SEO case study month 1 – Link building and other tactics

It has now been 1 month since we started the SEO work for Flower Child.

In the month 0 SEO case study post I covered keyword choice, on page SEO and some quotes from the client.

In this post I will run through the results so far and some of our link building tactics.

Results so far

In 4 weeks we have made it to the front page going from 31st to 5th which is pretty cool. Importantly however we are getting more traffic for the term. In fact while the actual traffic numbers are fairly low (I won’t reveal them here) the percentage improvement from week 1 to week 4 for the term is a whopping 280%!

It’s early days so we’ll continue to monitor the traffic and the numbers will get more reliable the longer we monitor it.

Existing link analysis

The existing link analysis is about finding out who is linking to you already and maximising those links. For example you might have one of your suppliers link to you with your business name as the anchor text. Just getting them to change this anchor text to the keyword you are chasing can make a big difference.

Theere are many ways to check backlinks but my basic steps are to:

  1. Use a tool like (free) or SEO spy glass (paid) to obtain a list of all sites linking to yours.
  2. Sort the links by Google page rank (PR) that are ‘do follow’ (do follow means they count towards your Google authority). Basically the idea here is to not worry too much about the low level links going through to your site but focus on the high level ones. Google PR isn’t the be all and end all in page measures so if you have a better one then use that but the point is that if you have a lot of links you don’t have time to look at all of them.
  3. If the link looks like one that you might be able to contact the site owner and change then do so.

Note you can also use Yahoo Site Explorer or the free version of Open Site Explorer however these tools won’t let you sort the links based on the value of the link so if you have lots of links then this won’t really work.

In the case of Flower Child, I’m not sure they were able to change too many of the links however there were a few key ones (like forum signatures) which can make a big difference.

Competitor analysis

The competitor analysis is very similar to the existing link analysis, the only difference is you look at your competitors instead of your own sites. The competitor analysis can be a gold mine for finding links and for understanding how your competitors are ranking.

The basic approach is:

  1. Go into Google and enter your keyword and make a note of who your competitors are. I would generally stay away from some of the larger sites that may appear (e.g. often Wikipedia will appear in the results) and lean more towards companies who you know to be competitors.
  2. Put their URL into (free) or SEO spy glass (paid) and sort the links by Google PR.
  3. Based on what you find you might discover things like associations that allow free listings, industry specific directories, other companies that have ‘partner’ programs, forums which allow do follow signatures, blogs that allow do follow comments, companies that allow ‘testimonials’ you might even find links on totally irrelevant sites (in this case they could be paying for links, which is against Google’s guidelines but it still a well utilised SEO strategy by a lot of companies)

A competitor analysis can really reveal some great sources of links, particularly if your competitors have invested in SEO!

Blogs and forums

If you have read my ebook, small business search engine domination, you will know I advocate that clients get involved in the SEO process by undertaking some key SEO tasks themselves.

I’m not talking about the laborious mind numbing tasks, or the highly technical tasks. I’m talking about tasks that are best done by the person who is the subject matter expert (the client).

2 great examples of tasks that business owners can undertake themselves are:

  1. Commenting on blogs
  2. Participating in forums

However knowing which blogs and forums to participate in can make all the difference.

We provided Flower Child with a spreadsheet of blogs and forums that related to their industry. We indicated in the spreadsheet whether the blog or forum provided ‘do follow’ links (for example some forums will allow you to have do follow links in your signature). It is then the client’s job to comment on the blogs and participate in the forums.

I would usually recommend having a monthly reminder to spend 30 minutes or so on blog commenting and forums.

Basic link building

We offer 2 SEO packages, a starter plan and a premium plan. Breaking the plans up in this way is done because of my approach to SEO which is all about doing more than your competitors are doing (see the only way to win at SEO). In short, it’s not necessary to go all out and utilise the most sophisticated SEO strategies to rank if a basic strategy will get you ahead of your competitors.

With this case study we are starting out with the starter plan and we will engage the premium plan if necessary. The starter plan includes what I could call basic link building strategies including:

  1. One article written for article marketing
  2. Post different versions of the article to 10 web 2.0 sites
  3. Post different versions of the article to 10 premium article sites manually and 50 second tier sites via bulk submission
  4. Submit business details to 10 premium business directories manually
  5. Submit business details to 50 second tier business directories via bulk submission
  6. Backlink all new properties to increase indexation

These are fairly simple tasks, great tasks to outsource and depending on the level of competition they may be enough. If not you will need to look at some more advanced strategies (which I will cover in another post).

Some notes

You will also note that i have linked to their site in my blog posts which is also going to have some  impact on their SEO results (as my blog has a pretty high authority). This is not really part of our program but we do have a number of high authority sites that we can link from if necessary. Often in highly competitive industries you will find companies have their own high authority network of sites.

Stay tuned for next month

Next month we are going to introduce one more keyword and provide an update on traffic and results. If we can get to the top 3 we might leave this keyword for a while and move onto another highly competitive keyword to see if we can get that ranking in the 6 months that we have available.

As always if you have any comments please feel free to reply below.

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About Alex

Alex Retzlaff is the owner of A Website Designer and Web Circle.

Follow us at:
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Web Circle website

37 Responses to “SEO case study month 1 – Link building and other tactics”

  1. Lilach Bullock November 16, 2011 at 9:29 pm #

    Thanks Dan this is awesome. I’m always looking out for SEO tips that I can implement and your case study is great. What a huge improvement in rankings, well done:)

  2. Dan November 17, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    Thanks! I’ll be putting more stuff up here as the months progress.

  3. Stacy November 19, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for sharing these strategies. I have found that blog commenting and participating in forums are very effective! My blog has really come a long way due to those and some other activities that I participate in regularly.


  4. Catarina November 19, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    Good suggestions Dan. You really did well! Congrats!!

  5. Emmanuel Olonade November 21, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for the post, you’ve made it quite easy to understand. I agree that it’s very important to check on your competition to see what they’ve been up to; it will help you know where to concentrate on.

    Have A Lovely Day!

  6. Viviana November 21, 2011 at 3:48 am #

    Hi Dan, you cover a good topic for SEO. I note down your tips. Blog commenting can give back links definitely.

  7. Sarah Russell November 26, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Dan – Great tips. It’s always great to see people who focus on identifying and creating high value links for SEO, rather than just spamming sites with low quality links.

    Also, sad to see Yahoo Site Explorer get decommissioned, so I’m glad you provided some other alternatives that help fill the void for these tasks. Majestic SEO is another tool that can provide some interesting information.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Training Swimwear December 2, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    Nice article Dan, I haven’t used the Link Diagnosis tool before, I’m going to check it out now.

    I’ve decided to follow your blog / forum comment advice and steal a link from you, as it look like your blog comments are “do follow”.



  9. Dan December 2, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Yeah buddy, you’re mad not to!

    LD is good cause it’s free, no software and also runs off SEO Moz which means it hasn’t broken after Yahoo being taken offline last week.

    Hope you are well mate.

  10. Dan December 2, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    Hi Sarah, thanks for the comment. Yeah I haven’t used Majestic I think that’s a paid one right? I have used SEO Moz open site explorer a bit but the free version was a bit painful. I did used to like Yahoo Site Explorer.

  11. Dan December 2, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    Thanks Catarina, it’s up to 2nd now! Need to focus on new keywords now.

  12. Robin Jennings December 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    Great advice. Small business is always on a budget so actually recommending websites that will help you do half of your own SEO will save you plenty of money with great results.

  13. julie January 4, 2012 at 4:31 am #

    glad i came across you, great SEO tips that I can implement in my new blog, loved your case study too, thanks

  14. Dan January 5, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    Glad to help! Thanks for the comment.

  15. April January 11, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    I love this idea of using a real case study to help make some sense out of SEO practices. Although you aren’t the first to do it, you are the first I have come across that I (as a complete novice to all things SEO) understand. So thank you!

  16. Dan January 12, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    Hi April, cool! Thanks for the comment (and the compliment).

  17. Jeff Faldalen January 23, 2012 at 5:26 am #

    Hi Dan
    Thank you for a great article. Congrats on the results, pretty impressive

    I look forward to reading your book and implementing the strategies you

    best wishes,

  18. Dan January 23, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    Hi Jeff, thanks!

  19. Pension release January 28, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    You might also search for backlink list and dofollow list, it’s probably not worthwhile to post links on noFollow sites that search engines don’t follow, which are getting to become the norm. You want to get a plugin that identifies doFollow links, firefox might be the best seo browser.

  20. Dan January 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    Actually Google wants to see a natural linking pattern. If what you say is true – i.e. most sites are no follow then it would be very unnatural for a site to only have links on ‘do follow’ sites. Google still sees no follow links.

  21. Facebook clone February 2, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

    Nice article that so even Nofollow links are worth for submitting our article and website ..this is really an Good news to all but still we prefer only the dofollow sites ..why is it so ?

  22. Dan February 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    I think showing a natural pattern by having links in no follow and do follow sources is the best way to go.

  23. Dave February 7, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    its very fulfilling when your backlink campaign is successful, I wish you the best of luck and keep at it, the only way is up!

  24. Dan February 7, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Hi Dave thanks for the comment and for stopping by.

  25. Post Apocalyptic March 28, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    I just want to start off this super long comment with a huge thank you for creating this incredibly useful post. I think a lot of times it is easy to go overboard with the links even for a measly keyword that just interests you, that you are trying to rank to have your opinions heard. I think one of the most important aspects of this post in my opinion, is the fact that you really only need to out SEO your competition, not go all out like you are trying to beat Wikipedia.

    I wasn’t aware of that link diagnosis tool either and I just installed the tool bar for Firefox as well as bookmarked your page. I found this site today in the morning and I have been all over it today just absorbing the incredibly useful information that you have put together and I love the fact that it is affiliate link free and honest.

    I was particularly surprised to see an Australian website come up on Google for some major keywords that led me here and I immediately was interested because I have literally never got a .au address in a Google search result, for anything ever.

    I just want to let you know that as an American I am impressed that you blog on an Australian web address and have created a site that is so incredibly useful that it crushes American .com’s in because of its user friendliness, honesty and real value. I am also a little bit more impressed with Google in general since it determined the value of your amazing site!

    But enough rear end smooching (I couldn’t help it Dan!) I like the fact that this particularly is a case study on the first month. This first month is like some unknown territory where we as bloggers and web designers are unsure of how hard hitting SEO wise we should be.

    We know what will look unnatural, and what will appear natural, but the temptation to just start getting to work is often overwhelming for us especially if we are used to dealing with an authority site or some aged domain that we have been working on for years.

    The trick with Google as you have indirectly stated is to just really take things slow and don’t over do anything. Promoting your material is fine if it is done naturally (and Google really does a good job of determining what is natural) but the focus should be on long term growth and quality content that will automatically generate links organically to back up your own back linking campaign.

    If I ever do not have the time to manually SEO and back link my own projects, I am definitely going to hire your company or send friends who are looking for somewhere to go your way!

    Kudos to you Aussie, you have crafted one of the most helpful websites I have come across in an extremely long time.

  26. Dan March 28, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Wow I’m not sure what to say to that! That is definitely the best comment I’ve had on my site, ever! I should make the comment it’s own post! I’m sure I will use it one day when writing about how to get a blog comment published.

    I wasn’t aware that I ranked at all outside of Australia except I got a call from Guam for a new website the other day!

    Anyway all of your points are great they don’t need a response except thanks so much for the comment.

  27. Meganem May 21, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Dan, how do you think link building is going to be affected with the latest Google changes, including Penguin? Have you made any changes to your SEO strategies?

  28. Dan May 21, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    Yep we certainly have. We are now moving away from general ‘packages’ and coming up with specific strategies for each client. If you listen to episode 1 of my web domination podcast there is some really great stuff in there from a guy who knows a lot about Google.

  29. Michael Shew September 9, 2012 at 10:59 am #


    Your site/feeds have been a great resource for me.

    Fantastic SEO tips here.

    Keep up the good work!

    Thanks again


  30. Alex September 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Hi Michael. We at A Website Designer thank you for your support. Glad we can help.

  31. Thomas October 9, 2012 at 3:25 am #

    Hey Alex,
    I have`nt read the other articles from this series yet but its really interesting to get insights from case studies.
    Also the consideration which tasks the client can do by himself is worthwhile. I like to explain the clients my work – many frauds do not do that. So its a good way to gain trust and show that you do not practice voodoo.

    Do you spin the articles or do you get the “different versions” by hand? I heared a lot of controversial things about spinning.

  32. Thomas October 9, 2012 at 4:07 am #

    P.S.: Hey Dave, sorry for confusing you with Alex.

  33. Alex October 9, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    Hi Thomas. I’m glad the article helps and hope you get a chance to read the rest of them. I agree that giving a more personal touch helps to increase the level of trust. And that works right in to your next question, about spinning. Naturally, Google is high on unique content and frowns upon spinning. I agree with them about good content, but I also see the need to get cost-effective content out there to promote your site. Spinning comes with a number of problems and Google keeps improving their ability to sniff out duplicate content.

    Most spun articles are poorly done. They might be done by people who don’t know English that well and the synonym selection is bloody awful. If you use spinning at all, you have to have a native English speaker do it, and someone good with grammar and spelling. It can work better if your spinning includes alternate phrases rather than tons of synonyms. Many times those synonyms do not work with the rest of the sentence and it sounds awful. If you have good spinning software, you can also spin the paragraph breaks, the use of bullets or numbers, the sequence of items and more. Varying the number of words, the number of paragraphs, the number of headings and sub-headings, and the use and placement of pictures and videos, can help make each of your spins more unique. That makes each of them more valuable and likely less toxic in the eyes of Google.

  34. Alex October 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    Hi Thomas, no worries mate. Dan is no longer the owner and I’m happy to be of service.

  35. Alex February 25, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Maybe the best option is to hire a SEO company to make the offline and online optimisation for you, including the link building operation…

  36. Rod "Carl" Martin Jr February 26, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    Hi Alex. Certainly hiring an SEO company to take care of all these concerns is an option. As fast as things change in the technical world, you certainly want a team who is up on all the latest ideas. But, naturally, not all SEO companies are created equally. Some we’ve found to have learned a few tricks in the hopes that it might be enough. Articles like this one are meant to help those who might want to do it themselves. But even if they want to hire a third-party service, such knowledge will help them choose a better SEO company.

  37. Mihai Alexandru February 27, 2013 at 3:58 am #

    Thanks for the REPLY.You explained it very nice.You’re right, not all SEO companies are good , you have to PICK the best for your budget and expectations.

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