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Ask The Link Builders

SMX 2010 Session – Linkbuilding Q&A

Que: Is Article marketing a waste of time?
Ans: Articles can be a good source of links as well as leads. More than syndication the consensus was to socialize the content by twitter, Digg, del.ico.us etc. Tip to search for blogs to post / submit your article – Search using keywords like "guest post", "submit your article". On delcicous.com tag article and sort by tags or popularity.

Que: How do you justify the budget for link initiatives when you cannot track benefits?
Ans: We can track visits from links established via Analytics. Also, can #tag or use javascripts (Google started to index some #). Other tracking options – webmaster tools, Yahoo Site link explorer, for blogs.google.com can use link: tool to find links.

Que: URL Shorteners & branded short urls – can any benefits be passed on from these?
Ans: SEO benefits of using url shortners is no different than using full urls. Recommended services for url shorteners was bit.ly (they have investors & also same investors as twitter so they are here to stay awhile even though their domain is based out of Libya; fact that they have exclusives for twitter.com makes them the best). In contrast ow.ly is a definite no-no. Danny suggested acquiring branded url shortened versions with services so nobody else can grab them or shorten your urls maliciously. So get customs names for your website / brand.

Que: Twitter links are "no follow" – so any point of twitter links?
Ans: Twitter no follows urls might not have much SEO effect but it is an excellent medium to distribute your blog/article/url to a wide audience who may then link back to you. Also, you can put a twitter widget on your website and pass twitter juices outside twitter. Think of twitter as akin to your email service – a distribution channel, which gets you wider audience.

Que: How does Google weigh internal links versus external links?
Ans: Even a poor quality external link from a low PR page is worth more than an internal link. But it is good practice to have keyword rich anchor text links on your page. The most important thing is to ensure that if you have dead-ends on your website like word documents or pdfs then definitely link back from such pages to home.

Que: What are the key qualities to look for in a great linkbuilder?
Ans: Experience, social (bloggers who are respected in their space & drive traffic) and the discretion /transparency -Linkbuilders should also be strategic & technical to an extent so they know where to gain critical citations, how to embed codes & widgets, diversify anchor text etc.

Que: As Wikipedia links are no follow, are they of any SEO value?
Ans: Not as SEO value lender in terms of link juices but immense value for researchers and can generate back links to your website outside of Wikipedia. It brings direct traffic to your website and then this traffic may link back. It is true that no follow links are no SEO value as far as Google is concerned. Even though Google shows some no follow links in backlink analysis it does not mean they help ranking. Also please note : even PR 1 & 2 links also lend some little value for SEO.

Quick tip from Danny on Linkbuilding sources: search for a keyword in Google & the top results in SERPs are the best sources to link from.

Que: Is it a good practice to be on websites who link to your competitors?
Ans: To be at par with your competitors you need to be linking back from the websites they are on (but ensure these are relevant to your site / vertical). A good tactic is also to go and look for parallel links which is from sites not directly inking to your competitor or who do not link to your competitors to stay one step ahead.

Que: Linksculpting – does it work?
Ans: To hide outgoing links using no follows, iframes, javascripts – according to Google all these linksculpting practices are useless & they will find your outgoing links.

Que: Is using Digg to build links beneficial & if yes how does one get to first page of dig?
Ans: This one generated difference of opinions amongst the panelists – most concurred it does not pay to get irrelevant links off digg just because you have a trending topic which is not related to your space. But Fishkin felt if you host link baiting content on your site (in subdomain or subfolder) pertaining to topics which diggers link to then it will lift the overall website in terms of link juices. To get to front pages of digg- identify players who are big on digg in your space, establish a rapport, release content with their suggestions/approval and then they link back to it & this helps generate more links on dig.

Quick tip: Matt Cutts endorsed linkbaiting (unofficially)

Que: Paid Link Services – risk versus gains?
Ans: This is a grey area. Google does not like and penalizes link sellers as well as link buyers. You can decide the gains outweigh the risks and go with this but you may come under the scrutiny of Google (not immediately or in a year or so) and in fact Google’sScrutiny is rumored to become more and more stringent in the very near future.

Que: What are the best link building strategies that have worked for you?
Ans: The panelists each had a personal favorite on how to get the best links:

  • Rand Fishkin – Content syndication – write great content, license it out and then get links back as website who use this content will need to embed content & give due credit so it’s a good source of valid links, opt in & is also a scalable model.
  • Roger Montti – some high value sites actually ask for your suggestions on recources eg. Local .edu, newspapers etc.
  • Garrett French – doing group interviews of industry experts or thought leaders or bloggers with huge following – the interviewee always links back to published interview & this also leads to their followers linking back to your article
  • Mike Gullaksen – likes creating a tool or widget which fulfills a community need eg a calculator for a mortgage website and this gets backlinks naturally.

Conclusion: The basic take home message was manual linkbuilding to relevant websites is still king. There exists a grey area between white & black hat SEO practices when it comes to Link building. To find that balance between risk & gain while paying for links is key. Socializing to gain links is the newest way to go. Linkbuilding technology is ever evolving and companies need to adapt to this but old school still rules – good quality relevant links from trusted sites are the best.

Moderator: Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land
Speakers:
Rand Fishkin, CEO & Co-Founder, SEOmoz (substituting for Rae Hoffman, Owner, Sugarrae Internet Consulting)
Roger Montti, Founder & Owner, MartiniBuster.com
Garrett French, Co-Founder, Ontolo
Mike Gullaksen, Vice President of Search Strategies, Covario

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Contributed by: Aditi Karandikar, Milestone Internet Marketing

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