Thursday, December 10, 2009

Link Building for Personalized Search (LinkMoses Resurrected 9)

In the wake of the recent news Danny Sullivan covered excellently at SearchEngineLand in Google Now Personalizes Everyone's Search Results, some of you may be having a link building PANIC ATTACK.

Don't.

For the most part, high merit content owners should have no fear, because personalized search doesn't somehow turn your high-merit content into no-merit content.

I feel a small sense of vindication. It seems like forever since I wrote Google Personalized Search, Google Bookmarks & Link Building. You might want to re-read it. It was a couple years ago.

I'm finally working on that Personalized Link Building Strategies Special Report I mentioned two years ago. The report will not include tricks for fooling algorithms. It will include practical, ethical, and responsible link building advice specific to personalized search results, My goal is to explain what you can and can't influence, as well as how and when you should.

If I decide to sell this report, it will be at a fraction of the $299 16 page "chart driven unactionable crap the big city consultants put out. I'm a real practioner. I do this stuff, I'm on the keyboard, not the golf course. Even if all I wrote was a full page of tips and advice for every year I've been doing this, that's 16 pages from an expert willing to back it up. That's worth a few bucks, isn't it? Email me at PLBreport@ericward.com if you'd like to know when the report is ready.

The key takeaways from all this...

On the web, where engines index URLs by the billions, (the good, the bad and the ugly), signals of trust, merit, and intent of source will be crucial to any search result, including a personalized search result.

Signals of trust, merit, and intent of source can be determined in a couple ways...with an algorithm that looks at on-site or off-site signals, or without an algorithm at all, using offline factors (rarely discussed, BTW).

So links, citations, inclusions and connections, along with confidence, intent, credibility and veracity, aren't going anywhere, because what other signals are there?

Seriously, if you had a billion dollars and wanted to start a search engine, what's your big fancy algorithm going to study in order to produce useful results?

What's likely true is the sources of all signals are getting more and more algorithmic scrutiny, and end users play a larger role in this process in many ways. The links you depend on for both traffic and rank better be bullet-proof and not a house of cards waiting to crumble. If your link building tactics and targets have not been wisely chosen, the day is coming (or already has) when you will not be happy.

The value of certain types of links cannot be underestimated...

Why? Because they are so hard to get, and are based on a decision made by a person (as in, um, personalized) who is a passionate subject expert. They don't have to be a Ph.D or a librarian or a famous blogger. They just have to be able to provide algorithmic confidence signals. And you need to know what those signals are. I know what many of them are, only because I've sat in front of a PC screen for way too many years studying this, working at it, over and over and over. If I'm an expert at all I'm an accidental expert.

And as you know, I'm happy to teach what I know to you.

The ability to identify who and what a true influencer is and why is crucial, for both broad and narrow topics. For any topic. Just as important is knowing how to interact with each one of them in the right way, in order to get what it is you seek. This is where I've screamed at the conferences for years that link building and public relations at the highest levels must be thought of both in tandem and as one.

Things are getting interesting, and frankly, I like where I'm positioned,
pun intended.
There's a reason my site (and more importantly, my clients) rank well. A merit based, vertically driven, and etiologic link building methodology doesn't seem so crazy, silly or old school now, does it?


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The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Picking The Right Shovel (LinkMoses Resurrected 4)

For backdrop, read Stephan Spencer's
Link Economics 101: A Prerequisite For Advanced SEO.


When you focus and practice a specific skill set long enough, one of the unexpected benefits is you become an unintended expert in spotting those with no skills at all. In fact, at this point my bullshit meter is a finely tuned instrument.

More than anything else, I wish the "sellers of the useless" in the link building industry would just go away.
But they don't.

The frenzy for link building today must be like what I imagine the gold rush was like in the 1800's. You could probably pick from many different types of gold digging shovels, all claiming to be stronger or better than each other, all making sale after sale after sale. Only after you got to the desert did you realize your shovel handle was made from cheap wood instead of Ash and the blade was stamped, not forged. If only you'd done a little homework first.

In my industry niche, I can spot a bad shovel a mile away, and I've saved many a company from making a very expensive link building vendor mistake. Some of the advice I give I am amazed I still have to give period. "Don't use a company in India to build your links?" Well...duh. "Join the local Chamber of Commerce and get a link on the member section?" Well, yes, of-freeking course. "Don't buy anchor text links across 47 school newspaper web sites?"

You mean like this pile of crap below? Click for a close up look.

Good God please help me. When was the last time a college kid needed restaurant supplies? Or a limo in Orlando?

I think it's funny that all over the country school newspaper publishers are wondering why their ad revenue is sky high while the rest of the economy is in the dumps. They think it's their content, when in fact it's .edu link chasing morons. And I mean that whether it works or not. It's crap. Stop it already.

At the same time I'm not so vain as to think I have what everyone needs, because I most definitely do not. But what I do know better than most, perhaps due to longevity, experience, and trial/error is what type of link building approach and service(s) is most suited for any given content deployment scenario.

Call it a link building blueprint.

Every site needs to create a link building blueprint, and whether they create that blueprint in-house or hire someone to create the blueprint for them (like I've been doing for oh, two decades), that blueprint needs to be created by someone who understands the complexity and nuance of link building etiology. Every link building blueprint must be 100% custom to the site it was created for, in order to have any long lasting impact.

And sites that have been around a long time need more than a blueprint. They need a link portfolio evaluation and a forward moving strategy that maximizes what they have already, and augment it with all they have missed without knowing they missed it.

I hate to beat this horse, but it is true; every site has specific optimal inbound link potential. Few sites ever reach that potential, because they don't know what that potential is, or they spend too much time (and money) chasing the wrong types of links. My job is to show them what their site's true link potential is, and help them get closer to it, even if that means sending them to a provider other than me.

Linkmoses can't help everyone.

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The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

LinkMoses Resurrected #2 - What If Everything You Know About Link Building Is Wrong?

LinkMoses ResurrectedSo let it begin.

Over at Search Engine Land today I wrote Betting On The Link Building Boondoggle Bonanza. I mentioned a couple very specific link building tactics in that column, press releases and directory submissions. What's being sold is, to be kind, bad and worse.

As for directories, some of this you surely already know. I've written about it before. A year ago I wrote Don't Blame Google For Your Own Linking Failures. The salient quote from that article was...

"Are you really going to tell me you are shocked that Google no longer thinks a link from link-o-matic, link-to-my-loo, and LinksForNoGoodReason.de are of any value? Please. But if you knew that such links would someday lose value, why did you take money for that very service? And if you didn't honestly know such links were pointless, how can you call yourself a link builder?"
Here's how I can at least try to make this post constructive, rather than just calling a tactic stupid.

All sites exist on a popularity continuum like this...

Links from general directories that nobody has heard of will only be of value to certain types of sites, namely sites on the left side of the continuum. These will be sites with few links and credibility to begin with, or brand new sites with no links at all. For existing sites that have already shown the ability to earn links, there will be no value from links from these directories. In simpler terms, a site like CNN.com could care less about getting links from directories. But your site isn't CNN.com. True, but is it BrandNewSite.com? Probably not. Your site's linking pedigree falls somewhere between these two examples, as do most sites.

So, am I saying that for a brand new site links from no-name directories are useful after all? A little, but not much. In my private consults the point I make is this...
"Your site will not succeed or fail based upon getting links from no name directories. If those are the only links you can earn, you are dead. Your site will only succeed over time if it attracts merit based links within your industry's universe. And that will require content of merit that can earn such links"
I've made it pretty clear above that certain types of sites might get a small benefit from directories. But a site that can benefit from such a silly type of link isn't much of a site now is it? Why is that so hard to accept folks? Now take it a step further. Let's hypothesize. Why couldn't the search engines use those same directory links as reverse signals? Any site that has links from 57 directories, which as time passes does not also earn merit based links, has helped point itself out as pure crap to the engines. Thanks for the help. Same with press releases BTW, but more on that tomorrow.

As for companies that are selling directory submission services, yes, your service may very well be outstanding. But the best thing you can do is provide this or a similar type of disclosure to your clients before they spend money with you. Don't hide behind "buyer beware" and "free market" arguments. If you know a site will not benefit, don't sell it to them. Is that so hard?

Lastly, there are many directories that are in fact extremely good link building targets. Thousands of them. I use them all the time, when the client's site is a fit. They exist in verticals. Verticals can be subject specific, geo-specific, industry specific, feature specific, even author specific. Credibility and intent are key. If you operate a directory please don't assume I'm lumping yours into the useless category. I purposely have not mentioned one real directory by name in this article. The point can be made without it.

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The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Monday, July 27, 2009

LinkMoses Resurrected - Thirty Link Building Rants and Commandments

By now most who know me know the LinkMoses backstory.

I retired LinkMoses 15 months ago. LinkMoses had a fabulous run, earned over 100,000 links, (smoke that linkbait) and the post LinkMoses Linking Commandments - Part I remains one of my site's top five most visited pages.

So why bring LinkMoses back for thirty posts? Three reasons.

First, it's easier for me to speak my mind when I'm in LinkMoses mode. A defense mechanism that allows me to say things I'm chickenshit to say as Eric Ward. LinkMoses=Buddy Love, Eric Ward=Sherman Klump.

Reason 2?
The awesome post "Is Most Of SEO Just A Boondoggle?". Jill Whalen took heat for it, though she's one of, if not the most under-appreciated and intelligent voice out there. If you aren't reading High Rankings Advisor Search Marketing Newsletter, I have to ask you what the hell are you thinking? Stop reading this post immediately and go subscribe.

Reason 3?
I never wrote LinkMoses Linking Commandments - Part II. There was no reason to be greedy, and why be a Link Whore?

But, it's time.

LinkMoses will be back here for thirty posts. Rather than tell you what my goal is in doing this, I'll let the posts speak for themselves. The first LinkMoses Resurrected Post will be:

"What If Everything You Know About Link Building Is Wrong?"

It will be here Tuesday.

So let it be written...

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The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Best Practices for Feeling Sorry for Yourself

Over at Outspoken, the place where I secretly wish I worked (if I was 15 years younger and had any youthful hotness remaining), there was a firestorm over Lisa Barone's post It's Not the Recession, You Just Suck

Some loved it, some didn't, some seemed offended. I read it with detached bemusement, which is professionally my favorite emotional state. Being an elder statesman has it's perks and detached bemusement is one of them.

Another perk of being a gray-beard in this biz is watching the younger crowd earn their stripes as the years go by. Even though I really don't know these folks, I watch them from a distance, follow them, comment on their blogs from time to time, and oddly take great pride when one of them becomes as successful as I thought they would back when I first met them, when they might not have known if they were going to make it big or not.

Rae Hoffman is a perfect example. I had been speaking at conferences for many years and then she happened to be on a panel with me. I don't remember the specific conference, as I've done over 100, and I don't remember who else was on that panel. What I remember was Rae knew her shit cold. Smart as hell, fearless, willing to speak up. I remember her saying she was glad to be on that panel with me and then thinking to myself I should be thanking her. I also remember thinking to myself that she was going to be a force in the industry, and soon. I so much love being right.

On Lisa's post above, Rae commented...

...a few of them might do what I did ten years ago and say "you know what? I want more. And I CAN get it..."

Yes, indeed you can. Long before Mike Grehan and Greg Boser and Debra Mastaler decided my new SEO handle was LinkMoses, which was circa 2002, a full decade earlier in 1991, I lost my job when my division was sold to Time Inc., and my boss informed me I was not a part of the "new organization". The economy was in a recession (you thought this one was the first one?), and I spent three months in a funk before I realized nobody was going to rescue my sorry ass. I did what Rae said. I decided "I want more" and got up and did something. You all know the rest of the story.

So take everything Lisa and Rae said, put it in ALL CAPS and multiply it by 10. Then it will be perfect.

Nobody, and I mean n-o-b-o-d-y gives a shit about your future enough to put your faith in them. We are all free agents, and like it or not, you cannot hide your weak-ass game for long in this industry. After 14 years at this, I could easily just phone it in. Sit on the porch with a blunt listening to the best band nobody's heard of (on 8-track). Hell, I've earned it. Fuck that Twitter shit and why the hell do I need a blog? I'm freaking Link-Moses.

Right?

Wrong.

I know what I know because I refuse to stop. I refuse to let my skills rust. And more important, I know what I do not know, and it's a lot. So I go learn it.

The special thing about our particular industry is how it's still in its infancy, and nobody is such an expert at any aspect of it that they can stop learning. At the same time, it's all right there for the taking, if you want it, and are willing to learn it, and then earn it.

-Eric


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NOTE: To ask a link building related question, click the "comments" link below, or the "Post a Comment" link at the bottom of any individual post. You can also email your question to LBBPQ@ericward.com

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The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Backlink Research Best Practices - Linkscape

(updated August 24, 2009)

My silence regarding Linkscape has been mistaken by several people as meaning I don't like it. Quite the contrary. I do like it, and I'll post here what I've posted on a few other blogs, almost verbatim.

Over the years I have lost count of the 3rd party link building and link analysis tools and software I've tried out, many of which are long gone. What is most telling to me is that I abandon them when it comes time for
heavy lifting deep vertical link target ID and evaluation. I wont go so far as to say "All you need is Google and your brain", but it's close to being true, at least for the type of client content I work with. Linkscape is outstanding and useful for a very specific set of metrics and measures, and for a certain type of link builder will be quite helpful. I commend Rand for it and I will use it to augment my own personal approach to the link building research process when I feel it will help me.

Old School Link BuildingOn the other hand, I'm old school and have never been a big user of any tools other than my own privately created (and really simple) scripts. As much as I want and look forward to every new tool, I keep thinking about Rocky IV, where Ivan Drago was using every cutting edge tool and training method available, while Rocky Balboa ran around in the snow with a log on his back. The savviest link builders know how and when to use tools and logs.

Lost in all this tool talk is that it doesn't matter how rockin' your link intelligence is if you don't have meritorious content that can earn the types of links that matter in the first place. I have my own methodology to ID the exact set of targets that will allow just about any site in any vertical to rank extremely high. But this information is useless unless it is used by a truly meritorious site that also knows how to seek and get those links. No tool can finish this journey for you, and like Rocky in the snow or a marathon runner, the first part is easy. It's the last few miles that are hard, and where the battle is won.

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The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Outlinking Best Practices - Rule 1

Some people hesitate to link back to a site that is of really high quality, out of worry that by adding a link they create a recip loop, which they think devalues that high value link in the process. I look at it another way. There are many reasons why you might link out to another site that's linking to you. For example, what if my site at EricWard.com was mentioned in The New York Times, and they linked to me as well. I'd be insane if I did not include a blurb about this on my site, with a link back to it where readers on my site could go see it. When I do this, it is no different than any other reciprocal link loop, except that the two sites doing the linking are of highest quality in their respective niches. There is no reason to let any engine dictate high level linking like this.

Rule of Outlink #1 is...

Link freely and often, but first apply a degree of scrutiny similar to that used when selecting a new suit, engagement ring, or proctologist.

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The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Link Building Podcast and Transcript with Eric Ward

Thank you to Jerry M. for alerting me to this podcast transcript. It's a couple years old but still 100% on target.

On April 5, 2007 Eric Enge and Eric Ward, aka Link Moses, spoke about some of the latest events affecting the world of link building. Here is the transcript of that podcast.

http://www.ericward.com/link-building-podcast.html

Here is the original audio
http://www.stonetemple.com/podcasts/Eric-Ward-Podcast-040507-Transcript.shtml

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The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New Link Building Boot Camp

I just finished teaching a one month link building boot camp, which was a custom training project I created for a specific client in a tight vertical. During the course of the month, it became obvious the boot camp was working very well, the client was learning, becoming self sufficient at link building, and most of all getting results. They told me I should offer the boot camp to other clients...

Hmmm. Now why didn't I think of that?

After reverse organizing the previous boot camp into a service description, I'm happy to announce ...

30 Day Private Link Building Boot Camp with Eric Ward

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The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What is the meaning of life, and link building?

It's been an eventful Spring and Summer. In April my father David Ward passed away, in a miserable sort of slow-motion way, and on his birthday of course. Dad had a great life, considering it ended -and started- terribly. (that's him below on an airplane somewhere over America, circa 1960)

Dad was from Duluth MN, and had polio as a child. He finished high school from his hospital bed, then found the means to flee the frigid Duluthian tundra and make his way to college at the somewhat less fridgid Northwestern, where he was determined to make something of himself. He did so. In fact, my Dad's marketing savvy for Shulton in the '60s and '70s is one reason Old Spice is a National Brand today. He didn't get rich, because back then you didn't get rich by being a loyal company man, but he was good at what he did, worked hard at it, took nothing for granted, and probably deserved better than he got.

(SIDE NOTE: When I was 15, we moved from New Jersey to Tennessee, and I was not happy about it. Dad was smart enough and gentle enough to wisely convince his skeptical and snotty son (me) to go to high-school here, which cost Dad a fortune, instead of where I wanted to go, which would have cost him nothing. He was generous even when I didn't deserve it)

After Dad's death, and after putting up a brave face for several weeks, my Mom was admitted to the hospital . She ended up staying in the hospital for over a month, which necessitated several additional trips out and back to Phoenix. Each of these trips have the unintended consequence of causing my older brother and hero Steve or I to stop work quickly and mobilize for travel cross country. During these times I can lose touch with clients, they can get (rightfully) annoyed , and I can end up making the whole world mad, losing money in the form of client refunds along the way. I have a 6 year old (Noah) and a 1 year old (Abram) at home that I also have to say goodbye to for these trips, and that's no fun for me, or my wife.

As a mid-Summer-bad-news-palate cleanser, in early July our 3 year old golden retriever Izzy was killed by a reckless moron driving way too fast for the road in front of our house. Izzy had gotten out of the backyard, ran into the road, was hit, limped home, and collapsed. Dead. The rest is just too sad to write about. She was the most gentle animal I've ever met.

You know what's more fun than a barrel-o-monkeys? Explaining to your son that his dog is dead. After the initial shock and tears, the conversation goes something like this:
NOAH: "Daddy, when I die will I get to see Izzy and Grampa again in heaven?"
DAD: (to himself) "There is no god Noah, because if there was a god none of these things would happen and Al Gore would have been our President.

DAD: (out loud) "Yes Noah, we will all be together again one day in heaven and it will be awesome, and we know this because that's what they teach us in Sunday School, right buddy?"
NOAH: "Right Dad!"

SHOOT. ME. NOW.

If there has been one positive thing to happen this Summer, it was my wife Melissa urging us to give the boys (and ourselves) a Summer so good they'd have a chance to forget the bad. So off and on we've spent most of the Summer in a house a couple blocks from the beach next to Seaside Florida. People like to make fun of this area, but they don't get it. It is a wonderful place, and I get to watch my son thrive in this not-of-this-world idyllic bubble, just as Truman Burbank did, only for me it's by choice, and I get to play with Noah doing things like skim boarding, surfing, trail mountain biking, hanging at the ocean, and just trying to provide a sense of normalcy during a time that is anything but.

I'll wrap this up with a note aimed at anyone who has been trying to do business with me over the past 4 months. I'm here and working, just not as much as you'd like. Parents come first, wife and kids come second, myself third, and you, patiently waiting client, come fourth. It has to be that way, for now.

I'm working a few hours each day, as well as late in the evening when the kids are asleep. In mid-August, when school starts and we're back in Knoxville full-time, I will be back providing link building services, strategy, and training, working longer hours, as usual. I have to. I'm going to buy that place at the beach and semi-retire by gosh, and you, my new and existing clients, are what will make that possible.

Thank you for your time and patience.

Eric


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The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Updated - Farewell LinkMoses, Hello Link Building Q&A

Regular readers know I've been building links since the launch of TheTitanicJustSank.com, or close to it. This wasn't by design. I just had the bad/good luck to lose my advertising job at the right time; Early nineties. I needed something new to do, I went to grad school, and the Internet fell into my lap. The full story of the early years of ericward.com is yet to be written, but I hope to get to it this Summer.

The whole LinkMoses shtick was also an accident. A few years ago someone at a conference made fun that I was still link building, like it was a disease. So I made lemonade out of the joke and turned it into a few thousand new inbound links. Don't mess with a link builder...

I've never intended to be an expert at anything, and the only reason I know so much about link building is that I had the sense or stupidity to stay focused on just that one skill as the web exploded around me. I could have done a thousand different things, but I stayed the link building course. I passed up a $1.3 million buyout offer from BCentral. I ignored Overtures from Overture. I didn't move to San Francisco, Seattle, or New York like everyone thought I should. I stayed right here in my garage office. I didn't write a book when the publishing houses called. Instead I kept doing what I liked. Studied web sites and links. Watched how content gets known, linked, found, by who, when, and where. I did a few industry shows back when just us geeks went. Back when real talent like Danny Sullivan was working his rear off at his kitchen table for just a couple hundred appreciative readers. Somehow my business strategy resulted in other authors writing about me in their books. Again, accidently successful. I was and remain to this day very happy doing what I do. I hope to continue being a content publicist/link builder for many more years.


For several reasons I'm a bit reflective right now. I'm also worn down a bit due to criticism, some deserved and some not, from folks who have have taken issue with my contributions to several link building expert articles. They say I don't give up any secrets. I don't provide worthwhile advice. My answers to link value factors questions are too vague.

Fair enough. This month I begin Link Building Best Practices - Q&A With Eric Ward.

I'll take questions from all comers and turn the best of them into posts where I provide my opinion on what the best practice should be for that particular topic. Send them to lbquestion@ericward.com. I don't pretend for one moment to believe that my best practices should be your best practices. I'm just using this avenue as a way to provide very specific advice and opinion developed over the course of building links for 1,000+ new and old sites from 1994 til today. Here's the link to the Link Building Best Practices RSS feed

Link well friends!

Eric Ward


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About The Link Building Best Practices Q and A
The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Link Building Best Practice Labels, Tags, and Categories

Link Building and content publicity takes place in many ways and in many venues. For example, it's in vogue right now to talk about "link bait", and link bait itself has evolved to the point where some people have strong feelings about best practices just for link bait. Link bait best practices will be different than backlink analysis best practices, which will be different from social media link building best practices, which will be different than .edu link seeking best practices. Thus a "best practices list" for link building needs to encompass as many of these venues and approaches as possible. I'll use the built in functionality of this blog software to assign keyword "labels" for each post. That way as time passes if you only want to read posts about a specific subject, you can do so.

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The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.

How The Link Building Best Practices Q and A Works

First Post - April 2, 2008, by Eric Ward

To ask a link building related question, either use the POST A COMMENT link at the bottom of any post, or email it to lbbp@ericward.com. Feel free to post as anonymous, and ask me anything you want about link building or content publicity. I moderate these questions so you wont have to read 8 million questions about how to rank first at Google for viagra.

I'll take your questions and turn them into posts where I provide my opinion on what the best practice should be for that particular topic. I don't pretend for one moment to believe that my best practices should be your best practices. I'm just using this avenue as a way to provide very specific advice and opinion developed over the course of building links for 1,000+ new and old sites from 1994 til today.

Empirical data is used infrequently to support my answers and opinions, and double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies were not conducted. I base my answers and best practice advice on what I see has worked (or not) for me.

I'm not doing this in place of my paid consulting and training, so if your question is about a specific web site or a sensitive subject that requires significant time and research for me to thoroughly answer, you might be better off trying my fee based service here.

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About The Link Building Best Practices Q and A
The Link Building Best Practices Q and A is provided free by Eric Ward. For sites with high value content, I offer several fee-based strategic linking services on a project basis.