Link Building 2014: Shun the Shortcuts to Improve Search Rankings
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Link Building 2014: Shun the Shortcuts to Improve Search Rankings

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Presenting this presentation on how to be a catalyst for organic links for white hat link earning at the IRCE Focus SEO Day Monday, February 10, with David Cluka from Briggs and Stratton.

Presenting this presentation on how to be a catalyst for organic links for white hat link earning at the IRCE Focus SEO Day Monday, February 10, with David Cluka from Briggs and Stratton.

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  • Good morning. Thanks for actively choosing to avoid low quality link building tactics. Today we’re going to tell you how to build natural links. And if that seems like a contradiction in terms, you’re in the right place to learn.
  • Today we’re going to talk about…
  • First, why do we care about link building? Because it can lead to increases in natural search traffic if done the right way. If done the wrong way…
  • It can lead to this. Many of you have probably heard of Penguin, which is an update that Google implemented to punish sites with low quality links. If you don’t know what kind of links to build and how, it can flat line your search traffic.
  • But the good news is, most bad link building is not hard to detect…
  • Bad links basically fall into two categories…
  • In the second category are advertorials, which is advertising that is made to look like editorial articles…
  • If you pay for PageRank, Google will eventually discover it. Not worth the risk.
  • Many times companies would put excessive anchor text in press releases and count on those distributed links for search engine benefits. Google calls that spam. Use press releases to get your brand message out and don’t over optimize them.
  • And there’s more. If you read Google’s link schemes guidelines you’ll see that there are many ways that people have tried to get past Google’s ranking algorithm. These are a few examples, and the list is constantly growing as people discover new ways to unfairly work their way to the top.
  • If you have bad links like these, unfortunately… Actually all is not lost. But you have to know what to do.
  • If you have bad links you must aggressively seek them out and prune them.
  • The easiest place to find bad links is in Google webmaster tools, where Google will let you know if you have unnatural links. Unfortunately if you find them here it means that Google has already taken action and penalized your site. Better to proactively seek them out.
  • How? There are many ways, including software/services like removeem.com…
  • And Linkquidator. These are good tools to use, but they’re not perfect, and they can be expensive.
  • Alternatively you can also look for over optimized anchor text using less expensive options like Open Site Explorer, Majestic or AHREFS.
  • You can also look for periods of aggressive link building, using tools like MajesticSEO.
  • Once you’ve found the bad links, you need to disavow them, using Google and Bing Webmaster Tools.
  • If this seems like a lot of work, it is. The best thing to do is to focus on sustainable marketing/SEO so that you don’t have a mess to clean up. But if it’s too late for that, you now know how to get back in Google’s good graces.
  • As the title of this presentation says…
  • You need to focus on earning links and building relationships these days, in addition to creating compelling content. In a bit David will take you through how we did this with Briggs.
  • First, here are some tips for finding your niche in link building…
  • Set standards for your link building activities and communicate them to the team at the beginning of the project. This way there will be no rogue links built as the rest of the team is doing the right things.
  • You also really need to understand your audience: who they are, what they want, and where they visit. At Resolution we use analytics and big data to model who our audience is…
  • And form specific customer personas that we can understand at every stage of the customer life-cycle. And this is a great way to discover the types of links that you need to pursue.
  • Anyone know the best way to measure link effectiveness? Any opinions? Well, we think there’s only one way to measure the effectiveness of link building techniques, and that is…
  • Traffic. Everything else is a proxy for search and referral traffic and revenue.
  • You may have heard of these KPIs as reliable measures of link building success. They’re not. Each of these methods has major flaws, and they’re all proxies for traffic. Better to go to the source.
  • Focus on these question instead for a more effective way to be a catalyst for natural links.
  • You may have heard that content is king. You may have heard it over and over again, in fact, especially from the engines. It’s not.
  • Google would like you to believe that they always surface the highest quality content, but they’re not perfect. This is a high quality award-winning website that gets all of their traffic from branded keywords.
  • This is also content, though not exactly award-winning. Google calls it spam in fact, as I found it on their live spam page. But it is content, just not high quality.
  • So instead of content is king we would do better to focus on attributes of content that connect it to people, including…In addition, the content has to be…
  • Hopefully that gave you a better sense of what types of links to pursue and which to avoid. Now here is David Cluka, Director of Digital Marketing for Briggs and Stratton, to tell you more about how we apply these general principles to BriggsandStratton.com to be a catalyst for natural links.
  • As Bryson said, we start the project by asking this question
  • When we did the ClearTarget research we had a better sense of the types of customers we needed to connect with, what content they were interested in and what sites they frequent, so we set out to give them what they were looking for.
  • So one of the things we did was focus on our content, and developed content we knew the target consumer would be interested in based on the research.
  • We also made sure that we were where our audience was, building out our social media presence on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
  • And we kept up with current trends using Google Trends to make sure we were delivering timely content that searchers were interested in.
  • We also made the content more authentic by creating a team of employees who could be brand ambassadors for Briggs, using Google authorship program to build trust in those authors. By creating great content that we knew our prospect needed, and making it accessible and authentic, we knew that we could say yes to that first question.
  • Next, do all my…
  • Now you may remember the incident from a year ago when Home Depot made some headlines for building links the wrong way. They sent out a form letter which also told their partners some inaccurate statements about the way Google search and authority works.
  • We also needed to strengthen our relationships with our business partners, but we focus on making professional connections between people, not on mass templated emails. Most of the outreach we do is done over the phone and in meetings by Chris Kovac, who works to build relationships with our retail partners for Briggs and Stratton. She’s not a link builder by trade, but a relationship manager and a digital marketer.
  • Chris helps us communicate with retail partners, so we can deliver suggestions like this in meetings. We’ll then work with our retail partners to find a solution that’s right for both of us, and that is good for searchers.
  • Some of the things we’ve done to date include…
  • The last thing we ask ourselves is…
  • Too often SEOs try to get bloggers who mention a brand to link to it. In this case it led to the agency doing the outreach to be called out publicly for spam. This is not something we want to tarnish our brand.
  • So instead we work with our public relations firms to do what they do best, and Resolution helps them do it in a way that is friendly to search engines and search engine users.
  • You may have heard that guest blogging is dead. Not if you focus on referral traffic and try to connect employees with outlets that have an audience who could use their expertise. We do include links in these posts, but not excessively, and with natural anchor text.
  • In order to find more relevant traffic, we also look for influencers in social media that are also our customers. You can find potential partners in followerwonk by searching Twitter bios for relevant phrases or terms.
  • And if we don’t know an influencer personally, we make a connection on social media before calling or emailing.
  • And finally, we make sure that we’re not only growing organic search traffic, but referral traffic by looking at results of our efforts in analytics. Looking at % of new traffic can tell us which of our link building efforts are performing well, and helping us to answer this last question in the affirmative.
  • Thanks. I hope this was interesting and educational. If you have any questions, you can contact us here, and we look forward to the discussions at the end of the presentation. Thanks!

Link Building 2014: Shun the Shortcuts to Improve Search Rankings Link Building 2014: Shun the Shortcuts to Improve Search Rankings Presentation Transcript

  • Linkbuilding: Shun the Shortcuts to Improve Rankings Bryson Meunier Director, SEO Strategy Resolution Media David Cluka Director, Digital Marketing Briggs and Stratton 1
  • AGENDA What are bad links? How to find and purge bad links Finding your niche The only way to measure link effectiveness • The right way to get links • Case study: link building strategy for Briggs and Stratton • • • • 2
  • GOOD LINK BUILDING 3
  • BAD LINK BUILDING 4
  • MOST BAD LINK BUILDING NOT HARD TO DETECT • “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["hardcore pornography"]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that. [Emphasis added.]” —Justice Potter Stewart, concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964), regarding possible obscenity in The Lovers. 5
  • BAD LINKS FALL IN TWO CATEGORIES Anything that seeks to exploit loopholes in Google’s ranking algorithm Anything that’s paid but made to look as if it’s earned 6
  • ADVERTORIALS Anything that’s paid but made to look as if it’s earned 7
  • PAID LINKS Anything that’s paid but made to look as if it’s earned 8
  • PRESS RELEASE SPAM Anything that’s paid but made to look as if it’s earned 9
  • • Widgets or footers with overly optimized anchor text • Low quality directories • Blog comment spam • Article marketing • Automated linkbuilding Anything that seeks to exploit • Excessive reciprocal links loopholes in Google’s ranking Full, evolving list at algorithm https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en 10
  • IF YOU HAVE BAD LINKS 11
  • IF YOU HAVE BAD LINKS 12
  • GET THEM IN GOOGLE WEBMASTER TOOLS 13
  • SOFTWARE/SERVICES FOR REMOVING BAD LINKS: REMOVEEM 14
  • SOFTWARE/SERVICES FOR REMOVING BAD LINKS: LINKQUIDATOR 15
  • USE SITE EXPLORERS TO UNCOVER OVER OPTIMIZED ANCHORS • Open Site Explorer • Majestic SEO • AHrefs 16
  • LOOK FOR UNNATURAL PATTERNS IN HISTORICAL LINKS 17
  • DISAVOW & REQUEST RECONSIDERATION 18
  • AVOID MAKING MESSES AND THERE’S NOTHING TO CLEAN UP 19
  • There are no shortcuts to link building for SEO. 20
  • The best link builders earn links by building relationships and creating content that people are compelled to share. 21
  • FINDING YOUR NICHE • Mine competitor links, shares and mentions for relevant content • • • • BrightEdge OpenSiteExplorer FreshWebExplorer FollowerWonk • Sort BrightEdge backlink performance report by # of competitors with backlinks from this domain for more relevant links 22
  • SET STANDARDS FOR LINK TARGETS •No directories that don’t fit the brand •No guest blogs that don’t fit the brand •Only sites that qualified searchers actually visit 23
  • MODELING AUDIENCE NEEDS FROM BIG DATA 24
  • LINKBUILDING FOR SPECIFIC PERSONAS 25
  • The only way to measure link effectiveness is… 26
  • QUALIFIED SEARCH AND REFERRAL TRAFFIC 27
  • FORGET THESE LINKBUILDING KPIS • Domain Authority/Trust • Page Authority/Trust • PageRank • Organic search rankings • Number of links acquired 28
  • ASK THESE QUESTIONS INSTEAD • Would my target audience feel compelled to share the content I’m promoting with their social circles without outside prompting? • Do all my partners link to the content I’m promoting? Why not? • Would a link from this site create referral traffic that might visit the site I’m promoting more regularly? 29
  • If the answer to any of these questions is No how do you turn it into a Yes? 30
  • CONTENT = ≠ 31
  • BEETLE.COM WINS WEBBY FOR QUALITY SITE • And yet is not visible in search… of traffic from non-brand keywords, December 2013* *Source: SEMRush, 1/30/2014 32
  • THIS IS CONTENT Found on https://www.google.com/insidesearch/howsearchworks/fighting-spam.html, 1/31/2014 33
  • INFORMATIVE AUTHENTIC USEFUL EMOTIONAL CONTROVERSIAL UNIQUE COMPREHENSIVE DARING + = King/crown picture ACCESSIBLE CONNECTED USING SEARCHER QUERIES IN PLACES WHERE GOOGLE UNDERSTANDS THEM 34
  • BRIGGS & STRATTON Linkbuilding Strategy Case Study 35
  • Would my target audience feel compelled to share the content I’m promoting with their social circles without outside prompting? 36
  • FOCUS ON CUSTOMER PERSONA’S NEEDS 37
  • FOCUS ON CREATING RELEVANT CONTENT WITH BLOG 38
  • CREATING RELEVANT CONTENT WHERE CONSUMERS ARE 39
  • USING GOOGLE TRENDS TO FIND NEW CONTENT OPPORTUNITIES 40
  • IMPROVING AUTHENTICITY WITH AUTHORSHIP 41
  • Do all my partners link to the content I’m promoting? Why not? 42
  • AVOIDING FORM LETTERS 43
  • REAL PEOPLE BUILDING REAL RELATIONSHIPS Chris Kovac Marketing Manager - Digital Channel and Mass Lawn & Garden at Briggs & Stratton 44
  • CONTENT SUGGESTIONS TO PARTNERS Under Lawn Mower Buying Guides, consider adding an article about the importance of an engine in outdoor power equipment The page should: • Call out which lawnmower engine brands are available in products at Home Depot • Link to those engine brands
  • REAL COLLABORATION WITH PARTNERS • Proposed co-branded Hangout with large retail partner • Suggested an engines matter page to another large retail partner • Value add for both businesses, and for searchers 46
  • Would a link from this site create referral traffic that might visit the site I’m promoting more regularly? 47
  • OLD ARTICLES DON’T GET MUCH RELEVANT TRAFFIC 48
  • SEO AND PR INTEGRATION 49
  • CREATING RELEVANT CONTENT WHERE CONSUMERS ARE 50
  • FIND RELEVANT INFLUENCERS ACCORDING TO PERSONA INTERESTS 51
  • ENGAGE FIRST SOCIALLY BEFORE SENDING EMAIL 52
  • MEASURE REFERRAL TRAFFIC 53
  • THANK YOU! Bryson Meunier Director, SEO Strategy Resolution Media bmeunier@resolutionmedia.com www.resolutionmedia.com David Cluka Director, Digital Marketing Briggs and Stratton www.briggsandstratton.com