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All webmasters are so "savvy" now; it's ridiculous
tradewinds



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 12:46 am on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

<rant>

From the middle of the first decade of the new millenium, there has been an increasing awareness of the fact that more and more webmasters, even the "mom and pop" types that are seen as "fodder" that could be taken advantage of (in the form of easily convincing them to give you a "goodwill" backlink for example), are adopting the "what's in it for me?" attitude.

There have been several threads/posts pointing out the issue of how people are becoming more and more stingy with backlinks, and even amateur webmasters who think customizing a blogspot blog is "web design", when asked for a backlink, demand a reciprocal link from a "page that has at least a PR of 3" etc. Of course, placing so much importance on PR only confirms the fact that they are amateurs, but I digress.

And so us experienced webmasters turn to warmer, more "give and you shall receive" approaches (that require a greater investment of effort) to link and brand building, including various ever-evolving creative ideas such as conducting interviews to attract links.

In fact, some webmasters have changed their focus to branding, word-of-mouth and diversification of traffic sources instead of SEO. At which point they notice that even such avenues are saturated/used/abused/the targets jaded.

Let me give you an example: martinibuster made a great post on creating mindshare or branding through genuine involvement and contribution to online communities. This is about as solid and white hat as it gets. As martinibuster noted, "people can smell self promotion a mile away". Okay, so you decide to become a valued contributor to a forum related to a niche website of yours, with a non-spammy link in your signature to your incredibly useful informational site. So you find a suitable related forum, register, and since you're here for the long-term, decide to read the forum rules/faq. You're OK'ing each rule as your scroll down until you reach the part about signatures. And it reads something like this: "No links to thematically related sites". And I thought signatures with links to unrelated sites were spammy! Disallowing affiliate links / commercial sites is one thing, but this? Competition is becoming more cutthroat; one day novice webmasters may have to resort to promoting their websites on the streets. And this wasn't even in a "webmaster" or "SEO" forum; it was a non-technical forum.

Frowning on black-hat tactics is understandable, but increasingly things that were considered white-hat before are being treated as undesirable. The "hippie" days of the internet characterized by generosity and opportunity are long gone. Now it's all about the money, and this attitude has seeped into every corner of the web in a VERY preemptive manifestation.

</rant>

[edited by: tradewinds at 12:57 am (utc) on May 6, 2010]

 

tangor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 3:37 am on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am reminded of a movie... "Build it, they will come..." and that's how biz is these days. I create content. The SEs index it. If I've done my job right folks will find it. Back links come if my content is of interest to others. Occasionally I'll find sites where I'm interested and link to them. On some special content sites I might even let them know I exist with equally special content, but I don't worry if they link or not.

Rant above is commonsense, agreed to specifics, and brings forward the difficult problem. There can only be so many above the fold... (and that fold is getting shorter as the SEs (bing and google both) keep adding "enhancements" to their results.

Just a case of independent farmers frantically dealing with agri-biz conglomerates for market share. </no rant, reality>

Goodfellas



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 12:35 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

If you're going after "mom & pop" links, more often than not, you're wasting your time. A few related authority links will get you much farther than hundreds of ammateur site links. Authority sites are authority for a reason; these sites don't link purely for commercial means, rather for reasons that complement their webpages with 'insightful' information that they don't possess. If you can provide just that, seek them out and effectively and subtley hint that a link to you would be beneficial for your target site's audience, then you're in business!

These days, there's only so many links worth chasing after.

Mark_A

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 12:51 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

I am at present working on a company site which is basically a B2B bricks & mortar business with little more than product information on the site.

I am finding it very hard to find people who will link to the site. Partly because of what the OP says. People are disguising their links which makes them not so valuable but they are not delivering traffic instead. Informational sites like wikipedia are removing commercial links and also anyway applying the nofollow tag which seems at first glance to work.

I started enthusiastically into a link building program but now am starting to flag.

Goodfellas you mention authority sites, and I agree, their links are more valuable than niche never looked at directories, but they often disguise their links so as not to pass any PR, so it is left to whether they might deliver some traffic.

How is a B2B B&M site focussed on products, to get backlinks these days?

tradewinds



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 1:08 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Goodfellas you mention authority sites, and I agree, their links are more valuable than niche never looked at directories, but they often disguise their links so as not to pass any PR, so it is left to whether they might deliver some traffic.


Exactly. If an authority site sees something "worth linking to", they'll probably expand their own site and add similar content themselves rather than helping a potential competitor. In the case that they do link, they use every method possible not to provide link juice. For example, outbound links in Guardian.co.uk actually redirect through URL shortening services like tinyurl.com!

Mark_A

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 1:35 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

I found a company (in a former life) who had abandonned basic link building and instead had created a powerful forum on their industry. They and two non competitive companies were linked to from the homepage but apart from that the forum was pretty link free. It was a popular forum with perhaps a TBPR6/10 I think they picked up quite a bit of PR from that one link.

Brett_Tabke

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 3:36 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

The LinkLess Internet:

no one links honestly any more.
- all links are suspect.
- links are currency
- page rank is specifically worth money.
- no one links freely
- those that do link freely are considered naive.
- articles that once contained great links - no longer link to story targets.

I don't think google did it by design, but consider if:
- you click a link from a Google SERP
- visit a page that has no interesting off site links
- you turn around and go back to Google.

Google used to say they were about recording the 'random walk' around the web (as stated in the Page Rank Patent). However, as the link has died, the ramdon link walk has died with it. No wonder they had to devalue page rank as an algo input - the internet simply isn't built that way anymore.

tradewinds



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 3:43 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

I found a company (in a former life) who had abandonned basic link building and instead had created a powerful forum on their industry. They and two non competitive companies were linked to from the homepage but apart from that the forum was pretty link free. It was a popular forum with perhaps a TBPR6/10 I think they picked up quite a bit of PR from that one link.

Reminds me of this thread [webmasterworld.com ]

Not by design, but think about this: if you click a link from Google and go to a page, and that page has no interesting off site links - then you are going to turn around and go back to Google.

I'm not sure about this conspiracy.. there are still plenty of nofollow/redirecting + target="_blank"/"_new" outbound links to be found everywhere, plus any serious webmaster would invest heavily into user retention / lowering bounce rates.

That said, I do believe that the powers that be are trying to slowly strangle the possibilities for traffic independence. Facebook is the next step in the Orwellian evolution process of the internet world after Google as it wants you to do everything while logged-in within its massive, CIA-funded walled garden.

Like Alex Tew and his million-dollar-homepage, increasingly the best way for the individual to maximize his/her chances of success on the internet will be viral/word-of-mouth marketing/publicity. Like linkbait however, expect this form of marketing to become incredibly "noisy" and saturated.

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 4:14 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

You're OK'ing each rule as your scroll down until you reach the part about signatures. And it reads something like this: "No links to thematically related sites". And I thought signatures with links to unrelated sites were spammy! Disallowing affiliate links / commercial sites is one thing, but this?

So, they would rather have people who are interested in freely contributing to a community than those who would just sign up for what they get out of the deal? Sounds like good thinking to me...

It probably saves quite a few issues for them, including keeping people from trying to steal their traffic. Not everything people do is about or for search engines... You only decided to sign up to promote your own website, and personally IDK if I would want you around if that's why you joined my forum either.

Your whole reason for joining was self promotion and they stopped you from joining (it sounds like) I think they might be a bit more 'savvy' than you think.

[edited by: TheMadScientist at 4:17 pm (utc) on May 6, 2010]

graeme_p

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 4:16 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

@tangor, agreed, people will link to good content, but that can still make link building as an activity in itself difficult - people link to you when they need to, not when you ask them to.

@Brett, most of the sites I read seem to have plenty of links.

In any case, there have already been people who were reluctant to link - if only because they thought it improved stickiness.

explorador

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 4:18 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've been working on the web for 10 years, I see the change. It felt better being a webmaster in the past years than now. Now any monkey grabs a free CMS and copy my stuff, no link provided and still they want me to add a link to their site. Now almost everybody claims to be a webmaster.

...amateur webmasters who think customizing a blogspot blog is "web design", when asked for a backlink, demand a reciprocal link from a "page that has at least a PR of 3" etc. Of course, placing so much importance on PR only confirms the fact that they are amateurs, but I digress.

My email used to stay cleaner, now beside spam I get silly emails from ridiculous sites (sorry, blogs!) asking for links to their copy paste sites or MFA.

And so us experienced webmasters turn to warmer, more "give and you shall receive" approaches (that require a greater investment of effort) to link and brand building, including various ever-evolving creative ideas such as conducting interviews to attract links.

True. Now on several forums/sites I feel the need to keep my sites unknown, secret, or else the others begin to copy content. It's like cold war. About interviews, it seriously hurts when you work hard to get people to work with you on a project and then you find lots of sites quoting your interview without even mentioning your work. (even newspapers)

I seriously think that a lot of new technologies allowed a lot of people with no seriousness about work to put up sites and blogs with no work, just stealing. In addition to what you say (which I totally agree), the term webmaster doesn't mean "colleague" anymore, now it means competition, even a possible content thieve.

It's understandable being so protective and defensive nowadays. People want to profit from your work.

[edited by: explorador at 4:23 pm (utc) on May 6, 2010]

physics

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 4:20 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

There are more people searching for goods and services online than ever. A top 10 result in the SEs is worth more than ever. On that note, anyone wanting to put SEO on the shelf go ahead - less competition :)

carleisenstein



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 4:51 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't think on-page SEO is dead by any means. If you get your on-page SEO right then you can make your inbound links work much harder for you. But I've pretty much given up on dedicated SEO link building strategies. I'd much rather devote time, money and effort to good social media work and PR to generate genuine traffic - and the side effect of that is good links.

An excellent PR strategy generates far more valuable links than dedicated SEO link building work IMHO. (Even though you do have less control over anchor text).

I think the days of link building agencies is nearing the end - they were never very good anyway in my experience. Instead I think online PR agencies, well-rounded digital marketing agencies, and social media agencies (to an extent) will become the norm. SEO will about making sure your site isn't shooting your other efforts in the foot, and then consultancy to guide your other marketing and make the most of it from a link perspective.

MrHard



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 5:01 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

One of the places I most enjoy competing against these days is a company that contacted us as they were developing their web presence. Apparently they (or their SEO) contacted all the competition, used the backlinks to get very favorable listings in the subject matter, and then dropped the links page eventually.

[edited by: MrHard at 5:04 pm (utc) on May 6, 2010]

chicagohh

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 5:02 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sheesh... I read that SEO is dead or dying every few months. I really think maybe YOUR VERSION of SEO is dead, but without hesitation I can assure you that SEO is alive and well. Clients are willing to pay $,$$$ each month for quality work that has measurable results.

As clients have matured we do many more measurable things such as conversion analysis, split testing, Internet Marketing etc. This is NOT SEO.

SEO is alive and well for competitive people who TEST and PROVE their work for clients.

tradewinds



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 5:22 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

SEO is far from dead, it's just that it's becoming so much more difficult to get your foot in the door, along with the inherent problems of relying too much on SE traffic. My main point was almost conspiratorial: once a webmaster makes the (wise) decision to diversify his sources of traffic, he realizes that competition for other ways of marketing your website are just as fierce as SEO as large companies have preemptively cut off such possibilities by saturating the web with their own monopolistic ventures in anything that gets any significant exposure.

To use the analogy made by tangor, it's the real-world equivalent of a contract farm worker working on a conglomerate-controlled farm deciding to go independent by setting up his own small farm. But then he realizes that there is not an inch of free land left in the world. You compete in the system, or you starve.

[edited by: tradewinds at 5:35 pm (utc) on May 6, 2010]

willybfriendly

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 5:29 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Are we talking SEO, or link building? They are not always the same thing.

I have pretty much viewed links as a source of traffic for the past decade. That G made them valuable for rankings was only an added benefit.

If a link does not produce any stand alone traffic, what is it really worth? On the other hand, if a link provides even a trickle of traffic (say 10 visitors a month), that traffic may in fact be more valuable that the click and leave traffic coming from the SE's. A thousand links providing 10 visits a month is 10k visits. Those drips can, in time, fill the bucket to overflowing.

I commonly tell people that if they want to rank in the top 10 they need a site worthy of top 10 ranking. For too long "SEO's" have substituted dodgy link building programs in the place of building a quality site.

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 5:34 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

Frowning on black-hat tactics is understandable, but increasingly things that were considered white-hat before are being treated as undesirable.


Could you list those so called "White Hat" tactics that are being treated as undesirable? What exactly are you referring to? I don't see anything written in protocols that is being treated as undesirable.

tradewinds



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 5:47 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

willyb: I was referring to the intrinsic value of the links themselves. In the example I posted, it was about branding and initial exposure traffic from forum signature links. In this case retention of visitors and gaining a permanent audience would be critical as both direct traffic and SEO benefits would be low.

pageoneresults: I'll use forums as an example again. A decade ago, dropping viagra and gambling links were considered spam, but being a reasonable contributor and occasionally including external links to relevant websites was no reason to be banned. Today, it's all about intent and you could have the potential to become a captivating and authoritative figure in a forum, but you still won't be getting those links to your related website. I'd like to emphasize that this example isn't about backlink building for SEO; it's about being denied even a relatively small reward in the forum of nofollow signature links if only for the exposure to a resource that you know will keep visitors coming back for more.

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 6:15 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

it's about being denied even a relatively small reward in the forum of nofollow signature links if only for the exposure to a resource that you know will keep visitors coming back for more.


I wouldn't allow signature links, they're black holes if you ask me, especially in a forum environment. If the forum owner were smart, they would have a profile for the user where links can then be shared, I see it done by quite a few quality resources, WebmasterWorld being one of them.

I don't mess with that nofollow. Tried it once based on suggestions here and then removed it. That one just didn't feel right to me and I spoke up about many moons ago - about a year ago. :)

Back to Signature Links. < That's an old school technique that is pretty much a waste of bandwidth. It's much more powerful to use a profile as the single point of link equity for members. You only need one link, not 1,000 links. ;)

As far as hat colors go, I'm still interested in those techniques that were considered white-hat before are being treated as undesirable.

tradewinds



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 6:19 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

TheMadScientist: I just realized a flaw in my thinking. What I could do in the situation in my original post is contact the forum owner, be upfront about my website/intentions and perhaps negotiate a deal that involves regular, quality contributions. After that it would be up to the forum owner to see whether I'm worth it. Reminder to self: internet marketing is about interacting with PEOPLE and relationships.

pageoneresults: I have to say I agree with the use of profile links over signatures for quality branding/marketing. The lack of signatures in WW is probably a contributing factor in its popularity and quality.

By the way, I just noticed a very, very relevant thread made back in 2007
[webmasterworld.com ]

[edited by: tradewinds at 6:32 pm (utc) on May 6, 2010]

jeyKay

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 6:24 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

How is a B2B B&M site focussed on products, to get backlinks these days?


Not to sound like a cold-hearted jerk, but I am glad that people are becoming more and more saavy and that its become harder and harder for the "average" website to get links.

There was a time, not too long ago, where results were being crowded with purely commercial, filler-content websites -- and where the hard-earned and time consuming work and grind of useful and unique content seemed to be taking a backseat.

As Tangor mentioned, "build it and they will come". I simply don't believe SEO is about getting anything and anyone to the top. It should be about maximizing your exposure (rankings) with what you are getting purely from being a useful website.

willybfriendly

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 6:47 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

In the example I posted, it was about branding and initial exposure traffic from forum signature links. In this case retention of visitors and gaining a permanent audience would be critical as both direct traffic and SEO benefits would be low.


Actually, I have found forums to be a very good source of traffic - primarily from sig and/or profile links. I discovered Martinibuster's blog (which sadly seems to have died the death of apathy) via WebmasterWorld, as well as a couple of others that I visit occassionally.

I don't mess with that nofollow. Tried it once based on suggestions here and then removed it. That one just didn't feel right to me and I spoke up about many moons ago - about a year ago.


Agreed. Nofollow was created by SE's to counter the commoditization of links caused by SE's. Fair enough, at that point, but when the big G started expanding the use to cover things like paid links I refused to play the game. I have seen no ill effects, and I administer sites that have more than a few "paid" links on them.

But, what is a paid link? Does that link from the Chamber of Commerce site constitute a paid link?

I'll leave it for the link arbiters, uh, SE's to sort all that out...

wheel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 7:45 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

no one links honestly any more.
- all links are suspect.
- no one links freely
- those that do link freely are considered naive.
- links are currency
- page rank is specifically worth money.
- articles that once contained great links - no longer link to story targets.

That is so true.

I'm just about done being a pure whitehat. We can crow all we like about getting links with good content, but if you've got a new website or an older site you're trying to move up, you can forget about it being as simple as 'provide some great content and then chase some links to it'.

I've been working on links to my site for the last few months. When I did this a few years ago, I was successful. Not over the top in terms of volume, but I could get some pretty decent links.

Today I've stepped up the quality of my content substantially. Yet the same techniques I used to chase links (find authorities, approach individually) yields almost 0 results. Every single website out there is just too tired of link requests that even the highest quality request gets deleted/ignored.

In short, building quality content then finding authorities and asking for a link is dead.

The link is now 100% a commodity. It's not a citation or vote anymore, it's a negotiated tool.

And that means that Google may have created it's own worst nightmare. If links can't be trusted as citations anymore - not from anyone - then Google's potentially got a problem over the mid term.

They can screw with the algorithm all they want - they're no longer measuring links as votes of authority. They're just trying to tweak the algorithm to screw around with different sets of what are effectively paid links.

Alcoholico

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 10:59 pm on May 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

And that means that Google may have created it's own worst nightmare.


No, they haven't. They are exactly where they wanted to be from the start. Want traffic? Buy AdWords or die.

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 3:08 am on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have a suspicion - with just a few data points - that linking out to other related sites HELPS your ranking on Google these days. There's something going on down in the corners of the algo.

I recently bujilt a site for a friend and we included a minimum of two outbound links on every informational page. Her traffic and rankings are rather amazing for a site with rather modest intentions.

Bentler

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 3:35 am on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't know if linking out helps, but I think linking to quality helps, whether its on-site or off-site. I suspect that's why wikipedia does so well-- due more to the browsing metrics than links influence in my observation.

I link freely within general theme & quality boundaries, with massive pr hemorrhaging, oozing, given away for free, but my pages rank at or near the top out of tens of millions of competing pages.

buckworks

WebmasterWorld Administrator buckworks us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 3:39 am on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

A search engine needs to figure out two main things:

- What is this page about?
- Is it a good page about its topic?

Relevant links out could definitely help with the first question, and possibly with the second as well.

stuntdubl

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 4:18 am on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is why there was always a landgrab going on. Buy the sites with links, or build them over the last few years. You may have a bit of time left just yet, but the days of the little guys owning the serps like it was the wild west are slowly dwindling to a close.

plumsauce

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4127859 posted 5:24 am on May 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

I link ... just because.

If I find an external tool that I like and use, I link to it with a normal link and a little blurb about why the link exists. If I *really* like the tool, I write the site owner and let them know and encourage them to keep up the good work.

The link is to help out site users and to help out the other site. I *never* ask for a link back because it would devalue the accolade that I am trying to express to the other site.

Sites wanting to buy links, or begging links get polite answers. But, it is always in the negative because they do not have a place on a b2b site.

BTW, those links, at least in theory, cut support queries. So, its a little bit of selfishness at play :D

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