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Link Development vs. Traffic Development - 2008 edition
tedster




msg:3802240
 1:17 am on Dec 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

This thread will continue the discussion from a Classic thread that is now closed:
http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum12/3047.htm [webmasterworld.com]

Sugarrae shared some really good points there. Two years later and she looks like a prophet!

[edited by: tedster at 4:25 am (utc) on Dec. 8, 2008]

 

tedster




msg:3802247
 1:23 am on Dec 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

One way in which this thread seems prophetic is in its criticism of reciprocal links, just for the sake of growing backlink numbers.

While many websites don't seem to realize it yet, today's search engines (and especially Google) seem to have put a lid on just how far reciprocal links can take you. I work with sites who outrank their competition even though that competition has 10x as many backlinks. You guessed it, after just a few, the rest of their reciprocals seem dead in the water.

willybfriendly




msg:3802343
 4:51 am on Dec 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Not sure how I missed that original thread.

Thanks to these boards I learned long before 2006 that traffic trumps rank - always - and traffic is a waste of bandwidth if it is not furthering the function of the site. (Thus the effectiveness of the long tail search.)

A couple of weeks before Sugarrae's thread I wrote, "A site without traffic is like a car without gas. It just won't get very far. These boards provide a wealth of information about generating site traffic. Since we began the project with a clear idea about our target population, we are prepared to identify the best strategies for traffic generation. If we choose pay per click, we are positioned to identify effective ad copy for our target group. We can use web metrics to guide our SEO efforts for SE's, and directory submissions, that will provide appropriate traffic to the site. Knowing our traget population can help to guide us in finding links on other sites that will provide appropriate traffic." (http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum48/2728.htm)

Backlinks for the sake of backlinks have been dead for a long time, and that is OK by me.

If I have a gripe, it is that G has forever altered the nature of "natural" linking. No-follows, robots.txt, PR sculpting, etc. (not to mention automated recip link emails) have premanently altered the landscape in which we work - and in ways that I am not convinced are for the better.

Shaddows




msg:3802457
 10:59 am on Dec 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

I stumbled across the orignal thread last week when a Mod or Admin referenced it. It was outstanding- mostly accepted theory now, but it is very clear and concise, a vision unmodified by caveats and 'if/whens' that cloud more recent discussions.

However, I disagree with the basic premise that link developement is low-value, and also that these techniques are mostly for trafic.

Lets look at the elephant in the room, namely SEO, or SERPs performance. The 'old' techniques referenced by the OP (SugarRae not Tedster) are the types of links that G has been devaluing*. The 'new' techniques are the ones that give great ROI, SERPs wise*. Now, I need trafic. I need trafic that converts. On-topic link trafic convert more than SERPs trafic (by a long way), and bounce less. That said, a massive majority of sales comes from SERPs.

In summary, the OP is a valuable guide to SEO, and the point I would make is that they are MODERN LINK BUILDING TECHNIQUES. They bring in trafic, sure, but they do now what recips did in the past, and that is to build your rankings- which incidently brings in trafic!

after just a few, the rest of their reciprocals seem dead in the water

Ted, as a point of clarity, are you saying there is a hard limit to the number of recips that improve rankings, either as an absolute number (unlikely) or a proportion of links? Or is it a soft limit depending on niche? Or are you simplifying a statement which may otherwise read something like
"At the margin, the addition of each successive reciprocal link adds less value than the previous link, tending to zero"

*Being in the UK, where Google has even bigger market share than the US, all our effort goes on G SERPs, with Yahoo being cheched infrequently, and never optimised for unless something weird happens. Thus, all my comments are about Google.

pageoneresults




msg:3802471
 11:44 am on Dec 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

While many websites don't seem to realize it yet, today's search engines (and especially Google) seem to have put a lid on just how far reciprocal links can take you.

That's why it is not even worth the effort that some put it into around here. They're going about it the wrong way. ;)

Too many recips focus on "home page" links. If I were a search quality engineer in charge of link manipulation countermeasures, I'd be looking at the number of recips that point to the home page and then I'd also be interested in recips that are non home page.

If I were doing recips in 2009, I'd choose the top 50 pages from the site and focus on making those the most link worthy. Forget about pointing all that juice at the home page, I want a balance of shallow and deep links. The majority of your links pointing to one area is probably not in your best interest unless you have one of those one page wonders.

"Spread the love. Spread the wealth. Go for balance, breadth, and depth."

julinho




msg:3802531
 2:03 pm on Dec 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think that Google is getting better and better in assessing how useful a page is for its visitors, and is giving more and more weight in the algo to such assesments.
Hence, links are becoming more and more a means to bring the right people to the right pages; those people (not the links) will make you move up.

I work with sites who outrank their competition even though that competition has 10x as many backlinks.

Maybe because those fewer links bring people who actually get interested in the site, and somehow those people signify that interest to Google.

If I were doing recips in 2009, I'd choose the top 50 pages from the site and focus on making those the most link worthy.

Exactly. Because those 50 pages (not the homepage) would be the ones which would be of most interest to visitors.

I see networks launched recently in competitive sectors relying just in excellent content and, when it comes to links, only reciprocal links in related sites and cross-linking (not even one of those "editorial links from aged trusted sites").

The sites move up the rankings, fast and steadily.
In my opinion, the links bring the visitors, the content please the visitors, and Google makes the sites rise.

nealrodriguez




msg:3802651
 4:52 pm on Dec 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

most importantly, the traffic should be targeted. i could create a social media friendly article and drive upwards of 20K visitors in one day and a few hundred links; the question are any of these people buying anything? if you're content driven, then you're great. the link bait helps you on the serps if you've got some good on-page factors in order, thus you would have to inspect roi accordingly.

i believe suggarae's strategies are formulated with the objective of driving 'targeted' traffic, so i doubt we're in disagreement

however, i have worked in low competition niches with a few hundred thousand in monthly seo revenue and initiated outsourced campaigns by using some of the techniques of which she classified as old: directory submissions, a few high pr relevant paid links; and have ranked sites for which i did link building prominently on page one of the majors rather quickly lasted for about 2 years.

of course, in order to maintain the ranking, i have employed strategies similar to her 'new' techniques, by way of niche blog and community outreach, link bait on social media, portal creation.

i would only advocate old techniques, if you outsourced them for pennies; while you simultaneously work on more sophisticated and organic means of acquiring links.

pageoneresults




msg:3802657
 5:01 pm on Dec 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

i would only advocate old techniques, if you outsourced them for pennies.

Would you really feel comfortable outsourcing such an important part of your online marketing? I get those $.01 link requests. I've built a special directory for them too. :)

Are there really any "old techniques"? I mean, has much changed in the last 10 years in this area? Other than Google's inherent reliance on links as one of its many factors?

I would think any links that are non-relevant don't get much play in the equation, not these days anyway. Sure, you could probably work some wonders short term by acquiring hundreds or thousands of non-relevant links but they are typically short lived and it is an ongoing maintenance proposition.

lavelle72




msg:3804054
 7:55 am on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

Maybe because those fewer links bring people who actually get interested in the site, and somehow those people signify that interest to Google.

Quite easily done with bounce rate data.

anand84




msg:3804072
 8:37 am on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

Wonderful article. But I guess it advocates moving away from Search Engine traffic to site-linked traffic. It cannnot work for all kinds of sites, right..?

Shaddows




msg:3804153
 11:05 am on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

Wonderful article. But I guess it advocates moving away from Search Engine traffic to site-linked traffic. It cannnot work for all kinds of sites, right..?

Thats what I was worried about. The article SAYS its about trafic, but in fact it is the MODERN way of getting effective links. Allow me the hubris of quoting myself
Lets look at the elephant in the room, namely SEO, or SERPs performance. The 'old' techniques referenced by the OP (SugarRae not Tedster) are the types of links that G has been devaluing*. The 'new' techniques are the ones that give great ROI, SERPs wise*. Now, I need trafic. I need trafic that converts. On-topic link trafic convert more than SERPs trafic (by a long way), and bounce less. That said, a massive majority of sales comes from SERPs.

In summary, the OP is a valuable guide to SEO, and the point I would make is that they are MODERN LINK BUILDING TECHNIQUES. They bring in trafic, sure, but they do now what recips did in the past, and that is to build your rankings- which incidently brings in trafic!


anand84




msg:3804177
 11:44 am on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

So

2003 - link development with emphasis on Pagerank
2006 - link development with emphasis on Traffic Development
2008 - Social Media Marketing and Twitter Marketing for Traffic Development?

wheel




msg:3804370
 4:19 pm on Dec 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm still oldschool I guess. My biggest referrer is Google and the other SE's. It comes from links on their page. So I concentrate on getting the most traffic out of those links. All the other sites are secondary to the point of being inconsequential.

tedster




msg:3805583
 10:12 pm on Dec 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

Ted, as a point of clarity, are you saying there is a hard limit to the number of recips that improve rankings, either as an absolute number (unlikely) or a proportion of links? Or is it a soft limit depending on niche? Or are you simplifying a statement which may otherwise read something like
"At the margin, the addition of each successive reciprocal link adds less value than the previous link, tending to zero"

More like your third version. I haven't got it pinned down and it's not an easy one to test with any degree of certainty. My gut says it's not going to be a hard number and it is going to be influenced by the niche.

But the take away seems clear given what you can see in the SERPs. Reciprocals are not worth growing if the goal is SE ranking. However, well chosen reciprocals can be a good source of traffic. I'd just stay away from big fat link pages and work those good reciprocals into the content on various pages.

nealrodriguez




msg:3844102
 9:03 pm on Feb 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

Would you really feel comfortable outsourcing such an important part of your online marketing?

well i don't know how effective they are now because i barely rely on seo for my sites anymore; but i boosted a site's ranking in '06 on thousands of directory subs and for pennies each. the site maintained its ranking for about 2 years and still shows up on the bottom of page one - no pun intended - and the top of page 2 after each serp shuffle. the keywords for which it ranked pulled in up to $50K monthly. so is it worth experimenting?

outsourcing will continue to grow and perform work of all degrees of importance.

cnvi




msg:3844153
 10:13 pm on Feb 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

While many websites don't seem to realize it yet, today's search engines (and especially Google) seem to have put a lid on just how far reciprocal links can take you.

You guys continue to throw broad comments like this around without any details. You are short on specifics. I don't know if your claims are referencing articles produced by people who went about link exchanging the wrong way, or if you did it yourselves the wrong way.

I've been in the link exchange business for ten years. My company has tens of thousands of clients, all who reciprocal link with relevant sites in slow and natural volume. The vast majority of them use link exchange as their primary marketing method. The vast majority of them rank in the top 20 for their primary keywords. We have over 40 servers whose sole purpose is to analyze client data and search rankings around the clock. There is not a shred of evidence that search engines have made reciprocals "dead in the water".

Maybe it is how you are generating reciprocals that is causing you to have poor results. I've said here a gazillion times that reciprocals have to be obtained in very slow volume, be highly relevant, and obtained over a long period of time. If you follow those rules, the site will rank with recips. We see it every day with thousands of clients.

Those clients who come to us who were using a blackhat service to obtain reciprocals in high volume in a short period of time do not rank well. It's obvious that the high volume low relevancy is what makes reciprocals "dead in the water".

I just got off the phone with a gentleman who sells a high quality fishing lures product. His business and website is only six months old. He has not purchased a single click. He has not purchased a single link. He has not advertised anywhere. He has been reciprocal linking in the past six months in a slow and steady volume with other sport fishing businesses, or related business that do not sell the same kind of lures he has. He links out to about 600 sites and out of those 600, abour 384 link back to him. So he's obtained about 64 links a month on average in the past six months. He's ranking today #5 in google for his primary keywords. He only links with quality sites highly relevant to his own. His links are categorized in a classic link directory.

Stop berating recips unless you qualify what kind of recips you are referring to.

Matt Cutts has clearly said "We do still encourage people to have interesting and helpful links for their users.† If it (adding a reciprocal link) is good for your users, then go ahead and do it.† Trading links is natural and itís natural to have reciprocal links".

There is a major difference between high volume low relevant reciprocal linking and slow volume high relevancy reciprocal linking.

miamiwebdesign




msg:3850789
 5:59 pm on Feb 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Sugarrae had some really good points back in 2003, makes even more sense in 2009!

stef25




msg:3866222
 12:50 pm on Mar 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

cnvi seems to make some valid points, making me reconsider

nealrodriguez




msg:3867362
 6:11 pm on Mar 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

i have to agree with cnvi; i have worked with companies with a number of enterprise brands that cross link on the same ip; most of the links come from the other parent company's brands. i don't think it's a mystery to the google arachnid that they're all owned by the same company; they clearly post that it is part of the "xyz" family of companies on the footer of each site. these are brands that that generate hundreds of thousands of unique visitors, half of whom are driven from the search engines.

gpilling




msg:3923225
 12:11 am on May 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

I just got off the phone with a gentleman who sells a high quality fishing lures product. His business and website is only six months old. He has not purchased a single click. He has not purchased a single link. He has not advertised anywhere. He has been reciprocal linking in the past six months in a slow and steady volume with other sport fishing businesses, or related business that do not sell the same kind of lures he has. He links out to about 600 sites and out of those 600, abour 384 link back to him. So he's obtained about 64 links a month on average in the past six months. He's ranking today #5 in google for his primary keywords. He only links with quality sites highly relevant to his own. His links are categorized in a classic link directory.

Is this more about the competitiveness of the niche or the technique? Fishing lures are not vi@gra - the competitive landscape is different. I think the 2003 techniques still work great on the less SEO'd niches. With the number of users on the net these days, sometimes those niches pay quite well.

vaniaul




msg:3924423
 5:27 am on Jun 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

The knowledge sharing in this thread is very enriching.

In order to get the best results, it is important to know the Objective of acquiring links -- Rankings, Targeted Traffic or just an increase in the number of links.

dublinmike




msg:3930788
 9:05 pm on Jun 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

If anyone is interested we have worked out the weight difference that Google and Yahoo give site inlinks, and developed a tool which analyses your competitive keyword cluster and tells you which exact inlinks give one site an advantage over another in a straight fight over the same keyword cluster. PM me if you want to try it.

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