Link Building

Fiverr Links Cause Google Penalty – DUH

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May 12  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

It amazes me to see people buying up Fiverr link building packages these days not expecting to tank their legitimate businesses. Either that or us SEO’s and Google are doing a terrible job in educating the average business owner on what’s good and what’s not. Buying thousands of junk links to your site is not only a waste of time and money, it’s a potential businesses ender. I’ve dealt with many companies that have been duped and literally destroyed their entire business because of it. Not cool!

As some of you may know, I spend a lot of time helping and or reading what other people are experiencing on Google’s Webmaster Help Forums. The amount of times I’ve had to bite my tongue and explain to clients why buying $50 worth of links versus $xxxx’s on great content marketing is getting high up there. Real brands should be earning links and if you can’t do that your not going to ever become a niche leader.

Fiverr links have killed my site, now I’m working to fix old mistakes. Please help!

fiverr links google penalty
Read The Thread -> http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/webmasters/crawling-indexing–ranking/ZiXmtqjIjhE
 
Ignore the usual rudeness of the inept moderators in the thread as they’re usually snobby little %$##!@%&s. This website owner is in for hundreds of hours of work before their site will recover. To get out of a manual penalty you’ll have to do a lot of work removing about 90% of those junk links. You will have to document everything you do to present to the almighty Google Gods, and that for the most part doesn’t work too often. Their Disavow Tool is also a last resort as they want you to try and remove all the spam links you had built…..yikes!

There is however a lot of great information for people in the same boat and reading these threads I find is a good start. Dealing with a manual Google penalty is extremely frustrating and I’m glad we don’t do it as a service. I would however like to hear from other people in the comments on their experience and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask away.

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Linkbuildr Gets Targeted For Negative SEO

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March 22  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

I am actually shocked it took this long for someone to try something funny towards our site. I don’t think I’ve pissed anyone off all that much in the past year or so, but regardless someone has blasted Linkbuildr.com with a load of anchor text specific links from blog comments. Looks like Scrapebox went to town on us and pushed us into the top 5 for the target keyword they focused on.

linkbuildr negative seo attack 1
 
We certainly never had that many links before and I honestly haven’t even checked in months as all of our business comes from people reading my content and referrals. We do not build links and the majority of them come from me being apart of the industry and our content getting linked to.

Negative SEO Attempt

linkbuildr negative seo attack 2
 
So far we’re now ranking in the top 5 for “link building blog” which has rose since these nofollow links came flooding in from blogs all over the world. I’m not too worried about it as they’re nofollow anyway and no one has really seen a full proof case of negative SEO working.

With that being said, I kind of hope the Google algorithm burns us for it because I’ll turn that into some sweet link bait. Luckily for us, our business of getting new clients does not rely on free Google traffic all that much. While I also don’t have a whole lot of time any more to handle social media relationships either, we get a lot of content shares from the great people of this industry.

What Kind Of Links Did We Get?

The majority of links are the usual crap you get from the services sections of the “SEO” forums that plague the internet. I’m always ragging on Warrior Forum, Blackhat World, Digital Point and the like so perhaps someone from there is responsible for the new link love.

Open Galleries:

linkbuildr negative seo attack 3

At least they were polite!

Blog Comment Spam:

linkbuildr negative seo attack 5
 

Will We Get Dropped?

I decided to write about this publicly just incase we do get hit as it will make for an interesting discussion. I don’t think much will happen and if negative SEO does work, it shouldn’t be this easy. There are certainly a lot of people coming into Google’s webmaster help central complaining that competitors are doing this and its working. Problem with that is so many companies hire “SEO” companies and have no idea they’re just getting link spam.

Like I’ve stated before, 99% of SEO companies out there are spammers and either know they’re just slinging junk or still think that manually submitting a site to 250 directories, doing one line blog comments and submitting to social bookmark sites is marketing. I also state that Google keeps ranking link spammers and snake oil SEO consultants at the top for every and any keyword related to online marketing.

It’s a tough game!

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Guest Blogging: The New Paid Link

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March 18  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

So you might be thinking….is Ryan getting crazy in his old age? What’s this nonsense about guest blogging and paid links being mentioned in the same sentence? One of the major staples in our inbound marketing campaigns for clients is doing kick-ass content marketing on off site blogs. I’ve taken the time to compile the data just over the last year from all of our guest blogging outreach and the results were a little funny.

write for us guest blogging
 
While paid links in all sorts of ways are still happening, guest blogging has been the “beacon of light” for a lot of agencies and consultants. It’s a great way to reach your target audience, and frankly, the link you “earn” isn’t the highest of priorities for myself and our clients. Overall brand awareness and reach is what I’m going for and what better way to earn that then providing amazing/unique/intelligent content to the targeted masses?

Two Plagues Of Guest Blogging

 
1) Shitty content and targeted anchor text

The majority of guest blogging taking place is just the same lame article marketing style of content Google has tried to tapper off in the past couple of years. There’s no value being put forth and all these clueless “SEO’s” are overdoing anchor text and its just all about the link.

2) Blog owners want money to allow you to guest post

I’m sure those that do a lot of guest blogging outreach like we do get asked all the time to pay to be able to guest blog for the site. The biggest blogs in your vertical will most likely ask for money and this is the majority according to our data. Google will definitely be cracking down on this in the near future as they will see this as a paid link. I, however, think you will be fine so long as you provide outstanding content, and the social media reactions are somewhat abundant. When you’re “guest blogging” on a large site in your vertical it should be all about the brand exposure. I can see why you’d need to pay because you’re also getting reach through their(hopefully) large social media following, newsletter and whatever else they have going on. Oh, and don’t bother picking anchor text that’s not normal and stick to a nice looking site/brand link.
 

Guest Blogging Results By The Numbers


 

From the numbers below you can clearly see that the larger sites wanting money had more to offer than just that link. If your content stays top notch, you’re putting it on a high quality blog in your vertical and you’re also paying for their follower base(social + newsletter), I don’t ever see a problem with Google in regards to those links. I’m sure there is room for argument so I will leave that up to you folks as you know I love hearing your thoughts.

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Audit Your SEO Firm Before You Hire

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February 23  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

99% of the “SEO” firms out there are nothing more than petty link spammers that have no clue how to do anything of value. Sadly most of them have no clue that what they’re doing is against Google’s TOS. So many real brands hire these snake oil providers because they themselves are not on the up and up.

If your brand offers nothing worth linking(or worth socially sharing) to then please stop every marketing tactic you’re currently doing and refocus. I get a dozen emails a day from people wanting to work with us and I sadly have to turn down nearly all of them. That or they get offende when I state they’ll need a few thousand dollars a month to compete in their competitive verticals. So please stop emailing me unless you want to actually, as Wil Reynolds puts it, “real company shit”.

Sadly, I also get a large number of emails from real companies who have hired these know-nothing consultants who have done nothing but keyword stuff their pages and build god awful links. I hope to help a little by ranting like an angry old man as well as provide you with the knowledge to sniff out a snake.

Audit 1: Their Link Profile

whitehat seo services
 
So let’s say you’ve gone to Google and typed in “whitehat SEO services” or “SEO services” or “link building services” etc etc…you will be presented with pretty much only companies who spammed to get their and do the same to their clients. Even some of the “big name” companies showing up here are just spamming to justify their rankings. I’m not one to out a company anymore so for that reason I won’t be naming names.

So in order to audit their links it’s quite simple, just use one of the free or paid tools out there such as Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs, MajesticSEO. For this example below I’ve used Open Site Explorer because you can signup with a free account and get quite a bit of data.

Just as suspected, the first result has the lamest links with all targeted anchor text. So much for Google’s updates…

link spam google seo services

Anyone who pays attention to the organic SERPs know that Penguin and Panda are a joke if you’re a spammer. You can still make tons and tons of money within a few month time period with nothing but a 2-3 page website and tons of link spam. The site in question here recently did a big blast to secure the top position for any link building service related keyword.

Screen Shot 2013-02-23 at 6.36.40 PM
 
If you see a potential SEO firm with really unnatural anchors like that stay far away because they have no idea what they’re doing. Before you start commenting in anger at me, yes I know target anchor text ranks a site and thus they have an idea of what they’re doing. You just don’t want your legit company being handled by the likes of someone from Digital Point or the Warrior Forum.

Run!

Audit 2: Their Clients

The second thing I’d recommend taking a look at is if they list any clients on their website. A lot of SEO firms do this to establish credit, so take advantage of that. I recommend taking a look at the following:

  • Their link profile, specifically anchor text levels and types of links
  • Their on-page SEO and quality of content
  • What kind of social signals
  • Check the rankings for the clients main keywords
  • Check prices…if they’re a few hundred dollars you’re just going to get spam

You will quickly see a pattern emerge and should be able to tell if the SEO company is garbage within just a few minutes. If they don’t offer any clients(as we don’t) on their website just ask. If they don’t provide any you know you can move onto the next or just give me an email.

That’s It Folks!

As you can see it doesn’t take much effort to figure things out and please do investigate before handing over the life of your brand online. I don’t care if you don’t contact us to handle your brand, but please don’t let some scumbag SEO company ruin your organic rankings.

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Burger King’s Twitter Hacked = Link Bait Goldmine

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February 19  |  Link Bait Tactics  |   Ryan Clark

burger king twitter hack

So we often hear that no press is bad press and in the case of Burger King’s Twitter hacking they certainly will come out on top. While a lot of nefarious things were mentioned and done on the account no one will really care, so in the end Burger King will definitely enjoy the buzz.

The reason I hope they don’t care? No one will remember this in a week and during that time, I imagine the will get thousands of links and social followers because of it…so what’s the big deal? Let this sink in and be a lesson on how to turn a bad thing into something good.

If I were them, I would also try and get interviews from highly authoritative places about the incident and perhaps talk about brand image and or social media security…it’s kind of a snooze fest but I imagine a lot of publications are looking to talk to someone over there while the news is hot.

Just take a look at the social buzz via Topsy:

burger king hacked twitter
 
News sites were also picking the story up like crazy:

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 8.30.32 AM
 
So you get the idea eh?

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Google’s Going To Tell You What Links Are Unnatural

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February 12  |  Link Building Videos  |   Ryan Clark

 
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.

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Linking For More Powerful Social Media Profiles

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October 16  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

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.

About.me:

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”.

Flavors.me
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.com

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!

CrunchBase

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.

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Google Link Disavow Tool Launches

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October 16  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

 
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.

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