Last week during SMX East, the Link Building Boot Camp was a 75-minute overview of everything you ever wanted to know about link building and then some. This session was offered to anyone who wanted to learn the basics, get a solid understanding of links and prepare for the rest of the linking panels throughout the week. I was one of two speakers (I shared the podium with Eric) and covered the history behind link building, how links work, the concept of link popularity and how to get them.
The Q&A period drew a lot of raised hands, some of the questions were a reflection of current trends and others asked for clarification on concepts and tactics. All good questions but there were two the crowd seemed to dwell on - “are site wide links still effective” and “can getting a lot of links really fast from Digg hurt you“? Since there was a lot of interest in these two topics, I thought I’d share the answers here.
As the algo turns
When a man asked if site wide links still work I immediately said “yes, they do but not always for the long term…We’ve found they work best when competing with fewer links and when hosted on pages that are several years old.”
In the early days of search, link popularity was all about the numbers. If you had lots of inbound links and some keywords on the page, you ranked well. After time, the engines put more emphasis on query indicators and weighted keyword anchors. At the height of anchor text popularity you could “bomb” your way to the top fairly easily, even in the competitive markets.
In today’s linking landscape, where you place links seems to have as much impact as the keyword anchors they use. That makes it doubly important to find older quality pages within your niche to host links such as site wides. While they are easy to use, site wides have been known to lose their ability to pass link popularity if hosted among large numbers of unrelated links or on crappy pages.
Because site wides are associated with paid links. Perception is key these days so any webpage hosting what appears to be paid links (even if they’re not) will probably be devalued. If you plan to use site wides, look to place them on better, aged webpages and vary your anchor text phrases.
Linking at the speed of social
The second question centered around link acquisition speeds. Someone asked if a webpage could be penalized for accumulating too many links after hitting the front page of Digg. My short answer is “no, it’s highly unlikely this will happen for a couple of reasons:
The inbound links come from a wide variety of sites using variations of the link text and Search activity around/for the site goes up as well and Search engines can detect linking patterns and determine where the activity started”
We’ve watched stories go hot on Digg with no adverse effect to the site hosting the promotion. We attribute this to the fact stories go popular because people find them interesting and assign editorial value to the article. The search engines (Google in particular) recognize that value factor and treat the influx of Digg links as they would a regular earned editorial link. For now, I believe the tactic known as link bait is safe and the links they generate are absorbed into the ranking algorithm like any other.
But site wides? I urge caution when using since they are associated with paid links. An algorithm, spam reporters and human search reviewers are all looking for ways to devalue links they perceive are paid, don’t make it easy for them to do so. Try to focus on linking tactics that use anchor text to it’s fullest potential and can provide the return you’re looking for.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.