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June 3, 2008

Blow Your Mind: Link Building Techniques

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We’re jamming to Avril Lavigne in the Organic Track room and the man, the myth, walks in. Matt Cutts strolls in with a Red Bull and big smile. It looks like he really enjoys these gatherings. We’ll be seeing more of him later at the You&A tonight. Until then, how about some mind blowing link building techniques?

Greg Boser is moderating this one. The speakers are Jay Young, Owner of Link Fish Media; Stephan Spencer, President and Founder of Netconcepts; Roger Montti, Founder of Martinibuster.com; and stepping in for the absent Rae Hoffman, Todd Friesen, aka Oilman and VP of Search Strategies for Range Online Media.

Greg is welcoming everyone and says it’s good to see some familiar spammers in the audience.

Roger Montti‘s up for the first presentation. His presentation will focus on .edu link hunting. He says .edus are always white hat because you can never have too many. The two main link building initiatives are finding industry heavyweight backlinks and charitable opportunities. To find the big guys, do a Goole search on Adwords to find who’s bidding.

.Edu links are not special, Roger says. They aren’t better than others and he’d rather buy a high ranking quality link than get a handful of .edus. However, the benefits of .edus is that they are usually in good neighborhoods and they are free. Disadvantages are that they may not be authoritative and the page may be a total link fest.

To find possible industry heavyweight backlinks, check the backlinks of the largest, most important companies in your sector. Try the commands linkdomain:example.com site:.edu”bookmarks” and linkdomain:example.com site:edu “links”. In these results, look at the context, see where your link would fit, and contact the author. Look out for outdated pages.

The commands linkdomain:example.com site:.edu “favorite sites” and linkdomain:example.com site:.edu “your product or services” will also get you a list of some situations where you might want to be included.

For example, if you’re looking for charitable opportunities, type the following into the search bar: linkdomain:example.com site:.edu sponsors. If you give a few hundred dollars to the organization you could be represented on the page with your logo and a link.

Jay Young is introduced as the award winner for the coolest shirt. It’s magenta and purple and lime green. Jay says his shirt is going to be louder than he is. He says that everyone’s aware of the moral controversy that is link building, but putting that aside, he’s going to let us know what works.

His first mind blowing tip: grow some balls. You’ll need them. Profound, Jay. When you’re looking to buy links, he says directories are always the place to start. Despite the big hits taken by some directories recently, he says that there are still a number of strong, trusted directories: Best of the Web, Yahoo, Dmoz, Joe Ant, Blog Catalogue.

He also looks for links from non-profit sponsorships. Like Roger said, they are arguably editorial, tax deductible, normally in good neighborhoods, and help a good cause. “SEOcialists” are another place to look, like Digg, Reditt and Stumble. If you get a good Digg campaign going, you can create thousands of organic links.

As another method, Jay says that brokers have had some stigma attached to them, but that using big name text link brokers works. Blog advertisers, smaller brokers, specialty brokers and amateur brokers can all get you links. He knows that some SEOs are skeptical and Jay says his main goal is enacting attitudinal change in the industry.

The next slide says this: “Link Bait. Call Rand.” No joke. He says the recent story of the guy who’s made up news story that got picked up by major news outlets was brilliant. He says that when you became a marketer you gave up morals. Ha. [Heh but ew too. –Susan]

He says buying links is essential to the success of a competitive campaign. Be as relevant and natural as possible (but don’t kill yourself over it). Vary your anchor text and use co-citation. Co-citation is a technique that he’s most recently adopted.

Now Jay’s moving on to “darker methods (that still work)”. Comment spam, trackback spam, reciprocal links, three ways, and link farms. He’s getting a lot of laughs. Disclaimer: Bruce Clay, Inc. in no way endorses this presentation. I’ve censored the details for your own good.

Next are good techniques that are out of the box. Widgets, template sponsorship (find the most popular WordPress templates, contact the creator, and pay him to put your link on the bottom of the template), contests (give away an iPhone!).

Jay’s got some bonus tips for us. Hire bartenders. They’re hard workers, technically inclined, and can make you a drink… Avoid buying links from forums. Avoid any site with hidden links by scanning the source code. Use moderation and common sense. If the competition is too clean, mess it up a little by pointing dirty links to them. Uh oh.

Last slide: “Stop being afraid of this guy” with a big photo of Matt Cutts. Ya, that first bit of advice he gave us is not in short supply with this guy.

Stephan Spencer‘s up now. He’s a big follower of PageRank and doesn’t really buy that it’s fairy dust. He recommends building a link building spider. He’s talking fast and flipping back and forth between slides.

He recommends looking for sites that are one-click away from Google as well as sites with very high PageRank. Don’t forget to link build your existing links, as well. Mine your existing backlinks for opportunities to revise the anchor text. There are some good tools for locating backlinks, and then you can start building that relationship.

Comment on blogs that allow follow of comment links, like Blogmaveric.com. Submit to blog carnivals, host one or start a new one. (That sounds fun!) Contribute to a group blog or be a guest blogger. Unlike the last speaker, this guy’s eager to get cozy with Matt, saying that the next tip is not his own and could be considered gray. Look for bloggers desperate for cash, and buy a link on their site.

Along with networking online with bloggers, register and attend conferences so you can network in person, too. Contribute to conference wikis of conferences you’ve attended. Give free talks at libraries and campuses or get involved with local meetups and get a profile page on that site. Invite the W3C to speak at your event and get a link from them to your event.

Contribute to Wikipedia and other wikis. Contributing top or creating a prominent entry will give you credibility. You can also create your own wiki. Viral videos are another good way to build links. Maybe try quizzes, personality tests, and again, widgets. Write a WordPress plugin. Write a Firefox extension. Release software as Open Source. Many, many suggestions — so what are you waiting for?!

Stephan’s detailed and info-packed Powerpoint can be downloaded from www.netconcepts.com/learn/blow-your-mind.ppt.

In the Q&A Todd says that a major thing to remember about getting links is that you don’t want to stand out in your market/vertical. You just want to be a little bit better. So if your competition is very aggressive in getting links, you should be too.

Phew! Not bad for my first time, eh? [Nicely done, V. –Susan]

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One response to “Blow Your Mind: Link Building Techniques”

  1. SEO Services writes:

    I agree with that in order to be successful in link building you have to be more aggressive than all of your competitors.



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