Monday, April 12, 2010

Bye Bye Blogger, Hello Wordpress

Blogger will be discontinuing FTP support shortly, and I'm using this time to migrate over to a new blogging platform.

The focus of the new blog will be much more about linking case studies, specific linking tactic selection and execution, on a site by site basis.

The biggest problem in the linking and link building industry is people are confused. They've tried every tactic that every expert told them to, and aren't happy with the results. This is still happening, because vendors continue to sell linking related services that are 100% piles of steaming shit, and I'm sick of it.

I'm not going to blog about which companies are evil. Instead, you'll see by my writings which services are helpful, like Link Insight below.

In the meantime, get over to Link Insight and sign up. It's the single most powerful linking strategy tool I've ever seen. I know this, because I helped build it. Here's a training video to give you an sense of it.

See you again soon.

Eric

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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.

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.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Answer to: After The Basics - Now What?

TravelingNinja asked...

I've taken a new site from 1 backlinks to 350 in five months of hard work. I've done the basics: submitted to niche and free mainstream directories, posted in forums, exchanged some links, and requested some links. What can I do next?

Link building for a new site with no links is my perfect scenario. You don't have to worry about previous mistakes or link spam, and you have a clean slate on which to work. But, as TN notes, after the basics what do you do? Two word answer: vertical publicity.

What's the subject of the site? You mentioned you submitted to niche directories, but depending on the niches these are just as notorious for junk and swaps as the wannabeeyahoos. I suggest you compile a list of the top sites that appear in a both the regular and blog search results for your most important phrases. Look for common citations A site that is showing up in both results, even on page two or three, is doing something right. On the blog results, bookmark every site that has mentioned the site that is also ranking well in regular search. Also compile a list of every niche content site and blog that is not a competitor. This is the start of a publicty and public relation driven link building campaign. You aren't after niche directories here. You are seeking editorial mentions or blogroll inclusions from the key influencers in your niche.

This is just a scratch at the surface, but a good scratch.





NOTE: To ask a link building related question, click the Comments link below, or the link at the bottom of any individual posts

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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, September 23, 2008

UPDATED: .edu Inbound Link Fallacies

One of the bigger link building hot topics is the impact that IBL (inbound links) originating from .edu locations can have on your link popularity and search rankings. Lost in the discussion is that the quality of IBL's from within the .edu domain varies significantly.

Rather than making this concept more complex than it needs to be, let's boil it down by example. A link from a student homepage or school paper web site isn't as valuable as a link from a professor's page, or better yet, the University library site. Why? because it's easy for those who are into black hat stuff to buy links from students, wheras a librarian isn't likely to be bought. Thus the content EARNED the link, and the source and citation can be trusted. Engines know this and will tweak algos until they get it right. I hope, anyway. Give me 10 library links instead of 100 student page links any day.

Likewise with .gov and others. Any TLD has crap, and any TLD has gold.

Another linking topic that gets folks excited is geographic IBL variety. This is another way of saying you need links from a bunch of countries. Not true. Links from around the world may not matter one IOTA for your particular site.

More fallacy regarding directory inclusion. I can say with complete certainty that the older the site the more useless those directory IBLs are. I rank 1st for all key terms and I'm in only two directories. Why do I rank? Simple. Because a). I never went after rank, and B). I stayed true to my content and expertise. That said, since I do rank high I can reverse analyze my links and learn why, but just because I can tell you doesn't mean you can get those links. You have to earn them via meritorious content.

For a newer site, the game changes. The new site's IBL profile or "link transcript" or "link signature" needs to slowly percolate towards becoming something that looks natural and trustworthy. I see evidence every day that the links that help me rank 1st will not help every site site rank 1st.

So what works for one site WILL NOT work for every site, which is why it's such a challenge to create software/tools that can analyze links with any degree of confidence. In the end, a human still has to make some very tricky decisions about whether or not ANY link is worth pursuing. The answer will be different for every site, and thus the potential link target sites need to be different as well.

----------------------------------------------

Eric's Note: I included the updated version of the above article as it appears people are as in love with .edu based link targets today as they were many years ago. I base this on several inquiries I received, the last one of which I have included below.

Dear Mr. Ward,
We are a manufacturer and seller of high end playgound equipment designed for municipalities. Our site is http://xxxxxxxx. We would be very interested in a quote from you for the following...
- obtaining 100 .edu based inbound links
/snip

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.

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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.

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.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Yahoo Directory Paid Link Best Practices?

If your site is listed in the Yahoo directory, and you didn't pay for it or you got in back before they charged the review fee, then IMO you leave it alone. Make no changes and enjoy the free ride. I have two Yahoo directory links for two of my sites, both grandfathered because they are ancient. If I was asked by Yahoo to start paying for those two, I'd probably drop them both. On the other hand, there are instances where I do recommend paying the review fee. A new site in a very competitive topic may want to pay, because commercial sites already listed in the Yahoo Directory to can then also receive enhanced placement (for another fee) in certain commercial categories in the directory. Read more about the Yahoo Sponsored Listing options here. FYI, tried this program out a few years ago and in my case chose to stop after three months.

-Eric

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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

What are the best practices for submitting to directories?

It will depend on whether you mean directories like Yahoo or directories like the hundreds listed around the web that nobody ever heard of and nobody ever uses? Seriously, when was the last time someone looking for a new bicycle started their search at link-a-pa-looza.biz? How about never?

The best practices for directory link building depend on several factors all driven by the site you are seeking links for. If you are seeking links for a brand new site at a brand new domain launching for the very first time, then you have nothing to lose and a few decent links to gain by submitting to the many non-descript directories available. Just don't expect much. Now, if the site you are seeking links for is CNN.com, then there is zero value in submitting to directories. So, what I tell clients is to think of their web site as existing on a continuum. On the far right are sites that are well known already, that have many good links, that rank well. On the far left are new sites with no links at all. Where does your site reside on such a continuum? The more your site falls to the left side, the more those directory links might be worth chasing. The more your site is falls to the right side, meaning it's already established and pretty well linked, the less likely it is that directory links -even Yahoo- will help you, and the best practice would be to ignore general directories altogether. I have a site that ranks 1st, 2nd, or 3rd for my most important search terms, and I am not listed in any directories other than Yahoo and DMOZ. You will never convince me that all that stands in the way of bumping my 14 year old well linked site up to position one is a few new links from marginal non-subject-specific directories.

-Eric

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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.