Chuck Price: Building Links at Scale ~ Risks and Opportunities
Chuck starts off with a risk/reward chart available on his deck (link below).
Automated link building: high risk, no return
If you are looking to get trapped by Penguin, that’s the fastest way to get there.
Paid link building: high risk, high return
There is a huge upside which is difficult to ignore. However for big enterprise, unless you can afford to burn your website forever, paid link building is not advised.
Low Risk, Low Return – Covered by Chuck Price
Enterprise link building starts at home, thanks to Panda. For the first time in search history, there is a minimum level of content quality essential to rank well. It has always been important from a user experience (UX) viewpoint, but now it is required to achieve top rankings. This means that in order to have good links, you need quality content on your website.
The foundation of any good SEO website is in the architecture, and many marketers often start by asking, WWGD? (What Would Google Do?). Chuck reminds us that you don’t have to ask what Google would do. You can check out what they do by looking at Google Ventures. Google Ventures is the venture capital of Google, investing capital and resources into other businesses. As part of the resources they advise on website design and give marketing advice, wouldn’t it be nice to see a website based on Google’s advice? Here are more than 100.
From these sites, you can learn that detailed footer links are NOT necessarily spam. You can see their internal link structure and use that to guide your own designs. Chuck advises that we use Google Venture to calibrate our spam-o-meter to determine the difference between spam and accepted SEO practices.
Next, Chuck introduces us to a way to get ‘free links’ from Google, more specifically Google Webmaster Tools. Here is his three-step guide:
- Go to GWT, click on your website, then “Site Health.”
- Next “Crawl Errors” in the left navigation. A list of URLs and response codes will appear at the bottom of the page.
- “Repair” the broken links by using a 301 redirect.
Huzzah, lost links are finding their destination!
Additionally, turn citations into links by looking for URLs that mention your brand and brand variations but are not linking to you. Reach out to the webmasters and request the link be added.
Low Risk, High Return – Covered by Loren Baker
Enterprise Link Building in 2012 and Beyond
Loren begins by reminding us that links existed before PageRank, describing what he was doing back then. “Building links that their potential customers would see, on pages they are likely to visit, forums, etc. using branded links.” These links were acquired for driving traffic and increasing brand awareness, so they had to be earned naturally as they were human-curated based on inherent value.
Does this sound familiar to you? Because it sounds like best practice today, only Loren was doing it years ago. What has changed? Links became algorithmically important, and the paradigm shifted.
High Rankings = $$$
Many Links = High Rankings
Ergo, Links = $$
With this logic, everyone lost his/her way, finding out he/she could game the system and earn a quick buck. Good brands in it for the long hall were forced to compete using black-hat techniques or lose valuable customers. This self-perpetuating cycle made things relatively crazy and by the end, enterprises were using link buying, automated link generation, affiliate manipulation, content farms, link networks, and more.
Enter the Penguin (awesome picture slide on Loren’s deck)
The Penguin came along and made you have to find out where your bad links were coming from, in order to clean up any unnatural link profiles. The diversity and composition of your backlink profile is increasing in importance. The Penguin update was so significant that many businesses have closed down from the loss in rankings and more are changing the way they do link building back to the original purpose of link building, traffic, and engagement.
This leads many to content-based strategies, a return to evaluating links based on potential for audience building and increasing traffic, and most of all, the abandoning of manipulative linking strategies. Traffic and engagement are once again the keys to link building.
How Do Enterprises Respond?
With three steps:
Step One: Change Your Perception
Your expected ROI on investment time may be the first thing you need to change. BlueGlass doesn’t build links by the month or by the quarter, we only engage in 6- to 12-month strategies.
Remember that great links:
- Can drive targeted traffic
- Are earned naturally based on merit
- Are helpful to the user/reader
- Help make the Web a better resource
Evaluate links from multiple angles:
- Would your director of SEO like this link?
- Would your PR team like this link?
- Would a Google Quality Rater like this link?
- Would you show this link to the audience here at SES?
- Would your CEO like this link?
- Would Matt Cutts like this link?
Step Two: Really Earn Your Links
- Provide true value within your content. A strong link profile is built upon success. People are going to link to you because they like what you’re doing.
- Leverage existing and form new relationships. These include people with blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as relationships with PR people and news people.
- Be different and noteworthy. This will help create recognition and trust that people want to link to.
Step Three: Leverage Your Resources
- Your people
- Your relationships
- Your brand recognition and trust
- Your knowledge base and experience
Just remember, the bigger you are, the more likely you are to be under the microscope, so it is even more important to do it right.
The Content Marketing Solution
What you want to do is give people something to write about that’s not only relevant to your company, but also to your SEO goals. You can do this by offering things that your competitors can’t or won’t.
The goals of content marketing:
- Create a defensible link profile
- Drive traffic
- Increase brand exposure
- Create immediate conversion events
Methods for Effective Content Marketing
- Strategy: A plan of action for creating and marketing content
- Production: Creating differentiated content
- Promotion: Getting exposure for the content you create
Type of Content:
- Motion Graphics
- In-depth Articles
- Blog Posts
- Kinetic Typography
- Interactive Infographs
- HTML5 content
There are two primary methods for gaining content exposure:
- Blogger Outreach and Online PR
- Social Media Promotion
Great content can be forgotten; this is not a field of dreams.
- Leverage relationships and get content hosted on influential third party sites
- Expand your messaging to audiences and transition them into brand advocates
Remember, you need to make it easy for people to share your content. As Loren Baker said:
“Don’t build a baseball field in the middle of a cornfield, in the middle of nowhere. Build it in a city, next to a highway, with parking, and people will come.”
What he means is don’t make them have to do all the work to share it, connect directly to Twitter, Facebook, and all the other popular sites in you niche. I couldn’t cover the entirety of this session in this post, so if you want more be sure to check out Chuck Price and Loren Baker’s decks.
Audience: How do you deal with negative SEO?
Loren: We’ve seen some new forms of negative SEO by trying to associate a site with a bunch of bad sites. For the most part, [we do] not see any direct attacks. We’ve noticed [that] if you have a foundation of good links, negative SEO is difficult to take effect. If you are grey, it could easily tip you into the black hat. Essentially, if you are doing good, you should have nothing to fear.
Audience: Have you submitted any reconsideration requests to be relisted in Google? Do you have any advice for doing so?
Chuck: The problem with reconsideration requests is people want to ask immediately, often acting on half-baked plans. You only get one shot at a reconsideration request. When you do it, you need to do it correctly and comprehensively. You have to have proof of a good-faith effort if you want a chance of getting relisted by Google.
Loren: If you are going to file a reconsideration request, by all means treat it as your last confessional. Don’t lie to Google or think you are smarter than Google. Face Mountain View and pray for forgiveness.