I get this question quite often. Today in fact.

I’ve been stuck for 3 months on page 2. It doesn’t matter how many high PR links I throw at it. It simply won’t move. I can’t figure it out!

Has this ever happened to you? All of your tactics are clean but you simply can’t break into page 1. You have the perfect on-page SEO and your anchor text is property diversified.

Most of the time I see this, it’s because the site has an off-site SEO record that is completely different than the other sites ranking on first page. It’s what I like to call the “Black Sheep Effect”.

The Black Sheep Effect


Good luck trying to power through this niche

Look at the top 10 for your keyword and look at the number of links that the ranking pages have (use mozbar to make this a lot easier). If everyone in the top 10 is ranking with less than 20 links, and you’re the guy trying to break into page 1 with your 75+ links, Google is going to recognize you as being different from everyone else and you’re going to have a hell of a time trying to rank.

This often comes up when you’re in a niche dominated by authority sites. For example, if you’re in the health niche trying to sell an affiliate’s new supplement, your page 1 is likely going to be filled up with a WebMD, WikiPedia and the Center for Disease Control. These sites typically have a huge domain authority (DA) of 90+ so it naturally takes them only a few links to rank. Sometimes none at all.

Another example of the Black Sheep Effect is when one of your non-intended pages ranks higher than the one you actually meant to rank. Let’s say you have a homepage about Product ABC. You’ve thrown a ton of links at it to get it to rank, but for some reason you have a non-important inner page about the product which is ranking higher than the homepage. What’s going on is you’ve either over-optimized the anchors for the homepage, or you have too many links pointed to it compared to everyone else.

How to Beat it

You might be saying, “Well, I don’t have a DA 90 site so I’m going to need a ton of links to rank for my challenging keyword.”

Easy solution: Reverse siloing. What you want to do is create inner pages that are supporting articles for your critical page’s target keyword. Then place a contextual link to the homepage with some variation of the target keyword, or something generic like “Return to Homepage.” When you send links to the inner page, the link juice comes in and immediately transfers to the critical page using a targeted anchor to establish the relevance. Works like a charm.

So instead of going brute force after a keyword, first take a look at the competition. See what they’re doing to rank, and mimic the same. As usual, send your most powerful links to your critical page and use inner-pages to supply the extra link juice to get to the top.

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