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Link Development Forum

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Link Development vs. Traffic Development and Staying with the Times
Popularity Has a Whole New Meaning
sugarrae




msg:420562
 3:40 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you’re sending out hundreds of reciprocal link requests each week and have a 14 page links section on your site, please do the following:

1. Find the time listed on the bottom right hand side of your monitor.
2. Place your mouse cursor over it and double click
3. Please change the year on your calendar from 2003 to 2006

Now you might actually get to focus on doing some productive marketing for your website. Notice I said marketing, and not link development. The bar has been raised. You can fight it or meet it – the choice is up to you. There is more sophistication in the algorithms of today, there is more sophistication in the level of competition and there is more sophistication from our sites expected by visitors.

Traffic Development

Link development has morphed into traffic development people. Stop going after the exclusive 146th listing on the tenth page of an unrelated site’s reciprocal links section thinking you’re going to fool a good engine into thinking that means you’re worth something.

Stop aiming for the engines and aim for real, live human beings. Aim for obtaining traffic and not backlinks. Aim for obtaining attention and not pagerank. Stop aiming for the affections of a mathematical computation and aim for commendations from breathing individuals.

Out With the Old (Link Development), In With the New (Traffic Development)


Old:
Send out hundreds of reciprocal link emails each day you find with an automated program explaining to webmasters how SEO works and how linking to your brand new website can help *them* in the search engines to the three separate emails your program scraped from their site.
New:
Find sites that are about your topic in general but are missing pertinent information that you provide on your site or that you can create an angle to merge with their topic and email the webmaster at one email address with a personal email that notes things about their site only a human visitor would and explain why you think linking to your content would benefit their readers.
Example:
If you own a site selling film, write an in depth article on getting the best low light results on your site and then contact photography clubs explaining that you have an article on your site that their members might find useful and you were hoping they would consider including it in their resources/favorite sites/information section. Get enough camera clubs linking to you and you’ll start to see a nice trickle of visitors as well.


Old:
Buy links on any site with pagerank hoping the engines will see the links and think wow, your site must be great to be linked from such a popular site. Even better if you can get a range of site in the bottom footer and get 5000 links for the price of one. Just find a big network with a stable of link sellers and buy from their handy dandy list.
New:
Buy links to get the resulting traffic and having that link placed somewhere on the page where visitors will actually see it and pretending search engines don’t exist when debating a purchase. And if you’re going to buy a link, make private deals with site owners or use brokers who do the same with a very limited clientele of purchasers.
Example:
If you wouldn’t purchase a link if it had a link condom on, then you have no business purchasing the link without one. Buy traffic, not green pixels on the Google toolbar. You will need to sustain a link for a long period of time to get maximum effect and you can’t do that if you’re not getting any ROI from your purchase. Enough said.


Old:
Write 300 word articles of medium quality and submit them to 50 article directories. Wash, rinse and repeat 50 times for the same site to the same 50 directories using the same bio line in all of the submissions at the bottom of the article.
New:
Write 800 word articles for sites that accept submissions that publish based on merit and not that you know how to fill out a form and giving them a custom article written only for their site. Link out generously to other sites in the article and be sure to include a link of your own (to something legitimately helpful to readers of the article) within the article if possible.
Example:
Own a site that caters to business owners? An article on a site like entrepreneur.com is going to be worth far more than submitting an article to 30 article directories in terms of traffic. Sure it takes more time, more effort and is less certain – but the rewards of success are also much greater. Be sure to ask about linking guidelines within the article. Most sites are ok with you linking from within an article provided it isn’t biased, repetitive and makes sense.


Old:
Find the top 50 keywords for your sector and write a drab article aimed at each one basically regurgitating the same information available on every other site. AKA – “How to find online deals on discount widgets.”
New:
Find the top 50 keywords for your sector and write an interesting piece that relates to the topic in an unusual fashion that won’t bore people to death if they bother to read past the first paragraph.
Example:
If you have a content site focusing on widgets, contact the big companies who make them and ask what their media policies are for an interview about their newest product or their company in general. You get new, unique content no one else has (because you’ve created the questions – i.e. the area of the answers) and people are far more likely to link to a page showing an interview with ABC Widgets talking about their new widget development techniques than a page talking about how great (yawn) ABC Widgets are.


Old:
Submitting press releases for no reason aside from getting your site another inbound link from the press release distribution sites.
New:
Waiting until you have a newsworthy topic (or creating one) and submitting a carefully crafted press release focused on getting media attention and making sure it is viewable in all the big news engines.
Example:
If you have a site selling 16 different brands of the same widget, create a comparison engine that allows users to select four widget brands and see a comparison between them. Then create a press release that mentions how your site developed this “propriety technology” to help consumers of widgets and how your site is the only site in the industry offering such a service. Cross your fingers and hope a reporter gets interested. At worst, you get a ton of traffic when people search your topic at a news engine for a week or more.


Old:
Submitting your site to 200 free directories and a handful of paid directories with decent pagerank and a low listing fee in an effort to increase your link count.
New:
Not wasting your time unless the directory itself has a large following or pageview tallies (meaning it will send a lot of traffic).
Example:
Submit a test site (or simply take a look at the logs of a website following the tired tradition) and after six months, take a look at the total referrals from your logs. Anything that doesn’t produce a valued amount of traffic or sales (depending on your objective) should be cut from the list. You’d be better off during those 2 days of submitting to those directories to put that time to good use on another method that will actually bring you eyeballs.


Old:
Deciding on ten keyword phrases and developing links to fit within that mold (having all of your links using 1 of your top ten phrases). Contacting webmasters who don’t give you the desired anchor text and requesting changes.
New:
Encouraging extreme variety in anchor text of your inbound links and letting people link to you using whatever anchors they feel necessary.
Example:
Stop sending out pre-written anchor text in requests for links. Let the site owner know about your site and if they choose to link to you, do so using whatever anchor text they feel necessary. There is no better way to accrue *natural* anchor text than by letting people label your anchor with whatever they deem fit. Site owners know how to speak to their readers and how to make them interested.


Old:
Making hit and go forum posts to get a handful of backlinks a piece from 50 different domains.
New:
Finding one (or a few communities) and becoming a regular, valid and helpful contributing member.
Example:
By making yourself at home at a limited number of places, you give yourself time to really contribute and be a visible and helpful member. Rather than grabbing a few links on various identifiable forum domains, you build up a reputation (aka trust) which gets you a good amount of traffic through your profile or signature (targeted traffic too, since you will be posting to people on a forum relating to what you do or sell) and can also get you off forum mentions as well (for example, someone may go post on their blog that your name did a great post on widget making – linking your name to your site and widget making to the appropriate forum thread).


Old:
Button pushing to get thousands and tens of thousands of automated links on blogs, guestbooks and forums.
New:
People pushing via hiring people to help out with traffic development efforts and ideas.
Example:
Blind mass links are going the way of the dodo (though mass, mass quantities still work – at times – for now). Spend the efforts of your programmers on developing useful tools for consumers/site visitors and employ people to write great, quality content rather than buying cheap links from reciprocal link farms – excuse me, I mean firms. You can get a lot more *long term* bang for your buck and it will get you visitors who appreciate your content – not angry victims of comment spam looking for ways to dig your heart out with a spoon.


Old:
Creating a blog on a free subdomain to put up nothing more than posts about how great your products are and linking to yourself freely in each one.
New:
Creating a blog that has real value and traffic attraction on your own domain (or a separate domain if branding is an issue) which leads readers into the commercial area of your site during opportunities within posts or the blog design where it makes sense.
Example:
If you sell widgets, make an accompanying blog that acts as a review center for *all* widgets. Be fair and include all products whether or not you sell them. Do a write up of each product that acts as a general “spec” overview and allow users to leave reviews in the comments section (I recommend you set them at moderated to check for quality, spelling, language, etc if that matters to you.) and link in to the products you *do* sell where appropriate.


Well, I’m going to stop there as I like my farm. ;-)

The best part is that all of these ways of developing traffic have the side benefit of doing exactly what you wanted to do with traditional link development. By aiming for traffic, you end up acquiring (purposely anyway, scrapers will continue to exist) a dream team of inbound links for SE purposes.

Does this mean there are no sites ranking on the old methods?

Sure there are. But, I’d have to venture to say the age of those links acquired from the old methods may have something to do with it. In addition to the fact that being at the top of the engines several years ago probably got them a handful of traffic as a result from good sites. I don’t think people trying the 2003 approach to link development would find the same success in a smart search engine in a half way competitive industry on a site they launched tomorrow. Traffic development, in my honest opinion, is the road to long term success.

Hopefully this gets a few people thinking about ways they can apply traffic building to their own sites and gets some others moving towards to realization the standard, tired methods of link development that used to work are no longer the best way to assure new site or long term success in the engines.

Anyone else with thoughts or suggestions on traffic development are encouraged to add to the list. ;-)

 

arran




msg:420563
 3:47 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Top quality post! Many important things to consider...

Thank you, sugarrae.

Hach3




msg:420564
 4:14 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the quality post. It is always important to stay current and this reinforces the fact.

Webwork




msg:420565
 4:18 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Beautiful.

Google's algo was conceived in a time when linking was as much about voting as it was about commerce.

Don't turn your calendar/clock back from 2006 to 2003. Turn it back to 1996. Turn your mind back too.

I'll venture a guess that Google's algo/filter tweaks are about turning the clock back to 1996. Emulate the patterns of web voting circa 1996 and you might stand a chance of finding some search engine love.

walrus




msg:420566
 4:28 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Most excellent post!

Kufu




msg:420567
 4:31 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you have stuff people want to see, you won't need to do too much of what has been listed. I am not knocking the list at all, as a matter of fact I do most of that stuff myself (no link-buying though). Aside from my commercial sites, I have one personal site which has a blog and a fledgling forum, and I am getting a bunch of links from all over without even having to try. It is mostly because of one 'funny' tutorial that I have.

By the way, link-exchanges are not good. I do SEO, and for our larger clients who have a good pagerank, we don't even do link-exchanges, because it ends up actually hurting them (in Google).

jcoronella




msg:420568
 5:10 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Old:
Black hat SEO's promoting and talking about black hat SEO.

New:
Black hat SEO's finding an increasingly difficult playing field and beginning to promote white hat techniques.

Example:
;)

sugarrae




msg:420569
 5:13 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

ROFLMAO... hey, as I've always said, every good blackhat I've ever known can whitehat their asses off ;-)

Jane_Doe




msg:420570
 5:24 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

not angry victims of comment spam looking for ways to dig your heart out with a spoon.

Great advice, as always, and very witty writing!

Receptional




msg:420571
 5:40 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

And I was just wondering if I should go the other way ;)

Nice post Sugarrae.

wolfadeus




msg:420572
 7:53 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Posts like this make WW the valuable source it is for beginners like me. Thank you!

Webwork




msg:420573
 8:04 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

A thought about links, FWIW:

Whatever the link source (info site, directory, industry forum, etc.) emphasis should be put on the value of the converted link/lead AND the likelihood of the lead converting.

That, IMHO, is what should be the rule of behavior.

IF incoming traffic from WebsiteA is highly targeted to your market AND if the value of a lead converting from that market it high - go after that first, and be prepared to pay a bit more (if there's a fee).

1 lead that converts every 3 years, that is worth $10,000.00 in business, justifies a different willingness to risk a few dollars for a link than 1 lead that converts in the same period for a $89.00 sale.

It's the prefiltering of the inbound traffic and the end-market value that should be the focus. This should also help set market prices over time that make sense for all parties.

mindaugas13




msg:420574
 10:14 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

wow. great post. i'm having a hard time adjusting to the "new rules" of link development, though. all these steps take a lot of time and skill - any tips about trying to outsource (at least in part) the process?

ken_b




msg:420575
 10:41 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's the prefiltering of the inbound traffic

There's more to that concept than just choosing your link partners carefully. It can make a big difference in traffic and targeting if you pay close attention to the actual page your link ends up on.

And the best page is not always the most obvious choice. Take a look around the prospective link partners site and see where they are internally directing the traffic you want.

tortuga




msg:420576
 11:53 pm on Feb 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have to say, as a fairly clueless newbie to web marketing, this is just the post I was waiting for. In many respects, it reinforced my suspicions that my prior attempts at link development were bumbling and outdated. It's good to have those suspicions confirmed by an expert. It also confirms why I spend so much time reading Webmaster World.

Thanks for sharing sugarrae.

NazaretH




msg:420577
 4:09 am on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Great post. Thank you.

The next big question for many of us here (and maybe an inspiration for somebody to make one more lengthy descriptive post) is:

How do we delegate/outsource these actions?

The techniques described require lots of time even when done by REALLY productive webmaster. Delegating them to employees may be very difficult, because this is not a "100 monkeys do it" thing anymore. Any tips, suggestions, experince would be VERY much appriciated.

incrediblehelp




msg:420578
 4:14 am on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

What a great post. Here you encapsulate many well understood ideas (hopefully for anyone calling themselves an SEO) that most clients bring up. I think I might just read this thread to new clients right before they sign to give them a good idea of what is to come for the best possible ranking scenario.

Ravi_Kumar




msg:420579
 8:38 am on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Excellent post and great advice.

goodroi




msg:420580
 1:26 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Old way:Getting any link on any page that will accept you
New way:Only going after links that will survive for at least 6 months, skipping sites that don't archive or delete links

Old way:A link is a link is a link
New way:Not all links are created equal, some are great, others are good and some links can even be used as sabotage

ncreegan




msg:420581
 2:08 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

lol - people pushing

spot on, though!

pageoneresults




msg:420582
 2:44 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Excellent post sugarrae, now if we can just get certain parts of the world to read this, maybe we'll stop receiving all of those automated link requests. They appear to come from a particular part of the world and it seems to get more predominant as the months go by. It's almost as if the link craze is just starting in some parts of the world.

sgregorie




msg:420583
 2:49 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

This is a great article to share with clients who are getting an ear full from scam SEO companies. Quality content and customer focus always win.

cabbie




msg:420584
 6:26 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

What!You guys actually read all that?
Sounds like too much work for me.
if thats what it takes these days, I'll go back to cab driving.

SEOwebGuy




msg:420585
 6:34 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

That was a great post 'sugarrae' I wish I could publish your article, but it is against the forum guidelines.

Peace,
Michael

jo1ene




msg:420586
 6:56 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Finding one (or a few communities) and becoming a regular, valid and helpful contributing member.

This is what has been helping me lately. HIGHLY targeted traffic that actually spends some time at my website and makes contact when they're through. I suspect it is also helping with SERPS (and PR?).

airpal




msg:420587
 7:36 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

There needs to be a clear distinction between SEO and other methods of getting qualified traffic over the web, even though the end goal may be the same, which is to generate sales/leads. Unfortunately, the vast majority of self-professed "white-hatters" (which is just manipulating websites less than blackhatters, but still manipulation for the sole purpose of SEO benefits) mix the two together all the time. SEO, in my mind, has one core goal: ranking high for targeted keywords/phrases, period! That is not the same as writing good articles, creating a useful blog, being an active and helpful member in a forum, or buying links based on only the traffic generated from them (which is really just a media buy/PPC if you calculate the cost/clicks), or any of the various "New" methods mentioned.

The "New" methods mentioned above are good guerilla tactics to scrape together extra traffic that can potentially convert into leads/sales. However, if one's main objective is improved SEO as defined above, a lot of the "Old" techniques mentioned are exactly what top-ranked sites are using to dominate the SERPs and rake in the money.

Maybe it makes more sense if we use a situation where someone is paying a company for SEO services. They're not paying for various tactics to potentially generate qualified traffic, even though that may be another viable marketing method to try out. The client is simply paying to rank as high as possible for their targeted keywords. Anything else is not truly SEO.

sugarrae




msg:420588
 8:02 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>SEO, in my mind, has one core goal: ranking high for targeted keywords/phrases, period! That is not the same as writing good articles, creating a useful blog, being an active and helpful member in a forum, or buying links based on only the traffic generated from them (which is really just a media buy/PPC if you calculate the cost/clicks), or any of the various "New" methods mentioned.

I can say it until I'm blue in the face, but it won't matter. Ranking IS, IS, IS a direct correlation of having a good site with good traffic *idependent* of the search engines. Good content is what gets you the good links which is what gets you the good ranks. A smart search engine is not ranking *new* sites on crap exchanges and directory listings for competitive terms. As someone else here previously mentioned in another thread [webmasterworld.com] - thinking in the little metal box of SEO=same old tired links=ranks is not the wave of *today*.

Everyone is entitled to their views, so I'll agree to disagree.

CainIV




msg:420589
 8:48 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well said, I think you summed up what both visitors and the search engines would deem are great site models...

I’d have to venture to say the age of those links acquired from the old methods may have something to do with it.

Yes, exactly, and domain name and dmoz both substantially up the ante allowing older outdating sites to remain at the top.

Eltiti




msg:420590
 9:03 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm glad this thread was added to the WebmasterWorld home page, for I might have missed it otherwise.

I think sugarrae's post (nay: article) was *excellent* --high quality, original content, well worth linking to! :-)

Pass the Dutchie




msg:420591
 10:00 pm on Feb 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

who your Sugarrae Daddy : )

It would almost put a smiley on G's face

This 51 message thread spans 2 pages: 51 ( [1] 2 > >
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