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

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

- Click Sharethis to Tweet, share, or save this post


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.

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.

Labels: , , ,

- Click Sharethis to Tweet, share, or save this post


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.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Riding The Twitter Link Waves

(Updated August 1, 2009)

Over at SearchEngineLand is an article of mine written on titled Twitter: Incredibly Valuable Or Utterly Useless As A Link Building Tool? .

In the article I wrote:

"Where I see the real value in Twitter as a link building tool is in recognizing that many people who use Twitter have influence in very specific subject areas. If I'm announcing a niche health related web site, I can do a bit of research and quickly find which Twitter users are regularly tweeting similar health related URLs, and reach out to them...Twitter's surface allure is about fame and followers, everything shiny and bright. Twitter's deeper value, for those of us laboring away to constantly improve our search marketing campaigns, is about resource discovery and new links via a handful of experts behind the scenes, in the corners of the web most people ignore, but engines don't."
Let's follow up with a live case study, using a newer article from SearchEngineLand titled

Understanding Federated Link Building: A Primer With Examples.

The above article was posted at on Fourteen minutes after it posted, a Twitter user named @seomasterlist tweeted a link to it. Here it is (image below).

Waves and Echoes
Since seomasterlist has 1300+ followers, that means at least 1300 people had a chance to see and click that link to the article I wrote.

But this is just wave #1. In addition to @seomasterlist's tweet, 40+ other Twitter users have tweeted or re-tweeted that link.

I like the analogy of tweets and re-tweets as waves and echoes, with waves being high follower influencials and echoes being less followed but still extremely important. See this Twitter search result list which is only accurate for a few days or weeks after this post was written.

Remember that over time the above search result will show LESS activity, not MORE, because Twitter search doesn't archive and then grow that archive over time like Google does. In a beautifully ironic twist, as Tweets age they vanish from Twitter search, and start being found by Google. Click this Google search.

Federated Link Building site:twitter.com






Notice as of July, Google is showing over 120 Twitter users have tweeted links to my article, Whereas Twitter now shows none.

Note among the Google results the variety and style of links, all ending up at that same article. You have to follow the result to the Tweet permalink, but what you'll find is some links tweeted via a URL shortener, like this from @tweetingseo

Search Engine News - Understanding Federated Link Building:
http://bit.ly/pX9Oh


Some are to the SEL RSS feed, like this from Twitter user @mcmaktoby


And some are direct links, like this tweet from @craig_burgess

Understanding
Federated Link Building: A Primer With Examples http://searchengineland.com/understanding-federated-link-building-a-primer-with-examples-21056

Each of these links will deliver a clicker to my article. Think pass-along readership from the print world. But...remember not every tweet is seen by every one of your Twitter followers every time. When you are offline you don't see my tweets, and when I'm offline I don't see yours. By the time you log back in to Twitter, my tweet is likely off your list of current tweets, and may never be seen at all. You can't click what you don't see.


Still, here's some Twitter math to illustrate the power of Twitter Link Waves. As of 2 days after the initial tweeted link to my article...

Total Twitter users who have tweeted a link to the article
41

Total number of followers those 41 Twitter users have
53,282

Total number of Twitter users who had a chance to see a link my article

52,270
(I removed my own followers keep this honest)

As for how many of those 52,270 people saw, clicked on, and read my Federate LinkBuilding article at SearchEngineLand, only the folks at SearchEngineLand can know for sure. What's truly amazing is the speed with which links ride waves/skip through Twitter-space. It's only been two days since I posted that article, and all because of Twitter, over 52,000 people had a chance to see it.

Follower Overlap and Co-followers
Remember this is just the Twitter users, and only those Twitter users who used the article title in their tweet text, meaning I can find them by searching. Not everyone tweets an article title. Some just write "good article" and include a short-cut link, meaning I wont find those with a keyword search.

We also have to remember that within any vertical, follower overlap is higher. In other words, since my articles have a tendancy to get shared the most within the SEO/SEM industry, and since many folks in the SEO/SEM industry follow each other, I must assume that the 52,000 followers include a significant overlap.

For example, I follow 20 of the 41 people who tweeted my article link, so I would see that same link tweet 20 times. For the sake of argument let's assume a 50% follower overlap. Even then over 25,000 people received that link.

Interesting side notes

- Speaking of Twitter follower overlap, check out Venn'd which offers a nifty twitter follower overlap analysis, or twtrfrnd, which will show you the common followers for any two twitter usernames. And Who follows whom let's you do cofollower analysis for up to five usernames.

- You can search Google for tweets, by restricting your search to the twitter domain like this

"Understanding Federated Link Building" site:twitter.com

See the image above in the earlier example. The Google result will, especially over time, give a far more accurate count than Twitter's own search engine will.

What Does It All Mean?
You should be incorporating Twitter into your link sharing/building efforts, but don't make the mistake of thinking Twitter is just a link broadcasting tool waiting for you to exploit it. There are very subtle aspects to Twitter which belie the 140 limit. Tweeted links can definately affect rank, but as much as Twitter is "new school", proper use of it is very much "old school" in that you still need to identify and reach out to a key influncer on a one-to-one level. Twitter is simply a very cool tool that allows us to do this. You just have to know how to do so properly.

-------------------------------------------
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]

Labels: , , ,

- Click Sharethis to Tweet, share, or save this post


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, March 31, 2009

How Twitter Can Impact Link Building

Live now over at SearchEngineLand is this week's Link Week column:

Twitter: Incredibly Valuable Or Utterly Useless As A Link Building Tool?

Before you start your attack, yes, I know people are saying Twitter has already jumped the shark and become nothing more than a popularity contest. In some instances I agree it is, but from a merit based link building perspective, forget the Twitter masses.

Twitter is not just about Shaq and his 490,000 followers, clicking like sheep whatever URL the big guy tweets.

Twitter is also about small groups of subject specific influencers, and what they do with the links they learn about.

Read more


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 lbbp@ericward.com

Labels: , ,

- Click Sharethis to Tweet, share, or save this post


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.