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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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, January 27, 2010

Announcing Link Insight Beta Program Invitation

Today I am proud to announce Link Insight and the Link Insight Beta Program, offered exclusively through search intelligence firm AdGooroo.


For many years I have wanted to find a way to take what I have learned over the course of 14+ years of link building and link marketing, and turn it into a diagnostic and strategic tool that can help web sites better understand links and the link building methodology I use. Link Insight will be that tool.

Here's a
summary of Link Insight's features and a quick screen grab below.

Many of you know AdGooroo as a highly respected provider of keyword, PPC, advertising, and natural search intelligence to search engine marketers. Their founder, Rich Stokes, and I collaborated to create Link Insight.

At the heart of Link Insight is a unique link scoring system that I've honed over many years. Link Insight can boil down hundreds of linking related signals and assign them to a few specific categories, greatly simplifying what can be an incredibly confusing amount of data.

Below is a snippet of copy from the Link Insight features page.

Forget learning dozens of useless statistics. We simplify the scoring process using a technique honed over 14 years of real-world experience!
  • Every backlink is assigned to one of four categories: TrustSignal, SpamSignal, CuratorSignal, and GeoSignal
  • TrustSignals identify authoritative backlinks which have an immediate impact on traffic and rankings
  • SpamSignals identify links which should be avoided
  • GeoSignals reflect the global distribution of your backlinks
  • CuratorSignals show how frequently a site is mentioned on social networking, bookmark, and resource sites
It took me 14+ years to know what I know about link building, and a large part of that knowledge is available now in the form of Link Insight. Please feel free to take it for a test drive via the Link Insight Beta Program.

There are many features available now, more to come, and I'll continue to provide my expertise to AdGooroo and Link Insight as we work together to adjust and fine tune it. The tuning and tweaking of the signal scoring metrics for example, is a nonstop process, and improves every day. That's what Beta's are for.

The goal is to make Link Insight as close to replicating my own private
methodology as it can be.

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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, 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.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Curly Theory of Link Building (Link Moses Resurrected 8)

I read today about how all three major search engines have removed the Geocities.com domain from their search indices. A site:geocities.com search on Google, Yahoo, or Bing shows that, as Matt McGhee illustrates here, geocities.com is "dead and buried".

*Sigh*

Once upon a time, in 2001, back in the day, I spent hours and hours seeking links from geocities sites on behalf of clients. It wasn't for rank, since rank wasn't link dependent yet, it was for subject affinity. I remember doing a project for AMCTV.com, the cable network who also had a great web site. They had launched a new section on their site devoted to the Three Stooges, as the online companion to the TV broadcasts of the Three Stooges they were showing every day.

They also had a contest to win a year supply of pies. There's still evidence of my work, preserved like fossils of link building past. Here's one.

There were so many Geocities sites devoted to the Three Stooges I was busy for days. I was amazed and remember laughing out loud at the hilarity of those Geocities sites devoted to all things Stooge, and while Geocities is gone those same folks likely live on somewhere else.

This period of time was also when I first started thinking about the true verticality of the web. The "Curly Theory" of link building was one of the theories that emerged. I've joked about it and never actually discussed it in writing, but the news of Geocities' passing made me misty, so indulge me.

The "Curly Theory" of link building is based on my discovery that even something as seemingly vertical as The Three Stooges was not vertical enough. You had to go even deeper. More vertical. Three Stooges fan pages of course, but there were sites devoted just to specific Stooges, like Curly, Moe, Larry, or even Shemp. Yep, Shemp.

But even that discovery was not vertical enough. It seems that within the realm of Three Stooges fans, you even had sites devoted to the different Curly's that appeared.

Discussions of Curly could incite a "flame war", depending on where your Curly loyalties lay. If you liked Curly over Curly-Joe, and were going to say so, you'd better be able to explain why.

While all these sites were great link targets and many would end up giving me and AMCTV.com a link, I was struck by the desire people had to be heard. Geocities gave them a platform, even if it was to put forth 33 reasons why Curly Joe would never be as good as Curly.

Hence the "Curly Theory" of link building: No matter how narrow the vertical, somebody somewhere cares about it, writes about it, links to it, and you'd darn sure better recognize and respect those editorial passions before you go asking for a link to something that may look like a match, but isn't.


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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 eric [at] ericward [dot] [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.

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.

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.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Admitting You Have a Social Network Linking Addiction

The below article from Stepcase Lifehack really resonated with me from a link building/publicity perspective.

Managing Your Social Network Addiction

In my earlier years, I often felt the need to sign up and create accounts every time a new social network or related venue/tool appeared. It's easy to get caught up in it all. Then, as time went by and those same hot brand new venues became ghost towns and/or vanished, I realized they weren't quite as crucial to my client link building efforts as I initially thought. Go back even further, and the same addiction applied to search engines. I think I submitted a few thousand URLs to Excite once upon a time...The lesson for me has been that there will always be something new, bigger, brighter, cooler, and none of them matter. What matters is meritorious content, influencer identification, and topical merit based link seeking based on one to one interactions.

To bring this around to something tangible, if you have truly outstanding and useful content, you don't have to have a perfect understanding of how to get links from every single communication tool or social network. Learn a bit about a few of them, like Twitter, delicious, digg, reddit, and stumbleupon, and then...at most all you'll need is a content publicist (aka link developer/builder) to show you how to get the link waves started.

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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, March 24, 2009

Best Practices for Flickr Link Building

Every once in a while I read an article or blog post related to link building, and it's so good I nearly wet my pants. Of course, I'm in my forties so it could be incontinence, but that's a story for another post.

There is a right way and a wrong way to go about link seeking and link building, and then there are ways that rise above everything else. A technique so sublime that as you read about it you are both mad (that you didn't think of it), but smiling at the sheer brilliance of it.

I'll get to the specific example in a moment, but first it's important to explain that when I say there is a right way and a wrong way to build links, what I should say is there are a hundred right ways and a thousand wrong ways. The approach and strategy you employ will ALWAYS depend on the venue you are pursuing links from, the content you are pursuing links for, your creativty, and your own internal ethical compass. The strategy I'm about to point you to will not work for everyone, nor should it. But the lesson to take from it is priceless.

I'm fond of throwing around the phrase "holistic link building". It makes me sound smarter than I am. The two core strategies behind holistic link building are that 1). your site is more than it's homepage, with multiple opportunities for content specific deep links, and 2). the web is filled with passionate experts who create a variety of content that you can leverage.

OK, enough introduction. This article from Lisa Barone and Rae Hoffman titled "Getting Links AND Content From Flickr" shows just how creative and clever link building can be. It does so not just by theorizing, it does so by sharing a real life case study and examples. But besides that, and perhaps most importantly (here's where I get all misty), this article shows how link building can (and should) be a very human process, not a task to be dreaded, or a chore to be completed. Please read it and see if it inspires you like it has me.


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.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Link Building Project Manager - SQuiD

I've been working quietly behind the scenes advising Disa Johnson on a link building project management tool. It's called SQuiD, and is still in its earliest stages, but functional. You can check it out at http://squid.searchreturn.com

I hope to see many additional features added to SQuiD, as SQuiD has already helped me with several link building projects, and as it evolves, it will solve one of the most challenging aspects of link building. Keeping track of the link building process over time.

As always, remember that any tool is only as good as your content will let it be. SQuiD wont help crap become non crappy:)

SQuiD will help those of you who are producing truly meaningful content.


Jake Scruggs, who helped Disa create SQuiD has posted a couple SQuiD tutorials on his blog, which I encourage you to check out.

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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.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Helping Clients See The Bigger Linking Picture


Good read written by Mike Moran over at SearchEngineGuide titled How do I get links to my Web site?

The site in question was an ecommerce site. Skis and snowboards.

Sites that are primarily ecommerce oriented present special linking challenges. Several times each month I get questions like Mike did. Ecommerce sites want links. How do they do it? Will I do it? What will it cost? How long before they see improvement in rank?

Owners of those sites are sometimes willing to listen to what I tell them, accept what they are up against, and decide what to do about it. But some want no part of an actual linking strategy. They want a quick fix. They may be resistant to the "let's add great content" approach, or if they try it, they short-cut the process because they are doing it only because they feel they have to. And even if they have a passion for the subject, they aren't writers, they are store owners.

One of the more eye-opening ways to show the client the link attraction power of passionate content is to find sites in their niche that have already attracted high value links as a result of specific content. Show them the links, show them the content linked to. Then show them a search result like this one for snowboard linkbait, so they see first hand how advanced some folks are already getting, as well as how silly. How many "snowboard selector tools" does the web need? Apparently 163,000. Seeing that I'd be tempted to go old school and create another snowboard glossary (shudder). Heck, why not just aggregate the already existing snowboard video tips onto one central page, living on your site? Nobody's done it yet.

After this exercise, show them subject specific sites they may have never thought of, but which illustrate the potential for high trust inbounds in certain niches. I use cocitation analysis, show them a specific example, and then hope the light comes on for them. For the ski equipment site, show them these pages

http://staff.niacc.edu/skiclub/
http://www.crescentskicouncil.org/clubs.html
http://www.scwdc.org/
and
http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/student/club/ski/Index.htm

They may not see the multiple and larger strategic linking implications and opportunities such sites present. Do you?



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.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Revenge of the Librarians - Don't Hate me for Being Right

.
Revenge of the Linking Librarians

Today I saw the below announcement.

I-Schools Announce Reference Extract Web Search Project

If you're so inclined, I suggest you have a look at the RefEx site, and read the above article, because it will help you understand what I have been preaching about links for over a decade.

Some perspective is in order. I spent a couple years in Library School back in the early nineties under some amazing professors, Jose-Marie Griffiths and Carol Tenopir among them. I watched as the web seemingly came out of nowhere and in some ways snuck up more than a few library school's curricula. Jose and Carol were among those who did see the web of the future, and helped me tremendously (and boy did the web kill Gopher).

I left a few courses shy of my MLS degree to start my content linking and publicity company (dubbed NetPOST back then), and have predicted to whoever would listen ever since that underpaid and hard working librarians would one day arrive en-masse and help make sense of the mess that is the web. They've already been doing this on a library by library basis for years.

I've called it Revenge of the Librarians, and it's why for many many years I have been methodically reaching out to and building contacts and rapport with librarians all over the globe. I bet over half the links I have sought for clients over the years have been from librarians. True, this is easy when the content you are seeking links for is from PBS.org, or NationalGeographic.com, or Discovery.com, but that's the point. Meritorious content earns trusted links. You can't fool a librarian.

Back when I wrote columns under the pen name Linkmoses, I preached for years about meritorious content and earned citation trust, and most of you looked at me like I was an alien. I talked about etiology and trust flow, and you laughed. Called me old school or worse. When I told you your sites weren't good enough to earn the types of merit-based links that would then result in long term earned search rank, you hung up on me and hired a black hatter. For those of you who have heard me speak at conferences, you know that at the end of my sessions I am famous for taking a moment to predict where search is headed, and the potential implications for link building. I'd whisper just one word: Librarians. I think Shari Thurow was the only one in the room who smiled.

I hinted at this in an article a couple years back titled Where Is The Mother of All Links?

Back to RefEx. I don't know what the adoption rate of this new engine/tool will be. Ultimately it will depend on the value the search results offer to the searcher. Certainly there will be value to the academic side of the search world. Consumers may need a bit of help to find it, as the inertia of search habits tends to lead us all to Google. After all, if someone with the brand, clout, and pocketbook as deep as Disney couldn't make Infoseek work, can anyone really hope to gain a foothold in today's search world? I think yes, but people wont find RefEx on their own. We can help.

In my perfect future search world, RefEx results will become a standard toggle selection option for Google, Live, and Ask, giving all searchers exposure to RefEx results, without them having to visit the RefEx site and conduct searches there. The impact of such an integration would be astounding.

-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.

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.

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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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.

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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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, 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.

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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.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Reply to Link Building Best Practices Question: How do I determine good link targets?

Asked by Steve...

"What signs do you look for to determine what a good link is?"

First my generic answer then I'll be more specific. Generic answer: A good link target will be different for every site you are seeking links for. Specific answer: For example, let's say the site you are seeking links for is devoted to everything about the history of Jazz music, like this one http://www.apassion4jazz.net, then an example of an absolute highest quality and trusted target site would be
http://www.wku.edu/Library/dlps/rsrchguides/dept/html/music.html

Why? Many reasons. First, always look for the INTENT of the target site. In my example above the intent of this library based music web guide is pretty evident. That site isn't there to sell links, barter links, swap links, trade links, triangulate links, or any other silly link scheme. The intent has nothing to do with any search engine. That site exists as a resource to help people. And whether or not this target site EVER sends even one visitor to apassion4jazz.net, really isn't important from a link building standpoint. What's important is that a link from that site and others like it send incredibley powerful signals of trust to the search engines.

The beauty of this is it doesn't take many such signals/links to get to a point where the engines will then, by extension and association, trust apassion4jazz.net as well.

And as this search result shows, they obviously do.

Eric Ward
Link Building Best Practices


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.