The Latest Link Building Strategies

This is an update to the article Link Building Best Practices, that I wrote in January 2011.

Let’s start with a brief analogy.

RADAR guns were invented in the 1950’s. They were used effectively by police to monitor speeding motorists.  In the early 1970’s, Dale Smith invented the RADAR detector to alert drivers when their vehicle was being targeted by RADAR. After that, came advances in police RADAR and then RADAR scramblers were invented. Next came Laser speed detectors and then – you guessed it – Laser detectors.  As the police’s technology got better, so did the motorists’.

Let’s Translate.

Google comes up with an algorithm that ranks websites. One of the things they read is how often a keyword appears on a page.  SEOs start stuffing keywords in their websites to rank higher. Google sets a bar for keyword density. SEOs can no longer use keyword stuffing to “speed” to page one. Google uses links to determine a site’s popularity. SEOs figure out links are key to ranking and start building and buying links of all kinds. Google starts devaluing links from link farms and link exchanges. SEOs adjust and start finding other sources for links.

… and the chess game continues.

Google gets smarter every day. They are getting better at sniffing out “link building tricks”. Panda has proven how smart they are.  But SEOs are pretty smart too.  They evaluate the sites that rank and follow their lead.

Here are just a few of the latest strategies regarding link building that may help you with the latest updates from Google.

  • Don’t grow your links too quickly.  Pay attention to your rate of acquisition.  I don’t know what the exact number is, but grow your backlinks a reasonable percentage each month. 100 backlinks to a site with no links at all may have worked perfectly fine a few months ago (and still may), but to be cautious, grow your backlink profile slowly.
  • Diversify the URLs you choose to point your links to. Find strong pages within the site (products/services pages for example) and point some of your links at these.
  • Diversify your anchor text. More than ever, backlink anchor text profiles should be diverse. Having a large percentage of links with the same (or very similar) anchor text could potentially trip a search engine’s filter and devalue the links.
  • Use your brand, business name and URL as anchor text. I like 35% to 50% of your anchor text being brand anchors. (I’ve done some backlink research that shows that sites ranking well have this % of branded backlinks.)

The game is constantly changing. Google likes one thing today and another tomorrow.  If you want your website to rank, you need to understand what they like – and then try to keep up with their ever changing tastes.

What do you think? Is Google getting smarter, and will SEOs be able to keep up? Thanks for reading.

David

Online Video – An Interview with WebRocket Video

Hello from “Let’s Translate.” Today’s blog post is actually an interview with an online video production company. A close friend of mine started the company in Chicago about three years ago and I’ve been watching his success ever since. I’m incredibly proud of the company he and his partner have built and so I thought I would share their story today.

Why video? Well here are just a few reasons I believe that video should be on every business owner’s internet marketing RADAR.

  • Over sixty hours of video are uploaded every minute.
  • YouTube is the #2 search engine behind Google.
  • YouTube sees over 150 million unique visits every month.
  • A website with video is fifty times more likely to appear on the first page of Google.
  • 26% of customers who view a video, visit their local store.
  • 21% of customers who view a video, make a purchase.
  • 68% of the top 50 internet retailers use video on their website.
  • Shopnbc.com customers who watched videos on product pages converted at twice the rate of customers who did not.
  • With proper optimization, video increases the chance of a front page Google result by fifty-three times.
  • Video landing pages generate four to seven times higher engagement and response rates than static images and text landing pages.

If you’re considering online video for your business (or your clients’ businesses), there’s a lot to be learned from this interview. Admittedly, it’s about one particular video company, and I’ve already said he’s a friend, so it’s not an unbiased interview. BUT – there’s a lot of good stuff here for anyone considering video as an element of their internet marketing strategy.

I had the privilege of speaking with Bob Barista (my friend) and Randy King (who has actually won four Emmy awards, BTW) about their company, WebRocket Video.

Tell me a little about the services that WebRocket Video provides.

We provide a solution to “tell your story, launch a product, describe a new service, brag about your people or better yet have your clients brag about you!” We talk to so many businesses that have tried to use print media or even their website tell their story, to get clients further down the sales cycle, only to find that people are impatient, that they tend to read less and less. But people are trained to click on a video and watch and listen. Our motto is “Your story. Delivered.”

I’ll tell you about an orthopedic surgeon we worked with. He said that for twenty years, every time he’s seen a new patient, he’s taken the time to tell them about his credentials, his staff, his style, his results – basically make them feel comfortable with him so that they’ll choose him as their orthopedic surgeon. He said that after posting his videos on his website, clients don’t want to hear his “sales pitch” when they first meet. They’ve seen his story online when doing their research and they’ve already made a decision and simply want to get a few questions answered and book their appointments. He’s excited because he can be a doctor instead of a salesman and it saves him an unbelievable amount of time!

Why should businesses be concerned with online video when there are so many other internet marketing channels like search and social media available to them?

Video is a “key ingredient” in any of those other marketing channels. With compression technology and high speed internet, people have come to expect video. [Look at all the shared content on Facebook.] Video tells that story better than any social profile, tweet or ABOUT US page on a website. People can connect with the “characters” in a video a lot better than they can with a Linkedin profile or online biography. When they see a video, they are like, “That’s the guy I want to work with!”

We worked with a contractor who had a tile man from Italy who does kitchens and bathroom remodels. In our video, he shows his hands – the hands of a tradesman who has been laying tile his whole life. He speaks in his broken English about how his parents and his parent’s parents worked with tile. His passion for his trade comes through the video in a way that text could never portray. Potential clients now ask for Cristiano by name, wanting him to install their tile.

Our videos are not just another marketing agenda. They are all filmed documentary style with no scripts, no cue cards. They are… authentic. Our clients come across as real people, because that’s what they are. Show me a tri-fold pamphlet or even a website that can do that.

How does Google treat your videos in the search results?

Google loves video. Several years ago, they started sharing blended/universal results [images, news, shopping, video] into the regular results. I’m sure you’ve Googled something at some point and gotten a video result on Google’s page one. Well the truth is, there is very little content “behind” most of those videos online. We’ve figured out what it takes to enhance a video in a way that it shows up in the search results for specific keywords. I’d like to say that our videos find their way to Google in a few weeks or days, but the truth is, we’ve seen them get to page one in a matter of hours. Like I said, Google loves video.

What kinds of clients should consider video as part of their online strategy?

Anyone who wants to better tell their story. We’ve seen great results for folks in the medical profession and attorneys – businesses where the individual is the product. But it also works great for contractors or companies looking to hire college grads. I could see it working for anyone whose potential client is more likely to watch a story than read a webpage.

Is it expensive?

Here at WebRocket Video, we don’t have any template stuff. If you were to ask me “how much for a 30 second video?” I’d answer by asking you questions. What are you trying to accomplish? Who is your target market? What are you selling? What makes your product or service unique and special? Anyone can sit you down in front of a book case in front of a camera and some fancy lights and have you read a script from some cue cards. But that’s not going to do you any good.

You’ve got ten, maybe fifteen seconds to impress your viewer and if you don’t capture their attention with a compelling story, you’ve lost them. So even if that video cost you less than $1000, it’s just $1000 wasted. Video today is important, but bad video can be detrimental.

I understand consultative selling. I do. I appreciate that your videos are custom, but can you give me an average? What can a business expect to invest to get an on location video with quality music and graphics and good editing?

I think it’s fair to say that we can do something like that for $1500 to $3000, again depending on the specifics and the need.

Wait. I’ve seen some of your videos. They look like something right off of “The Bachelor” or one of those other reality TV shows. I assumed those would be in the five to ten thousand dollar range.

Maybe we should increase our prices. Seriously. It doesn’t have to be terribly expensive. For the cost of a Val-Pack or a Yellow Pages ad, we can produce some really great work that will enhance all of your other online marketing strategies.

And we deliver the content in whatever format the client needs it. If they want their sales team to be able to show the video on their smart phones and iPads, we can provide that. If they want the video uploaded to their facebook or Linkedin, we can do that. We can even help the client set up their own YouTube channel. We’re not about filming a video and then passing the DVD across the desk, only to be done with the job. We’re about creating a relationship with that customer. Our clients find themselves wanting more and more videos. It’s contagious. Never before have they been able to communicate with their customers like this.

WebRocket Video is based in Chicago. Can you provide your services to other parts of the country?

Basically, I come from TV. I worked in television my whole life. I practically grew up in the back of a TV truck. I worked for Fox Sports for years and I have maintained relationships with videographers and producers in every city that has a professional football or baseball team. These are the kinds of people that work with WebRocket Video. Storytellers. Creative, collaborative people who know how to work with non-professionals [people who haven’t been in front of a camera]. We know what questions to ask and how to make them look good. All the pauses and flubs and “uhhhms” are edited out so that our clients say things like, “I never knew I was that good on camera!” That’s why our stuff looks like what you’ve seen on “The Bachelor”. These aren’t the industrial videos people have come to expect. Again, it all goes back to helping our clients “to better tell their story”.

Where can people see examples of your work and how can they get hold of you?

Clients can visit our website www.webrocketvideo.com of course, but our best examples are on our YouTube channel.

Well thank you very much for your time. I know that the demand for online video is going to keep you guys real busy in the coming years. Best of luck to you.

It was a pleasure. Thanks.

Full disclosure – if you decide to contact WebRocket Video for a video for yourself or to re-sell their services to your clients, please tell them you heard about them here on “Let’s Translate”. They promised to send me some Omaha steaks or something. 🙂

-David McBee

Why Google+ is Taking on Facebook

Some people don’t understand why Google had to get into the social media sphere. They figure social media and search are two very different areas of the web. They think there’s little overlap and that Google just started Google+ to get into Facebook’s space and generate more advertising revenue for themselves at some point.

I disagree.

I think that Google saw the writing on the walls. They saw a world where interacting with friends via social media actually meant LESS SEARCH [Read: less people clicking on paid ads].

Here’s an example of what I’m taking about:

Image

In this example, I used Facebook and my social circles to help me find (search) and choose a product to purchase. Before Facebook, I may have asked around, but would have probably Googled smokers and smoker reviews. Now, with all the fake reviews and paid blogs, I don’t know who to believe. But I will trust my friends’ opinions.

You’ve probably seen this yourself. Your friends ask where they should vacation, or the name of a good hotel where they’ll be traveling, even the name of a good stylist or landscaper. All those queries – former Google searches that could have resulted in a click on a sponsored ad.

Now, isn’t it clear why Google+ is taking on Facebook?

Also of note: I’ve highlighted all the brand names that came up when I asked my friends about smokers. One person even sent me a link directly to the smoker they use. If you’re an online business, have you made it easy for your happy and loyal customers to share your products with the likes of Facebook? It’s worth thinking about.

Thanks for reading. And always, please feel free to share.

David McBee

 – – – – – – – – – – UPDATE – – – – – – – – – –

A few hours after posting this article a good friend of mine snagged these off of his Facebook wall and shared them with me. Looks like some dentists owe Facebook (and their loyal patients) a debt of gratitude.

Webmaster Outreach – How to Get Publishers to Place Your Link On Their Site

You know you need links. Links are the key to ranking. You can comment on blogs, write articles, build Web 2.0 properties all day, but what you really need are other sites to link to you – specifically authoritative sites that are relevant to you. How do you do that?!

It’s called Webmaster Outreach – the process of contacting authoritative, relevant sites and convincing them to place a link to your site on theirs. And it’s probably the most difficult, time consuming of all link building strategies.  Here are a few ideas that may help you with your webmaster outreach.

Find the right kinds of sites to link to.

  • Search the keyword you want to rank for. Example: You rent heavy equipment and you want to rank for the keyword “trencher Kansas City“. When you search that keyword, you’ll see who the search engines see as relevant for that keyword.
  • Weed out any site that is a competitor. Of course, they aren’t going to want to link to you.
  • Look for sites that are category relevant. Maybe you find the manufacturer of the trencher you rent. Maybe you find instructions on how to use a trencher, or an article about the different uses of a trencher. Maybe you find a local ditching or landscaping company. All good candidates for a backlink.
  • Look for blogs or forums where you can post a link without having to ask for it. (This isn’t exactly webmaster outreach, but while you’re here…)
  • Do another search – this time not as specific – just category relevant. Example: Google “sprinkler installation” or “how to build a rock wall” – jobs that need trenchers. It might make sense for them to link to a resource that can provide a trencher.

Just about any site that ranks for your keyword and isn’t a competitor is a good candidate for webmaster outreach. Of course sites with more authority, lots of quality content, few advertisers and outbound links, even PageRank may be better opportunities than others. But a link is a link. And these links are relevant – so I like ’em!

Get the publisher to post your link.

  • Write something informative and creative on your site or blog. So you rent trenchers. So what? Why is that worth linking to? Lots of people rent trenchers. But what if you had a great article about trencher safety or uses for a trencher? That could inspire a link.
  • Offer to write something for their blog. All websites want and need fresh content. If you’re willing to write an article for their blog, they’ll probably be happy to reciprocate with a link.
  • Look for social media opportunities. If they have a facebook page, like them. If they are on twitter, follow them. If they Google+, circle them. Create a relationship so that they are more likely to see you as a friend than as a leach just looking for a link.
  • Pick up the phone! It’s easy to disregard your email request for a link as SPAM, but a phone call may actually impress the person on the other end and generate a conversation about a synergistic relationship.
  • Offer a special deal. If the publisher ever needs your services or his readers do, maybe you can work out a special discount or incentive.
  • Offer cash. Hey, don’t judge me. Cash talks, and a lot of webmasters expect payment for a link. Sure, Google says it’s a no no, but how will they ever know? I’m just sayin’.

A couple of things worth noting.

  • When it comes to geography – if you’re a local business, try to get the publisher to put your city in your anchor text, even if their site isn’t anywhere near or about your city. But even if they won’t, it can still be a great link.
  • Many publishers will want to trade links. You’re welcome to do this, but know that a reciprocated link is way less valued than a one-way link.

Webmaster outreach has the potential to get you some of the best links out there. You can often get an in-content link in a relevant article on a relevant site with good authority. Really, that’s about the best link anyone could ask for.

Obviously, the price is high – and I’m not taking about paying for the link. I’m talking about the time involved. I’ve heard of clients chasing a link for months before getting it to come to fruition. What is your time worth? This is one link building strategy you may want to consider outsourcing.

Thanks for reading,

Are you a website publisher?  Read Webmaster Outreach – Should I Place Links On My Site?

Webmaster Outreach – Should I Place Links On My Site?

Before we start today’s post, let me define the SEO term: Webmaster Outreach.  When a webmaster, or an owner of a business contacts another person, usually via email, but sometimes by phone or in person, for the sole purpose of asking for a link on that person’s website, we call that webmaster outreach. They may be asking for the link for their own site, their client’s site, or for some unknown client as of yet. Often, a monetary offer accompanies this webmaster outreach.

If you’ve built your site as a destination portal in the hopes of monetizing it through advertising, this is great! Someone wants your site.

If you’ve built your site to sell your products or services, this may not be a good idea.

Here’s the thing. When you place outgoing links on your site, you pass the “Google juice” along to someone else. This may not be great for your personal rankings. But more importantly, you take the chance of sending away a potential customer. My advice – just stay away from it. It’s not worth it.

Back to those sites that have been built for advertising – here are some best practices to make your links appear as natural as possible.

  • Only place links that are relevant to your website’s content. You don’t want to place a link for teeth whitening on your site about internet marketing, for example.
  • Place the link in content if possible. Write a brief article or paragraph to surround the link.
  • Don’t label the link in a way that indicates that it may be an advertisement. Google expects you to place a no follow designation on links that are paid advertisements.
  • Limit the number of links that you allow on each page.

Check out this example of a site that placed a link for a friend of mine who practiced a little webmaster outreach. I’m happy to share this site with you because the publisher was nice enough to place my friend’s link free of charge.

He may not have placed the links in content – and there are quite a few of them. But they are VERY on topic. I suppose that if I were Google, looking at this page, I might be suspicious about these being paid links, but with no way of knowing, would be forced to accept them as natural links.

Coming soon:
Webmaster Outreach – How to Get Publishers to Place Your Link on Their Site

Thanks for reading.

David McBee

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