*NOTE – If you were directed to this page from issue #196 of LinkMoses Private, my apolgies and here’s the link you need to receive Matt LaClear’s book offer.
Live Linking Strategies Video Q/A session including transcript (over 20,000 words)
Eric Ward answers your linking strategy questions live during a 2 1/2 hour Q/A
Click below to watch
Summary: This live video hangout gave readers of my LinkMoses Private newsletter the opportunity to ask any questions they wanted to about links, link building strategies and best practices, link development, online public relations, and many other linking related topics. Originally scheduled to go two hours but delayed twice due to weather, the video ended up being 2 1/2 hours long with hundreds of live viewers. The recording of the live video is now free for anyone to view above.
Below you’ll find a transcribed version of the entire 156 minute Q/A, which was no small feat and thank you to Matt LaClear for transcribing it.
I’ll try to do these live video sessions at least once a month, with each one focusing on a different topic. So far, the most requests I receive are for live real-time Q/A sessions, so for now, that’s what I’ll do.
To watch additonal linking strategy videos I’ve produced go to https://www.ericward.com/link-building-video-eric-ward.html.
Transcription of Live Linking Strategies Q/A from May 25, 2017
Eric: Feel free, anyone who’s listening to this, share it! Share it wherever you want to share it. Tweet it, post it, email it. At this point, I’m just going to stay online until midnight. I’m going to answer every question that you all can answer.
Do you know how I blame this one? I blame this on one person and one person only. I can’t even say his name. But it’s that black hat bast*** that runs all of the private blog networks in Russian in Poland.
I love if that were true, but the reality is…I’ll tip off something that’s coming down the road. I’m going to start a podcast. Trust me, it’s not going to be as technically savvy as what you’ve witnessed so far. I’m going to hire some people to come into my office and I’m going to set up a true podcast…. podcast is an overused word. I’m tempted to call it a radio station. WLINK. Probably try to do a weekly show where I take questions live. My opinion is having spoken at a number of events, and because I’m a little bit psycho and animated, and drink a lot of Red Bull, I do best not by voice only, but by video.
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What I’m going to do is start digging into the questions in a minute. We have probably 60 questions to get to. I don’t think I’ll get to all of them today, but I’m certainly going to try to do my best.
As you know, I’m self-conscious about my glasses, I hate having to put them on to read questions, but the reality is that’s also what happens when you stare at a computer screen for 20 years. I used to be able to read license plates on cars from about a mile away. My kids were like, “Oh my, God, how can you read that?” Now, I basically need one of the Reader’s Digest with the big font to be able to read anymore.
Let’s quit complaining. First of all, a big shout out to Matt LaClear from Your SEO Squad. Matt is someone I just have gotten to know recently and has really helped. I was about ready to stop doing these Q&A’s. Right now, I’m looking down and it looks like I have more viewers than I thought I was going to get.
After we had the glitch, I thought we would lose everybody. But we have, it looks like we may end up breaking a couple hundred viewers before this is over. Especially if any of you out there are willing to Tweet the link. In fact, just to make sure you have it, let me grab it. Let’s make it useful for anyone that’s willing to watch. Share it with whoever you want to share it with.
Great, I just lost 3 viewers, so I must have said something offensive. It won’t be the first time, ask my wife.
We have the questions and are about to dig in.
One last quick question. The last post I put over on the Live Chat. Mr. Shockley. Eric, thanks for doing this Q&A. When performing outreach with content do you prefer emailing or calling? I will get to it, I appreciate the question.
The numbers are jumping up.
I wish you guys realized when this failed to start at the time that I wanted to and when it looked like I wasn’t going to be able to get my microphone working, I was pretty much ready to jump off the cliff because I had to postpone this for three or four different times because of weather, concussion to my kid, and all sorts of reasons.
Thank you for everyone for your patience, for coming back here.
The reason the color is like this because, first of all, I’m sunburned from baseball. I helped coach my son’s baseball team, and we got fried yesterday. Secondly, it’s really dark and rainy today. So if the color looks off, that’s not just because of the anger and rage I felt before this Q&A started.
The very first question comes from Nick.
“We’re in the middle of a site redesign and we made sure we retained all of our links by maintaining proper redirects.”
Good, good, good, glad to hear that.
“My question is, we’re also considering creating a mobile version of this site.”
Also a good idea.
“But, I’ve read there are several ways to do this. One of which is called a Mdot.”
For y’all who may not have heard of that, that’s when instead of going to www.ericward.com, you would go to m.ericward.com and that would signify it’s a mobile website. The challenge with that is it’s typically a completely different website, viewed as a different website by Google. At least, the last time I heard. Therefore, it can divide the potential you have for organic traffic and potentially even click traffic.
My personal opinion, with the caveat that I say every time is, my expertise is links. For 22 years all I have ever focused on was links. How links appear on the web, how links migrate across the web, why people choose to link to what they link to. I’ve watched in horror as Google released the PageRank toolbar. Not that it was a bad thing, but because it spawned an entire new subset of industries that were based totally on manipulating Google and treating links as things. As like quarters you put in a slot machine. As you’ve heard me say, many times, links are not things. Links are a representation. Links represent something somebody finds valuable. Links represents something somebody wants to share. Links represent content. Links represent a human manifestation of a desire to let somebody else know about something useful.
Links were never supposed to be Google fuel. In many ways, Google created its own nightmare that it’s basically had to spend a decade… Think of all the updates they’ve had to create just to stop the spammers, and the spammers continue to, not thrive, Google is getting much smarter, but it’s certainly easy to manipulate Google, if that’s a game you want to play.
I’ll give you an example of a website. https://www.careersingear.com/ There’s a reason I’m showing you this specific to the question about whether to create a mobile website.
One of the first things you need to know about from a linking perspective is if you have multiple websites, you have to build multiple links. Whether it’s for organic search traffic or just regular click traffic. This is an example of a website. I’ve just begun working with them on a number of different projects. It’s specific to the trucking industry.
One of the coolest free tools you’ll ever see if you’re wondering how a website will look across a number of different devices. The tool is quirktools.com. If you place your URL in the tool and click go, the first thing it will do show you what the website looks like at the base level. You can check 10-inch notebook, 24-inch desktop. We notice on the right-hand side we start to lose the logo.
Because there are so many different form factors and tools that people can use to look at websites…
Here’s what’s also cool, you’re wondering what it looks like on a tablet? If you go with responsive design, what’s it going to look like a phone? Everything from a Motorola Razor to an iPhone 6 you can check how the site will look.
The key takeaway is the URL does not change for Careers in Gear. Careersingear.com will basically be the identical website and content regardless of what device somebody is using to look at it.
The reason I like responsive web design; I’ve done this myself for my own site and it was a nightmare and a headache and thank God for Brian Clark and the Rainmaker platform. I had a 22-year-old website I maintained by hand, there was no way I would be able to make it responsive on my own. I don’t have that kind of technical acumen. The cool thing about this is any link equity you have or attracted to this website, are going to work. They’re going to help you rank whether someone is doing a search on a mobile device, on a tablet, or on a desktop.
That’s the vital thing. You’re not going to lose any link equity or develop some other linking strategy for a Mdot version of your website.
I know several years ago, when mobile first started taking off, there wasn’t a thing called responsive design. As a result of that, a lot of people started creating the Mdot sites. I can tell you from the emails I receive now, people telling me they created a site in mobile version and now they’re going back to responsive and they want me to tell them what kind of link equity they lost during the time they had the Mdot version, and how to recapture whatever link equity was lost.
This is where it becomes, in my opinion, crucial. Google is on record saying that their preference is a responsive design.
Let me do a quick introduction for the people that don’t know who I am.
My name is Eric Ward. I started link development/link building roughly 4 1/2-5 years before Google existed. My background is advertising, public relations, and marketing. I worked for a company that my division was sold to Time, Inc. I went back to graduate school with what little severance pay I had. I was single at the time. It was around 1991, 1992.
Through serendipity I learned about the internet. I was a sales guy. I flew around the country in a suit and tie selling Proctor a& Gamble brand managers advertising in a number of different publications. I learned about the internet.
I was viewing the internet through the lenses of a marketing and advertising guy. I thought, “Oh my God, this is going to be like a new medium.”
How I first got started with local clients in Knoxville. Sea Ray boats, Goodson Bros coffee, who were just getting on the web. When I was publishing and building links for those types of websites, I wasn’t doing it for rankings at Google. Why? There wasn’t any Google.
Larry and Sergei, who I got to know and speak with as the years went on over the subsequent decades were still just grad students at that time. Creating their new search engine that none of us knew about.
When I started, it was Lycos, hotspot, WebCrawler, Infoseek, AltaVista. Altavista was the main search engine we all used. But, none of those search engines used links. None of them analyzed links. The search results you got pre-google had nothing to do with links. The strategies I would be developing for clients had nothing to do with SearchRank.
The title I gave myself on my first business card was Online Content Publicists. I have spent over 22 years, worked with over 2,000 clients, spoken at 160 conferences, wrote a best-selling book, all devoted to a certain style of link development, link acquisition. I don’t like the word link building because I think it devalues what we do. Some of you are link developers and linking strategists. What we do is we help content find the audience it was intended for, and the audience find the content.
That can happen through a se arch engine, it can happen because you decided to sponsor a marathon in Knoxville, TN. it can happen because you made a donation to the Youthful LaCrosse club in San Diego, CA. It can happen because you have academic content that resonated with librarians. The approach I would take is to look at the content I was representing or the company and the website they created.
I would go through a series of questions:
Who was this content designed for?
Who would be most likely to care about this content and want to consume it?
Who would be the people that would help that process to happen?
None of the decisions I made about publicizing and build traffic for websites, had anything to do with Google.
Fast forward five years and Google comes on the scene. Like it or not, there were people who said…I was on a discussion list and Disney had just bought Infoseek and everybody said google will never unseat Infoseek because Infoseek had Disney money backing it now. So Infoseek has won the search engine wars.
But, I was looking at Google’s search results and thinking they were solid. Fortunately for me, this is when I started caring about links even more. All my clients ranked on page one and most of them ranked 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. That’s when I recognized that I have to figure out, what did I just do that Google liked. What was it about my linking strategies? My publicity. My promotion campaigns. The links I was acquiring and helping my clients earn. Why did Google like them?
That’s when I hired a guy I was working with back then at the University of Tennessee who was a programmer. He helped developed scripts, based on the specs I gave him to help me to identify…back then you could get a link to every website just by using the link colon operator at Google. It was a fire hose. I would pull down hundreds of thousands of links. I would do searches on competitive phrases. I would identify and slowly start to analyze these links and spreadsheets and that was how I figured out what Google wanted to see. That’s how I figured out what Google wanted to rank.
Believe it or not, it’s identical today. It’s absolutely identical today in terms of what Google wants to surface as it was way back then. The problem was, between then and now, the spammers arrived and tried to destroy Google’s algorithm. I’ve said many times, in a perfect world, Google’s algorithm is perfect. The problem is, we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in a world where Google is being attacked by blog networks, paid links that were designed to manipulate, by engineered anchor text, and by any one of another of things that I could talk on for hours.
Think about this. Google is probably one of the wealthiest public companies in the world. They have scientists working on their algorithm day and night. Are they working to identify quality? No., they already know how to do that. What Google is spending the lion’s share of its money on how is identifying the crap that it should not be allowing into its search results. Google is spending the majority of its time and coding efforts on identifying things like link networks. Manipulative links.
I’m not saying they’re doing a perfect job, and they still have work to do. What was interesting to me was to learn by total accident, I tell people many times, if the division I worked for had been sold five years later than it was, I don’t have a career. As the result of the timing of me going to school when I did go, and learning about the web and the internet when it was in its nascent phases.
There’s a guy Mark Andreeson who you may have heard of. He now runs a venture capital company. I remember Mark when he was still in college in Illinois writing the first web browser. It was called Mosaic. I think you can find the link on my website to the beta release of Mosaic 1.0. The first web browser that let you see text and images at the same time.
Here’s the cool thing about responsive design. If you were looking at my site on the website, my picture is over my name and a call to action. Look what happens as I started to change it. What happens if someone tries to pull my website up on my phone. My picture drops on top of everything. My menu structure becomes the classic hamburger menu where you can see various options.
Why does this matter? Because I didn’t lose any link equity after I went from the static website to the responsive design. The 25,000-inbound links that I earned over 20 years were still helping me rank. In fact, I only care about two or three search terms. Linking strategies, linking strategy expert, link building expert. I could care less about ranking for the phrase link building. All that does is get me a bunch of people that want to know how to benefit Google.
My personal answer to the question is to go responsive, don’t go M-dot.
You may need an app at some point depending on what kind of site you have and what your goals are. But the cool thing about responsive design is as its shrunken down to fit on the phone, it starts to look like an app anyway. It already kind of shrinks itself. So long as the user’s experience on the smaller version, it can kind of feel like an app.
“Eric, I have two questions for you. Feel free to answer either one or both. It seems about six months ago, there have been more website owners who are offering blogger outreach. I’m also receiving more inquiries from companies who claim to be able to post content from me on a number of different high authority domains. I’ve usually done the writing of the posts in-house, but I want to make sure these aren’t link farms or may become link farms in the future.”
I’m going to take a risk here in offending somebody. For those of you that know me, I’m going to call it like it is. Way too many of you are making this mistake. In my inbox, I maintain a folder that I titled “Poor Execution”. I bet many of you are receiving emails like this. Here’s the problem and the challenge you face. First, why in the heck would anybody send this email to me if they had taken the time to look at my website and read even one of my articles? Everybody knows I absolutely refuse to manipulate Google because I know I can achieve number 1 for certain types of content without having to go near anything gray hat. So why somebody would send the email to me is beyond me.
It says, “Hello, I hope you’re doing well.” Well, there’s my first sign. Let’s kind of blend this over into outreach. “Hello, I hope you’re doing well.” First, if you’ve ever been to my website, which is ericward.com, my logo says ericward.com. There’s a picture of me on ericward.com, the URL is ericward.com. How the heck could you visit my website and then send me an email to “Hello?” How about Hello, Eric? I would have maybe thought you didn’t just stick me in an email database.
Let’s get to the meat of the matter here.
“Would you give us the opportunity for publishing one of our articles as a guest post on your website? We’ve had our articles published in major websites like Entrepreneur, CEO, etc. Here are some links for your reference.”
This is very like some of the emails that I receive. Here’s a guy selling backlink services on a private blog network. I’m not going to tell you what I do with these, but let me at least say if you’ve ever been to my website, you’ll see I’m the only linking strategist in the history of the web that received a testimonial from Matt Cutts.
I’m sure many of you listening can’t stand Matt and I get that. But Matt had a job to do. Matt and I spoke on more panels than I can remember. We would have lunch, and I would explain to him my approach, my beliefs, the ethos in how I go about approaching things for my clients and he respected that and gave me a testimonial. Why would anyone send me this type of email?
This email from Clare, let’s hope she’s doing stuff different now. The email is written to firstname.lastname@example.org. So, that’s legit. The email does exist. Had that said email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Towhomitmayconcern@eric.com, email@example.com, I would have deleted it without even reading it. But she at least sent it to an email address that exists.
One of the things, and I know it may seem minor, but if there’s an extra space before the comma after your name, that’s a database glitch. So, it was basically produced by a mail merge program that didn’t put the comma in the right place.
“Hello, hope you’re doing well. I’m Clare from Juxdigital, we are a full service digital marketing firm and we bring you high authority editorial links to improve your Google rankings drastically.” By the way, ended with a comma, not a period. Do I need to get picky about that? Yeah, I do need to get picky. If someone is trying to earn my business and they’re claiming the business they’re trying to earn is how they’re going to assist me in getting these dofollow backlinks and talk to your publications, could you at least use proper English and punctuation?
Secondly, they’re telling me these top tier publications are Forbes, HuntingtonPost, Entreprenuer, CEO, TechCrunch, and many more.
I have some news for you. Google is totally aware that these websites with famous brands…What people would do is create profiles on all of these websites. At first with the idea of trying to promote themselves and generate business. Then, as the months went on, as they started having five, ten, forty articles posted on these websites, they realized something. They could go back and place dofollow links in their already existing links and new content. Why? They earned the trust of the Forbes, and HuffPo, etc. Those companies love it. Forbes loves people publishing content for them. Why? Fresh content for the search engines.
The reality is, if you look at this, what it’s suggesting is basically a violation of Google’s quality guidelines. This was sent to me a month ago.
Am I telling you, don’t do this? No. The reality is, if I’m being honest with myself, we’re not talking about breaking laws here. What we’re talking about is your risk tolerance. Depending on what kind of business you’re in. Depending on your risk tolerance. As long as you accept that there’s the potential for you to get busted for this, then go for it. If you feel like it can help you “improve your rankings drastically.”
She did very little research because I don’t need my rankings to improve drastically. If the phrase I care about are link building expert or linking strategy development, and I rank #1 for that, what would drastic improvement be?
If you decide to pursue this approach, you have to be prepared to accept the consequences. I’m not going to tell you, don’t do it. What I’m telling you is this is a violation of Google’s quality guidelines. Google has said that although their algorithm can now identify and devalue links without penalizing, Google has also made it very clear that if they feel a site is doing a violation en masse, they never give us percentages or numbers there. But if they discover that, they will penalize.
What I’m trying to say is, for myself…I haven’t written on my own blog in a long time. Would I ever let somebody write content about me and what I do and place anchor text links in it even though I knew it would exist on Forbes or HuffPo? Hell, no. I don’t want to have any association. I know what my link profile looks like and I don’t want links from those sites.
I know there are some sites that they got to get what they got to get. You may not be penalized for that if you have a strong enough link profile already that it doesn’t catch the eye of Google. If a human quality writer spots those, you’re dead. You’re busted. A human quality writer can spot that kind of manipulation in a heartbeat.
I know Google quality writers. That’s all I can say about that.
“I’ve heard and read about using long tail keywords as a way for smaller domains with a lower budget to compete with larger domains to compete for the same keywords. How is this best implemented and can you ever do it?”
The answer to “can you do it” is absolutely. I’m not a fan of the phrase “Long tail keywords”. Let’s use the phrase less competitive keywords. Yeah, it can be done, but I can’t sit here and say whether it can be done for your site without first doing some research into your site and the competitors. I can say with 100% confidence, because I’ve done it, that you can pick some specific words that aren’t as competitive and then through content initiatives and through some really focused outreach, you can push yourself to above those major brands rankings for those specific phrases.
If you multiply that or if you replicate that process, it’s challenging. If you’re going to try to go after someone like a Home Depot for a home improvement related query, that’s a tough win. At the same time, if you ran a business that specialized in something unique. Maybe it was hand carved wooden arches for entryways. Or interior rooms. Vintage stuff. Stuff Home Depot does not offer. You may have a collection of services, products, offerings, that does compete with Home Depot, but why try? Why go after Home Depot when Google seems to favor the major brands anyway?
I do believe that it can be done. At the same time, I can’t tell you that every site can do it. You have to take a look at each site’s situation and scenario. I can go in there and look at what you’re up against and I could probably cobble together a strategy. But then I would try to teach you. I would rather spend a couple of weeks and a couple of hours or a few sessions on the phone with you to show you how to do it.
I know that sounds crazy. I would rather you spend less money with me and let me show you what you need to do so you can be successful doing this and replicate it. It teaches a person to fish, rather than you sending the money to me.
No one is going to be as passionate about your website as you are.
“Eric, we launched the Woodworking Glossary which earned many good links. We mentioned making use of our images in our post, that worked. We still use the very image you suggested. We’ve gotten some good links from with our industry. Woodworking carpentry, joinery, in the past by creating useful content. But how do we go about getting worthwhile links from related sectors? From sites that aren’t specifically woodworking focused, but are within a similar category. In your view would those links from related sectors, be links that would be worth having. If we have good links from sites without industry, how would we go about earning links from a wider internet? Links that are worth having. Our website is wonderworkersuk.co.uk”
The website is in the UK. Gate expectations. It’s a cool website. We can see they make gates. If we scroll down the website, we’ll also see they make some beautiful gates. I wish you were here, we have a gate that’s falling apart.
I love the work you do. I’m not going to fib. I looked at the site prior to this and I have an idea for you. When I was looking at this, where you they make the garden gates. They’re lovely. When you look at the various garden gates, that got me thinking. Because of that, I did a quick search.
You’re based in North Wales. Remember, I’m focusing specifically on one of the things you guys create. Garden Gates. I did a search for the phrase North Wales gardening club. Why? I had a hunch that there probably were some gardening clubs and they were probably very near you. Some people are incredibly meticulous about their gardens. Meaning they potentially represent an opportunity for you to do some outreach and start to build a rapport.
This is business development. This is Bus Dev 101. It’s just it can potentially result in links later.
This website right here has put together a collection of a number of the garden societies located in the U.K. If you’re a member of a gardening club or gardening society, the chances are, you have one heck of a nice garden on your property. Whether or not you need a gate, I can’t answer that for you. But what I’m trying to do is steer you towards an audience that has the potential to…
Think of Venn Diagrams, who needs a garden gate? Well, people with gardens. What percentage of those people with gardens need garden gates? Probably not that many. Where do our Venn Diagrams intersect? The point they intersect is people that have large or important gardens or maybe gardens they’re trying to keep people out of because they’re private. Maybe they’re wealthy people and they have a garden and it needs to be locked. Maybe they’re not. I love the idea of reaching out to these gardens because as you reach out to these gardens you’ll be able to…
Let’s just go to one and see if we can get lucky. This one is a horticulture society. The Cohen Bay horticulture society. I don’t know where they’re located, let’s make sure they’re in the UK. Looks like they are. They have events. They have an event that just happened. It looks like in June they also have events at these various gardens. I think you know where I’m headed with this. Think about all of the various garden clubs and societies out there that you could do some outreach to. You could offer them a discount, you could ask them if there were any gardens that their members knew about that needed to be featured on your websites that had gates already.
My hunch is, on this page alone, if we were to tally up all the people that were members of these garden clubs, and this is just one page that chose to curate them. We’ve got hundreds of potential prospects that we could go through.
One of the things I would strongly suggest… Look at these groups, the North Wales Group. The Alpine Garden Society. The National UK website, the North Wales webpage. This is right in your back yard. They have shows.
This is the audience that would be most inclined to care about these kind of garden gates. These would be the kind of websites that if they were going to link to you, if you were going to earn that link by offering a discount or by trying to feature…
Ultimately the strategy that’s hard for me to throw together in five minutes, but I can promise you there’s a strategy here that will earn you links, help you rank. Also, for those people that do searches on things like garden gates where I would love to believe…
Just out of curiosity, let’s see what happens. Let’s go to Google UK. If you want to text me if you’re listening, tell me what your money words are. Let’s do a search on custom garden gates. Remember, your site here is Woodworkersuk.co.uk. Garden gates are just one of the things that you do.
We have Wood Gate company. Looks like they specialize in that. Gate Rights. Garden Trellis. eBay. Cockle Storm Garden. That’s a subsection it looks like of additional things they might do. Gate Expectations. Ah, wait a minute. Is that you? It sure. Woodworkersuk.co.uk, you are already ranking top ten. It would take, in my opinion, it would take you less than 15 inbounds from gardening or horticulture or garden club websites for you to jump. I can’t say you’ll jump to position one without you doing an in-depth backlink analytics. I’m not going to sit here and tell you how high you can get, but what I can tell you is seeing you rank that high already when based on your email you’ve probably never really pursued those types of links, that there’s tremendous opportunity there. Specifically, for that particular product line. You also could probably also replicate across some other product lines.
The short answer to your question is absolutely. Were those links work having? Absolutely. You already have good links from within your industry. That’s proven by the fact that Google just ranked you I think at position 5 or 6 for a phrase that you’ve probably never optimized for. I hope that was a useful answer to your question.
Let’s move on.
“Eric, it’s my first Q&A, I’m excited…here’s my question if you can get to it this week. How do you go about organizing your link building campaign?”
What a great question. When I’m organizing…I still do outreach. I’m a one-person business so I can’t do it for…I could probably handle two clients a month where I’m creating the strategy, developing the plan, or blueprint, and then doing the execution. The reality is, the more clients I take on for outreach, the less effective I’m going to be for each of them. Some I’ve refused to take on.
The reason I keep doing it. People keep asking me how you can possibly still like doing link building after 22 years. Well, it’s because what I’m doing isn’t link building. What I’m doing is business development. Helping people develop relationships.
What’s my litmus test question for those of you who have seen these presentations before? Would you want the link if there was no Google? Your answer has to be Yeah. Go back to that woodworking site. If there is no Google, how are people going to find out about his gates? Probably because he’s going to have to build relationships with those gardening clubs. The first litmus test always is, when you see a link target, would you want that link if there was no such thing as Google? Your answer needs to be Yes. I get the reality of it. That there are some links you go after because you know they’re going to help your organic search rank, they’re likely not to be viewed as a black hat or manipulative link.
There’s holes, there’s pockets, we all know they’re there. But the reality is, ultimately, you do not want your success or failure as a business to be reliant upon Google’s algorithmic tweaks. Because, as we saw as thousands of businesses went out of business because they did that very thing. They relied on Google rankings for their success. What I’m saying is the ultimate scenario that you’re after is that your traffic is increasing, your Google rankings are increasing, great, because you’re earning legitimate links based on getting links on sites that are legitimate horticulture or gardening clubs. But, your bottom line, the money you’re making, is increasing more from the relationships you’re building than from your Google organic rankings.
To me, that’s the best-case scenario you could hope for because you’re reducing your reliance on organic traffic from Google, who we know, next week… You can do a search on Google and see that Google is infiltrating so many different verticals right now. Now, I’m not saying they’re going after garden gates as a vertical. But, think about how many searches that Google used to send you on your way to another website to give you the answer. It’s obvious to me when I do searches, that Google would like to keep you at Google and answer the question without you leaving. They’ve infiltrated everything from music lyrics to hotel reservations. What did they just get into last week? I apologize that I can’t remember. It might have been live events. They’re selling tickets now.
I’ve said it before, Google is not your friend. Google is a business, Google needs traffic, Google needs conversions. Google does not need to send people to your website. Google does need to provide good search results for those who are doing deep research. But don’t kid yourself. Google’s number one mission, is to make money for its shareholders. Google’s number two mission is to make sure it has the absolute best search engine in the world because that will help them meet their number one objective. So, there it is. I’ll fight with anybody…I’ll argue anybody on that point all day long.
Let’s move on to the next question.
“Eric, would you advise…cloaked…”
Actually, I’m going to have to ignore this one and I apologize. It’s a question about cloaked affiliate links that they’re trying to rank and he mentions his main site. “My question is how do I go about ranking cloaked affiliate sites?”
The answer is…You don’t. Go for it, if you want to try to rank cloaked affiliate sites when Google has plain said, if you try to rank cloaked affiliate sites, we will blow your site out of the water. We will nuke you. Then go for it. So long as you can accept that potential outcome, cloak away. I’m not going to give you the answer on how to do it because it’s as easy as you doing a Google search on “how do I cloak affiliate links?”
You’ll find people who are experts at that. And hurry because it’s just a question of when Google gets good enough at it. When Google discovers that, if and when they discover it, you’re busted. So, go forth and, I wish you the best of luck on it. Every penny you make, stick it in the bank, because it would be foolish, reckless for me to tell you to cloak affiliate links and that that will work forever. It’s not going to. We’ve seen Google devalue complete types of linking strategies. Basically, render them useless. Article marketing. Mass article marketing.
Remember all those websites that used to exist like ezine articles? Article pro, articles for everyone, article snatch, biz articles, submit your articles. There were hundreds of sites you could submit articles to, and it worked for a while, and now it doesn’t. Directories. There were thousands of directories. They still exist out there for those that are foolish enough to get in them. Directories themselves aren’t useless. What you need to understand that there are certain directories for your business that make perfect sense for you to be in. If you sell equipment related to the concert and festival industry, well then it makes perfect sense for you to make sure your company is listed in the concert and festival industry buyers guide and directory because that’s the kind of directory Google is going to trust, that’s the kind of directory your customers are reading, and that’s the kind of…
Oh, you just saw my dog in the corner. That’s Roxy-roo. Hey, Roxy, you just interrupted my Q&A. Do you want to come over here? Come here. You guys got to meet Roxy. Come here. Alright, Roxy doesn’t want to meet you. Like most link builders, she prefers to work alone.
The point there is, if you want to cloak affiliate links, go for it, but not only do I not know how to do it, I never want to know how to do it.
Some people think I’m stupid for that. Eric, you and your Mr. White hat approach all these years has kept you from getting rich. No. What kept me from getting rich was investing…Oh, man, this is getting into more personal stuff, but that’s why these thinks, I think why you watch them. You certainly don’t watch them…well…anyway.
My wife, who is a nurse, left nursing to help me with my business from 1994 to 1999. During those five to six years, the two of us working in a small office, before we had kids, we made well over a million bucks. I had clients like National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, PBS, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros, NBC, Weather Channel, Amazon.com. What happened was, I got invited to speak at conferences. Everybody wants to hire that guy that worked with those big companies. It wasn’t necessarily that I had any magic over anybody else, I was just there first. There was also such a frenzy and so much money to get on the web that people…I guess the day I knew that things were crazy, my wife and I were on vacation in Florida. I brought my laptop there back when it was the days of the modem. We were on vacation and I was checking my email and had an inquiry from Disney. Disney was launching a brand-new website devoted to family vacations. They said, we need a proposal. I had done some work for them already. We need a proposal and we need it by the end of business today.
That pissed me off because their assumption because they were Disney, I would immediately drop everything and write them a proposal. I thought, indicated a little bit of a lack of respect for what I did. They just saw me as someone to help them accomplish a goal and get us our proposal by five o’clock or else. So, I said to my wife, I’m going to put together a proposal for them and I’m going to make it such a ridiculously high price that they never will say yes. And I’ll be darned if they said yes. I’m not going to tell you what that number was, but it was five figures, for a campaign that probably took me a month. That’s how crazy things were.
So, when people make fun of me and say, why are you still doing this 22 years later? Here’s why, because I took all that money I had made and I invested it, literally one year before the dot com crash. I invested all my money in dot coms because I was a true believer. I put fortunes in dot com companies that now don’t even exist. Then came the terrorist attacks and the entire market tanked, then came the real estate crash. There was one thing I still had left, and that was a good reputation in business, a solid business model, and what I did worked. Basically, I picked myself up and started over. Then we started having children. Now I have three children. If any of you know what that means, it’s hard when you’re one person, consultant, linking strategist to ever get rich when you have three kids. I don’t know what got me off on that tangent.
Time out. Link building is hard work. I need to replenish my electrolytes. And if you think that’s Gatorade, no, that’s a little pick me up.
Let’s go to the next question. And I’m sorry, Steve, that’s all I have to say about cloaked links. Go for it. Good luck, and I hope you don’t get blown up, I hope you succeed.
“I would like to propose a topic for today’s Q&A, please keep my name and other personal information private.” Ok, I’ll do that…Thomas J…I’m kidding.
“I’m a newcomer to SEO, but I decided to follow you and Michael Martinez.” Good move. Is that Roxy again in the corner? Sorry, I work from an office above the garage at my house. It’s raining outside so I bring Roxy, our golden retriever, into my office. Also, because sometimes I’m lonely. I’m the lonely link builder. Sometimes having a dog as a companion is all you have.
Back to the question.
“How do you compete with PBN ranked websites?”
PBN, for those of you that have never heard of it, is private blog networks. We’ll talk more about those in a moment.
“I know the question is very broad. The local and national search engine rankings are still riddled with spammy results.”
“That have rankings boosted by PBN’s.”
That, I can’t speak to because…I could but I’m not going to speak to it as regards to the PBN’s. I think a lot of the people controlling the PBN’s are using tactics similar to this one. I’m not going to show you the website, but what it does is it teaches people how to hide the links on these PBN’s from the backlink analytics tools like Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs, Cognitive, and some of the other tools.
The idea here is, maybe it’s best explained. Let’s say I have a thousand blogs I’ve created. I own them all. I produce the content for them or I outsource the content production on all of these blogs. But they’re mine, I own the domains. I can use either my robots.txt, or my htaccess file and I can tell every one of those backlink analytics tools to stay the heck away from my website. If Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs, and Cognitive SEO, are not crawling my thousand blogs, that means they cannot discover the links on those blogs. If they can’t discover the links on those blogs, they can’t report them to people who are trying to analyze and figure out what the competitors are up to. That’s why sometimes you look at the backlinks of a competitor on ahrefs or Moz and you’re wondering, how are they possibly ranking for that phrase, when all they have is 27 referring domains and 67 backlinks.
I’m not going to say that it’s not possible that that could be legitimate, but typically, what you’re going to see….
Roxy if you don’t stop walking around back there, I’m going to have to let you out. Roxy, down girl! Sorry.
If you can’t see the links that are being hidden from the backlinks analytics tools, how are you going to compete with that? The answer is, you’re really…I’m not going to say you can’t compete with that, but you have to get far more savvy. You don’t necessarily need a backlinks analytics tool so long as Google has crawled the content on those PBNs, and they have, otherwise they have no value to the people selling the links on those PBN’s. So long as Google has crawled that content…
I can’t show you now because it takes about an hour to really do a deep dive and produce the results that we need. There’s a way around that. If you feel you’ve got a site, a competitor, that is playing the PBN game.
The other thing is, if you’ve got actual evidence that someone is using PBNs and you can supply me with…I probably need 50 to 100 domains. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I can stop their sites from ranking because I don’t have that power. But what I can tell you is that through my relationships that have been built for years with the people at Google, that they are very interested in learning about potential private blog networks that they maybe haven’t discovered yet. And I’m perfectly willing to help those because I personally don’t like it when I find them outranking my sites. Nothing frustrates me more, when I’ve worked my ass off developing links for a client, and I’m able to improve their rankings and their traffic, and their bottom line, yet I’m still not able to get above a site that I know is cheating…that I know is using PBNs or some other cloaked method to achieve their rankings.
Is Google going to ultimately catch all of them? It’s hard for us to say. We know they’re on the trail. It’s also a scenario here where I can’t tell you if you can defeat a site that’s using PBNs until I run backlink analytics. I need to see who your competitors are. I need to look at what the various tools tell me, just to see how hidden their links are. Then I need to do some deep dives at Google, then once I see that and I see your site, who is not using PBNs, I can put together a summary of what I think your true potential is that you can achieve based upon Google’s algorithms today, and I’ll shoot you straight and I’ll tell you.
One of the things that I don’t advertise on my website that I do is I review RFP’s, people get RFP’s (request for proposals) for link building services. People send them to me and say, is this RFP legitimate? If we hire this company to do the following things they’ve listed on this RFP, at this price point, will it achieve what they’re telling us what it will achieve?
I hate to say this, but for the most part, most of this RFPs will not accomplish what that person is hoping it would achieve.
I charge a fee for that, I don’t list it on my website. I don’t want companies suing me saying hey you cost us business because you said our RFP was crap, even though their RFP was crap. If you want me to do that, I’m happy to do it for you, but there’s going to be some NDAs signed and I need to make sure that the companies I suggest you stay away from, don’t know it was me that told you stay away.
Let’s move on to the next question.
That’s a long question, can’t answer that one here, I want to be fair to some others.
We’re at 1:48, that’s 12 minutes before this was supposed to end, but I have enough viewers that I’m going to keep going. If you want to let people know that I’m going to keep going, please feel free to do so. You have the URL that I provided in the chat and please feel free to share it with whoever you want to share it with.
Another thing, and this may be true, that the viewer number I’m seeing here, somebody once told me that the view number might be higher at YouTube. If that’s the case, it actually doesn’t look like it is. Looks like it’s the same number. I’m going to chalk that up to the failure on my part to…it’s hard when it’s out of focus. It looks much more in focus for me than it does for you. I apologize for that. I need to get a better camera for the next one.
Let’s go to the next question.
“How important”…wait a minute. Earlier on somebody asked me a question about…and I don’t know I ever answered it. I need to go back to it because that was rude.
I apologize. This won’t take but a minute.
“How do I organize my link building campaigns?”
I’ll ask the client, in case they’ve already been using an agent or doing inhouse link building, if they already have some sort of method that they would like to integrate and use. If not, I don’t personally use any of the third-party CRM tools for it. I’m not wild about them for a number of reasons I won’t go into here. I personally use a series… I can use excel. The nice thing about Excel and macros and some other bells and whistles that I can include in Excel is I can share those documents any time I want. Everybody knows how to use Excel. It’s not like there’s a learning curve.
I can use Google docs. The nice thing about Google docs is now I can share it with whatever members of the team are involved in the link development process so that they can see at any given moment, where we are in the process.
I know Google is technically in the cloud, but I have a hard time believing, with the billions of documents in the cloud that anyone is willing to hack their way in to try to find. It would be about impossible to identify a workflow document process. Basically, I use a workflow process in Google where I have the individual link targets or venues that I believe should be pursued, what I think the maximum opportunity is that’s represented there. A score I get it on whether or not I think it should be pursued. As well as is this something I can do for the client on my own or is this something the client themselves needs to take care of.
For example, I can’t make a decision. If you decide that you want to…if you’re a landscape design company in Knoxville, TN and you decide you want to give a scholarship to the University of Tennessee to their landscape architecture department to ten students. You’re not doing this for Google rank, even though you know it’s going to be a benefit when you do that. You’re doing this because it is good for you and the community of Knoxville. Because it’s probably going to make students very happy. The University is going to send out a press release about so and so landscaping architecture design will fund ten scholarships at the University of Tennessee. The publicity and goodwill is going to result in more links than you ever imagined. So, that’s going to end up helping your organic search rank as well.
As I track my process, or go through my workflow process, there are so many different types of variables engaged. There’s the simple link because you find a curated list of links that are whatever it might be. Landscape architecture companies in East Tennessee. Maybe the Eastern Tennessee Landscape Design Association has a list of members there. I recommend to the client, you should pay to be a member there. Looks like it’s $100 a year, you’re not a member now, and you’ll pick up a link and maybe some business. I don’t like pursuing links purely for Google rank, I want there to be a benefit that comes with it. The more you pursue a link for people, the more likely you are to end up with a link that helps you at Google. I’ve seen it happen too many times for it to not be true. I’m not telling you based on a years’ worth of link building. I’m telling you this based on sending literally hundreds of thousands of links requests for thousands of clients. I’m perfectly willing to get up here and preach that I know this stuff works.
The second question, by the way was “How do you structure your pricing? How should we work through our pricing?”
This is the biggest challenge you’ll face. I can tell you how it works for me, but that doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. When I take on a project with a client where I’m actually going to be doing the outreach, identify the targets, learn about their industry, identify their competitors, go through and see what their competitors are doing what’s working, what’s not working, etc. There’s going to be a fee for that. If they decide they want me to do it, I never price based upon number of links obtained per whatever. Per week/ per month/ per year. The reason you can’t price it per link is because some links have a greater potential value and take a much longer time to acquire.
Off the cuff example:
There’s a hundred-year-old moving company in Knoxville. One of the things we suggested they do, because they specialized in…one of their core businesses was the older families in Knoxville that have the big mansions, antiques, and collectibles and you don’t want to break. Where you don’t want to hire Two Men and a Truck. This is stuff that costs a lot of money, that’s insured, that needs to get moved carefully. This moving company, my suggestion to them was, why don’t you build a relationship with the Knoxville Museum of Art or some of the other museums because they regularly are taking some of their artwork or whatever is there and sharing it with other museums around the Southeast. Just like we had Rodin sculptures here years ago. Can you imagine being the moving company that has to move something like that? Oh my gosh.
The idea here is, there’s no link to be had today from the Knoxville Museum of Art for this moving company. That’s going to take some phone calls. It’s going to take some introductory emails, it’s going to take the nurturing of a relationship and it’s also going to take the museum probably learning more about the moving company to learn if that moving company can serve their needs.
Now, let’s say that took four months of luncheons, meetings, phone calls, the museum board getting together and agreeing, ok we’re going to use this moving company. So now on the museum website, there may be a section there that says, partners, affiliations, sponsor. It might say that artwork and other exhibits are moved courtesy of or through a partnership with so and so moving company. Now you’ve just picked up the link. It took you four months to get it. It’s a link that’s going to help your business. It’s a link that will help you at Google. How do you price that? How do you go about pricing a link that took you four months to get that’s going to have potentially tremendous value versus a link that took you two days to get because you found a list of moving companies in Knoxville that for whatever reason, just left you off? You make a quick email or phone call, and they say oh, gosh, I can’t believe we forgot to add you. Boom, the link is obtained tomorrow.
I can’t price on a link obtained basis. I price on a monthly fee basis. I’d rather not tell you what those numbers are. They’re significant. They’re significant because I’ve been doing this for as long as I’ve been doing it. And they’re significant because I succeed for my clients. I tell every client I work with – and here it is live on YouTube for everybody to hear – that when I take a project with a client, one of the things I tell them right up front is, you’re going to know probably within 3-6 months whether the money you’re spending with me is having a positive impact on your business. I don’t care what metric you use. The only thing I ask is don’t base it solely on search rank because yeah, it might improve your search rank, but what good is search rank if it doesn’t get you more business? That happens. Because your content didn’t resonate with them. Or, you’re ranked higher for a phrase but it wasn’t what you were looking for. Big deal you used to rank 11th and now you rank 2nd because of some work I did, but you haven’t made any more money.
Don’t use that as your only performance indicator. What I’ll tell a client is you’re going to know in your gut if the money you spent with Eric helped your business. If you can’t look at me and say yes, Eric, what you did was helpful, tell me. Every single penny you paid me, I’m sending you back. I’m a one-person business, I can afford to do that. I would much rather send a fee back to a client than to have him saying, we tried Eric ward and everything he did failed and it was the biggest waste of money.
Have I ever had someone take me up on that offer? Once. It was back in the 90’s. I’m not going to fault the client. The fault was me. I took on a piece of business I shouldn’t have took on. At the end of the day, they deserved to have that refund because I failed them. I got them some links, they did improve their business but it wasn’t to the degree of the expense they made with me.
How do you go about pricing yours? Can you use the same pricing model I used for link development? Probably not. I know there are many companies that still sell these absolute ridiculous, gold, silver, and bronze link building packages. If you work with a company that says, for $2500 a month, we’ll get you 50 new links. We require you to sign a six-month contract because it takes that long for you to see the results. Boloney, it doesn’t take that long to see results if you know what you’re doing.
So now you’re committed $2500/month for 50 new links a month. If you’re working with an agency, that also means they have more than one client because they can’t survive on just having you as their client alone. Let’s say they have 20 clients. They have 20 clients they have to build 50 links for. There’s a bunch of link builders in cubicles or offices and now it’s toward the end of the month. They’re looking at their numbers. Oh, gosh, I have got to build 20 links for them, what’s the date today? I’ve got a week to build 20 more links for them to meet my goal, otherwise, we’re not going to get a check from them next month. I’m telling you, it happens. I know it happens.
What does that guy do that must get 20 links in five days? He goes to the lowest common denominator and tries to find any place he can get a link so that he can show the client, look I got you links! Got them! There they are! Didn’t have any? Now have 50. So, send us another check please.
Unfortunately, a lot of clients fall for that. The answer to your question is I believe every project needs to be priced differently based upon the site you’re working for and based on what they’re hoping to achieve. Is the project that they’ve just created an app and they want more attention and downloads? Are you going to send out a proposal that’s based on the number of installs? That’s crazy. Here’s why that’s crazy. How many of you…I’m as guilty as anyone. Do you know how many apps I have downloaded over the years since I’ve had an iPhone? And then deleted because they ended up sucking, excuse me, sorry. I’ll edit that out later.
People download apps and install apps, use them for a day and realize it’s useless and then they delete it. So, installs, in my opinion, is a poor metric. Install and use is a great metric. I don’t control that, as the link builder or as the publicist. I can get publicity for an app all day long. If I get the publicity, the likelihood of downloads and installs increases, but I can’t make somebody use an app. The kind of pricing I use is on a project basis. On my website, I have several prices associated with services. Yes, I do honor those prices. For the most part, I do that because I’m of the belief that people like to see a price associated with a product.
I price everything on a project basis. I also guarantee my pricing, and I guarantee my work. Can you do that? I don’t know. Can an agency do that? Probably not. Agency’s goal is not always to succeed for the client. The Agency’s goal is to succeed for the agency. Churn, churn, churn, and more churn. Does every agency work that way? No. I know some that do their best to give personalized service. As far as how to answer you on the pricing, if you are an individual consultant, my advice would be, do it on a project basis and explain the types of things I’ve explained to you. I can give you base numbers. I have projects in the $2,000 range all the way up to $15,000. That’s on a monthly basis, depending on how much they’re having me do.
I also have the newsletter, I just charge $8/month. I keep getting people telling me to grandfather you all at $8 and up the price up to $25. What I don’t want to do is stop the flow of subscribers. I have several hundred subscribers added and it ended up being more successful than I thought it was. I also do the $500 consults. I do advanced work, analyzing links to you and your competitors then coming back to you on some bullet points on what I would do if the site was mine. That probably brings up the lion’s share of my revenue are the individual phone calls.
I have a number of different revenue streams. The biggest problem is, I only make money when I’m on the keyboard. Except for the newsletter. I have to write the newsletter and that can be a challenge too because of family or whatever. I’m not going to write a poor newsletter just to send out a newsletter one month. I’d rather lose a few a subscribers than put out a bad newsletter and lose a lot of subscribers.
What time do we have here? We’re at 2:04, so we’re past time, but we still have lots of people on board so we’re moving on to the next question.
“If you use a vanity domain and redirect it to your main website, does link juice flow?”
First of all, there’s no such thing as link juice, but regardless of that.
“For example, we have a domain and it’s for a gentleman that specializes in helping people reduce debt and the domain is his name. That domain redirects via htaccess to another domain to a directory that contains his specific service. We use these vanity domains for the ease immediate.”
It’s much easier to say go to ericward.com than go to ericward.com/newsletter/subscription/linkmosesprivate.html. It’s much easier to use a vanity domain. I get that and I think it makes good sense here.
The question here are what are the possible SEO and link implications. We’ve already been told by Google that 301 redirects work. I think it boils down to how many links do you have to the vanity domain? If you have hundreds of thousands of links to a vanity domain, remember Google has said that not all credit passes through the 301. They’ve never come out and give us a specific number. They’ve said, for the most part, most of it. I think I’ve heard Gary sometimes say all of it. I don’t know if that’s true or not.
I think you have to be careful there. You have a domain you built tremendous link equity so you hate to play with that. But from my own experience, where I have 301 pages on my own site that never lost ranking. Wherever they ranked, they stayed right there after the 301. The one concern I have is that you’re 301’ing…
Here’s the biggest danger of the 301. You’re 301’ing not one domain to another domain, you’re 301’ing from the domain to an interior section of another site. That means, at any given moment, you could decide, and you have links to the vanity domain that are then being forwarded to that new page. You could go into your htaccess and decide to change that 301 that it points to and point it to something else. Google doesn’t like that. Once Google has followed your 301, which is supposed to be a permanent move, and then you go in there and you change that 301 so now where it used to point to this directory, now it points to something new and people do this all the time because they’re trying to basically, hey that helped that page rank, why don’t we change the 301 and see if we can get that page to rank. If Google detects that you’re manipulating your 301’s that way, that’s the implication. If you choose to do that…once you’ve put that 301 in place, leave it alone. My hunch is, the majority of that link equity or whatever rankings you have will stick with you. There are probably people out there that would disagree with me. That’s fine, I don’t have a problem, I don’t have all the answers, but that’s what I would do with my own site.
“Similarly, one of our cofounders is issuing a book this fall. The publisher would like an easy one page domain to promote the book. If we link this page to our main website, will we get value? Or would we be better to try to convince the publisher to take our above approach and use a vanity domain and redirect it to a page on our main website?”
To be honest, if you have a chance for a major book publisher to create a page that links to you, take it. Take that link. Where’s my book. The Ultimate Guide to Link Building. This is a book you guys have probably seen it, heard about it, read about it. The Ultimate guide to Link Building. I wrote this for Entrepreneur Press three years ago. I still get small residual checks. Not big ones. For a while it was in the top ten sellers in their business online marketing books so that was pretty cool. Entrepreneur created a page on their site that linked to my site. I’ll take that all-day long. Earlier I was talking about people trying to sell you links in Entrepreneur articles. This is completely different. This was the Entrepreneur press website. Entrepreneur Magazine is fairly well-respected. Entrepreneur Press is for their book publishing and they put out some solid titles. They were willing to create a page for me on their website, take that. Take that link. That’s the link very few people could get on their own. The other thing is, I would never want to ask a book publisher to create something and redirect it somewhere. I want a straight link that has the most potential power to help me organically with my rankings, as well as with click traffic.
“Is there anything special about how vanity domains are set up that we should consider?”
Now you’re starting to get into a bit more technical question, and I don’t mind saying I don’t have the answer to that. When we’re talking about linking specific questions that relate to public relations, outreach, linking strategies, although it kind of blends into it a little bit about is there anything special about how these vanity domains are set up. From a linking perspective…there are a number of attorneys who will create multiple vanity domains. Best Knoxville DUI attorney. DUI attorney Knoxville. Best Attorney Knoxville Dui. Getoutofyourdui…whatever. They’ll come up with every possible iteration and you could argue these are vanity domains. Then what they do is take the vanity domain and they’ll either point it to another website or their money site, or they’ll hire somebody to build links and use private blog networks and rank that website until such time that Google blows it up with their logic being if I spend 10 grand to build the website and 5 grand to get it to rank in the top five so now I’ve got 15 grand in it and Google blows it up, but I’ve made 25 grand, then who cares. That’s not a business practice that I can advocate.
I understand I get it. It’s just not something that will work for everybody. Sometimes your gut is worth listening to and it’s just not really an approach I recommend.
“My website is jobmob.co.il. Someone else owns jobmob.com. Although they’re not using it. They’re also unresponsive to my inquiries. So, I bought jobmob.co instead. The co.il domain is Israel local but my audience is only 3-5% Israel local. With that in mind, what’s your opinion in moving the site to jobmob.co instead? If you’re for it, can you recommend a good guide on making the switch?”
What I want to look at is before you make any changes…
Coming up on your screen here in a few seconds is going to be the backlink analytics tools called ahrefs. This is up here you can see this is for your site, mobmob.co.il. You got 308 referring domains and almost 3,000 links and you’re considering changing over to jobmob.co. I understand your frustrating because people viewing that URL might assume that is an Israeli job site only. So, I get your frustration. What I want to look at deeper is, what does the quality? Almost half of your links are coming from logopond.com. I kind of want to know, how did that happen? Oh, wait wrong site.
Wow, even more. Good grief. Jobmob has 2,000 referring domains and 43,000 backlinks. Well, you have 100,000 links from…This might be one of those websites…I don’t like to use these phone calls to try to generate additional business. I can tell you right now you have sites that are linking to you thousands of times. That does not necessarily mean they shouldn’t be. Think of a classic blog roll. These may be totally legitimate links. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them were. Joshua hammerman, Jobsearchjamessessions.blog.com. Why is he linking to you that many times? My hunch is…let’s go look. This is the first time I’ve seen this website.
It looks like he’s maintaining it somewhat. So, where’s your link? Oh, there it is. Resources, jobmob. What does he have? Some sort of script that’s piping your content into his site? That’s interesting for an end user. Because it looks like most of these are related to employment and jobs. The one potential…actually do you know what I want to see? Let’s see if that inbound was nofollowed. Nope. You have 1,144 links as of right now coming from one site. You have 5,000 coming from this site. Employment New York City Career roundup. This is like four years ago. It looks like it was an old feed that might still exist.
There are so many sites linking to you so many times. So many of them are from blogspot domains. That’s not a bad thing. Remember, Google owns Blogspot. There’s another 5,000 from a .org. How does that happen? It looks like they wrote articles to you at one point. Let’s go ahead and look at it. I’m not calling you out, I’m not saying you’re doing anything wrong. There’s the blog roll. You had an article appear over here in the sidebar of the blog. That explains the 5,000 links. No matter where I go on this blog, if I go click on this individual article now, I’m going to see that link again. In other words, every single time they write an article, you get another link. That’s not a bad thing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. My hunch is, there’s more potential that these might be nofollowed. It won’t shock me if they are. These are no followed. External nofollow. Google can parse that and figure it out. That’s kind of a cool relationship you built there, so long as they’re related. You have done a good job also here of focusing the article that they chose to write about to be related to the content on this website. In that case, what I first thought was a red flag, dig a little deeper and you find out, it’s cool.
Let’s go back to your main question. Do you want to switch over to jobmob.co? It would depend on what percentage. You have 3-5% is Israeli local. You can 301 it. You have an amazing amount of link equity built to the site. What I would suggest is 301 it, compare all your rankings and traffic, carefully mind them track them over the weeks and months and make sure you don’t see anything happen that indicates that it’s taking a dive. If it does, you can always reverse it. You can go back to the co.il. But I have to be honest and say if I had a website with the kind of link equity you have. I don’t know that I would want to risk taking that kind of link equity and losing it. I think if you 301 it, you would probably be ok there. That’s a little risky.
Let me do one thing here. What I haven’t done is go over to the chat. I think we’re about through the questions there, I’ll come back. Let me go over here and see, these were the questions people had asked. It looks like a lot of these people are just talking with each other. I guess that’s nice. If you’re finding me boring, so you’re just communicating with each other. I love it. Ah, the hell with this guy, let’s just talk amongst ourselves. I see a lot of names that I’ve worked with.
“Are you saying, do not write on Business Week, Entrepreneur, etc? Or are you saying, don’t pay someone to do it for you?”
That’s a great question. Google is aware that there are people writing for those publications who are not doing it for having a place to make money by placing and selling links. Google is also aware that there are people who are doing it purely to make money. The obvious question you need to ask there is how the heck would Google know if an article that was written or any articles that are written that do have embedded links, even if there are anchor text in those links, how will Google know if somebody took money from them if the transaction took place privately?
The mistake a lot of these people make is they get greedy or they pick up five or ten clients and the client says, how much would you charge me for eight articles and they charge them whatever they charge them. Usually a couple hundred bucks a link. I’ve seen it as much as $500. So they make $3,000 or $4,000 for those eight articles. Then they get another client and do it again and another client. Before you know it, a pattern starts to emerge. For several reasons, one of which is so obvious, I don’t know how they miss it. If a company is willing to pay to have links embedded in articles at Forbes, and Inc, and SEO, and what have you. What are the odds that the company is also engaged in some other link related activity that might not be completely legit? The other thing is, if you have a profile you have to be careful. If you have 10 different profiles that you write on ten different publications, you better be very careful about who you choose to embed links to. If you startt embedding links to the same client on eight different domains that you’ve been writing on for awhile, Google will spot that. I’ve been told by the people of Google that they know it, they realize it, that the people on those domains are making money off manipulated links. I’ve also been told that they’re never going to announce an update or algorithm change. They’ll slowly but quietly devalue those links, give no credit at all to either side. The person writing the article, the person that decided to monetize the article because that was not at all what Forbes or any of those sites had in mind. Most of those sites, what they had in mind was, let’s see if we can build a community by allowing people to write content for our site. After all, we’re very famous. People will want to write for us. And it worked. It gives them fresh content, which is great for them. Unfortunately, sometimes people’s worst nature comes out and what do they try to do? They take what could have been something tremendous for themselves, building a great reputation and producing great content, then they try to monetize it in a sneaky way, hoping Google won’t catch them.
Has Google call of them? No. Will they? Probably not. For me, it’s not worth the risk. You can achieve what you need to achieve without having to cheat. Matt LaClear and I have had this conversation many times. If people would spend as much time as they do cheating or trying to find ways around the rules, if they’d take that same time and put it into developing something useful and executing a solid outreach campaign, they’d achieve the goals they want to.
The other beautiful thing about this is Google gets better and better at removing strategies that work. Google’s algorithm crawling various linking techniques. Ok, those articles, let’s get rid of that, that’s not worth anything anymore. This guy is doing random directory submissions, no credit for you. No soup for you. You come back, two years.
This guy, it looks like it’s a private blog network, no credit for that. This guy, what is he doing? He’s on 75 edu sites in the student discount page and he sells plumbing supplies. No. No credit for you.
If you’re noticing a trend here, what you’re realizing is Google is slowly but surely removing the link profiles that no longer should be getting credit. So, your goal, especially if you stay legit and conduct the right kind of outreach, is you’re going to be the last man standing. As Google gets better at what it does, you’re going to be the one that has the pristine link profile and what’s Google going to do? those sites that were ranking above you, as Google discovers and pulls them out, your site is slowly but surely going to rise. Some people don’t have the patience for that and some people don’t believe me when I tell them. don’t believe me. My entire 22-year career has been a fraud, I’ve never helped a soul.
It boils down to the risk you’re willing to take. There’s a way you can go about this and get what you want quick, and it might last a week, a month a year, five years and you get rich and you retire and I’m the idiot. And there’s a way you can go about it and build a sustainable business that might last a very long time. I can’t really sit here and judge somebody. Everybody has a right to earn a living in any way they want. We’re not talking about laws being broken, we’re talking about a search engine named Google that somehow managed to take control of the web away from people who are creating content in a way that…We let them do it.
If you were to look at my traffic from a percentage standpoint, Google is only responsible for 12% of my traffic. I don’t get a lot of traffic because I don’t write a lot. I don’t publicize myself a lot and I don’t care. I have the clients I want and my business comes mostly from referrals. What’s interesting is over 90% of my traffic comes directly from people clicking on links they have found in articles I’ve written somewhere.
Or, in an interview I’ve done somewhere. I get tremendous amount of business from Rank Fishkin’s recommended vendor list. I look at my server logs and that’s one of my number one referrers every month. To me, that should be the goal. Let’s try to minimize our reliance on Google.
We still have a lot of viewers. Boy, you guys are all just having your own conversations.
“I landed a Forbes link today just by editor outreach. It can be done for nothing.”
When you get an editor to write about you, that’s the kind of link that Google knows is credible. It’s much different than to just be a “contributor” the editor is someone that’s on the Forbes payroll. When you get a link from someone that’s on the Forbes payroll, they’re probably not trying to make extra money on the side. I’m glad to hear you were able to do that.
“There seems to be fewer valid links now than in the past. Is Google really moving away from links and looking for schema?”
There’s actually two questions there. The link graph is too massive and useful to blow off. To ignore. What Google is trying to do is add layers of things like schema. They’ve tried other things. Remember authorship and some of the other things they’ve done. Schema won’t make sense for every kind of website. I have an informational website. I guess I could mark up schema that have a price point attached to them, but that’s typically not how I’m going to get my business.
Schema will make sense for a retail site that has 5,000 products or 500 products or 50 products. Schema will make sense for a job search site. Schema will make sense for any kind of site that is basically based on having databases that are producing the content on the back end. Databases meaning fields of information, those fields can be marked with schema, Google can understand them and has the potential to rank higher by using schema. Schema by itself cannot possibly be a ranking factor that trumps links. I can’t believe I just used the word trump.
I sell kids toys and they’re made from plastic. They all break the first day. My website is called crappyplastickidstoysthatbreakthefirstday.com. I have 350 awesomely crappy kid’s plastic toys. But I have schema’d the hell out of that thing. That thing is so schema’d it’s perfect. It passes every schema test that there possibly is. It’s amazing how good my schema is. How is my horrible site going to prove to Google outside of the schema that it’s worthy of ranking? Remember, I’m admitting, all my products are junk. I know that, I don’t care. I got their money. I’m sorry your kid’s train broke, he must have stepped on it. Don’t think for a second, this kind of stuff isn’t happening.
Just because you’ve added Schema to a website in and of itself can’t be a ranking factor that’s going to supersede all of the other ranking factors that are potentially available to Google. They said there’s hundreds of them. Links still trump everything. Go back and look through everything, whether it’s 2017 ranking factors that have been done by independent third parties, links still trump everything. What’s happening is, Google is getting better at degerming which links to credit.
What I’ve noticed in my work is what used to take 100 or 200 links to impact organic rankings, now sometimes will only take 5 or 10. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen it happen with a client I’m working with right now. Where 7 inbounds from…I can’t say the name of the site. It’s a trucking industry site. 7 inbounds from companies with names like Goodyear, Michelin, Uniroyal, BF Goodwrench within resource sections. It took seven links for them to move one of their content pieces from nowhere in the rankings to a top five position. It’s done with seven links. You don’t need the kind of mass links that once upon a time you did need. That’s because Google is getting savvier at which links matter and which links should be ignored.
I think you had a question in there about link velocity. For those of you who maybe that term is new to you.
Gosh, thank you. We still have farm more viewers than I thought I would have.
Link velocity is the speed at which you earn links. Some people say, be careful about link velocity, if you get links too fast, you’re going to trigger something at Google. The question is, does Google have a patent about that. They don’t have a patent that’s specifically related to link velocity, velocity is mentioned. That said, there are many legitimate reasons why a site that might be five or ten years old and is showing a very slow but steady link earned link profile over the years, that it consistently earns 2 or 3 links every week or month and then suddenly it picks up 100 links. Then the next week it picks up another 100. If you were to look at it and plot it on a graph what you’re going to see is a very steady, slow, increase in links and all of a sudden a jump in links. You would say, well they must have hired a link builder or they’re doing something that’s black hat or something’s going on there and that’s not natural and Google is going to bust them for it. No, that’s incorrect. There are legitimate reasons why a website could suddenly attract links where previously rarely attracted links. I can even give you a specific example.
Several years ago, there was a mine that collapsed. I can’t remember where. It wasn’t the one that collapsed in another country, it was here in the U.S. The mine collapsed. I want to say it was in Utah. There were miners trapped in the mine. It made national news. There was a website in Utah called the Utah Mining Association. I think we can all agree that normally the Utah Mining Association website is not likely to have a huge spike in its link velocity. It has links from other mining sites, it has links from other sites in Utah. Its link profile is what it is. It’s the Utah Mining Association. However, when suddenly there was a collapse in a mine in Utah and there were miners trapped and the story makes national news, and that website is also providing updates on the status of the rescue efforts, what do you think happened to the link profile of the Utah Mining Association’s website? They went from probably having a couple hundred links to thousands of links during the course of week to two weeks that the story played out in the media.
The reason I remember this because as a linking strategist, I wanted to see that. Back then I had some tools that…I actually tracked this and saw it happen. I watched it with my own eyes. A website with a very flat, minimal link presence suddenly sky rocket and spike. I also did searches for the Utah Mining Association at Google. If you’re going to do a search on Utah Mining Association, that site is going to rank first anyway. Whether it has five links or 5,000. Other scenarios could present themselves that might make no sense whatsoever. There could be some that make sense.
Let’s take a site that sells sporting apparel. Let’s take a site that sells NBA gear. Sooner or later we’ll end up with Golden State playing Cleveland again in the finals. I think we all pretty much know it’s coming. Stephen Curry and LeBron are going to get to have a rematch from last year. Would it not be normal when basketball season is not in season for the basketball related link equity or links earned to probably bubble around a little bit here and there. I’m not saying the site would give up on it. But as we get closer to basketball season, especially as we get closer to the finals, then would there not be far more interest in gear for the two teams that are involved in the finals? And wouldn’t all the fan sites that are devoted providing links specifically to where you could get your gear? Suddenly your link velocity on the sporting apparel site is taking a jump.
I guess what I’m trying to get it is there cannot be a fixed link velocity that Google could use and say if a site surpasses this particular percentage or standard deviation if you will, this site’s standard link acquisition rate is 2.4 whatever per whatever and suddenly it jumps to a 6.8. There could be legitimate reasons for that.
Some people worry about this because of negative SEO. What if my competitor decides to join a paid blog network and point all those links at me. That’s a tough one to answer. Google has never come out and said it’s impossible to engage in negative SEO. What they’ve said is that it’s extremely difficult. That’s probably about all I can say on this subject of negative SEO. Because I’m doing some work with the search engine to help them recognize what some of those signals might be.
“I have read on PageOnePower website an Eric Ward testimonial. I have heard mixed reviews about the company. Did you in fact, endorse PageOnePower?”
That’s a difficult question. I’ll be as honest as I can be here. Zach and John, the founders of that company, took my training, took several months of training. They told me up front they were going to start an agency and that they wanted to do it the way I did it. They wanted to do it right and wanted to give clients the kind of link profiles that would help them succeed. And I did based upon that, give them a testimonial. At the same time, I personally believe, whether it’s PageOne Power or any agency, that you have to be extremely careful when you try to scale via an agency link building services to multiple clients. The more successful you are in attracting clients, the more people you have to hire and train on those link building strategies and techniques. The more you have to make sure you meet numbers to keep more clients coming and to meet payroll.
I really don’t care what industry it is, the more you try to scale something, the more the quality suffers. Are there outliers out there? Sure. I suppose Mercedes Benz could quintuple the number of cars that they product and the quality wouldn’t suffer. What would suffer is the humans that are involved in the process.
Specifically regarding your question on the testimonial for PageOne Power. I did give them a testimonial. I want to believe that they are doing things the right way. I am not privy to exactly how they operate today. I think John and Zach are good guys. I think they’re honest guys. I don’t know how many employees they have, I don’t know how many clients they have, but I will always stick to my guns that the way to succeed with link development is for every client, even if they use the help of an agency or a consultant. I tell every client that I get that just wants to consult with me…I have clients, and you’ve seen this in the newsletter, the subscriber to the newsletter, you can’t find it on my site because it’s just for my subscribers that sign on for 1 hour or 2 hours a month for consulting. We do that because I’m just trying to guide them along the path. My goal is to make myself obsolete to them. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s like when you feel like you’ve done a good job raising your child and your child moves away. I don’t look forward to that day, but I know it’s coming. With clients, I enjoy the moment when they say, we think we have this. We understand how to develop content strategies, we understand how to conduct our prospecting, we understand how to do outreach, whether it’s email or phone. Or even FedEx. There’s a lot of ways to get people’s attention, and Eric, we don’t think we need you anymore.
There are so few people in this industry that are doing it right, that I’m not really worried about that. My plate is full. If you sign up for a consulting call today, I will send you a calendar link and it will probably be next week before I can even fit in an hour call. I just want to believe that somebody I gave a testimonial to, because I don’t give very many out, that it’s working. Based on what you said there, I’m going to have to make a phone call and learn a little bit more. Or ask them exactly what it is that they consider to be a legitimate link development campaign and see if that’s something I want to be associated with in the form of a testimonial.
“How do you feel about paying for directory links? Google penalizes for paying links.”
I don’t know where you heard Google penalizes for directory links. Let me give you an example. I’ve done a project and this site has never been penalized and it’s been doing it for five years. A company that specializes in firefighting gear and equipment to everybody from major metropolitan fire departments to volunteer fire departments in the middle of nowhere. This manufacturer of these products, where do you go get links when what you sell is equipment specifically related to fire departments? If you do a search, you’ll find there are many buyer’s guides related to the firefighting industry and related industries. Whether it’s chemical spills or what have you. Safety, HazMat, Firefighting.
Many of those directories and buyer’s guides require a fee for inclusion. It might be $50 or it might be tiered. You might be able to spend $4,000 for a featured listing. These aren’t the types of things that Google is looking to penalize. Sometimes I imagine I run my own search engine. If I’m in charge of Google and I’m looking at a site, is this the type of site that I do or don’t want to give credit for the links that are appearing on the site. For a company that produces firefighting gear, isn’t that a logical, natural link? Remember my other question, if there was no Google, would you want that link? Heck, yeah.
If I sell firefighting equipment and there are no search engines, how are people going to find out about me? I have to get in those fire fighter guides. If I do business all over the country, you can probably find 40 or 50 of those types of buyers guides in every state. Directories in and of themselves get a bad rap because the word directory can mean so many different things. If there’s a directory of people who specialize in helping…and here’s something dear to my heart. My 14-year-old is hearing impaired. If there’s a directory out there, and he’s a great baseball player, if there’s a directory of sports psychologists that specializes in baseball and also specialize in children that have special needs. Man, that directory, I want to be as complete as possible and I don’t care how much that psychologist or that counselor or that sports psychologist paid to be included in it. I want it complete because I need to hire that guy. I need him to help my son. Why would Google want to devalue that? What it’s doing is it’s helping people solve a problem. Or take on a challenge. That’s way different than the sites you would find…I’m not going to say the name, but you can do a search on something like free directory submission list at Google and you can still find 200-300 directories that you can pay or for free get listed with and get links. I can look at you right in the webcam and tell you, they are absolute crap and will not help you rank. Ever.
The kind of directories that Google values and will continue to value will be those that were designed to help people accomplish something specific related to an industry and not something that had anything to do with ranking higher at Google. That’s my preaching on directories.
“Should those be nofollow links?”
I really don’t care one way or another in those instances because now you’re looking at does somebody who runs a firefighter’s buyer’s guide really know every little word and familiar with every nuance of Google? No. Here in Knoxville, you have a quilters festival or a quilting club and there’s 92 members in the quilting club and they have a website with a section with quilting links. Where you can buy fabrics and supplies, etc. Do you really think people in the Knoxville quilters club have a clue about Google’s guidelines for links that should be nofollowed? They wouldn’t even know what that meant. Some don’t even know how to make a hyperlink.
I’ve called many non-profits and said, you have a sponsor page, do you realize if you turn them into clickable links that you would probably get more sponsors? They’ll say to me; how do you turn them into links? I’m not joking. The answer to your question should they be follow or nofollow? I don’t care. I’m going to base it on the credibility of the directory I’m looking at. Those that are on this webcast, we can talk follow, schema, meta tags, we can talk the lingo all day long but I think we sometimes forget that we’re in a specialized industry and a specialized niche of a specialized industry that the majority of people are clueless about.
A problem I’ve had with the no follow tag is it’s an onsite element. So how is it any different than the title tag, or meta tags that everybody abused the heck out of in the 90’s. If you’re Google, would you really allow your algorithm to make a decision about where it’s going to place a site based upon somebody’s proper use of a nofollow tag? You really have that much faith in us? Go ahead and fire all your computer scientists and your algorithm scientists because you don’t need them. We’re out here helping you. We’re nofollowing this and we’re making sure it says sponsored link here and how much they paid for it there. But, we know that’s not happening. Why would Google need a huge team of people working on their algorithm if we were taking care and using that nofollow element properly? The answer is, we’re not. Most people don’t even know how to use it. What are you going to do? I want to be in your buyer’s guide for firefighting equipment, but I notice they’re all followed links. I need you to go in and edit that and make sure that it says nofollow because, I don’t know if you realize this or not, but Google will penalize us. I just know that that’s supposed to be nofollow. That is crazy.
The reality is some people abuse the follow and nofollow element of the ahref tag. Google will probably find some of them and not find others. I guess the best way to say it, and I know it kind of is a cliché, I know it when I see it. There are many times when I will recommend to clients that they pay for inclusion in a vertical niche industry specific directory, even though the link is going to end up followed. By technical terms that is a violation. At the same time, there’s an easy way to vet it to see if it is affecting people and that is do a search on all the other people that paid to be included. That’s typically what I’ll do.
If I find a paid option, I’ll look for the people that have paid and I’ll hit Google and I’ll do some searches. I’ll see if any of the sites are being penalized. Then I’ll do a backlink analysis of some of the other sites that have paid. I’ll see they have tons of legitimate links. That there’s nothing about their link profile that looks manipulated. Based on those criteria, I feel much more confident recommending to my client, that they pay for inclusion in a site like that.
This whole directory thing has really chapped me over the years because niche vertical directories are some of the most credible, vetted, useful resources out there. I’ve used them myself for my family, for my son. If not for a niche directory, I would not have found somebody to help tutor my hearing-impaired child in math. That was a followed link, by the way. Since I’m in this business, I always look. In fact, I have a Chrome Addon called nofollow Simple that puts a red box around any link that is nofollow or follow, I can’t remember.
I still think and will always believe that directories that were designed not with Google in mind, but with humans in mind, will always be viable.
“Eric, these videos are pure gold.”
Thank you because I feel like this video wasn’t gold at all. I feel the way it started out that, I felt badly about that. Especially since we tried it yesterday as a test run and it worked.
“How would you advise agency on costing a link building campaign? I find it difficult as I don’t want to commit to “x” amount of links per month.”
You might have joined this call later. I answered this question earlier, it is extremely difficult because you can’t price it as “x” number of links per month. The example I gave was a link that took four months to ultimately get because it was more based on public relations, business development and creating a relationship so the organizations felt comfortable working together. One of the side effects of that was a link that appeared on a website. That’s much different from a link I can get tomorrow because I happened to stumble across a page of curated links in an industry and all I have to do is send an email and I pick up a link.
I price all of mind based upon doing some preliminary research on how difficult I think it would be to attract links, but I never give a specific number. I never tell anybody I’m going to get you “x” number of links per month. I tell people anywhere from three months to six months in, you’re going to know whether my work for you is benefitting you. It could be search rank, it could be improved bottom line from direct links, new relationships, it could be any number of things. I had a client that ended up being asked to be an adjunct faculty member at a university, just because of outreach. That to him was worth every penny he spent, aside from any of the links.
What I tell my clients is, once you reach a point, you’re going to know Eric’s helping me or the stuff Eric’s doing is not helping me. If you feel that the stuff Eric’s doing is not helping, tell me and I’ll PayPal you or write you a check and send your fee back. I can do that because I’m one guy. At the agency level, that’s a tough challenge. We probably would need to talk and learn more about your business model and more about the types of clients you work with to create a pricing model that will benefit you as well as protect the client. Ultimately, it doesn’t do anybody any good to…I just wish the churn would stop. There are so many businesses and agencies out there their entire model is based on churn. They don’t care. Every six months they have new clients. There are so many people going on the web with new things every day that they don’t care.
“Do you feel broken link building is a tactic that is tapped out? Too many companies exploiting…”
It’s not tapped out. It’s in the execution where people fail at broken link building. Broken link building is a term but not a tactic. What I mean by that is there are many different ways to go about broken link building. Here’s one that wrong. I received an email from somebody that said, “Dear Mr. Ward, I was looking at your website and I came across the following blogpost. In that blogpost, you had linked to an article.” And it was an article I wrote on my site that when I migrated my site to the Rainmaker platform, the link broke. The email said that the link was broken and that they had created a resource that they felt would be extremely useful to my readers and would I please consider replacing the broken link with their link.
I hope you just heard what I said. Somebody sent me an email and told me I had a broken link on my site and wanted me to replace it with their link, which was a great resource. On the surface that sounds wonderful, great execution. One problem. They didn’t take the time to go to the internet archive. The other thing is, the domain name that the article was broken was ericward.com/bestpractices/whatever the article name was. They wanted me to replace a link to my own article with one of their articles. That was just comical. I sent them an email back saying, “Thank you for alerting me to a broken link on my website to an article that I wrote that exists on my website. If you don’t mind, I’m just going to find out where that article is and relink to it, since I wrote it. Rather than link to your website. Again, thanks for pointing it out.”
There’s an example of a wrong way to go about it. If you’re going to do broken link building, first of all, nobody likes receiving emails telling them their website has broken links. That’s an easy delete. Imagine you’re in charge of a website that has a lot of links. If you’re going to tell them they have 72 broken links on their page, they’ll hit the delete key and hope their boss never saw the email. Nope, no idea that there’s 72 broken links on the website, and I’m not going to fix them.
A better approach might be to mention a couple links that are much more related to the link you’re hoping they’ll replace. That said, the few times I’ve done outreach related to broken link building, one of the first things I do, wherever the broken link was, go see if it exists somewhere else. Give them the link from the internet archive. The wayback machine. It might have been a good article for them to have linked to it in the first place and if it still exists but it happens to be broken on the site, that doesn’t lessen the value of the article, all that’s happened is they didn’t realize the link was broken. So, don’t screw them over. The ethics of that to me are questionable.
If you find a broken link, and you have a resource you think is just as good or better than that link, first go out and see if you can find out…maybe the site that wrote the link, moved it. So, go to their website and if they have a search engine, find it. Or do a search on that article title site:Title, whatever it was. You might find the article does still exist. Now, go to the site that is pointing to the broken link and say, wanted to let you know there’s a broken link on your site to the article called “whatever”. I was able to find where that article exists now and wanted to send it to you so that if you would like you can fix that broken link on your page. By the way, I have written a similar article, or I also provide an article about that same topic that touches on a couple of other issues that the article you were linking to did not. I would be thrilled if, along with including the link to the article that was broken, you would also consider including a link to my article.
In my opinion, that’s common sense. I find broken link building to be predatory, poaching, and the very essence of the web is a lot of content is ephemeral and there are broken links every year. Yes, it’s a bona vide legitimate strategies, go for it. The devil is in the details and the nuance.
There are other tactics too. I’m not going to name names. I’ve been the victim of these tactics, where people will go after a site that has linked to one of my articles about a specific topic, but they’ve gone me one better or they’ve written 500 more words and they’ve gotten my link removed and replaced with their link. I know that because I have the biggest link alert system set up that you could ever imagine, with a combination of Google alerts and the various backlink analysis tools, and track engine, and a bunch of other watch that page. When a link vanishes on the web for me, I know typically on my phone within five minutes. I can show you how to do that if you want to have a consultant call on that. The quicker you can get that link back, the better. If someone busts up one of your links that you worked your rear to get, then for whatever reason it’s broken on your site or you moved it. Whatever happens, you want to recapture that after it’s still fresh in the webmaster’s mind, not a month after they’ve pulled it and replaced it with another link. That’s my opinion on that. Obviously, people are welcome to disagree with me, and I don’t care.
Steve Pazyra! You’re here! I don’t know what you said was funny, I hope it was me. You guys 1-800-bakery has the tastiest stuff you’ve ever had in your life. If you want to hear about some cool Steve did at 1-800-Bakery. He puts QR codes on cookies. I used it when I was speaking at search engine strategies New York a few years ago. We shipped 300 cookies up to the conference and we handed them out. On those QR codes were, if you used your phone and scanned that QR code on one of them was a link to my site, on the other one was a link to the bakery’s site. It was the hit of the trade show. I love stuff like that. That’s link building. You might ask how is it link building if I can’t click it and it doesn’t help me with Google. It’s a link on a cookie! A shortbread cookie that’s delicious! There the biggest danger is they eat it before they scan it! Make sure you say, please scan before eating. Anyway, Steven, it’s great to see you there, I hope you’re doing well. I haven’t talked to you in ages, we should reconnect. It was a fun project.
Now what I’m going to do, if you don’t mind because I promised if people used the hashtag #linkmosesprivateaskquestions, I will answer those. If there aren’t any, we’ll probably wrap this up. Wow, we still have some good viewership here.
It looks like nobody has gone with the option to ask the question via the hashtag approach on Twitter. Which surprises me. That’s a good way to get them to me. If someone wants to ask a question, I’ll hang around. We’ve managed to get through all the questions, believe it or not. It is 3:09. I’ll go to 3:15. We’ll go six more minutes. We still have almost 50 viewers.
“Eric, in my niche, I’m up against companies like Expedia who have humongous budgets. Compounding that is the Google algo that rewards sites in terms of ranking with high inventories.”
You are right. Google definitely “favorites” those types of sites. The challenge you have, in my opinion, is not just Booking and Expedia, but Google is going to do that themselves.
Let me give you an example of how Google is no longer your friend. Let’s start with something like…my son has a baseball tournament and we’re going to Clemson, SC in a few weeks. Google search Clemson, SC hotel rooms. In this case, Google is your friend…no they sure did. Look at that. Where did they get that information? Let’s do a search. This is hotel rooms. Here’s a great example. Look at this. The first result is a paid ad, the second result is a paid ad, the third result is a paid ad, then we get a nice map, then we get Google including information here. Let’s see if they’re kind enough to pass people along directly. Let’s say we wanted to stay at the Courtyard by Marriot. There it is. But I still have not left Google. Now, I could go here, is that finally going to pass me along? Now we have hotels.com, Marriott, Expedia, Priceline. This is where the issue is you have. Why can’t you be a provider of one of these rates? Hotwire, Booking, Kayak, view more room rates. When are we ever going to get sent away? We’re still technically at Google. Let’s close that and go back up here. Remember, if I go back to my original search, we get three paid ads, we get a map and then we get courtyard by Marriott here. In some ways, it’s deceptive. I’m thinking if I click this I’m going to Marriott. No, I didn’t go to Marriott. But they do have Courtyard by Marriott here and they do have website here. Now when I click it, finally, via a Google redirect I’m going to end up there. Think back a few years ago, that never would have happened. That was Google trying to track that. My hunch is, google made some money off it. I can’t prove that, but I wouldn’t be shocked.
Let’s do another search to show you how Google is not your friend. I like Tom Petty, I think he’s cool. Even my 14-year-old thinks he’s cool. Google search: Won’t back down lyrics. Let’s say me and my son are having an argument about a word in the song. Wow, I’m really sorry all your lyric sites like A-Z lyrics or genius.com or lyrics freak, I don’t really need to go visit it you now. Because let’s say my son and I were arguing “In a world that keeps on pushing me around” and my son says no, “in a world that keeps on pushing me down.” Oh, baloney that’s not right, do a Google search on I won’t back down lyrics. I never had to leave Google and I just got my answer. Sorry, all those other sites
I don’t know if we have any sports fans out there but let me show you another one. Google search: Tom Brady statistics.
Me and a buddy are having an argument about how many interceptions he threw last year versus the year before. Wow, look at all that. Looks like he threw 2 interceptions in 2016, 7 interceptions in 2015. I won the bet, you owe a beer, guy I bet with. Ok, we got our answer. Let’s leave Google and sorry NFL.com, sorry profootballrefereance.com, sorry ESPN.com and Fox sports and Wikipedia, I never needed to leave Google to get my answer.
I guess what I’m trying to point out is Google is slowly but surely infiltrating may be too strong a word, Google is slowly but surely looking for those verticals where they can provide direct answers without sending you somewhere else. There’s where schema plays a big role in this. That’s where, if you want to have the chance to be found via Google, what I would like to see Google do more of is to give an attribution and a link. I have seen instances where it has done that. I think that may be just because of the pressure they’re going to see. Whether it’s competitive pressure or whatever. If you’re going to scrape my content and threw my data up there, then you need to at least give a link if somebody wanted to do further research. The main point I want to make is Google is looking repeatedly or frequently every minute, every hour for what’s the next vertical we can get in? I’ll say it one more time then I’ll wrap up. Google is not in the same business that it was in when it started. Google still can present you with tremendous opportunities. At the same time, the key in my opinion to online success from now and moving forward is creating alternative paths of traffic. Building relationships, business development, partnerships. If you’ve read my newsletter you know the story I told you about the hotel in Myrtle Beach and the guy that took people out on scuba expeditions that when you booked a hotel room and you got your confirmation email, in that email was a thank you for booking your reservation at so and so hotel, please print this out for your records or be prepared to show it to us on your phone. During your stay, depending on what you’re interested in, below are several links you may find of use. And there was a link to golf courses, there was a link to stuff for kids, and there was a link to my client’s scuba company for those people who are interested.
That’s a stealth link. What does that mean? Your competitor can’t even see it. That’s getting sent to every person that books a hotel room. Everybody. There’s a lot more to this story about how that came about, but that’s the kind of linking strategy…the people that succeed aren’t the people that figure out how to trick Google. There will be a few that do that. But ultimately the people that succeed will take what they can get from Google and they are going to then find every other possible way to develop their business relationships, public relations, advertising, marketing, outreach, sponsorships, community involvement. Those are the types of things that are going to help you succeed and your website succeed.
It is 3:20. That worked out pretty good. I think it was about 20 after 12 when we finally got this working. We went three hours instead of two hours. I appreciate the fact that we still have almost 50 people here watching. I love this stuff, as you can tell. For me, it’s still a puzzle. Every project is different, every client needs something different. I’m going to keep at it. Don’t be surprised if you hear some big news coming out over ericward.com over the next three to six months with some people and a particular gentleman up in Michigan who, we might have some cool things happening. Again, once I finally get the technical side of it, look for a LinkMoses podcast that’s going to be live where we take questions live on the air. I appreciate all your time. I do believe that YouTube is going to record this for those who weren’t able to watch it today. I hope you got something useful from it. If I didn’t get to your question, I apologize, and I’ll do another one probably next month. I’m going to sign off now. Once again, I appreciate all your time. This is Eric Ward, go to ericward.com. If you’re watching this and you’re not a LinkMoses private newsletter subscriber, I would really appreciate it if you would subscribe. It’s probably a pretty good deal for 8 bucks. My goal with that is not to get rich, although I would love to get a thousand subscribers. A thousand subscribers at $8/month isn’t bad. I also have three kids who need money for college, very soon, including one who is going to need money for college in four years, so do me a favor if you have issues related to your website that I can help you solve, reach out to me via ericward.com. Thank you so much for your patience through the technical difficulties and for hanging around so long.
Bye, bye, everybody.
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