Lee Odden

Making Sense of Linking and Site Promotion

Lee Odden     Link Building, SEO


The OG’s of link building like Eric Ward are full of reasons why acquiring inbound links without consideration of direct effect from search engines is a sustainable and worthwhile marketing tactic. The ongoing SEO services many search marketers offer is often short sighted with a narrow emphasis placed on link acquisition and not on the broader importance of ongoing web site promotion through multiple channels.

Historical thoughts on linking
Link building is indeed a tactic with direct benefits via rankings traffic from search engines and direct traffic from high profile sites. However, outright link building is only a slice in the overall online marketing mix that makes up a productive web site marketing program. In the early days of marketing web sites, building links from directory submissions and programs such as web site reviews and web awards sites sent significant amounts of traffic. Then came Google.

The Google Factor
With Google bringing the importance of links into algorithmic search, other engines followed and the value of a good inbound link increased dramatically. Quantity, quality and age of links are all considerations for search engines as they sort relevant search results for users. At the same time, an editorial link from a high profile site, like a major blog or news publication, can not only send a strong signal to search engine bots, but also deliver qualified visitors. Discovering the formula for using links to an advantage inspired the popularity of a range of questionable linking tactics.

Shortcuts to Linking
Always looking for competitive advantages, many web site owners and marketers with an interest in generating high web site visibility and traffic have developed systems for short cutting their way to link popularity through efforts ranging from blog comment and trackback spam to buying text links and pre-sell pages to leveraging networks of blogs to write posts in behalf of advertisers whether the blog is on topic with the article or not. Search engines such as Google have made it clear what the consequences are for gaming their system and it’s left marketers wondering.

What Can Business Marketers Do?
There are more resources on link building than any one person could ever consume on their own being published by the search marketing community on a daily basis. There are also more than a few businesses, big and small, that are nothing less than lost when it comes to knowing what kinds of productive, safe and sustainable marketing tactics make the most sense for their web site. Increasingly, web site marketers are stepping back and taking a more holistic approach to web site optimization and promotion.

Importance of site promotion
Too often web site owners and search marketers get caught up in tactics, forgetting the short and long term objectives of the web site. For example, generating spikes of social news and bookmarking traffic makes for a good Power Point slide, but it’s not a final outcome and is not always a viable long term tactic for business web sites. Measuring those signals that influence what search engines and users do to arrive at a web site when looking for answers/resources/relevant content are nothing more than short and medium term performance indicators. Rankings, traffic and links are not final outcomes. Conversions, sales and measures of engagement are what feed web site marketing budgets with the best results coming from a long term focus.

Go Long Get Results
What’s important for a sustainable, long term web site marketing initiative is ongoing promotion through channels that make sense for the audience and that are supported with content by the business web site. Measuring the final outcome as well as all the signals that lead up to conversions provides the site promotion expert insight into how content and promotion can be adjusted to maximize results. Search engines are leveraging multiple data formats, media and channels and online marketers should do the same.

Unified Search Marketing
The great thing about enhancements like Google Universal search and Ask 3D is that they enable those web sites producing and promoting content in multiple media formats a distinct advantage. At the core of today’s most effective web site promotion strategy is the creation and distribution of content. With a combination of coordinated text, image, video and RSS, a company can dramatically increase it’s ability to promote it’s message to audiences that are looking. Leveraging multiple media and data types provide direct marketing benefits as well as augmenting standard search visibility.

The Real Benefits Plus a Bonus
Effective and persistent web site promotion drives qualified visitors and also increases the link footprint of a web site. That byproduct of a quantity of quality links over time will also deliver desired visitors. For now, there’s the added benefit of improved rankings on standard search engines. I’m not saying the importance of links for rankings is going away, but as part of a long term perspective on internet marketing, I would consider the effect of links on rankings generated traffic icing on the cake rather than an immediate goal. Sometimes it takes a step back and a look at the longer term trends and web site goals to see what immediate tactics make sense and what to ramp up for.

The Big Picture on Links
Making sense out of the mix of tactics, analytics and objectives available to companies that want to leverage the web as a high priority channel must involve stepping back and seeing the bigger picture of web site promotion. We love links at TopRank. We also know that relying solely on link building to meet client web marketing objectives is not nearly as effective short and long term, as a holistic program of matching the right media assets with the appropriate promotional channels.

Desperately Seeking Links – DMA07
Next month in October I will be talking more in depth about this topic and at the same time I’ll be able to experience a goal I’ve had for several years. At the DMA07 conference in Chicago Oct 16 I will be speaking on a panel “Desperately Seeking Links“with Eric Ward on the topic of link building. Eric is someone I’ve looked up to and respected as an uncompromising professional when it comes to the marketing of web sites. I am very much looking forward to sharing the stage with him as well as Stephan Spencer of Netconcepts, who pitched and won the session. Also on the panel is Seth Besmertnik of LinkExperts.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Great advice, once again. Those of us trying to take a good idea and build it into something sustainable are very much appreciative!

  2. I have to agree with Jason. If you are looking to improve the effectiveness of your website promotion, the advice provided here will not only help facilitate greater link building for your site but it lays out what the benefits are for implementing these type of links.

  3. Great article. I can sense a change coming for the blogosphere that will improve the overall quality, period, due to realizations like this. Thanks for the read.

  4. It is really a legitimate work by Lee. After reading the entire article, I have conceptualized many things positively. Some points, that really appeal me, first one is to build good SEO and secondly strong internet promotion through search marketing. As a participant, I want to add some words regarding email marketing. It is also very effective tool of e-marketing and specialist prefer this technique at their priority because it reaches directly in inbox of target customer.

  5. Hey Bill, you either have a very unique writing style or maybe you’re just plugging your email software site. Either way, thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  6. A really interesting article that I immediately added to my bookmarks.

    I’d like to comment this part: “Rankings, traffic and links are not final outcomes”.

    This is true: in many cases people are too focused on stats and rankings, risking to lose contact with the real world (:)).
    Of course it depends on the type of site, but the majority of internet users don’t rely on the Page Rank of a web site when they look for a specific product or service, and we should take it into great consideration.

    With regards to the use of different media on the web (articles, banners, videos…) there’d be a lot of things to say (in my opinion very interesting). But I don’t want to get boring… maybe in a future post.

  7. Avatar Chris Boswell says

    I agree with Romano here – SEM is great, but we shouldn’t forget that picking up the phone and paper advertising, social networking and so forth have a big role to play.

    I have to confess I’m bad at picking up the phone unless it rings, and often need to give myself a kick up the backside to get away from promoting the business online. Its a demanding thing though to be a online marketer, verbal communicator, and effective business networker – too many hats for one person to wear, so without a marketing team, you’re always going to fall short in some aspect or other.

    Conversions are of course what matters – for my customers my responsibility often ends when they have the search engine results they were looking for. If these don’t turn into conversions, then strictly speaking its outside my mandate, but I often can’t resist getting involved to help sort such things out as, this is of course what really matters to the customer and their business, and what matters to us in terms of referrals, testimonials and good press.

  8. Policy toward links would seem to depend on where the site/blog is in its life cycle. A blog with no readers would seem to do well to get links from anyone remotely connected. Later, PR comes into play, specific relevance, authority, etc.

    A holistic strategy always sounds good but it may not be right for everyone all the time. It’s a game that moves as you play it, I believe.

  9. “With a combination of coordinated text, image, video and RSS, a company can dramatically increase it’s ability to promote it’s message to audiences that are looking.”

    For the vast majority of businesses looking to eek out an existence on the web, much of the stuff that Google now prizes more highly (video, Podcasts, RSS et cetera) excludes them from greater success, since most of this kind of thing is completely inapplicable to their businesses.

    For me, this is all smacks of Google pandering to the music labels and movie studios by giving them an artificial leg up over P2P file traders and illegal content…

  10. With all of the penalties for acquiring links, what alternate suggestions can one offer since reciprocal linking is dead, paid links are under scrutiny (even if it’s a yahoo directory link, blogs are probably the next target, even for on topic posts, so what is an ethical company to do aside from waiting for 3-4 years before natural website authority kicks in?

    Not all of the methods are gray in relation to blogging your way to the top via “blog posts on private networks”. Although it may be just a obvious as PR Web and the pay for post mentality, it is only one aspect of link development.

  11. Jeffrey, this is exactly what I’ll be presenting on at DMA07 on Tuesday next week in Chicago, although the focus is not on the fact that the tactics are ethical or alternatives to paid links and exchanges.

    Matching media assets with channels of promotion are simply effective strategies for link acquisition on their own and could actually work in conjunction with gray areas if a company was so inclined.

  12. Thanks for the prompt reply Lee:

    I live in Chicago and would gladly like the opportunity to view your presentation. Any chance of getting a guest pass for your segment? or perhaps you could point me in the right direction so I can attend?

  13. Lee, could you please tell smth about your own results in site promotion?


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