SES London 2008 – Beyond Linkbait: Getting Authoritative Online Mentions
Link building is crucial, but linkbait tactics that worked this year may not be as effective next year. This session focuses on the underlying quality as well as ingenuity needed to get other websites to link to you early and often. It will also explain how you should approach journalists, bloggers and other authoritative sources to enhance your company’s online reputation, whether or not you get links.
Moderator: Anne Kennedy, Manager, Managing Partner, Beyond Ink
Speakers: Alan Webb, CEO, Abakus Internet Marketing, Mikkel deMib Svendsen, Creative Director, deMib.com and Brian Turner, Director, Britecorp, Ltd.
First up is Alan Webb from ABAKUS.
Link building is a chicken/egg situation. To get the links you need content but to get the content found and linked to, you need the links.
When you have excellent content you need to kickstart it – get it out there. There are both free and paid methods of doing this.
Free methods include: Social bookmarks, Usenet, company newsletter, blogs, forums. Be sure not to spam forums and blogs. (Does that mean it’s ok to spam social bookmarks?)
Contribute to the forums and blogs before you start recommending specific content.
Fee based options of promoting content include: pay per click, press releases, traditional online ads (banners), email and newsletter marketing services (ads/sponsorships)
Alan’s top 10 link bait content:
1. Online tool useful and unique to your field
2. Contests with unusual prize – must be unique/interesting
3. Online games – unique and addictive flash game can work wonders
4. Breaking news – Be the first to post news on a certain topic
5. Lists – Top 10 this or that. Do’s or Don’ts
6. Contoversey – Something that goes against norms supported by facts or a study. Be careful if it’s negative because it can backfire.
7. Competitions – Fun competition with unique prizes
8. Give aways and freebies. Downloads, tools, gadgets, ebook, etc as an incentive to sign up for a newsletter, RSS. Must be quality.
9. Industry studies, white papers and tutorials. Quality is king as well as uniqueness. Can work with controversey.
10. Cool designs
What’s the best day for link bait? April 1st
Gives examples of link bait pages including an online catalog where the products on the home page interact with each other ala Rube Goldberg. Another example is in the “sex sells” category. Last example is a tool.
On Yahoo, to see what sites are thematically linking to a certain site use:
linkdomain:www.domainname.com “keyword” site:domainname.com
Next up is Mikkel deMib Svendsen
Mikkel sarts out with link bomb examples “liar” on Google shows results for Tony Blair. Search for “click here” and Adobe ranks #1. The phrase appears nowhere on the page.
This leads to the conclusion that you can rank with just links and little relevant content. It will never work the other way around – at least on Google.
Mikkel asks the audience if anyone is still involved in link requests via email. No one responds – or is willing to admit it. He shows a graph tongue in cheek that shows a converse relationship of link requests to link acquisition.
New trends in link development:
Links are more important for indexing too
- Links used to mostly influence ranking. Now you depend on links for refrequent crawling and proper indexing too.
- You’re not going to get a 30m page site indexed with a page rank 2 site
- Golden links count more – links from authoritative sites in an industry
Need more deep links – Provides signals of credibility to internal content
Need more fresh links – link growth rates and patterns of fresh links seem to be more and more imporant
If you need a link from another web site, why ask for it?
Black hat link building techniques from the past:
- Comment spamming
- Log spamming
- xss links – make sure cross site scripting is not possible on your web site
What’s next? web 2.0 is a link spammers paradise.
Once you open things up for user input, you open it up for subversive methods as well.
The great thing about black hat link building:
- Dont have to ask or pay
- Any page you want
- Easy to scale
Bad things about black hat link building:
- Other people hat you
- Risk of penalty
- Some methods may be illegal
If you’re into selling viagra or casino content then these tactics may be an option because the competition is doing it.
Google has put in some cross site scripting filters and seem to work well. Yahoo still indexes them.
Log file spam. Putting statistics HTML files online. It creates crawlable links based on visiting URLs. Or the appearance of visiting URLs.
Log file spamming involves building a robot that sends false referrer traffic to a site. The site publishes their referrer logsas HTML to the web and the pages get crawled by search engine bots, indexing the links of the referring sites.
Mikkel says you can do this with your SEO friends that obsess over log files to screw with them.
Turn your community into active SEOs:
- Most often active community members have an interest in the popularity of their contributions
- Help them help you and themselves by showing them how to do basic SEO
One link is not that hard to get:
- Tech the community how to get just one external link
- Support your community
- Watch out for spammers
Getting links from golden sites can be hard:
- It’s hard to get these links
- They don’t want to link
- They charge too much
But most websites do link out:
- Make a list of the websites they link to
- Use Xenu to collect data
- Evaluate the sites they link to – are they likely to sell to you?
- Offer a 301 deal – See if they will 301 redirect the page the golden site is linking to over to your site.
Last up is Brian Turner
Brian tells a story of red widgets and yellow widgets. (shows a link cluster graphic) and explains a typical method of attracting inbound links.
Think of links as a form of communication.
linkshare + mindshare = marketshare
Asking for links is linkshare. Making sales is as a result of those links is marketshare. People thinking/talking about something, they link to it – mindshare.
The “yellow” widget company builds out authoritative sites rather than begging for links from others who have done so. You can also acquire or buy out community web sites. Building and buying authoritate communities sends mindshare – better than link share.
Link building is moving from basic link acquisition to content and acquisition development strategy.
- Don’t spam – content spam. It won’t work to buy another site and just fill it with your links.
- Be great to customers of acquired sites – If not, the community will leave.
- Long term goals – High investment and long term before you see a return. This does not bode well for bean counters that want ROI for every tactic.
- Remarkable strategy
- Win the communications war – The goal is to control the communication channels in the industry yet in a neutral and positive way.
It takes a lot of balls to conduct this kind of linking, but the payoff can be tremendous.