Link Development and Linking Optimization
Moderated by Greg Niland aka GoodROI. Introduces Rae Hoffman, who will talk about “Delegating Link Development.” Quality link building takes time, so how to get them without doing it yourself. Is speaking extremely fast… outsourcing link development can take on a variety of forms, including link exchange, triangular, etc. The right link firm can do good things, but the wrong one can cause irreparable damage. Suggests using highly recommended firms from friends and colleagues, recommended firms that appear at conferences, and last resort is jump in the water and see if sink or swim. Makes sure that you research choices very well…ask for references and actually talk to past clients, look at the companies own backlinks…lots of companies will say that they focus on clients and not their own site, but there should still be at least some decent links. Link dev has become actual marketing, no longer just sending out a templated email. Look at what factors they consider when evaluating link partners? Do they only focus on PR? Do they use automated programs? What is the cost per link or per hour? (goes over a long list of general questions at about a million miles and hour…good questions and I’ll try to get them later…)
Remember that you are who you hire…so be careful. Hiring and training a link dev is not a light task. Her experience is that the number of quality links from an in-house dev is greater than outsourcing, in most cases. Goes over a list of questions to ask when interviewing link developers. Asks questions that try to determine how they use the Internet/how well they know it. I.e.: what is your favorite SE? Do you know what a link is? (sometimes people overcomplicate these) Do you use IM? Do you use html? What email client do you use and why? (If they know what that means, then you probably have someone who is pretty Internet savvy. Ask them to do a product search for something they can buy. Through trial and errors, it is easier to train someone with Internet experience than a “marketing person that can’t check their email.” Give s a good overview of things to be included in your link dev manual, including: diff types of links. Tracking competitor backlinks info (this is the best thing you can teach – knowing competitor links are very effective. Links to own articles. A glossary of terms and definitions. Common link myths. A spreadsheet template for tracking. Example email templates and teach them how to customize them. A clear listing of expectations (her link developers have always worked on quotas). Set realistic expectations. Links to access SEO tools that are valuable, and make sure you give them a time for QA since they have had time to look over the manual.
Tasking a link developer…remember that if you choose to make a link dev as independent as possible, let them train on “less important” sites…let them tool around in the station wagon but keep a careful eye when driving the Porsche.” When evaluating performance: judge how the links are working towards gaining rankings. Outsourcing versus in-house will depend on a variety of factors…expectations of quality, ability to house employees, the value of the search rankings versus the cost, whether you have expertise to train and developer link manners, and whether you have the time. If you do not have time, consider outsourcing, but remember to get referrals, as mentioned earlier…and also task them in detail until they get their “link developer license.” Greg thanks her and jokes about how she crammed 30 minutes of info into 10 minutes.
Joel Lesser from linksmanager.com. He will speak about link exchange, aka reciprocal linking. Talks about the tarnished image of link exchange. The fact is most marketing methods have received bad press at one time or another. The reason for this bad press is due to “full duplex services” which are linking schemes which afford no editorial discretion on making links and create problems for SE’s. When abused, it has been frowned upon. Avoid sites that “guarantee” links. Asks if no reciprocal links in the WWW is a realistic picture? It is a give and take world, and most websites will not link to another site without money or and exchange. Link exchanges facilitate relevant knowledge transfer.
Compelling reason to use LE: provides relevant traffic independent of SE’s. Extremely cost efficient. Relevant links may increase performance in SE’s. Links provide users with knowledge gateways to alternative information. How to ID potential link partners: Look for sites that have an unusual amount of high quality content, sites that link to other high quality sites. Real world challenges: time consuming; small marketing budget; big business versus small entrepreneur – link exchange levels the playing field. Proper strategy: link to and obtain links from sites that benefit end users experience. Relevant links are typically obtained slowly (aka “naturally”) so avoid sudden high volume. Always maintain editorial discretions. Always use link exchange forms when available. Make linking decisions for the end users, not for the search engines. Link with related businesses that you already have an established relationship with.
He recommends watching out for link exchange misinformation such as the idea that listing a title and description does not work. Shows two quotes from Matt Cutts and Jeremy Zawodny, and states that they have never come out and said that you should not use link exchanges. Talks about Google’s 2003 patent “Information Retrieval base don historical data.” And shows how they mentioned that you should gain links naturally. Wrap up: maintain editorial discretion. Keep “natural volume,” which he defines as one link one day, none for a few days, and then maybe a dozen in the next week, and so forth. Update content regularly – webmasters will not link to a junk site. Publish links even if not proactively looking…links beget links! Alternate publishing methods such as linking within content, sidebars, Linklets, and Linkblogs. Provide a link request form on your website to make it easy.
Don’ts: require links to be placed on specific page with specific PageRank. If not sure that user experience is benefited, don’t do it. Be careful which third parties are used to manage campaign. Remember that links allow you to have another source of traffic than Ses. Keep in mind that your competition is likely exchanging links. Another good thing is that link exchanges avoid click-fraud concerns. Remember that linking is the foundation of what makes the web a web.
Roger Montti (aka Martinibuster), VP of verticals at BOTW.org. Will talk about alternative link building strategies for most websites including from corporate to affiliates. Advertising and link buys: what should you look for? Relevance, no mention of PageRank in the sales process. No ads for non-relevant sites, and a year long purchase. He prefers smaller magazine sites that offer banners, even without the ext links, In some case, these small magazines give you a link for as little as $60 a year. How to find the opportunities? Use Ses with search queries like: [“advertise with us” –cpm] [“rate card” –cpm advertising] [allintitle:sponsors –cpm site:.org keyword].
Buying websites. This is also a good way to build links. Look for: inactive or underperforming websites. Search for: [“temporarily down for maintenance”] [allintitle: “site is offline”] Site of the month-type pages. Many sites will reward good sites with links that are free. Search for: [“site of the month” +keyword] . Look for site of the day and site of the week also. These are especially ideal if dedicated to a niche. Newsletters. He feels that these are an underutilized method of finding backlinks. Prices vary, and make sure that they are archived, unless they are at least sending good quality converting traffic. Searches: [“newsletter keyword sponsors”] [newsletter “advertising rates” keyword]. Sponsorships can also be good. Look for industry associations, charity groups. Sample searches to find them: [keyword sponsors site.org] Research competitor backlinks suing Y! Site Explorer. Look for Dot EDU job fairs and hope to get a link for participating. He emphasizes that he rarely researches links on G, mostly using Y!
Proxy sites: cultivate leads with informational websites. Create inbound links with satellite sites. Take advantage of the power of blogging through thoughtful comments, trackbacks, blogrolls, and even DMOZ listings. YouTube and Google Video…shows an example of getting link-backs from a PR5 page within YouTube. Also shows how to add your link to a Google Video. Sowed hoe expertvillage.com had over 1600 backlinks from Google Video alone. Covers other methods such as selling software. He is surprised that many people forget the Pad File which allows for submissions to software directories. What happens is that not only your site will show up, but other listings from favorable software directories will also show up for your keyword phrase. Charity site design…he isn’t that hot on this any more because it might not pass PR due to possibly being deprecated. If it is an org in your vertical space, then it makes more sense.