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.

Five Linking Myths That Need To Go Away In 2013

unicorn-myths-featured Goodbye 2012, hello 2013. For my last column of the year, I'm selecting five link building myths that I hope go away completely in 2013, and giving my rationale as to why they should be gone. The only reason I'm picking five is because it's the day after Christmas, and if I had written about all 500 myths I wish would vanish, you would not be reading this. Five seems like a digestible number in a post-holiday haze, so grab an Eggnog and let's get to them. 1.  Infographics Are Awesome For Link Building Completely true and completely false, because they completely ignore the larger point. [...]

Will 2013 Bring A Paid Link Resurgence?

With Google rolling out frequent changes, the last couple of years have been alternately amazingly fun and freakishly terrifying for anyone who builds links or has links built. It should be clear by now that your site can be harmed by poor quality links, whether you bought them or got them for free, or heck, didn't even intentionally get them. I previously stated (in several places) that I thought negative SEO was more of a scare tactic than a reality but I've since changed my mind after witnessing it firsthand a few times. As much as some people like to think that links aren't as import [...]

The Competitive Linking Analysis Trap

Several years ago, the search engines began to slowly turn off the fire-hose of linking data they freely gave anyone familiar with the link: operator. That operator became just about useless as a method for detecting competitor links, potential link targets or competitive intelligence, etc. I have a vivid memory of speaking at one of Danny's conferences ages ago and telling the audience that the search engines had no mandate to freely give us marketers whatever linking data we wanted. That the link: operator was not a birthright, and that someday it would all go away. And, away it has gone (f [...]

How To Build The Best Relationships, Err…I Mean Links

What is it about SEO that makes people stop acting like people? Sure, it has your fair share of data mining in dark corners, but the SEO industry is brimming with personality, sometimes too much of it. So why is it that when it comes to link building, that personality is left to the wayside? The best links come from the best relationships, and the best relationships take the most effort to create, foster and maintain. The Future of Online Marketing - Newport August 2112 from Eric Enge If you want to get success and sustain it, stop thinking about building links and start thinking ab [...]

Link Building Scam Alert: When Links Are Held Hostage

On November 1st I reached the 19 year mark as a content publicist/link builder. Nineteen years. I won't bore you with how we went after links back then by rubbing two sticks together and sending up smoke signals. Smoke signal spam was not a big problem yet. I poke fun at myself but at the same time there are a few things that longevity is quite good for. First, I have seen just about every linking scheme ever created, whether by clients eager to get my opinion of them, by seeing them in a backlink analyses, or by being the recipient of a spam email trying to sell them to me. Other advant [...]

Link Building Tool Review: Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a suite of tools that contains "the largest index of live links." There is a free version and a premium version, an API, and an affiliate program. They have their own index, putting them into the same arena as SEO Moz and Majestic, and they post some useful stuff on their internal blog digest. Pricing starts at $79 a month and goes as high as $499 a month for more advanced plans. All plans offer a nice discount if you pay for a year upfront. Now that the basics are out of the way I have to say that I absolutely love the Ahrefs tool. It's fast and the graphical representations a [...]

6 Things To Think About Before Disavowing Links

Earlier this month, Christmas came early for many in the SEO industry. Google launched its wildly anticipated disavow links tool bringing with it a way for you to remove some of those shady things you your former SEO company have done. The biggest problem with disavowing your links is that at first glance, it looks like the easy way out. Instead of taking the effort to remove your unnatural inbound links by hand, there will be people who assume this tool will do it for them. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Matt Cutts warned about using the disavow links tool with caution, and if [...]

Link Building Tool Review:

There's a new player on the links tool market - Using Majestic SEO's data, they allow you to view link data of up to ten competitors at once, let you track keyword rankings over time, set up automatic alerts, and provide you with historic data that goes back to 2007. They also offer a link building submission service which is not a part of this review. They offer a guided setup and have several tutorials on how to best use the system, and they have a blog. Pricing has a few levels for pricing (and they offer a free 30 day trial) ranging from a basic $99/month plan (tha [...]

What 65 Google Changes May Mean For Your Link Strategies

About a week ago, Barry Schwartz put together an awesome piece detailing the many search algorithm and quality changes (65 in total), Google made during the months of August and September. If you haven't read it, have a look: Google’s August & September Updates: Panda, Knowledge Graph, Page Quality & SafeSearch. [caption id="attachment_135678" align="aligncenter" width="343"] Google did what? OK, so now what do I do?[/caption] When Google announces changes, especially this many so close together, my hunch is the first thing some SEOs do (after eating a bottle of TUMs) is try [...]

How To Get Links When Your Goal Isn’t To Get Links

Do really need me to tell you that link building has changed? I said it back in April; Danny Sullivan ranted about it in July; heck, Rand was even clamoring for it 2009. Link building is, and will continue to become, a vastly different industry, but I can’t imagine SEO where links don’t matter. I always see them as being one of the most important factors in search engine rankings. You just need to learn to change your end goal from "I want this link" to "I want to help people." Here are some ways to do it. Pay It Forward Whatever happened to doing good, old-fashioned favors for people [...]

How To Conduct A Link Audit

In the comments section of my last column, someone asked me about link audits, and after looking around to see if I could find a good resource to point her to, I didn't find anything that was exactly what I was looking for. I found loads of great pieces on SEO audits but not that much specific to links. (Maybe that particular SERP was affected by the latest Google update.) One reason that I've not written much about link audits is that it's a process that's very fluid for me. I love trying out new tools and there are always algorithm updates that favor something more than something else. [...]

Must-Have Browser Tools For Link Builders

Of all the tasks associated with content advocacy (I have never actually liked the term link building, and my business card has never included those words, plus doesn't 'content advocacy' just sound better than link building?), there are a few tasks that are a genuine PITA. There have been many tools created to help manage the processes of link building content advocacy. Most of the tools are designed to help analyze backlinks, help pre-define link prospecting query strings,  provide some sort of page scoring, or identify a contact address. Some tools are costly, some are free. There have [...]

How To Remove Your Unnatural Inbound Links

broken-links-featured Recently, Google went a little crazy — it’s cool; they came back — which subsequently caused anyone who owns a website to go a little nuts, too. Google has sent out oodles of the above messages over the past couple of months, and it has caused a lot of people to question if and how they should remove links in the first place. I’m a strong believer in focusing on building good links rather than dwelling on the past, but sometimes, the past is so egregious that trying to remove your bad links is the only course of action. Here’s how to do it. Start By Getting Your Data First, p [...]

50+ Things Every Link Builder Needs To Know

final-puzzle-piece-featured Like it or not, link building has been and still is big, big business. Doing it well takes a lot of time and resources, which means that many webmasters/site owners can't or don't want to do it themselves. Many agencies that handle other aspects of search engine marketing want to outsource it simply because of the massive resource drain. That's great news for people like me who specialize in link building but the intense supply and demand nature of links coupled with the ease of promoting yourself through social media have led to a frightening increase in people who build bad links and real [...]

The Unbearable Torture Of Linking

[caption id="attachment_130446" align="alignright" width="238" caption="It's not too late to escape link building prison"][/caption] It's been a long, painful Spring and Summer for a lot of websites and link builders. I took a month away from it all for personal reasons, but I did conduct a couple linking strategy training sessions, and kept on top of things via my iPad. In this time, I read a few hundred posts about Panda's and Penguin updates, unnatural link warnings, freaked out Web marketers, and noted a general consensus that the Summer of 2012 is when the scales finally tipped [...]

Time & Value Of Link Cleanups: Should You Even Bother?

Link cleanups are all the rage right now, rightly so if you can judge by the number of webmasters who received Google warnings or had their sites tank. Strategies for effective cleanup have been outlined, tools to help you find contacts for cleanup have been unveiled, but there isn't much information out there about the bottom line: are link cleanups worth the time and effort? Who Should Cleanup? Now a caveat…if you've received a warning from Google, I don't think that you have a choice here. You need to clean up your links. If you haven't received a warning, let's put you into two cam [...]

How Pandas & Penguins Change Your Link Building Strategy

Who would have thought that two seemingly innocent zoo animals could cause such an uproar in the SEO industry? You’re probably tired of hearing about Panda and Penguin. I don’t blame you. Articles seem to pop up daily about how it affects your site and what you can do to recover from the algorithm updates heard ‘round the world. Hell, there are even YouTube videos about them. You could say this is just one of those articles. And you may be right, but I’ve successfully recovered from Panda and lived to tell the tale of Penguin. Just look at our own analytics: The first line was Pa [...]

The Domino Effect Of Links & Relationships

Link building can, and should, be a domino effect. A good solid link should lead to more good, solid links, but do we always pursue links with this in mind? I confess that I don't always. Sometimes a link is just a link, and that's where it ends, but moving forward in the wake of the recent algorithm updates, I think we'll all be better off if we try to build links that build links. Along with that, since I firmly believe that building relationships builds links, we'll talk about how to do that, too. It's simple and easy but sometimes the simple and easy methods are the most overlooked. [...]

8 Tips To Increase Your Link Building Efficiency

I’ve seen a lot of posts recently that talk about how to dedicate enough time to link building to see results without it taking over your life. To be blunt, that’s a load of crap. If something is scalable, its size can be changed, like fonts. How long you have to link build for to get results will never change. It will always be one of the most time-consuming and arguably hardest things you do. If it isn’t, you’re doing it wrong. Still, there are a lot of things you can do to improve your efficiency and productivity. Below are just some of my favorite, but fair warning: They’re [...]

The Unintended Consequences Of Link Removal

It has to be one of the more ironic linking related developments over the past couple decades. Panicked online marketers doing complete 180's and trying to remove links they'd tried for years to get. Even more ironic is paying the same company that sold the idea of going after those (now poison) links to go remove them. We can say "but they weren't poison then", or "we did what we had to do to compete", and that's fine, but we should not miss the absurdity of the situation many websites are in right now, and try to learn from it. Ask yourself if you might have been better off all along u [...]

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