Moderator: Danny Sullivan
Intro: Called buying and selling links, probably should be called buying. We have covered links extensively, but the goal of this session is to learn more about buying.
Patrick Gavin - Text Link Ads “Evaluating links” what to look for on the buying side. This is really about buying a static html link to help with organic rankings. Many benefits: direct traffic, link pop, branding, spidering. Used links found at SEW as an example of excellent links because they are both text and images (to help with branding).
Criteria: theme traffic, incoming, outgoing, location, spider ability and anchor text. Theme: use topically related sites that are “on theme.” Many ways to still receive targeted traffic without being an “exact theme match.” Incoming: Look though analytics, and you may see a pocket of links from a small article or mention of the site. If you got traffic from this, it may be worth pursuing more from the same site by offering a little cash. Traffic: Use Alexa to get a rough idea of traffic, but best to get a media kit if available. Since the whole concept of buying links is new to some sites that you may contact, it may be difficult at first to explain that you need a fixed link for a certain amount of time. Keep an eye out for use of redirects. Traffic: single page vs. site wide. Some people have a concern that buying too many site wides will get you in trouble. Patrick’s opinion on this is that with a more established reputable site it may be easier to get away with this. Incoming links: general indicator: PageRank. Better indicator, using link command at Yahoo, which does seem to prioritize links in terms of value. Outbound links: the fewer the better. Be careful of getting into neighborhoods that are unrelated by linking out to those. Location on the page: probably best to place in main area of content if possible, but he hasn’t seen evidence that it being in the footer area, for example, is any detractor. Spiderability: do a cache check to ensure they are indexing the right domain and check for duplicate content, also cache search will show how much of the page is being cached. If links box is not cached, the link will not be found. Anchor text is important. Wrapping it up, the basic strategy is to “be natural.” Mix up anchor text, mix single page and site wides.
Eric Ward - ericward.com Takes a moment to thank Danny Sullivan for everything he has done for the SEM industry. What not to do: use systems that you get in email offers that offer links in 750,000 websites for only $39.95 . Consider other places to buy links that you may not have, including, e-zines, blogs (recommends blogads.com as a very valuable service), newsletters (example: ivillage.com and their categorized newsletters) (remember that this is about traffic that is relevant, because these will not be crawled or indexed by an SE unless it gets archived), auto-responders, RSS feeds, PDF documents (example: approach someone with a specific white paper or something that they have which is relevant, and offer to “sponsor the document”) You can also use a PR service to buy links within popular publications. Session presentation online live at ericward.com/ses.
Thomas Bindl - OPTOP
Greg Boser - WebGuerilla Brief comments. He is very happy that there is now an actual session on this topic because it used to be considered so “bad.” The wild wild west of buying links is settling down and people are beginning to understand that it is advertising just like any other form. Sees that paid links will continue to be a part of their links in the future. Suggests adding it to your mix. Debra Mastaler - Alliance Links Brief comments: Good points made by Greg. You should make sure to spread your message across a wider audience that there is nothing wrong with buying links. The challenge now is convincing sites to host links, especially if they have not done so in the past. In regards to selling links, using the auto responders after a sale has been made is a good idea for that since they are already respecting you.
Q&A “what kind of investment should you make in link buying?” D: depends on the market. P: agreed, can be anywhere from $25 per month for a quality link to upwards of $5000. G: looks at competitor and helps to determine spend . Ie 3 competitors, one just buys links, one blog spams, and one uses keywords: in this case you may be able to just buy a few links. Natural seeding from just a couple of links from authoritative sites.
“How do you judge value of this and how fast can you see results, in order to be able to sell the idea of buying links to upper management?” G: it does take a while to get results from this. Benchmark, know where you are at to start with, build naturally (G is starting more and more “white hat” every minute)
“Are you sure we will not be penalized for buying links?” G: first of all they created the problems, doesn’t feel that they can come out and say “no.” Danny sells links and it hasn’t hurt him. Danny then describes that SEW has been selling off topic links since before G was even around. Some people have suggested that they use a