Beyond the Usual Link Building

June 2, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

You’re not getting tired, are you? I hope not because we still have TWO more sessions to get through today. And if anyone wants to drop off some chocolate or, um, “refreshments”, I would very humbly accept them.

But enough about me. Are you ready to talk links? Good, because Danny Sullivan is here moderating this one with speakers Hamlet Batista, Arnie Kuenn and Chris Silver Smith.

Refreshments? Anyone?

Up first is Chris.

Good Link Sources: Stuff that gets links but is not ‘link bait’, per se.

  • Audience-targeted content
  • Useful widgets/tools
  • RSS/ATOM/Feeds
  • SERP listing optimization

They built content that was intended to bring links from .edus.  They took their regular Yellow Pages and built customized search results just for colleges and universities. They created search results that were close to college campuses so students could find things adjacent to them. They added in weather, wifi hot spots, color-coordinated them, etc.

Result: They got high-quality deep links, multiple links from EDUs and libraries, and some links from students, alumnis and student newspapers.

There are lots of places to get free content. There’s public domain content like stuff from the US government, state governments, wikimedia Commons or Project Gutenberg. There’s also private domain content like copyrighted words, permitted partner content, open APIs, and Flickr and other media repositories.

Example: Emily Post’s Etiquette: The book is copyright free so you can get it from Project Gutenberg. Then you can take it and use it in interesting ways for your site. You can build widgets and gadgets.  Add things to your Web pages to make them more sophisticated or more resource-heavy. Build widgets off the quotes. [I really, really like the idea of taking out of copyright content and doing cool stuff with it. Awesome!]

There are different ways to create widgets. You don’t want to add links that aren’t related to your site or the site the widget is from. You  have to be clear about the links that are included in the widget. Otherwise, you can get yourself into trouble.   He spoke to Matt Cutts at SMX West and asked if it was okay to add links to a widget if they’re not hidden, will that help your site and will you get credit for the links? Matt said that you will as long as you’re not doing bad stuff with them. However, they might be counted as a discounted rate.  [In other words, he’ll date you, he just won’t tell anyone he’s dating you. Wait. What?] The creation of widgets can build good traffic to your site, but it can also build links back to your site.

Widget DOs

  • Provide the widget on the same site it is linking to
  • Create widgets thematically-related to the site where possible
  • Provide clear legal terms stating links are included
  • Provide layout/color options
  • Keep your branding minimal
  • Provide easy-to-install code
  • Promote widgets

Widget DON’Ts

  • Don’t hide links
  • Don’t link to some other Web site
  • Don’t bury mentions of links in hard to read places

Where to create and promote widgets? Widgetbox, Google Gadgets, MySpace. If you want help with your Google Gadgets, Patrick Sexton and his site SEOish is the guru to go to for that.

Hamlet Batista is next.

Google toolbar PageRank…welcome to Google cache dates. People have been focused on PageRank for so long. We need to stop fixating on that. One alternative is to start thinking outside the box. Consider how frequently does Google crawl a link?  Why is that powerful information? Search engines have a limited amount of time to crawl the whole Web. They can only spend a certain amount of resources on it. We can leverage that understanding to see what sites get crawled more frequently. Which sites does Google give priority? Links are important for discoverability and if our links are displayed on a Web page that is frequently updated and is being visited often, then the Web site is going to be discovered faster. Also, if the engines are visiting a site more frequently, that means that page is more important.

Hamlet talks about three words after sex. I mean, #3wordsaftersex. It was trending on Twitter last week. Then people started blogging about it. Visibility affects what people write about it and what topics will get more attention.

Inform Your Subscribers. Leverage your lists for link building – your Facebook Fans, your Twitter Followers, etc.

Share interesting video content. People can’t link to things they don’t know about. And video is perfect for that. The world went crazy when Susan Boyle came out on the Internet.  The video on Facebook has received more than 50 million page views on Facebook. Smart marketers created relevant video responses. They used the video to get links and attention to their content.

Get links in alternative media files: Search engines can index different types of content – documents, PDFs, Flash files, etc. A lot of marketers don’t think about those when they’re creating content.  The engines treat the links in those different medium types the same way they great links to HTML pages.

Next up is Arnie Kuenn.

Video Creation: Video is a great marketing tool, but it doesn’t have to involve a film crew. Produce your own simple videos

  1. Choose your concept and targeted keyword phrases
  2. Develop a simple script and create a PPT presentation
  3. Use your own digital assets such as photos, logos, screen shots, etc.
  4. Convert the PPT to video using a variety of inexpensive software tools.
  5. Do a voiceover and add some background music.

Content or Profile Links: There are many places where you can create public profiles or content pages for free. Often they have good authority metrics. Some will offer DoFollow links. The key is to create value-adding content and build links to those pages.

Your Clients & Suppliers: Ask your clients and suppliers for links. Offer company shirts, gift cards, discounts, etc, or even a good old fashioned reciprocal link. Send letters via the US Mail (how novel!). Include an offer or request in your invoices. Use the phone! Set aside some time for a telemarketing campaign.

Contest and Promotions: What makes a good contest? It starts with the prize. You need to offer something that is valuable enough to attract the people you want. Can you obtain sponsors to help you boost up the prize if you can’t afford it on your own?  You want to be reasonably innovative, and not create a “me too” contest. Avoid something that your competitors have already done. Set a proper time frame, enough time to enter but not so long that they lose interest. Three days may be too short but 30 days may be too long (Remember Rae’s Startup Mom’s competition? Could that have gone on any longer?). Create a buzz, who will help you promote it and how? Your panel of judges, press releases, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Use keywords and think long term.

He gives the example of a customer selling bridal veils. People had to answer three questions – What’ s your engagement story? Your wedding day theme? What is special about your wedding?  Big companies can do the same thing.

And we’re out of here. Time to run to the YOU&A with Matt Cutts. I have secret knowledge that this is going to be explosive. Make sure you check back in an hour! :)

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