I now have one site where I rank #1 for a single word keyword that gets 200K searches a month. I was #9, so I was competitive, but I am now #1.
Am I lucky? Am I a master SEO? NO!!! I simply do things according to the way google wants them done.
Here is what google taught us last year. Fix you on page issues. They were nice in doing this. They new that a link based algo change would do damage to well meaning webmasters with bad site structure.
So, they gave us an opportunity to fix those issues with Panda. Panda wasnt a bad thing. It forced us to create good sites from a content and architecture perspective.
After Panda was finished running its course, they switched to a link based algo change. Remember last week with the Negative SEO stuff? Remember the guy with the neg. SEO on the auto website? A lot of people missed the key point in that thread. This amazing Negative SEO admitted he only goes after sites with bad structure and on page issues. In other words, google prepared us for this a year ago!
As far as link building. Here is what I do not do:
No link wheels
No blog commenting
No "Public" blog networks
No Forum Profiles
No Web 2.0's
No spun content whatsoever
No over optimized anchor text
Basically, any service you can buy off Fiverr or WF, I do not use. If it can be automated or done cheap, then it is spam! You might not like that but it is true.
Here is what I do do
I vary my anchor text, and do most of my links with no anchor text. Lets face it. Google knows the only people who use anchor text are webmasters and SEOs. Real people dont use anchor text. Crap, I run a forum and link to other sites with the URL and no anchor text cause I am too lazy to use anchor text.
Yup. I take the time to contact bloggers and offer to write content for them. Takes a lot of time. But it works GREAT!
One thing I like to do is create my own network of sites. These arent in the fashion of BMR or ALN. These sites have tons of GREAT content, every one of them is branded, uses social media (only engaging social media) and have active readers and RSS subscribers.
These sites link to my money sites.
I use this one a lot. I brand everything! Create brand signals through social media - even offline promotion. Build branding through other webmasters, whatever. Just send strong signals that you area a brand.
I do use directories, but only niche and paid directories. I submit sites to the Yahoo directory $499. I submit my sites to Best of the Web $299. I submit my sites to other more niche directories where there is the possibility of the directory not taking my submission.
A lot of people say you have to have all those different backlinks to have a diverse backlink portfolio. That is a lie and misinterpretation. What you need is backlinks from multiple sites, not different types of backlinks.
Build links by hand. Build authority sites, not thin affiliate sites.
Google is now forcing people to do SEO the right way, and it is only going to get harder to spam and game the system. For a lot of you, it was a great ride. This new algo change is going to test all of us and weed out a lot of internet marketers who only know how to game a system instead of working within it.