A part of this new job is to raise my employer's Google Page Rank above a 0.
Well that is easy, you just need links (that pass pagerank*) from pages with pagerank. But Google doesn't update visible pagerank (often called "toolbar pagerank" in the SEO community because the Google Toolbar is the original place it was displayed) very often anymore. Typically it only updates every few months (not regular either, but it seems to be about every 3-4 months).
So you may already have pagerank above 0, but you can't see what the current pagerank is anyway and will have to wait for a "toolbar pagerank update" where the displayed pagerank for sites is updated.
If I remember correctly it last happened a month or two ago. So I'd guess we are about 2 months away from the next update. But do know that pagerank is just not as important as it once was and now is largely just for show. Nowadays search relevance is computed on a per-query basis. So if you want to rank for "blue widgets" it doesn't matter if you have a pagerank of 5 if you have no links with "blue widgets" as the anchor text.
So in short, pagerank is largely flair. It's important mainly in that others think it is (for example, a site displaying a pagerank of 0 might be less trusted by some than one that displays a higher pagerank).
Both sites have been submitted to Google, Bing, Ask and Yahoo, and I am keeping track of Google Analytics and Yahoo Site Explorer for both.
Don't bother to "submit" to search engines, they ignore that completely for the most part. The main ones only add to their index if they find links to it, so the time is better spent on linkbuilding because links from pages they spider is how they discover new sites and pages.
Both sites have been submitted to the DMOZ directory.
Both should be rejected (I am a dmoz editor, and am just giving you a friendly heads up that the sites don't yet meet dmoz standards of worthiness). Personally, I would wait on Dmoz submissions until the sites are more solid (things like not having 0 pagerank shouldn't matter, but might to an editor).
They've both been submitted to Compete.com, and the robotics site has been submitted to Quantcast (I didn't bother with them for my own site). I am also keeping track of both on Alexa.
Those are all fun things to look at, but mainly to look at other people's data, not your own. Alexa is useless for your own sites (your own analytics is more useful data) but has useful information about other people's sites (especially their search analytics in Alexa's case for e.g.).
For my own site, I am also keeping up with others' blogs and commenting on them regularly (including my contact info and website, of course). This has resulted in some commenting on my blog although not too much. I haven't started commenting for the robotics company yet although I will.
Most blog software nofollows the links in comments, so they should have little to no short-term SEO impact. However the engagement with the blogosphere can bring editorial blog links, so as long as you are doing this for the engagement it is worth it. If you are doing it for link building it's largely a waste of time.
Oh and one more thing: I have been devouring any number of social media and marketing books lately. I've read Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik, SEO Made Simple by Michael Fleischner, Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter, Google Advertising Tools by Harold Davis and White Space is Not Your Enemy by Kim Golombisky. I'm about to start The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder Kabani, and then Groundswell by Charlene Li is in the on-deck circle. On order is Kristina Halvorson's book on content strategy.
Cool! But I just want to say that I've never read any books about technology myself and I think the web is a better place to learn the web (books don't keep up to date as well, and are often written by people better at getting published as an author than being an actual expert).
I would advocate using RSS feeds to start reading informative sources and asking questions on forums as useful additions to your learning (IMO better than books in the long run, but that may be a matter of preference).
So ... my questions and needs are: I am trying to get somewhere with the Google Page Rank for both sites. I recognize that time may simply need to pass and that there are certain things that cannot be rushed. But, what else can I do? How can I approach other sites for backlinks? What am I missing (if anything)?
Link building is something that Google wants you to do organically, that is have great content and people will link to you. But there's a lot you can do to help get yourself out there and the key is to focus on relevance.
The secret to link building is to get links from pages that are relevant, those are the only ones that really help you rank anyway.
So you don't want a digg link (it's nofollowed anyway until it is made popular) as much as you want a link on a page that ranks highly for the keyword you are targeting.
Here is a mini-tutorial on what to do in SEO:
1) Keyword research. Basically, you need to decide what keywords to target. This really just boils down to search query volume and competition. SEO is a winners take all game. If you move in rank from 1000 to 20 you are getting virtually no gains in traffic. The top 3 results get the overwhelming majority of the traffic so if you are going to target a keyword it is often only going to pay off for you if you can realistically get in the top 3.
So as an example, even though it has much more search volume you may want to avoid a term like "computers" and go for "localtown localstate computers" if you think the competition for "computers" is too tough to crack.
The best free place to research this is currently Adwords (you can use the external keyword tool here
) and Google tools such as Insights for Search
By the way, that is an example of why I don't see books as being as useful, one of those links recently changed if I remember correctly and books aren't always up to date on the latest best resources for the data.
Ok, so now you have the tools to pick keywords, do so wisely and:
2) Incorporate them into the site. The following places matter the most (more or less in order of importance):
- Page title tag
- Domain/URL (keywords in url can help, if for nothing else it means naked links have keywords in anchor text)
- Header tags (h1 etc)
- paragraphs of text (google focuses on the body of the content, trying to de-emphasize navigation and repeating content).
Make sure your words are in there (naturally, don't "stuff" the keywords in ) and your on-page optimization is off to a good start.
3) Get links on relevant pages. An easy way to find relevant pages is to... search for them. The higher the page is ranked for your term the better it is as a candidate for links to your page. So if you want to rank for "blue widgets" you can search for sites that rank well for the term and try to get backlinks. Often these are not sites that accept links (e.g. it may be a competitor) so some strategies include things like appending "add url" or "submit" to the term to find directories etc that might be relevant.
I'm going to quickly list some common linkbuilding strategies, noting that relevance should be your guide. Some are generally low quality strategies and you should try to focus on relevance primarily.
- Commenting - historically mainly on blogs, for which the nofollow attribute was primarily invented, but also on forums (as you can often see here). This can range from very spammy to somewhat relevant and is a typically low-quality source of links.
- Directory submission - this is a large source of links, both paid and free, but there are also a lot of low-quality directories. Ideally you would target ones with high editorial quality and that are not penalized by Google for selling links (Google does not approve of links sold to increase ranking). This is one area where toolbar pagerank can be somewhat useful as a very general indicator of quality.
- Blog posts - there are many networks and blogs that will accept 3rd-party content where you can include links. Of course, as usual Google frowns on the paid links.
- Create your own - one way to get links from good sites is to build other good sites. So you can have a widgets store and a separate widgets forum that links to it, for example. Overdoing your network interlinking can be bad, but remember that if you use relevance as your yardstick you would likely not overlink.
- Social media - Social media is actually not that great as short-term SEO. They usually nofollow the links (twitter, digg, delicious etc) and very few (reddit) will give you a real link anyway. So the return here usually only comes if you are able to make content popular on the social site, and the keys to that run in direct opposition to SEO (the users on those sits often hate SEOs as a result of all the spam they get).
So social marketing can't be treated like low-level link building. The social media users aren't interested in your site, or your employers site. They are interested in content. So if you want a social media strategy you need very compelling content and should avoid submitting content that is not compelling (their algorithms for popularity will often include a signal-to-noise ratio for users and domains so if your submissions always get a good response they are treated better than if you fling it and see what sticks).
- Article directories and syndication - I touched on blog post placement but there are also article syndication networks where you can submit content and include links. These are usually saturated and fairly low quality sources.
- Press Releases - This is another form of content syndication with links, that is also (like nearly any common linkbuilding source) overused.
There are many other ways and angles, for example you can email people and ask for links and often get very good ones, but there is a lot of link building spam out there and you will also often get people pissed off. SEO can be a slippery slope to spam, but the basics are to make compelling content (e.g. instead of your company home page, you make a great article as link bait) and promote it on relevant pages.
Gotta run now, but if you have more questions lemme know.