To buy or not to buy? That is the question in link building today. If you buy, what are the risks? If you don't buy, can you really make out just as well while exerting the same effort? This session examines the issues surrounding linkfluence.
Moderator: Todd Malicoat Speakers: Rand Fishkin, CEO, SEOMoz John Lessnau, Founder, LinkAdage Aaron Wall, Author, SEO Book
John Lessnau: How to buy links with maximum juice and minimum risk
A lot gets talked about link building but today I will tell you how to buy links. This is about link buying, not link building. We'll talk about my system for buying links. There are ways to buy safe, powerful, and relevant links that will work that will keep away from the link police which is your biggest danger.
Why do people buy links? Why should you? One thing is that you need much fewer links than doing a link building campaign which is a shotgun where you hope for links. You can get the anchor text you want, on the page you want, the location on the paege you want -- bottom line is that you can rank better.
Still, people are afraid to buy links. - They are afraid of Google's lowering PR across the board -- a lot of people sold 1-2 links went down from a PR7 to a PR6 -- and they thought it was because of the links they were selling. There's a lot of paranoia. - A lot of people really don't understand how to buy links. They know they need links, they want them, but they don't know which ones will help them. Further, in this economy, there's a lot of up-front cost for links. The cost will come down over time. - A lot of people also want a wave of natural links. Some people realize that they're not ranking; their backlink footprint indicates that there are like 10 links. - Buying takes time, salesmanship, and effort.
What is a safe paid link? - The link should be in relevant text. People will find it hard to believe that those are paid links. - Ideally you want to be hte only paid link on the page. There should be very few on that page, and if possible, even the site. - You want a lot of variation of your anchor text. If you're an SEO company, all the links shouldn't only say SEO company. Someone can easily look at your backlinks and determine that link buying was practiced. - We're talking about safe links and homepages are the most powerful links, but inside paes definitely are better for a safer link. - Links should be long term. Don't go chasing PageRank. If it's a PR4 and then it's a PR3, don't cancel it; think more about the page you're on. - Buy links in moderation - 50-100 links max on newer sites is recommended.
What's a powerful link? - I want sites that rank well for a lot of different search terms. - I want dofollow links that are relevant - Host website should not be a major link seller - Host website should have a lot of natural links
My Link Buying System: - Search Google for various keyword phrases you want to rank for. I write down 50-100 keywords in a spreadsheet. - Look through the results for websites and web pages where your link would fit - Verify the potential Link Partner does not link to major link buyers - Contact the webmaster and make a fair offer for text link you want. - Your links should pass a hand check to avoid being reported by competitors looking for personal gain. (Google "Embarrassment to Google" to learn more.)
Example: cuttingboards.biz - I searched for various keyword iterations - "clean cutting boards," "cutting boards," "large cutting board," "using a cutting board" -- I found a PR3 in the top 30 and I made that link to my site.
After you buy the links, you should monitor your link to make sure that they stay up and the host site stays clean. Use your rankings as a springboard to gain natural links. Keep making your site better. Know when to quit buying links. Don't keep buying and buying and buying!
Rand Fishkin: His presentation is entitled How to Buy Links without "Buying Links"
Event sponsorships: SEOmoz sponsored a Seattle Startup Weekend. The process: locate events (geographic/industry relevant), get in touch and offer to sponsor, often, $1-500 = permanent link from a good page. Added benefits include networking, goodwill, and branding.
Charitable donations: FreeBSD. You offer to pay for a project and they'll contribute back. The process: find nonprofits/charities online, locate their sponsorship page/links, check that the links pass juice/get in touch, don't use standard donation forms - make sure to personally check about being listed on the page. Added benefits include goodwill, branding, and helping people.
Website purchases: Conde Net's websites. The process: find relevant websites to buy, negotiating ownership, create relevant links that help with your needs - either sitewides (good for law link juice) or targeted (for individual rankings)
Targeted: onlywentworth.org and Seattle's Buddy.TV - they have targeted purchases The process; identify valuable well-linked-to content, negotiate purchase, 301 to your site and host (preferably subdirectory)
Viral/Linkerati Traffic Buying: Put your good content in front of the types of eyes that are likely to link to it. Example: Farecast.com. When the right people went to Farecast, they got some great links. They bought StumbleUpon traffic for people who tagged things as "travel" Process: Identify/create viral-worthy content on your site, find relevant viral traffic sources like SU, Techmeme/Memeorandum/WeSmirch, TechCrunch, buy traffic/ads, measure/improve link acquisition conversation rate.
Send free stuff Process: meet blogger in person, through contacts, send bloggers free stuff, follow up with email, don't ask for a link; ask for a review, the smaller the blogger, the bigger the brand - more likely the review
In-feed link buying Process: identify sources that can use your feed/content, get in touch and offer power for free, if you really wnat it, offer to pay for branding, and make sure that you get live link
Blog incubation: Example: The John McCain campaign - his political party in 2007 did this really interesting thing - incubated blogs to pass out messages from the campaign. Process: put out ads for bloggers, have them use existing sites or create new sites,
And then he stopped. But the slides are at seomoz.org/dp/pubcon2008
Aaron Wall: Low Risk Link Buying Alternatives to buying links - - Syndicate content - builds authority/reputation/traffic/PageRank - Barter - give stuff away, discounts for certain sectors (big in education). Give away software for review. - Buy competing websites - the more archaic and gross the website is, the cheaper you can get it for. - Social interaction - everything from speaking at a conference to networking. Any social interaction online or off can garner links. - Public relations and follow up publicity - build off PR. If you are featured in the WSJ and NYT, while you have name recognition, push the story so you can get more links. In a week or a month, nobody will care again; the endorsement can help you get more links.
Encouraging Organic Links - Cumulative advantage: when you put people in social networks, if you don't know what others like, they randomly vote. But if they see what others are voting, there's self-reinforcement on the vote. People win by a larger margin. The site can look popular -- or if it's regularly updated, people will keep coming back. Make it so that people can comment on your site or reference you. That can build up perceived value. - Regular editorial voice - Community participation - Show social proof - Beautiful site design - Signs of credibility - about us, etc.
Yahoo! Directory - Pick the best cateogry that you have a chance of being listed on - want to be in the first 20 results. You can sponsor a category if you are not. Sometimes the paid sponsorship can pay for itself in the direct traffic.
Business.com - They sell links with editorial review. - Submit a guide to WOrk.com as an alternative. Instead of paying, you get recurring exposure.
The Directory Purge of 2007 - Google killed many directories - Buy in if homepage PR is where you expect it, cache dates are recent, listing quality is decent - I like niche directories, JoeAnt, and BOTW
AdWords Ads for LinkBait - If you have a high authority topic that people write about and it's a seasonal thing (e.g. holiday shopping), a lot of people are looking for this information. If you buy this keyword on Google and there is related content, reporters may be looking - they may click. But it can help you get links and it's a cheap permanent link. It's entirely editorial.
Clean bought links: - Any time you review people's products or partner with people, they often list the partners on their sites. Those links may not pass PageRank but sometimes they do. - Blog about a new google product and wait for someone to blog about your blog post - Google Checkout, designer portfolio - Sponsor events and advertise - Contest and award programs - Donate and give stuff away (widgets/software) - Affiliate programs - can pass PageRank but some are configured to use 302 redirects. If you host your own affiliate program, you can 301 those links.
If you have dirty links: - Try to buy links in content or organic looking link lists - without disclosure
Link Location - Yahoo's Piryank Garg said that irrelevant links on the bottom of the page don't count in the rankings. Microsoft also has its own BrowseRank research. - The bigger your brand, the more aggressive you can be without being punished. - Eric Schmidt says that the internet is a cesspool of false infomration. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.
If you're building a brand, someone will see it. There are remote quality raters. Google encourages you to rat out competitors. Popuar SEOs like to out sites to cause controversy and gain attention.