Thursday, December 31, 2009

Link Diversity Defined and Explained with Video (LinkMoses Resurrected 10)


Ahhh, Link Diversity...

Linkmoses loves it when a seemingly technical and complex concept can be broken down and simplified, and Rand Fishkin at SEOmoz is one of the best at doing this. Give him a whiteboard and I do believe he could solve global warming. I've embedded a video of his that beautifully explains link diversity below.

Link Diversity means different things to different people. Some folks think link diversity is the number of links you give to other sites from your site. Links out, not in. There's also the school of thought that link diversity is the total number of pages from your site that are linked to by other sites. Meaning if your site has 173 pages, and you have links from other sites linking to 28 of your 173 pages, that's link diversity. That's getting closer, but not exactly.

Here's the most basic definition of Link diversity. Link diversity is the number of different sites linking to your site. To confuse it a bit, link diversity is also when another site links to more than just one page of your site.

We can take this many steps further, and invoke the old quality of diversity mantra. Having links from 652 different domains is useless if all 652 domains come from a link farm to begin with.

Linkmoses takeaway?

Lower diversity numbers from highest quality sites trump higher diversity numbers from low merit sites.


A site with 10 inbound links, where those ten inbounds are comprised of three libraries, two universities, and five non profits, will have a much more appealing and diverse link profile than a site with 100 links from 100 different make money fast domains.

Achieving link diversity is another matter completely

The approach needed to improve link diversity will depend on your site. Sorry, no magic bullets here. The link diversity potential for a site that sells tennis gear versus a site that helps handicapped people find companion animals will be quite different. In that sense, for link diversity to have any lasting impact on traffic or rank it must be dependent upon the subject relevance of that diversity.

Below is Rand's video. It's just a few minutes of your time, and well worth it. If it wont load, you can find it at

http://vimeo.com/7973233

SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday - Link Diversity from Scott Willoughby on Vimeo.



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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 30, 2009

LinkMoses Resurrected #3 - When Cheaters Win, aka Peewater for Links

(Editor's note: See Peewater, as defined by Urban Dictionary)

You'll hear the following question/argument asked at just every online marketing conference, discussion/forum, and I'm asked it at least a few times a month.

"Why should we play by the rules when it's still possible to cheat and rank?"
I understand your frustration, and I can't argue your point, because every day my own analysis shows the exact same thing.

It annoys me as well because I will not use those tactics nor advise a client to try them.

When I begin working on link development for a client, I study the inbound link portfolios of the top 30 or 40 ranked sites across the four largest engines. And plain as day I see countless examples of pure peewater ranking well.

But...

Taking a deep breath, I begin to crunch the backlink data, and I mean hammer on tens of thousands of backlinks across 40 or 50 competitors, all fed into my old school but wickedly cool macro laden excel spreadsheet (60k records at a time, anyway).

What I see emerge time and time and time again is that it isn't always JUST the crappy links and tactics that are working. In other words, the crappy links are there, yes, but there were also some sort of merit based earned inbound(s).

I'm not saying this is the case every time because it isn't. Yes, some sites do rank with nothing more than pure peewater for links. But almost every time I've seen that happen, it's a site in a niche where there is little to no hope of getting merit based links in any volume in the first place. If the keyword searched for happens to fall into one of these niches, Google still has to do what Google does, i.e., rank them. And even if the signals are nothing but the aforementioned junk, Google will faithfully do its job, and rank someone #1 and someone #100, according to whatever signals Google can find, even if those signals are weak, or yellow. After all, is it Google's fault you are lying cheating stealing online pharmacy? No it isn't. (online pharmacy was only an example, please calm down.)

I repeat what I stated, and stick to it...
"...Yes, some sites do rank with nothing more than pure peewater for links. But almost every time I've seen that happen, it's a site in a niche where there is little to no hope of getting merit based links in any volume in the first place.
Since I know the engines are all trying to improve detection of junk links from impacting their result pages, I can't in good conscience recommend or use a tactic I know helps make the results that much worse, and which will stop working, whether tomorrow or next year.

But I also understand business. I just choose not to participate in tactics that make the web uglier.

Next up on LinkMoses Resurrected: How To Make Sure Your Press Release Is Completely and Utterly Useless

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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, November 6, 2008

Paid Links from .edu's - Good, Bad or Ugly?

A reader asked...
"What about paid links from the school newspapers. Can those hurt your rankings?"
[Quick backgrounder - printed college newspapers sell advertising just like most newspapers do. The online version of those college newspapers also sell advertising, and since the online version of most school newspapers lives on a .edu TLD, a couple years ago this created a frenzy among Pagegank driven link chasers who (thought they) found a loophole that allowed them to buy high Pagerank links from trusted sources]

I always go back to intent. Why are you wanting to buy a link from a college newspaper in the first place? There could be many legitimate reasons why you would do so. A local bar with a web site that offers nightly specials to college kids would be a natural for such a link buy. Or a local store or salon or car repair shop. Nationally, it's logical that a beer company or even Nike or Doritos would want to advertise to a college audience and maybe even try to drive a bit of traffic to a web site by buying an online link in the school newspaper web site.

The motivations and intent in the above examples are fairly evident. Doritos isn't chasing search rankings via that link buy. Nobody is searching for "tasty triangular shaped snack chips" as you can see here. No, the motivation for the links buys from Nike or Doritos or the local bar are all simple demographically driven advertising in hopes of click traffic.

Other web sites have different intent when they choose to buy an .edu based link from a school newspaper. Take a look at the bottom of the main page for the University of Tennessee Daily Beacon. Here's a link to it, and below is a screen capture of the ugliness. Remember, all these paid links are located on a University newspaper's web site in Knoxville TN.


Now you tell me the intent of these advertisers. When was the last time a college kid in Knoxville needed to rent a limo in Orlando? Buy an artificial Christmas Tree? Use a Restaurant Supply firm? Subscribe to US News and World Reports (which they can read free already)? How about never? I went to undergrad and graduate school at the above school, and I can pretty much remember most of those days. I never bought one single kitchen sink in all my years in college.

Shocking.

So why did these companies buy these links? Bad intent. Intent to game search rank via buying links on (potentially) trustworthy content. But remember, it took my average brain all of 60 seconds to find these same advertisers and links on plenty of other school newspaper web sites. How fast does the world's most powerful brain (aka algorithm) notice them? Pretty Damn Fast.

But the question was will your site be penalized for engaging in this approach? Probably not, but the larger point is the approach itself wont work, and by participating in it you send plenty of other signals to the bots that you might be very unhappy about. Why cheat in such an obvious and silly way? Why cheat when the bots are seconds away from finding it? Why cheat at all?

As I wrote in .edu Inbound Link Fallacies, all TLD's have crap, and all TLD's have gold. Paid links on a school newspaper in Tennessee about limousines in Orlando. That friend, is pure crap.

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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, September 15, 2008

LBBP - The Weekly Delete - Avis Edition

You would think the fine folks at AVIS would know better. Once upon a time Avis used the tagline "We Try Harder" in their TV ads. I wish that ethos carried over to their online marketing efforts. The below link request from AVIS's SEM firm is truly insulting. It's a great example of the Lying Link Building Liar approach (Apologies to Al Franken). Why? First, within the first 25 words they lie. After a dehumanizing greeting, the parade of lies starts with I have visited your website. No, No you haven't. Nobody could visit my site, see my picture, see my name appearing 10 times before the scroll, see that my site has nothing to do with Israel, or rental cars, or travel, and then think they could reach me via an email address with the word webmaster in it. That is, unless they never looked at my site in the first place.

You are a liar. Lie lie lie, you good-intentioned but nonetheless lying liar.


The kicker is after all that, they then write
Competitive compensation is offered. Nice. So here's what this email tells us about Avis: They are willing to buy a link on a site that they have not even seen, have no idea what the subject matter of that site it is about, and are so eager and willing to do so they will offer top dollar to whoever runs the site, which again, they have no idea who is.

All this, and we haven't even touched on the comically-long-and-strategically-kiss-of-death URL they are seeking links for in the first place.

Below is the full email, and I close with DELETE.
__________________________________
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Placing our link in your website
Date: Sun, 14 Sep 2008 23:38:44 +0300
From:
Reply-To: lxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxractive.com
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Dear Webmaster,

My name is Xxxxx and I am a member of online marketing team who handles Avis Israel.
I have visited your website and would like you to consider placing our link in your website. We are open for other options as well.If you would like to take a look at our website please do so and let us know what you think.


http://avis.co.il/avis/site/local/avis/english/Israexxxxxxxxxxxx.jsp?

Competitive compensation is offered. An answer would be greatly appreciated. Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Best Regards,

Lxxxx

Avis online marketing team

Lxxxx@xxxxxxxxxractive.com
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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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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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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.