Q and A: Is this a legitimate form of link building?

QuestionDear Kalena

So, I’m a freelance writer, cruising through Elance.com, looking for projects to bid on. I see a project for a site called buildmyrank.com. They say they are looking for 150-word blog posts that will be website summaries. I can do this work, but…are these sites legitimate SEO tools or just ways to get around link building that is considered acceptable?

Thanks for your thoughts!


Hi Denise

I think your spidey-senses are accurate! This site looks and smells fishy. They’re also hiding their domain registration details, which, while not necessarily suspicious, is a common practice amongst sites employing less than legitimate SEO methods.

There is a very easy way to determine if they are *white hat*, have a look at their Google Toolbar PageRank. Oh look! A zero PageRank score. If Google doesn’t think they’re trustworthy, that’s a big red flag right there.

I would avoid them like the plague.

Q and A: How do I check my Backlinks?


Dear Kalena…

Hi there, I hope you can help. When I have a look in google webmaster for my site, I see 216 links back to my site but when I do a link:domain.com in google, it comes back with zero backlinks. Can you explain why that would be? Is this affecting my SERP? How can I rectify the issue?

Thanks! John

Hi John,

Monitoring the third party sites that link to your site (backlinks), is an important activity, as the quality and quantity of backlinks you receive is considered one of the more important factors that will influence how your site is ranked in the search results.  There are plenty of third party tools available to help with this (try a Google search for “Backlink Checker“), but, it can be quite difficult to get an accurate list of your backlinks.

You can also use search engines to help determine backlinks, however, they are notorious for only providing a subset of the total number of backlinks.  One advantage this method has though, is that you are also able to check competitor backlinks (which can be very handy for linkbuilding).

Traditionally Yahoo backlink data was much more accurate than that provided by Google – however since the Yahoo/Bing merger, the functionality of Link: and Linkdomain: commands under Yahoo has been restricted. You can still get an indication of backlinks via a command of the following form (under Yahoo or Google).

linkdomain:yourdomain.com -site:yourdomain.com

Which is intended to show which pages link to yourdomain.com, but exclude any inernal links.  For your site [URL Provided] Yahoo shows 363 links and Google 214)

Rand Fishkin (SEOMoz) wrote an excellent post in August outlining some alternate methods for determining backlinks  (see: 6 Ways to Replace Yahoo’s Link & Linkdomain Search Commands )

Googles Webmaster Tools is probably one of the better ways to determine backlinks on your own site (although you are not able to use it for competitor sites) .  It is widely accepted that webmaster tools will again not show all backlinks – however, it is believed to show most of the pages linking to your site that are likely to have an impact on your rankings.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting SEO – Brisbane

Q and A: Am I choosing the right keywords?

QuestionDear Kalena

I have a business here in the UK offering training in Microsoft Office products such as Word, Excel and Outlook.

I am a bit confused about the keywords I should be optimising my web site for and I was wondering if you could give me a little advice on my choices?

My first instinct is to optimise the site for the following:

4.Help with spreadsheets
5.Excel consultancy
9.Online support
10.Onsite support
12.Excel help

thank you!


Hello Mary

The main purpose of keyword research is to get you thinking about all the possible keywords you could target, including those used by competitors or more importantly, those NOT used by competitors. So as well as coming up with your own seed list, you should be looking at your competitor’s web sites to see what keywords they are targeting and whether or not you should be using similar keywords.

However, I am a bit concerned by the keywords you’ve chosen for your own site. How many people who type the word *training* into a search engine are specifically seeking training in Microsoft products provided by a consultant in Essex, UK? People typing this search query in might be looking for football training coaches, or training shoes. Or scuba dive training in South Africa. Same goes for the word *Essex*. People typing that in are more likely to be looking for tourist information, accommodation or school project information than for MS training.

You’ll realize this as you learn more about search engine optimization, but you need to choose two, three and four word keyword phrases that are more tailored to your exact offering and therefore more likely to attract visitors to your site who are specifically seeking the services you offer. These visitors have a higher likelihood of converting to customers.

Search phrases you’ve listed like *help with spreadsheets* and *Excel help* are great, but phrases such as *MS Office training* and *how to use MS Word* would be more relevant for you than some of the other keywords you’ve listed.

Once you have a good seed list of keywords, you can run them through a keyword research tool to check how much potential traffic they will bring to your site and streamline your final choices for SEO.

Happy keyword hunting!


Q and A: Can my developer’s footer links cause a ranking penalty?



Our site [URL Provided] has a google penalty of some sort. Our webmaster has a link to his site anchor text his, on every page on our site. Our site is 3yrs old, pr3. Our homepage an only our homepage is not showing up in the google serps for long tail kw’s. When before it use to rank very well, the homepage that is. Now for kw;s our inner pages are showing up. Really confusing.. So with the above do you think this is our problem? Cause of our webmasters site wide link on our site?

Any info will be helpful.

Thank you

Hi Carlos,

Rest assured that links to your web developer in the footer are very unlikely to have any impact on your rankings.  Site wide footer links to developer websites are pretty standard, and although once considered useful for SEO purposes are of questionable real value these days.

From a brief analysis I have undertaken on your site, I can see no evidence of a ranking penalty at all. If a  penalty was active it would most likely impact all pages (not just the home page), and would also affect specific queries as well as long tail ones – which is not the case  – your home page is showing up fine in the SERPs for your business name for example.

It’s not unusual for a home page to rank worse than an inner page for long tail keywords – particularly if the keywords are product related.  If someone searches for a specific product name or model number for example, you would expect (and hope) that your product page would show up rather than your home page.

If you are still concerned that your home page rankings have dropped for certain keyword phrases, I suggest that you undertake an analysis of your Google Analytics data – to see what keywords your home page has receieved traffic for historically.  You can then start to look at these keywords individually and see if there is a significant drop off.  Use analytics to identify any trends and help narrow down if/when the problem started to occur.

You could discover that a drop in rankings for your home page may have a corresponding increase in rankings for your product pages.  This is a good thing because it indicates that the search engines have a higher “confidence” in your inner pages, and probbaly means that your SEO strategies are working.

However, if your overall traffic (not just home page) has dropped, it may suggest that your competitors are getting smarter about SEO, and undertaking optimisation strategies to improve their own rankings (at the expense of yours).  This may indicate the need for you to review and improve your own SEO strategy.

Andy Henderson
Web Consulting (Brisbane)