Link building. In this age of social media it still remains a key anchor of a strong SEO strategy for your blog. The rationale is really simple: search engines rank the pages of your site or blog based on a number of factors, one of the more critical ones being the number of external webpages that link to yours.
So… we’re after links. Good ones and lost of them. And not all links are equal. But more on analyzing links in another post.
What caught my eye today was a comment I received yesterday on this post:
I am very amaze of what you post Alister. You explain everything clearly and full of informations of what people, especially marketers really need to know.
Thank you so much..
Now, people can claim to be anyone in a blog comment, so I’ll just say that this commenter purports to be “Idea Guy” with the web address of www.myideaguy.com/blog/.
I went over to that blog to check it out (something I will usually do if you leave me a comment), and something was immediately obvious to me: this is a caucasian male who clearly has a good command of the English language, and (from the Contact page) lives in Ontario, Canada. So it seemed immediately strange to me that his comment on my blog post was written in broken, second-rate English.
What you can’t see from the front-end of my blog is what my admin page tells me: that the IP address of this commenter is 18.104.22.168. I do an RDNS lookup, a traceroute, a geo-ip lookup and all that jazz and come up with the confident fact that the commenter is in the Philippines! What the?!
So I asks myself the scary question, I does…
What would motivate this filipino dude to come to my site and post a comment on behalf of a guy in Canada?
Well you know, I just couldn’t come up with an answer that made any real sense, that didn’t to a degree incriminate Mr Stu McLaren (the Ontario Idea Guy). I also couldn’t get the search engines or (Technorati) to show me if my site was “hit” as part of a broader linking campaign that some guy in the Philippines was doing on Stu’s behalf. But I’m still really sus.
Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong per se to get someone to “ghost-write” harmless blog post comments all over the place. Lame, but perhaps not wrong. Heck, outsourced link-building campaigns are the backbone of SEO, and in that world this kind of proxy commenting would be seen as a lighter-shade of grey(hat), at most.
But hey… at the very least try to get it done to a standard where it’s not immediately obvious that it’s someone else and not you! Secondly, make sure you’re not paying more than a few cents per link for this “service” because blog comments are the lowest of the low hanging fruit, for a couple of reasons:
- For a start, the search engines and directories (like Technorati) don’t count the URL/link under the comment author’s name for much. Only links in the body of the post count for anything worth the trouble.
- To add insult to injury, many (but definitely not all) blogs these days attach a rel=”nofollow” attribute to the A tag of the link to the commenter’s website/blog, rendering it of no value in a link-building campaign. No value for any keywords that matter to you, anyway.
I don’t know why anyone would want to hand real money over to a
filipino link-builder who didn’t understand those two points!
So, if you’re going to hand money over the table for a link-building campaign, here are some quick — hopefully helpful — tips:
- Understand that a little outsourced link-building can be quite effective to push a blog or site from total obscurity (i.e. PR0 and unknown to Technorati) to a PR4, say. After that, the kinds of links these link guys will (typically) get you become less and less helpful.
- Don’t get someone to write anything on your behalf. It’s not necessary. You write the really good content on your own blog/site and (if you can’t resist) use some outsourced link-building to get you some highly ranked inbound links from authority sites or (ahem) directories.
- Make sure you supply the link-building dude with a selection of different pages to link to on your site, plus different permutations and combinations of text/keywords for the text of the link.
- Screw the link-building dude down to a commitment to list for you in a report every page on which he’s secured a link, what page was linked to, and what text was used in that link.
- Agree on a way to price the links based on their value. Pagerank is an OK guide to start with. Dot Gov and Dot Edu links score double, if they’re not dodgy student-run servers/sites.
I could go on, but hey… I don’t think too much of outsourced link-building, as a rule. I have never paid for any, myself. My opinion is that great content “sells itself”… almost! Great content needs great marketing; it’s just that I don’t think buying links is great marketing.
Now linkbait… that’s a great link-building strategy for your blog! So are the various devices of social media marketing. Go sick on the linkbait and engaging people in conversation in the relational web, and the links will largely take care of themselves.
What do you think?