make more posts on the same account or should I be making a new account for every new post/link I want to build. This is probably going to be the most important part/strategy of my linkbuilding so it's important for me to figure out the best way to go about it. I am in this for the long-term so the last thing I need is my sites being connected and losing all my link-juice & rankings at once. 4) What is the best strategy for coming up with article content? I know unique articles are the best but obviously it this will get very expensive over time. I believe spun content is only useful if you're good enough to spend HOURS & HOURS on it to make the content completely read-able and extremely unique. However, I am not good enough at it do this nor do I believe I have the patience needed to have success in doing it. Therefore I am looking at alternative sources. One thing I have came across on this forum is the articlebuilder site. I was hoping someone could offer me some insight regarding this service & it's effectiveness: Is it a useful alternative to buying unique articles? Would the articles be ok to use on tier-1 sites or is it something I should use only on lower-level tiers? 5) Build your own backlinks, buy other peoples services here on BHW, or a combination of both? I figure either way you could about link-building it is going to cost you money. If you want to build your own backlinks, your going to need to buy different software (which I have done in the past). Often times you need multiple softwares with some even requiring monthly subscriptions (ie senukex). From previous experience, building your own links this way costs both time and money ( software, subscriptions, proxies, etc). For someone who is fairly new to this, what is your advice for the best way to go about this? 6) Last question, how important is it build "social sites" and "social signals" directly to your money-site? This it the area I have the least experience and knowledge in and unforuntately from what I've read it appears to be one of the most important factors in google eyes for ranking sites these days. Anyone know of any guide's or tutorials to learn this strategy and best implement it? Thank you once again for those who have taken the time to read. I know it is a long post and lots of different questions, that's why I am thankful to those who can offer insight on any of the above subjects I've mentioned. This time around I would like form an effective strategy for ranking rather then rushing right into it which is why it is important to me to have all of the knowledge and forumulate a plan from the beginning.