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March 22, 2012

Lords of the Links at SESNY 2012

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Moderator:
Loren Baker, VP of Business Development, BlueGlass Interactive, Inc.
Speakers:
Dixon Jones, Marketing Director, MajesticSEO
Wil Reynolds, Founder, SEER Interactive
Marcus Tandler, CEO/Partner, Tandler.Doerje

The Lords of the Links will lead this free-form panel. Content marketing, infographics, SMM, social media amplification, SEO: a lot of what we do with off-site marketing has the goal of link building. Links are going to stick with your site and influence your site’s performance for years to come.

Loren asks how do we build links today in this climate. Dixon says the same way we built links before the Internet – relationships. Breakfast meetings, making connections. Google is trying to get back to the idea of a relationship behind a link. It’s a basic business logic that there’s a relationship behind a link. Move toward traditional “knowing each other”.

Will asks that info shared here not be tweeted because he’s going to be presenting on the topic in a few days. He recommends having coffee with people. Use followerwalk – find writers in your city. Find them and follow them, understand who they are and what they’re about. You can identify targets, people you want a link from. Create an RSS feed where if this person uses that term, you get notified. He responds to them quickly, amplifying relationships he can build.

Marcus says that it’s important to build brand links, because we’re past exact match anchor text links. It’s about sustainability. Brand signals are important to Google. You’ve probably heard about great content a lot. Have good writers and bloggers and point out that good content to sites. And broken link building is working very well for him. Look for 404s and broken links and point out that you have similar content that could be an alternative to the broken link.

Loren asks about ways to identify the right types of diverse links. Marcus says it’s a feeling. You might need more brand links in one sphere than another. You have to research the niche and know how it’s working.

Loren asks about social signals. Will says he gave away his big trick of finding marks and stalking them. He’s also looking at mismatched assets. If you use a blog on WordPress, there’s a broken link checker plugin. The beauty is you’ll get an email telling you about broken links. If you have a quality blog then you’re probably linking out to your industry’s good stuff. Then you can tell the original content source about the broken link to help you build a relationship. He’s a big fan of pulling all of someone’s followers, copy all the bios, drop them into tagcrowd, and it bolds certain words. Now you know the types of people he likes to follow.

Dixon has multiple Twitter personalities. They’re setting up prediction technology, linking personalities to platforms. If you start talking too much crap about something people are following for another reason, it’s a problem. If you want to follow a new angle for your biz, look into a new persona, not to prop the other one up but to build appropriate relationships.

Loren says a lot of the discussion is about promotions for getting content in front of influencers. Internal communication on the client side can amplify that as well. Dixon says it can be a challenge when an org gets bigger.

Will just found out about a tactic that works and she doesn’t like it. A friend on Twitter bought 2k fake Twitter followers. Her follower/follow ratio was more impressive, and it caused other people to want to follow her legitimately. Marus says that you can buy 10k Facebook fans, you can see the same effect. It’s a psychological effect that works like a charm. Dixon recommends the opposite. The most active groups you get involved in on Facebook are private groups. Empire Avenue is an online trading game where you trade on people’s social equity.

Good metrics for juding links? DomainRank and seoMoz are the best, says Dixon, but you can’t beat a hand-evaluation. Looking at bit.ly stats will help you see movement, says Will. Loren says he likes getting links from a site that’s set up rel=author correctly, because Google probably sees that as more valuable because they know who that person is. Do a search for car insurance in Bing and you’ll see, under major car companies, friends who’ve liked them. But you’ll notice they’re liking the mascots, not the companies. They like pictures and engage more with them than regular profiles.

Q: Buying blogs instead of buying links? We’ve been debating a strategy for this, acquiring a good blog and 301 redirecting to it. Potential risks/rewards of, for example, Ford buying car blogs and letting them continue to do their regular content while linking back to site in regular way vs. 301 redirecting them all to your blog.

Marcus says if you’re a user reading one of those blogs and find yourself redirected to Ford, you’ll have a terrible experience. You always need to play fair. Say, hey we’re Ford, we love this blog, but don’t worry, we’re still going to let them talk about other cars. Sneaky redirects would be an invitation to a mess.

Q continued: So is there a good amount of value to buying reputable blogs?

Marcus says finding 15 really good blogs in a niche you can buy at a reasonable price seems nearly impossible. Dixon says if it’s a good blog, it’s a good blog for a reason. 301ing will lose those reasons. You’ve bought it from someone passionate, don’t lose that. Regardless of ownership, keep the blog running with the same person as ambassador. I wouldn’t own it, but try to influence it and the people on it. He believes in having your news broken somewhere other than your own blog. That’s an independent opinion of what’s happening. Will adds that if a blog isn’t talking about you now, it would suck if you go to a blog that never talked about your car model before and then suddenly is talking about them. Don’t shoehorn your blog in. Don’t buy blogs, buy bloggers drinks.

Will is tired of SEOs not getting respect. He had a client who spent 80k a month in paid search and he’s trying to get them to spend 5k more in SEO.but they keep balking. He took their top converting PPC keywords, found a bunch that weren’t ranking in SEO. He’s trying to get them to build legitimate assets. When you show them the money they’re giving up, you find a different conversation. Top 3 keywords not using in SEO, did a site: and intitle: with the keyword and showed they had 0 results for it. Showed 100s of conversions in PPC every month. Same keyword, no SEO resources in the title. Showing them where the lack of investment was costing them.

Creating content that’s not fluffy – Will asks his client questions and records the phone call where they answer. Then he creates the content. This way it won’t be stuff people aren’t actually searching for. He can do the research of queries and include them in the content.

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