This session is going to be moderated by Danny Sullivan. They have not done this session before to this extent. There is a lot of people in here, and I would bet that about 90% of them are site owners looking for help with linking. Its great to see such a response for this session.
Starting off is Greg Boser from WebGuerilla. He asks, how do I develop an effective linking strategy? Identify the most visible sites with your space. Extract and analyze the backlinks from all three search engines. (anchor text, unique domains, PageRank, and domain registration). Build a profile of each competitor that outlines the types of tactics being used. Evaluate the cost/benefits of the various tactics being used and then emulate the ones that make sense. He describes ways that viral marketing works very well. Web tools is an excellent way to grab links. You want to create a tool that is useful, give it away for free, and embed a link with descriptive anchor text.
He puts up an example of an RSS feeder that gets a large amount of links for news feed display. They rank up at the top for this and it’s a result of all these sites linking to it. He also suggests that doing software distribution is a good way to build links. You can distribute your links to many free promotion sites.
Affiliate programs are another way to build links. He says to avoid the big third party affiliate systems. Develop or use a system that enables you to get credit for your affiliate links. Avoid creating duplicate content. Develop guidelines that control how affiliates link to you.
Eric Ward was up next, and he talks about his experience in the link field and announcing web content over the years. He says the process is not much different than it is now. He works with small and large sites. He says content is rather important and that most people will not link to crap. Eric goes into his explanation of Link Reclamation. We have good coverage on this but I will detail it again. He says that if you keep the same directory structure but change the domain, then reclaiming links is easier. For large sites with hundreds of inbound links this can be overwhelming. When every url on your site changes that means every link from every other site to you site becomes useless, unless you take steps to prevent that from happening. The steps to take may vary on your location. He suggests a program call Link Survey, it’s a cheap program but lets you know who is linking to your old domain. The 301 redirect approach is the best bet.
He says links are a great way to build links, however there is a lot of misinformation out there. He says search engines can’t find all your links. Why? Many reasons. For a better understanding of how and why links might or might not be discovered by engines. He recommends a great article about invisible link by Chris Sherman. Eric talks about non-web based links. Some of the most valuable links don’t appear on web sites, they appear in email based communication (newsletters, discussion posts, zines, etc..). An example of this would be Forbes Picks of the Week, Yahoo Dailywire subscription.
Debra Mastaler from Alliance Link was up next. She asks whether anyone went to Google or not last night. She says she will be talking about Linking for Rank. What works, what we should stay away from, and what’s effective. Effective use of anchor text is one of the single most important tactics you can use to gain rank. You can use it in inbound, outbound, and internal links. She recommends optimize your site first. Work on including you links the navigation links. They put up an example of a site that she worked with and give an example of keywords in navigation links, and keywords in anchor text in content zones. The inbound linking structure is important as well. Sites need to emulate a natural linking pattern. Stagger link text, utilize all keyword phrases. Deep link into pages with keyword filenames. Secure links from a wide range of PageRank pages. Link with authority sites within your niche.
On getting your links on other people’s sites. Place links in content/editorial areas, avoid “typical ad spots” (footers). Link gradually, correlate with content growth. Avoid getting large number of links with a corresponding jump in search volume. Debra suggests to link out. Engines analyze sites by their inbound and outbound links. Build credibility by links to sites who mention you. Helps establish your site as a topical resource by linking to authority sites. Cross linking, how much is too much. “My rule of thumb is how it would look to a visitor or to a competitor. I’d be careful with brand new + lots of sites + lots of cross linking. Its okay to cross link” ~ Googleguy.
So how do you we attract links. Develop and/or distribute link embedded content to establish authority. DIY guides are good, article libraries, survey results, how to instructions, product reviews, and sample. She offers an example of a client she had who made an article library. Establish yourself as an expert and get on a journalists radar. Write and distribute optimized press releases highlighting content in your resource center. Keep up on trends and buzz words become cutting edge. Speak to a journalist once a week, become their expert source.
Are directories still good for links? Yes, they are still very good. However there has been some issues with directories dropping out of the index. What to avoid in a directory. If they have more search engine ads then content, categories are not filled out, and so on.
Chris Boggs from G3 is going to give some information about underestimating the value of links. He talks about the downside of links, such as ranking for unrelated words. He gives an example for a site that ranks for loan information and how powerful these directories or link can be.
Mike Grehan says he has a slightly different view on links these days. He says don’t be a link collector, be a business developer. Start to think about business development and think about the value the link has. He says PageRank is green fairy dust. Q: On anchor text, does it matter if you have the same anchor text for all your links? A: Yes it does matter, when they look at links, he says its very easy to spot unnatural and natural linking. When you try to force the issue and make all the link text the same, its real easy to spot. You want to emulate creating a natural link pattern.
Q: Quality of links, will Google refine their techniques to look at links? A: More and more you see less and less of the “crap links” and because of this is the sandboxing new sites, which have a lot of these links. Also engines figure out they may be giving value to a site for something they don’t deserve and they remove the effect thus lowering their ranking.
Q: Affiliate software A: Search on “naked link technology” Q: Domains with hyphens A: Anything with more than 2 hyphens the quality drops off. Yahoo reps have stated they look at domains with more than 2 hyphens and flag them possibly as spam.