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SMX London 2007 Conference Notes: Part 3



(GSINC‘s Gareth Davies couldn’t resist the lure of SMX London and took excellent notes while he was there. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

Ken,dixon and rob kerry photos

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Cutting Edge Link Building Tactics
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I was looking forward to the “Cutting Edge Link Building Tactics” and first up was Ken McGaffin of Wordtracker and Linking Matters fame.

Right off the bat Ken asked us to think about ‘what cutting edge actually is?’ Is it the most fashionable ideas or style that happen to be in at the moment? Or is it the latest or most advanced stage of what works?

Ken prefers the latter and we were soon to see why. Ken told us that marketing, pr and SEO link building work together as a common strategy. As a case study, Ken talked us through how WordTracker ran a link building promotional campaign right after Overture terminated their free keyword research tool. Wordtracker decided to make a free version of their software and then ran an online pr campaign to announce it.

Ken sent 50 emails to important contacts – then used PR Web. From targeting the right influencers, bloggers and journalists the campaign helped generate thousands of inbound links.

But Ken also spoke about ‘getting the most out of what you already have’ and explained a useful technique he employs that analyses a websites backlinks so that it is possible to identify the various sectors that help promote it. So taking the first 1000 backlinks Ken looks at them manually to see what type of website they are and then works out the key sectors.

For people who already link to you Ken suggested you have a number of options. You can get some of these people to switch their links to deep links. Or you could ask them to include an important keyword. You could pick some to explore business relationships and for some even consider joint ventures.

If someone already links there is a chance they may do the things we need – deep link or use keywords or explore business relationships.

Ken believes any link building campaign should have a 12 month timeline and marketers should define the business strategy (what they want) for Quarter 4 (Q4) then work backwards from there planning business objectives in Q3, content creation in Q2 and a practical launch in Q1.

I really enjoyed Ken’s presentation and he had both the experience and case study material that made the audience take him very seriously, which is just as well as he had some great ideas.

Next up was Dixon Jones of Receptional who told us that links are big, and link building is more valid now that ever (good news for link builders). Dixon reminded us that linking is really about building a reputation to your brand and business.

He pointed out that the the links that are easy to get are also often easy to emulate and the best links are often difficult to get, hard to emulate and provide the most authority.

Dixon’s presentation had a light hearted edge – he gave out some URLs for a couple for free tools his team had worked on, as well as promising a link in return for a business card.

Last up for the link building session was Rob Kerry AKA Evil GreenMonkey. Rob is head of SEO at Ayima and editor of Sphinn and his presentation looked at what is hot, and what is not, with link building.

The good. Rob said proven directories get the thumbs up if they have age and authority and strict moderation. E.g. Dmoz, Yahoo, BOTW

The bad. Here he pinpointed low quality directories

The ugly. Rob cited directories that fake page rank for high PR using expired domain names.

On the subject of link building Rob went on to offer some tips on manual link building.

1. Be interested in traffic. To get around this its important in any proactive ‘email’ to webmasters to make out you are interested in traffic and not PR.
2. Look for quality over quantity – 2 good links is better than 1000 bad links.
3. Page rank is over hyped and less important – context and relevance of a link is much more important.

For paid links Rob suggested it is generally a good idea to get away from link brokers as Google are looking for paid link ‘footprints’. These footprints could be anything from repeated headings above the links, CSS code that appears on all pages and so on. He also suggested that when paying for any links people should be stubborn on link location to ensure it was as good as possible.

Link Exchanges generally got the thumbs down, as too did link networks. Rob told us that content for links is the best way forward for link builders as: i/ You can control where links go and ii// No credit is needed on them and iii/ You get inlinks – which are ‘under the radar’.

Whilst some of the audience seemed to see Rob as a little on the darker shade of grey for some of his ideas, he wrapped up his session with the old white hat link builder’s maxim “If Google didn’t exist would I get this link?” and there was general agreement on the panel that this is the best approach in the long term for websites (and especially so for brands).

Rob’s session was useful to anyone involved in link building and he providing a balanced objective view with some insightful suggestions.

(Next up: What’s New with the Algorithm?)

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