How I Accidentally Secured 120,000 Links in 6 Months From 400 Reputable Sites

Posted on September 1, 2011

I’ve been doing SEO for 9 years, so there isn’t much that catches me by surprise, but I can honestly say that tonights visit to my webmaster tools account made my jaw pretty loose.

Here is the deal. Without doing any SEO or link building for Triberr.com, I’ve secured well over 120,000 inbound links in 6 months. Now 91,000 of those are from Twitter, so let’s pretend they don’t exist. Still, I’m looking at over 20,000 links from sites like huffingtonpost.com, wordpress.com, yahoo.com, facebook.com, google.com and others. Too good to be true, right? Well, it kind of is and it kind of isn’t.

How did this happen?

Well, first you need to understand what Triberr.com is. It’s a social sharing website where bloggers group up to share each others blog posts on Twitter. Each blogger connects and RSS feed and Twitter account to Triberr and anytime someone in the group publishes a post, everyone else tweets it. They can tweet it automatically or manually.

How many tweets is Triberr tweeting?

Let’s just say that for the month of August, Triberr scheduled well over 1MM tweets.
Here is an example of such a tweet:

Now you see that “7 hours ago via Triberr” link at the bottom? Well that links to Triberr.com, and that explains the 91,000 links from Twitter, but what about the others?

Links from other sites

I didn’t think about this before, but Twitter syndicates tweets on A LOT of sites through various widgets. This widget is on the HuffingtonPost.com:

These links are from Twaiter.com

There are numerous other widgets that syndicate tweets containing a link to the app that tweeted it.

Lessons Learned

First off, these links are temporary. They may be “nofollowed” and they only contain a single anchor text to your homepage. HOWEVER… They are crawl-able links from unique root domains in different C-blocks. If nothing else, Google should recognize that whatever this “Triberr” website is, certainly people are talking and linking to them. Some will get devalued, but some won’t.

How can this help me or my client?

Consider giving your visitors the ability to Sign-In to your site with Twitter and tweet something from your site. Of course you’ll need to register a web app with Twitter, but that’s an easy process and you can put your keywords in the app name. The more users who use the tweet functionality from your site, the more of these Twitter Syndication links you’ll grab.

Those in the industry know this best… Great ideas will effortlessly outperform tiresome link building tactics.


35 Replies to "How I Accidentally Secured 120,000 Links in 6 Months From 400 Reputable Sites"

  • Saul Fleischman
    September 1, 2011 (9:40 am)
    Reply

    But what percent of them are nofollow – or, do you care? (Twitter links are all nofollow, for starters)

    • Dan Cristo
      September 1, 2011 (1:53 pm)
      Reply

      Hey Saul,
      In this case I don’t really care what percentage of the links are nofollow. They are mostly temporary links so I don’t suspect they are passing much PageRank for driving hard rankings. But there are more signals than just PageRank to consider. 

      I would categorize these types types of links as “Buzz” links. In the same way that Google looks at short-lived mentions on Twitter and Facebook, so they categorize short-lived links on blogs and social apps that syndicate twitter.

      Google has profiles that most sites fall into. One profile would be of a brochure type website where content rarely changes and links to and from rarely change. Another profile would be of a news site where content changes several times a day and links are temporary. Buzz links and buzz mentions are signals that tell Google that Triberr is more of a news site than a brochure or blog or ecommerce site. 

      When a user puts in a query, Google tries to guess the intent of the user. If Google thinks the user is looking for news, news type sites will rank higher. If the user thinks they are looking for research, wikipedia style sites will show. If Google thinks they are looking for something local, maps will show.

      So this sort of link building is really about building a backlink portfolio that reflects what your site is about. In our case, news.

      • Tinu
        September 1, 2011 (10:19 pm)
        Reply

        Exactly – in the end don’t you want to get People? Even from search engines, the goal is people. As long as they click, buy or subscribe, how much does it matter whether targeted visitors come from search?

        Matt Cutts also said about 2 years ago that nofollow isn’t as big of a worry in search as it was – http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2067884/Google-Changes-Course-on-Nofollow

        I also agree with what he says about getting traffic through link-flow in the Google webmaster YouTube channel.

      • Saul Fleischman
        September 1, 2011 (11:53 pm)
        Reply

        Many thanks, Dan. Your point about teaching Google what our sites are about is fascinating – but does sync with what I read from Google’s own search people (in Quora) on just how far they are going with making search results rankings truer. 

        “Buzz links, Buzz mentions”: I knew I wanted my site’s blog to be regarded as news.  Now I know why even without dofollow juice, or PageRank, I would want them.

        • Yomar Lopez
          September 27, 2011 (8:21 pm)
          Reply

          Indeed.  PageRank is almost not relevant anymore..  Until Google locks down a firm algorithm and definition for PR, it’s mainly something we use to brag about.  I know it excites some of my clients but I let them know that there are other metrics worth getting excited about..  Like, say, conversions. ;o)

          NoFollow is not an issue like it once was but, then again, it was never a big deal.  Thing is, there are people that will leave lots of comments once they know that you are “DoFollow”..  They want some of your link juice.

          Silly wabbits.

          One thing I will say is that it’s good to have a balance between referral, direct, and organic traffic sources.  Too much of any one type of traffic can be a bad thing unless that is your intention to boot.  You don’t need organic traffic to build more organic growth potential, but it certainly helps.

          When I look at SEO, I always think about drawing in the right people to content that is relevant to them.  Optimizing inner pages and doing all that fun off-page stuff still matters.  It’s a matter of being more efficient with your time to focus on the heart of your business. Who *wouldn’t* want to be discovered by more people?

          I heart SEO.. And Dan Cristo too (shame you could not join us on the podcast this go-around, Dan, but I know family comes first..  we missed you)!

          • Saul Fleischman
            September 28, 2011 (2:10 am)

            Riding our shirttails when they (believe) a site’s comments section is do-follow: hmm… makes me think of a mutual friend, @yogizilla:twitter (wont mention names, though, haha)

          • Dan Cristo
            September 28, 2011 (1:50 pm)

            I really wanted to make that podcast. I’m seriously bummed I missed it. I am looking forward to hearing you and Dino though.

            I think we need to be careful when we talk about PageRank. There is algorithmic PageRank and Toolbar PageRank. Algorithmic PR is very much a live and important. It is the continuously updated link calculation that impacts rankings. Toolbar PR is the outdated, dummified version of algorithmic PageRank that SEOs love to brag about, but has no really affect on things. 

            Your approach to SEO where you draw in the right people to relevant content is spot on.

  • Anonymous
    September 1, 2011 (12:49 pm)
    Reply

    Hi Dan,

    I can’t say that I understand all this, because I don’t.  I am a Giveaway and Review blogger and until recently as Saul stated below I didn’t care if my links were nofollow or not!  (Honestly, I didn’t know the difference!)  HOWEVER, I went from a Google PR 4 to a Zero overnight recently due a glitch, and I do believe it a HUGE glitch in Googles system.  I received in a message in my Webmaster Tools on August 6th regarding “unnatural links”?  To this day I have no idea what this means.  I have 90,000 hits to my site some months and the links in are LEGITIMATE.  I’ve put nofollow tags on my button, on the few ads on my site and all sponsored posts and paid “anything’. 

    I had 20,000 links to my home page and Google said my site went viral.. not hardly, it’s called hard work!  Google doesn’t want a site to grow quickly (over 2 years??) How do you please google?  Any ideas, because I am scratching my head..

    • Dan Cristo
      September 1, 2011 (2:23 pm)
      Reply

      Hi Leslie,
      The message regarding unnatural links means Google thinks you are selling links on your  site.

      You can tell your site is being penalized pretty heavily because a search in google for [leslielovesveggies] returns no direct matches – only a blogspot link that redirects to your domain. Usually this happens when Google slaps you with a penalty.

      Here is what I recommend you do:
      1) Consider taking down the image links on your homepage, especially the ones at the bottom of the page. Google will see them as advertisements. Even if they are nofollowed the content to advertisement ratio is not in your favor. Google’s recent panda update penalizes sites they consider “low quality” and one signal of a low quality website is excessive advertisements.

      2) You’ve got one image link with an improper nofollow attribute. It says, “no-follow” instead of “nofollow”; The image link is http://www.soles4souls.org/flippingooddeeds

      3) After you get rid of all the image links and widgets, keeping ONLY paying sponsors with nofollow in the links, you should submit a reconsideration request:
      http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35843

      Within a month or two after you follow the above 3 steps your site should appear back in Google.

      • Anonymous
        September 1, 2011 (2:38 pm)
        Reply

        I wanted to make a link on my Navi Bar for all those image links, so they would be on a different page, but I don’t know how.. I think that would help. 

        Fixed the link you pointed out to me!  Thanks so much Dan!

        I’ll try to work on that page for navi bar!
        Leslie

        • Dan Cristo
          September 1, 2011 (4:38 pm)
          Reply

          Hey Leslie,
          That looks much better. For the widgets on the bottom. I’d drop the PageRank checker. The score is way off, and PageRank is sort of an outdated metric.The link to your website grade (99) looks to be broken. 

          I’d also add nofollow to each and every one of those widgets. Once those changes are made you should be perfectly fine to submit a reconsideration request.

          Oh, and on your ‘affiliates and sponsors’ page you need a nofollow on that sponsored tweets link.

          • Anonymous
            September 1, 2011 (5:16 pm)

            Thank you so much Dan!  I ditched the sponsored Tweets.  Wasn’t paying squatola.  I fixed the Website Grader and ditched the Page Ranker and added a nofollow to all those widgets

            Thank you so much!!!!  I owe you!

          • Yomar Lopez
            September 27, 2011 (8:24 pm)

            Dan knows his stuff.  It’s amazing what a simple “nofollow” attribute will do for you on a link/anchor.  Heck, I’ve been doing SEO for quite a long time and even I forget to do it on my junk links too.

            One thing I’ve noticed is that Google usually does not penalize you unless the majority of your links are clearly being purchased or coming from a two-way exchange..  And don’t think they can’t eventually trace link pyramids and such.  People think it’s all about the two sites on the end of a link tunnel but, really, they’ve got enough data to start understanding which sites are associated with each other.

            Darn you Panda..  You’re too smart for our sneaky SEO! ;o)

      • Anonymous
        September 1, 2011 (3:11 pm)
        Reply

        OK Dan!  Done.. can you take a look and let me now what you think!  I think I did it correctly!!!
        Leslie

    • Memoirs of a Single Dad
      September 1, 2011 (7:23 pm)
      Reply

      Hi Leslie – I also had a problem with my site’s (lack of) speed degrading my rankings. I understand you received the notification but it looked like load times may be holding you back as well. I used Google’s page speed checker as well as the Firebug plugin and YSlow for Firefox to check my page’s load times. I noticed a pretty dramatic downgrade in rankings around mid-August. I’ve since streamlined by site a bit and have the page load times down – and rankings back up. I ran YSlow on your site and it came back with a ‘D’ grade, so there may be some room for improvement. I understand most of the stuff we put on the front page we ‘need’, but you may want to consider other methods of speeding up your loads as well (caching, content delivery networks, fewer posts on the front page, etc). Just an observation! :)

  • Dino Dogan
    September 1, 2011 (9:41 pm)
    Reply

    Whats really interesting is that we weren’t trying to secure links, they just flowed naturally as a consequence of helping others bring more traffic to their sites.

    Btw..I had no idea we had so many links…I have to check those stats more often lol

    • Yomar Lopez
      September 26, 2011 (1:54 am)
      Reply

      That’s awesome and that’s what I try to encourage our fellow SEOs and Inbound Marketers to do: help others to naturally build links.  For some, paid links may be a good option.  I limit those to paid reviews so long as they’re authentic and, even then, nothing beats backlinks that happen because people really dig what you’re doing!

      This is super impressive, man..  20K links a month.  That’s insane.

      You’re on a whole different level than me, Dan..  And I’ve been doing this stuff for as long as you, if not longer.  BEAST mode activated! ;o)

      • Dan Cristo
        September 28, 2011 (1:43 pm)
        Reply

        haha. Thanks Yomar. Totally agree that the best links are natural links. When I stop trying to build links and instead try to build something useful and free, links come – by the boatload. 

        Sometimes I worry that someone will read the post and think, “20k links in a month, wow. I could never get that naturally, so I’ll just buy them”. But they don’t realize that 20k links to Triberr is fine because of the nature and footprint of the site, whereas 20k links to a brochure site would immediately be identified as spam. That is why you need someone like yourself who has been in the business for years where you can explain the “exceptions to the rule” that often come with SEO. 

        BEAST mode activated! – love it.

  • Tinu
    September 1, 2011 (10:05 pm)
    Reply

    That’s a great insight. I’d been thinking about the issue of letting people sign in via Twitter, but I’m trying to think of ways that it would benefit them besides fast login.

    • Dan Cristo
      September 3, 2011 (6:45 pm)
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Tinu.
      Yeah, having the Twitter SignIn functionality is nice, but you’ll need to come up with a reason why people would sign in. Perhaps you can customize their experience on your site if you know what they like to tweet about.

  • Gareth
    September 2, 2011 (7:56 pm)
    Reply

    Agreed noise is Good :)

  • Bird
    September 3, 2011 (4:05 am)
    Reply

    Thats pretty cool.  I guess Tiberr.com got there moneys worth.

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    September 3, 2011 (5:57 pm)
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  • Tad Chef
    September 9, 2011 (1:17 pm)
    Reply

    You rascal! On the other hand: Awesome! Btw. Can I have a Triberr invite?

    • Dan Cristo
      September 9, 2011 (1:42 pm)
      Reply

      Hey Tad,
      Thanks for dropping by. What’s your blog URL? I’ll check it out.

      • Tad Chef
        September 12, 2011 (12:59 pm)
        Reply

        Hey Dan, I write for several blogs, my own blog is SEO 2.0 but I’m mainly known as an SEOptimise blogger in recent years. I also write for the cognitiveSEO blog. I’ve been also contributing to the Hubspot Blog and Google Blogoscoped in the past.

        • Dan Cristo
          September 28, 2011 (1:44 pm)
          Reply

          Hey Tad,
          I know this is a few weeks late, but if you’ll email dan[at]dancristo[dot].com I’ll send you a Triberr invite (if you don’t have one already).

  • Catalyte
    September 12, 2011 (9:39 pm)
    Reply

    Network theory ftw. Very happy for you guys. fyi twitter links are dofollow (you didn’t hear it from me) :)

    • Yomar Lopez
      September 27, 2011 (8:26 pm)
      Reply

      That’s the word on the street.

      It’s fun hearing how people react when I send them a report of all the stuff that ranks the highest for their name or personal brands.  Most are not aware of their digital footprint so it’s nice to see folks like Dan Cristo and Robert Dempsey raising awareness there.  Social media has changed the game..  But I’ll avoid saying it’s a “game changer”. *AHEM* =oP

  • Anonymous
    September 25, 2011 (11:18 am)
    Reply

    Wow! That’s the most interesting piece of info I have read in a long time. Appreciate you sharing it with us. Can I have an invite to http://www.triberr.com?

    • Dan Cristo
      September 28, 2011 (1:37 pm)
      Reply

      Thanks for the compliment on the post. What do you blog about? Can you drop a link?

  • Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2
    October 17, 2011 (5:29 pm)
    Reply

    Great post and I can tell you that Triberr has been amazing for me as well.

    Before triberr I was having a hard time getting my post tweeted as often as I’d like.

    Triberr solved this problem in two ways.

    I believe one of the big drivers of getting people to retweet your posts is Social Proof.

    Meaning that if they see a “Bunch” of other people retweeting then they are more likely to do so.

    Since using Triber I’ve noticed that my posts are getting retweeted directly from my site much more often then ever before and I can see many coming as Third party retweets coming from the original Triberr tweet.

    The secondary benefit has been getting my content in front of a big group of people whom share the same interest so therefor I’m getting more Opt-ins from my tweets as well.

    Overall my experience has been great.

    Thanks for bringing this to the attention of your readers.

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