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Link building case study
wheel




msg:4076546
 8:16 pm on Feb 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've just launched a new website and am going to back it up with a link building campaign. I'm going to document my link building here, and welcome any comments.

Notes:
- link building pros will find this boring. Perhaps small indie business owners will find this useful (which is what I am).
- I'm starting out with great content. I'm in a competitive niche and a regular old website won't cut it.
- I'm looking for 'people' to give me links, not 'sites'.
- I expect folks will find I don't have a lot of surprises.
- current stats, Google has <30 pages indexed (I just launched 4000-5000 pages). Yahoo shows <3500 backlinks.

[edited by: wheel at 8:20 pm (utc) on Feb 8, 2010]

 

JS_Harris




msg:4080428
 12:04 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Be mindful of how many resources you commit to hunting down backlinks, a good majority of them devalue themselves over time and your resources may be better spent improving your content in the long run.

Even the best links, like a link on WW would be to a webmaster site, lose potency over time. When the page or article falls back to page 100+ of an archive for example it's value is diminished. Aim for high visibility pages that are linked from the index page of a domain for the best returns.

wheel




msg:4080503
 2:29 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

JS, that has not been my experience at all.

I suppose if you're talking blog posts, then maybe they lose potency as they fall of the home page. But I don't build links that way (centered around blogs or articles).

One way inbound links built from solid pages on solid sites I don't believe lose potency. As I've noted previously, the very first site I did SEO for 5+ years ago ranks today on the front page, with no SEO in that interval. The links haven't lost their potency.

mcomet




msg:4080761
 8:30 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

I just launched 4000-5000 pages


This is what boggles my mind. I have a hard time coming up with 20-30 pages of decent content...

I realize this thread is about link dev, but do you care to offer some info about how you manage to create so many pages of "great content" as a one-man show?

Thanks for posting this, it's motivating!

wheel




msg:4080767
 8:45 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

I realize this thread is about link dev, but do you care to offer some info about how you manage to create so many pages of "great content" as a one-man show?

Specifics? Can't. But it's taken a year or two of hard work. But I do nothing anyone else can't do.

Let me go back to my mortgage broker example. Joe mortgage broker goes to his local public library and finds some sort of mortgage rate information going back over 10 years. He copies it, takes it home, then spends hours, weeks, months, entering and collating all that data so it's useful. Then joe mortgage broker publishes it on his website. Hard work? Sure. Genius? Not even barely. Why don't people do this kind of thing? No idea.

If you want to get right goofy with that, drop a couple of grand on a statistician to find some correlations between local mortgage rates, housing prices, housing demand, or whatever else mortgage rates depend on.


But on page two, I found a university that actually has formed a division on the history of my niche. I've scoured that section of the website, there's no external links that I can see. However they have had symposiums on the subject and published the list of speakers, all professors from around the world. So I'm going to do two things. First, I'm going to email the webmaster - he probably won't link to me, but heck, maybe he forwards the email on to profs at the university as a source of material.
The webmaster emailed me back. No link mentioned, but he thanked me for my content.

I've got some additional content going live hopefully today, then this week I want to add some further content at which point I'm going to go back after that gov link I mentioned earlier.

philipjterry




msg:4080790
 9:29 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

If it's too historical don't you run the risk of loosing interest? You seem to have the attention of link targets but what about users...?

wheel




msg:4080812
 10:13 pm on Feb 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

the content is not for the user. The content is for links. I don't make any money when people read my content.

When someone lands on a random page of content, the focus is on a specific conversion point on the page.

And I have other specific pages for the user.

wheel




msg:4081557
 8:27 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've got my new calculator online. So I went back to the page of that gov't agency that has links to about 5-6 external sites. I couldn't find a webmaster email, so I emailed the general mailbox and asked them to forward it.

In my email, I laid out three reasons why the information on my website was important to their visitors (people in this country). I gave specific examples of why their visitors would want access to my data, as well as noting that my data is unique.

Then I had a look at their current external links and visited each one. Most of them were only peripherally on topic, not close enough for me to ask for a link. Two were.

One has a long list of links - I'm going to ask them for a link and then visit each of the pages they link to. They have a whack of backlinks including 62 government backlinks - so a link from them would sure be nice.

The second one is a huge page of external links on a .edu domain (the page is a pr7). The page hasn't been touched since 2003, but I found the site owner and he's still kicking and has other pages. I'm going to visit all the relevant pages on his list of links and also ask him for a link, see if I can spark him to update his page. (note: I'll probably check all his broken links while I'm at it...give him a good reason to make some changes.).

wheel




msg:4081584
 8:57 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

The prof's site I mentioned above, his links page lists every college/university in my country that has a potentially relevant department.

Now I'm faced with about 30 .edu type pages, each with a huge faculty list.

I'm a bit overwhelmed by this in terms of where to start - at the beginning I guess. There's a whole lot of potential link opportunity here. I bet I get a handful of .edu's from here alone. But I'm going to leave it for tomorrow, I've still to to get work done.

Musicarl




msg:4081587
 9:02 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

Wheel, are you running ads on your site?

I keep my sites ad-free until they get some significant traffic, since I think that gives them a better chance of gathering links.

wheel




msg:4081681
 11:21 pm on Feb 16, 2010 (gmt 0)

No ads on my site. I run a small business that brings in it's sales via our website. I'm not a website or SEO, we're basically a bricks and mortar business where or marketing is done online. Any traffic I want converting into my product sales, not my competitors who advertise via adsense.

wheel




msg:4081733
 1:12 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Got an email from that prof with pr7 page. No link yet, we're talking though.

jeyKay




msg:4081792
 3:05 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Wheel, your approach to link building seems very similar to mine. Although I don't think that there are many .edu's and/or .gov's in the niches I work in, so I must deal mostly with more commercial-oriented sites to get my "authority links" which can be alot more touchy as they happen to be more seo-saavy and harder to get links from in my opinion

Have you the same experience and if so, how would you approach it? I find that sticking to link quantity rather than quality would be best approach.

wheel




msg:4082053
 11:54 am on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

Although I don't think that there are many .edu's and/or .gov's in the niches I work in, so I must deal mostly with more commercial-oriented sites to get my "authority links" which can be alot more touchy as they happen to be more seo-saavy and harder to get links from in my opinion

Funny, that's what everyone in my industry says.

philipjterry




msg:4082085
 12:31 pm on Feb 17, 2010 (gmt 0)

High or low AOV? Don't need to give specifics.

What books are you reading (out of idle curiosity?).

Sounds like your line requires sharpening up of the old Google Analytics skills...

I just found this on Yahoo answers just to rattle things up a little.

If you want to acquire the link from .gov and .edu, you should 'sell' your writing content to personnel of .gov and .edu then explain it about the benefits of writing content to government employees, faculty members and student. Once you convince those people who buys your article content your link will put in .gov and .edu sites.

johnnie




msg:4082656
 12:48 am on Feb 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Another trick I found helpful for building backlinks for a branded site, is searching for the brand name + "news" or something. If you or your client's brand is big enough, you'll find many non-linked mentions. If you play your cards right, these might well be low hanging fruits.

jeyKay




msg:4082669
 1:13 am on Feb 18, 2010 (gmt 0)

Funny, that's what everyone in my industry says.


You must have lazy SEOs in your industry from the looks of it. Then again, I think many "SEOs" are lazy.

CainIV




msg:4084194
 6:05 am on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Link building is work, and those who work harder to find links outside of the mean average link graph that other websites share often find success. It is easy to backlink mine other competitors and get links on par or better than what they have, but digging into older resources that are untouched and of course making connections is key.

A further benefit to those types of links is that they tend to weigh heavily in favor when a diverse inbound link profile is created, so a few off topic links will not impact the website nearly as much as they would with a website that has less authority links to their website.

Like martini quoted previously, a link on a page is only as good as the links to that page and website, so if you have strong links on a strong EDU you have acquired that you know will be there a long time, a great strategy is to of course build links to that article or page.

Edwin




msg:4084694
 11:24 am on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Any more updates? This has been a very enlightening thread so far...

philipjterry




msg:4084741
 12:57 pm on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Seconded

wheel




msg:4084774
 2:12 pm on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

Overall status:
Google now has 1200 pages indexed.
I've put up a new PPC campaign.
I got sidetracked getting together my content for a viral link building campaign (I've contracted to an external outfit on this. It was clear to me that I'm not an expert on that, and I don't want to waste my time learning the mechanics.).
My rankings had dropped a bit lately (still front page, just not #1) so I had to scramble on the PPC. They mostly recovered again the last few days. To me that's indicative that I need a stronger link profile, which I knew anyway.
The PR7 link wouldn't link to the site because it was commercial (I deliberately set up my link bait so that the natuaral place to link to it was my homepage). So I set up a subpage just for that link. No word back yet.

I haven't done much other than that. Remember that I'm not an SEO, I have a small independent business so I've got an office to run. The link building stuff gets sidelined sometimes. In any event, I can start to see the light again today so I'll be back at it again in the next couple of days.

BaseballGuy




msg:4085745
 6:09 pm on Feb 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hey Wheel:

When emailing for links do you ever run into the:

"Sure we'll give you a link back....just link back to us first"

type of email response....and how do you deal with it?

wheel




msg:4085796
 7:30 pm on Feb 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Never. Ever.

My emails don't get perceived as asking for a link. I'm suggesting to them why it's beneficial to their site to give me a link. I don't ask for a link. I tell them 'you should list me because you will help your visitors find this material.'

It's one of the things I think are important - you don't ask for a link, you tell them why it's to their benefit to give you a link.

In some cases I don't even use the word link. I ask for a listing, or a reference. And I certainly don't ask for anchor text (though I will sometimes make subtle suggestions).

Perhaps there's better ways to do this - I've not tried them. I just take a very laid back soft sell approach, and never let on that I'm link begging.

wheel




msg:4087057
 2:31 pm on Feb 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I note the following:
1) I doubt I could get links at all today without content - content that's basically research level. 'Good' is no longer good enough.
2) I used to be able to mine top ranking sites for backlink material. The top ranking sites (I know this is a common refrain) in my niche are there with a backlink profile I don't want on my site - directory/blog/bought low end stuff. I'm finding it more difficult than usual to find good sources to ask for backlinks.

I've found some lists of sites that I've mined, and have sent out about 5-6 email requests yesterday.

My next step is to do some searches to find all the colleges that have a program in my niche and start pestering profs.

wheel




msg:4087061
 2:33 pm on Feb 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Also - on one of Google's birthday's they put up a site where you could do searches from a 10 year old data set. I'd like to hammer on that a bit - is that site still up - does anyone have a link?

philipjterry




msg:4087113
 4:08 pm on Feb 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have a similar strategy - go after links which my competitors would struggle like hell with. Anyone can mine competitor backlinks. Long term this will payoff.

Wheel, don't you find the phone more powerful than a cold email on first contact? Building rapour is far easier... especially if you have a persuasive voice (which I do) being a former salesman :)

Edwin




msg:4088386
 12:35 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Also - on one of Google's birthday's they put up a site where you could do searches from a 10 year old data set. I'd like to hammer on that a bit - is that site still up - does anyone have a link?


It's not around any more. Here's what their page says: "From September 29 to October 31, 2008, this page allowed you to search the Google index of 2001. We featured this approximation of our 2001 search engine to celebrate our 10th birthday."

kflanagan




msg:4090681
 2:13 pm on Mar 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

There is some great strategic thinking around link building here, however, it really suits someone who is working on their own site and can put that type of time / effort in.

If you are working on client sites and spent months creating great content, let them know you are then contacting people to gather links, to eventually end up with 2 or 3 links, the client will roll eyes and go with the SEO guys who say they can get instant results (probably from paid links).

I am not saying the link building in this thread is not better but the reason a lot of your competitors have "lazy" link profiles is because clients usually want to see instance results and don't understand the value in long lasting strategies.

This is just from personal experience. If I am working on my own sites, I know things I do now will eventually yield results further down the line. This doesn't work so well with clients.

Oh, I also think the comment Wheel made about structuring his site so the natural place to link would be the home page, is an important point. A lot of link bait ends up on it's own page and has no relevance to the commercial side of the website (it's just been made to get a link). This is a fail for two reasons, links going to the wrong page (although you can do a 301 redirect, which maybe considered cloaking, or some internal linking stuff to pass juice back to target page), but also, you are bringing in traffic that will probably do nothing but bounce.

great post.

wheel




msg:4090705
 2:37 pm on Mar 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

There is some great strategic thinking around link building here, however, it really suits someone who is working on their own site and can put that type of time / effort in.

I agree with your comments, including the eye roll. I'm a small business owner that does my own SEO, so I don't have any concerns about scaling.

I note however, that I believe my method of building links will outrank what most SEO firms will provide. Not all - there's some SEO firms that do know how to scale what I do by hand and those ones scare me. But most SEO firms that use the obviously scalable techniques? Can still be beaten by very, very hard work. (it's harder than it used to be, the scalable techniques seem to be working better than ever...but it is doable).

On a different tact, I'm not sure I completely agree with the sentiment that I have the time to do this level of SEO whereas an SEO firm doesn't. I have a 'real job' that eats most of my week, all the stuff surrounding running a small business with staff. Seems like SEO firms are the ones that should have the time to do this level of work. And they do - but of course the ones that do this type of stuff are expensive, because it's hard work. Which gets back to your point that many clients won't pay high 'costs' :).

kflanagan




msg:4090726
 2:57 pm on Mar 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

"I have a 'real job' that eats most of my week, all the stuff surrounding running a small business with staff"

Sorry Wheel, I didn't mean to imply this was all you did :). What I meant was an SEO firm needs to see an ROI. It really comes down to how much time your strategy would take + resources and how much the client is:

A. Willing to pay those costs
B. Willing to wait for those results

A lot of large SEO firms can turn results around a lot quicker by utilizing gray hat techniques that cost them less (labor intensive stuff can be outsourced), plus gets them paid quicker.

I have no doubt there are companies who will / and are running strategies like yours and paying for them. But these would be in the minority.

Pinta




msg:4091110
 10:31 pm on Mar 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Wheel, great thread!

Pumkin_Dan




msg:4093167
 7:56 am on Mar 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am just delving into the wild world of link building for my site and found this discussion extremely valuable.

Thankyou.

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