Live from SMX Advanced: Beyond the Usual Link Building

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Jun 2, 2009
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This session featured Hamlet Batista of RankSense, Arnie Kuenn of Vertical Measures, and Chris Silver Smith of KeyRelevance. This was a very full, popular session — obviously something many are concerned with!

Chris Silver Smith

Chris started off the panel. He listed some good link sources in his opinion:

  • audience-targeted content
  • useful widgets and tools
  • RSS/atom/feeds
  • SERP listing optimization

Chris covered some examples from his days at, for instance, their strategy to get new .edu links. Superpages built a customized search for colleges and universities that had results close to the campus, weather, wi-fi lists, and maps. It created high-quality deep links from universities, they gained multiple .edu links and multiple links from libraries and some links from students and alums.

Where can you get free content to create linkable content? Some sources include the US Government, state governments, Wikimedia commons, and Project Gutenberg as well as private domain content, such as using copyrighted fair-use content. One idea he shared was using Project Gutenberg to find books where the copyright is out of date and using content from those. For instance, he gave the example of Emily Post’s Etiquette and using tips from that book on a wedding website for content.

He also suggested using widgets, gadgets, etc. such as a testimonial badge, local weather forecast widgets, lottery results, and more. He mentioned that Matt Cutts’ team has been checking out widgets to see which ones may be duplicitous. He said that in a conversation with Matt several months ago, the widget link may not be as clear of an “endorsement” and likely may not be as strong as those in blog copy, for instance. Matt was in the audience and agreed that statement was a fairly accurate assessment.

WidgetBox is a widget application platform where you can create widgets and promote your widgets.

Widget Do’s:

  • provide widget on same site it links to
  • create thematically oriented widgets that correspond to your site
  • provide clear legal terms that links are included
  • provide layout and color options
  • keep your branding minimal
  • provide easy to install code so it doesn’t get broken when pasted

Widget Don’t’s:

  • hide links
  • link to some other website

He mentioned that Google Gadgets is a great place to create and promote widgets (patrick sexton seoish). Chris also covered that you can use SearchMonkey to create an enhanced search engine listing. Yahoo! found that you can increase clicks from search engine results using this method by as much as 15%!

Hamlet Batista

Hamlet was next and covered “covert” link tactics — he also covers this type of information on his blog.

Tactic 1: What is a valuable link?
If you have to choose between a link just for SEO or one that drives customers, which would you choose? Likely the one that drives customers. Don’t fixate on the PageRank. He emphasized that we should think about how often the engines crawl sites. The sites that get updated more frequently are getting priority with engines, therefore if you have a link on a frequently crawled site, your link will be discovered more quickly. The most frequently updated content will be updated more often — this is likely why Digg can have such an impact on search rankings.

Tactic 2: Piggyback on current events
Find the topics being discussed — those will get searched and indexed by bots faster because they are hot and newsworthy. You can also take a different angle — disagree with the topic, for instance, to get more links.

Tactic 3: Spam Inform your subscribers
Promote your new content with those you have an existing relationship — customers, etc.

Tactic 4: Share interesting video content
People link to what they know. Have the video on your website AS WELL AS YouTube or other sites.

Arnie Kuenn

Arnie was up last and has been building links for about ten years.

Video Creation
Arnie said this is how you can create a video easily:

  • choose your concept and targeted keywords
  • develop a simple script and powerpoint
  • use your own photos, logos, etc.
  • convert to video using moyea

He gave an example of a simple video he created, put on YouTube, and thus helped his search rankings. In the YouTube page, be sure to add your link in the description too.

Content and Profile Links

Clients and Suppliers
Arnie suggested that you contact clients and suppliers and ask them for a link — perhaps send an incentive. He also suggested using postal mail — just because it’s different than getting an email. Also consider calling.

Contests and Promotions
Contests and promotions can be great at driving inbound links, but it needs to be compelling. If you can’t use your own products/services, bring in sponsors. Make it valuable to get attention. Try to be innovative. Finally, be sure to create buzz around the contest through press releases, Twitter, etc.

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