Posted October 30, 2006 10:30 am by with 24 comments

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By Ahmed Bilal

If you were given the task of summarizing the whole wealth of SEO knowledge in 10 concise tips, what would you come up with?

Here’s my list:

1. Buy / rent an old site

The benefits are well-documented, but an important factor often overlooked here is time. Yes, you can spend 6 months, put together all that content, get all those links, then wait for another 3 years while the site ‘matures’…but you don’t have that much time, do you?

Buying the ‘right’ site gives you a fantastic head-start in any niche,

You’ll always find ‘potential sites’ with owners who don’t have the time to tend to their website. There’s a growing awareness online on the value of websites, but in most niches you can still get good bargains.

2. Optimize Title tags

A Title tag will tell the search engines and users what the current web page is about. To improve your search engine rankings, use that page’s target keywords in the Title tag. To cater for regular readers, keep your Title tag short and readable, and if you wish, you can also brand each page with your main domain url.

Jill Whalen wrote a basic article on optimizing Title tags that is still relevant today. If you’re looking for specific advice on fixing up the Title tag in your WordPress blog, read this.

3. Optimize URL structure

Rand tells it all in his 11 Best Practices to URLs. A few key highlights:

• Use static URLs
• Keep it short (instead of long folder sequences and sentences) and descriptive (instead of numbers)
• Use keywords
• Use hyphens for term separation
• Remove extra data

As Darren observes, you can miss one or two of these and still rank well. However, when you’re building a new site you need to get as many things right out of the box as possible, and URL structures are fairly easy to get right.

4. Site information architecture

Michael Gray from his experiment on deep crawling for mini-sites:

For sites that are brand spankin’ new to relatively new (less than 1 year), or have less than 30 pages in total, go ahead and link everything to everything, using a combination of top, side and footer navigation. Once you’re “old�, and more importantly have some trust (ie organic rankings and traffic) it’s time to start thinking about siloing.

If you want your web pages deep-crawled and indexed (and they aren’t already), read that article on siloing.

5. Quality content

A few thoughts:

• Initially, forget about getting links and focus on providing information that you KNOW your audience needs. Do it in quantity, do it quickly and get it out there on your website early.

• It’s not hard to create something unique and useful that is focused towards your niche audience – the main difference between success and failure is the ability to take action and actuality implement your ideas.

• Under the cries of “Content! More content!� people sometimes forget that developing tools and even lists are fantastic ways of adding quality information to your website.

6. Get links from these directories and sites (if you can afford / manage it)

• Yahoo Directory
• MSN bCentral
• Best Of The Web
• JoeAnt
• GoGuides
• About
• Wikipedia
• Squidoo
• Work

These are more directories and websites that could be useful, but in getting your website the early link juice and search engine trust, these 11 are the most effective (and some websites, like and, are very tough to get links from).

7. Linkbait the A-list

Controversial, but I advise you to approach this with the target of gaining ideas for adding value to your website.

• Find out who the top bloggers / websites are in your niche (in search engine rankings, mindshare and influence).

• Study their websites and learn “what� they link out to.

• If it fits in with your site’s focus, determine what you must do to create something unique, compelling and useful, and then get busy doing it.

• Don’t expect the world when you send your article in an e-mail to your A-list.

8. Go cherry-picking for links

I’ve always believed that if you listen to the experts, you will learn most of what you need to know about any subject. If you want a quick explanation of how to find the best links for your websites, learn from Jim Boykin and read this, this and this.

And if you need a step-by-step walkthrough on the actual link building process, here’s a fantastic post by Todd Malicoat on link building cycles.

9. Network like crazy

You cannot overestimate the importance of networking, especially online where you have no physical interaction with your clients or your competition.

• Make the best use of your time by targeting the ‘hotspots’ of networking in your niche.

• Visit forums and comment on other blogs so you can build a presence in your industry.

• Email and IM are meant for you to stay in touch with contacts and turn strangers into friends. Use them.

• Contacts are everything, especially in the competitive industries.

10. Learn how to “get lucky�

Scott Adams says it a whole lot better than me, but the basic principle is that in order to be ‘lucky’, you have to put yourself out there and give yourself the best chance possible of getting lucky.

The best way to be lucky in business is to make sure you take advantage of the long tail of opportunities – if you’re not putting your ‘calling cards’ out far and wide, how do you expect to get noticed and have opportunities come your way?

How does this apply to SEO? In terms of getting natural backlinks, of course.

So…you’ve read my list, now it’s your turn – what are your top 10 tips for SEO success?

[The above article is a submission for Marketing Pilgrim’s Search Engine Marketing Scholarship Contest. Each Monday in October, entries will be published and the most popular article of the week will qualify for the $5,000 grand prize. If you’d like to submit an entry, please view the contest entry-requirements and guidelines.]

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  • Hello,
    Buying an old site, for me anyways, seems to work for all the search engines except for Google.

    According to digitalpoint and I think Matt Cutt’s blog, Google resets pagerank and void all the backlinks from date of transfer. With a little creativity this can be worked around though.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  • From personal experience, there are no issues with bought sites losing pagerank or backlinks. I’ve gone so far as to change the URL structure and do a 301 redirect from url/theblog/ to url/ and still the traffic’s the same.

    misinformation being spread around, i’m afraid

  • Am interested in the concept that Page Rank and links are reset when a domain transfers ownership. I have always wondered this and am looking into a series of new domains for a client. Is there any hard evidence to back this up?

  • ummm, it doesn’t happen mate. hard evidence – contact me and i’ll show you actual sites. Or try reading – Jum Boykin’s site.

  • oops…that’s Jim Boykin 🙂

  • Opps. I’m sorry! I was thinking of expired domain names, not existing ones, when I said PR and backlinks would be reset.

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  • AlanSeabright

    Hi Andy,

    You mentioned the possibility of getting a link from in point 6 – I know how to get links from the other sites you listed there, but not You say it is tough, although you also say wikipedia is tough and I don´t have too much trouble getting the odd lasting link on there.

    Any tips for getting a link on, Andy, or anyone else?



  • I’m not sure of any surefire way to get a link in, I’m assuming you’d simply need to prove value to the editor.

  • Andy’s right – contacting the editor and showing that the page you want a link on is truly missing a valuable resource is basically what you need to do.

    It’s difficult for most people, although once you get the hang of it it’s not that hard.

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  • AlanSeabright

    Thanks Andy and Ahmed.

    Thing is, of the 11 sites on your list, 7 are directories and simple to understand how to get links from. Two are editable (wikipedia and squidoo) and one is article submittable (work). All pretty straightforward in terms of the process for getting links, and justiably can be called ‘shortcuts’.

    Unless I am missing something, as far as I can tell About is neither editable by just anyone or ‘submittable’ in a straightforward manner, so I was kind of wondering what it was doing on the list unless I had missed something obvious, which I often do!

    Thing is, the area of About related to my ‘niche’ only seem to have links to other about pages, adsense, and the odd affiliate link here and there. Not sure the best way to go about getting a link from there…contact the editor and suggest that a link to my website is what that part of About is missing? With the lack of streaightforward links on these pages, it seems a tall order. Or do they readily accept article submissions of a good quality with links external links inlcluded?

    If it isn’t either of these routes, it seems like almost like any other site in terms of link-getting process difficulty, and not sure then why it is on the list…? Or maybe I am missing something?

    Great blog post by the way, sorry if I am picking on a small detail, just wonder if I am missing something about getting a link from About. Asides from the adding value thing, which I am all over already 😉

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  • From personal experience, there are no issues with bought sites losing pagerank or backlinks. I’ve gone so far as to change the URL structure and do a 301 redirect from url/theblog/ to url/ and still the traffic’s the same.

  • You not right mate!

  • M

    Thanks for the tips!

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  • Good tips

  • rakesh kumari

    Great Tips

  • Joseph

    Nice tips.