I’m the CEO of Linkbuildr Marketing and the brains behind our branding and blog content. I specialize in effective marketing strategies for hotels, luxury brands and real estate. If your brand is in need of a boost then don’t hesitate to contact me for a free proposal. Follow me on
Google+: +Ryan Clark
Twitter: @Linkbuildr on Twitter. You can also come ask me a question on our Facebook Page.
For some reason SAPE links has not been touched by Google’s nasty magic ban wand but it looks like after a lot of chatter via SEO forums, Matt Cutts is a coming for them. While I hope no legit business has been running these links because if so, I’d get on the disavow train pretty quick. The majority of the other people I imagine are affiliate sites than an just turn and burn as they say. Either way, if you’re relying on lame link building like this for your legit business and want to stop, give me a shout to hear how we do it right.
Finally Google has told us that they will tell us, or at least gives clues as to which links they deem inappropriate and are potentially ruining your organic ranking. While the problem for a lot of companies is that they don’t screen which “SEO” company they hire, or their in-house team is as clueless as 99% of link builders out there.
If your brand isn’t even attracting any links at all you’re NOT DOING IT RIGHT. While we’re not against building links, hell our name even suggests it, we do however want our clients to do something that earns them links. We also don’t giv two shits about anchor text or any other manipulation because if your company isn’t the best choice to be shown to searchers, get off the field.
My apologies to the CognitiveSEO.com staff, and mostly to Razvan who gave our team some hardcore use of their seriously well thought out tool suite. We played around with the old version and now their freshly updated toolbox of digital delights and loved it so much we stuck half of our clients on the platform. I will mention first and foremost that I was in no way paid to write about the tool, and Razvan told me to be as critical as possible.
When it comes to tools, we prefer them being straight to the point and this is what I love the most about CognitiveSEO. I get my easy-to-read yet crazy-in-depth backlink analysis. Secondly, the rank tracking tool is second to none, in my opinion. That’s all I really care about, and perhaps one day we’ll see Google Analytics pulled into the dashboard, but really that’s not necessary.
I’m someone who does a lot of backlink analysis, and chances are if you read my ramblings that you do as well. I’ve tried most of the tools out there and don’t have anything bad to say about any of them, but CognitiveSEO really reels me in with their reports. The ease of reading and understanding is there, but I absolutely love the flow of the reports.
What our customers are saying:
Since testing the software out, we made the decision to get 10 of our clients on their platform as we usually don’t offer extensive reporting from our end. Most of our clients are medium-to-large brands, and they’ve brought on our team to just help out with the link attraction and guidance side of things. By now, most companies that are online have some sort of tool suite in their company infrastructure and shouldn’t be too intimidated with something like CognitiveSEO.
With that being said, so far we’ve had a lot of good feedback, especially for the managers we report to who have to deliver a weekly or monthly report. The majority of our clients using the system found the reports to be straight forward enough that I didn’t have to sit on the phone with them going through each little tid bit. We’ll take a look at a sample report below, and I’ll also provide a PDF download link so that you can view our entire link profile in depth.
Doesn’t get any more straightforward than that, and it gives you pretty much all you’d want to know… Especially if you’re just doing a weekly or monthly peek. When I’m doing an audit to determine what’s causing a site to rank over my competitor in a competitive vertical, most of this data is what I need and I can get a good picture of what’s going on real fast.
Link Management Made Easy
This part of the tool suite is REALLY handy dandy. In this day and age, everyone should be monitoring their link losses/gains quite closely, as it can reveal a lot of valuable information. There are not many tools out there that cover this specific link monitoring aspect, and when something bad or good happens, you’ll know just about every detail.
Now I don’t use any tools to monitor links for our website simply because I don’t care at all about them… Weird to hear coming from someone who’s job is to attract/build/buy them for a living. I would have shown this off but I cannot expose any of our clients’ data here, but from the image to your right you can get a look at a weekly snapshot of what’s going on. Notice that CognitiveSEO reports on broken links too, which is in my opinion one of the best features of the whole package.
Geoff loves to monitor our clients’ competitors heavily and wait for a broken link to pop up and snag their links right out from underneath them… So sneaky and devious, I LOVE it. Watching your links by the daily or weekly during content marketing and link bait campaigns is also a breeze. This definitely helps us respond quickly to mentions and get involved in the social conversation and complete the branding part of our job.
It doesn’t stop there, either… Took me nearly 2 weeks when I first started using CognitiveSEO to notice that I could scroll to the right and get even more data on the links coming into our client’s profile. If the link coming in is from a partner/contact, you can manage those details and see them on your monitored links. Besides seeing the AC Rank – and I LOVE this – is that it tells you what part of the page the link is on, ie body/footer etc. I will admit we also haven’t used the “Link Partners” aspect of the tool yet, as we mostly just do link attraction here, but it’s straightforward and yet another reason to start using this platform.
Rank Tracking Made Easy (And Pretty)
Knowing where you rank is not only important information to know, it’s yet another addicting statistic that I like to check on a daily basis. It’s pretty straightforward to use and review reports with CognitiveSEO, although the best feature is most likely the rank tracking compared to your competitors. This will alert you to their mega movements or losses, as well as allow you to report to clients or the boss about how you’re doing that day/week/month/year.
Pricing and Contact
I’d like to thank the whole team over at CognitiveSEO and Razvan for being so patient with me and giving me access to the tools for testing and feedback. You can click on the button to the right and try it yourself free for 14 days, and this is not an affiliate link or anything from me, just straight-up free goodies for your to try out. If you’re already on one of other other platforms then I highly recommend playing around with this, because it might just surprise you.
“With over 7 years experience in affiliate marketing and search engine optimization and 12 years in programming and web development, he has gone from Web Developer to Super Affiliate for large international networks.”
So WTF is “Future Bait” and is this quite possibly the creepiest post title in SEO history? Well to start, it’s definitely a term I’m going to try and coin (aka make up) here. It’s something we employ here as a tactic at Linkbuildr, although I never put too much thought into it until I talked with Jason Acidre (@JasonAcidre) and Jon Cooper (@PointBlankSEO) on their blogs about it, and then subsequently mentioned it in one of our latest posts. Basically, Future Bait is creating content that will be needed in the future for a product or service, in the hope that your content will be out ahead of time (or right on time) and ready to take in links. I won’t give away all our secrets, but I can definitely show you folks how to structure and create content that will get you links when the time is right.
While this technique doesn’t always provide links in droves, you still stand a really good chance of snatching up a lot of valuable organic search traffic. I can honestly say that this is always a #winning marketing tactic regardless of the outcome of either desired result.
So, what kind of topics can you prepare that will be highly searched-for and most likely lead to links? Here are a few we like to make sure are covered, but let’s hear your thoughts/ideas in the comments below”
Product Reviews and Guides
Figure out what problems people will be having and prep the solution… Tricky, but this can be done
Link bait lists that you know will be done, so beat everyone to the punch
Let’s take the new Google Link Disavow Tool as an example of how us SEO’s could have jumped on a lot of traffic and links in the coming weeks ahead. Dan Petrovic from DejanSEO quickly jumped on this and made a 70 minute video showcasing all the features and how to use the bloody thing.
This was a smart move and since Google/Youtube is starting to rank videos by watch time, this is sure to be an “authority” video on the subject quite soon. So, how is this video going to attract them links? Well, if it ranks well and people embed it, they’re likely to link to the creators like I did in this post. The video doesn’t also have to be on Youtube and they could have used a self hosted service on their end. Google will still rank their own embedded videos well, and you have the option of providing an embed code for others to use that includes a nice link back home.
Product reviews can be conducted before an actual product launch. You should most definitely try and get your hands on “the product” beforehand and get a review done. Take DejanSEO’s video above as an example; creating a review pretty much on the day of it being released is also a great tactic.
Getting in early or on the day of launch is going to earn you a lot of traffic and hopefully links as rebloggers and sources like Wikipedia are going to be linking out. Make sure you come up with the most comprehensive review possible with regards to both written content and media like videos and pictures. So many reviewers use stock content because they don’t actually have the product in hand – and that’s the number one problem!
Obviously CNET is a really big brand and they have some serious authority sitting behind their domain. Even so, they are always early to adopt the best product reviews. Their Samsung Galaxy S3 review was hot off the press as soon as they got their hands on it, and it’s as in-depth of a review as you’re going to get.
This page is seriously linked up. This page more than likely has more links than most of my readers’ sites, so while this kind of link bait is better for bigger brands, do what you can. Keep doing amazing product reviews and you will eventually burn that into your readers’ brains, and they’ll keep coming back to the source (your site) for more.
Affiliate Marketers Should Pay STRONG Attention To This Section
Google is not a big fan of affiliates, and they have good reasons for that. I see a lot of you folks’ affiliate-based websites and they’re usually absolute shit in regards to content, social activity, and especially the content itself. I think it’s safe to say that 90% of the affiliate sites reviewing products have never actually touched or seen the product, and that is a major problem. If I’m buying something, I sure as hell don’t want to read a review by someone who doesn’t actually know the product.
If you turned it around and actually created amazing product reviews yourself with HD video and high res pictures, well you’re off to a great start. Go beyond that step and do something whacky and wild with it like Blendtec does by blending all sorts of crap in their blenders. It gets attention, it gets links and it has netted them hundreds of thousands of social followers to remarket to all day long baby.
How To’s Are Easy Future Bait
“How to” content is extremely useful, as it’s always a sought after ranking need and best of all it is brilliant link bait. There will always be a need for “how to” content, so sit down with your team or yourself and a beer and figure out what’s coming up in your niche.
I sure do talk a big talk eh? As you may have noticed, I’ve never even written one for Linkbuildr, but we sure have brainstormed and done a bunch for our clients. I will however give you yet another example of something that has turned out quite well for one of my favorite sites: ArtOfManliness.com. In 2009 they created “How To Tie a Tie,” which is something I’ve used way more than I should have.
Regardless to say, this post has done wonders for their link profile and has attracted many links over the past few years for them. Notice the structure of it as well! Mostly great videos which keep users on longer, and there’s a lot of user interaction via the comments and social shares… This post is sending a lot of good signals to Google, and they’ve been rewarded for it. This is not an easy keyword to rank for either!
Top x Lists!
These are easy pickings, folks! Lists are loved by everyone, especially those of us with monkey-like attention spans who just need the goods as fast as possible. If you can get in early on a really good list, you’re definitely going to score some link loving, and the content doesn’t have to be that extensive.
I’ll use one of my favorite marketer’s lists as our example this time. Paddy Moogan from Distilled published a list of infographic sites for submitting to a while back, and it’s extremely useful. He graciously linked us in his post but he has WAY more sites to submit to, as well as in the comments so many others have dropped their sites that he missed. You can read his infographic list here but let’s take a peek into the links that this post has acquired.
That’s a nice number of links just for a post! I imagine Paddy will do an updated version at some point and he can double up those efforts and really bring the link juice home with it. Now that it’s up, it will continue to score more links from other bloggers as time goes on, but most of all from SEO/Webmaster forums.
Solutions To Future Problems
With new products and services coming out, there will always be related problems that people will seek out solutions for. Chances are that if one person has that problem, others will as well, so you know that your fix is going to be linked to other people in all sorts of ways (normally, socially etc). If you don’t already have a FAQ/Help center then here’s yet another reason why you should perhaps start one up.
Companies that don’t have an extensive help section are certainly missing out. You’re also going to be left in the dust for natural links if you don’t allow UGC either. The ability for your brand fans to post their problem will lead to unique searches/problems you initially left out, and voila, now you have a linkable asset! If you don’t do it, you’ll lose out to other Q/A sites and forums whereas you could be drawing those people into you.
I would also recommend bringing in the dev team and having them code up all sorts of embed codes for common answers and/or custom help videos and other media. We even had one startup request where we developed infographics for their top 10 most common questions and answers. These infographics provided a work flow solution in a clear and easy-to-follow design, and will continue to build them links as time goes on.
If you look at this page’s link profile you’ll see the diverse link types coming into this place and get a good idea of what can happen for you. I know Apple is one of the largest brands in the world, but for this post it gives you enough data to hopefully spark some ideas of your own.
The goal here is to diversify your link profile, as people seeking help and answers are going to be linking from their blogs, social profiles, forums, Q/A sites and other relevant spots around the web. Again, sit down and brainstorm some ideas that will be “future link bait” and keep doing that every few months… Twice a year at the very least.
We just got done working with a client who was on a 6 month contract with us to help launch and keep afloat a new business in a local market. This company went through all the good stuff, and while this is not a local SEO post by any means, we’re going to cover something that’s often overlooked and left out in an inbound marketing campaign. So what am I talking about? Well, I’m not sure if it has a proper name, but we’re going to look at building links to your second tier properties – aka your social media accounts.
I’ll start by saying I am definitely not talking about link spamming your damn near un-utilized Pinterest account so it gets 1000 blog comment links. What I am talking about is utilizing your web presence to make sure that all of your highly-used social media profiles are linked up the best they can be. This is course has two benefits:
1) Your social media accounts are there to create content and network, and that content can rank easily for highly profitable long tail keywords. Your Pinterest Pins, your Tweets, your Facebook Page Notes, your Youtube videos and more can and will get indexed, so why not make them rank? Who wouldn’t love not only to have their website in the top 10 SERPs, but 2-4 other pieces of high quality unique content spread across your social web as well?
2) Providing highly targeted, awesome content for your niche to your sites will attract more shares and followers… Duh.
Let’s Get Linking
I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that a lot of social media sites allow links to your other social media profiles, and that’s mainly what I’m talking about. I don’t care if it’s a followed, no followed or cloaked link because we want anything that will bring a visitor back to your other marketing channels. But don’t worry, a lot of the links you can snag will be followed and count towards making your other profiles that more “authoritative”.
I’m not advocating that you go and create 100 social media profiles just for the links, as that will never work… Well, not unless you’re a company with 20 social media employees that can handle actually being a part of those communities. Without a well-built social media profile, you won’t get much benefit form having a ton of empty/barely used profiles… Plus, it looks sloppy.
I’ll keep this pretty simple and straight forward, as you know how I can ramble on and on and on and… Alright, I’m shutting up. I will list a few examples just to get your minds going and let you take it from there. Just sit down and visualize social networks you are utilizing now, then make a list of the ones you have time to join and participate in.
The Usual Suspects
I’ve started to see a lot of companies push two links from their bio line and this is not a horrific idea. I’d be inclined to list your website and Facebook account… Or whatever are your most important ones. There are also a ton of web-based Twitter apps that pull your profile data – including the link – and add it in there. If you’re active enough on Twitter, a ton of those third tier profiles will stay indexed. There are also tons of websites now utilizing their user account creation through Twitter authorization, and your data will be pulled in from that as well. For example, our Inbound.org member profile links to our Twitter.
This is the perfect example of an authoritative social media network, and while it’s mostly just a business card, it is nevertheless a place I’d want my social links on. You can build a nice little branded profile here and link to just about anything you want, and it even pulls in your other social media content via their “app system”.
This is essentially the same thing as About.me, and I apologize as I don’t know which one launched first, but they are both cool. I cannot imagine Google loves this kind of site all that much, as it might be seen as “SERP Pollution”. As it stands right now, there are about a million profile pages indexed in the SERPs, so why not take advantage?
TheFancy & Pinterest: I’m a huge fan of TheFancy, even more so than Pinterest, and while it doesn’t have half the traffic as the big pin, it’s a site worth marketing on. We utilize it for our luxury marketing company, as Linkbuildr itself doesn’t need to be marketing fancy pictures of products and things. You get the option to link to the usual suspects but definitely not to your Pinterest account.
Pinterest has the same kind of setup, as you can see from our account here. These two sites are great for the right type of business and it’s a place where you definitely want to link to more than just your website. I’m not kidding when I say a lot of brands just don’t bother to link up their other profiles better, with a perfect example of that being Nordstrom’s Pinterest profile. They only link their website but you know a brand that big will be heavy on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube as well. We have ours set up (for Luxury Branded) but we’re not exactly as active as we should could be on The Fancy.
Directories: Looking back at my post Link Building Tactics in 2011, I mention these three directories that are examples of hand built links that won’t get you into trouble. There are other sites like this, but for our post here we’ll use these three for the sake of getting my point across.
Manta has an awesome option for linking and listing your social media profiles, and looking at SEOMoz’s profile page for our example shows what I mean. You can also add links in your bio besides your homepage, and this is just the extra benefit. Besides that, being listed on this business network will send you leads…. Hint hint!
This is another great place you’re going to want to have a company listing from, as it’s something that provides a whole lot of information and services. It’s also a social place that gives you options to connect with other businesses and link to your social accounts.
Utilizing Key Areas Of Your Content
We’ll take a look at what you control that you can use easily for pushing some worthy link juice over to the right profiles. This should have been first on the list here, as you can get right to it and quickly be on your way worrying about other more important tasks. The key places I like to do myself and recommend to clients are:
Author Bios: This is so painfully obvious that I cringe having to write about it. While your blog is the go-to spot, I’m also talking about making sure the right links are located in your guest blogging bio’s as well. If you’re an avid guest blogger then this is an extra boost that will surely help, as well as bring in more followers to your most important social profiles. In the picture below I just utilize Twitter and Google+ but by the looks of it I could make it look prettier to attract more followers.
Utilizing Your Website: Besides the author bios, I like to make sure the right pages are going to be linking out like your homepage, “contact” pages (or “about us”) and the sidebar of your brand’s blog. Those are all the right spots without being intrusive to your readers. Those pages should also send a good amount of link juice over, although I know a lot of folks noindex their “about us” and “contact” pages.
Viral Campaigns Are The Best Option
A lot of companies have been utilizing Facebook and Twitter for viral marketing efforts whether that be a contest, a sweepstakes or just damn good content. So this is obviously the best method for getting links to those accounts naturally and by the boat load. Pinterest, being the latest social media all star on the block, has already seen a lot of contest action, there is even a Pinboard for contests on Pinterest.
Real World Results For SERP Domination
Ok, so to illustrate this whole picture in your head as clearly as possible, we can take a look at real SERP results to showcase just what I’m really talking about. You can literally have multiple top 10 results that all funnel back to your brand if you have the right things in place. Taking advantage of other social media networks while they’re hot and authoritative can lead to a lot more traffic, especially if you jump on keywords that are emerging and trending. The one big downside to this is if that social media site drops from its strong position with Google, your content marketing efforts will now be lost. But don’t worry, there will be another social network rock star coming out next month.
So sticking to Pinterest here as an example, we can look at the search term 2012 Halloween Contest and this is what I get at no 1:
While not the most exciting of results, lets take a look at how the retail world can benefit from unique and/or cool content powered by social networks. I find that Pinboards rank better than the pins themselves, mainly because of the constant action changing on these boards, as well as the amount of internal links. You’ll find Pinterest pins will rank much better if they’ve hit the front page and have had a lot of activity. I am going to totally pick keywords at random here, and hopefully they serve the purpose needed. I recently got a luxury cat bed hot on Pinterest and TheFancy for fun, so let’s see what we have in the SERPs.
This is a great example of how a pin board can rank well albeit, this is not the most competitive of keywords. As for user experience, who wouldn’t want to shop for their cat’s luxury bed by browsing that pinboard? Ok, so I’ve talked enough about Pinterest and I’ll let you explore it more, so let’s talk about ranking Videos, Tweets and Facebook Page Notes.
Youtube Is A Marketing Weapon
Don’t be afraid to use it, and please for the love of spaghetti monster, don’t make a picture slideshow video. I’m a watch guy and say I was in the market for a 2012 model from Breitling. I’m most definitely going to hit the videos first as I’m going to want to see reviews in motion from professionals in the industry. Naturally you’re going to find videos ranking for these terms, and if not you’re at an advantage being a shop that sells them.
Taking something more current and of the times, we can look at a keyword that is going to bring in a lot of organic search traffic over the next few months. The Samsung Galaxy S3 phone is something that’s crazy popular and the folks at PhoneArena.com did a 25 minute long video review of it. On a side note, check out their text based review as it’s a shining example of how to do amazing content.
This video gets people talking, links to their review on the site, and in the end this video will go to over 1 million views come Christmas… Easy! Oh, and how did I find it? It ranks high for the search term “samsung galaxy siii review” on Google, although you can find them in the top 10 on Bing as well!
Tweets CAN Rank
I’ve been noticing tweets showing up more and more in the long tail lately and if you have an authoritative account, this can be used to your advantage. From what I can tell, the reason they can rank quite well is because A) you’re getting a lot of reTweets on that update and B) a lot of Twitter apps pull your tweets and display them on their app site, which is really linking back to your original Tweet. I imagine that it will have to be a very specific type of search query to be able to rank well, so take notice of when, where and why they show up in your searches.
Just to give you an idea of how Tweets can rank, as well lead to other Twitter powered apps to rank the content, let’s take just one thing @GuyKawasaki tweeted about in the past month and see what we come up with in Google.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled
I don’t really have much else to say other than take notice as to what ranks within your vertical for all types of search queries that will bring in revenue for your business. Keep your content unique and high quality when playing around with this tactic as you’ll be rewarded in the long run. I know that sounds lame and perhaps it’s been over-stated, but if you’re building a brand for the long haul, don’t skimp.
A lot of people have been screaming and bitching about Google launching their link disavow tool and well folks, it’s finally here. Matt goes on to say that “most people shouldn’t need to use this”, unless you’ve been mass spamming and using blog networks etc etc etc. I will be doing a video soon for our new inbound marketing podcast where we use the tool to clean up a test site we had hit on purpose, and we’ll see what happens. Matt also does say that this tool will disavow the bad links, but it will take weeks for Google to re-crawl and re-evaluate your “juice” so to speak.
Garrett French seems to have 48 hours in his day, seriously. He runs the well known firm and software company Citation Labs, manages to write tons of great content and here we are with another really helpful tool. The Broken Link Finder (BrokenLinkBuilding.com) is a comprehensive and time saving tool to tackle one of the best link building methods publicly known.
“There is a gold mine of 404s out there ready to be prospected. Let the 404 Gold Rush Begin!”
I know a lot of inbound marketers still don’t take advantage of this strategy as often as they should, so hopefully this kicks your ass into gear. It’s especially beneficial if you’re doing a lot of content marketing because this way you can amass tons of link targets before you craft your content. The success rates for us are through the roof and hopefully Garrett will come pipe up about it here on the comments.
For each keyword you add to the Broken Link Finder…
280 Unique Search Queries Yielding…
28,000 Linking Pages, Yielding on Average…
300,000 Potential Link Targets…
Filtered Down to Strong Broken Link Building Opportunities…
Which You Can Sort by Link Popularity and Relevance!
For those that do this from time to time you’ll know how time consuming it is….so stop that and literally save hundreds of hours. I’m going to be utilizing this tool starting next week so feel free to contact me with any questions, or hit up Garrett French via Twitter, Email or via Phone 919.480.8522
So we’ve had a Panda, Penguin and EMD update all within the past 30 days, the Google search results should be pretty clean right? We most definitely shouldn’t be seeing link spammed, keyword stuffed, EMD based 3-5 page max websites ranking for some of the most lucrative keywords…right?
Well I decided to check one of those keywords for the sake of seeing what’s going on and it seems even worse than last month to be honest. Below are my results for the keyword “payday loans online”, so obviously these won’t be the same everywhere. I’d like to hear what you folks are seeing because one of out ten results being an actual brand is kind of scary. The majority of the results crossed out below all had thousands of links dumped at it within the past month. As well, they only have 3-5 pages max so you’d like one of these updates took out these kinds of sites?
This is laughable to say the least although the latest Penguin update was just a refresh, and not a tweak to the algorithm itself(correct me if I’m wrong on that one though). Matt has been caught saying that the next real update will be “jarring and jolting”, so we’ll see what’s up in the coming months. I imagine they’re trying to get these updates out of the way before the holiday
What about non-shopping results?
While not every top 10 result is going to be this bad, but I just keep saving searches I come across as a user and this was a recent find of mine. I have a BenQ projector and recently had to figure out what was going wrong with it and how I could fix it. You’d think BenQ would come up on the first page, but instead it’s 99% FixYa and their pages are mostly just disguised Adsense ads and no real fix for anything.
More so annoyed more than anything really….link to your crazy search results in the comments below if you have something to share.
Find out the results of a year of high volume content marketing on guests blogs taught us money still talks. Read the results!
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Negative SEO Attack?
Check out the anatomy of a "negative SEO" attack on our own site in our latest post. There's too much worry about these attacks happening, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. Come read what I think and just what to do if anything like this happens to your brand.