Reddit has been continually rising in popularity since first emerging on the scene back in 2006. Today, it is one of the most popular social news sites of its kind, proving to be a great alternative for those who have grown tired of competitors such as Digg and StumbleUpon. Reddit often calls itself the front page of the internet to play on its growing reputation as a digital newspaper of sorts. And just like newspapers have categories and sections, this site has something similar known as subreddits, a feature that can come in handy for the savvy social marketer.
A subreddit is essentially a category or subcategory that has a community of reddit users built around a specific topic or area of interest. These categories are finely targeted and can be set to either public or private by the creator. Examples of popular subreddits, as chosen by the user community include:
- World News
These examples represent broad general interests, of course, but the subcategories on reddit go much much deeper. For instance, you can find subreddits on specific topics such as World of Warcraft, Indie Gaming, and even presidential hopeful Ron Paul. While each area of interest has its own moderator, community members are able to contribute by submitting and rating content from around the web that is related to the topic at hand. For everyday users, subreddits provide an easy way to quickly access the content that matters most. For marketers, they provide a way to generate visibility and meet business objectives.
Benefitting From Your Own subreddits
Perhaps the best thing to like about subreddits is the fact that anyone can create them. There are numerous benefits to setting up your own, starting with the community aspect. If fellow redditors share your interest, it could easily lead to a situation where users are commenting, sharing, and engaging in other ways that keep the community alive with activity. The site has millions of active users, all interested in something. What this means is that unless your area is built around an obscure topic like “overhanded Bolivian bowling techniques”, there is a great chance that you will be able to attract others who share your passion.
The big payoff to having your own subreddits is increased traffic. All that activity combined with solid content means it is highly likely that people will want to pay a visit and learn more about what you have to offer. Make sure your newly created subcategory is listed on the subreddits page, pass the word along to your connections on the site, and the possibilities are endless.
Some observers have gone as far to say that subreddits are what have enabled reddit to surpass Digg in the social bookmarking arena. This is not as farfetched as it may sound considering it is one of the platform’s most important features. Whether it is streamlining content discovery or building a community around your own, social marketers can make great strides by putting this essential element to use.
When I was a kid, I’d always roll my eyes when my dad decided that he was going to try a new shortcut to get somewhere. Usually it meant driving through loads of backroads in desolate areas where the only signs of life were deer lurking by the side of the road just waiting to jump in front of our big station wagon. We’d never actually be lost, but it would take us an hour to get to a place that was originally just 10 miles away from where we started. We’d definitely see cool stuff, and I’ll never forget seeing the little volleyball play area where, if the ball got away from you, you’d have to run through some old tombstones to find it. Fun times!
Link shortcuts are no different. They might look appealing, they might appear as if they’ll save you time, and they might be really, really fun. I’ve been guilty of taking them and many of you have too, and as busy as we all are, it’s only natural that we do try and save time whenever possible. The problem with link shortcuts, though, is that not all of them will do much more than create more agony for you in the future. To be fair, some are fantastic and some work really well for certain people. Some people consider certain things to be shortcuts whereas others see them as legitimate ways to build sustainable links. In considering all of this, I’ve tried to come up with just three shortcuts that I personally view as sub-optimal.
1. Considering rankings before, or in place of, traffic.
While it’s true that rankings are affected by links (and other things, remember, please please remember this) it’s not a good idea to only view links as being a way to make you rise to the top of the SERPs. Ever noticed how many fluctuations there are? If you get caught up in rankings, you’ll go crazy when you drop from number 5 to number 7, and even if it lasts for a day, there’s 24 hours of stress that you don’t need.
I do completely realize that for some sites, the difference in Google positions can indeed mean a massive loss of profit, and obviously if you’re in that boat, of course you need to consider rankings. I am also not saying that rankings aren’t important, only (remember) that building links to boost rankings is not as effective a long-term strategy as building links to boost traffic.
You know one really easy way to not get caught up in this? Don’t focus on metrics alone. If you find a great, relevant site that has regular posts, good social traction with relevant comments, and it’s a PR 0? Go for it. That PR 5 site in a completely unrelated niche, the one with content last updated 2 years ago…that might not be your best bet for traffic.
2. Copying the profile of a competitor.
This tactic has always really bothered me, as it’s based on the overly-simplified assumption that if something works for one site, it will work for you. It’s just not usually true. Looking only at a competitor’s backlink profile tells you nothing about the site itself. Maybe the site has amazing content and is being promoted very well on social media accounts that reach a massive amount of targeted users. Maybe the user experience on the site is off the charts amazing, maybe they offer great discounts to people who sign up for their email list, maybe they just have a better brand than you do. If you look at their links only, you cannot tell any of this. You cannot ignore on-page SEO, even if you’re doing what’s usually a mostly off-page method.
I do think that competitive analysis is very worthwhile…I just don’t think that you can copy a profile, only seek links from the same sites that link to your competitor, and get the same results. Even if you could do that, what happens when they change something? Do you change too, and keep following them around, or do you develop your own method of building links? I’d much rather do my own thing than copy someone else. That’s why I’ve always had bangs, worn boots that people make fun of (hello Uggs), and have never been afraid to play some Salt-N-Pepa on the jukebox.
3. Not fully vetting a site before approaching them for a link.
You can’t control who links to you (although you can disavow them in Bing! Bless their little hearts) but if you’re actively pursuing links by asking for them, don’t just ask anyone. Until fairly recently, I truly did not believe that crappy links could hurt you. I thought they might not help you, but that was before Google started warning webmasters and showing us that yes, bad links could harm you. If you’re going to approach a site and ask for a link, check it out thoroughly before you do. If it’s full of poorly written and useless content, if it’s changed hands 10 times in the last few years, if it’s clearly there just to host links…don’t bother. Go buy a Dickens book cover so people don’t realize you’re reading Fifty Shades of Gray or The Da Vinci Code.
And oddly enough, here’s something that can sometimes be the last thing you notice…really poor writing. I don’t mean poor writing like the afore-mentioned books (and for the record I have not read about Mr Gray nor shall I but I did read Dan Brown and am still taking antibiotics for it), I mean writing that is obviously the result of either cranking out nonsense just to fill up space or reworded and respun content. You should actually read a post on a blog you want to approach and not just think “oh wow, they have a lot of headlines about Kraftwerk and the site has some robots on it, I think, or maybe they’re dogs” because let me tell you, not paying attention to something as fundamental as the quality of the content on the site can bite you in the bum, big-time.
To summarize (which is kind of a shortcut really), don’t do these things unless you’re happy cleaning up messes and chasing something that you can’t catch. To be fair there are cases where people are perfectly happy just kind of flying blind on link building, and they do enjoy success with it. If you’re that guy, go for it. If you’re not (like most of us) then do try and figure out how to make things easier of course, but realize that some shortcuts just aren’t worth taking.
I’d love to hear examples of what you guys think are both good and bad shortcuts, so chime in if you can!!
Do you remember what happened on March 19? It’s the day when majority of BMR’s (Build My Rank’s) network was de-indexed by Google. Search engine giant Google has always been on a mission to detect spam. But now, it seeks to destroy spam even more strongly. Build My Rank has done a lot of good to publishers and SEOs for many years. That’s why the news of BMR getting de-indexed shattered the entire SEO community.
What does this step by Google indicate?
[There are two things.]
First, link or blog networks are on Google’s radar now.
Second, links still matter.
If you conduct a search on Google, you can easy find hundreds of reviews that recommend BMR as one of the best SEO tools. Now that the de-indexing has happened many of the reviewers feel sorry about it.
Here’s what Steve (of SteveScottSite) has to say –
Lis (of Lis Sower Butts) says this –
There are high speculations that Google will de-index many other link networks. But what we know for sure is that BMR’s blog network has been de-indexed already. The owner of this link network has honestly shared the details of this de-indexing on their site. In addition, BMR also offers a tutorial for its customers to help the latter remove backlinks to a particular site.
If You’re Building Links via Link Networks…
Obviously, not everyone out there is utilizing link networks to build backlinks. But there are definitely those that rely on link networks massively. Though it’s not entirely bad to use such networks, the best idea is to not depend on just one link network for building backlinks for your niche sites. There are still multiple blog networks that are going strong. However, you need to use your brains and take every step with caution so that you can prevent (unexpected) penalties.
Don’t freak out. Google will always continue to do things it wants to do. The biggest piece of advice that you can use is to diversify your link building efforts as much as possible. If you’re using several sources to build links, it won’t destroy everything in case one of those networks gets hit.
Building a diverse backlinks profile is all about finding more opportunities, analyzing them and leveraging those that look credible.
A truly diverse backlinks profile may include -
Country code domain links
Links from .net, .org, .edu sites
You May Still Use Some of Those Networks!
The de-indexing of BMR is a special case actually. What you must note in this case is that BMR is built around a network of sites that are owned by the same link building service. [These sites belong to just one owner]. On the other hand, there are other link networks that thrive around a community. They have a network of sites that belong to different individuals like you and me. That’s why you really need to rack your brains before making a SEO decision.
Getting the point? Please feel free to share your own opinions and thoughts by casting your vote in the poll below.
Many tout link building as a laborious and often unsuccessful venture. Sure it’s hard work that requires manual research, networking and a bit of schmoozing – but it’s not impossible. There are some really easy ways to do the research and compile lists of sites to reach out to…and you don’t even have to spend much time doing it!
Consider the below tips before you start on your next whitehat link building adventure.
These days just about everyone and their mom has a blog. That means your employees and your customers do too! Check through your list of employees and clients and think about opportunities to garner a link on their sites. Sure not every one of your clients or employees sites will be exactly what you want, but pick out the ones that are applicable. Think about a value proposition before you approach the employee or client. Why should they link to you? For clients you might offer to add them to your own website in return or offer a discount on their next purchase.
For link builders who might not have direct access to a client’s employee list or client list – try some research. Check through LinkedIn search, Twitter search and even Facebook search. Many employees will list employers on Facebook. Then add your findings to a list and approach your link building client with this opportunity as a way to garner some good “low hanging fruit” type links. Have them do the dirty work of reaching out to make it more personal and it’ll likely improve the success rate.
Working with large brands I’ve seen this many times – websites large and small write about their brand but don’t link! If they are willing to write about the brand don’t you think they’d be willing to link too? Okay, maybe not all the time … but sometimes certainly!
Set up a Google alert for your brand name. Also set up Google alerts for misspellings of your brand name. As brand mentions roll into your e-mail compile a list and prioritize the opportunities. Every month make it a goal to reach out to at least some of these sites and ask for a link back to your site. Every now and again, as applicable, let the writer/webmaster know about news or information about your products, services, awards, etc… Since they were willing to write about you without you knowing, they might be willing to write about you again – so give them the information to do so. It might garner some good links to internal product pages.
Industry Resource List
Between library sites, government sites, and even education websites – there are many resource lists that I like to call industry lists. You’ve seen them, a list of a large number of resources for the casual web visitor to peruse at their leisure. In my experience there are industry lists for just about every single industry out there.
Using advanced search commands look for these industry lists. Use search commands looking for a number of your competitors brand names mentioned on a site. Say you’re Alltel. You have quite a few big name competitors: Verizon, Virgin Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, etc… Do a search like this: “Verizon” “virgin mobile” “sprint” “AT&T” “list”. Dig through the list and find an industry list where Alltel isn’t listed but should be and reach out to that webmaster. Another option is to have your client reach out directly (or you – from a branded e-mail address), which may increase the likelihood of being listed on a .edu, .gov, or library site.
Especially true this time of year, businesses donate to charity. Talk about a pretty juicy link! Most non-profit websites are .orgs, have a lot of incoming links and many have a lot of traffic. If you’re a partner, sponsor, on the board, or otherwise involved with a charity look for link building opportunities. Almost all charities should have sponsors and/or an acknowledgement page on their site.
As link builders you should look at a client’s newsroom and press releases for charities they are donating to if your client isn’t a constant source of information (which is 99% the case in my experience). Then do a bit of research to find those sites and if they have a place for a link. Present your client with a list of opportunities and have their PR team do the dirty work for you to ask for links or logos on the site. Remember – if they opt for logos, don’t forget to customize that alt text!
These are just a few ways you can use some whitehat techniques to help improve the number of unique domains linking to your site. Feel free to share additional ideas in the comments below!
This is a guest post from John McElborough. It is part of The “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest.
One of the first things we do when building links for a new client is to identify their competitors, work out who’s linking to them using link research tools and try to copy as many of their links as possible. But if you’re an established site how do you stop SEO’s like me mining and cloning your links?
A while ago I wrote about a technique I use to throw competitors off the scent using a redirect. Its certainly not full proof but following some discussions I had with other SEO’s after writing that post its clear that there’s a concern about link data mining so below I’ve compiled a definitive guide to the methods you can use to keep your links private and prevent cloning of your backlink profile.
(If you read all the way to the end I’ll share the results of some recent testing I’ve done which may give you a new technique to try out)
Blocking crawlers and backlink analysis tools
The simplest way to stop link mining is to block your site from crawlers used by link research tools. There are 3 common data sources used to power most backlink analysis tools:
Majestic SEO uses data from the Majestic12 crawler. It adheres to robots protocol so you can block it using this line in your robots.txt file:
User-agent: MJ12bot Disallow: /
SEOMoz / Linkscape
SEOMoz’s linkscape index is used by an increasing number of SEO’s via their Open Site Explorer tool and the API. You can block SEOMoz from showing your links using a meta tag in the <head> of your pages.
<META NAME="SEOMOZ" CONTENT="NOINDEX" />
This one is subject to change when Yahoo moves fully over to Microsoft.
The only real way to block data from appearing in Yahoo Site Explorer and the multitude of 3rd party tools it serves like Linkdiagnosis and Market Samurai is to block the Yahoo crawler. This can be done in robots.txt:
User-agent: Slurp Disallow: /
This however will block you entirely from Yahoo search results. Most of my sites get less than 5% of search traffic from Yahoo these days but still, its hard to justify cutting this out entirely. I’ve got a better solution below for dealing with Yahoo data.
Obfuscate your link data
Even if you can’t block competitors from seeing your backlinks entirely you can take steps to make their life more difficult. Building high volumes of low quality links to your site is a good way to obfuscate your data, making it harder for competitors to locate and copy your best links.
Yahoo Site Explorer and data accessed via the API will only show the first 1000 links pointing to a page. While Yahoo does tend to show the most important links near the top of their data this isn’t limited to unique domains and doesn’t exclude nofollowed links. As such in order to render your sites backlink data useless to competitors you need to build a few sitewide links on big, well established sites. Blogroll links are good for this. These links are pretty easy to buy because you can use the nofollow tag to avoid penalties. Facebook pages and forum signatures are also good for this.
Build links which can’t be mined
Create an un-copyable profile
This is certainly the best practice approach. When building links you should be aiming to build links which are going to be hard or impossible for your competitors to replicate. Typically these will be the types of links which manifest from great content and personal relationships. Your competitors won’t be able to offer cash to replicate these links.
Run your own link hubs
The hardest links in the world to copy are links on sites which you own (you’re not going to link to your competitor now are you?!). If you’re part of a group of sites you might already be getting links this way. Beyond this you can look at everything from building a single microsite to developing a fully fledged distributed link network.
Build links downstream
One thing which no link analysis tool does is looks at the links which point at the pages which link to you. If you’ve got some good quality links on authoritative domains think about building links to those pages. You can bet your competitors aren’t thinking about who’s linking to your links.
Buy presell pages
If you’re in a competitive space and are buying links you should be thinking about how you can buy links which both minimise the paid link footprint and which are hard for competitors to replicate. The latter I feel lends itself to buying links on dedicated ‘presell pages‘. If you negotiate a presell page you can stipulate that the webmaster can’t add any extra links (to your competitors) on the page you’re renting. You can then build some links to the presell page. That way even if a competitor rents a page on the same site as you, they don’t get the same value from it as you do.
Place links on noindex pages
I’m planning on covering this in more detail on my blog soon but an idea I’ve been testing is building links on pages which aren’t indexed. A page which uses the noindex, follow robots meta tag will still flow PageRank and anchor text to sites it links to, but from the tests I’ve been playing around with at least, these pages won’t show up in any major link analysis tools.
This has huge potential for anyone concerned about competitors spying on their backlinks. Certainly it will stop competitors finding and copying links (and meaning they can’t report paid links) it also creates an opportunity to distribute content without duplicate content penalties. Here’s some possible applications:
- Buy presell pages which are noindex, followed
- Let webmasters republish your content on their sites (with links)
- Hide links on other sites you own to avoid network detection
Questions on any of these techniques or have your own methods? Please ask or share in the comments.
This is a guest post from Kristi Hines . It is part of The “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest.
There are many SEO tips that are not only good for search engines but they are very helpful for people looking for and perusing through your website. Here are nine SEO tips you can do to help search engines and visitors love your site.
1. Keywords and Research
If you choose the right keywords for your homepage and your internal pages, blog posts, etc., you will be helping visitors find what they are searching for easier. The best way to do this is to think of a keyword that fits your page, then a 2 – 3 word phrase that fits including that keyword. It’s really as simple as that.
- Google Adwords Keywords Tool
- Google Insights (plus ideas on how to use Insights)
- Microsoft Advertising Intelligence plugin for Excel (plus how to use it)
- Popular Searches
- Anchor text
The title tag is important because it is the heading for search engine listings and it is usually the anchor text when people bookmark your homepage, blog post, or single page on your website. The easiest way to create a title for your page is to include the keyword phrase you thought of during keyword research and include it in the up to 70 character description of your page.
3. Meta Descriptions
The meta description is essentially your sales pitch for your page when it comes up in search engines. It is also usually the description that is picked up when people bookmark your site socially. To create a good meta description, create a short sentence or two under 155 characters that includes the main keyword phrase for your page.
Meta Descriptions Resources
4. Header Tags
Header tags break up your page into easily digestible sections to help readability. Think of your page’s content in outline form – the header tags break up each main section of your text. Header tags should include keyword phrases you would like your page to rank for.
Also, note that the text right after your header tag can play a significant role. For example, I had an H3 header in one of my recent posts that said Most Valuable Guides (not the best keywords, but bear with me). In search results, without any other optimization, link building, etc., search engines pick up that phrase as follows:
So needless to say, header tags are valuable and need to be optimized as well as careful consideration given to the first sentence after the header tag as well.
<img src="seo-optimized-image.jpg" alt="A SEO Optimized Image" title="A SEO Optimized Image" />
To get the most out of your keywords and help break up text for visitors with something eye catching, be sure to include an image in your post with keywords in the filename, alt text, and title.
Where does the alt tag come into play outside of SEO? If you were visually impaired and using a screen reader, the alt text would be read to you by your program.
- SEO optimizing images.
- Creative Commons and Flickr image search
- Image copyright laws
- SEO friendly images WordPress plugin
6. Internal Linking
Once people get on your site, you want them to stick around and find more relevant content. Using internal linking will help them learn more about what your site has to offer, especially if you are using the right anchor text as a guide.
Internal Linking Resources
7. Link Building
So what benefit does link building have to offer potential visitors without mentioning any SEO benefits? When I am seeking out link building opportunities, I find that pages already offering their visitors resources for a particular topic. Link building is simply offering another site’s visitors more resources to choose from for more options.
Link Building Resources
8. Social Media
Social networking allows you to really connect with your website’s audience, which helps you learn more about their needs and create content, product, and services that will really appeal to them.
In link building, even though Twitter, for example, only gives you nofollow links, someone who sees your link through Twitter may like it so much that they link to it in their blog or elsewhere on their website, which essentially means that nofollow social media link turned into a dofollow one.
Also, it’s not just the social networking you do – it’s the social sharing you make possible. Installing buttons or widgets to make your site more socially sharable makes it easier for your visitors to tell the world about you!
Social Media Resources
- Top social media blogs
- Social media snapshot series: your hub, content, network, and impact, plus creating a dashboard on a spreadsheet.
- Add This, Add to Any, and WordPress plugins
9. Guest Blogging
Last but not least is the ever popular guest blogging. If you have expertise that others would benefit from, then guest blogging will help you share that knowledge with an even wider audience. If your visitors are also bloggers, you can even help them by guest blogging on their site, sending some of your visitors in their direction. The benefits to doing both of these (the right way) are really exponential in helping establish yourself as an authority in your industry.
Guest Blogging Resources
- My Blog Guest
- How guest blogging gets subscribers, links, and even a better Google ranking
- A comprehensive guest blogging guide
Your Thoughts on Search Optimization for Visitors
What ways do you optimize for SEO with your visitors in mind, and what tools and resources would you suggest to help other website and blog owners to do the same?
This is a guest post from Kristin Page . It is part of The “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest.
Choosing your keywords is like choosing what type of coffee you want for breakfast. Do you go for the latte, pay the extra $3 and get the extra boost of energy; or do you go with the regular coffee and save a few dimes know that it will at least get you through the day. In SEO terms, do you really want to go after a major keyword or should you go for the simpler ones first. Where would each type of keyword get your business?
What Is Your Goal?
The first thing you need to determine is “what is your goal?” By getting to the top for each of the specific keywords you’ve chosen, what do you really want to get out of it? Do you want new customers? Do you want to share new information? Why do you want to be number one?
Some people want to get to the top for a keyword, just to say they got to the top and prove that they can do it. They put all of their effort into this one keyword that may or may not send their business flying, but they had to give it a shot. Others want to rank for a lot of keywords that take less effort but will guarantee them their standard customer base.
What types of keywords are on your list?
What Are The Keywords?
What are the keywords that you want to rank for? The very first one should be the name of your company and a few variations of it. People won’t necessarily remember your company name offhand, so you’ll want to cover a few extra names as well. By having that top spot for your company name you can start to control what people see first about your company. If you have some prominent names in your company, you may want to expect to have them in this list as well.
Chances are you can go on all day about what keywords you want to rank number one for, but this is where you need to choose, latte or regular coffee?
Sometimes there are those keywords that you know potentially could really boost your business, but the chances of ranking for those keywords means dropping a lot of other keywords you know will help keep your business moving along. It also could involve a large time investment from members of your company or a large monetary investment if you decide to outsource the SEO work. The “latte” keywords are great to aim for and it never hurts to get that extra boost, but it isn’t always the way to go. There are days when the 15 “regular coffee” keywords will work just as well as that one great keyword.
Step back and take a look at the big picture, you’re website and its content. How much of it are you willing to redo?
What Does Your Content Look Like?
One of the biggest problems in writing content to promote a business or service is that it isn’t always filled with your keywords. A very common mistake is for a company to take a very generic keyword and decide that is the keyword they want to be ranked number one for, but never once mention it in their content. How is Google supposed to know that the keyword relates to you?
Sending your content through a keyword tool or an SEO tool can help you realize where you’re focus was at the time of writing it. You may have focused on a keyword that you didn’t even realize. It may also give you an idea of what keywords search engines are pulling out of it as well. Is that “latte” keyword inside of your content?
Content writing can be a tricky task. While you want to make sure your content is keyword rich and ready for search engines to read, you also need to make sure that your audience can understand that same content.
There is other content to consider too, content that is not on your website but will either hurt or benefit your keyword quest.
What Are Others Saying About You
In an ideal world your website will speak for itself and you won’t need to rely on anyone else to help that along.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in that ideal world (at least I don’t).
Link building will help your keyword rankings, hopefully. People link to your website and in that link the provide a title tag. Search engines use what is in that title tag and associate it with your website, so it can’t hurt to have a keyword in there. If someone links back to your website, give them a title tag to use. It can’t hurt to keep focusing on the keywords YOU want to rank for, leaving it up to them can result in a very different ranking.
It is Your Choice
Personally, I prefer the latte over the regular coffee, my wallet on the other hand prefers the regular coffee. Once a week I’ll treat myself to that latte and get that quick boost needed, the other 6 days I stick with the cheaper route.
At the end of the day it’s your choice in what keywords you want to rank for. You get to make the choice if you go for the “latte” keywords or if you stick with the “regular old coffee” keywords that keep your business going.
There isn’t a right or a wrong answer to the question, so which route would you decide to take? Latte or regular coffee? What are your thoughts?
As someone who is an avid link builder and search engine marketer, I spend half my day completely annoyed, wanting to pull all my eyelashes out. So many inexperienced link builders, more like spammers (just sayin), don’t know how to properly build links. Let’s go through a few of my link building pet peeves:
Dropping a link in a comment isn’t anything new, but what I hate most is when someone tries to drop dozens of links in one comment that don’t even apply to the post or site. Likely they’re comments placed by bots, but still. Come on people: linking to free porn videos on an eco-friendly blog 32 times is not going to do much for you. You really think you’re fooling anyone, especially a company worth billions like Google?
ESL Link Requests
“Dear Sirs, your site I find good. I like to procure link on site. Pay you for link. Thank you.” Wow, original right? Many are opposed to actually sending out link requests or paying for links, although they likely do it themselves. Whichever way you fall, it’s important to sound real and like you actually speak English when contacting sites and letting them know about a link you’d like to obtain on their site. Or heck, not even asking: just telling them about a great resource you found and letting them see for themselves whether or not it’s a great resource.
Outrageous Link Request Responses
“Why thank you for the link request. It’s people like you who degrade the internet and make it a hotbed for spammers. Go to hell you ***%#*@* *#$%^*&.” OR “Great resource you sent us. While we would like to link to your great content on our PR1 domain with 300 subscribers, it will cost you $1,000 a month. Our advertisers like our packages and we only place links on our site if you pay for them [up the nose].” There are always people on both ends of the spectrum, as is the case with link building. Those that hate link requests and proceed to tell you that you are the scum of the earth, or others who are trying to profit from something without actually understanding the value.
I wish I had a penny for every time I came across a site with hidden links, text or heading tags, or heck a hidden site! What were they thinking? Hiding anything from a visitor is just plain silly. Search engines can see it, so why on earth would you hide it from view? I know there are some components to a site that you want to hide, but text? Links? Headings? So annoying!
Link and Keyword Stuffing
Nothing grinds my gears more than seeing a page that is stuffed fuller than a turkey at Thanksgiving with juicy, delightful….links and keywords. “Keyword, link, keyword, filler text, keyword, link”. Not user friendly, and it makes my eyes hurt.
Massive Internal Links
Recently, I had a new client approach us to do some onsite SEO work. They literally had over 4,000 internal links to their homepage, many of which were linking using the words ‘click here’. And guess what? They weren’t even an eCommerce site! Ugh, talk about driving you crazy. But wowsas did their rankings increase when we fixed up their onsite issues.
What are some of the link building or SEO tactics you see that just grind your gears?
When you’re new to link building it’s easy to get discouraged. Getting links can be challenging work, fraught with failure, rejection, mistakes, and sometimes character assassinations. Just like politics. Someone can learn how to speak in public, fund raise and debate. But you cannot teach charisma, tenacity and integrity. Those qualities are simply instinctive. Well, we may have fewer babies and grandmas to kiss, but there are certain instinctual qualities that help with learning to build links. And over time those skills can be cultivated and honed. Sure, not every link builder will turn out to be a Superstar, but with the right training most people can learn to get quality links on a consistent basis. Here’s how.
It’s important to establish some ground rules for link builders. Make sure they know what kind of link building they are doing, and what kind of links they should be getting. Not because the link builder is stupid or a slippery character, but because certain things are just dangerous and a new link builder won’t know any better. You don’t want a new link builder to accidentally email http://www.mattcutts.com offering money or talking about Page Rank and getting links for rankings. Most people who are new to link building just don’t understand the mine field they are walking into and could easily set off a series of explosions which could rattle your entire business. Set boundaries; teach them to pay attention to details and instruct them as to where the really dangerous traps are, BEFORE they fall into one.
The best course of action is probably to provide a full scale education on the ins and outs of SEO and the function and risks of link building as a whole. But if that’s not possible, a specific set of rules is essential. And a little fear of God for breaking them never hurts either.
Set specific goals
Along those lines, link builders also need goals. Clearly the purpose of any link builder’s day is to get links. But what kind of links? What level of quality? I can go out and score 50 directory links a day or 1,000 links across one site or a network of sites. But are those really the links we want? Beware of a goals structure which is purely numbers based. Emphasizing the ends without any attention to the means can (and often will) result in cheating, corner cutting and flat out bad decision making. Define good and bad links, and use measurements which reflect those characteristics.
Teaching link builders to understand links as a part of the “big picture” can help them become more invested in the process. Obtaining a specific number of links is somewhat gratifying, but seeing the positive effect links can have on a web site can be truly exciting. A link builder will find more satisfaction when the emphasis is placed on the larger goal as opposed to the micro-chasm of simply getting a certain number of links. There will be a greater sense of fulfillment and a stronger tendency to make the right choices.
Create a system
If you let a bunch of link builders loose on a stylistic free for all you will get erratic results at best. But by creating a system for getting links, you have a process to follow. And in using a process, you can gauge strengths and weaknesses, both within the system itself and the link builders. Each step of the system should be simple and easy to replicate. It’s also helpful if each part of the process can be examined on its own and tailored to suit each link builder’s individual style.
Templates in general are good, but humanized spam is bad. If your link builder is simply a human version of a robot, then it might be cheaper just to create an automated system to serve the same function. Auto-bots don’t require health care, lunch breaks or whine when the bathroom is out of paper towels. But they inevitably lack the judgment and insight that a humans bring to the process. And everyone who’s ever gotten an automated email knows that SPAM reads like SPAM no matter how may smiley emoticons you put in the message.
The other benefit to using human link builders is that they are unique, and will excel in different areas. By watching how a link builder meets their goals and performs various functions of a link building system you can begin to see where their talents lie. Whether the strength is in identifying what will get links, who will give links or even just exceptional hand to keyboard speed, recognizing each link builder’s talents can be a crucial part of the training process. When link builders are allowed to focus on their fortes and use some creativity, managers will usually discover a host of new ideas, new techniques and, of course, their future trainers.
Over time most people can develop a talent for link building. Most link builders will inevitably grow the gut reaction to just know when something is right or wrong, possible or impossible, a good idea or a bad one. Yes, those instincts themselves may be difficult to “train” in someone. But with rules, goals, a system and a focus on utilizing strengths where they naturally occur, you will create a staff that is eager to learn, produce, and excel at the art of getting links.
As a search marketer I have long been looking for an ideal link building model: where everyone’s happy, Google can ban you for selling or buying your link authority, quality wins over quantity and there’s no room for manipulation (note: as a marketer I am well aware of the fact that there’s nothing perfect under the sun. But I wanted something at least better than what we have now).
Currently, the most popular (and the easiest) link building method is still paying for a link (paid reviews, paid editorials, sponsorships, etc). Still, two main reasons why I try to avoid link buying includes:
- Paid links are almost impossible to camouflage: a website selling links has obviously sold quite a few of them, so it is very likely to be flagged for selling links. By buying several links here and there, you are much likely creating a pattern and Google most probably already knows you are doing that (so this is either non-effective or even dangerous);
- The affect from paid link campaigns is somewhat lopsided: you are only paying money for possible ranking increase. A paid link is unlikely to promote your brand or generate you some good, targeted traffic.