3 Common Link Building Questions Answered By 4 Experts

I’m a forum rat, I visit several on a daily basis as a way to keep up with what’s going on. If there’s an update, cool new tool or SEO controversy brewing, chances are I’ll read about it on one of the forums before anywhere else.

Conversely, if I have a question or want to bounce a theory off someone, I’ll head to one of the forums and ask. They’re a tremendous informational resource and social outlet for people passionate about SEO.

Once you spend time on the different forums, you’ll  notice topic trends and similar questions pop up regularly. I thought it might be fun to pull three of the more commonly asked link building questions from two popular SEO forums and ask each of the Link Week columnists to weigh in with an answer.

Question One

From Webmaster World:  How Would You Spend $100 On Promoting A Blog?

Julie Joyce:

  • Set up a Twitter account for the author to use to connect with like-minded people and promote each post. Since we’re talking about a personal blog, I would not recommend creating a separate Twitter account if the author already uses Twitter. Free
  • Use Crowdbooster for Twitter analytics in order to track what you tweet. Free
  • Use Followerwonk to find new people to talk to who share your interests. Free
  • Add socialization buttons to each post to make it easy for people to promote your posts for you. Free
  • Spend $50 on an Amazon gift card. Create a contest wherein the entry is composed of bloggers writing a post critiquing one of your posts, offering feedback and an alternative point of view, including a link back to your post. This helps establish deep linking. Ask for Twitter retweets. $50
  • Offer $50 for a charity donation of the winner’s choice for blog posts written that discuss the charity and why he or she wants the donation to go there, naturally with a link to the blog. Ask for Twitter retweets. $50
  • Submit blog to any free directory you can find. Free
  • Comment on other blogs when it’s relevant, and don’t be afraid to alert bloggers to posts that are similar to ones they’ve written. Free
  • Set up Google alerts for your name, your blog name/URL, and relevant topics. If anything bad happens, handle it ASAP. If someone compliments you or mentions you, thank them. If you see someone mentioning your blog without linking to it, ask for a link to be added.  Free

Eric Ward

If the blog is brand new about a local political issue and written by a citizen journalist, I’m going to spend that $100 differently than if the blog is written by Oprah Winfrey. Is the blog part of a larger site or a standalone? Is it in a competitive vertical, like diet and weight loss, or about building your own blimp out of duct tape?

Kidding aside, these are important things to consider whether spending $100 or $100,000. You spend it where it will help you accomplish what you wanted it to.

Ross Hudgens:

This money should be spent paying a WordPress developer to set up strong marketing calls-to-action at the end of each blog posts. I believe every post should have 5 current marketing calls to action (CTA); any more. and you’re just being excessive and any less and you’re missing out on potential ROI.

Those 5 CTAs should be a call for a RSS subscription, a Tweet-This-Post CTA, a Facebook Like button, a Stumbleupon button, and a “Follow Me” request. These are the five current marketing channels that provide the most impact.

Instead of “promoting” anything, it’s better to set up these “Static Marketing” type implementations to maximize return of every piece of content you push out from now until forever. Any other money spent will only create a “once-off” type boost, while your goal should always be sustainability. Most aren’t capable of doing this in an aesthetic manner (or at all) themselves, so it’s best to have a WordPress developer do it or at least take care of those pieces you can’t figure out yourself.

Debra Mastaler:

I’d use the money to develop an e-book using my past posts as content. I’d spend some of the money to create a killer book cover, some to create a pitch letter to targeted media and the balance on paying someone to blast a launch email to my customers, media and influential bloggers.

The e-book would be placed on my site with an Attribution-NoDerivs license, social media buttons and a “link to this” call to action. I’d also add a link to the e-book in my forum profiles and to the author bio of any article I’ve written in the past and dropped into directories or content aggregators.

Question Two

From HighRankings Forum: If I Get 4000 New Inbound Links, What Will This Do To Us?

Eric Ward, @ericward:

If a site launches in response to a disaster, like GulfOilSpill.org, then 4,000 links is to be expected and is totally natural. But if you have a two year old bingo site with 121 links and you suddenly add 4000 new links in a very short period of time, chances are your bingo site will go bye-bye. It’s not likely to have been natural.

The common thread to these questions is in recognizing that every site requires a unique linking strategy or blueprint, and the more identical those linking blueprints are, the less helpful they will be. Every linking strategy blueprint I create for a client is unique, and is based on the site’s features, intent, and objectives. While 4000 new links could take one site to #1, it might take another site right to the penalty box.

Ross Hudgens,  @rosshudgens:

I see this as totally fine. It’s likely that very few of these even have any links pointing to them and if so, they’re probably from pure sources. As long as the anchor text is the domain name, I doubt this will have much impact on that website’s rankings in either direction.

Julie Joyce, @JulieJoyce:

After reading the original context of the question, I would say that nothing bad would happen because the links should be recognized as sitewide links that are completely relevant. However, I always worry about link spikes and link growth charts, and this would cause a spike, albeit one that could be explained, but spikes worry me.

If this was a situation where someone was asking whether getting 4000 unique links all at one time would hurt them, I’d say that it would be a red flag to me unless they had the potential to keep it going on a regular basis, and who the heck can do that? However, I’d still say that no, it won’t hurt you most likely.

Debra Mastaler, @debramastaler:

I think you should be more concerned with where the links are coming from and what they say than the quantity. If you suddenly have 4000 links pointing to your website from a handful of sites and all use the same anchors? That screams manipulation to a bot or human reviewer. But if 4000 links are coming from a wide range of sites, even if they say the same or close to the same thing, that’s viral promotion.

I’ve had old blog posts suddenly attract a lot of links after a well known media site references it. I didn’t do any promotion, add content or ask for a link, a well known site simply pointed to the post and others followed suit.

Best case scenario? Launch your campaigns slowly, over time and use a number of keyword anchors in your links. Your pages are optimized for more than one phrase, use all of them!

Question Three

From Webmaster World:  What Is News Worthy Content?

Ross Hudgens:

Newsworthy content is anything your target market would immediately copy and paste to share with their friends in that same market. News companies think like this in general – “What can we talk about appeals to the widest market?”.

The answer to that question is the #1 news story for that day, whether or not they’re actually right. Your SEO strategy as it comes to creating newsworthy content should follow this same thought process.

Julie Joyce:

Newsworthy content is a few things to me:

1. Something I previously knew nothing or very little about. 2. Something that is completely opposite of what I currently think. 3. Something that tells me how to address an issue. 4. Something that makes me feel like I understand what is going on whether in my industry or the world itself. 5. Something that enlightens me.

Eric Ward:

It depends on the reader’s interests. If you are writing about the effect of lawnmower noise on the nesting habits of the Tufted Tit Mouse (it’s a bird), then that may not be news to me, but it’s news to folks in the aviary community. A Britney Spears wardrobe malfunction? Who cares, right? Well, her few million Twitter followers care, even if you don’t.

Newsworthiness is in the eyes of the person consuming the news. Then again, one could argue that newsworthy content is whatever the Google News index crawls.

Debra Mastaler:

I think newsworthy content is anything that motives people to read or listen. You don’t need to be a large business to garner media or client attention, you just need to be smart about what you’re broadcasting and when.

The “when” factor is an issue a lot of people overlook, trying to compete for news during the middle of the week or when there’s a major international crisis going on might not be the best use of resources. Take note of when there’s slow news cycles and target your press releases or content launches for these periods.

TIP:  Keep in mind the media loves facts and figures they can quote. Consider issuing press releases to announce  survey results, white papers, year-end reports and that  new e-book you’re writing.

And there you have it, four linkers answering three questions. I think it’s fascinating to see how each of us responds, we’re all active link builders and yet we each approach our craft a little differently.

That “difference” and sharing of quality information is why I love the forums, knowledge is power. Find a forum you’re comfortable with and get involved, you’ll benefit by doing so.

Until next time, good linking!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Week Column


About The Author: of LinkSpiel.com and Alliance-Link is based in Fairfax Station Virginia and offers link marketing consultations and content partner services.

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  • http://www.directresponse.net Dave

    These are great questions. I really like Julie Joyce’s answer to how to spend the $100 questions.

    There really are so many free tools out there that throwing money at something isn’t always the answer. You may just have to throw some TIME at it.

    Using the money as incentives for people to read your blogs is a great concept.

  • Alexpte

    Interesting post, although I can’t say I agree with all the answers!

    Out of interest which forums do you visit on a daily basis?

  • http://www.linkspiel.com debra mastaler


    I moderate the linking area on SEOBook’s forum so I hang there quite a bit obviously (paid membership forum) and also frequent Webmaster World and Search Engine Watch on a daily basis. But I monitor the:

    HighRankings Forum
    Cre8aSite Forum
    Digital Point
    V7n forum
    Blackhat World
    Warrior forum
    Wicked Fire forum

    several times a week and never walk away without learning something.

  • http://crowdbooster.com David Tran

    Thanks for the Crowdbooster mention Julie! $100 can go a long way towards promoting your blog, esp. with the increasing number of great free and freemium tools out there =) The answers to the huge spike of inbound link question were also really interesting. I hope search engines are sophisticated enough to prevent a spam farm from hurting a site’s ranking with lots of inbound links (if you wanted to blackhat hurt your competitor’s rankings).

    Co-Founder, Crowdbooster

  • http://www.searchworxx.com Marcus C

    Why are we still talking about link penalties?

    If these penalties were real then there would be a whole new business model out there of anti-seo paid to link-spike your competitors.

    If 4000 new links appear to your site when previously you had none, I would expect they will have very little positive impact on your rankings after an initial upward bounce. They certainly would have no negative impact because without a manual investigation a search engine can’t know if you manipulated them or not.

  • http://www.satinwebsolutions.com KristinSinghasemanon

    Great post, Debra. The variety of responses just goes to show there are no black and white answers when it comes to SEO. I really appreciate you sharing your list of forums to follow as well!

  • http://www.linkspiel.com debra mastaler

    @Marcus After re-reading all four of our comments on the new link issue it sounds like we agree with you, we don’t think a site would be “penalized” for a wave of new links. Like you said, it may dip some but not be removed from the index which is what a true penalty is.

  • http://www.linkspiel.com debra mastaler

    Thanks Kristin. If you search on the term “seo forums” you’ll find more than what I listed. :)


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