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10 Types of Links that Really Matter and How to Get them

Types of Links:

Links will always be important in digital marketing (and will definitely remain as an important element of the web). It won’t ever be devalued as a mean to market a website, because links simply move people across places over the web.

There are so many methods that can be used to build links, but there are only a few that can really make an impact and help brands achieve their business goals (awareness and/or revenue more often than not).

Links that really matter these days are links that can hit businesses’ bottom line, as very well explained by Paddy on his recent post on SEOmoz.

It’s imperative to be smart when it comes to link acquisition campaigns to really add value to your client’s business and to truly take more steps ahead of their competitors.

And in order to accomplish that, you’ll need to start focusing on high-value tactics to get maximum results. Because at the end of the day, results will always be more important than the volume of links you have acquired for your client.

So how would you do that? Try applying the 80/20 principle in choosing the strategies you implement. Think and aim higher for the links you try to acquire, for them to meet what your client actually needs.

Links that are intended for traffic generation, sales/conversions and branding serve as strong signals that search engines can use to reward you with better search rankings.

Great results will always be existent if you embrace that principle and approach link building with that mindset.

So in this post, I’ll be covering the kinds of links that are capable of touching all these 4 points (traffic, conversions, branding and rankings) and the marketing activities and processes that will help you get them.

Contextual and Editorial Links

I’ve written a post 2 weeks ago about how to get contextual links (and 2 years ago about getting editorial links), which explain why they are so powerful.

Links placed within the body of a content benefits sites in so many ways, given that it’s one of the strongest signals around that search engines use to assess sites’ topical relevance, popularity and authority.

editorial

Notable advantages of having been featured on other publications/blogs’ content are:

  • It can send qualified traffic, since the link is highly perceptible to readers.
  • Passes higher amount of link value and helps improve domain authority, which in turn can influence the site’s overall search rankings.
  • Brand impression, which also affect or help increase conversions, especially if your brand has been cited by trusted content publishers.

How to get them:

    • Creating useful content is just the start (whether its text, interactive or tools), as the process of getting natural in-content links relies on your content promotion strategies (using outreach, social media and link marketing).
    • Invest on developing evergreen content assets that are specifically tailored for researchers and customers. This type of content often performs well in search results, especially for competitive  terms, which allows the content to continuously attract more possible linkers to it.
    • Branding through providing exceptional products/services and exemplifying expertise through the brand’s content marketing efforts to build mind share.
    • Build relationships with your readers and with other content publishers in your online space. This can extremely help improve the sharing process of your content and in attracting more linkers to your site.
    • Bring more traffic to your content. The more visitors you get, the higher chances of getting potential linkers to your content. Check out these 50 traffic tips for content from Informly.

 

Courtesy of: WPCurve

 

Links from Ranking Webpages

Getting links from pages that are already ranking on search results for both short and long tail queries matter a lot for so many reasons. But the first reason that really comes into mind is because, in a way, they are already considered as trusted sources by Google.

Why these linking pages matter?:

  • They are able to get constant traffic (through search), which means it will also continuously send traffic to the pages they are linking to.
  • The topical relevance of the content, based on the keywords they are ranking for, adds more value to the link. And thus may help in improving the linked pages’ search ranking.
  • Content relevance will also be a key factor in attracting potential leads to the link’s destination, which means the link can help drive conversions as well.
  • Scalable branding, given that you’re getting continuous brand impressions from the new visitors that the page is constantly generating.

How to get them:

Join popular discussions in your online space (popular blog posts, forum threads, discussions on Q&A sites like Quora and/or online communities like News Hacker, Reddit and Inbound.org).

Popular discussions are more apt to be more visible on search results (especially for long-tails), since they contain most of the signals that search engines look for when ranking pages.

Adding value to these discussions and making sure that your contribution will standout will help you entice more of their incoming visitors to check out your site.

comments

Seed content on high authority UGC and document sharing sites (like Slideshare, Youtube, Pinterest, etc…). These sites have strong search share, which means your content hosted on these sites have better chances of ranking for your targeted industry terms.

You’ll be able to absorb continual traffic and build brand awareness, as your content on these sites get search-driven traffic.

Guest blog on authority sites in your field. Use some of your targeted keywords when contributing content on other publications in your industry, to get long-term value from your guest posts.

Get links from resources and/links pages that are already ranking for industry terms using the broken link building technique.
brokenlinksample

Basically, there are 2 ways to get links from pages that have good search rankings:

  • Add value to already existing pages with high potentials of ranking better (or sustaining its rankings) on search results.
  • Create pages on other authoritative domains with links to your site that will gain its own search rankings.

Links from Authentic Reviews

Links from positive online reviews are definitely one of the most sought after marketing opportunities by any business that offers products/services.

Why does it matter?

  • Online reviews can send new customers.
  • Authentic reviews from users/consumers help strengthen a business’ brand. It can also help maintain the site’s reputation on its branded search results.
  • They can help improve the site’s overall search rankings, based on the sentiments and volume of positive feedbacks that the site/brand is receiving from other websites/blogs.

reviews

How to get them:

  • Blogger outreach on a personal level – to actually get experiential reviews. Dan Cristo wrote an excellent post on how to get more reviews of your products 2 years ago, and you might want to check that one out.
  • Create an affiliate program or a referral commission system to attract more bloggers in reviewing your product or services. Offer this as a value proposition when reaching out to bloggers (give higher commission rates to authority bloggers in your industry).
  • Provide great products and services, or be exceptionally great with customer service (think Zappos). This can extremely help you get voluntary online reviews of your products/services. You can also offer freebies (promo codes, discounts, etc…) to customers who own blogs or have strong following on social networks. That might also increase the chances of getting links from them.

Links from Strong Social Brand Pages

Integrating content strategy with social media is a very effective approach in link building. Many people discover great content through social sharing, and that’s why it’s very vital to have strong social brand pages on social platforms where your target audience is.

Why does it matter?

  • Brand pages on social platforms – like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and many more –allow you to generate traffic every time you promote both new and old content from your site.
  • It’s an efficient channel where you can build relationships with your audience/followers, which can also result to more link opportunities, social shares and traffic.
  • Sends out massive brand signals to both users and search engines – through the amount of followers, activity and interactions.
  • Search engines use these external brand pages as signals to determine authority, which may also add weight to your site’s search rankings.

brand pages

How to build a strong following base for your social brand pages:

  • Let content drive your social media campaigns, by pushing out useful content on a regular basis and promoting them on social networks.
  • Interact with the people who are sharing your content to get them to follow you.
  • Share other influencers’ works to engage as well as to attract them in seeing your own works. Sharing useful stuff created by other brands/blogs is also a great way to nurture your followers.
  • Make your social sharing buttons very visible on your site’s content to enhance their sharing rate.
  • Promote your social media profiles on your site to encourage your visitors/readers to follow you. You can also cross promote your brand pages using the social networks where you already have built a strong following base.

Interview Links

Interviews can be very powerful as a marketing arsenal. I’ve received ton of client inquiries over the past years just because of this marketing method, wherein many have found my business through these interviews (even from group interviews/crowdsourced content).

Why does it matter?

  • The link that will be acquired is solely about you, which means it can pass higher link value to your site.
  • It helps build up your brand or personal brand as an expert in the field, which can indirectly increase conversions based on the perceived value of the brand.
    interview1
  • Can help maintain good branded search results (online reputation management).
    interviews

How to get them:

  • Pitch yourself or your client to be interviewed by bloggers who host interviews on their blogs (use Google Search – ex. “interview + someone in your niche”).
  • Create a Press page to let your visitors/readers know that you’re open for interviews.
  • Be active in content marketing. Because the more you push out useful and expertly made content, the more people will want to know more about you and with what you can share to them.

Newsletter Links

One of my blog posts last month got featured on SEOmoz’s newsletter 2 weeks ago.

newsletter

Knowing that their Moz Top 10 newsletter series has thousands of subscribers, getting viral traffic was almost certain. My blog received 7,000+ hits through that single link.

visits

Why does it matter?

  • Traffic and more brand impressions, obviously.
  • The post that was featured also acquired lots of natural links from some of their subscribers (so it did become a successful link bait).
  • Conversions. I received 15+ client inquiries after.

How to get them:

  • Great content and a solid content promotion strategy are the key elements to get your content out there (and be perhaps fetched by other blogs that have huge email newsletter subscribers).
  • Find blogs that have huge email lists, and pitch to have your content be featured on their newsletter (can be paid placement or reciprocate by featuring them as well on your newsletter).
  • Grow your own list to create a replicable process in driving huge traffic to your site. Here’s a great guide on building an email list.

Recurring Links from regular contributions (columns)

I strongly believe that this method is the future of scalable and effective link building, content marketing and online branding, which I will be explaining why shortly.

But before that, I’ll first give an example. Julie Joyce is one of the most respected link builders in the industry. She’s also a regular contributor/columnist on these sites:

juliejoyce

Why does it matter?

  • Branding. It’s easier to demonstrate expertise when you’re regularly seen on high-traffic publications.
  • You can almost always send many qualified traffic to your site, when you regularly publish content on high authority sites (like the ones mentioned above).
  • It passes trust signals and high link value down back to your site, which can help improve your site’s domain authority and ability to convert traffic.
  • Having a solid author portfolio on trusted publications will eventually boost your Author Rank.

How to get them:

  • Search for your industry’s top online publications (that have high traffic and high domain authority). Apply to become a regular contributor on their site. It’s important to make yourself known first by providing high quality content on your site that are relevant to their audience.
  • If you’ve been into guest blogging, track the sites that have sent good traffic and conversions to your site. Send more content to their site/blog and become a stable content partner for them.
  • Implement authorship markups on your content contributions (if in case they aren’t implementing it yet, start suggesting it).

Constantly creating useful content on your site and promoting them effectively can also lead to getting invitations to become a contributor on larger sites. For instance, I was invited before to become a columnist on Technorati for that very reason.

.Edu and .Gov links

Links from .edu and .gov sites are known to be authoritative, since these domains are highly trusted by search engines.

Why do they matter?

  • These links pass authority and trust, and can influence your site’s ability to rank on SERPs.

How to get them:

  • Nick Bernard from Portent wrote an extensive post last year that details 7 different ways to get .edu links – from sponsorships, posting job openings, offering scholarships and 4 other more. I highly recommend reading that post.
  • Using the broken link building method through .edu and .gov resources pages can also be a viable technique to get links from them. But it’s important to really offer a resourceful content worth linking to, especially for them, to make that acquisition happen.
  • I’m currently testing this method (and I’ll definitely share the results in the next few weeks). Interview professors and publish it on your blog. Choose topics that have high potentials of getting referenced to by their sites/students/faculty.

Press Coverage

Press mentions are definitely a powerful way to make a brand look more amazing to its target audience. It’s also a great way for a brand or a product to be discovered by people.

press mentions

Coverage like that – can simply result to this:

press2

That’s why having a great product and a good marketing strategy is a force to reckon with.

Why does it matter?

  • Getting featured on popular news sites can generate viral traffic.
  • The surge in traffic can lead to user sign ups, sales and/or conversions.
  • Getting viral through press mentions can also result to more link opportunities, as other news sites and blogs may also start writing about your brand.
  • It will also be easier for you to pitch on other publications for coverage, since you’ve already been featured on an authority news site.
  • The link acquired offers high SEO value, based on trust, authority and context of the link source.
  • Definitely good for branding.

How to get them:

Don’t be afraid to pitch, if you have something that’s really newsworthy.

Natural Links from Online Discussions

This is quite similar with how you can get contextual links. The only difference is that they are placed within the discussions (comment threads).

qa

Why does it matter?

  • Elevates your brand, as you are being endorsed by other people (which may also lead to better conversions).
  • Can draw in click-through traffic to your site.
  • Sends trust signals, which is a factor that can slightly impact your search rankings.

How to get them:

  • Be active with your content marketing activities. Keep on publishing content that people can use as a resource. Because your readers will use them sooner or later when conversing with other people in your online community.
  • Build relationships with your readers, especially with those who actively participate on other popular blogs’ discussions or industry forums/communities.
  • Focus on providing solutions to common problems in your industry. Your readers/followers/peers will always refer you when they encounter questions related to the solutions you’re offering.

Bonus:  How to Earn Visibility and Links

I just want to share this awesome slide presentation by Kevin Gibbons on using content marketing to get higher visibility and more links.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and you can follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Need link building help? Hire us.

Extreme Link Prospecting With SEOQuake

Search for Link Prospects

Link prospecting is definitely one of the most critical parts of targeted link building, as this is the process that initiates your campaign’s goals, specifically in acquiring valuable links from high quality and relevant websites.

Setting a plan in finding opportunities for link acquisition is important, since this helps your link development campaign grow its own strategy, in ways such as:

  • The methods that your campaign will most likely involve to acquire links (based on your link prospects).
  • The approximate amount of links that you can acquire in a certain period of time (based from your industry’s online competitiveness, demand and activity).
  • In segmenting high priority and low priority prospects (that can help elevate your campaign’s productivity and results).

These past few months, our team has used several link building tools, like Raventools and Citationlabs (and they were really awesome), to semi-automate our link prospecting efforts. However, there’s this one method that actually helped us gather hundreds/thousands of highly targeted link prospects in just a few minutes – that I did enjoy abusing as well – through SEOQuake’s SERP overlay feature.

Here are some of the things that I really liked about this link prospecting method:

  • Returns highly relevant link prospects
  • Fast
  • Free

The things you need to execute this method:

  • Google Search
  • SEOQuake for Chrome (you can download it here)
  • Microsoft Excel

Step 1: Google Search Settings

First off, you’ll need to let Google show at least 100 search results instantly. You can easily configure this through Google’s Search settings, on the upper right corner of Google’s webpage.

Search SettingsOn Google Search’s preferences, disable Google Instant and modify the number of search results by allowing Google to display 100 results per page.

Search Preference

Step 2: Start Searching for Prospects

Once you have configured Google to display 100 results per page, you can now then start looking for link prospects by using keywords that specify your link targets (“keyword + determiner”; ex: “gardening blog”)

Search for Link Prospects

Pro tip: Be as specific as you can with your search queries for Google to return highly relevant pages. You can also use advanced search operators to ensure that you’ll get what you’re really looking for (such as allintitle:, inurl:, site:, etc…)

Step 3: Scraping/Exporting Search Results and Site Data Using SEOQuake

On the top part of the search results, SEOQuake has a feature that will allow you to view the results in CSV format.

 SEOQuake CSV search results

Copy the entire thing and paste it all in an excel spreadsheet.

Copy the CSV data

You can actually save the data directly through the plugin’s SERP feature, though it will ask you to send the request via SEOQuake’s server (so you might as well want to do it this way).

Once you have pasted the data to an excel spreadsheet, it will look something similar to this:

Ok, so the list looks like crap, and you will have to fix it by separating the contents of each cell into several columns – and here’s how:

On your excel spreadsheet, go to “Data” and choose “Text to columns”.

data to text to columns

Click on “Text to columns”, then choose “Delimited” for your data’s file type and click Next.

Choose Delimited

Check on the “Semicolon” option, as it is the delimiter used in the data, and then click Next.

Choose Semicolon

As you can see above, it will let you see a preview of the outcome of your data when choosing for the delimiter to be set.

After clicking the next button, click on “Finish”, and you will have a better looking list of link prospects that will look something similar to this:

List of link prospects

The list of the URLs of your possible link targets will include site metrics such as the number of pages indexed by Google, Pagerank, Alexa Rank and many more, just like how SEOQuake’s SERP feature shows these metrics through Google’s SERP display.

You can also configure SEOQuake to only display parameters that you’ll want to use when prospecting for link opportunities through its browser settings (on the upper right corner of your browser).

SEOQuake Settings (Chrome)

You can choose the parameters you only want to show up on Google search results:

SEOQuake Parameters

Step 4: Expanding your List

Creating your initial list of link prospects will only take you a few seconds (based on what I’ve done), and of course you’ll also have to segment/sort that list out (which I will be explaining on the latter part of this post). Moreover, expanding your list is not really hard, as there are many options to choose from to make the most out of this method, such as from:

  • Other semantically related search terms that your campaign is targeting to rank for.
  • 2nd to 5th page of your initial keyword search (which means 100 – 400 more possible prospects, though these sites may be of low relevance or quality).
  • Through Google’s suggested “related searches”, which you can see below the search result pages (this could give you hundreds or more prospects to your list).
Searches relatedJust repeat the process by copying the results’ CSV data and pasting them to your list, and you’ll eventually have a larger list of highly relevant link prospects.Larger list of link prospects

Step 5: Segmenting your list

The easiest way to sort your list is through segmenting your data through the Alexa Rank’s column, as it provides unique set of numbers that will allow you to classify highly authoritative sites (single to 4 digit numbers) from average websites in your industry.

This area of your list will also allow you to determine high priority prospects, low priority prospects, duplicate domains and irrelevant authority sites (Facebook, Youtube, authority news sites, etc…).

In filtering your excel list, you can first start by highlighting the Alexa Rank’s column.

Highligh Alexa Rank Column

Click on the Alexa Rank’s entire column (on “column G”), go to “Data” and click on “Filter”.

Filtering your listClick on the arrow placed on the Alexa Rank column’s right corner, and then choose “Sort Smallest to Largest”.

Sort list smallest to largestYou will now have your list sorted based on each domain’s Alexa Rank. In this ordered list, you can separate high profile sites as well as sites that wouldn’t be that relevant for your campaign, wherein you can just start working on the sites that you can realistically build relationships with or acquire links from (probably sites that have 4-6 digit Alexa rankings).

Sorted list of link prospects

Bonus Tip: Reverse Engineering Competitors’ Links

You can also use this method through Google’s Blog Search to find blogs linking to your competitors (by simply using the search command “link:www.yourcompetitor.com”) and include these results to your list of link prospects.

Reverse Engineering Links through Google

Again, you can use the process I’ve mentioned above and continuously improve your list of link prospects by scraping sites linking to your competitors.

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I Will Be Presenting at MORCON 2011

This is going to be my first speaking gig and I’ll be presenting about what I’ve mostly learned, practiced and experienced in the past year of being an SEO. I haven’t actually done my deck yet, but I’m very excited to do it, probably next week (been busy with my secret ninja training recently).

Mastering Online Ranking Conference is going to be held at UP Diliman, Quezon City on October 29, 2011 (Saturday). So to all the Filipino SEOs, webmasters, bloggers, copywriters, social media practitioners, web developers and designers, I’m inviting you to come and attend this event.

What will you get from it?

  • Learn more about the trade (secrets, ninja tricks, etc…).
  • Network with some of the most brilliant minds in the local online marketing scene.
  • Booze (one of the best parts of the event that I really look forward to)

Topics and Speakers:

  • How To Build an Authority Site
    By Ed Pudol – Lexorsoft.net – CEO
  • Social Media Ninja Tactics
    by Ester Del Fierro – Directwithhotels.com – Online Marketing Manager
  • SEO Mistakes To Avoid
    by Mark Acsay – SEO Consultant
  • Website Audit – Site Analysis and Reporting
    by Sheila Dela Pena – Directwithhotels.com – Online Marketing Junior Manager
  • Pay Per Click (PPC) Strategies
    by Juanito Jacela – CellConversion.com – PPC Strategist

The event is free and exclusive to all members of SEO Organization Philippines. If you’re not a member, you can register now (damage is P1,000).

More details about the event here:

Special Shout out to:
Morcon 2011

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Branding in SEO – The Big Shift in Online Marketing

BrandingThe strength of a brand is considerably the backbone of most successful businesses, may it be on or offline, given that it has the ability to signify a certain organization’s true value and edge which separates it from its competitors.

The search industry has provided businesses worldwide with immeasurable potentials and growth in the past decade. As the Internet industry grows, users’ behaviors tend to mature as well, in which search engines are left with no other options but to constantly evolve in order to further improve the experience they are providing to their users when seeking for information over the web – such as authorships, rich snippets for search listings, personalized and localized results.

With these several changes in the search results’ landscape, particularly on Google, Branding appears to be one of the biggest factors that search engines might rely on when it comes to determining authenticity for web authority/popularity.

Search algorithms are evidently capable of extracting data from websites using brand-based metrics, which can be used in evaluating a website’s importance and level of demand. These areas of assessment could be drawn from:

  • Brand mentions from other websites’ content.
  • Amount of branded-anchor text links directing to the site.
  • Volume of search queries for the brand.
  • Brand mentions from social networks.

With search engines mining brand related data and the upcoming rise of new top-level domains (TLDs) – .brands – that is scheduled to be launched by ICANN early next year – it is almost certain that the next shift in search engine optimization is going to be mostly about branding, seeing as a strong brand presence indicates authoritativeness. Moreover, popular brands are most likely to be rewarded by search engines with higher rankings (for very competitive keywords) on their search results, knowing that they have earned their trust basing from users’ perspectives.

Apparently, traditional marketing methodologies, like social marketing and branding, are being more appropriate and efficient to be utilized in today’s, or perhaps tomorrow’s online marketing needs. As methods that can leverage a brand’s exposure seem to tremendously impact a site’s SEO efforts.

Brand signals from design and identity

Investing on a visually attractive web design and shaping a captivating character for a business’ brand can most certainly generate interest from its target audience. This interest sequentially sends out massive brand signals through social sharing and natural linking, which can boost the site’s visibility and ability to move content across the web.

Hipmunk and Benthebodyguard are some brilliant examples for this approach, as these sites’ simplicity and straightforwardness have made its marketing efforts almost effortless.

Brand signals from image and rich media advertisements

Banner advertisements from affiliate marketers and ad networks, like Google Adsense, can extensively disseminate a brand’s exposure to its target market.

For instance, Pokerstars have efficiently used this marketing channel, as they were able to establish a dominant figure in a competitive industry through visually-driven brand signals. These brand signals can usually create curiosity from a specific audience and often leads to brand search queries.

pokerstars search volume

And this funnel of actions simply enabled them to assimilate the main targeted keyword to the brand name itself.

Poker Google Search

Building linkable assets

Linkable assets or exceptionally crafted contents that have the ability to continuously attract linkers, traffic and leads over time are a robust source of brand signals. Web pages like SEOmoz’s Beginners Guide to SEO, Adage’s Power 150 and Everythingisaremix’s complete video series page are great samples of linkable assets that can progressively cultivate a brand and are compelling enough to encourage social sharing and linking.

Branding through externally distributed content

Using link building techniques to develop a site’s brand can have an effect on how its target audience perceives the brand. Sending out massive brand signals through externally distributed content such as press releases, guest blogs, online media coverage, interviews, whitepapers and rich media content like infographics, videos, slide presentations and kinetic text can exemplify expertise and authority in any industry. Continuous implementation of these methods can increase brand mentions, brand queries as well as brand advocates.

Branding through great customer service and social media interactions

A high quality service can always be a great branding tool, since it instills the idea of trust to a business’ target consumers. In addition to a quality service, considering social media as a channel for customer support can leverage the trust that a brand is able to build to its customers, which can be very advantageous in obtaining positive reviews and attracting more brand advocates.

John Doherty, an SEO Consultant at Distilled, recently wrote a review about Zappos’ great customer service and how a certain social interaction have led to breeding a satisfied costumer, which clearly denotes that a combination of quality customer service and social media can be a powerful branding tool.

Consistent community participation and static marketing

Being involved in the web community, especially in the brand’s designated industry, also helps in establishing a powerful brand as well as in building connections that can benefit the site/brand’s marketing campaign along the process.

Consistency in terms of representation and quality of contributions on relevant forums, blog discussions, Q&A sites and social networks can create a gradually expounding exposure for the brand, as enthusiasts, influencers and consumers, in that certain field, are being reached in a genuine level of communication – a position where relationships are easily built.

Article first published as Branding in SEO – The Big Shift in Online Marketing on Technorati by Jason Acidre

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Image Credit: RedBalloon

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Link Magnetism – How to Create an Authority Site that Attracts Authority Links

Link MagnetismBuilding links to a website is easy, I’ve done it many times, and for sure, you have tried doing this many times as well. On the other hand, building authority links is a different story, since – more often than not – it requires time, effort, creativity, persistence in execution and plenty of luck to successfully obtain these types of high-caliber links.

To start off, this post will cover tips and situations that were all based on my experience, and is basically a story of how I got 2 authority links, without asking for it.

When you visualize link building in a plain view, you will somehow realize that there are always two plausible options to link acquisition:

  • You create the link from the target website.
  • You inject to them the idea of linking to your site.

And with these 2 options in mind, it naturally comes down to one simple line of attack – creating the opportunity. Through my experience, I realized that you’ll only need to continuously/insistently develop two facets of your campaign in order to attract and acquire authority links to your site (and this strategy will revolve around these 2 aspects):

  • Reputation = content
  • Link assets = relationships

And along the process of building those opportunities, your reputation and link assets, you’ll mostly not notice that you are already gradually becoming a link magnet.

Why? It’s because of the processes that we mostly implement when we’re trying to create those opportunities, wherein we keep on creating great content, nonstop, with the sole intent of acquiring valuable links/citations from highly trusted websites without realizing the small amount of impact each action is able to create, until it all piles up and boom, you’re already a link magnet.

To the both perspectives of human and search engines, a website’s reputation and the relationships that surround its brand speaks a whole lot for itself. With that said, getting high-value links from other authority websites is more viable if they’ll also see that your site is an authority and is worthy of being contextually cited on their site. To put it simpler: you need to become an authority to acquire authority links.

“Link magnetism = building a credible reputation (continuous creation of highly-exceptional content) + building strong link assets (relationships with industry influencers).”

Stage 1: Creating an Authority Website

To create an authority website, you’ll need tons of exceptional content hosted within your domain. That’s why planning your site’s content structure ahead is imperative, given that a well-staged content development strategy (compiling a good content inventory before even launching the site or its marketing campaign) can nurture the site’s brand identity along the process of marketing it.

If your site is continuously providing solid content that can be really useful to its target audience, then it can send massive and obvious signals to your visitors that they should keep on returning and sharing your content. This in turn builds the noise up that can help attract other authority websites to notice you and possibly link to it in the future.

In building your site’s content inventory, it’s important to cover as much topics as you can (which should all be thematically relevant), wherein you can scale the scope of your expertise through the content that you’ll create. Make each of your content serve as your site’s foundation by making them go viral and/or as comprehensive as you can, which you can deliver in content formats such as:

  • Evergreen
  • Extensive tutorials
  • Rich-media content

Having many strong, viral and high-quality contents hosted in your domain, with social proof, can extremely impact the way others see your site, as it can progressively improve your site’s domain authority, your brand’s social authority, and help build a robust following base for your site – which can certainly epitomize your website as an authority.

Viral Content Creation and Promotion

The easiest way to build your site’s reputation and identity within its field/industry is through the uniqueness of all the content that it’s able to offer. If you can consistently create loads of high quality contents, with high potentials of going viral, then the better chances of garnering authority links to your site, through citations or link opportunities that are a product of those combined efforts, given that all the (viral) content that you’ll be creating and promoting will all add up in building your overall reputation.

How to create a viral content:

  • Content strategy development – do an extensive research about the topic and complete all the necessary details/information that your projected content will need in order for it to be comprehensive and competitive. Try to offer the best content about the subject for it to have higher chances of ranking highly on search results. List all the collected information and make an outline of your content (ex. possible title, format, design and information architecture). It’s also important to know your content’s target audience beforehand, as the approach of the content will highly depend on its aimed results (was the content created to generate links, leads, social shares or just for branding purposes?).
  • Keyword research – your content must be keyword-focused, wherein you can use your target keyword(s) on the content’s page title, post title/headline, URL and the content’s body. A content that has immense potentials of going viral and socially popular can certainly rank for its targeted keywords effortlessly. Use Google Keyword Tool to identify good keywords to target for your content.
  • Competitive analysis – observe and examine your competitors’ similar content. You do this by searching your content’s target title on Google, and see the top ranking pages. Extract all the important details of each ranking page, and make sure that you’ll be including those information to yours (this ensures that you’ll be providing the most extensive content related to the subject). You can also identify the weaknesses of each competing page and use them to your own advantage, as this tactic can help you outrank them on search results.
  • Build a contact list – know the people, blogs and/or organizations that might be interested to share your content before actually creating it, as this will make it easier to promote the content once you have launched it. There are several ways in building a list of link prospects for your content, like gathering contact details from sites that already have history of linking to the same type of content that you’ll provide (most probably sites that have linked to your competitors’ similar content and you can use tools like Yahoo Site Explorer to track these links from your competitors), active Twitter users and other known linkers (bloggers) in your industry. You can list all these prospects in an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Execution – create the content in accordance to the strategy you have devised.
  • Content value assessment – gauge the importance, value and marketability of the finish product and if the content will be able to draw actions from its target audience (was it specifically made for beginners, linkers, customers or industry influencers?). The easiest way to measure the value of your content is by determining the rarity of the information it contains, given that a content that offers valuable and hard-to-find information is very linkable, and this can increase the value of your proposition as well as the success rate of your link requests.
  • Editorial analysis – it’s always important to proofread and edit your work before or after publishing it. Update your content each time you find new information that fits your content’s theme and always test the strength of your content’s call to action to make the most out of the traffic it will constantly receive.

How to promote your viral content:            

  • Get social shares from your personal network.
  • Request links from your list of link prospects (from sites that might be interested to share and link to your content).
  • Reverse engineer links from your competitors’ similar content.
  • Promote the content through your externally distributed content such as whitepapers, press releases, guest blogs and interviews.
  • Participate on relevant discussions and link back to the content to serve as the comprehensive resource of your answers (on forum threads, Q&A sites and blog discussions).
  • Use Stumbleupon ads, as they can probably have thousands of cerebral users who are really into your industry.    
  • Buy sponsored tweets from influential people in your industry – you can check out Buysellads.com for this form service.
  • Offer incentives, like contest prizes, embeddable widgets, free sample products or paid review.   
  • Link out to authoritative brands in your industry to leverage the content’s social visibility, since they are more likely to share your content if it mentions their brands. Target brands that have strong following on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and try to be in contact before launching the content.
  • Create a newsworthy angle for your viral content and pitch your story (using your viral content as its resource) to news websites or online publications. You can also join Helpareporter.com to pitch your story.
  • Maximize your content’s call to action by making it easy for future visitors to link to it or to share the content on various social networks.
  • Continuously promote your content by internally and contextually linking to it from your new blog posts or web pages.
  • Highlight the content on your site’s major traffic entries or landing pages (pages that have high search engine traffic).

For a more in-depth guide on how to promote a viral content, you can check out my old post about getting natural editorial links.

If you can rinse and repeat these content marketing strategies in your site’s future content, like repeating the process 10 or 20 more times, then building a strong reputable site (driven by content) will be very achievable in a matter of months. And that reputation alone can get you more subscribers, followers and natural links (can make you a link magnet), without the need of requesting for them take actions, in which you will be able to semi-automate the process of link acquisition and social sharing every time you publish new content.

Stage 2: Influence Marketing

Influence marketing is a marketing tactic/perspective that necessitates actions and processes that aim to compel a specific set of entities in a certain industry, instead of targeting its real market. These entities are most likely the ones that already have a strong following base or are seen to be somehow influential in the field based on their content and social reputation.

In my case, I’ve created most of my content with the slight intent and objective of exemplifying my expertise to industry influencers, treating them as my primary audience. Then I tried to build connections with them through:

  • Knowing the type of content that they are more likely to read and share to their audience.
  • Interacting with them through social networks and by following their blogs and starting conversations through remarkable comments.
  • Bringing the discussions back to my site and letting them see the relevance and uncommonness of the content I provide.
  • Linking out to them from a highly-linkable content that I have created, as this will increase the chances of them sharing or linking back to the content.

If your content is capable of captivating experts or influencers in your industry, then it can most probably set bigger impact and influence to your real target audience, given that a site that is being constantly vouched by reputable individuals or organizations can easily create more linking opportunities, as people are more to trust the information that the site is sharing.

“Influence marketing, in its simplest form, is creating highly exceptional content and letting other experts know about it and to be influenced by it.” For more in-depth guide, you can check out my old post about 1-2 Punch Marketing.

Stage 3: Branding

In my opinion, creating a strong brand presence to a website is the most vital process of online marketing. A site’s brand name should be the most important keyword of the campaign, as this is the area that gives the distinct identity to a business that’s certainly capable of separating it from its competitors.

It takes time, effort and consistency to efficiently develop a site’s brand, seeing as it will require processes that will need strategic planning:

  • Investing on a visually attracting web design, as it’s one of the strongest indications of longevity and is also the area that’s capable of sending massive brand signals to site visitors.
  • Building noise to your site externally using inbound marketing techniques (like guest blogging, viral content marketing, etc…) to let the big players in your field notice your brand.
  • Disseminating your brand’s identity through efficient and ethical link building, wherein you can focus on using your brand name as anchor texts when building highly-visible links (through content and community discussions).
  • Improving brand mentions by making your brand highly perceptible within your territory, such as inclusion of your brand name on each of your site’s page titles (so whenever people socially share or link back to your content externally, it will include the site’s name), as well as on your externally distributed content such as free whitepapers, infographics, guest blogs, press releases and externally hosted videos.

Brand data – such as branded search and amount of external brand mentions – are now heavily used by search engines to determine the authoritativeness of a website, as they can base sitelinks and trusted pages to be displayed on their search results through these metrics. Having a strong brand can improve your inner pages’ search rankings, as search engines are more likely to trust and return web pages as results when they are hosted by a recognized authority site.

Stage 4: Becoming a Link Magnet

Having the first 3 phases laid out – an authority website that hosts exceptional contents, influential people in the field supporting your cause and a strong brand that’s recognized by search engines – shapes a link magnet.

In this section, I will only discuss how I managed to attract and acquire authority links through some examples. But first, here are some of the ways how I identify a potential source of an authority link:

  • Have fast crawl rates, which can usually be measured through the site’s homepage PageRank.
  • Have a strong brand and following base, which can produce massive social signals.

Example 1: Creating authority and high PR links through reputation

Technorati Post

A few months ago, I was invited by Technorati to be a regular contributor on their business channel. I personally think that the opportunity was molded through the reputation that I have built for myself in the past several months of creating highly-engaging content on this blog. Basically, I was able to attract them through the way I produce content and eventually created that opportunity of obtaining a strong link from them.

Example 2: Attracting authority and high PR links through relationships

KissMetrics Blog

I have been connecting with Kristi Hines of Kikolani for almost over a year now, as I have been following her blog since I started blogging. Being connected with her eventually created a path for my blog to obtain an authority link, seeing that she saw the way how I delivered my content, and perhaps that reason somehow developed how others see my reputation as an SEO and a blogger.

Example 3: Acquiring links from educational sites (.edu)

Edu link

This link is not actually directing to this domain, though I think it’s worthy of being included here, since that cycle of linking is the best way to describe link magnetism and because that .edu page is directing to the article I’ve written for Technorati. The possible reasons why the article got that .edu link could be because of the trustworthiness of Technorati’s reputation and brand as a resource, which actually made it a magnet.

When you achieve those kinds of links, it’s important that you promote those pages as well (by linking to it whenever it’s possible), since it can help build its strength in due course as a link to your site – a link that will be certainly hard for your competitors to replicate.

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Image Credit: BlackHoleInAJar

10 On-page SEO Tactics for 2011

SEon-page SEOO is a consistently evolving field of modern marketing, given that search engines constantly improve their algorithms’ capabilities of returning high quality and highly relevant pages to their users’ queries. Search engines – especially Google – use hundreds of factors to estimate pages that deserve to show up on their top results.

There are two major processes in search engine optimization that enable websites and pages to rank for its targeted keywords on search results – and these are on-page and off-page optimization.

Off-page optimization is the part of SEO which involves anything that’s related to making a website and its pages popular (from external citations from other websites through link building and social media), while on-page optimization is the area where pages are able to obtain higher search rankings through the relevance of the page’s content to its targeted search term or keyword.

As I have mentioned above, there are hundreds of factors that search engines use to determine high quality pages, and that count just doesn’t stop there, as they are still finding more ways to improve their users’ search experience. So I have listed below some of the on-page optimization techniques that I believe worth exploring and testing this year.

On-page Markup through Schemas

Google, Bing and Yahoo recently introduced Schema.org, as the shared vocabulary that these 3 big search engines will be using to help them better understand web pages’ content – which uses Microdata as its structured data markup.

Schemas like Microdata are set of HTML tags that can be used to specify essential information about a webpage’s content, which include numerous types of markups (more than 100 as mentioned by Google) and new HTML elements (such as “itemscope, itemtype and itemprop”) that can make it much easier for search engines to determine and weigh page relevance.  You can check the full list of markup types here.

Here’s a sample of what your page’s codes will look like if you use this markup:

The more markups you make, the better search engines will understand your content, and the better your pages are presented on search results through rich snippets. Google is not yet considering usage of markups as a search ranking factor, but will eventually be, and thus affect/improve your pages’ SERP click-through rate and its ability to attract traffic as they appear outstanding with the way they are displayed on search results, like this one:

(looks tasty trustworthy to me)

Learn more about Microdata on Schema.org’s getting started page and Schema.org FAQ on Google.

Length of content

The length of the document is a powerful indication of a webpage’s quality, knowing that changes that Google had employed with their Panda update are somehow strict when it comes to classifying quality and crappy content.

In my experience, longer content appears to perform well in search results, since most of my blog posts are composed of thousands of words. Given that they contain so much information, a single post/page is able to target multiple long-tail keywords that in turn allowed my blog to attract more organic visitors.

Sociability

A page’s ability to send massive social signals to search engines also impacts the page’s chances of getting higher search rankings. Pages that are mostly capable of doing this are purposely created to act as a viral content, or basically a piece of work that’s made to draw attention or interest from specifically targeted audiences.

The visibility of social sharing buttons as well as the numbers of social shares is a good way to attract readers to sharing your content and in linking to it.

Building support pages that have strong social signals

Landing pages, particularly sales pages, are kind of awkward and sometimes hard to be externally promoted through link building, especially if you are aiming to acquire editorial links. However, creating high quality pages (pages that are able to attract links and social shares naturally) in your site that can support your important landing pages through internal linking can extremely pass through huge amount of link value, which can improve your landing pages’ search rankings.

You can also choose to build support pages that can be hosted externally through guest blogs, wherein you can contextually link to your landing pages. It’s best to offer interesting content to be that can still be thematic to your landing pages (ex. if your site is offering a dog training course, you can build support pages like “Top 100 dog trainers in the world (widget)”, “Dog name generator (tool)”, “list of 100 dogs that can easily be trained” etc… and make these pages link to your dog training course sales’ page using highly descriptive or branded anchors).

Usability

This is perhaps the most significant ranking factor out of the hundreds that are on different search algorithms’ lists, as search engines are more to vouch for your site if it has proven its worth of being useful to visitors. If you are aiming to rank for highly competitive search terms, it’s imperative to study your important pages’ conversion factors to be able to distinguish areas of the page that needs to be improved.

Knowing your visitors’ activity and behavior once they are on your important pages can simply hint you with what to implement to make it perform better (by determining your site’s traffic performance through Analytics). Here are some of the things that you can do to improve your site’s traffic conversions.

  • Enhance site speed.
  • Include translation features if your site is getting substantial visitors from non-English-speaking countries.
  • Lessen visual distractions like ads and other irrelevant site elements.
  • Invest on a visually attracting web design.
  • Simplify the delivery of your landing pages’ content and reduce irrelevant linking.
  • Accessibility of other thematically helpful pages.
  • Presence of site search feature.
  • Test your pages on different browsers.

Data to keep track of:

  • Top content
  • Top exit pages
  • Top landing pages
  • Languages

Improve domain authority and trust

Yeah, this may seem off topic, since improving a domain’s trust and authority scores is mostly done externally through link building. However, domain level metrics such as domain authority and domain trust are strong factors that can really impact and influence your web pages’ search rankings, especially with highly competitive keywords.

Websites that have high domain authority and trust (can be approximately measured through Open Site Explorer’s full link metrics) are also able to make their newly published pages earn higher positions on SERPs in just a few days – and sometimes in a few hours. Improving your site’s trustrank and authority may take some time, seeing as its development mostly requires long and enduring processes such as:

  • Link diversity – this pertains to the variation of your incoming link’s anchor texts, velocity of the site’s link growth over time, ratio of links pointing to your site’s inner pages to site’s homepage and diversity of the methods used to acquire links, which are assessed through the links’ placements (sidebar, footer, comment, editorial, etc…).
  • Quantity of backlinks that have good placements – number of high value links that the entire site was able to acquire from other authority sites that are topically relevant, have high visibility (within the body) and have high click-through rates.
  • Internal linking – staging a good internal linking structure that helps web crawlers find deep pages in your website. Also, supporting your important pages through internal links from other prominent pages in your site that have high amount of link juice (strong MozRank, PageRank, Page Authortity, high percentage of traffic entrance, etc…)
  • Quantity of strong pages hosted by the site – number of popular pages in the site that have acquired good amount of high quality links from other websites through social shares, editorial citations and may also be authoritative in terms of PageRank, MozRank, Page Authority, PostRank (which is now owned by Google), and have good search rankings.
  • Domain age – uhm… the years the site has been live?

John Doherty of Distilled wrote a good post about this subject recently and you might want to check it out.

Presence of links to high value external pages

It has been a myth that linking out to other websites/web pages within your content reduces that certain page’s PageRank, however, linking out to high quality external pages do establish trust through link relation, given that you may possibly be referencing back to a trusted source.

The point is, having links to reputable websites can build trust, and trust does eventually result to good ranking positions. With appropriate usage, these external links might just help your site obtain good search rankings as search engines are more to trust your content.

SERP Click-through rate

Traffic data that search engines are able to gather through their search engine result pages such as web pages’ click-through rates do seem to have effect on search rankings, for competitive search queries in particular.  Most experts also believe that CTR from search engines to the page for the targeted search term improves the page’s ranking position, as mentioned on SEOmoz’s survey results of search ranking factors for 2011 (Page-level traffic data).

Improving your pages’ SERP click-through rates can be performed in ways such as:

  • Use of strong and actionable words on the page’s title and meta description.
  • Titles that use numbers seem to work well on SERPs, in terms of click through.
  • Good web design, as it might be displayed by users through Google Instant Previews.
  • Aiming for your pages to be displayed with rich snippets on Google through marking up your page with Microdata, testing your pages’ snippets through Google rich snippet tool and by submitting your snippets to Google.

Geotagging

Geotagging is a geographical identification metadata – as described on Wikipedia – that allows users and search engines see your business’ actual geographic location through latitude and longitude coordinates, which is certainly a good way to establish trust to both users and search engines. This method may also benefit you through other means of search (GPS tracking), given that mapping services are able to track your location and be included on their listings.

There are several formats used in Geotagging a website, but the most utilized is Google Earth’s Geo.kml. Luckily, I found Geo Sitemap Generator, a free web-based application that can automate the process of generating a KML file and a Geo Sitemap, which you can upload to your site’s root directory after having those files downloaded from the free application.

Humans.txt

Google recently announced that they’ll be supporting authorship markups and Matt Cutts also mentioned AuthorRank as a new way to measure websites’ importance on an interview by Danny Sullivan on SMX Advanced Seattle.

Humans.txt is HTML 5’s approach to authorship markup (rel=”author”). This text file is pretty much similar to Robots.txt, but intended for both users and web crawlers for them to know the author of the content or a website, which is also a good way to establish trust as well as to credit the creator of the content/site. Below is a sample of what a humans.txt file looks like:

Once you have created a humans.txt file for your site and have uploaded it on your site’s root directory, you can then include an author tag through your site’s <head> section to enable web crawlers in accessing the page; like this:

Google: We know that great content comes from great authors, and we’re looking closely at ways this markup could help us highlight authors and rank search results.

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Image Credit: DpressedSoul

20 SEO Strategies for Sites Affected By Google Panda

The Google Panda Update – sounds harmless, but it’s not. It has recently slapped a lot of huge sites and even the tGoogle Panda Slaprusted/reputable ones (globally) off the Google’s search result pages. The known major signals and basis of this update mostly targeted sites that contained poor quality of content, pages that have external duplicates and dormant behavior of users once they are on the page.

I have been receiving a lot of inquiries from big websites about this specific fixes recently through my link marketing services page, which made me decide to create this post. The strategies listed below are mostly based on my own research through various web sources, actual analysis/auditing of prospected clients’ sites and personal observations.

On-site and Content Management:

  • Identify weak inner pages of the site by tracking each page’s mozrank and page authority. List them all in an excel spreadsheet, which should include the necessary data (Pagerank, mozrank, page authority, quality of content and if it has a duplicate). You can also speed up this process by exporting these data in an excel spreadsheet via Open Site Explorer’s pro version, which will already contain information such as each page’s Page Authority and number of linking domains. Prioritize in tracking pages that have duplicates that can be manually tracked through Copyscape.
  • Remove low quality inner pages of the site from Google’s index by temporarily tagging them to noindex (or by excluding them via Robots.txt), as these pages affect and pull the search rankings of the site’s important/strong landing pages. You can then improve these low quality pages by further optimizing each page’s content while they are inaccessible to search engines, for them to regain their rankings (especially for long-tails) once it’s ready to be republished and be indexed again.
  • Track crawl errors of the site via Google Webmaster Tool and fix 404 errors by employing 301 redirects.
  • Identify high quality inner pages of the site that have strong mozrank, Pagerank (optional), page authority and good amount of incoming links. Make these authority pages internally link (within the content) to the site’s important pages using the targeted keywords as anchor texts (depending on the page’s relevance to the destination page).
  • Identify pages that have consistently brought substantial traffic to the site by tracking its performance (number of monthly visitors, low bounce rates, etc…) in the past few months (before the Google Panda update) via Google Analytics. Set these pages as high priority, wherein you’ll have to preserve and improve its content as well as to acquire links from authority websites directing to it. It’s best to list the pages that will be highly prioritized and the actions that need to be implemented to each page on an excel spreadsheet, to be able to monitor its performance upon executing necessary changes.
  • Optimize the content of the site’s important landing pages (pages that aim to rank on SERPs – homepage/site description, category page, product pages, etc…) by adding/improving its useful sections such as comprehensive product or category descriptions (make them as unique as possible).
  • Leverage browser caching and reduce disruptive elements (such as ads or slow loading opt-in) to the site’s important landing pages, as this are signals of poor quality content and/or page usability.
  • Integrate the blog of the site (especially for large ecommerce sites), and utilize its full potential by taking advantage of strategic internal linking structure through blog posts, wherein you can use your blog posts to support the important pages of the site and in generating more leads through the use of exceptionally written content and strong calls to action. It’s also a good channel in generating high quality and natural incoming links to the site. You can also use the blog in publishing link baits (highly linkable content) and in enriching the campaign’s social media marketing efforts and in emphasizing importance/authority of the site.
  • Create high quality support pages for each targeted keyword (could be a blog post or an individual page that links to each important page). These support pages will be targeting the same keyword as the targeted destination pages to help them regain their search rankings.

Link Prospecting and Competitor Analysis

  • Extract link data and link opportunities from top competitors who were not affected by the Google Panda update.
  • Track relevant authority sites/blogs linking to them and try to acquire links from those sites.
  • Check your competitors’ Robots.txt file (ex. theirwebsite.com/robots.txt) and observe how well their changes have worked for them.
  • Find their best pages via Open Site Explorer, and see if those pages have duplicate copies through Copyscape. Examine how they have managed to re-optimize those top pages and note them down, to have better ideas on how you can fix your own content.
  • Identify the top keywords sending traffic to the site’s competitors through SEMrush and study the site’s anchor text distribution through Open Site Explorer.
  • Continuously find for link opportunities through other sources such as manual Google search, vertical sites or directory listings.
  • List all the prospected sites on an excel sheet, which will include information such as the site’s Pagerank, name of webmaster, contact details (email, twitter, etc…).
  • Compare the site’s important pages to top competitors’ ranking pages (for each targeted keyword) and determine sections and aspects that make those pages rank highly on SERPs. Improve the site’s important pages by basing changes from the aspects that those top ranking pages contain (in-depth content delivery, socially engaging, number of incoming authoritative links, etc…).

Link Building

  • Produce high quality contextual links through guest blogging (on relevant blogs), in which links generated will use keyword-rich anchor texts directing to the site’s important pages. It’s important to produce high quality and trusted links to each important page of the site at this time to consistently improve and sustain its search rankings.
  • Produce high-utility and highly linkable content that will be published within the site or link bait. Consistently promote these extremely resourceful pages (as well as the site’s existing high quality pages) through content outreach such as email requests, social media/networking, Q&A sites, etc. These pages can also serve as a strong support for the site’s important keywords in obtaining/regaining its high rankings.
  • Make use of social sharing buttons (or make them very visible) and leverage social sharing to weak inner pages of the site, as you can use signals coming from social media/networking sites to hint search engines that these inner pages with poor content are already well optimized and updated.

Other Notable Sources:

Core Principle:

  • Weed out all of the site’s poor-content pages, particularly those that have duplicates (that have no proper link attribution to your site) first, because these pages are pulling your important keywords’ rankings off the SERPs.
  • For ecommerce sites, you don’t actually need to make those thin pages provide long descriptions; you’ll just need to make them as unique as you can and perhaps better than the manufacturers’ descriptions.
  • Focus on generating high quality links (content-driven links, through guest blogs, networking, and social media efforts) to support and push back the site’s important keywords’ rankings.
  • Re-optimize the site’s important pages by improving its content, internal links directing to it from other authority pages of the site, and by building links from authority websites.
  • Only present pages on your site that are genuinely offering value to users. Produce more high quality content to backup your previously harmed pages.

More Hints from Google

Amit Singhal recently wrote on Google Webmaster Central Blog more hints on how they try to write algorithms that are more focused on segregating trustworthy content from not:

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?
  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
  • How much quality control is done on content?
  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?
  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?

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10 Ethical Ways to Buy Links

Google hates paid links and that’s unchangeable, given that they are keeping the search game fair to return quality-driven results to Google users worldwide. Buying links is a direct violation to Google’s webmaster guidelines – particularly manipulative links that intend to pass Pagerank and improve search rankings through unnatural anchor texts usage.Paid Links

However, there are still other risk-free link buying techniques that are patterned to indirectly acquire links through the same form of incentives – cash.

Measuring the link value of a paid link:

  • Placement or visibility of the purchased link (if it is contextual or editorial or perceptible by a large audience).
  • If the link will be able to generate traffic/leads.
  • If the acquired link will be capable of passing Pagerank, domain authority and domain trust.
  • If acquiring the link will be scalable for the campaign in attracting more linkers.
  • If the link will be topically relevant to its destination page.

It’s crucial to know the real worth of the incentive-driven links that you’ll be trying to obtain, as it is a form of business investment, and of course, we all want to gain from what we have spent and not the other way around, which in our case is getting penalized.

I actually want to keep this post short, so we’ll just go straight ahead on to the list of “ethical” ways you can do to indirectly buy quality links:

Sponsored reviews/interviews

I’ve been receiving a lot of advertisement requests on my blog recently, and most of them are asking if I’ll be interested to make a review of their products/sites. These proposals were very interesting, needless to say, given that they have offered incentives (payments, freebies/free access, commissions, etc…) to make outreach materialize.

Using this approach to your own link building campaign can positively generate high quality contextual links as well as possible leads, since this method is focused on producing external content that are strictly about the products/services that your website is offering.

One strategic key to increase the success rate of these requests is to first build relationships with your targeted bloggers by engaging them through series of interactions (following their blog, leaving remarkable comments, emails, social networking, etc…) before sending the actual request for review.

Sending requests to bloggers to do an interview of you or your client can also build quality in-content links and can also help develop your site’s brand. It is proven to be a powerful avenue in promoting your products or services, since the content’s focal point is your business and its industry, where you usually have control over the links that will be used in the content. Laying the right incentives in play – such as free samples or direct payments – can deeply enhance the chances of having your proposition approved.

In choosing bloggers for your campaign:

  • The blog should have good amount of traffic (measurable through Alexa traffic rank or Compete.com).
  • Offers quality content relevant to your industry.
  • Have a strong brand and loyal followers or subscribers.
  • Good Pagerank (3 or above) and domain authority (measurable through Mozbar).

Buy content from influential bloggers

Invite influential bloggers in your industry to publish content on your site, under their names, to tremendously improve the site’s linkability. The approach for this method works pretty much the same as the abovementioned method, though the only difference is that the paid content will be posted on your site. Requesting for this kind of deal may cost you $100 or more for each article, but its returns are presumably advantageous.  How can it benefit your site?

  • Quality content added to your site, from industry experts, which is very much capable of attracting natural referential links.
  • Puts emphasis to your site/brand’s importance, as popular bloggers are contributing to it.
  • Generates viral effect/traffic and also capable of absorbing the guest bloggers’ followers, given that they’ll be sharing their contributed content through their own networks, and this can in turn increase the chances of acquiring more natural links directing to that content.
  • The high quality guest content will most likely stay on the web for a long time, as long as your site is live actually, which means it can continuously bring organic traffic to your site as it naturally gains its own search rankings.
  • Allows you to build relationships with influential bloggers in your field, which can eventually lead to building more relationships with other big players in your niche.

Now, thinking about it, what could be the possible effects of having Rand Fishkin, Danny Sullivan, Todd Malicoat and Aaron Wall send over a guest post here on my blog, all in a week’s work, interesting, though I’m sure that it’s going to be real expensive.

Organize or Sponsor contests

Contests are in no doubt to be one of the most effective methods in getting the attention of people in your industry, particularly if there are high returns waiting for those who will participate. It’s easy to bait contextual links through each stage of this method, since organizers and sponsors are usually cited from the promotion outreach/process of the contest, to the actual contest itself as well as the phase in which the winners of the contests are announced.

Participants are mostly required to link out to sponsors (usually part of the contest’s criteria), through blogging, social sharing and their contest entry.

Tips to organizing your own blogging contest:

  • Set out criteria on how winners will be chosen (could be the amount of traffic accumulated by the entry if the guest blog is posted in your site, links acquired, user comments, social shares, quality of information, etc…)
  • The theme of the contest should be highly entertaining and interesting to make the most out of the traffic that you’ll be getting.
  • Specify the mechanics of the contest (possibly how you will benefit from the contest – by allowing participants to promote the contest as well as their entry).
  • Offer valuable prizes as it’s one of the reasons why bloggers will participate, besides the link, brand exposure and traffic.
  • Find other entities in your industry who’ll be interested to sponsor your contest and explain to them how they will benefit from it.

In finding blog contests to sponsor:

  • Contact both popular and upcoming quality blogs in your sphere and try to ask them if they’ll be interested to host or organize a contest that you’ll be sponsoring.
  • It’s best to choose blogs that have their unique identity in the industry, socially active, receives a good amount of traffic, have high Pagerank (not necessarily), and have high domain authority.

A blogging contest is always a win/win/win situation, as it helps the sponsors acquire natural and high quality links, hosting blog receives high quality content to be published on their site and generate organic traffic, and participants are able to absorb link juice, traffic and improve brand awareness through the exposure that they’ll be getting from the hosting blog.

Fund Research and Case Studies

Offering to fund research and case studies to universities or other competent companies in your industry that is related to your market or business can help you acquire extremely valuable links, seeing as the results of the research that you have outsourced are mostly published on their sites and will naturally cite you as the origin of the study.

Companies and universities have high tendencies of accepting this approach, since the output of this method is very educational and they’ll be very much involved by publishing the content on their websites, and yes, a link to your site from .edu or authority websites in your field.

One good example of this is a post from SEOmoz’s Whiteboard Friday, which I religiously follow, last June, where PRO Media Corp had funded the research about the effects of buying links. Well played for garnering an in-content citation from SEOmoz.

JV partnerships and affiliate programs

This might not provide your site powerful links to help boost your site’s search rankings or pass through trust, authority and Pagerank, as most of the links generated from this method are nofollow or 301 redirected to track traffic referrals.

However, offering commissions to those who will promote your products can enormously improve your site’s incoming traffic and more probably your sales, since they are sending relevant traffic to your site that are already aware of what you are offering through information-based campaigns (insightful reviews and promotions).

Paid Social Ads

With the roaring effects that social media are now capable of doing to increase a content/site’s linkability as well as visibility through search – since search algorithms are now using social signals as a ranking factor – obviously indicates that this method of modern marketing shouldn’t be ignored.

Dealing with social signals can practically lift linking opportunities if done appropriately, in which you have to address the signals to the right targets from the right channels. Though it’s imperative to present a highly linkable material to make the most out of the viral traffic that you will be getting from these channels (not your homepage, if it’s not that interesting).Below are some of the ways where you can easily target linkers in your industry:

  • Use Sponsored Tweets or BuySellAds to promote your linkable content via authority and influential Twitter users in your niche. The authority of the user plays a big role in garnering higher search ranking positions, and their influence will help get your content in front of a larger audience as their followers retweet and spread the link over their networks. You can use Klout to measure a user’s authority/influence over the web, which can help you decide in choosing your candidates.
  • Advertising your link bait content through Facebook Ads, wherein you have full control of which class of people should the ad will be displaying.
  • Using StumbleUpon’s Ads to get your linkable content in front of their 8 million users (probably hundreds of thousands that are really into your niche).

Donate to charities

A method that has been mentioned many times before if you are looking to buy links. It’s always good for businesses to help non-profit organizations/foundations to further expand the reach and awareness of their cause.

Donating or helping charitable institutions that you or your business believes in can help you in so many ways – besides the link you are aiming to acquire from them – such as good karma and a and a good angle for a press release, which can be fetched up by news sites if found to be real newsworthy.

In choosing the charities:

  • It’s important that you choose organizations that are thematic to your business or within your geographic location.
  • See if the charities that you’ll find have history of linking out to their past sponsors’ websites.
  • Network with the organization’s representative personally to be able to build more opportunities for both parties (future events, news story, etc…).
  • There are a lot of charity web directories that you can use to find organizations that best suit your business’ principles like Charity Navigator, Network for Good, Just Give and Charity-charities.

Note: Donations may come in any form – cash, your products, your services or things that they really need.

Sponsor events

Supporting events, both offline and online, can benefit your site’s branding and link development efforts, since most event organizers include special mentions of their sponsors in the marketing stage of the event as well as in the actual event, and also include links from their websites, most of the time (you can always ask for it, if you see that it’s possible).

You can choose to sponsor local conferences, seminars, webinars, blog awards and fundraising events that are topically relevant to your industry.

Invest on external projects

Expand the reach of your business’ online presence as well as internal stream of profits through external business investments. Logically, these investments would result to links, at first, but seeing its long term returns can get your business more profitable along the process. Here are some ideas on how you can acquire links through online investments.

  • Investing on Freelancers. Offer business proposals to talented freelance web designers, developers or writers, where you can fund the operation of the business (building free or paid themes, plugins or widgets, applications, software, products or services related to your industry). This model of link marketing will make you land an about page co-founder link to your site. You can as well generate links from the output of these projects.
  • Invest on creating your own conference. Conferences naturally attract links, and organizing a small one locally will not take too much time from you, especially if you can find people to take over its operations.
  • Establish your own blog awards. I personally think that this online business model is a lucrative and a very linkable one, seeing as individuals and businesses are paying just to win or be nominated on any online award giving bodies. You can choose to collaborate with other companies or bloggers to make this approach go viral.
  • Cultivate bloggers. Encourage and fund your staff in setting up their own blogs to generate more contextual links.
  • Purchase websites. Buy websites that are topically relevant to yours and you can choose to use these sites to contextually link to your site’s important pages or to 301 redirect the entire site to your domain to acquire all its incoming links. It’s important to first see the link profile of any prospected site before acquiring it. You also have the option of hiring external bloggers to continuously operate and own the blog.

Buy products or services to offer testimonials

Perhaps the simplest form of indirect link buying, in which all you have to do is to purchase products or avail for services that your business can benefit from. After purchasing, try to request or ask the provider if you can send a testimonial over and be published on their site, they will usually place a link to your site.

Other options:

Paid web directory listings – There are still some that’s capable of sending quality traffic and capable of passing authority to your site such as:

Paid press release submission – Advantageous if you have a good story submitted, as these submissions can be aggregated by news websites. However, Google is already looking to devaluing links coming from paid press releases.

Paid Press Release DeadStraight from Matt Cutts on SMX West 2011 – via Linkspiel

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Image Credit: Urban Barbarian