SEO has been around for more than a decade and as of this post, not one SEO Expert in the world encourages you to build back links to your sitemap. Let me be the first.
Sitemaps were developed to aid in the navigation of sites and to assure that Google and other search engines would index your whole site and even though sitemaps are widespread, SEO consultants overlook them for link building. Brad Fallon gave me my original foundation in SEO and there were a couple of things he said in his “Stomping the Search Engines” 8 hour audio course that I never forgot:
1. “Most SEO is snake oil”.
2. My SEO course gives you my latest knowledge of current best practices, but the Google algorithm changes constantly so I wish to equip listeners with the knowledge on how they can test and stay current with the changes to the algorithm.
I still remember Brad’s word in my head because I listened to his 8 hour course at least 60 times. I will read any SEO consultant’s latest blog post on SEO trends to stretch myself with new ideas, but I test all their so-called secrets in the trenches. I don’t get paid for a black box, I get paid for results.
Even though I’ve never read any advice to build backwards links to your sitemap, I do it all the time. I even build back links to my rss and atom feeds for my posts and comments. Why? Because Google indexes them.
I did a search before I pubished this post and SEOs say you’re an idiot to think building backlinks to your sitemap makes any sense other than to get your pages indexed. I’m proud to go against every SEO expert in the world, because I’ve tested this exotic link building practice and it works.
I also build links to pages which SEOs say not to, like your contact page and your disclosure pages and privacy policies. I find that deep links from any page if it has a link back to your home page is a good idea. If you are worried about losing page rank on your money pages, then use a technique that Leslie Rohde coined called Page Rank Sculpting, Page Rank Shaping or Link Sculpting where you add the no follow tag to links going to pages where you don’t want Page Rank leak.
By using Leslie Rohde’s dynamic linking of internal pages, you can get a big boost in ranking because Google counts on site links as well as off site links.
Link building to your site map or rss feeds does not give you dramatic page rank boosts, but all things being equal, it can give you an edge against a competitor’s site. One of the primary services I offer is Online Reputation Management where I push the negative links in a Google search off of the first several pages and replace it with content you or your company is comfortable with, and in doing so, I often need an edge over other sites, so little things like building links to sitemaps and rss feeds can make a critical difference.
There is a small percentage of SEO consultants that will recommend you list your feeds with anchor text in RSS directories, but you never hear them encouraging you to create regular anchor text links to your feed urls. Even if you don’t get a direct boost in the rankings by building direct links to your RSS feeds, you will get targeted traffic which indirectly gives you more incoming traffic and it builds page reputation. The Google algorithm now counts page traffic and bounce rate in their ranking. At the time of this post, I have no indication that it is a major factor, but I have evidence that it is at least a minor factor.
As a guy that builds thousands of links before I have had my first cup of morning coffee, exotic link building to these taboo pages is a standard practice for me. If you only have limited resources, then I’d stick to traditional SEO because you’ll get more bang for your buck. However, when you’re going head to head with the best of the best, then I’d do it for the edge it gives you. If you are worried about leaking Page Rank from your primary pages, then make sure you link to the forbidden pages with the no follow attribute. Then, when you link out from the dead zone pages to your money pages, do it with a do follow tag.
Today, I did a Google search for my name on page 2 of the SERP in position 7, my sitemap for GlenWoodfin.com is right there staring me in the face: http://www.glenwoodfin.com/sitemap.xml. If Google indexes the link, do you really think it doesn’t count for ranking? Quit following the so-called SEO experts…think for yourself (see photo below).
A couple of years ago, I was in the dark about RSS feeds, they were a bit of a mystery, so I read everything I could get my hands on about xml feeds. Many attribute magical qualities to RSS feeds. They talk about them like they are similar to Super Balls that ricochet all over the Internet like a virus, but what is the truth? Their primary function is twofold:
1. To notify the search engines that new content has been published and is ready for indexing
2. Those with RSS readers will receive the content automatically through a push system so they don’t have to return to your site to see if you’ve updated it with fresh content. If you have subscribed to a site’s feed, the content will automatically appear in your RSS aggregator. With spam filters on overdrive using email, this has been proven to be a more reliable methods of delivering content. Once you’ve subscribed to a feed, the content will be delivered with 100% success.
Where do feeds get their reputation to hold magical qualities? Their 3rd power is in syndication. I speculate that after feeds began to proliferate, creative webmasters and marketers saw that they could amplify their content distribution with RSS. Many auto bloggers and scrapers search for feeds 24/7 using keywords to grab content from feeds and publish your content on their sites on autopilot. Therefore, if you have back links in your content, one hopes to gain back links on autopilot and also get traffic from the funnel created. Does this technique work for an SEO boost? Yes, to an extent. There is no Google algorithm penalty for duplicate content on other people’s sites regardless of what all the phony SEO experts clam, but their value is diminished by Google detecting it and moving many of those links into the supplemental index. Those links absolutely will not hurt your site’s ranking but their link juice is mitigated. Up to the Panda Update in February of 2011, it was a proven method to get a boost in rankings. It still works to some extent, but it’s not nearly as powerful of a technique as it was pre-Panda. In fact, the creation of Google’s supplemental indexing of duplicate content much earlier clipped the wings of using feeds for link building a long time before Panda came along.
You will get more traffic through content syndication, which will give you a small boost in rankings. I’ve published press releases and have had literally thousands of other sites publish my content on their sites either word for word or as a truncated summary on their sites. Some of the web sites will carry your active hypertext links on their sites while many others will post your content because many strip out your links, leaving the only benefit of a boost in traffic if people see the content on someone else’s site then come over to your site if they find the content attractive. There is also the hope that others will come to your site and find other things to crow about and give you the credit through new back links. In order for this phenomenon to kick in, your content will need to be good, the syndication alone won’t assure that.
How do I know for a fact that the other SEO experts are wrong about this aspect of duplicate content? A local Volkswagen Audi dealership brought me in for a marketing consultation and they gave me some powerful ammunition to reel in new clients from beyond their local market by guaranteeing the lowest price in 3 states: South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. I put up identical blog content on about 50 sites while changing only a few small items: the keywords in the domain names, the title, description and keyword meta tags and the H1 tags. Everything else was cookie cutter exact duplicate content. Each of the sites soared to the top of the search engines in their respective locations as I created sites for every major city in all 3 states. The campaign worked well until the dealerships in those cities whined to the regional franchise managers. In fact, many of them were downright outraged that we were able to go head to head with them without having to have a brick and mortar facility in those remote cities. We offered the guaranteed lowest price plus free delivery to their door, or if they were willing to pick up the vehicle in person, we’d put them up in our city’s finest hotel and take them out to dinner for a romantic get-a-way. How could they lose? I am taking down all of those sites as I write this, but the campaign worked for the whole of 2011.
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