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Link building mediocre to great


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My presentation at our London Linklove 2012 conference.

Published in: Business, Technology

Link building mediocre to great

  1. 1. Mediocre to GreatWILL CRITCHLOW
  2. 2. WILL CRITCHLOW a copy, then you can access the form)
  3. 3. WILL CRITCHLOWStart with the “5 whys” WHY? Picture:
  4. 4. WILL CRITCHLOWQuickly modified to the “3 or 4 whys” Picture:
  5. 5. WILL CRITCHLOWThere are 3 main problems I see Not doing Not doing Not anything enough / the acknowledging right things weaknesses
  6. 6. WILL CRITCHLOWThere is a rarer problem right at the top … Not cultivating spiky enough spikes
  7. 7. Mediocre to Good Mainly about activity and removing gaps / barriersWILL CRITCHLOW
  8. 8. Good to GreatMore about cultivating spikes of amazing WILL CRITCHLOW
  9. 9. WILL CRITCHLOW Discover
  10. 10. WILL CRITCHLOW Discover what it’s going to take
  11. 11. WILL CRITCHLOW Discover where your strengths and weaknesses lie
  12. 12. WILL CRITCHLOW Pitch
  13. 13. WILL CRITCHLOW Agency types: I don’t mean “only start getting paid after this”
  14. 14. WILL CRITCHLOW Experiment
  15. 15. WILL CRITCHLOW Invest
  16. 16. WILL CRITCHLOW Let’s dive into the details
  17. 17. WILL CRITCHLOW Discover
  18. 18. WILL CRITCHLOWEver graded anything out of 5? 1 2 3 4 5 • 5% of • Almost • Almost • Almost • Arrogant responses no-one no-one everyone few Better than average, but could be better
  19. 19. WILL CRITCHLOWWe live in an “exceptional takes all” worldSource: Apple at one stage had 9% of the handset market but 75% of the industry’s gross margin
  20. 20. WILL CRITCHLOWYes, that Y-axis is in $billionsSource:
  22. 22. WILL CRITCHLOW No experience: I dont know about this area / havent worked on this / it isnt relevant to my role
  23. 23. WILL CRITCHLOW Basic competence: I have done some work in this area.You can delegate me tasks but I may need support or I may have a few questions
  24. 24. WILL CRITCHLOW Core competence: I am rarely stumped in this area and can handle poorly-defined tasks with no worries. I can teach, train and manage others work in this area.
  25. 25. WILL CRITCHLOW “Distilled expert”: I am one of a small number of people everyone in Distilled turns to with “1%” problems in this area
  26. 26. WILL CRITCHLOW Renowned expert: I am acknowledged outside Distilled for being right at the top in this area
  27. 27. WILL CRITCHLOWI created a self-assessment for websites Permission Design Content Investment USPs assets
  29. 29. WILL CRITCHLOW None / N/A: Not something you do (successfully)
  30. 30. WILL CRITCHLOW Basic competitiveness: You invest time and money in this area
  31. 31. WILL CRITCHLOW Core competitiveness: You keep pace with and occasionally outstrip competitors in this area. In most areas, for most companies, this will be as good as it gets
  32. 32. WILL CRITCHLOW Industry leader: Known for being at or very near the top of all sites in your industry in this area
  33. 33. WILL CRITCHLOW Internet leader: An impartial observer has selected you as a case study / example of excellence in this area across all niches online.
  34. 34. WILL CRITCHLOW“Internet leader”Many companies achieve nothing rated this highlyand it will be exceptionally unusual to score thishighly in multiple areas.
  35. 35. WILL CRITCHLOW Internet leader: An impartial observer has selected you as a case study / example of excellence in this area across all niches online. Get used to it, a conflation of “good” and “famous” is just how the world works
  38. 38. WILL CRITCHLOW a copy, then you can access the form)
  39. 39. WILL CRITCHLOW Important: score on an exponential scale
  40. 40. WILL CRITCHLOWWe see interesting things from the plot
  41. 41. WILL CRITCHLOWOf course it doesn’t explain all variation National brand outperforming their website’s “quality”
  42. 42. WILL CRITCHLOWWe should really think of it as dynamic Startup with great site and products that hasn’t won loads of links (yet)
  43. 43. WILL CRITCHLOWAction: line yourself up against competitorsConditional formatting is your friend
  44. 44. WILL CRITCHLOWAction: compare to aspirationsConditional formatting is your friend Arena Flowers Oyster These are the easiest areas to change in the short term
  45. 45. WILL CRITCHLOWArena Flowers is investing in content My advice? Don’t stop doing this, but focus hard on how you can build permission assets out of it – particularly repeat visitors to the site.
  46. 46. WILL CRITCHLOWWhat would I focus on for Oyster?In some ways harder to work out how to move the needle OysterDigging deeper into this, we see some spikes (non-commercial email list and influencerrelationships) and some gaps (community / UGC). I would double-down on the spikesbefore addressing the gaps.
  47. 47. WILL CRITCHLOW Sometimes you need someone else to tell you
  48. 48. WILL CRITCHLOW - @willcritchlow See the Whiteboard Friday: Replicating Google’s Panda Questionnaire
  49. 49. WILL CRITCHLOWPlotting direct visitors against linking rootdomains is interesting “how to write a blog post” Targeted bloggers “how many links should an infographic get” Much more likely to get tweeted
  50. 50. WILL CRITCHLOWFunny vs. Interesting
  51. 51. WILL CRITCHLOW How?
  52. 52. WILL CRITCHLOWPages report filtered to content you’re interested in Choose the subset of content you want to analyse
  53. 53. WILL CRITCHLOWFirst, get unique visitors (direct traffic segment) Make sure # results is greater than number of rows, then export to TSV Remember this number for later
  54. 54. WILL CRITCHLOWThen get domains linking to that content Then export to TSV again
  55. 55. WILL CRITCHLOWYou want to change sub-domains to root domains There is no way of doing this algorithmically. I whitelisted a few TLDs and then stripped any sub-domains that didn’t match. I didn’t need it to be perfect.
  56. 56. WILL CRITCHLOWThose aren’t all followed links! I don’t care. Traffic sent by links is still one of my favourite metrics for judging a link’s worth. Zero traffic = meh Lots of traffic even if nofollow = much more interest
  57. 57. WILL CRITCHLOWA bit of Excel gets you linking domains and unique PV(direct segment) for each piece of content
  58. 58. WILL CRITCHLOWPut both axes on a log scale to see detail “how to write a blog post” Targeted bloggers “how many links should an infographic get” Much more likely to get tweeted
  59. 59. WILL CRITCHLOW ~0.5% of visitors link to our blog content (from a new domain)
  60. 60. WILL CRITCHLOWSurprisingly high correlation on many sites(This is SEOmoz) Web developers cheat sheet
  61. 61. WILL CRITCHLOW ~0.4% of visitors link to SEOmoz blog content (from a new domain)
  62. 62. WILL CRITCHLOW The main reason we have fewer links than SEOmoz is that fewer people see our content
  63. 63. WILL CRITCHLOW Some other similar things you could measure
  64. 64. WILL CRITCHLOWAverage number of referring domains perpiece of content
  65. 65. WILL CRITCHLOWAverage number of new referring domainsper piece of content
  66. 66. WILL CRITCHLOWAverage number of new pieces of contentgetting links each month
  67. 67. WILL CRITCHLOW Actions Try out my self-assessment Benchmark against key competitors Benchmark against aspirations Compare gaps in quality to gaps in performance Run the analytics stats to get baselines
  68. 68. WILL CRITCHLOWTake this kind of thing into the next stage Arena Flowers Oyster These are the easiest areas to change in the short term
  69. 69. WILL CRITCHLOW Pitch
  70. 70. WILL CRITCHLOW Example of pitching to (existing) client Details changed to protect the innocent
  71. 71. WILL CRITCHLOWRecently pitched a “travel big picture”
  72. 72. WILL CRITCHLOWBig photography works. Lightning strikes repeatedly
  73. 73. WILL CRITCHLOWYou have (and can get) amazing photos Picture:
  74. 74. WILL CRITCHLOWIt scales beautifully – endless themesColours, landscapes, animals, beaches, people, etc. Link:
  75. 75. WILL CRITCHLOWBut start with an experimentWe might be wrong (more about launchrock later)
  76. 76. WILL CRITCHLOW Business model comparisons A metaphor business people understand
  77. 77. WILL CRITCHLOWContent library = Physical real estateDrives footfall to point of sale. Lets great product do its job Picture:
  78. 78. WILL CRITCHLOWGood conversion rate = Efficient supply chainGives you pricing power and / or allows a bigger marketing spend Picture:
  79. 79. WILL CRITCHLOWLifestyle business vs. Growth companyIs there scalability and flywheel potential in your link building strategy?
  80. 80. WILL CRITCHLOWWe run through HBR case studies at lunchtime
  81. 81. WILL CRITCHLOWSome are even directly relevant to pitching
  82. 82. WILL CRITCHLOW Actions Pitch a big idea and a small next step [Also – set up a learnch with colleagues]
  83. 83. WILL CRITCHLOWTake sign-off on experiments to the next stage
  84. 84. WILL CRITCHLOW Experiment
  85. 85. WILL CRITCHLOW To find out what works for you To prove what works to someone else
  86. 86. WILL CRITCHLOW“I can’t stop reading this analysis of Gawker’seditorial strategy”
  87. 87. SPEAKER NAME - EDIT FOOTER 33 percent fewer posts; 40 percent greater traffic Kerry Lauerman, Editor in Chief, Source:
  88. 88. WILL CRITCHLOWGE has an award for “ambitious failed projects”More info: credit: Jeff Immelt, Chairman of GE, cultivator of spikes
  89. 89. WILL CRITCHLOW Career tip – show your boss this clip: “how quickly the world owes him something”
  90. 90. WILL CRITCHLOWThe MVP isn’t what you think it is(if you haven’t actually read the book)
  91. 91. WILL CRITCHLOWOn-track on the hockey stick “On track” over here cannot (should not) be “successfully made no money yet”
  92. 92. WILL CRITCHLOWUse tools like
  93. 93. WILL CRITCHLOWThis page has a 40% conversion rate
  94. 94. WILL CRITCHLOWWe built it in 10
  95. 95. WILL CRITCHLOWAlso love
  96. 96. WILL CRITCHLOWGood excuse for off-site creativity
  97. 97. WILL CRITCHLOWA brief look at the stats
  98. 98. WILL CRITCHLOWIt even ranked (was #1 when the news broke)
  99. 99. WILL CRITCHLOW Actions Read The Lean Startup Take one element of your big vision and launch an MVP experiment ASAP (what could you launch on Monday?) Update reports to include the metrics your experiments are focussed on
  100. 100. WILL CRITCHLOWTake the evidence and ideas to the next stage
  101. 101. WILL CRITCHLOW Invest
  102. 102. WILL CRITCHLOWChecklists help us winSince last time, I’ve actually read the book.Key (new) take-aways:• Use shorter checklists• Communication checklists are a good idea• Ask “what should we do if that goes wrong?”
  103. 103. WILL CRITCHLOWExcerpt from our creative ideas checklist• Can you find 10 target sites in 10 minutes?• Have they linked out to content like this before?
  104. 104. WILL CRITCHLOW Making plans
  105. 105. WILL CRITCHLOW Inputs: SERPs / Competitor identification Competitor tactics (What are they doing? What works? Where are they winning?)
  106. 106. WILL CRITCHLOW Outputs: Activity plan (with activity targets) Testable assumptions (activity  results & results  outcomes)
  107. 107. WILL CRITCHLOWMeasure progress towards your plans Who hates planning? I thought I did, then I realised I hate plans See this presentation for more of my thoughts on that:
  108. 108. WILL CRITCHLOW Discover what you need to improve and to win Pitch big visions and small next steps Experiment to find ways to improve and to persuade Invest with evidence and experience in hand
  109. 109. Thank You Any Questions?WILL CRITCHLOW