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

Will Link Building Soon Be A Thing Of The Past?

broken-links-featured The other day while working on a client proposal, I came to the section about link building and had to pause. While everything we include in a proposal is relevant, strategic, and in my opinion, a good tactic, I wasn't sure I wanted to position it as link building. As someone who has been building links for almost nine years, lately I've felt as if "link" building itself is becoming a thing of the past. It seems like every day there's a new link that isn't allowed by Google or another "link building is dead" article making the rounds. Someone I consider a very good SEO recently told me they [...]


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 [...]


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, [...]


Preparing For The Link Apocalypse That May Or May Not Be Coming

apocalypse-people-dying-pain-featured Something big is happening to link building. Hummingbird might have been the writing on the wall signaling more changes to come; but, we still have no idea what those changes will actually look like. Will links be less important in 2014? Is it possible that they could go away? Should I start link building, stop link building or just focus on social? Debates about the death of link building will rage on; but, how does one prepare for the unknown? Above & Beyond PageRank -- Intrinsic Link Value Before Google came along, links were still valuable (good links, that is), and there's no re [...]


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 [...]


Link Building 2013: Looking Back At This Year’s Top Link Week Columns

sel-2013-review-featured With each passing year, search engine algorithms grow increasingly sophisticated in their ability to identify (and penalize) spammy links. Among other things, this year marked the fourth and fifth releases of Google's spam-filtering Penguin update (Penguin 2.0 and 2.1, respectively). Additionally, many link building tactics that were once considered legitimate were unceremoniously moved to the "spam" column in 2013. Google updated its webmaster guidelines to provide additional guidance on what they now consider to be an unnatural link, and even Bing detailed several ways not to buil [...]


The 7 Types Of People Who Want To Help You Build Links

Full Infographic at SocialBarrel With so much of link building focused on creating actual relationships these days, the idea that you can build high-quality links without people seems preposterous. Yes, I know there are still things like directories and post submissions but, come on…  a real person has to approve those, right? Building relationships can be tough, but trust me when I tell you -- there are actually people out there who want to help you. Even better…you might already know them! You just have to know where to look: 1. The Person Talking About You One of the most basic link building tactics is identifyin [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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 [...]


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. [...]


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 [...]


5 Ways To Make Your Client Kickoff Meeting A Success

Fact: I am not a designer. When we moved to agile marketing for our internal process, it changed the way we think. Instead of finding any resources that were available, we had dedicated teams that worked on a smaller number of clients. Instead of working against a 12-month marketing plan, we worked in 30-day Sprints to reach smaller, more attainable goals faster. But most importantly, it changed the way we kicked off. A client kickoff meeting is one of the most important aspects of your online marketing campaign. You set the tone and standards, learn about the client, and start formulating your strategy. Then, you [...]


Why The YouTube Keyword Tool Is So Amazing For Link Building

youtube-keywords-featured Debra Mastaler mentioned the YouTube keyword tool again recently, and I don't think I've been this excited about keywords in, well… ever. I confess to only now realizing how much of a help it can be. Never mind the awesome fact that you can get keywords and easily import them into Google AdWords for your PPC campaigns. What's really fantastic for me is that you can generate the truly random and crazy search terms that help you find those hidden gems on the Internet -- the sites that might not yet be inundated with link requests or spammed up with paid links. You can find a void and fill i [...]


Did Hummingbird Eat Link Building?

Did Hummingbird Eat Link Building? [caption id="attachment_173839" align="alignright" width="300"] Did Hummingbird Eat Link Building?[/caption] Panda squashed bad content. Penguin froze low-quality links. And now, did Hummingbird eat link building? Hummingbird wasn't just another algorithm update. It was more a re-tooling, behind-the-scenes adjustment to make Google faster and smarter. And it most likely opens the door for a lot more change to come. Let's take a look at what Hummingbird means for the future of link building. What Is Hummingbird To Online Marketers? It's a new engine, not a new paint job. It was in ef [...]


How Will Google Hummingbird Impact Links? Here Are 6 Ways

google-hummingbird2-featured So you have a question you would like answered, and that question is: "How Will Google Hummingbird Impact Links?" It's still way too early in Hummingbird season to fully understand the impact of the new algorithm, but I've spotted a few clues, and the title of this column is a direct result of those clues. I wrote the title of this column in the form of a question, and I'll write the body of the piece in the form of an answer. And my guess is in about 48 hours, if you type the above question into Google's search box, or speak it into your headset via Google voice search, this very column' [...]


Are You Setting The Right Link Building Expectations?

Link Building Expectations In the world of search and online marketing, we talk a lot about the evolving landscape, particularly when it comes to link building. Tactics that work one day can stop working with the switch of a Google button. Tactics that you think are legit can suddenly be deemed a "link scheme." On top of that, there's so much misinformation out there that the thought of just explaining link building can be daunting. Now factor in your clients.  How much do they know about link building? How much do you tell them? Do they have a full understanding of what's actually required to obtai [...]


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