Well it’s this time again, it has been a hectic week and thank you to those of you who both commented on the Meta tag post and inquired as to the welfare of my goldfish “Mr Fatty”. He is, to give you an update, still swimming on his head, but for shorter periods of time. Anyway, back to the training, last week saw me dipping my toes into fathomless waters of “social media”, in particular “the basics of link building” which i am not afraid to say, is rather like an online form of OCD and the fact that most webmasters will shake a link condom at you rather than look at you, makes it a tough gig.
So here is my, “Basic linking guide” to not loosing your hair to link building. OK, so before you start. Decide what type of link negotiation your client is willing get involved in:
Paid: (what can they actually afford)
Unpaid one way: (this goes without saying)
Unpaid reciprocal: (Is the site a good resource?)
Offering a free service or gift for the right link (have they anything to donate?)
Lets say for arguments sake, our client Mr Bird has a shop selling tiny scarecrows (iscarecrows.co.uk), the product emits a silent but powerful ultra sonic pulse to scare away most large and small birds from gardens and roofs. The flexible little device can be placed in gardens, window boxes, next to carp ponds, on home & office roofs and is powered by a solar charger. He is willing to make one off payments for good links on reputable directories or sites and is offering a free “scarecrow” to anyone who owns a similar site and will give him a link as trade. He has also stipulated that he does not want to be associated with pest control sites that promote the killing of animals and birds, he feels that his products are eco friendly and he is very worried about what his competitors are doing.
Firstly i would make a list of keywords
that we are using to promote the “iscarecrow” site: (here are some examples)
- bird scarers
- garden helper
- scare crows
- pond protection
- humane pest control
- bird deterrent
- bird control product
- natural garden pest control
- eco pest control
- protecting pond fish
- eco friendly bird deterrent
(this would usually be broken down into segments, so for this example – lets say we are promoting the iscarecrow pages:
- Eco friendly pest control – eco pest control, natural garden pest control and eco friendly bird deterrent
- Fish pond protection – pond protection and protecting pond fish
- (Home page) Roof bird control – bird deterrent and bird control products
- Garden bird scarers – garden helper, scare crows and bird scarers
Now we have our landing pages and we have our brief. The client has mentioned some competitors of his:
So we can throw these sites in a tool called a backlink checker (i have used all of the top 3 and they all tend to deliver the same information, i would pay more attention to the Yahoo links, mainly because i found these to be the most accurate). Remember that it isn’t an exact science, we want to get a feel for the type of sites we should be looking for and those that are willing to share the love.
My recommended Tools:
Backlink watch (these guys have some great tools, good information, PR, URLs and more)
Marketleap (good information and that for the competiton)
iwebtool (As above, with rankings thrown in)
I personally like to use the old fashioned route of links:www.nameofsite.co.uk in the yahoo & Google search bar. See what they come up with, it might take a bit longer, but i think it’s all about what you feel comfortable doing.
- You find that Pond Terminator has a high link popularity, but mostly from general directories, some pond landscaping sites and fish breeders but not many and most of the links are simple URLS not keyword rich.
- Thescarecrow&mrsking have a blog and write a lot about fighting garden pests, they have a lot of support from some big garden centres etc and have a major weed killer as a backer. Most of their links are via the blog, not many are on internal pages and a lot of their deeper product pages have no PR.
- Wizard-of-Oz-pestcontrol have over 6,000 links on Yahoo half internal, half external. They have one link from the BBC website and a lot of gardening advice sites and a few review sites.
Once I’ve got a handle on the kinds of industries that might well benefit from the iscarecrow website i write them down and save them with the keywords to use in the final link choices. I now have a list of URLS and companies attached to the competitors that i may well approach on behalf of the iscarecrow site. I also have a list of words and phrases describing areas and sites that i am looking for. Lastly i consider each of these for my word cloud, i truly believe that the only way to do this well, is to look at it from every angle, every possible avenue until you have saturated paths in to this area. Example: I sell baby clothes, where are the people looking for baby clothes hiding?, what sites are they going to visit, what do they need, who are they talking to, do they need advice?, could a link on a “new mothers advice page” help them? or on a “babies names site” or a “babies health site” perhaps.
To help me i use a word cloud and Mapping Search Tool – Quintura
I admit that i have become pretty addicted to Quintura and it has worked miracles for me so far, but it is still the honey moon period (once it moves out of Beta who knows?). I mainly use this tool when i have completed the other research, but you might find it is easier to go straight here with your keywords, this could really help with an industry you are not familiar with or one which is unique. Quintura builds a word cloud, like a keyword mind map linking one word to another and suggesting a list of sites that match this word or phrase.
Drop the word “pest control” into Quintura and you get this. It needs some fine tuning, but you get the general idea. You can also search for videos and images here.
As you can see, the word cloud gives you a range of terms matching the original sea
h, so we could look at “pest companies”, “pest control products”, “pest control experts” etc. As with the “babies example” someone who has just had two of their favourite koi nabbed from their pond by a heron might be desperate for a cover for the pond, where do they go, what questions do they ask, are they angry (possibly) do they type in “pond protection?” wanting a net for the pond and then do they see “bird scarer” and decide to buy both “just to be sure that it won’t happen again”.
When you get your results, try not to be as naively chuffed as me. You might think, fantastic, my job is done. But not yet, get used to reading the descriptions & the URLs so that you don’t waste your time. It would be difficult to get a link on wikipedia for instance and their links pass no love (which at my age is about as much help as a chocolate fire guard).
This leads me to a mini checklist that Simon asked me to do, when you hit a site you think would be good for your client and helpful to their visitors. ASK THIS:
- Is it relevant?, would the users of the site have any need to visit that of your client? if not, forget it. Even if people arent going to follow the link, a spider will.
- Is it likely that the webmaster will allow you to get a link on a relevant content rich page?In an ideal world it would be better to gain links on content rich pages with the links ‘adding value’ by enabling the user to ‘find out more’, as opposed to simple links or resources pages, but these both still hold value.
- Does it have a Resources (links) page? or is their a place to add an appropriate link? if they have a lot of useless links on their, don’t be afraid to let them know it in an email. It would be better for your link if some teenwebcam site wasn’t sitting below it (unless of course its a bunch of teenagers onto eco gardening in realtime)
- Does the site have pagerank? Yes. Good around 3 is ideal but if it is a new site it could be low so check out the sites age (a good tool to keep handy to check ranking, age and links etc) is SEO Quake a plug-in for Mozilla, if you have I.E you can also add it or check the http://www.whois.net/ tool. A lot of blogs don’t have page rank but we’ll talk about that another day. If a site has no page rank and is established, i normally won’t include it.
- Check the HTML for a no follow tag, if its high profile site then it’ll still be worth adding a link but normally, no follow means no.
- Check that the Links are true, if they show the websites URL when you hover over them in the lower left hand corner of your browser this is fine. If they have the websites address or a number of characters after the link (anything different), then it isn’t a true link and so won’t pass on any juice to your site.
- Do they offer keyword rich links or plain URLS? (could it have keyword link?)
- What is the site like? does it have a lot of links, adwords and banners? is the content good. You don’t want a link from a spammy website going to that of your clients, it will simply loose it’s page rank and stop passing any link popularity to your site.
- Is there contact details for the webmaster or owner?. You’ll need to contact them directly if they do not have an online contact form, so use the whois.net tool i mentioned earlier to get their name and telephone number.
- Is the link free or paid? and if so how much? is it worth it?
- If the site is a directory,does it have an appropriate category for your link (if not can you suggest one?) it is better to get on a page with only a few relevant others, but make sure the page has a ranking, if not the spiders probably won’t know it exists.
- Check who is linking to the site? does it have authority sites linking to it? this shows that it’s a worthwhile partner.
Once you are sure this is a good site, you should note it down and later check if the client is happy with it. You may have to email the site owner or webmaster to add the link and this can take sometime, it is a nice touch to offer something in return for the link if needed as this is a partnership, not one nightstand. Some webmasters will want a reciprocal link, this dilutes the link popularity, so a one way link is best, but a link from a good site shouldn’t be ignored. The site owner needs to understand that their users could benefit from being directed to your site, that by doing this they are adding to their customer experience, not loosing a customer to a competitor. If the site has a submissions page, then save the details and once the client has given the ok, and your ready to submit your link. But we shall go into that in another post.
Of course this is just basic one way linking, I will go into more detail in my link baiting and social media posts. I hope that this makes sense and is helpful in some way. Once again, please add to my knowledge by leaving a comment (its the only way I’ll learn) and even disagree with things you agree with (i like it!). See you next Monday with another adventure in S E M.. (you’ll have to imagine the re-verb on the deep voice over, this is low tech) Good luck and let me know how you get on.
My Chihuahua is demanding her evening meal as i type and i fear a tantrum of epic proportions as i see the large fluffy pig being dragged across the hall way, so bye…!
Oh and thanks to www.thingamababy.com (how to host a snail race)for the snails image. I had hoped to race my pet snails when i was young, but a big black bird put an end to that one lonely summer evening in 1978 “where were you then iscarecrow? – too late, thats where”