Ask the Linkbuilders

October 6, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

One Q&A session down, one more to go. And this one is all about links. Which is basically like saying it’s all about sex.  How to get it, who to have it with, and what to do when you wake up in the morning with a problem. [I’m delirious. Ignore me.] Danny Sullivan is moderating Rae Hoffman, Debra Mastaler, and Eric Ward.  Let’s do this.

Roger Monti is supposed to be here but he’s missing. He may be coming later but we’re not sure.  We’ll see what happens.  [Update: He never showed.]

I have old directory links I paid a one-time free for.  Will that hurt me?

Rae: No.

Eric: Not unless they’re the only links you have.

Our competitors have text links on various blog that have relevant content. I emailed the content asking for a link and I never got a response. How did competitors get links on these blogs?

Rae: They probably bought them and people aren’t responding because they don’t want to get banned for selling links.

Debra: Just because your competitor has a link on there doesn’t mean you have to go down to their mediocrity.  Find something better.

Eric: If you’re just curious, get an email address that can’t be traced and say you’re a rep for a Fortune 500 looking to make a serious investment in paid links.  If they’re selling links, you’ll pique their interest. [nice]

Can you talk about “the link juice”. If I have a Web site and I give a link to a new site, do I lose juice? Or does it just stay the same?

Debra: Your authority passes each time you pass a clean link to another page.  You’re not “losing” anything. Linking in and linking out helps the balance and helps your site. If you’re linking out to a bad site, you can be seen negatively by the search engines. One single link out? Probably not.

Rae: If you have 10 links on a page and they’re all going to interior pages, then each one of those links gets 10 percent. If one of those is external, you’ll “lose” 10 percent that’s not getting passed back inside.  The thing is natural Web sites don’t do that. It’s abnormal NOT to link to any other site on the Web.  If Google sees you’re linking to good sites, then it gives them a hint that you’re a good site too. You should not hoard your Page Rank.

Is there such a thing as too much cross linking?

Rae: If you’re a big brand you can do it without a problem. If you’re not, then yes, you can see a problem. Three or four is okay.

Debra: The issue is intent. If you’re cross linking TRYING to manipulate, it may not be a good idea. If you’re cross-linking your own businesses, it’s okay. The issue is, how would look if someone was to go look at it? If it would look odd to someone, there’s probably a red flag there. Would you show it to a Google rep and feel okay about it?

Danny says that newspapers are incapable of linking out to Web sites. #bitter

What’s the best/worst thing you can do to help your Web site in terms of linking?

Eric: Make sure the people you get to your site can easily push your content around the Web. Take advantage of the users you already have on your site and turn them into link builders for you.

Debra: The worst thing? Following the status quot. just because someone says to do something, doesn’t mean its right.

Rae: Create a point of difference. Backtrack your competitors links and give the people linking to them a reason to link to you. The worst thing you can do is buy links because there’s such a witch hunt.  You have control over your internal links, use them. Don’t stuff them with keywords but use your internal anchor text and make sure you’re linking to your most important pages, etc. Those are the only links you can 100 percent control.

Debra: Make your business THE business for whatever it is you’re selling.

Is email outreach effective for link building or should we be doing other things?

Rae: I haven’t set an email out in years.  They’ll create linkbait pieces and then they’ll email the top bloggers in the industry and everyone they linked to in the article and let them know they had put together this cool thing and they hoped they liked it.

Debra:  I haven’t sent an email in a long time.

Eric: He still does it but he  qualifies the emails by doing a lot of research first. He doesn’t email generic email addresses.   He’ll call people via Skype to get a more personal connection/email.

Can you talk about nofollow on external and internal links?

Rae:  Nofollowing internal links doesn’t work and you shouldn’t be nofollowing external links. If you’re going to link, give them the credit. If there’s a reason to link to them, then link to them. Nofollow on internal links is a shortcut.

Eric: He goes after links whether they’re followed or not. Awesome drinking game: Do a search and DON’T get a wikipedia page.

Rae: Wikipedia sends traffic. Go through your topic on Wikipedia and look for holes in their content. Write a piece to fill that hole and then update the page to include a link to your content and one or two other sites.  Don’t spam it but find decent ways to get in there legitimately. Don’t get greedy.

Debra: Rae found a noncommercial angle. That’s what you have to do.

What tips or hints can you give me for getting a link from DMOZ?

Eric: From a rankings standpoint, I don’t believe you need it.  It’d be crazy for Google to use that as an important signal.   He’d love to see DMOZ come back to what it once was. He’d turn it over to people who are already out there on subject expertise.

Rae: Submit it and forget it. Update your SEO knowledge to know that that’s NOT a valuable link.

Eric: If you find a DMOZ category where there’s no editor listed, work your way up the food chain in your subject to find an editor higher up.  Take their name, enter it into Google, and track down an email address. Then send them an email.

What’s the best linking tool?

Debra: She’s partial to all the SEO Book Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer. Don’t settle on just one tool.

Rae: She doesn’t use tools.

Eric: He has his own tools. They’re based on the best features of what’s out there. Play with Google’s Advance Search functionality.

Everyone basically agrees that Google is the best link tool available. They’re already telling you what the best pages for your topic are. Sometimes a tool that gives you THOUSANDS of pages isn’t the best option. That doesn’t help you.

I was approached by a reputable link building company [Danny says there isn’t a reputable link building company in terms of buying links. Because Google doesn’t like it]. They buy links on many US sites on the Web like Forbes and put them in the Resource section. How can Google detect those?

Rae: Humans can and they will report you.  If you get caught doing it, you’re going to lose your site. As long as that site isn’t paying for your kids school or your mortgage, have at it. Years ago, black hats knew what we they were doing was wrong. They were prepared to have their sites burn up. Buying links is the same thing.

Debra:  Paid links are typically sold in packages so there is a large number of links. If you come out of the gate with a large number of questionable links, you’re going to get whacked. Keep yourself out of the networks.

Rae: If you’re going to buy links, buy them smartly and not from networks.

If you buy or sell links and get caught, how fast can you come back. Does it only affect pages?

Debra: No, if you’re whacked your gone. It can be 6 weeks or 6 days. It depends on how pathetic your Reinclusion Request is.

Eric: Don’t confuse a devalue for a penalty.

What’s your view on scultping links? Is it worth the time? If so, how do you do it?

Eric: Depends on the size of your site. He doesn’t use it. His site is 14 years old and ranks where he wants it to rank.

Debra:  She’s not a fan. If you have decent site architecture, that’s all that you need. If you have really big sites there are “tricks” you can use using nofollow.  If you have a site that’s doing well, leave it alone.

Rae: Nofollow doesn’t work on internal links. If you don’t use nofollow, what’s left? JavaScript? No. An iframe? To her, that’s a pretty spammy tactic. The Google reps aren’t going to be thrilled with that. There is no longer a legit way to sculpt PageRank. If they liked you doing it, they would have left it.

Your fav link building campaign or tip.

Debra: Any kind of content that uses graphs, charts, etc. That’s working really well and being picked up by the media.  #infoporn

Rae: Compilations. Any time they can take 40 Top X lists and put them together, they work really well.  #listporn

Eric: TV Guide reached out to colleges to help them update their New To The Area page for college freshman.  #tvporn?

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