Stuck on Page 2? Are you the Black Sheep?

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

impossible

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.

Hope this helps,

Diggity

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24 Comments

  • Thanks for this. I tried it out on one of my stuck sites, so we’ll see how it goes. Is there a particular type of content that you want to create that links to your homepage from the innerpages? Make it exactly the same topic as the homepage? For example, if I’m targetting dog training, should I create an inner page about dog training and then pass a link back home?

    • For example, if I’m targetting dog training, should I create an inner page about dog training and then pass a link back home?

      Not necessarily. If you have too many pages about the same subject, its considered duplicate content and you’re opening yourself up for panda penalization. Instead, create a supporting article. In your example, you could create an inner page article about “10 things every new yorkie owner should know” and in that article, have a paragraph about “the importance of early potty training” which links to the homepage. This would be the ideal situation.

  • Hi,

    I’m trying to rank many keywords on one website.

    I made 3 silo pages that are linking to home page, then to each other and then to the inner pages I’m trying to rank. (Every silo links to different inner pages)

    Then, on all inner pages at the end I’ve included a link back to all 3 silos I have.

    And on my home page I have links to the 3 silos and some more important inner pages.

    Am i on the right track?

    And should i link back to the silos from the inner post or i should let the link juice stay there?

    Thanks.

  • Good stuff here Matt. I’m already a customer of your PBN links service..and these blog articles are a great resource for me to pick up new ideas or strategies.

    I have a few questions. In my industry, i need to provide several services that are not similar or related to each other ( example: facial treatments and Slimming services=no relation). As such,my site is structured like this:

    Homepage and 12 services or parent pages and another few pages for about section,contact us, testimonials etc.

    If I wish to start ranking for say,50 keywords of ONE particular service that i offer, i believe I should have 1article for each keyword?

    I only want the parent pages to rank andshow up, not any of the poorly written iwriter cheap articles i use for child pages.

    If so, do I interlink these child pages to each other and to the service’s parent page? Or do I simply link all 50 child pages to the parent page only and hit it with PBN links later on?

    My problem is that i’m aware of Google’s spiders only being able to crawl up to a hundred or so pages deep per crawl. Hence i do not know if i should segment the 50 articles in groups of five articles interlinked to each other and parent page, but not having to link with the other pages in the remaining four groups?

    Sorry if it is confusing, trying my best to be as concise as I can here. Thanks in advance for the attention to my questions.

    • Hey Jason. You do this one: “Or do I simply link all 50 child pages to the parent page only and hit it with PBN links later on?”

  • Hi Matt! Thanks for the reply. Funny how one short sentence is filled with wisdom and clarity for me?

    I am getting content written up on iwriter now. I hope it works and that those shitty articles never ever show up in serps.

  • Very nice!

    Should you remove ALL other links on these supporting pages, apart from the link to the target page?

    I.e. no external links, no sidebar links…..one, and only one link to the target page to pass the juice?

    Killer articles!

  • Hi Matt! Just wondering about a different scenario where maybe you can help me get a better picture of this black sheep principle:
    .
    I just found a very uncompetitive niche (product name keyword) where all the top10 results are ranking with 0-1 backlinks (it’s in a foreign language) so I thought of getting the #1 result with a brand new site and using your “anti-sandboxing link flow” (social fortress + press release + social signals + pbn links) You know, to help the sandbox issue going away faster and also build some authority to the brand new site.
    .
    But the thing is… Just the press release is gonna give me about 50-100 links (from authority sites) and… If the current top10 sites have 0-1 backlinks… Can the use of the press release end up been more harmful than helpful for the rankings?? Or through your experience you have found that the “black sheep principle” doesn’t apply to foreign keywords?
    .
    Thank you!

    • I wouldn’t worry too much about press releases. Google classifies them differently as they’re well aware that they get syndicated en masse.

  • So I have a classic example. Stuck on page 2 and no matter how good my links are, that won’t budge. I know it’s set up right, but most likely over linked. I have already set up about 5-10 other pages to link to this page, but no joy. So you’re saying I should send my next links to the ancillary pages, rather than the money page itself?

    • Hi Dom, that would be my course of action if the black sheep effect is indeed what your issue is. However there’s tons of different reasons for being stuck.

  • How about using supporting post/pages for PBNs? Would you do the same thing? Add 1-3 additional post/pages supporting the pbn article linking to your money site? How would that help? Would that make that pbn page/post more powerful? Good idea?

  • Also, when you say link to the homepage from the inner pages, is that only if you are trying to rank the homepage itself? What if the page you want to rank is an inner page? Do you link those supporting pages to that one, or still to the homepage?

  • Matt, so to make the best out of this technique you need to have the best approximate number of backlinks from the top10 sites, right?. Which backlink checker currently is your favorite one?? aHrefs, Majestic, Moz? other?
    .
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom. No matter if it’s a year later, I always come back to your posts and they are as current as if you wrote them yesterday! 🙂

  • Does this work from Blog post to home page also or only from page to page?

    How many links? Just start building away little by little until it ranks?

    Lastly When you say Contextual link? Do you mean anywhere in the body area like below the content in a separate paragraph: Brand + Slogan w/ KW (Example) or directly into the content.
    or link directly

    Sorry for all the questions !

    • Does this work from Blog post to home page also or only from page to page?

      Yes.

      How many links? Just start building away little by little until it ranks?

      Correct. Link till you rank.

      Lastly When you say Contextual link? Do you mean anywhere in the body area like below the content in a separate paragraph: Brand + Slogan w/ KW (Example) or directly into the content.or link directly

      A contextual link is a link placed in the context of an article. So yes, the body.

  • Hey Matt, thanks so much for all you do for the community! Your site is a goldmine of info! I have a quick question on this I’m hoping you can help with.

    What would you recommend as the best course of action if you determine you’re home page is the black sheep and you don’t have control over the existing links to remove them? For example, you take over a site that had previous work done and the home page has way too many links. Would abandon trying to rank the home page and target an inner page instead or is there some other way to “fix” the problem?

    Thanks!