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The Ultimate Guide To Ranking A Website Without Building Backlinks

Discussion in 'White Hat SEO' started by Zwielicht, Mar 20, 2015.

  1. Zwielicht

    Zwielicht Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    I'm not a big fan of building or buying backlinks, especially since most of my websites are in niches where my competitors would rather not help my website rank even higher than their own websites. If you're like me or you're not experienced with building or buying backlinks, then this guide on ranking websites without building backlinks is for you. So, without further ado, let's get started!

    Part 1: Tools You'll Need

    Before we begin, here is a short list of tools that you'll need to make this method work. All of these tools are free to use, so you don't have to worry about spending any extra money:


    Tip: If there are alternatives tools that you prefer using over the ones listed above, feel free to use them as long as they provide accurate results.

    Part 2: Choosing A Keyword Using The Google Keyword Planner

    The first step to choosing a keyword is to open the Google Keyword Planner and enter any keyword related to your article (or any keyword you think would be a good match based on what your competitors are using). We're going to be looking for low competition keywords that receive a decent number of searches per month for their competition level. To help you understand this, I'm going to be using a fictitious puppy training website that needs new keywords. Now, what I prefer to do to find low competition keywords by sorting the results by "average monthly searches" and then go through the pages until I find the keywords that receive under 1,000 searches per month.

    For the sake of this post, I'm going to select a variation of the keyword "crate training a dog" in the image below called "how to crate train a puppy fast".
    [​IMG]

    Now, when deciding on which keyword is the best option, I initially look at 4 things to help me quickly sort through keywords (because you'll be sorting through a lot of keywords): The Moz Toolbar, the number of authority sites appearing in the SERPs, how many times the exact keyword appears in the SERPs, and my own intuition.
    [​IMG]
    (Notice how those relatively unknown sites do not target the exact keyword anywhere. That's a good sign!)

    The Moz Toolbar is useful for quickly glancing over pages and determining how many authority sites with Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) over 70 appear in the SERPs (as shown in the image above). As for the part about using my intuition, even if the websites in the SERPs have low a DA and PA and the exact keyword doesn't show up much, if I think I can't compete with the sites, I usually avoid the keyword or use it as a Latent semantic indexing (LSI) keyword instead.

    Speaking of LSI keywords, while you're here, you should also find a few LSI keywords. LSI keywords are simply synonyms, plurals, and other variations of your keyword, but using these LSI keywords provides a few benefits:
    • They can help search engines such as Google determine what your site is about (e.g., Apple the product vs Apple the fruit).
    • They can help your articles sound less repetitive.
    • There's a chance that you could rank well for the LSI keywords in addition to your primary keyword
    You don't necessarily have to worry about the competition level of your LSI keywords, although I still like to check their competition level in the event that I end up ranking for the LSI keywords as well.

    Tip: Avoid keyword cannibalisation, which is where you target the same keyword on more than 1 page. This causes them to compete with each other with 1 outranking the other and the other being pushed further down in the SERPs.

    Part 3: Creating A Title For Your Page


    Since you've found a keyword by this point, it's time to search for that keyword once again in Google, although this time you'll want to pay attention to the titles of the results. When you create a title for a blog, you're going to want to avoid using similar titles to the pages that are already displayed in the SERPs. Instead, you'll want to draw attention to your post by creating a unique page title so that more people will click on it (and increase your CTR).

    For example, let's say you've chosen the keyword "crate training a dog" and the following posts showed up in the SERPs:

    • How To Start Crate Training A Puppy
    • Crate Training A Puppy Guide
    • The Ultimate Guide To Crate Training A Puppy
    You're going to want to be able to differentiate yourself from the rest of the results by creating a title that hasn't been used before. With what we know about Internet marketing and the SERPs for that keyword, we can assume that the title "10 Ways You Can Begin Crate Training A Puppy" would be competitive since people love lists due to the organisation (and because they know how many methods to expect) and beause this title is distinguished from the rest of the results.

    Tip: Avoid using obnoxious page titles that contain special characters. Special characters are deterrents and looks terrible in the SERPs.

    Part 4: Writing Quality Content
    I'm going to keep this part short since there are so many different niches and tactics out there. Just keep your content unique and focus on writing for your target audience to help keep people engaged and on your site longer. If you're wondering what exactly quality content is, I would imagine they quality content have most of the following attributes:
    • Pillar articles (long, useful articles that age doesn't affect).
    • Accurate spelling.
    • Proper grammar.
    • Written at a reading level that's appropriate for the target audience.
    • Relevant sources.
    • Relevant high quality images.
    • Proper formatting (headers, bold text, paragraphs, and other ways of organising your content)


    Tip: Research your target audience. If you analyse the data in Google Analytics and discover that your audience enjoys an article on your website (high page views and long session durations), then try modelling the style of your next few articles after the successful article.

    Part 5: Categories and Tags
    [​IMG]
    Organising your content into categories and using tags is important, but you may be wondering what the difference between categories and tags are.

    • Categories are meant to be more of a broad topic. For example, if you created a post about Churn and Burning, then the category would be "SEO" or Black Hat SEO"
    • Tags are more specific than categories. For example, if you created a post about Churn and Burning, then the category would be "Churn and Burn"
    As shown in the image above, if you're using Wordpress, editing your categories and tag pages is as simple as hovering over the "Posts" tab on your dashboard and clicking on either categories or tags.

    Did you also know that categories and tags have their own pages? If not, you should go and write articles for these pages. While it's unlikely that your audience will ever stumble upon these pages, it does give searches engines another page to crawl and index as well as another article to determine the overall theme of your website.

    Tip: You can try writing engaging articles for your category pages and target keywords for them as well! If you put effort into your content and effectively optimise it, you'd be surprised about how many people may visit these pages.

    Part 6: Meta Tags

    Placing your keyword and LSI keywords in meta tags and image alt tags is a great way to not only increase your keyword density (which I will get to momentarily), but the latter can also help rank your images in Google images since you're surrounding the image with your keywords. This is especially important for websites focused on images since your target audience is more likely to use Google Images in the first place.

    Tip: If you want to increase your chances of ranking in Google Images, then: add a Creative Commons license, make sure your aspect ratio is 4:3, 16:9, and 21:9; and ensure that your image isn't too small (299 pixels and under) or too large (1281pixels and larger).

    Part 7: Internal Link Structure & Outbound Links

    Having a strong internal link structure not only helps web crawlers find and index your pages, but placing appropriate internal links in your articles can give your audience more content to consume than what they initially came to your website for.

    As for outbound links, make sure these are relevant to your website, but try to avoid linking to similar articles (e.g., your post about adding spinners to a wheelchair should not link to a post on another website about adding spinner's to a wheelchair; your visitors might like the other site more).

    Tip: Always make sure that all outbound links are opened in a new tab when they are clicked. This will prevent your visitors from forgetting to return to your website if they become interested in the other website.

    Step 8: Keyword Density

    One search engine optimiser may say you need a keyword density between 2-3% and another search engine optimiser may say to keep your keyword density at 1%, but what should your keyword density be? The answer to that is simple: just write your article while keeping your keyword in mind. Once you're done writing it, re-read the article. If it sounds repetitive, replace the repetitive keywords with LSI keywords. If you feel like the keyword wasn't used enough, add it a few more times (you can also add the keywords in image alt tags and titles if you feel like you can't find a good place to force the keyword into the article).

    Tip: If you read this section expecting a percentage, then keep your keyword density between 1% and 4% (although keep it closer to 1%; this is usually enough).


    Step 9: Re-Optimisation


    Most people treat SEO like it's a one-time thing; you just optimise articles and never edit them again. This is nonsense, and you'll figure out why momentarily. You see, re-optimisation is simply going back to your old articles and using a different primary keyword (and possibly LSI keywords). There are many situations where you would need to go back and re-optimise your articles for a different keyword:

    • You chose a bad keyword and the article never ranked well or received much traffic.
    • You've discovered that you have new competitors who are targeting your exact keyword.
    • The keyword's searches-per-month dropped.
    If you find yourself in any of those situations, it's probably best to re-optimise your article for a different keyword (you may even be able to use one of the LSI keywords as your primary keyword!). In case you're wondering when you should re-optimise your articles, I would wait approximately 2 weeks (or 1 week if you have a frequently updated site) before checking on the current keywords position in the SERPs.


    Tip: You don't always have to re-optimise an article that is performing poorly for a keyword. Instead, you can always try to go back and find any mistakes you may have made during the initial page optimisation (e.g., high keyword density). In addition to this, use Analytics in conjunction with Google Webmaster Tools to determine which pages are performing well. Webmaster Tools let's you know how well a keyword is performing in the SERPs while Analytics will let you know the popularity of each page. You can also use Analytics to find out which pages on your website are performing poorly. Focus on re-optimising these pages before you focus on re-optimising any other pages.

    Part 10: Competition Prevention Tactic: "Keyword Cloaking"

    This tactic, which is unrelated to link cloaking, is actually more of a security measure and something I occasionally use to prevent my visitors who may have similar websites to my own from targeting my keywords. The way you "cloak" your keywords is simple: use another keyword and maintain a similar keyword density as the primary keyword. This helps prevent people who use tools such as SEOCentro from discovering your keyword density.

    Tip: While anyone could still figure out what keywords you're ranking for (especially if they found your website through a Google search), making it slightly more complicated for someone who is just looking to copy the keywords you're using to find out which keywords you're ranking for may be enough to deter them, especially if they're doing this in bulk (this is similar to adding an extra obstacle such as a brick wall to deter petty would-be robbers from your house).

    Conclusion

    The whole point of this guide is strategy; getting many different pages to rank for many different low competition keywords until your site start's gaining enough traction to be able to compete for the medium competition keywords (and so on and so forth)

    The great thing about this method is that you'll naturally procure backlinks for your pages, so you won't have to worry about building the links yourself. Additionally, don't feel discouraged if your articles do not rank well at first for what you thought were easy keywords. This has happened to me on several occasions and once I go back and re-optimise the article for a different keyword, this usually corrects the issue.
     
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  2. abhi007

    abhi007 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Looks like a solid read....i too am updating myself with SEO knowledge and this info. should help me succeed :)
     
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  3. TeKn1qu3z

    TeKn1qu3z Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    You have some beautiful statements in your paragraphs, and most of the lines enjoyed in reading. Keyword in title make helps to gain traffic for me.
     
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  4. everydayimhustling

    everydayimhustling Regular Member

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    Thank you for this guide !
    added to my favorites.
     
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  5. traveler329

    traveler329 Registered Member

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    you will still need backlinks to rank, but this is a good guide about keyword research and on-page optimization. thanks for posting
     
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  6. stouthearted

    stouthearted Registered Member

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    excellent advise and best of all "Free"

    Thanks for the share!
     
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  7. eyeaddiction

    eyeaddiction Registered Member

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    Thanks for the good read
     
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  8. Zwielicht

    Zwielicht Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    You're welcome, but while backlinks are very important, they're still only 1 factor in Google's algorithm. :)

    For example, here's a screenshot of the SERPs for a search query that contains the exact keyword that one of my sites "Sy" is ranking for (sorry about all the censoring, I just had to do it).
    [​IMG]

    The article that's ranking for that low competition keyword (it receives a modest amount of searches per month) was recently posted using the tactics I described above with no backlinks built to it (the few it has are from people naturally linking to the article, but the article was in the same position as it currently is before those backlinks), yet it has managed to rank in the 3rd position below Imgur itself.

    I've been using this method for quite sometime now on both my websites and my clients' website. Assuming I choose the right low competition keywords the first time, I usually have no trouble ranking on the first page without backlinks. Once people start reading my articles, they naturally create backlinks to them and my article's position in the SERPs usually receives a nice boost as a result.

     
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    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015
  9. voxdei

    voxdei Newbie

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    Nice guide thank you.
     
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  10. sikandar

    sikandar Senior Member

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    Nice tips .. I've been taking steps 1 thru 9 you mentioned + social signals - for some of my sites where I did not want to build backlinks. For a six month old domain, I can rank for my brand name, and low/ medium competition keywords - but I guess I'd still backlinks for high competition keywords.
     
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  11. luisk

    luisk Regular Member

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    This is good writing OP. Anyway, I do like SEO, but in my humble opinion it's important to bring people using alternatives ways, and then they will help to rank your site. That will happen if you have something good to show them. I think it's a waste of time to rank content "not shareable". Thanks for your time writing this, it's indeed a useful post.
     
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  12. voodoodoll

    voodoodoll Newbie

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    Very excellent read. Clearly laid out. This is a very helpful guide. Thank you! I actually need to re-optimize some articles on my site. If my articles are already indexed, do I need to change the keywords in the titles, and then do a re-direct, or remove the old links from the index? I hope I'm asking this question correctly. I'm also curious as to where, in terms of placement, keywords are most effective in articles in 2015.
     
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  13. Franklin Hattchet

    Franklin Hattchet Senior Member

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    Nice read! Although the yellow and black always hurts my eyes on this forum and I never finish a read, I did manage to finish this one.
     
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  14. Zwielicht

    Zwielicht Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    I usually prioritise changing the keywords in the site title, slug, content, images, and meta description in that order (from most important to least important; this also answers your other question on where I think the keywords are most effective). After that, I do a 301 redirect using a plugin such as Simple 301 Redirects to the new URL that has the new keyword (this last step may be superfluous since I've heard that Wordpress automatically 301 redirects to the new permalink in some cases, although I haven't had a chance to test that out yet).
     
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    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015
  15. Peter Ngo

    Peter Ngo Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Nice, finally a guide that don't contain "my service is the best, my comp is the worst" bullshit.

    My personal add is using majestic chrome plugin, nice free plugin for knowing TF/CF.
     
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  16. Zwielicht

    Zwielicht Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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    I almost forgot about Majestic! I just added the Majestic Toolbar to the main post. :D

    And yes, since I don't have a BST here (I really only work with local clients in nearby cities and states as I alluded to in this thread), you don't have to worry about me writing any threads promoting my BSTs and bashing my competitors.
     
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  17. TimothyEyton

    TimothyEyton Junior Member

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    Interesting stuff man. Very thorough.
     
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  18. teh_johnny

    teh_johnny Registered Member

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    Hey, thanks for the great read OP!
     
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  19. Aty

    Aty Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Nice share Specialistov, well done.
     
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  20. Conor

    Conor Elite Member

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    I'm not a fan of building backlinks either, I must admit, so this is definitely a refreshing read. Great share Z.
     
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