Link Building looks at one of the most fundamental and yet challenging aspects of search marketing: Building and nurturing those all-important inbound links to your web site. Columnists offer insights and tips for effective link building and discuss controversial techniques like linkbaiting and buying links.

Creating Links That Offer The Best User Experience

links-featured We focus a lot on where we our links should go. We analyze Domain Authority and social metrics until we can spew back a site's numbers faster than our own phone number. We nit-pick sidebars, in-content and author box placements until we're blue in the face. But we don't put nearly enough time on how our links should look. Links build rank, but don't forget the real reason links were created in the first place: to drive traffic. Before algorithms, people linked to something to encourage other people to go there. That should always be your focus when building links. More often than not, th [...]


Google’s Latest Official Stance On Links Within Widgets

google-war-links-featured Just five-months ago Google's head of search spam strongly recommended to nofollow links in widgets because the widget space has been abused with link spam. That may have changed with a small but significant update to the Google Webmaster Guidelines link schemes page. Now, the page specifies the exact type of links that are not allowed within widgets, as opposed to saying any links. Previously the guideline read: Links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites. Today the guideline reads: Keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distrib [...]


14 Link Resolutions for 2014

new-years-resolutions If 2013's link building industry could be summed up in one word, that word would be "interesting." There were some big shakeups that other people have covered in various locations on the web, so I won't go into that here; but, what I will discuss is what your 14 resolutions for 2014 could be. 1. Check Out Your Backlink Profile If you've never run your own link report, do so now. There are some great tools out there -- some that use their own databases and others that pull from other sources -- and I can't think of any major ones that I don't like. You can get trial accounts, free day passes, [...]


Google’s Rap Genius Penalty Results In Huge Traffic Declines For The Lyrics Site

rapgenius-logo Before Christmas, Rap Genius was outed for link schemes and then on Christmas, Google penalized the site for those link schemes. The penalty is still on and a couple metrics sites show huge drops in traffic for the site, some as much as losing 90% of their traffic since the penalty. Marcus from Search Metrics published the impact this Google penalty had on their search visibility in Google. Marcus noted that there was a 92% drop in search visibility according to their metrics. Search Metrics tracked hundreds of keywords that were impacted by this penalty, not just their home page but [...]


How SEO Greed Can Ruin A Perfectly Good Linking Strategy

rapgenius-logo By now, you are likely aware of the Rap Genius "Tweet In Exchange For Anchor Text" link scheme, hencefore to be known as TieFating. Barry Schwartz reported last week on John Marbach's exposé of the popular music site, Rap Genius, which had started an "affiliate" program in order to get links pointing to their website. After it was exposed, Matt Cutts, head of Google's Webspam team, said, "we’re aware and looking into it." The site was then officially penalized for link schemes. [caption id="attachment_180758" align="alignright" width="300"] Links can do many things, but don't get [...]


Google Has Officially Penalized Rap Genius For Link Schemes

google-cop-busted-featured Google has penalized Rap Genius for link schemes this morning. If you go to Google and search for [rap genius], rapgenius.com will not be found on the first page. Instead you will find links to their Twitter account, Facebook page, Wikipedia profile and stories like this about them being penalized by Google. But you won't find rapgenius.com on the first page. Here is a picture: As we covered the other day, Rap Genius was using link schemes to manipulate Google's rankings. It was brought to Google's attention, where the head of search spam, Matt Cutts, said we’re aware and looking i [...]


A Look Back On One Crazy Year Of Link Building

link-building-student-chalkboard-featured If 2012 was the year of Google Algorithm updates -- Moz counted 37 big ones compared to the 15 in 2013 and 21 in 2011 -- 2013 was the year that link building suffered from a serious identity crisis. It was sidelined, stretched, swindled and spit back out again more times than your average SEO pitches a guest blog post; but somehow it survived, and it will slide into 2014 broken, beaten and a little bloody. Let's look back on everything that went down in link building in 2013. Link Building Died Some say it died; some cry blasphemy at that statement -- but whatever side of the fence you'r [...]


Google Squashes Backlinks.com, Another Link Network Outed By Google’s Matt Cutts

Matt Cutts, Google's head of search spam, announced on Twitter that Google has gone after another link network, this one is named Backlinks.com. Like with Anglo Rank, the link network Google outed the week prior, Matt Cutts took a line from their marketing material and then said "Au contraire!" This is the way Matt Cutts tells the SEO industry that Google is actively going after link networks and to stop participating in them. Here is Matt's tweet about Backlinks.com: "Our installation code/software used to publish the sold links is not detectable by the search engine bots." Au contrair [...]


How Do You Differentiate Yourself From Your Competitors?

Toms Shoes I recently acquired a new client that is a competitor of a site to which I'm personally loyal. At a neighborhood party, I overheard someone mention this new client, so I asked if he'd ever been to the other site (the one I'm so personally loyal to), and he had never heard of them. Conflicted, I started telling him why I was loyal to my non-client site, and he explained why he was loyal to my client site. I realized that they both offered a unique service that wasn't found elsewhere (as far as I can tell) and those offerings were very different from each other. They are equally awesome in th [...]


Google’s Matt Cutts: Link Spamming Google For A Specific Time Period? Then Mass Disavow Those Links.

matt-cutts-links In a recent video released by Matt Cutts, Google's head of search spam, Matt answered the question, "How can a site recover from a period of spamming links?" The example given was when Interflora was penalized by Google for buying links and only was penalized for 11 days. The question was, how can a site with a penalty get their rankings back in 11-days like Interflora? Matt didn't give a specific answer to the question, instead he said he wanted to answer it in a general sense. Matt said that you should disavow the bad links with a vengeance and disavow all the links that might be pa [...]


Google Busts Yet Another Link Network: Anglo Rank

google-cop-busted-featured Google's head of search spam, Matt Cutts, just confirmed on Twitter that Google has targeted another "private link network" - this one is named Anglo Rank. Matt's tweet was pretty direct, he wrote: "There are absolutely NO footprints linking the websites together" Oh, Anglo Rank. That is a quote directly from Anglo Rank's marketing material, and a dig from Cutts suggesting that indeed, Google was able to spot sites in the network. In response, Search Engine Land's editor-in-chief Matt McGee suggested on Twitter that those in the network were likely to find that it was "torched." Cutts [...]


Yandex To Stop Counting Links As A Ranking Factor For Commercial Queries In Moscow

inside-yandex-featured Leading Russian search engine Yandex is to cease attributing any ranking factor value to links for commercial queries in its Moscow regional results, it announced yesterday to an audience in Moscow thus opening the door to a world after links. Alexander Sadovsky, who is the Head of Web Search at Yandex, announced the change at the Internet Business Conference in Moscow. Speaking to Alexander this morning he explained that this change applies only to commercial queries representing some 10% of the queries Yandex sees. “There is a lot of noise around the links signal particularly for commer [...]


Linksgiving: 10 Link Building Things To Be Thankful For This Year

links-featured With Thanksgiving just two days away, I thought it was only fitting to discuss what I think we should all be thankful for this year when it comes to link building. After all, with the surge of updates, algorithm shifts, and keyword reporting changes that have happened in the past year, it's easy to get caught up in being angry with Google. However, as search evolves and link building becomes more and more about content, relationships, and authority… we, too, must evolve. On that note, here are ten things to be thankful for this Linksgiving: 1. Penguin Updates While Penguin rolled [...]


Should Subject Experience Optimization Be The New Definition Of SEO?

The New SEO I recently put forward the concept that we should rename SEO to "Subject Experience Optimization," and I want to explain why I think all marketers should be on board with this. Google has made a lot of updates to their webmaster guidelines recently, and the common thread in most of these updates is to say that webmasters should focus on creating content that people can use and share. Crafting websites with the goal of being usable and shareable can ensure that you create the best possible content while developing a site that will stay within Google's guidelines. [caption id="attachment_ [...]


If Link Building Really Is Dead, What Do We Do Now?

broken-links-featured "He's dead, Jim." [caption id="attachment_176795" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Say it isn't so, Bones McCoy! Say it isn't so![/caption] It's been shouted from the rooftops, from here to Moz and every blog in between, but I guess it isn't official until the doctor says so: Link building is dead. Depending on how much you agree with that statement, you're somewhere in the five stages of grief with the impending death of link building. They look something like this: Denial: "No. Those 15,000 one-way, exact-match anchor text links weren't the cause of my ranking drop. Impossible. [...]


Google’s Matt Cutts: When Commenting On Blog Posts, Try To Use Your Real Name

Matt Cutts Video Screen capture In a recent video published by Google's head of search spam, Matt Cutts talks about are blog comments with links spam? In short, most of the time, commenting and leaving links to your site or resources is not directly spam but like anything, it can be abused. Matt offers some tips on how to make sure your comments are not considered spam by Google or the site you are leaving it on: (1) Use your real name when commenting. When you use a company name or anchor text you want to rank for, it makes it look like you are leaving the comment for commercial marketing purposes and thus may look [...]


Link Building At The Speed Of Natural

shutterstock-2179251 "Natural link building" has long been a sore spot (some would call it an oxymoron) among many in the online marketing community. The general argument goes something like this: "Any link that comes about because you pursued it cannot be considered natural." or "The very act of seeking links makes any link you obtain unnatural." or "A link is supposed to be validation that your content is of some value." The above arguments are all flawed, and I'll include several examples to illustrate why later in this column. The "natural/not natural" argument is the link builders' vers [...]


Down With Toolbar PageRank And Up With… What?

google-toolbar-pagerank I've never been a big fan of Google's Toolbar PageRank (TBPR) because, as you may know, it's a metric that isn't updated very often. It's also been thrown around too much as a metric that gauges quality -- and I've been doing this long enough to know that many lower-TBPR sites/pages (and new sites with no TBPR) can be incredibly beneficial for sending you traffic that converts. Relying on TBPR to determine suitable link partners eliminates loads of good stuff. Let's say that there's a great new post that's unranked, and it would be a perfect fit for your site, but since it has no TBPR yet, [...]


Creative Link Building Ideas For Really Boring Websites

link-building-student-chalkboard-featured Let's face it: you might have a business or product that is simply not sexy, and it will always be difficult to "build links." In fact, it might be downright impossible, or just cost prohibitive. For many sites, it's hard to build links from clients and prospects. And there may be few or no industry blogs to speak of. So, where does one get links? Can every site, regardless of niche or industry, find quality link building opportunities? I'm sure there are some that are truly stuck, but I have seen pretty unexciting sites do some really exciting things that earned links and drove the right tr [...]


Using Analytics To Enhance Your Link Building Strategy

Reinvigorate analytics screenshot Like everyone else, I'm not psyched that Google took away my organic keyword data. It's pretty uncool and, as a marketer, it makes my life a bit harder. However, analytics is much more than keywords; and, there's a lot of great information in there that can help drive better marketing decisions. That same data can also enhance any link building strategy. You just have to look in the right places. Referral Traffic Referral traffic is obviously important in understanding how your current link building campaigns are working, but it can also be used to identify new link opportunities. After [...]


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