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On the subject of links

LINK

Martina Martina

October 25th, 2011.

How to ‘Think Link’

linkbuilding
Image Source | Featured Image

Are you aware just how many kinds of links that are relevant to building the Page Rank of your own website? Are you convinced that  mindlessly spamming Joe Bloggs’ blog (see what I did there?  Ha! ;-) ) with comments totally unrelated to the topic at hand, in hopes to receive some free link juice in the form of a back-link is the answer to success?

If this still works on particular blogs, chances are they are not very high quality ones, are probably unmonitored, and are places where your comment & anchor text are left to dwell in the company of other usually very dodgy peers.

So what other links exist & how do you create them?

Here is a list of a variety of different links available to a website with a quick breakdown of how they work:

Reciprocal Links

As suggested by name, these are links gained in return for giving links. This can be achieved by guest posting for instance, where you write content for another blogger which they include on their blog and somewhere within the body of that content, you include a link back to your website. Usually the blogger writes some content for you too, leaving their link; hence it’s reciprocal as you are exchanging links.

One Way Links

As their name suggests, these are the opposite of reciprocal links. You receive a link to your site but do not give a link from your site. Think of it like following a celebrity Twitter profile that doesn’t follow you back, the numbers show the power here. Search engines catch onto this and class your site as valuable and useful because other sites wish to promote you asking for nothing in return. Ranks can dramatically improve with such links and they also help to generate a good amount of direct traffic to you.

If you can achieve these naturally you are on to a winner.

Authority Links

An authority link is a back-link from a site Google trusts in terms of its Algorithm. Trust comes from a site being detected as an authority (because of its page rank, it’s number of strong back-links and many other factors) the beauty of such links is that the sites they are placed on  get more visibility in search engine results for keywords that are both related and non-related to the sites topic.

Directory Links

These are links submitted to and contained in web directories which are an online resource specialising in linking to other web sites and categorizing those links. Links can be searched for and found on in a way similar to a search engine search engine however this is not to confuse the two as unlike a search engine, which uses automated methods to index it’s web-links, directories usually use humans, you know people – to do this. This is good news in terms of quality, as someone actually deciding that a site is quality leaves less room for undeserved sites to rank highly through use of “spammy” techniques.

‘Run-of-Site’ Links

Less popular in recent times, these kinds of links are (or were) in used in footers on websites or links in “blog-rolls” usually in seen in the left of right panel of a bloggers site. As the site grew, gaining back-links and content, the worth of your link would grow too. The name ‘Run of Site’ comes from the fact that the link remains in the same place throughout the entire website (in that left panel or footer).

This had its time. A person could have their link planted on a website that grew to have 1, 000 pages & the link would count as 1, 000 back-links. However, search engines smartened up which has resulted in any one link only counting once in these positions.

Edu. & Gov. Links

The birth of the Internet came about from successful research funded primarily by the American government and educational institutions who shared information with each other.  When it was ready to give to the wider world, these government and educational sites were its main content and were later followed by directories and search engines which were initially built to catalogue these sites.

The older algorithms were less advanced than today’s and once it became obvious that the best way to increase Page Rank was through linking, techies started using edu. And gov. links to spring to the top in terms of ranking for keywords. This has changed however as webmasters began to crack down on people spamming for links, making it difficult to achieve these days.

‘Presell’ Page Links

Without the jargon, these are paid links.
A presell page is one that you create yourself, complete with titles, descriptions, content and of course, links!
You then hand over cash to similar sites in your niche and hope for them to put it up on their domain, link to it from one of their pages and pop it on their site-map too. It totally goes against Google’s guidelines because unethical methods such as ‘cloaking’ are usually used among other things so probably isn’t something you want to be getting into.

Dofollow links

The opposite of nofollow links, (which are crawled by “spiders” in the same way, but are not given any “link-juice” or value once the nofollow tag is added because search engines do not follow them) these are links that webmasters allow spiders to crawl with the intention of giving some authority to the link. When spiders crawl a dofollow link, that link gains a little “juice” because search engines are being told that that site is trustworthy, which helps its Page Rank. Over time, as you build up a list of links to your site that are “followable” your site will grow in authority. You are likely to find dofollow links in the comments section of blogs and profile links on some social media websites.

RSS Links

RSS feeds can be rather helpful in aiding your SEO and enhancing your ranking efforts because of the fact that they get picked up by search engines quite quickly. Feed results can appear for the keywords that your website is ranking for and often such feeds are actually more likely to appear than a regular SEO result for other pages on your site simply because news feeds are updated more frequently (think blogs). To achieve this, ensure you have a feed/subscription option on your site and ensure this is not written in javascript, as search engines cannot crawl these.

Article Marketing/Author Biography Links

This can certainly be effective if the article you write is a good one, contains the link to your website in the biography snippet and gets a considerable amount of traffic. This is because  the more your article is linked to acorss the web, the higher the amount of links there will be to your site from other peoples sites which is the key to ranking success.

Three-Way Links

These links work the same way as reciprocal links whereby each site links to another. With this kind of link however, there is a third site in the equation and the process works by website A linking to website B, and website B not linking back to A. Website B does however, link to website C and instead of C linking back to B, it links to website A (see image above). Reciprocal links are very common and it isn’t unlikely that search engines aware of them might question how natural they are over time. The 3-way link provides the same benefits whilst looking as natural as possible to search engines, which will improve your site rankings.

 

So, now you know how to ‘think link’ – go get ‘em! :-D

Matt

May 21st, 2009.

SMX London Roundup – More News, Tips, Tricks, Tools And Links

smxlogoAs I mentioned yesterday, we have just returned from the  recent SMX London search marketing conference. Below is our roundup of the best hints, tips and links that we picked up over the two days.

There are also some fantastic posts over at SEOptimise and Distilled that are well worth a read.

The State Of The Search Industry

  • The search industry must focus more on, analytics, holistic search and education for senior management. Cooperation between companies is required in order to grow the industry.
  • During the keynote, Brian Fetherstonhaugh from Ogilvy One pointed out that although search marketing is seen as the holy grail of marketing by the top 1000 CEOs, this still only occupies around a 1.5% mindshare. Search marketers should focus on how search can ad value to existing advertising mediums and can be sold as a research tool.
  • The US has a greater buy-in from senior management. This could be due to an increased understanding/awareness of the technology, or better and more organised education.
  • Integrated search is set to be a huge growth area, both in the form of integrated digital campaigns (SEO, PPC, Digital PR) and also increased synergy between online and offline PR.
  • 46% of respondents to the Guava/E-Consultancy Research were spending a minimum of £10,000 p/a on SEO.
  • 32% are spending a minimum of £100,000 on paid search.
  • 55% of companies predict an increase in SEO spending despite current economic conditions.
  • SEMPO research indicates a shift from paid search back into natural search.
  • SEO is increasingly being used for branding as well as direct response advertising being driven by an increase in local, video and news results visibility.

Keyword Research Tips And Advice

  • Download the Microsoft adCenter Excel Add-In for keyword research. This will help to quickly build keyword lists and give additional demographic information.
  • Don’t just use traditional tools for keyword research. Initial brainstorming with client sales teams is usually an untapped resource for potential keywords, as well as looking at internal site search queries.
  • The credit-crunch has altered search behaviour. Consumers are searching more, researching more but buying less.
  • There has been a 3-fold increase in informational and a fall in navigational search queries. Less brand searches, more price-led queries.
  • Optimise category pages for plural search keywords, product pages for the singular.
  • Use Google Trends to find and keep ahead of topical search terms in your industry.

SEO

  • Wordle is a great tool for finding which keywords a site/page has been optimised for.
  • Using a keyword site:domain.com query you can find the most important pages on your site for a specific keyword.
  • Mis-spellings can be targeted using a glossary or a ‘similar searches’ widget.

Link Building

  • Before releasing online PR/link bait you must understand the reasons that people link to pages. If your content doesn’t encourage people to link in some way, then it isn’t linkbait.
  • A successful linkbait article has an average of 2.7 seconds to grab a bloggers attention. The solution to retaining this attention? A Great Headline. These great headlines should be continued into the subject of the text, and should also be continued into the headlines of whichever social media distribution channel you choose (Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon etc).
  • Websites Don’t Link to Websites- People link to other people’s work. To improve the response from your linkbait, look into the mindset of the blogger reading your piece- why would you link to it if it was your blog?
  • Discussion sparking content – Create content that can spark controversial discussions. Not everyone in your industry will always have the same view, and providing content that sparks such discussions allows readers to get involved in the discussion. Invite other bloggers to get involved in the conversation (subconsciously inviting the blogger to link to the discussion and make a comment on the discussion on their own blog).
  • Actively promote your own content. Build a directory of targets and inform them when you publish linkable content to increase the take-up rate.
  • Link your articles with current affairs, topical news stories, or hot topics in your industry to increase the chances of publication.
  • Link building is very much dependant on the kind of website you’re working on. Big brands can get away with a far lower link quality than smaller companies and brands.
  • Analise the current inbound links- Big brands should have a range of authoritive links, meaning less authoritive links with optimised anchor texts can help when optimising for a particular phrase.
  • Install ‘Links From Images’ Plugin on WordPress. People still hotlink images… why not provide them with the HTML code and include a link back to the page the image.
  • Where possible, remove all social media buttons (‘tweet this’ buttons etc) on linkbait articles- remove the option for visitors to share the content on other networks to encourage linking to the article instead.
  • Six degrees of seperation works online… target the bigger sites in the industry that the smaller bloggers will read to get links from both the bigger and smaller blogs (and scraper sites!)
  • Build a Promotion Network-
    1. Research sites in the industry and see what they link to
    2. Create an email list
    3. Create the linkbait article
    4. Social media promotion- this is mainly for show- the more powerful links will come from the bloggers you email directly
    5. Send a personal email to the bloggers on your email list informing them of the post ahead of the buzz
    6. Watch the links come in
    7. Show gratification- thank the bloggers and show gratification (Tweet/Stumble/Digg their post in return)

Social Media

  • Social media is now sending significant amounts of traffic to many sites, for the right industries/demographics it’s crazy to ignore it.
  • Utilising Facebook connect and the Twitter API is an excellent way of encouraging your visitors to interact on social sites and linking that interaction with your brand.
  • Use the RIOT principal – Relevant Interaction = Optimised Traffic – Massimo Burgio
  • Bear in mind the 4 P’s of social media – Passion, Proactively, Perseverance and Patience
  • Twitter may well become more important in the search engine world as it starts to index the content of links in tweets and starts to rank these.

Reputation Management

  • There are several basic strategies for dealing with negative listings in the search results. 1) Legal action 2) Purchasing the offending site 3) Organic strategies to push other listing above it 4) Paid listings to argue your case/divert attention5) Hacking – not recommended!
  • Resort to legal action only if sure of your legal footing and as a last resort. It’s very easy for aggressive tactic to blow-up in your face.
  • Sometimes authority domains that have negative listings may also contain positive pages that can easily be used to replace the negatives.
  • Reputation management shouldn’t just be thought of in crisis situations. Effectively monitoring and managing online reputation before a crisis occurs can save time and money later.
  • Bear in mind that if people want to look hard enough for negative stories and articles, they will find them.

Analytics

  • SEO is not a ‘free’ medium – everything has an ROI that should be measured.
  • When monitoring the performance/conversions of large groups of keywords, separate them out into groups for more manageable analysis – Top 10, Top 100, Top 1,000 and 1,000+
  • Brand engagement can easily be worked out using BE = #brand searches + #direct visits / #search visits + # direct visits
  • Another metric worth measuring is the % of pages yielding search traffic. Consider replacing or amending under-performing pages.
  • Link building counts are a metric that people should be using. The most accurate tools for tracking this are Linkscape and Google Webmaster Tools.
  • Use the 2nd page traffic filter to spot keywords sending you traffic from the second page of search results. Pushing these phrases onto the first page are your low-hanging fruit.
  • Use multi-touch tracking to find the initial referrer for a sale rather than the final one. Often a sale initially comes from a long tail search query, then possibly a branded search or PPC ad which then incorrectly gets the credit for the sale.

Digital PR

  • Get Known- build a brand, attend conferences, seminars and other industry engagements. Comment in forums and become a noticed resource.
  • Build a Platform- Speaking slots, interviews, trade shows. Announce your presence at these industry events ahead of time
  • Find industry news and get on it

Presentations/Write-Ups Currently Available Online

Dean Chew – What’s New With Social Media?
Lyndon Antcliff – Smash A Brick In The Face Link Building
Richard Gregory – The Latest Stats About The Search Engines
Patrick Altoft – Blow Your Mind Link Building Techniques
Ciaran Norris – Old Or New? The Future Of Media
Will Critchlow- Analytics Every SEO Needs to Know
Lucy Langdon- What’s New With Social Media?
Rich Cotton- Paid Search & Tricky Issues
Rob Ousbey- Brand & Reputation Management Strategies
Guy Levine- Writing Killer Search Ads
Massimo Burgio – What’s New With Social Media Marketing?
Richard Baxter – Diagnosing Website Architecture Issues
Richard Gregory – Paid Search And Tricky Issues
Nick Abramovic – Multivariate Testing

Anything I have missed? Let me know :)

Matt

October 14th, 2008.

Small Business SEO

Although Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a skill that takes time and effort to master, there is no reason why a small business can’t give themselves an edge over their competitors by putting in place some of the framework that a professional SEO consultant would expect to cover.

In this article I’m going to look at why you, a small business owner needs to consider SEO for their website and some steps that you, or your web developer can put into place that will help ensure your site is performing as well as possible in the search engines.

Why do small business need SEO?
If you have a website then you should at some point have considered how people are finding you online. Relying on ‘push’ marketing factors such as brochures, business cards and flyers is all very well, but you already have had some contact with these targets – it’s not really using your website to its full potential to draw in a previously untapped market.

Over 70% of online sales start with a user conducting a search. If you sell or gather leads online, that’s a huge slice of your potential market that you’re missing out on. Good search engine rankings for relevant and often used search terms will drive qualified leads to your site at a fraction of the price of other marketing methods.

When To Keep Things In-House
Given the skills and the time it’s perfectly possible to conduct a reasonable SEO campaign in-house. If you or your web developer are happy to edit your website, and you and your staff have some time to devote to the campaign, then there’s no reason why you can’t make a success out of things without getting some experts in.

When To Outsource
If your website is (or has the potential to be) one of your major revenue streams, and a budget is available, then you should consider getting some experts in to run the campaign for you. Take care when hiring, make sure you ask the correct questions and ask for references. Our free SEO Buyers Guide should help you out here.
Essentially when hiring an SEO consultant, you’re not just paying for their time and knowledge, but also their experience and industry contacts – it is this that will give you a real edge over your competitors.

Some SEO Tips For Small Business’

Know Your Market
Firstly, before you go any further, you need to ensure you’re targeting the correct people. Is your market geographically based in one country? If so try to ensure that you’re using the correct top level domain for that country, for example a .co.uk domain in the UK, or a .fr in France. Failing that, if you have a more generic .com or .net domain then make sure that your website is hosted in the correct country. This will help to ensure that the traffic that search engines send will be from the market that you’re targeting.

Understand Your Keywords
One of the most important stages for any SEO is understanding which keywords are being used by people to find your products. Start off by brainstorming a list of keywords that you think people may use to find your products and services. Then use a keyword research tool to expand and develop your list beyond those that you have already thought of.

Page Titles/Descriptions
Ensure that each page on your site has a unique page title and meta description. If you’re comfortable editing web pages yourself then it’s not terribly complicated. Otherwise you may want to ask your web developer to do it. The titles and description tags should always be unique and reflect the content of each individual page. Here it’s best use your keyword list in order to understand which terms are most frequently searched for.
Other areas of the page to use your keywords are places like headings, image ‘alt’ text, bold text and the page content. First and formost ensure the pages read well to visitors, avoid stuffing as many keywords onto the page as you can – that doesn’t work anymore!

Use Analytics
You’ll be able to make far better decisions regarding the marketing of your site if you have a solid understanding of how people are finding your site, which keywords and sites are driving visitors, and which visitors convert into sales. Signup for a free service like Google Analytics which will give you all of this information and more.

Consider Your Content
Great content can make it far easier to get a website ranking well. Look at the kind of information that your competitors are offering and improve on it. Try to ensure your site is a resource for everything that someone in your industry will need. Resource sites tend to rank a lot better as people are compelled to link to the information contained on them. Consider adding a blog your website that you can publish and archive regular posts on.

Think Links
Up until now everything that you have done has helped a search engine to understand what your pages are about. The page optimisation and content creation all help a search engine to decide which subjects your pages cover.
However it’s the links that point to your pages that let search engines know how important your pages are, and therefore how highly they should rank on the results pages.
Look for opportunities to get other webmasters to link to you. You may have suppliers or clients that you can ask. You may have industry bodies that link to members. You can consider writing articles on other industry websites or adding your site to relevant directories. The list of linking opportunities is endless.

Local SEO
Add your business to the local search services that the main search engines now offer. This will help return your business when people perform geographic queries such as “London accountant” Go to Google, Yahoo or Live to add your business.

Above all SEO takes time and patience. It’s not something that happens overnight. Over time you will find your efforts are rewarded with high quality relevant website visitors that convert into sales.

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