Building A Defensible Link Proﬁle Julie Joyce Owner of Link Fish Media Co-founder of SEO-Chicks.com @juliejoyce
Always think like a paid link buyer who doesn’t want to get caught even if you’re not buying links.
Houston, We HaveA Problem. Actually, we have several.
More Links!The site with the most links or highest % of money anchors does not always win.
Free Stuff• Not all free links are good links.
Copycats• Mimicking a competitor’s link proﬁle is a sureﬁre way to fail the second they fail.
Networks• Many were knocked out in early 2012.• The rest could soon be hit.
Name Dropping• Comment and forum link drops are one of the most-requested link removals.
Can This Link Hurt Me?• Paid links aren’t the only dangerous links.• Links that exist with no purpose other than to manipulate rankings can be a problem whether they’re paid or free.• Any link that invites closer inspection can be bad for your site.• Link proﬁles that are low quality can be as worthless as having no links.
Run Away If:• The site is not indexed in Google.
Run Away If:• Site is full of content that doesn’t match its URL or tag line (like all recipes on a ﬁnance site.)
Penalized By Free Links?? Yes.• Out of the last ~10 link audits I’ve conducted for people who are trying to get back into Google after cleaning up paid links, 8 proﬁles are still full of crappy free links.• Most leftover links are from irrelevant low-level directories or sitewide blogrolls. Some will blow your computer up.
Lots of “could” language here.
Free link. List of nothing but unrelated sites. None have TBPR.Most inbound links are equally irrelevant and spammy.
Site sells antique toys.• Article written about maid service in Texas.• Keyword linked is Old Maid.• This used to work.• Free link.
Spammy Blogrolls, Partner Links, Recommendations
If You Are Actually Deindexed• If you’ve been deindexed for bad links, you need to clean up those links before you start building new ones. Don’t submit a reinclusion request if you have not cleaned up your links.• Don’t think that falling in the rankings automatically means you’re penalized.• How can you tell which ones to clean up? If they don’t look like editorially given links, either nofollow them or have them removed.
Creating a defensibleproﬁle is easier than you think.
First, Toss Out Toxins• Analyze what you currently have. Link Research Tools and Majestic are great for identifying your potentially toxic links. If they aren’t sending you trafﬁc, you may want to get rid of them.
Recognize that any site can accidentally suffer from an update.
Stop focusing on scaleand start questioning value.
Grab Your Handles• Use Knowem.com to check availability and snag desired social media usernames on up to 300 sites. (Yes it costs but it’s MUCH easier than trying to buy your handles later.)
Monitor EVERYTHING.• Google alerts set up for brand, URL, important usernames/email addresses, blogger names, bloggers you watch to pitch to, competitors, titles of content pieces, etc.• Monitoring chunks of content is a good free alternative to Copyscape so you can keep an eye on scrapers and dupe content.
Stop only focusing on what works in Google.
Do More Than Seasonal Pushes• $12196.34 spent on paid links for a seasonal push. 85 links built, only 20% of which were live 13 months later. Many links were converted to competitors within 3 months of going live. Total cost including labor was $25k.
Stop trying toautomate everything.
Rely on common sense above metrics. TBPR 6
Remember that algorithms change in response topatterns, so don’t create them.
Create and maintain a Do Not Contact db. Add to it regularly.If a blogger or webmaster doesn’t want to work withyou, do them the honor of leaving them alone. (Unless you enjoy reading blog posts about how you’ve spammed them.)
If a link looks sketchy, ask to have itnofollowed or removed.**If you dropped links in comments over the years, don’t expect those webmasters to happily do the extra work of removing your links though. Also remember that plenty of webmasters WILL ask for payment to nofollow or remove a link so be prepared.
If you can’t get away frommetrics, look at social signalsand not just TBPR or linking domains.They can be a much better indicator of value. It’s harder to fake social love.
Create a kick-ass link team who can do their jobs without relying on tools.
OMG I know. Julie is nuts. Sorry. I had a bad day. Negative Mentions• Negative mentions can be great defensible links since most people won’t actively seek those.• Just make sure you respond to whatever the complaint is.
Conference bios, webinar bios,and author listings on industrysites build some great links.
Build Defensible Content• Evergreen content attracts links and attention.• Write about topics that don’t change (much) or create documentation and add to it regularly.• Yearly updates can be written and crosslinked.
2423 backlinks on 497 unique domains. Updates keep content fresh.
Controversy generates social interaction.
Rolling Stone: 8585 links from 1428 linking domains. 5163 comments. Controversial topic.
Interviews and crowdsourced piecesmake for good content that generateslinks and interaction from the participantsand those in their social circles.
105 links, good social.
Just Remember:• Make sure you 301 any content when its URL changes. Otherwise it’s ripe for broken link building for someone else.• If no one else is commenting, start the conversation yourself.
Turn Any One-Off Into A Series• Series on a few sites may look more legitimate than guest posts on 50 sites.• Check your analytics...if a guest post sends you great trafﬁc, ask webmaster if you can write there more frequently.• Series cut down on discovery for new placements.
Don’t limit yourself to online SEO sources likekeyword and social media tools for content inspiration.
Listen To NPR.Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me sums upthe weekly news in a funny quiz show that’s a lot more entertaining than the actual news.
Read Satire.The Onion’s “American Voices” and Latest News sections are quick skims of what’s popular enough to get parodied.
Watch Late Night TV. If Stephen Colbert and JonStewart are talking about it, it’s controversial.
Let Your Link Team Build Something Fun• A year ago we launched AvantGreensboro.com to give our team the full website experience.• Site now has ~20 writers, most volunteering time. Many are not my employees and asked to contribute.• Free reign on creativity has made them better at writing work-related content and promoting it. Employee buy-in on anything makes everyone happier.
Ensure Continued Visibility In Case You Get Hit • Do this BEFORE something bad happens. • Remember that you could easily be collateral damage in the next Google update.
Pursue Trafﬁc FromOutside Google’s SERPs• Other engines.• Social media sites.• Referrals from guest posts...both one-offs and series.• Interviews.• Direct hits.• Reviews• Local listings
ThThe Web > Google.
Always Prepare For The Worst.
What Makes a Great Link Team?Our two best link builders: one is in his early 20s and works from home 40 hours a week in addition to taking a full load of online college classes.The other one is a laid-off textile worker in his mid-50s who was unemployed for years before we snagged him.
Don’t compose a team full of people who are all justalike. Brainstorming is much better when people have different ideas and experiences.
Hire people who were bartenders, waitresses, teachers, college kids, retired workers, writers, artists, and/orscientists. SEOs sometimes make horrible link builders.
Don’t outsource your link building topeople you haven’t vetted thoroughly.
Rewardyour link team.
Set up a bonus plan.
Run internal contests.
Individual and Team Targets
If You’re Going To Buy Links• Do so only after warning the client of the risks involved.• If someone says she sunk her life savings into a site, don’t buy links for it.• If someone sends you a list of all the sites he owns, dump it into a db and stay away.• Make sure you report every detail of the links you buy and send it to the client every month.• Don’t approach a site owner by immediately trying to buy a link for a named client. Get a feel for whether they’re open to the potential before “outing” the client.• Don’t monitor them in anyone else’s tool. Build your own so you can keep an eye on the links.• If the site where you’ve bought links suddenly starts ﬁlling up with paid links, ask to have yours nofollowed or removed.• If you buy links for any client and it’s public knowledge, don’t put your other clients at risk by naming them either.• Be prepared to get thrown under a bus if the client gets caught. They’ll blame you and say they had no idea what you were doing so deal with the fallout and move on.
Image Credits • All images used were either my property or were licensed under Creative CommonsSlide 2 video still of The Clashs Bank Robber videoSlide 3 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Space_Shuttle_Columbia_launching.jpgSlide 4 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:More_More_More_More_More_Production_-_NARA_-_534431.jpgSlide 5 http://www.instructables.com/files/deriv/F63/KEP0/FHAVXWWB/F63KEP0FHAVXWWB.LARGE.gifSlide 6 cartoon created on Pikton.comSlide 8 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:No-spam.svgSlide 9 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lion_teeth.JPGSlide 15 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_Maid_2.jpgSlide 18 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cake_from_WHR℗.jpgSlide 20 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Japanese_car_accident.jpgSlide 22 Knowem image used with permission of Michael StrekoSlide 23 U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rosa LarsonSlide 24 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saddlebred_Stallion_in_Harness.jpgSlide 26 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robot_icon.svgSlide 28 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dots_Patterns.svgSlide 29 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Katrina_Go_Away_sign.jpgSlide 32 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blindfold_Marathon.jpgSlide 39 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Protest_0086.JPGSlide 39 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:War_protest.jpgSlide 41 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Talk_face.svgSlide 54 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Team_Sky.jpgSlide 56 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hutech_bartender.JPGSlide 57 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Criminal_Silhouette_L.svgSlide 58 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikimania_2005_-_geeks.jpgSlide 58 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Grandma_Green.jpgSlide 59 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Food_Reward.JPGSlide 60 http://www.psdgraphics.com/file/bonus-icon-1280x1024.jpgSlide 62 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Goals.jpg