Bruce Clay was up first, bruceclay.com. He said most people who do linking campaigns are doing it in an ad-hoc fashion. He said there are three components to ranking; technical, expertness and copy-writing.
Inbound linking considerations; - IP Numbers should be different (he said this is natural) - PageRank is important, natural structure is good - Anchor Text, he said using different anchor text is important, its more natural - WhoIs Name, its good to make them different In these areas, they need to be managed. Don't take any link, just because you can.
Outbound linking considerations; - Reciprocal links c an be incestuous - "Fuzzy up" the island boundaries, link out to those sites even if they don't link back to you
He then talked a bit about themed links within your own site, and called it "silo" linking, which helps you rank well for both generic and specific keywords. Personally, I am not too sure about that.
He then said, it seems like PDF documents and not filtered by the search engines. So links in PDF documents can be worth a ton.
Jim Banks from WebDiveristy, was next up. Changing your mindset, back in the "gold digging days" everyone was trying to beat the rush but many failed. Types of Visitors; accidental tourists, browsers, evaluators, shoppers, buyers and repeat visitors. The selection process; its not one size fits all, different strategies for each type of visitor, just measure ROI each step of the way. Testing ground; AdWords is a great test area, keyword selection and categorization based on type of visitor, 3 titles/3 descriptions in a 3 x 3 grid, take off the auto optimize option, run test with one keyword as an exact match with 24/7 coverage, measure your CTR versus ROI, run test for at least 2 weeks, evaluate total spend versus CPS versus sales volume to establish the optimum time to spend organically. Results at the end; know the starts and dog keywords, 2 weeks to gather the data, hunt your links and provide anchor text based on what you know will work - but for the transactional keywords expect and be happy to pay for the links. Trying before you buy; you can refine your strategy in weeks, time costs, PPC will give you the data you need to make informed rational decision, if successful you can always fund the organic link activity with PPC profit, be prepared to go through some drawing boards.
Greg Boser now made a few follow up comments. He said the most under used tool for link building is PPC for the keyword research. "You are what your links say you are." Once you get those links, its very hard to shift those links later on. Try to stay under the radar at all times. He said pace yourself with link buys, getting 20,000 links in one week, stands out. Don't worry about getting low PR links, good anchor text is more important - uninstall the tool bar he said.
Q & A: Q: Guestbook links have 0 pagerank, tell us about that? A: Guestbooks do give off nice anchor text weight, even without pagerank in Google.
Q: Speak to blogs, the side bar links in the blog, in text blogs, and other links in a blog. A: Greg said the links that show up in the paragraph of the blogs are/will be better then the links on the side bar. Not that it is this way today.
Q: What are your thoughts on outsourcing your link building overseas? A: Jim Banks said that he used people overseas and the quality is questionable. Bruce Clay said he has been approached by overseas companies, his problem is that it doesn't always fit into his managed link development process. Greg says he focuses on push; good content, good tools, good feeds and more - this way we do not have to ask for links, they just come.
Q: Can Bruce expand more on "Silo" linking? A: Basically he is a strong believer of themed internal linking. This is kind of shocking to me, I am surprised he is saying this.