Yesterday, I had interviewed Patrick Gavin from Text Link Ads Inc., a link popularity and traffic generating ad firm. Patrick has a detailed background in SEO and is now currently focusing on the link building component. This interview makes for some interesting reading. Make sure to click on the entry to read the full interview.
Roundtable: Hi Patrick, Thank you for taking the time with me for this interview. I thought it would be nice to chat with a link building SEO at this time because of all the talk going on about PageRank, or lack there of, and the SandBox effect. Of course, I would like to get into your service found at www.text-link-ads.com during this interview, but let's first get into link building. Sound good? Patrick Gavin: Yes Barry, thanks for the opportunity.
Roundtable: Thanks. To start off, let me ask you about how you go about creating new sites and at what point does the link building process begin for you? Do you have any process, in which you stick with, during the link building campaign? Can you give the readers at the Search Engine Roundtable and idea on how they should manage the link building aspect of SEO during the overall SEO and site development plan? Patrick Gavin: It is best to start the link building as soon as possible. Our strategy for all sites, new and old is two fold:1. We analyze the current incoming links of the top 10 competitors for our top keywords and try to duplicate work done through a reciprocal link campaign. 2. While building reciprocal links we "one up" the competition by purchasing text link ads on high traffic sites that will drive traffic and increase link popularity over our competition. The advantage of this method is you can get links in place fast and by placing these links on popular sites gives you the best chance of getting your pages indexed fast.
Roundtable: Interesting... Since I have you, let's talk a little bit deeper about link building. I have a few questions in regards to your opinion and experience with the value of links. First question I have is; in your opinion, how important is it currently to have links from on topic (i.e. relevant) pages? In addition, will on-topic links be more important in the future then it is now? Patrick Gavin: I think that relevant links are important because these links give you the best chance of driving targeted, pre-qualified traffic to your website. I think they are also important because they could be weighed significantly higher than what a search engine views a of topic links in future search engine algorithms. I feel at this time that there is not significantly more weight put on relevant links because the search engines have not implemented an accurate way to discern the difference between a relevant and off topic link as of yet. Proof of this is that there are still web pages ranking at the top for extremely competitive keywords by sponsoring free counters on the bottom of random websites. A long term linking strategy would plan for relevant links to receive more weight in the future. Relevant links are not needed to rank on top of the most competitive keywords today but their combination of link popularity along with the possibility of targeted traffic is preferred. As far as the different search engines go there is no doubt that link popularity is a major ranking factor with all the major players. Google made it famous and I don't believe it is going away. There are only so many ways to rank a web page and off-site (link popularity) is still the most accurate and most difficult to manipulate.
Roundtable: A little less then two months ago, I wrote up a summary of a semi-popular topic being discussed around the threads named "Block Level Link Analysis which something Microsoft came up with. Basically, the concept of block level link analysis is where links on a page are each different in the value of the link equity distributed to the page receiving the link. This algorithm breaks down a page based on "passages" or "blocks" and the content in those passages are evaluated against the location of the links within the passage. Then a value is passed to the relevancy of that specific link based on those factors. Pretty cool concept, I can see something like this, revolutionizing the industry in the same way PageRank did back in 1999. I would love to hear your ideas on this concept and how or if it will affect the link building industry.
Patrick Gavin: It definitely is an interesting concept and some complicated stuff! I think Block Level Link Analysis is a long time away from use in the major search engines as it is a relatively new concept that needs a lot of testing. It seems with this new algorithm a search engine would be able to evaluate links with different importance inside a page versus a "flat value" for every link on a page. The algorithm could give links more weight that are in the middle of the page versus all the way at the footer. The algorithm also would be able to identify unique themes inside paragraphs on pages instead of just one theme per page. As far as Block Level Link Analysis' affect on PAID link building, think about how "Special Advertising Sections" work inside top magazines. They appear to be editorial content at first glance as they are right in the middle of the magazine and stock full of content with an advertising message mixed in. In theory you could pay to place a full paragraph of advertising content and links right smack in the middle of a page. So the next generation of "Text Link Ads" would be born.
Roundtable: A common question asked is should I get "site-wide" links or single links from a site on a page by page basis. I have read and spoken to people that believe that the search engines, especially Google, start to devalue a site wide link after your link is found on 20 or more pages under the same domain. What are your thoughts on the devaluation of site-wide links? What type of links would you recommend to your customers? Also, people discuss C-class IP addresses and how interlinking between the same c-class can be harmful, if you can touch on that concept as well... Patrick Gavin: I think it is important to consider the traffic considerations when making text link purchases. A site-wide link will give you the opportunity of receiving traffic from all pages of a website. As far as the search engines devaluing site-wide links, no one can tell for sure. Obviously links that appear throughout a website that contains 1,000 pages is not near as valuable as 1,000 links from 1,000 unique domains. The theory is that if a link appears on all pages of a website and not a single page or small number of pages that it must be for commercial use. The problem with a true discount of site-wide links is that many sites use site-wide links for non-commercial uses so it is unrealistic to think that site-wide links will ever be completely discounted as it could alter the whole link balance on the web and send rankings into a real mess. In closing I think that site-wide links pack more weight than a single link and they are still an effective method of link building and traffic generation. The types of links that I recommend to my customers are text link ads that drive targeted traffic and deliver incoming links to the client's site from as many authoritative web pages as possible. The more relevant to the client's website the better as this better qualifies the traffic and could give the client an extra boost from what may be seen as a "relevant link" down the road. On C-class IP addresses, it is safe to say that securing links from as many unique C-class IP addresses is more natural than many links from the same C-class IP address. Having incoming links that appear more natural to the search engines is the best approach. We recommend links from as many unique C-class IP addresses as possible.
Roundtable: Let's talk a moment about the sandbox effect theory. There are two major thoughts on this theory, one is that the sandbox applies to the links and the other is the sandbox applies to a specific URL or page. I personally find the latter to be more representative of what I have seen to be true, but there are many who believe that a link is what is actually sandboxed. Well, actually, there is a third theory that this sandbox theory is a myth. Please explain to us your thoughts on what is actually being sandboxed; the link or the page AND what is being affected; new links/pages or links found on new domains, etc... Patrick Gavin: My personal experience tells me there seems to be a delay in ranking for new domains. I have built brand new sites on new domains and sent enough links into them that they should rank in the top 5 for extremely competitive keywords. The site literally sat at number 400 in the rankings behind many sites with just a handful of links. 90 days after the links were in place the site jumped up to top 5 where I expected it. I agree that no one knows for sure what is happening and another factor is what cycle of updates the search engine is in at the time of launch. Even with domains that have been around for years it is safe to say that it is taking longer to rank than it use to take. If you have a new domain, start building links now because it could take a few months to see some traffic.
Roundtable: I think it would now be a good time to discuss your service, the service of selling Text Based Ads. Please tell our readers how they can find your service, what is offers them, and how much it costs. Patrick Gavin: Our service can be found at http://www.text-link-ads.com. Our service allows clients to purchase text link ads on over 1,000 websites. This allows advertisers of all kinds to reach a wide audience or a very targeted audience. The advantage of our service is that we buy advertising space in bulk and then piece it out to our clients allowing our clients the ability to get exposure on websites that they generally could not afford. The combination of traffic and link popularity is what sets our ads apart. We have a very loyal client base that has had great ranking and traffic successes with our program . Our text link ads start at $40.00 per month and go up from there. We also partner up with website owners allowing them to place our text link ads on their website. The advantage of our ads is that the webmaster affiliate receives a pre-set flat monthly payout independent of click through rates so they can count on the income month after month and also get editorial control so that no competing sites appear ever.
Roundtable: I guess you remember back to the SearchKing case, where Google banned the sites which was participating in the sale of PageRank. They went to court and it was a whole big topic. These days, you find Google turning its shoulder to the sale of "pagerank", in fact many text link brokerages are advertising this service on Google's AdWords platform. Why do you think Google is allowing this now? Do you think it has to do with Google taking other action, such as not updating the PageRank values in the toolbar for almost 3 months now? Patrick Gavin: It seems like Google maybe taking a less active role in manual enforcement of the sale of PageRank. I think the reason for this is that selling text link ads and the firms who sell purely on Page Rank and not traffic is so prevalent that Google is focusing on solving this problem via their algorithm versus spending the man power to enforce. The web is just too big and if they want to be the best issues must be enforced via their algorithm. I also think that banning sites is a little stickier for Google as they do not want to open the door to many frivolous law suits. As of today I don't think we have seen the end of the "PR Update". I think if it were the end of the "PR Update" the green PageRank bar would not show any score for anyone. I don't think Google likes showing anything that is out of date. I think an update is coming soon and if not then the "PR Bar" will disappear.
Roundtable: So you think PageRank or no PageRank won't have much of a impact on your ability to sell this service? Also, just out of curiosity, do you think the PageRank values will update soon? Do you care on a personal level? Patrick Gavin: PageRank will not greatly effect the selling of our text link ads because of the high quality of partner sites we have in our inventory. PageRank or not it is easy to see our sites are authority sites. Our ads combine a number of factors including traffic, ad position, number of text links, number of characters available, link authority of the page, etc. There are many factors and the removal of Page Rank will spawn a replacement method to validate the link authority factor of our equation. On a personal level, I like seeing PageRank and I like PageRank updates it keeps everyone involved and gives you something to shoot for, something that shows you some progress for your efforts. I am still expecting a PageRank update any day.
Roundtable: In your SEO Radio guest appearance, you mentioned that its now incredibly hard to make money with a PPC campaign. Do you really believe this? Its such a huge industry now, and ROI is so easily traceable with PPC and SEO, do you think that more PPC companies will be dropping the PPC side and looking to build up the SEO budget? Patrick Gavin: I should clarify that, I think it is incredibly hard to make A LOT of money when driving traffic via a PPC campaign exclusively. The reason for this is I believe many deep pocketed companies are STILL not tracking ROI! These are the companies that are causing a bidding war that ends in no one making money. Tracking ROI is what is important and if you are making money, great. I think it would be a very smart move for some companies to devote more of their budget to a professional SEO budget that includes text link ads to drive traffic and link popularity but that sounds a little greedy! If companies are making money on PPC great, but if you can secure top natural positioning on the search engines the profits are significantly larger.
Roundtable: Since this site is about forum coverage, I wanted to know if you spend any time over at the SEM forums? If so, which ones and why? Patrick Gavin: I spend time on a number of forums but rarely post. There is a wealth of information and feedback from webmasters that speak from personal experience if you can just listen! I find the forums to be the place to learn about what is working in terms of search engine marketing. I spend most of my time on WebmasterWorld because it seems to have the loudest voice in the webmaster community. I also read at v7n.com and of course seroundtable.com where I find great posts that cut through the clutter of endless posts on other forums.
Roundtable: Well, thank you for your time, this interview has been really informative. Feel free to leave us with a few word of advice and a final plug for your www.text-link.ads.com service. Patrick Gavin: If you are looking for an increase in traffic and link popularity text link ads are a great solution. Search engine real estate is getting more and more competitive and our service can give you the edge over your competition. Thanks again for the opportunity, I really enjoyed it.
Roundtable: Thank you again and nice speaking with you Patrick!