Link Building Q&A with Jon and Zach Ball
Brothers Jon and Zach Ball are power duo in SEO with a passion for tailor-made link building campaigns. The pair and their company Page One Power have teamed up with SES New York to sponsor a session that promises “No BS Link Building for E-Commerce Sites.” With the conference around the corner, I posed questions to Jon and Zach to see what sure-fire link building tactics are working for their clients. Plus, with all the buzz around Pinterest, I figured we’d see what Jon, an avid photographer, had to offer as far as link building with the Internet’s new favorite toy.
The session description says the effectiveness of old school link building strategies is declining. Which strategies are those?
Many old tried-and-true link building strategies are pretty much worthless now. Activities like article marketing on article directory sites, buying footer links, and buying into questionable blog networks with exact anchor text are examples of strategies that are no longer effective.
Basically, just avoid anything that is obvious spam. A rule of thumb I like to use is this: if it looks like spam to you, it is spam to Google. With the push of Google to personalized search results, and the rising importance of social media, the old mantra “content is king” has never been more relevant.
What type of content is finding good link building success today (generally, not for any particular industry)? There was a major infographic boom. Is it seeing a plateau or drop?
The most effective, longest lasting, and most exciting type of link building is the concept of becoming the “expert” in your industry because people will freely give links to people that are considered experts. Most e-commerce sites are unknown and have no industry authority. That makes the job of building good links to their site nearly impossible. Because of this, we often begin a new link building project with a comprehensive strategy to build their industry authority. This usually involves blogging, social media, and outreach. Once a site has some authority and a reputation as an expert the link building is much, much easier.
Infographics are difficult to get traction with because a lot of site owners/bloggers know the game and hesitate to post them. Everyone hopes that their infographic will go viral, but the fact is that very, very few go viral. Most infographics get a few links and then disappear. This is a very compelling reason to become an expert with a social media following. Infographics, or any content that you want to publish, is much easier to get published if it comes from an industry expert rather than someone who in unknown.
Building links for e-commerce is different only because they have been, and always will be, much more difficult to build links for. Pages of products don’t attract natural links. Therefore, the e-commerce site owner has to get really creative to drive links to his or her site.
How-to’s, complete guides, reviews, and other relevant informational content is always good for a link. In order to place your content on great sites, though, you need to have a record of success and some social media muscle to promote that content. Once again, this is why becoming the expert in your industry is valuable.
In creating content for link building, what do you recommend regarding targeting new social platforms? Better not to spend energy on networks that might be a flash in the pan, or is it good to get in early when competition is low?
Building a social media following is one of the most important pieces to being successful in the long run. The contacts that you make in the social space are 100 times more likely to host your content, give you blogroll links, suggest your site, and click the like button. I don’t really follow the new social platforms until they become viable (like Pinterest), at which point I will suggest that my clients build a following on it.
Speaking of the hot, new thing, any pointers for link building with Pinterest?
Pinterest is based on imaging. Therefore, in order to get “pinned” you’ll need excellent quality images. I suggest hiring a photographer to shoot your product in interesting ways. Let a creative person do their creative thing. Once again, content is king and photographic content rules all. So don’t skimp on the photography. I was a professional photographer for 12 years and I know that if an e-commerce site had called me and said that they wanted unique images of their product in action or just cool images of their product I would have been so happy to pour my heart and soul into that project. Believe me, there are thousands of photographers out there who are hungry for work, and willing to pour their best energy into your project.
Jon and Zach’s company is Page One Power.