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The Art of Google Link Building

The aftermath of the Over Optimization Penalty which is Googleze for link building with exact match anchor text and Panda’s machine learning algo assigning Quality Scores to sites and most link builders are scratching their heads wondering what techniques are still effective.

The conundrum for link builders is links are definitely under scrutiny and adding further to it is the overall de-emphasizing of the linkgraph by adding other signals like the socialgraph, Universal SERPs and freshness. Add to that a barrage of Unnatural Linking Messages in Google Webmaster Tools a couple of huge spam networks de-indexed and you have SEO’s panicking like no other time since the Florida Update!

Yes guest blogging, curation sites and other advanced link targets can take the place of some of the low level foundational link building. The good news is the spammers selling 1000’s of comments and reviews at $1.380 are likely now selling Social profile and other useless services which will do even less than the comments and product reviews did for rankings. IMO, for the foreseeable future anchor text is under scrutiny with a “normalizing” of the linkgraph because it is not normal for keywords to be used in link text as anyone will tell you who was around before Google became the 1400 lb. Gorilla lurking in the corner.

Start With a Plan and Goals

One way you can plan to sustain this activity is to add value to your efforts by including ebooks, PDF case studies/reports and video embeds from a YouTube Channel in your posts, PR endeavors and blogger outreach. The digital assets are used to build an audience and brand awareness in communities and the attribution link(s) for the digital assets add link equity to your page hosting the digital assets on your site. Adding high quality digital assets to your content bring something to the table not many other guest posters can offer when looking for a “home” for your brilliant work. The easiest way to find success on the internet is to start with a plan!

This is a content strategy targeting Universal SERPs with digital assets. The goal is to raise and maintain visibility with new audiences in new communities based around sharing the types of digital assets they prefer to share. Images on Pinterest, Flickr and Facebook. Video on YouTube and Facebook and a myriad of other communities and the way content can be leveraged during production to promote the final outcome as I discussed in this earlier SEW post “Digital Asset Management Strategies to Grow Your Audience“.

One of the toughest aspects of any Social campaign is to find the KPI and metrics that enable you to quantify your activity. The beauty of content campaigns using digital assets in Social Networks is that goals of raising visibility and engagement with the audience have built in KPI (Key Performance Indicators) with shares likes and comments, re-pins on Pinterest etc. So one of the biggest short comings of Social Media Optimization is overcome with little difficulty.

SERPs Out! Get Your Nose Outta’ da’ Data

We start by doing our SERP out review. We’re looking for Universal SERP opportunities that can be exploited with digital assets. The video above is a trailer for a podcast. We couldn’t get the podcasts in the results for love nor money. The video above is in 14th spot in the ‘Google over optimization penalty’ (no ‘) SERP and we have not BUILT any links so all the embeds and resulting links pushing the rank are natural and what I call Reactive Links because the link is obtained by the webmaster/user reacting to the content and adding it to their site or sharing it in Social Networks.

However, because the Regulators is a news show we will be doing outreach and hopefully bloggers will include the videos in their posts. We have also been doing themes on the shows so we have videos with strong relationships between the tags, titles and embeds in relevant posts. Blogger Outreach with content of high quality will raise awareness and visibility further and still look very natural in the back link profile.

Keyword Discovery is Complete

When we are promoting websites we definitely seek out relationships with influencers which end up providing links, traffic and down the road… rankings. However, in our experience it is best to meet the needs of others first so we will offer guest posts on our site with promotion in Social Media and elsewhere depending on the quality of the post. We have also offered “anonymous data” from a large industry specific site and often add “perspective” blog candidate’s RSS feed to some appropriate Social venues as an opening gesture.

Generally when we speak to people about Guest Blogging about the time they realize they have to find the opportunities is when you get “the look”. You know the one! Head slightly tilted and eyes looking a little cockeyed… and then the question… “I need a lot of links… where do I find the all the places to guest post?” is often the words from the bewildered face of the novice link builder. “Google is your friend!” is the obvious answer that has escaped them.

Google Hacks! the SEO Bible for Googly operator Geeks!

I bought my first SEO bible just a few weeks after it became available in the Internet Reference Temple…! I had another copy which I left down on the farm and alas this heathen is without a bible at the moment. I have used Google operators for years to analyze the “real competition” in a SERP, isolating indexing issues and site errors not to mention for research and Forensic SEO purposes.

An SEO who does not understand how these operators work is at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to finding and digging deep into the bowels of the Googly beast to find the foulest of the foul and the diamonds in the rough. Some of my favorite queries for link building use operators like – sign which removes results with the -keyword in them. For negatives terms it is also useful to use -“KW KW” which removes a result with that phrase.

The Google operators page provides many ways to find sites that already have posted similar types of content, linked to similar types of pages or ways to find specific pages on sites for instance the contact page or a submission page to name just a few. Some extremely useful operators are intitle, inanchor, inurl because of webmasters naming conventions for pages and CMS defaults. I also like using the left margin options to search the vertical indexes like Images. Videos, News etc.

Link Prospecting the Easy Way!

Up until a short time ago we would spend all this time querying Google and collecting our link prospects. Add in the review of the site and the trips to fill in contact forms and you have a very tedious time consuming job and the added headache of managing all these spreadsheets to track contact and results. Garrett French is one the the few SEO I’ve met who is skilled in the Art of Google Link Prospecting! Garrett dazzled me with the link prospecting prowess in a recent SEW article on using the synonym operator. In the video below he discusses the preset queries the tool provides.

The first time we met was in the SEO Training Dojo forum Garrett was pumping the community for how they found link prospects on Google. Shortly after he was at a company building tools that used those queries and others to find link prospects. A little while later and Citation Labs was born which had some pretty cool utilities to help in processing link research. Then came Link Prospector, IMO, a tool that will change Link Prospecting.

Link Prospector Presets Return Quality Results


After reviewing the top 30 and getting a bead on the LTS I jumped down further and determined quality was still not too bad at more than a few months supply. The beauty was the response from the first batch was over 10% which for guest posting with no swag (Clean post) is not too bad considering the quality of the sites. This was targeting the first 100 on one of the lists. In a few hours with this tool you can literally find 1000’s of pages and 1000’s of domains. For shits and giggles I entered some inbound marketing terms and it read like a who’s of the inbound marketing crew with no less than half dozen sites from HubSpot… oh that’s right they just make every page into a sub-domain… now isn’t that special. 😉

We have an in-house tool that takes the list of sites or pages and indexes them returning Social and blog metrics along with site scores from Moz tools or Majestic and the Link Prospector LTS score to provide seed data for our tool. The in-house tool further fleshes that data out and you have a fairly good indication of quality. IMO, enough to initiate contact. The way that Link Prospector indexes means a shallow dataset using only the top 10 of the many queries built into the presets ensures a higher quality result set. Combine that with your keywords, operators and – operator to remove unwanted “types of sites” and you have an awesome combination of research and convenience since recording the prospects was a big time suck.

Link Prospector provides you with query presets and querying techniques that return a variety of different types of sites and pages to do specific types of link building. Clubs and associations. guest blogging, topical resources and references and more. It is these presets and the scoring that sets this tool apart from all the others. When put in the hands of a skillful Google Query Hacker the results enable you to cut your review and preparation to get to the contact stage in outreach and therefore the content placement in much shorter time frames. The secret weapon here is the ability of Link Prospector to harness the power of the operator filters to uncover an incredible lists of quality sites.

Link Prospecting Conclusions

Although the guest blogging technique will likely be very popular in the current environment for the foreseeable future it will get more challenging as more and more marketers who were using low level Article Marketing turn to guest blogging using the same crappy content and outreach methods as they have for reciprocal linking and article marketing. As David Harry has pointed out in his post some things never change as much as they evolve on the internet and web content spam shifts quickly from one technique duJour to the next.

I really do think this tool will change link prospecting and content placement processes significantly. If you know me you know I think tools are an abomination unless they provide actionable data. Not only is this data actionable what you are acting on is a list of sites where the list quality is so high some parts of the review process can and should be altered! We have done a few runs of the program where we did not review the sites. Yeah when I first thought about this it seemed like a bad idea. So I went and reviewed the sites myself and to my surprise the results were more than safe to process in that manner.


One Comment

  1. Erik Leander May 15, 2012

    Some really good points in here Terry. I especially think the part in which you mention Dave’s take on web spam in right on. I’ve learned over the years that this stuff is not easy, and it take a lot of time and hours to do it right…..and there will always be those folks who want to take the short-cut……which never seems to work out in the end.

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