Moderated by Jake Baillie, he quickly introduces Andy.
Andy Hagans from Text Link Ads, and also “review ME” which launched last week. First most critical factor when looking at a link buy is the theme of the site. Theme’s are generally associated with the domain name, and he recommends looking at the site as a whole. The site will be associated with certain neighborhoods, and you want to make sure the site is the right theme. PageRank is often the most popular way of estimating the value of the link. Problem is that what Google shows you in the toolbar is not in sync with what is actually happening. So this is really not a solid metric, but a good “very quick brute force check” to determine what kind of juice it may have. He recommends doing a link search on Yahoo! Site Explorer to see who is linking to them. If they have authoritative sites linking to them, then it is good. Everything is about “Trust,” and there is no tool to really check a site’s trust. You have to have your own methodology for this, and generally for him it comes down to the neighborhood. If .gov’s, .edu’s and lots of authoritative sites are linking to them then they are probably trusted somewhat.
Measuring results: very hard to do this. It is hard to measure ROI for SEO expenditures individually. Look at Traffic logs. What kind of traffic are you getting from the links? What would it cost you to replace that in terms of CPC? Look for search engine ranking…are you ranking higher on Google three months later? If not, the link probably isn’t helping you. There is no good way around the problem of trying to figure out which 30 of 1000 links are the ones that are helping you (paraphrased). Wrapping up: when buying links, think as naturally as possible. Acquire links over time, etc…
John Lessnau from Linkadage (sp?). He says there is no such thing as a free link. You can pay, trade, get one for a favor, or get links to great content or tools that cost a lot of money to develop. He started by relating the TV show “Survivorman,” saying that some webmasters need to be able to get a lot of links with few resources. So “What would Survivorman do to get links?” One thing that a new webmaster has is time. At ;east there is time to spend on researching competition, and to gain knowledge from seminars like this and by talking to other people.
He look at about 300K .net and .com domains and looked at how many were various PageRanks. He threw out the 210K that had 0 PR. Found almost no PR 9’s, only 18 PR 8’s (.027% of all sites. The majority of page had 1, 2, or 3 (23.5%, 27.4%, and 25.8%, respectively. Interesting. Link buying tips: buy keywords for your site imbedded in existing text within indexed sites. Do not worry about PR 0, as long as it’s indexed. Buy only permanent or year long links. Do not spend over $5/month on average per link…sounds cheap, but there are plenty like that available. Goes into an example of how to find keywords that might be relevant, and finding obscure websites that come up with the keywords. Approach the sites probably not making any money and buy links from them. Showed some cool examples of results of this type of research…finding some nice niche sites.
Beware of links that may fit into any of the following classifications: on home pages of very high PR sites. In long lists at the bottom or sides of pages. Links under “sponsored links” text. Links that are “run of site” (aka “site-wide links”). On sites designed to sell links. On an artificial networks of sites. He ends like Andy and says to keep your links natural.
Harder fakes: User-agent cloaking. IP Cloaking. All other forms of cloaking. These are bad, and the Google cache can show you. If there is no cache, especially if everything else seems ok, then there is something wrong. If using a [site:domain.com “anchor text here”] command is unsuccessful, there is a problem. Also need to be wary of penalized sites. Use archive.org to see if there is the wrong PR passed to the next page. (PR should be one less than what the page coming from, in most cases). If this happens something is wrong. Also another flag can be a big rotation of “sponsors.” Why would someone stop buying links on a page if it’s working? Also stop if you don’t feel a boost after two weeks.
What can happen to me for buying links? Your site can get kicked out of the SE’s. Your ranking is approximately 30 positions worse…this is a new “minus thirty penalty” that apparently is related to buying links, according to recent forum and blog discussions. Also, if you are ranking for anything except the targeted term, then you may have beeen the victim of a penalty on a single terms. For example, if you are targeting “water bottles,” but do not have rankings for that but do rank fro “cheap water bottles.” He thanks everyone.
In QA, Thomas says that he feels that Google has directly penalized some sites including his own that used Text Link Ads. Andy says that typically what they see is that sites that have already gained a fair amount of trust prior to buying links can do very well doing this. However, sites that are newer may run into problems.