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Link Maintenance Matters

     
2:35 pm on Aug 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Someone recently asked me why one website performed so much better than another website. It was super easy to answer - backlinks. One site had backlinks from 19,000 domains and the other site had over 400,000 linking domains. To make matters even more impressive the larger backlink portfolio also had a much better quality aka trustworthy links.

As much as we talk about Google using over 100 ranking factors, we need to remember that Google places vastly different value on each ranking factor. Google has admitted that BACKLINKS ARE ONE OF THE MOST HEAVY RANKING INFLUENCERS. Don't believe me? Go back and watch the Google webmaster videos, interviews with Google engineers and their search conference speeches. Still don't believe me? Do your own research and you will find a very strong correlation between and backlinks & rankings.

So what have you done to maintain your links?

Are you regularly checking your backlink profile to spot and regain backlinks that former link partners deleted? Are you crawling your site for broken internal backlinks? Are you regularly reviewing your competition backlinks to find new link partners? Are you monitoring SERPs to identify and contact new link partners before your competition? Maintaining a strong backlink profile is critical to maintaining your Google rankings. Even if you don't care about Google rankings, you should care about growing referral traffic to your website so your business isn't 100% reliant on Google sending organic traffic. Make sure you invest in your backlinks!

*Disclaimer - I am not saying you should ignore content and other important pieces. Great content makes it much easier to convince websites to link to your useful website. Internet marketing often has best results with a holistic approach - so stop being lazy with your backlinks :)
3:26 pm on Aug 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I have no problem with intelligent paid links. Yes, Google hates them because they know Google rankings are vulnerable to intelligent paid links.

It is smarter to buy links from relevant websites that can legitimately drive traffic. #1 It is harder for Google to spot paid links if they are between relevant sites. #2 You double the impact of your limited budget. Get direct traffic so you are less dependent on Google and also boost your Google rankings.

It is smarter to use the mindset of a permanent paid placement. Buying a link is often a better value than renting a link. It can also be riskier when renting paid links because when Google sees the anchor text & url change each week, it is easy to assume it is a paid link. If Google sees an article with a permanent relevant link in it, then it seems more likely it is an honest editorial link.

In general think less about a lazy link shortcut and think more about traffic generating product placements that convert into real sales. This will help to decrease your risk and increase your profits :)
3:47 pm on Aug 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The problem with "intelligent" paid links is that in many cases you're not the only one they're dealing with. That can become troublesome.
9:29 pm on Aug 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I think you might be confusing confusing the route of lazy paid link networks with intelligently seeking out relevant on-topic websites to build a legitimate direct traffic source. There are many shades of grey when it comes to paid links.

I suggest webmasters think less about spammy link buys and more about investing in strategic marketing efforts. For example Nike supports the Olympics. They spend many dollars to be an official sponsor and are rewarded with many paid links from Olympic websites. If you think only million dollar companies can do that you are shortsighted. Imagine a local podiatrist sponsoring a local running club. The podiatrist could also provide the running club website with some relevant articles about dealing with running foot injuries and embed some links to the podiatrist website. Providing evergreen content with permanent links to your site to be published on a non-spammy relevant website that has a legitimate chance of sending real traffic to your website is a good thing and not something to fear.
11:28 pm on Aug 16, 2016 (gmt 0)

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That's the kind of thing I discussed at Pubcon in 2005/2006 while members of Matts team were taking notes at my sessions. I knew who they were because I knew each of them by name.

I totally get it, I probably invented it as no one else knew how to do it back then.

Site:.edu "bronze sponsors"

Bronze sponsors because they're cheaper than silver but often linked from the same page.
4:12 am on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I totally get it, I probably invented it as no one else knew how to do it back then.


Shades of Al Gore and Donald Trump. :)

Intelligent backlinks will preclude sources leaving a footprint. PBNs, commonly touted as a safe way of backlinks, will also have a footprint unless they are built individually.
9:43 am on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Ok, to all you SEO guys out there - who can tell me why <www.example.com> ranks top in the UK for the search term: <type of widget>?

Ive been in SEO long enough to know about Penguin, Panda and all other Google's do's and dont's! So how is it that this site goes against many significant principles of Google's algorithms yet still ranks?

Is this pure evidence that links DO matter, no matter where from and what kind?

[edited by: aakk9999 at 1:29 pm (utc) on Aug 17, 2016]
[edit reason] No public site reviews as per Charter [/edit]

3:35 pm on Aug 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If you wonder why a site might be ranking in the serps you might want to consider:

a) # of backlinks,
b) power of each linking url,
c) keywords in anchor text from external links,
d) page placement of each link (footer link vs embedded in content)
e) page title of the linking url,
f) level of broken links on the page,
g) age of the backlinks,
i) concentration level of identical anchor text,
i) level of nofollow tags on inbound links,

This is just a partial list of what you need to consider when evaluating the links for a ranking site. I haven't even mentioned the content or technical signals.

ps Just because a site is ranking today does not mean you should blindly copy them. They might be doing some bad stuff that will eventually result in a penalty once the filters re-process the crawl data. Be smart and thoroughly research the many different aspects before rushing to the wrong conclusion.
8:15 am on Aug 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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@martinibuster - I do understand that they bring less value "per link" but they do bring good domain strength and diversity in the overall link portfolio. In the ccTLD space it is even worse where most often the best possible links - value wise are "news" links, basically making inbound SEO efforts an exercise of budget spending, which sucks, as it is closer to what the situation was in 2008, only now big whitelisted websites that do not fear a penalty of any kind offer this "service" (more like extortion). I've seen more and more websites giving mention or no-follow link and then e-mailing me saying we did an article for you guys, perhaps you want this link to become a do-follow? Yes? Then join our "VIP members" for the fee of $99.99 a month.
9:33 am on Aug 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I think martinibuster just summarised my opinion, so I would just add how I usually take care of the links in order to help my mates from the outreach team. It is very simple monthly task:

1. Check the status for all links which I consider quality (the ones got by the team and the ones got as a result of other marketing actions)
2. Check links that the site has lost (monthly) in order to check if there is any that worth the effort/money to be back.
3. Check new links from competitors and try to get the best ones or, if this is not possible, outreach sites with similar profiles to those.

Then every six months I carry out a "link cleanse" because we cannot control all the links the site gets, so in my opinion it is a good idea to do this every 6-12 months.

Hope this helps :)
5:55 pm on Aug 18, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Aristotle, that's totally true. There is no difference if we agreed I place link because someone is my friend, or because the link is paid.
11:43 am on Aug 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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What tools do people recommend to use for finding, tracking, and organizing your backlinks (and your competitors)?
5:19 pm on Aug 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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tools
Mod's note: While we have relaxed our posting restrictions in the forum considerably, SEO tools continue to be an area subject to frequent spam. We discourage promotion in this forum, but we do want to facilitate the sharing of useful information.

For this thread, we'll permit posting the names and descriptions of specific tools, but, as the Google Forum Charter [webmasterworld.com] states, to cut down on misuse, we need to restrict this privilege to members who've been around a while. New members ("New User" status) should not post specifics or links until they reach Junior Member status. Self-promotion is also not permitted. My apologies in advance, but we've discovered that this is necessary.

Additionally, to make the discussion useful, please describe how and why you use the tool, and what special features it has... Don't simply post the tool name.
9:17 pm on Aug 20, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The best one I've evr seen was Yahoo Site Explorer, but it was discontinued.

The only one I've used in a long time is Google Search Console. I think it's pretty good.
7:15 pm on Aug 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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JesterMagic:

What tools do people recommend to use for finding, tracking, and organizing your backlinks (and your competitors)?


Taking the last first: I never ever bother with competitors' backlinks. I have absolutely no desire to become more 'like them'.

As previously mentioned, I also have zero interest in backlinks that don't refer actual human traffic so that eliminates the need for any of the popular backlink tools.

Which leaves my logfiles.
And a very customised analysis database system.
And a headless browser bot for automated checking.

Sadly, none of the free off the shelf stuff is good for much, in my experience.
Note: if I've missed something substantive, I'm happy to be corrected.
9:11 pm on Aug 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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As previously mentioned, I also have zero interest in backlinks that don't refer actual human traffic

Those are usually among your site's best backlinks. But google's algorithm looks at a site's overall collection of backlinks, not just the best ones. And it wouldn't look right if a site doesn't have a mixture of backlinks from different types of sites, both large and small, with a diversity of anchor text, and so on. The combined effect from thousands of lesser-quality backlinks can have just as great an influence on rankings as can a few high-quality backlinks.

Edit oops -I meant to say that traffic-sending backlinks are usually among the best.
11:10 pm on Aug 21, 2016 (gmt 0)

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aristotle:

But google's algorithm looks at a site's overall collection of backlinks, not just the best ones. And it wouldn't look right if a site doesn't have a mixture of backlinks from different types of sites, both large and small, with a diversity of anchor text, and so on. The combined effect from thousands of lesser-quality backlinks can have just as great an influence on rankings as can a few high-quality backlinks.

I don't disagree with a thing that you say.
Except that I treat Google as something that just comes along regardless.
1:17 am on Nov 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I meant to say that traffic-sending backlinks are usually among the best.


Six years ago I posted a discussion that suggesting the use of traffic as a metric. [webmasterworld.com] I got a little push back on the notion and clarified that I didn't use the traffic metric to gauge if a site is worth less, but rather if it is worth more.

I still agree with that view. There are many factors outside of traffic that hint of a link's worth for helping a site rank better, such as outlink and inlink metrics. So even a link that rarely if ever sends traffic can still be useful.

Thus, traffic should not be used as a primary metric like considerations page relevance, inlinks, and outlinks. I would consider traffic as more of a super-metric to indicate a higher level of importance.

Building links matter. Even a modest effort is better than doing nothing.
8:40 pm on Nov 28, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I remember that post :)
I hated you for it for all of 10 seconds, until I also remembered that most webdevs including many here at WebmasterWorld were/are SEO aka Google fixated and unbelievably lazy; given that TBPR comparison was 'Google' and easier than logfile analysis... :)

I am sort of on the same wavelength as you although I don't pay attention to links that send zero traffic - I figure the SEs will do what they will with those.
Note: the exception was one time when I got hit by a massive targeted negative-SEO effort, a very bad few days made good by awesome support of friends, colleagues, and lawyers.

As I've mentioned before I follow up every single referring link and some of the very best have sent fewer than a couple of visitors a year - they were from 'names' in my niches whose sites are rarely visited but whose mentions could be marketed as gold standard testimonials. There is more to a backlink than traffic, more even than traffic quantity or quality. Sometimes a link stands tall just by existing. And the leverage one applies.

As to TBPR, I rather enjoyed the sheeple stampede spectacle... Ah well, there seems a never ending series of webdev/SEO cons and illusions to provide gallows humour relief.
3:07 pm on Feb 17, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I know this thread hasn't been replied to in 3 months but I think a valuable page to read on the subject is the actual Google patent page on assessing web page decay found here: [google.com...]

It was published nearly 10 years ago but likely has not changed a whole lot within their algorithm and offers tidbits of actionable insight, in my opinion. Yes, pages decay and periodic maintenance to refresh them when/where needed is likely beneficial.
10:20 pm on Feb 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Great that this topic is well maintained.

Would like opinion of top people here on link maintenance.

One one site, small biz eCommerce website (but doing better than typical small biz) , has lately been knocked up and down by Google on primary KWs. Main reason , I think, is two-fold: affiliates and content scrapers, but let's look at the first problem: affiliates linking to the site.

Site has 2 affiliates that generated thousands of links. One had literally maybe 10K from 10-15 aff sites, a lot of them in-content and really hard to remove. One recent is a spammer that's generated close to 80K Pinterest links, looks auto-generated, with aff id. I disavowed both of these, but seriously, do I have to disavow Pinterest?

So, right now my backlink profile in WMT looks completely screwed. Money KW, which Pinterest affiliate spammer used as an image alt tag, is #1 , probably by far. Then there are "learn more at example.com" in 7 languages.

So, obviously this site is nowhere in top 100 for main money KW. Eventhough it was 3 years ago and even in top-10, for pretty competitive niche. Seriously, how I can possibly balance 80K Pinterest "money KW" links?

Site is ranking fine on a lot of other KWs, including #1,2,3 etc.

Would suspect a clever competitor negative SEO hit as well.

Any ideas would be appreciated.
10:53 pm on Feb 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Don't your affiliate links go to a network, or are you running it in-house? That can happen with in-house links, one of the reasons to use a network. Ideally they should not be directly linking to your site.
4:05 pm on Feb 22, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@not2easy , both. SAS, and in-house. The two particular affiliates that generated 80K links are using an in-house system.

I wish I'd known that 10 years ago. I am one guy doing 5 jobs, especially since 2013 animal updates took good chunk of my income.,... actually there was no way of knowing this before 2013, and in house tracking system started in 2005 or 6.
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