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2 7-2012 Google how links boost rankings


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Links are the currency of the search engines. Without good inbound links to your web site, your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts will be in vain.

Link building is arguably the most difficult, most misunderstood, and most poorly executed aspect to SEO. Join SEO and link-building expert Stephan Spencer as he guides us through the quagmire and shows us the way to great search engine rankings.

What Will You Learn?
•Google's PageRank score: red herring or useful metric?
•What makes a link valuable or not
•Creative strategies for building link-worthy content
•What works when approaching webmasters with link requests
•Dangers and pitfalls of buying or bartering links
•The power of anchor text and how best to leverage it
•The role of authorities, hubs, and topical relevance
•How to leverage blogs and social media for link building

Published in: Technology, News & Politics
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2 7-2012 Google how links boost rankings

  1. 1. Google in the Real World:How Links Boost Your Rankings Stephan Spencer Co-Author of The Art of SEO; Author of Google Power Search; Founder of Netconcepts
  2. 2. First Off... Who Am I?• Author of Google Power Search & Co-author of The Art of SEO• Founder of SEO agency Netconcepts• Sold Netconcepts to Covario in 2010• Lived in New Zealand for 8 yrs, returned to US in 2007• Invented GravityStream, a pay-for-performance SEO technology (now Covario’s Organic Search Optimizer)• Now a free agent, developing an SEO coaching program which will launch soonish
  3. 3. Links & PageRank “Link popularity” affects search engine rankings Links are lPageRank – Links from “important” sites have more impact on your Google rankings (weighted link popularity). Google offers a window into your PageRank – PageRank meter in the Google Toolbar ( & 3rd party tools like SEO for Firefox are all powered by Google’s Toolbar Server Bing/Yahoo has similar measure to PageRank Excellent alternative to PageRank score: mozRank (SEOmoz’ Open Site Explorer)
  4. 4. PageRank 101 10 Google Sampling of Homepage PageRank Ratings Logarithmic scale from 0 to 10 Assigned to web pages, not sites 9 Amazon Based on inbound links to pages Heavily weighted on link quality E 8 ebay Passed through internal & F external links. F Higher PageRank may lead 7 O Disney Googlebot to: R – Crawl more frequently 6 T Gap – Crawl faster – Crawl deeper 5 Culligan 4 Boston 3 Store Relative number of pages with PR rating 2 1 0
  5. 5. Logarithmic Nature of PageRank
  6. 6. The Best Links for SEO Are…• Topically relevant• One way (not reciprocated)• Not in footer and not site-wide• Earned by merit, rather than bought, bartered or stolen• Not crowded with many other links on the page• On a highly trusted, authority site with a long history and in a pristine link neighborhood
  7. 7. And They…• Have descriptive anchor text but not the same descriptive anchor text• Appear to be passively obtained/organic• Are not all found on the same IP block• Are not all found on the same top level domain (.com, .org, .edu, etc)
  8. 8. Building High Quality Links• Develop great content• Submit to authoritative, topical, & local directories• Work with your business partners• Do competitive intelligence• Link bait• Tap into social media• Blog• Syndicate through RSS
  9. 9. Checking Link Popularity• To a page vs. to a site• Third party tools: – – –• Googles link: operator displays only a sampling of backlinks. – Note: the operator also works in Google Blog Search, and there it is much more comprehensive• Google Webmaster Central only provides backlink data for your own site (if youre verified)
  10. 10. Checking PageRank• Google Toolbar for IE or Firefox – Download it from• Third party tools that query Googles Toolbar Server, pretending to be the Google Toolbar – SEO for Firefox – etc.• Get historical PageRank scores SEOmoz Historical PageRank Checker tool
  11. 11. Google Toolbar
  12. 12. Problems with the PageRank Meter• Take the PageRank scores with a grain of salt• PageRank scores are merely indicative• Scores displayed in the PageRank meter are: – Months old – Imprecise – Not the same as the PageRank as what is used in Googles ranking algorithm – Not representative of the home page PageRank when a redirect is present• An alternative to checking toolbar PageRank – SEOmozs mozRank and mozTrust (
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  14. 14. Find Link Targets• Review links of competitive sites, sites in your keyword market – Use the tools just mentioned and will mention later in this session – Check sites with high rankings for relevant keywords – The fewer the number of links on their page, the better• Review links to your site; look for opportunities to get the link text revised
  15. 15. Competitive Intelligence• These tools arent just good for finding link targets• Theyre invaluable for uncovering competitors dodgy practices – E.g. Unraveling the mystery of commanding the #1 spot for “gift certificates”• Its also just good to know where theyre getting the bulk of their PageRank from
  16. 16. Link Analysis & Research• Very hard to do without the appropriate tools• For example... – – – – Raven ( – Advanced Link Manager ( – Back Link Analyzer ( analyzer/)
  17. 17. Link Intelligence –
  18. 18. Link Intelligence –
  19. 19. Link Intelligence –
  20. 20. Link Intelligence –
  21. 21. Link Intelligence –
  22. 22. Link Intelligence –
  23. 23. Link Intelligence –
  24. 24. Link Intelligence –
  25. 25. Link Intelligence –
  26. 26. Link Baiting• Offer a niche-specific blogroll, tool, How-To, or compilation of news stories• Post a scoop• Expose a story as flawed or a fraud• Be a contrarian about a story, product, or prominent bloggers opinion• Be humorous. Good topics include a bizzare pic of your subject, “10 things I hate about…”, and “You know youre a when…” Source: Performancing
  27. 27. Link Baiting• Publish or commission some original research• Creative-Commons-license photos you made of an event youre blogging about• Make available for free a theme, plugin or piece of software• Start a meme that others can replicate and that links back to you (e.g. buttons/stickers/tools for bloggers/webmasters to post on their sites, contests, quizzes, surveys, etc.) Source: Performancing
  28. 28. Memes• A “meme” is a “copy me” instruction backed up by threats and/or promises – e.g. chain letters – “5 things you didn’t know about me” – “Which superhero are you?”
  29. 29. So… Get Creative!• Give awards / recognition – Badges with link text underneath• Allow webmasters to republish your articles – Require a link in your byline• Publish unique content – Podcasts (e.g. – Screencasts (use TechSmiths Camtasia Studio) – Wikis (e.g.
  30. 30. So… Get Creative!• Run contests – E.g. Design Shoemoneys business card, win business cards for life• Offer useful tools for webmasters, such as… – Hit counters • E.g. NOT – Weather stickers • E.g., – RSS feeds • Lottery winning numbers from
  31. 31. Blogging for Links• Search engines – and Google in particular – love blogs• Inherently link-rich – “Hat tips” – part of blog etiquette – Blogrolls – RSS feeds – Trackbacks – Comments• Blogs are a great platform from which to launch linkbait campaigns• The dark side of the blogosphere: – Blog comment spam – Splogs (spam blogs)
  32. 32. Don’t Forget RSS Feeds• An unspammable content delivery channel to your consumers AND to the linkerati, as well as…• A powerful way to syndicate your content to other web sites – Propagate deep links that drive traffic and PageRank – Careful! Some spammers lift your content from your RSS feeds, strip out the links, and use as keyword-rich content• “You should be fired if you do a marketing site without an RSS feed.” - Robert Scoble
  33. 33. Don’t Forget RSS Feeds• What will help subscribers keep their finger on the pulse of your industry and compel webmasters to disseminate to their visitors? – News alerts, latest specials, clearance items, upcoming events, new arrivals, new articles, new tools & resources, search results, a book’s revision history, top 10 best sellers, project management activities, forum/listserv posts, recently added downloads, … – For blogs: latest posts, latest posts by category, latest comments per post, …
  34. 34. Slashdot headlines syndicated on Nanodot.org39
  35. 35. The top result was thanks to syndication via RSS40
  36. 36. Wikis• Contribute to Wikipedia – Build up your street cred (virtuous contribution history, user profile) before doing anything at all self-serving. A link on a high-profile article is worth gold, as it builds your credibility & visibility with journalists and bloggers• Contribute to other wikis – e.g. the NewPR Wiki (, the WordPress Codex ( Wordpress), ShopWiki, Web 2.0 Expo conference wiki• Create your own wiki (e.g.
  37. 37. Link Baiting – Viral Content• Quizzes/Personality Tests: – How Many Five Year Olds Can You Take On in a Fight – Which Superhero Are You?• Widgets: – Swicki – Greys Anatomy
  38. 38. Link Baiting – Viral Content• Microsites: – – – – – SEO Eye for the Google Guy (Queer Eye spoof, makeover team optimizes Matt Cutts blog)
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  43. 43. Link Baiting – Utilities• Write a WordPress plugin – Netconcepts “SEO Title Tag” plugin ( was the most successful link bait weve ever done – Netconcepts “WordPress Quiz” plugin for personality tests ( Example site:• Write a Firefox extension – Aarons Walls “SEO for Firefox”• Release software as Open Source
  44. 44. “Seeding” Linkbait• Leverage social media by seeding your linkbait into social networks like Facebook, YouTube, StumbleUpon, Digg, etc.• Every social network / community has its own unique opportunities, quirks and anomalies.• Link baiting is most effective when you have something viral to spread (such as a meme). 52
  45. 45. Viral Videos & YouTube• Be creative but unpolished – Eepybird’s Bellagio Fountain of Diet Coke + Mentos – BlendTec’s “Will It Blend?” – Heroes spoof commercial (“Zeroes”) – an NBC creation – John Cleese Backup Trauma webisode – Intuit’s “Tax Rap” content• Read this: ptimizing_videos_youtube/
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  47. 47. Leveraging Social Media• Seed linkbait into social news (e.g. Digg) & social bookmarking (e.g. Delicious) sites• News articles, blog posts, photos, etc. identified by enough “shout outs” by users – Digg, Reddit, Newsvine, Mixx, Kirtsy, Techmeme, Shoutwire, etc. – StumbleUpon is a bit different. More like channel- surfing on your TV• Votes push the good stuff up to the front page• is an aggregator of the most popular stuff from many of these social sites
  48. 48. Leveraging Social Media• Strip away all commercial links during the initial social media swarm• Friend popular users. Better yet, get a popular user (power user) to submit your story. – Consult the Top 100 list of Diggers (• Time your presence to go popular for daylight hours• Craft a killer title using this formula from Muhammad Saleem: number + adjective + key phrase – E.g. “13 Most Chilling Haunted Hotels” or “16 Incredibly Unconventional Hotel Rooms”
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  50. 50. Q&A• What can you do tomorrow that will improve your link popularity? Write down 3 things. Get ‘em done!• Remember: you eat an elephant one bite at a time• To contact me:• To get a copy of this slide deck and an SEO Myths whitepaper, email