4 Link Building Cardinal Sins

Every digital marketing agency’s SEO tactic has been changing exponentially since the industry came about, mostly because Google and other search engines have kept it evolving to keep providing results on content that is relevant, of a high quality, and add an overall value for the end user, that is to say whoever you are trying to direct to your website to, your target audience.

But through all the changes, the importance of backlinks have entrenched themselves deeper into SEO strategies, so much so that any mistakes made with them can have utterly devastating results for the overall rating of the sites concerned.

So if your traffic has been struggling to reach your target mark lately, you might want to take advantage of the internet to gather helpful tips in selecting a web hosting company, SEO firm, or whichever digital marketing agency you feel can best assist you in achieving your business’s goals, and reach your target audience properly by ensuring that your website ranks highly enough to reach your targets audience and provide a favourable conversion rate.

Or, you can go ahead and read on to determine where you could have been going wrong, and what you can do to change it for the better. This guide will help you review your link building profile and polish it up by pointing out some of the most common mistakes in this regard.

They include spamming your homepage with all your links; taking a backseat once you’ve achieved your initial results; not making the best use of your anchor texts and trying to push links to content which are not relevant to who you are attempting to link to.

So let’s start with the first of these:

Building most of your links to your homepage

Building most of your links to your homepage

You obviously do want some of the links referring back to your homepage, this will help with making your site all the more crawlable which will help your rankings, but it happens all too often that just about every one of a website’s links directs you back to landing pages.

The trouble with this is that it makes for very shallow indexing of your site, and so can end up being counter-productive.

It’s recommended to spread your link building efforts equally across your site to ensure that users don’t have to trawl around for ages to find what they need, and so it is incredibly good at building trust with your users and creating an overall, high quality user experience.

A good rule to follow is that when navigating your site, a user should never be more than three clicks away from finding content which is relevant to them, anything more and they start losing interest, which means you will undoubtedly suffer a ranking drop from a high bounce rate.

Deep linking (or spreading your links across your website) will give your site more link juice, making it easily crawlable and therefore having favourable outcomes for the site’s ranking.

As far as SEO is concerned, deep linking gives you more opportunities to achieve favourable search engine visibility since it backlinks to all of your pages. This also makes your links seem a lot less like spam, which Google dutifully penalises heavily for.

Slowing down once you get good results

SEO is a dynamic field, and changes are just about constant. Getting to the first page of the search results is an enjoyable achievement indeed, but don’t expect it to stay that way once you’ve gotten your website there.

Staying on top (in fact featuring at all) requires you to constantly work to get the best online marketing for your business today, and not later. So keep on building up those backlinks and with a bit of luck you will enjoy the fruits of your labour for a long time to come. Give up on it however, and you will soon be taken over by sites which are consistently active, since Google doesn’t really want to push sites that seem inactive.

This means concentrating on building an energetic link-building profile by reaching out to other website administrators who share some form of relevance to your site. Beyond that, your efforts should still be as strong when it comes to creating interesting and informative content that will attract backlinks, and most importantly, you should still be conducting regular site audits even when everything seems to be working properly.

Doing this will not only help ensure that you consistently achieve favourable rankings, but will tighten your current paradigm and keep your backlink profile easy to manage in the future.

Leaving these efforts until later may not have an immediate negative affect on your SERP appearance right now, but it will make things easier for your competitors, and will almost surely lead to poorer results when Google eventually releases any updates (forcing you to rush back to your profile and knock out another site audit to rectify your link profile when there isn’t really time to do so.)

Forgetting about Brand Anchor text

So you’ve opted for extensive keyword research through a supplier of SEO services and you are adamant that only the keywords that they kick up should be used as anchor texts. And why not? They are the professionals. But how many times in your content have you used your name, brand, or URL?

Using either of these without making them into backlinks is just a wasted opportunity here you could be doing more to push your brand, so try not to forget to do it whenever it comes up.

The important thing to remember here is that the names and URLs you’re referring to should come up as naturally as possible, if it sounds forced and robotic, it will likely just end up looking like spam.

Thereby taking what could have been a great marketing opportunity and making it detrimental to your efforts. Always take the opportunity to attach appropriate links to your company or brand name, unless it runs the risk of making the content sound unnatural.

Not bothering with content relevance

content relevance

Even before the days of Google, content relevance has been a big determining factor for search indexes. Search engines want to provide their users with websites that are of high quality and are relevant to what is being searched; and that’s the bottom line.

This is often overlooked, especially when sites take advantage of mass backlink services (or link farms) which may boost your ranking initially, but when users arrive at your site and leave in annoyance, not having been directed to what they are looking for, it will negatively affect your bounce rate, and ultimately damage your site’s rating.

Beyond this, irrelevant content will do nothing for a natural link building profile. No self-respecting website administrator wants to link with a site that may put a dent in their own profile, so in this regard, your content’s attractiveness should come almost purely from its relevance.

A final note

Always consider the do’s and don’ts of link building to stay ahead of the game. SEO and content marketing is a long running and time consuming process which, if you’re doing it within the search engine’s guidelines, shouldn’t give you staggering results over night.

If that’s what’s happened then chances are that you are exploiting some kind of loophole. These black-hat techniques may give fantastic results initially, but when they are eventually flagged by the search engine’s crawlers, your visibility will take a nasty hit, one that is an absolute hassle to fix.

The trouble comes when you’re not prepared when Google rolls out an update, and their newly developed algorithms make the site’s rating suffer horribly as a result. So avoid the temptation for the quick fixes in your link building strategies; slow and sure wins the race, and gives you time to learn from your mistakes.

Spreading the destination of your links out evenly, staying active on your website where you can (this is where blogs are helpful) and remembering to keep links relevant are essentially key points in achieving SEO greatness for your site.

How to Rank Twitter Bios for More Leads

Your Twitter Bio is just like any other page: the number and quality of the incoming links affects the PA (Page Authority). Although outgoing links from Twitter are nofollowed, increasing your PA and influence is valuable for making your tweets and bio rank in the serps.

If your business is in a particular competitive niche or you have a new site, ranking your Twitter bio and using it to drive potential buyers to your own site can be faster and easier.


Why Would You Want Your Twitter Bio to Rank?

Ranking your Twitter bio is primarily to get customers, of course! Having a Twitter bio on the home page of Google is very possible as you can see in this example for an SEO agency whose Twitter account @topcharlotteseo was third for the phrase “Top Charlotte SEO”. SEOing obviously can rank Twitter bios.

 

How to Rank Twitter Bios for More Leads

If your site is new or does not have any authority yet, gaining visibility through ranking your Twitter (or other social network bios) could be faster. As with any other page you want to rank, how many incoming links you have and the PA of your Twitter bio affect where it ranks.

The Twitter account in this example has 252 incoming links and a PA of 59. Typically, the Twitter account with the most influence for the desired keywords ranks highest.

According to SEO consultant and trainer Adrienne DeVita of Digital Media Cube:

“All of Google’s algorithm ranking factors apply to Twitter rankings, too. For example, Google bots automatically see the bounce rate if a searcher hits “back” immediately; the interaction on the landing page it links to; the keyword relation to the search; the page authority on that page; and the click through rate from their SERPs. Strive to use your phrase as the first words in your bio and tweets whenever it makes sense grammatically for the person searching – and make sure your phrase is within the first 90 characters. Put any secondary phrase you wish to rank for in characters 91-115.”

When your Twitter bio or your tweets rank, you can use them for lead generation. There are now tools that search for Twitter users and reach out to them to start interactions. The best I know for automating lead generation on Twitter is Socedo.

Finally, don’t miss this interesting take from First Site Guide on how much difference Twitter can make in terms of business development.


How to Automatically Capture Leads on Twitter

As you can see in the screen capture below, you can choose your target audience by checking their profession or interest. Once it identifies someone in your audience, it favorites one of their tweets automatically. Then an hour later it follows that user.

Twitter Lead Generation Using Socedo Audience Targeting

After the user follows back, Socedo can (depending on how you have your account configured), either:
  • Start a conversation by sending them a personalized tweet
  • Send them a message and link to your lead capture landing page
Your sales team then decides whether to follow-up (by approving them), or not follow up (by declining within Socedo) or set lower priority to leads they may wish to engage at a later time.

Analytics built into Socedo allows you to modify your targeting and better qualify your leads based on your results. This video shows how it works:

If you want more details on how Socedo works, read How to Generate and Close Social Leads On Twitter. Now that you realize how important Twitter can be for your business, let’s talk about how to keep track of your conversations there.


 

Business Dashboards for Tracking Twitter

Remembering to keep on top of what you’re doing on Twitter in addition to everything else related to your SEO rankings is a challenge. Fortunately, there is a simple solution: Cyfe. Kristi Hines wrote a comprehensive blog post with a screen capture showing 15 of their widgets. Check out that link for all the widgets that already exist for Twitter (and Klout, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, and YouTube).

Cyfe offers 8 Twitter widgets plus Twitter search plus Klout and bit.ly (to see clicks on your shortened links). Here is an example layout from my Cyfe account showing the Twitter overview, Moz numbers, Twitter tweets, Twitter lists, bit.ly stats, Twitter search results for the search “growmap”, Twitter mentions, Twitter favorites and SERPs – a new widget I’m testing that hasn’t populated yet.

How to SEO Twitter Bios to Rank Your Business - Cyfe Twitter Widgets Dashboard Views

Adding a widget is as easy as clicking on what you want and doing some very simple configuration. You can resize and move each window to wherever you want it. When you mouse over graphs, additional information appears in a pop-up. These are only a few of the massive number of widgets available for other social networks, analytics, advertising, sales and finance and much more.

The image below shows details for a specific date showing tweets, following, listed (in Twitter lists), and Favorites. This data is not live so there is a delay of about 24 hours. (You can see another example in Kristi’s post linked above.)

Cyfe Twitter Widget Overview / SEO Twitter

 


Should You Bother to Rank Tweets?

We focused on Twitter bios rather than tweets first because Google indexes only 7-9% of all tweets according to this comprehensive study by StoneTemple on how tweets could impact your SEO and what tweets Google is likely to index. It includes:
  • Data on 133K+ tweets to see how Google indexed them
  • Of 138,635 tweets only 7.4% were indexed!
  • Twitter users with more followers have more indexed tweets (21% > 1 million; 10% for 10k-1M; 4% under 10k followers)
  • Images and/or hashtags seem to “increase your chances of getting indexed, as the percentages are significantly higher than the average overall percentage of 7.4%.”
  • “26% of the tweets with an inbound link from sites other than Twitter got indexed. That is nearly 4 times as much as the overall average rate of indexation.
See that post for more details on their study. As you can see, getting your Twitter bio to rank – and keep ranking – is far more likely than getting any particular tweet indexed – much less getting it to stay on page one in the search engines.

Twitter Best Practices

Some of us have been power users of Twitter since they started. I’ve gathered everything you need to know about Twitter into one post called Twitter Best Practices. From the basics for beginners to advanced strategies, everything important to know is in or linked from that post.

Have questions? Leave me a comment and I’m happy to assist.

Expert Interview with SEO and SEJ Contributor Ben Oren

ben-orenWith over 10 years of experience handling SEO at the highest levels, Ben Oren has seen it all and done it all, twice. He has worked in medium and large agencies managing the internet marketing strategy for super brands like WSOP, Babylon and more, which he now combines with consulting and strategy for various medium and large clients after co-founding an internet marketing agency. Ben has also tackled marketing under start-up conditions, as he is the co-founder and CEO of an innovative e-commerce app.

Ben has truly tackled online marketing from every angle – conversion, SEO, PPC, E-mail, UX, content, and more – and the insights he’s accumulated have made him a regular contributor at leading industry publication Search Engine Journal.

Q: Over the years, you’ve worn many ‘hats’ and fulfilled different functions for different clients: in-house, agency, consultant, auditor. How do you feel that has contributed to your professional development?

A: I believe anyone interested in ascending to the top of their field today can’t settle for only one type of working experience, be it in-house, agency, consultant or other.

Personally, this variation in work type has greatly contributed to my professional development, and particularly, enhanced my ability to adopt a broad perspective when assessing problems and ways to tackle them.

There are usually two main variables to consider when faced with a business dilemma: the first is the industry itself, which in our case is internet marketing. It’s dynamic by nature and constantly evolving, meaning that there are countless solutions to every problem.

The second variable is the client’s niche, and everything having to do with their positioning within it – company size, marketing budget, online readiness, online state (penalties, priors, filters, etc).

Every single stakeholder has their own interests, limitations and special considerations when facing a business decision, and having an in-depth understanding of these can only help communicate and strategize better to reach an optimal solution.

Q: As an experienced marketer and entrepreneur, what is the greatest misconception you’ve come across among start-ups trying to use social media in order to ‘break’?


A: I can actually think of two basic assumptions which are misconceptions that lead start-up heads to choose social media marketing.

The first wrong assumption is that it’s free, and if we invest efforts into building a large audience then it’ll be free to advertise to said audience whenever we’d like to push our product and company. The second wrong assumption is that building a large, loyal follower base is relatively easy.

To address the first assumption, social media marketing is far from free, both when considering (1) the cost of producing high quality content by a dedicated content professional, and (2) the drastic downsizing of organic post reach in favor of paid advertising, carried out by social networks such as Facebook.

The current trend is to move towards a paid model, whether it’s by impressions or clicks – meaning that posts on a business page will only reach a very small percentage of that page’s followers unless you pay – ending up in a miniscule chance for a positive ROI.

As to the second assumption, a truly engaged, sizable, real audience that’s interested in a product or service rather than only having followed in exchange for a one-time offer, is challenging to achieve. Community growth takes time, resources, clear strategy and long term commitment towards gaining potential customers through social media, and retaining existing customers through social media. It necessitates a level of social media presence that not every start up realizes: real time response, professional outputs and engaging storytelling.

Unfortunately, time and again I see start-ups entrust no-one with the task of maintaining social accounts, ending up with deserted business pages that never took off and serve as a sad, outdated reminder. In the worst examples, the page is also flooded with questions and complaints that go unanswered, several damaging reputation.

In short, my recommendation to any start up interested in using social media is to build a sustainable strategy and be realistic about what it entails in terms of budget and man-power. Social media is a tremendous, powerful vehicle with many advantages, but for those to materialize it takes serious performance, patience and persistence.

Q: In your early days in the online marketing industry, you mainly handled SEO, but now you’ve branched out into content, user experience, conversion and a well-rounded understanding of marketing for large organizations. Do you believe that SEO’s future is questionable, and is that why you’ve distanced yourself from it?

A: I didn’t leave or distance myself from SEO. SEO is here to stay and will be around for a very long time; it’s just changing and developing, requiring us to adapt our methods and practices accordingly.

In my career development, I chose to expand my knowledge by tackling different aspects of online marketing, never neglecting SEO. I don’t think the future of SEO is questionable, but I don’t think it’s necessary or appropriate for any business.

SEO has undergone a transformation both in the way it’s performed and in the way it’s perceived. It is no longer regarded as a stand-alone channel, but rather as an integral part of a holistic marketing strategy. As a result, an SEO professional needs to be considerably knowledgeable about content strategy and social media, otherwise effectiveness will be hard to assess or measure.

Another component that’s constantly changing is Google’s algorithm, growing more and more sophisticated with every passing day. Links don’t behave as they used to, relevance is no longer measured the way it was, and engagement level holds greater weight, leading to the marginalization of spammy practices. If one fails to keep up regularly with all of these changes, it can be impossible to move forward and understand exactly what works and how.

Q: You’ve started and managed a start-up; do you have any tips to share from your experience, particularly regarding marketing a start-up?

A: Co-founding and managing my start-up, I encountered three main limitations:

  1. having a limited budget
  2. limited man-power
  3. limited time
On one hand, you’re constantly feeling like you’re behind and that, any moment now, you’ll stumble on an article about an unknown competitor doing exactly what you’re trying to do, but better. On the other hand, you lack the budget and financial justification to recruit more personnel in order to accelerate development. These two lead to a shortage in time – there’s never enough time when working on a start-up!

This is shared by all start-ups I know, and it often leads to the irresponsible misplacement of valuable funds in dubious marketing shortcuts publicized in who-knows-where. The combination of lacking real marketing know-how and not investing in expert guidance, is a sure way to throw time and money down the drain without any results to speak of. Therefore, my best recommendation is to hire a marketing consultant – someone with rich, varied experience and results under his/her belt – to guide the existing team on the best uses for their time and money.

Marketing efforts will still be carried out by the existing team members; however, they’ll be monitored by a professional and form part of a strategy that’s been tailored to the start-up’s niche, state, budget and competitors. Sure, it’s an expense, but it yields results and, more importantly, it can be thought of as an investment: empowering the existing team to handle marketing and slowly decrease dependency on external consultants and agencies.

Q: Outside of your experience with start-ups and small businesses, you’ve handled online marketing endeavors for enormous, international corporations such as WSOP, Caesar’s Entertainment, Babylon, Bouclair Home and more. Please highlight the professional methodological and executional differences when working with both types of companies.

A: Methodologically, surprisingly enough, there isn’t much of a difference. The difference lies in the ability to execute more advanced methods, and the subsequent quality of said execution. Larger companies have a clear advantage thanks to their budgets and recognizability, lending them greater possibilities that small and medium businesses don’t have access to.

For instance, if a large, leading corporation is interested in a partnership with a well known figure, its clout and deep pockets mean it’s likely it will come to fruition as long as there’s agreement between both sides. Small and medium businesses often don’t have the means or access necessary to even garner initial interest.

On the other hand, small businesses benefit greatly from a shorter decision process and a quicker, more efficient turnaround time. Corporations often struggle with miscommunication between different departments, sometimes yielding mediocre execution for otherwise brilliant campaigns. For example, the content and marketing department may not have direct, ongoing communication with the sales department, ending with a marketing campaign that isn’t optimally geared towards the company’s actual end clients.