Link Development -> Choosing the Right Strategy

It’s official, the fall out from the may day update has produced some of the funniest threads I have read across the webmaster forums.

The Fall Out

It would seem people have decided Google is just broken. Over on the WebmasterWorld, most people are convinced “The serp’s are very broken right now. Or are they?” (no they aren’t).

There are some incredibly naive posts. People comparing YOY traffic and highlighting a huge increase in Bing as proof people are no longer using Google. This is some “I believe in UFO” kind of theories. Google’s share of search has decreased slightly in the US, but they have so much share and Bing have been advertising like crazy, that it’s not surprising for them to go down a little.

What About the Spam

Back to the point of the post, “What About the Spam”. Something that has been of interest over the past couple of months is webmasters posting examples of spam sites dominating certain niches, whilst their sites got hammered after the May Day update. A lot of the examples were in kind of spammy niches (MP3 downloads), but nevertheless, their is some truth in these posts.

Why Spam Sites Can Rawk

If you think about a good spam site. They are usually

– targeted at a couple of keywords.

– have a keyword rich domain

– have lots and lots of content (auto content) dragged in all on topic

– have a lot of links pointed at them in a short space of time (yes spammy links, but “hey that doesn’t work anymore”, well, lets come to that later).

If the point of the May day update was to try and decrease off target pages that rank for keywords (or synonyms of those keywords) due to domain authority, whilst giving more preference to niche sites that are a lot more focused around that keyword, well, this could suit those spammy sites.

But What About Those Spammy Links

Let’s get to the crux of the matter. Despite all us link developers advocating a link development strategy that is centered around relationship marketing, great content and social media, spammy links DO WORK. I was at SMX Advanced and went to the link building sessions. There were some great ideas in those sessions and I am totally on side with link building making a mess of the net. But I cringe when I hear the gurus stating “That kind of linking doesn’t work anymore”. It does, I know, I have run spammy sites in niches and ranked top 3 for competitive keywords using nothing more than a old hat crappy link tactic.

So You Create Spam

To understand how best to utilize link development strategies, you should play around with all tactics. I was interested in how far I could push exact anchor text linking through profile links so I created two sites in different niches. Both were keyword lead domains, both had lots of content, both were selling affiliate products, after 3 months, between them, they were taking in 10,ooo visitors per month, both got de-indexed. I didn’t care, the process of getting one of them back indexed and re-ranking where it used to, was a great learning process.

The Problem With Link Development

The truth of link building is quick win linking tactics still work and in some markets are all that count. Using great products like linkresearchtools from CEMPER will just tell you all links in your market have been acquired in some underhand way. If a business is counting on Google traffic to keep them afloat, how do you not get drawn into that mindset. It’s great for Google to offer quality advice on link building and I agree with it all. But when they say:

Buying PageRank-passing links or randomly exchanging links are the worst ways of attempting to gather links and they’re likely to have no positive impact on your site’s performance over time. If your site’s visibility in the Google index is important to you it’s best to avoid them.”

the point being missed is long lasting techniques may be to far on the horizon for some companies who have to dig deep for PPC costs until all that link baiting and great content begins to kick in (link exchanging is a waste of time by the way). They may be in a market where competitors are happy to burn through sites, hey if own get’s bumped out, they have several more coming up behind it.

Your Experience on Link Development

When I am putting together link development strategies for big online brands, it’s easy to build it around great content, integrating their strategy in with the PR, offline and marketing team. There is a lot more scope to put together a hollistic strategy.

When I get asked to do link building for smaller clients through Searchbrat, I find a lot of their preconceptions of what should be offered comes from the one size fits all packages being widely offered throughout the web. Most of these are automated solutions, firing out spun articles all over the place. Don’t get me wrong, packages are a great way to categorize your offering. But how do you compete with services that offer 1000 links for $97 per month. There seems to be a race to the bottom when it comes to this kind of link building.

In my affiliate life (which I love and is my play time), I mess about with the automated link tools on throw away sites, but I can say, the results are often poor and don’t last long. If I am working on a site I care about, automated links never enter the picture.

The Final Word

For me link building tools like Influence Finder show how the process of link development is and will continue to change. There is a lot more of relationship marketing involved. The skill set is also changing. The strategy needs to be integrated with other areas of your business. Of course, for small to medium size businesses, the problem of resources exist. It’s more difficult to put together something that requires a lot of resources. In cases like this, link packages can work, but if you are getting 1000 links for a 100 bucks, believe me, those links aren’t going to build you a solid revenue stream. Keep in mind, the best kind of link is one your competitor can’t get.

About Kieran Flanagan

Online Marketer who implements both inbound and paid strategies to help companies grow internationally. Lover of content marketing, SEO, analytics, CRO and strategy. A highly motivated marketing geek high on data crack.