Struggling with Traffic? Then This Is The Most Important Post You’ll Ever Read

Struggling with Traffic? Then This Is The Most Important Post You’ll Ever Read

Posted by on Sep 10, 2009 in SEO

Struggling with Traffic? Then This Is The Most Important Post You’ll Ever Read

If you’re not getting enough traffic to your site, then in 99% of cases, you’re missing the key factor in getting better search engine rankings – LINKS!

I visit the SBI forums daily and every day there is someone asking for a site review and complaining about low traffic.

And EVERY time I check their sites, I see the same thing; almost 0 incoming links or having some links but they’re coming from low quality sites.

Somehow, somewhere the most important information on how to get lots of free search engine traffic got lost.

So here it is: In order to rank high for a certain keyword in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Live, your keyword most have good demand, not too much competition and LINKS pointing to it.

Ideally, the link’s anchor text includes your keyword or a slight variation of it. These links should come from quality websites (and pages!) where the quality can be determined by high pagerank and high Alexa rating.

This is it. This is the most important information about getting free traffic. EVERYTHING else is less important.

How many links do good sites have?

Have you ever asked yourself this question?

Because if links are so important, then getting close to your competitors (or partners) in search ranking results will depend on whether you can get approximately the same amount and quality of links.

I’ve hired a freelancer to do analysis of backlinks of 110 websites which will enable you to compare your site’s backlinks to their count and see WHY you still struggle.

Trust me, it’s not the design of your site (Google doesn’t care how your site looks like) and it’s not the publishing platform (Google doesn’t care whether you use SBI, WordPress or simply upload static HTML to a server).

In 99% of the cases, you’re lacking links.

Sure, you need content and hopefully you’re choosing most of the winnable keywords and hopefully you aim for at least a 100 page website. All that is necessary but I rarely see the number of pages as the key problem to low traffic.

It’s the links that are missing.

The analysis was done on the top 10 websites in each category of the SBI Results page. There are 11 categories and I’ve chosen top 10 websites in each and done a link analysis on them.

The backlink analysis consists of two numbers:

1.    The total number of incoming links reported by Yahoo. The number represents only external links and to the entire site. (so not only to the homepage)

2.    The number of domains (different websites) linking to your site. The number of different domains seems to be one of the most important factors determining the overall trust of your website in Google’s results. You can get of course 100 incoming links if a blog with 100 pages puts your link in their blogroll. That will of course give you much weaker results than for example getting 1 link from 100 dfifferent websites.

You’ll also see Alexa rating of each website.

Here’s a shortcut if you don’t want to check the whole analysis:
–    The average incoming link count of top 10 websites in 11 categories is around 4000 incoming links.
–    And the average number of different websites linking to a top 10 website in these 11 categories is over 220.

If you’re not anywhere close to these numbers, you WILL NOT get lots of traffic. This is what’s needed to make your site stand of from the crowd of crappy sites and get tons of free search engine traffic.

You can download the full backlink report here (Right click and choose Save Link As or Save Target As… – it’s an .xls file for Microsft Excel).

How to analyze links

You can get the total number of incoming links by typing link:www.domain.com in Yahoo.com and then selecting »Except from this domain« and »to: Entire Site«.

Analyzing backlinks with Yahoo

To get the number od domains linking to your site, use SEOmoz Linkscape and then look at the »Root domains linking to the page« number.

Analysis with SEOmoz linkscape

So in order to get lots of traffic (as those sites do clearly do), you need to have similar factors. These factors include the number of pages and the number and quality of incoming links.

If you’re still struggling with traffic and you have more than 100 pages (without lots of pages, the links cannot do their magic!), then start working on links, links, links!!!

P.S. And where can I get links? In the same places as the other sites in your niche did!

Yahoo shows you almost every site and almost every page from where the other site gets links. Check those pages and see if you can get a link there too!

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    39 Comments

  1. Tomaz –

    Good post – thanks for the info. I have a question, although it probably relates to a post you did the other week.

    When should the focus shift to building a links program from writing content? Right now, I’m just trying to write quality content and not focus on anything else. I’m at just under 30 pages. Do I wait until 50?

    I know there’s obviously not one magic answer, but in your opinion at about what level of pages is your time more well spent building a links program rather than pumping out as many high quality content pages as you can?

    Thanks,
    Nate

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Hi Nate,

    I typically build around 50 to 60 pages and then start working on both – links and content.

    Why 50 or 60? Because I have better chances of getting accepted into directories if my site has more pages and looks more “complete”.

    You can of course submit an occasional article to ezinearticles.com to get a link or two before that…

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Hi Nate,

    No need to wait but at this time you’ll do better with article submissions than anything else. A directory might not accept you since you don’t have lots of pages and it’s hard to exchange links when you have nothing to offer in return. (no pagerank, no traffic)

    [Reply]

  2. This one short article sums up so many entire web sites, books and other articles in a very articulate way that gets straight to the point. The result of your research, that links are very important, is not a surprise. Lots of folks say that too. Your research showing the huge number of links on high traffic sites, 4,000 is much higher than I ever thought. The same surprise holds true for the high number of linking web sites, over 200.

    In contrast, I feel like I’ve had a great week if I got one okay quality link. One link! Clearly my work in this regard will be stepped up significantly. This also assumes I have 50-100+ pages of quality content for visitors.

    Your research is very commendable and I thank you for sharing the findings.

    [Reply]

  3. Tomaz

    Man your blog is awesome.I check it daily.I am addicted. 🙂

    I have been meaning to skype you. I hit 211 pages on my travel site now and I have been working on links.

    I am pushing the $500 a month mark but my new goal is $34 a day which is $1k a month. I can see it for sure.

    Anyway, thanks for what you do.You should put a donation button on your blog.I would send some your way.

    Dave

    [Reply]

  4. Tomaz

    I did mean to ask you something. If you have say 100+ pages on your site. Do you focus mostly on getting links to your T2 pages or each T3 pages?

    It gets crazy to focus on each page.

    Dave

    [Reply]

  5. Hey David,

    I would focus on getting my main keywords for my homepage rank high first. I optimize my homepage for 3 to 5 keywords so that may take a while.

    After that, I might build links to T2 pages mostly. Only if your T3 page has lots of demand and you see that it’s worth getting it to top #3, then build a link or two to that page too.

    By the way, SEOmoz has released a report on the search engine ranking factors. 4 of the top 5 ranking factors are link related. 😉

    [Reply]

  6. Tomaz,

    Yeah, that is exatly what I was thinking.

    I have several T3’s that are searched like 2,000 times a month that I rank on page 2 or maybe rank 5-10 on page one of google.

    I know if I got some links to that page and ranked in the top 5 I would should get higher clickthroughs and prob add a several thousand more visitors per month.

    D

    [Reply]

  7. Hi Tomaz,

    thanks for sharing your report.

    Many places talk about getting backlinks from say 10 to 20 high pr sites, like squidoo, hubpages, reddit, EZA, goarticles, blogger, wordpress,and to only focus on those,

    and to create a network using those sites which link back to yours.

    Their reasoning is if you get links from the other article directories, bookmarking sites, web 2.0 sites, directories, which have lower pr, it is not worth the time involved, so it is better to get more links from the top 5 or 10 sites from each category.

    For example what is better submiting 5 articles to EZA and 5 articles to goarticles, or submitting 10 articles to 10 different article directories, provided all the articles are unique.

    thanks.

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Hi Jeremy,

    I’ve done the link experiment series to see which sites give me the most traffic – so check that for more info.

    As for what is better – 5 to EZA and 5 to GOA or 10 to different article sites? I would add most articles to EZA and GOA and a few to other sites.

    As how many – I think it really doesn’t mater in the long term. The effect of these articles – when it comes to traffic and pagerank – will be maybe 5% of your total pagerank and traffic or even less.

    So what you’re asking really is whether you should do something that will bring you 4,56% of your traffic and pagerank or do something that will bring you 4,78% of your pagerank and traffic. 😉

    I hope you see what I mean. It doesn’t matter.

    These links are a nice addition to your site’s rankings, but they are NOTHING compared to one link from an authority site which links to you from a PR3+ content page.

    It’s really not worth wasting time on these small details and approach the article submissions with that much analytical thinking…

    [Reply]

  8. thanks Tomaz,

    what I’m more concerned with rather than getting traffic from these sites, is which sites will help my own pages to rank highly in the serp’s,

    if I want to rank a particular page on my site, is it better to get links from many different root domains, or is it better to focus on a few high pr root domains and add lots of content to them

    thanks

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    I have no proof Jeremy and I have seen no statistical analysis – so if you ask me a question like this you need to realize that the answer is just my opinion.

    I think that a link from a PR3 page for example is worth much more than more links from more domains that link to you from PR0 pages.

    [Reply]

  9. Hi Tomaz,

    Great post, great information. And I am not among your researched companies, darn 😉

    Anyway, just out of curiosity I calculated medians in your excel-file. It turned out that the median website had 152 domains linking in and 2161 links. So that might be slightly less intimidating for people that are just starting out. The averages are pushed up by some sites that have like 15,000 incoming links.

    Probably even reaching “just” the median value, can boost any website’s traffic big time.

    Have a great weekend,

    Paula

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Hi Paula,

    Thanks for extra info. I love mathematics. 😉

    [Reply]

  10. I think I’m missing something here – tennismindgames has over 4000 links from 200 domains – does that means that it has 20 links from each site? (In a purely mathematical sense)

    I’m sure I have the meaning of domain wrong . . .

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Hey John,

    The site can get hundreds of links from one link posted in the blogroll of a blog – which then counts as a link from every page of that blog.

    The site can also get just one link from one domain – if the link is not on a blogroll. It can be in the content, on the resources page, etc.

    [Reply]

  11. Tomaz,

    The reason I believe you about the importance of links is that my sites are living testimonies about what happens when you don’t have any.

    I’ve read many of your posts in the sbi forums. While it is true that the AG speaks of the importance of getting links, I have always felt that keywords were stressed far, far more.

    Yes, while it’s true that good keywords are essential, my sites are living proof that good keywords without inbound links won’t get me any traffic.

    My first site is nearly a year old. It has over 100 pages. Not a great number, I admit, but with my keywords, I should have more than 26 visitors a day. Even if my site was a real screw-up I should have more visitors than that, especially after nearly a year. Pathetic. And that’s after working hard for nearly a whole year. And not working on links at all. Don’t know if I’ll commit to working any more on the site or renewing it, since it should be doing better, even with no inbound links.

    Site number 2 has REALLY GOOD keywords and lots of them, and I’ve used them well. But, at only 70 pages and no inbound links, I’m getting 2 (TWO!) visitors a day after six months. No one will EVER convince me that keywords make a website rule.

    Unfortunately, getting lots of inbound links is a bigger deal and a bigger pain in the rear. Personally, I am convinced at this point that unless all the planets are lined up just right, it will not matter whether I use great keywords and get lots of inbound links or not. Getting EVERYTHING right, that is, finding a niche that one enjoys, with decent demand and not too much competition, and not too many “big dog” competitors in the top 20 or so, and getting lots of traffic is a daunting task. Guess I’m getting too old for “hit and miss” anymore.

    It’s alot like the weather. There is science behind it, but there are so many variables involved. It’s impossible to forecast success but easy to forecast failure. If ANY variable isn’t right on, my history has proved that it’s probably a futile adventure. All the motivational speeches in the world don’t make a bit of difference.

    [Reply]

  12. Hi Ron,

    Thanks for sharing. There are websites that got links organically but those are so few, that those are simply lucky.

    Also, note that in my experience you don’t need that many links, you just need some very strong ones.

    If you happen to get a link from a PR5 page in Yahoo directory, your traffic may sky rocket in a month or two.

    More links are even better, but to really get your traffic rolling, you need just a few good ones. (and not those from ezinearticles.com, goarticles.com and similar)

    [Reply]

  13. Tomaz,

    Thanks a million for your great post/s. As for this particular post, I tried to apply what I have read by choosing a keyword “aloe vera”. I noticed two or three sites which on the front page of google for this keyword have poor quality and little content plus like, less than 30 links. I am always a firm believer in working hard for links…I am not looking for a “short cut” but would appreciate any feedback on this observation which baffles me.

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Candy,

    Let me know which sites you had in mind. One reason is the age of the website which helps a lot with rankings. They may also get few links but those come from authority sites.

    [Reply]

  14. Tomaz,

    If I mention the names, it would show up on search engine results for the owners of these websites to find out. I don’t know how to be specific in this open discussion without being rude to them.

    [Reply]

  15. Candy,

    Just add a few dots between letters: like f.reed..o..m.i.d.eas.com 😉

    [Reply]

  16. Thanks for the info. The Linkscape tool helped me a lot. Now I know where I stand. I didn’t know this
    tool before. Just great.

    [Reply]

  17. Hi, great blog, I learned a lot.

    I got a very strange traffic problem.

    My site is over one year old and has around 87 pages indexed.

    Traffic is just around 40 uniques/daily

    The strange thing is that I just don’t get enough traffic from Google.
    330 uniques/month Google BUT
    420 uniques/month Yahoo

    I don’t understand this at all because Google traffic should be always at least five times higher than Yahoo traffic.
    Do I have a problem with Google? I couldn’t find any in webmaster tools. And Traffic should be higher or not?

    [Reply]

  18. Nobi,

    You don’t have enough quality links to convince Google that your site really deserves better rankings.

    Yahoo is easier to manipulate just with good keywords in titles and good content. Google wants better links to push you up in the rankings.

    Yahoo link analysis shows about 80 links for your site. I am sure you’ve read the numbers of links of high traffic sites above in this post…

    [Reply]

  19. Thanks for explaining.

    Tomaz,

    do you have any experience related to bounce rates?
    My highest traffic page (it has higher traffic than my home page) has a bounce rate of over 80%. This increases the overall bounce rate of my whole site to 59% because of the high traffic this page has.

    However, does Google know about the overall bounce rate of websites? (not all sites use Google analytics)
    Does Google “punish” websites that have a high overall bounce rate by withholding traffic to that site?

    Thanks

    [Reply]

  20. Nobi,

    I never put any emphasis on the bounce rate. You’ll have to ask in the SBI forums…

    [Reply]

  21. Hi Tomaz,

    I enjoy reading your blog posts and forum posts; they are very helpful. I do, however, have some questions/comments:

    1. I am noticing that the age of a website has some important factor in rankings. Some of my competitors for certain keywords have less inlinks than me(according to Yahoo), but they are ranked #2 or 3 in Google. The inlinks don’t seem like authority links as well… Well… all I can do now is continue to build content and quality links.

    2. I invested a relatively small amount of money on certain directories (PR 3 – PR 5) for a featured link. In return, I got listed on the top of a category and sometimes on the homepage (ie. latest featured link or random featured link). Would these be considered quality links? I don’t know how to check the PR on internal links =( The google toolbar would say ‘not available’. And if these links do happen to be quality links, how likely would they help me in my SE rankings (considering that these directories aren’t as strong as Yahoo, DMOZ, Joe Ant)?

    Thanks for your help, and thank you for providing great tips! Hopefully I will continue to build links and do link exchanges (once I have some higher pr =)

    -Sameer

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Hi Sameer,

    1. Yes, age of the website is very important. In my experience, a site will be held back by Google for the first year.

    2. If the Google toolbar says unavailable for PR, then there is no PR on that page. It’s won’t be very helpful. Every link counts but you’ll see that these have minimal effect on your rankings and traffic. And no, these would not be quality links.

    It’s not all about PR though. It’s also about the age of that website and it’s trust and authority factor. Even if such a site (joeant, botw, …) links to you from a PR0 page, that link will help your site become more trustworthy in Google’s view.

    [Reply]

  22. I guess many new website owners quit after experiencing low traffic and rankings due to the amount of quality links, quality content, age of website and authority. Hopefully, I will continue to work hard and be patient…soon (hopefully) the snowball will take effect.

    Great job Tomaz, I enjoy the insightful knowledge that you have shared with many of us. Keep up the success!

    [Reply]

  23. Thank you Tomaz!

    You convinced me. My site is 3 years old, 200 pages, and I only have 229 incoming links from 56 different websites. How far I am from 4000!!! links and 200 sites!
    I am very down about this because link building is super hard but at least now I know what I need to do…

    Thanks.

    [Reply]

  24. Tomaz,

    thanks for such a wonderful article. But the way u are telling about the incoming links. why should other website owners give a incoming links to my website or any other website. What makes them think and give a link out which is automatically a link backlink for me and for our new online friends who is looking for a successs the way you have
    Can u just explain?

    [Reply]

  25. Hi Tomaz,

    Found this quite by accident tonight, and though I should know all about this topic, I feel this must be a good part of the reason for alot that seems stalled for me at the moment. Also, I seem to opt for the content writing more often than I should instead of doing other chores that need to be done.

    [Reply]

  26. Tomaz,

    Discovered your site yesterday, and it’s the perfect compliment to Site Build It.

    We’ve been building our site since the beginning of the year, working hard and keeping the faith that somewhere in the not too distant future we’ll reap the rewards.

    We were over 100 uv per day in July, were zeroing in on 150 and then traffic fell by half to two thirds.

    We have 50 links, mostly from directories. I read your “Simple link building…” article and it makes a ton of sense. We’re starting today to put that advice into practice.

    What is your opinion of the services like freewebmonitoring.com and linkingmatters.com that promise links from PR4 – PR9 sites for a fee. We’d be willing to pay for traffic but not a scam.

    Kathy

    P.S. No offense, but reading about you going from nothing to $9000 a month in a year is disheartening. Not that I’m not happy for you.

    [Reply]

    Tomaz Reply:

    Hi Kathy,

    The services you mentioned will probably not do much for your site. I tried similar services a few times and never got any benefit from them.

    The links that matter have to be obtained through hard work and direct contact – and by creating really interesting content.

    P.S. It took me almost 2 years to earn more than $1000 per month…

    [Reply]

  27. Thanks, Tomaz, for the quick reply and the great information.

    Your article on giving a site a professional look and feel resonates also. SBI is great, but our site built on their template looks homemade. Not a good look for an Interior Design site.

    So, it’s time to talk to a designer and to start contacting those high PR sites.

    All the best,
    Kathy

    [Reply]

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