Scalable Linkbuilding with @RossHudgens on #SEOchat

Guest: @RossHudgens talking about something close to every SEO’s heart, scalable linkbuilding. @RossHudgens has climbed up the ranks to be the SEO Manager at Full Beaker Inc. He is a productivity enthusiast, opinionated blogger, & humorist. You can read his blog at http://www.rosshudgens.com/

#HoneyBadger & @RossHudgens photo: http://flic.kr/p/9SDsvd by @Thos003

1 problem with link building is $, whether talent or otherwise. How do you scale your efforts without paying through the roof?

The best way to lower costs is by increasing the value of your evergreen business assets, such as your brand & content. When you up the value of these assets, whether personal or business, every subsequent link has a lower average cost. Every link request will improve its rate of success. Every link builder you hire will be better. More links arrive. Every top link builder you can hire w/strength of personal and/or business brand, the more and more links you can generate. When these combine – such as w/ a business such as Amazon, you can have talented people building links for a great product.

So, maximize your evergreen business assets as much as is possible, to the point of diminishing returns. Then scale elsewhere. So every time you build your personal brand or build the overall value of your business, link acquisition costs drop. Especially if you are aware of this and leverage correctly.

@matt_storms So do feel less is more with higher quality links? Less crappy to scale up and just go after a few high.
@RossHudgens @matt_storms I tend to aim for medium-high, because these are scalable. High high requires special techniques/has high fail rate.

@garyjmag Can you expand on the meaning of, or examples of, “evergreen business assets”?
@RossHudgens @garyjmag “evergreen business asset” is something that will stand the test of time, like your personal brand, your business brand. Your website content as well. Evergreen business assets are anything you can improve that directly or indirectly can draw links.
@garyjmag @rosshudgens So evergreen biz assets are things like good rep in the industry, useful content, positive presence @ industry events.

@bryantdunivan how do you reconcile link builders with the panda food trend lately? how do you test for that? In reference to ibl’s from sites nailed by panda food, but link builders still think its a good link. Would you take a domain authority but only url link over an anchor text link?
@RossHudgens @bryantdunivan Depends on the vertical/current situation w/ my link profile. Every case is different.

@AnnieCushing How do you approach competitive analysis when deciding link building strategy? What metrics do you look at?
@RossHudgens I love using SEOMoz/Yahoo Site Explorer, by far my favorite metric is Page Authority/Domain Authority when evaluating. In my experience an Exact Match Domain has an approximate pure “Page Authority” lead of ~12 points over a non EMD.
@AnnieCushing Yeah, I still see EMDs dominating SERPs, even with much lower page/domain authority, e.g.: http://twitpic.com/55iwo1
@kmullett Have you tried the new majesticseo? They really increased there depth/freshness.
@joshbachynski SEOMoz’s data seems to agree with you re: EMD, and my experience as well (for what that is worth)

@LukeHenrySEO Just DA and PA you don’t look at mozTrust? I always thought it best to use a good mix of the 3. Am I wrong?
@RossHudgens @LukeHenrySEO Definitely Moztrust is important too as an addendum to PA & DA
@joshbachynski I would suggest adding follow, nofollow, exact and partial, all from diff C blocks, if possible, of course
@RossHudgens @joshbachynski Definitely, there are many metrics, I always back up w/ Google and other things. But “biggest” for me are PA/DA.
@AnnieCushing @joshbachynski But if the site is using social they’ll already have a lot of nofollowed links.
@joshbachynski @AnnieCushing yep – social good way of organically getting nofollow of high value – all links have relative value, even nofollows.
@TopHatRank @joshbachynski I’m testing on some of my blogs right now, will let you know in about a week.
@matt_storms Google has come out and said Page Sculpting for SEO is bad. John Mu said do not do it.

@TopHatRank OK so what the deal with exact and partial match anchors? SEOmoz said that more weight is on partial match.
@joshbachynski You noticed partial vs exact too :-) I would think just need more partial in percentages of links.

How do agencies scale their link building? It is much harder for agencies to scale their link building on short-term projects.

Agencies can scale by establishing repetitive processes that apply to the widest # of verticals, such as infographics. By constantly repeating these processes over and over, they will improve over time, find new efficiencies, lower costs. Like Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule, the more you do something, the better you get. So pick things that can repeat constantly. Such as infographics, broken link building, relationship building in big verticals (shopping, finance), giveaways, contests.

SEOs fail when they randomly try things once then give up based on bad ROI. W/ new tactic, expect low returns up front. When you start new processes, you will fail at first. Your first infographic won’t get tons of links. Be willing to fail until you can learn/improve. But only learn/improve where it makes sense to – w/tactics you can reuse.

@bryantdunivan Can you share an efficient link building process that is applicable to our #seo greenhorns as well as vets?
@RossHudgens @bryantdunivan Check out this post for in depth processes: http://www.rosshudgens.com/please-exit-the-link-building/

@TopHatRank Won’t google mind that links are being aggregated via giveaways? Isnt that considered gaming the algo?
@RossHudgens @TopHatRank Pretty much everything we do could be considered gaming the algo.. Google can deal with it.
@joshbachynski EXACTLY – all SEO is “gaming” google, there is no moral truth here.
@kmullett If all SEO is gaming then what is it called when someone ad-hears to w3c standards?
@RossHudgens @kmullett I am not intimately familiar with the W3C standards so I can’t give an expert opinion on that. W3C seems like the instruction book for the web. I don’t read instructions, I figure it out. (W/O hurting others). I haven’t had to use Schema with my sites either though so ignore that if necessary.
@kmullett Fixing a title that’s “company | contact us” isn’t gaming IMHO. It is qualitative.
@dan_patterson @kmullett Good SEO isn’t gaming, it’s making your site look appealing to what the algo-bots are looking for.
@kmullett @rosshudgens schema will take time. They won’t immediately exclude sites that don’t have it. That would upset the apple cart.
@matt_storms @kmullett @rosshudgens it will take years to implement Schema.
@dan_patterson @kmullett agreed. The problem is that in order to fully adopt schema they have to get more than the SEO community to get it. Developers will have to understand it and get involved as well.

@anthonybrunetti @RossHudgens PAD files / free software distribution works excellent across any vertical. (portable application description file) I.E. Wallpapers, Screen Savers, Simple Scripts, etc.

@Laura_Rike For someone who is new to backlinks how could I go about starting to create some for my digital magazine?
@garyjmag @Laura_Rike Create great content for your mag that is accessible to search engines & promote it! (social, contests, guest blogging)

@dan_patterson My $.02, in link building you have to use a wide variety of tactics. Focusing just on any one will get you in trouble.

What are your favorite SEO tools as it comes to scaling?

“Scaling” tools improve productivity. Therefore, a great scaling tool doesn’t have to be SEO focused. So, for link valuation, my favorite tools are OpenSiteExplorer & SEO For Firefox. @Ontolo link prospecting/review suite and @MindMeister for potential prospect mind mapping. @RavenTools for automated link reporting/rank reporting/agency reports. @Geckoboard for consolidating key performance metrics into one dashboard. @Elance for outsourcing repetitive processes, @Skype & @Digsby for efficient communication with those consultants. @Gmail for link prospect management.

Use labels within Gmail to auto-sort prospects/follow up. Also like @Gmail for “switch account” functionality for quick & seamless multiple acct management in agencies. So you can pretend to be a female link builder and have multiple accounts to do so.

Microsoft Excel for easy tracking of competitor backlink growth using Yahoo! Site Explorer backlink data. Tracking competitor backlink growth allows for easy benchmarking/up-to-the-moment vertical research. Excel is basically the ultimate tool for productivity as it comes to SEO.. use @MikeCP’s Excel guide: http://bit.ly/msxf5y

@TopHatRank @Raventools is awesome, we use it! But I’m having lots of issues with rank reporting (always lagggs).
@RossHudgens @TopHatRank Rank reporting should never be something to stress over, just check in on it. When Google Analytic stops reporting traffic, then I’ll stress.

@AnnieCushing Is Yahoo updating Yahoo Site Explorer? I stopped using it b/c I thought they were letting it go to seed.
@RossHudgens @AnnieCushing Who knows when it’ll stop but I find that it is still the most accurate up-to-the-moment view of the link graph.
@KrisRoadruck @AnnieCushing its definitely still being updated. We use it daily here.

@joshbachynski stats show female sales people have better sales rates, less threatening, males genetically predisposed to listen

@dan_patterson I find it helps to have an official email as well. name at brand.com works better than gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc.
@matt_storms @dan_patterson I fight to get an official email, hard with medical places and such.
@joshbachynski @dan_patterson can also use gmail’s “pretend you are this email” feature.
@initohen @joshbachynski Caution: it doesn’t actually spoof the address – it puts a “on behalf of” thing in the headers. For that reason it’s useless to me, since I’ve only ever wanted to use it to send actual email from a proper address via Gmail.

@garyjmag Have heard great things about @ToutApp for scaling link building outreach…anyone try it?
@RossHudgens @garyjmag Haven’t given @Toutapp excessive use.. needs a better look. I think it might work for agencies specifically.
@Tawheed @garyjmag We have a lot of SEO folks using @toutapp. We were mentioned on Scaling Link Building talk recently: http://t.co/X7suWRU

@TopHatRank Good method 4 LB using @Raventools social monitor, see who scraped our YouTube vids and then comment on it or ask them 2 link 2 us
@anthonybrunetti @TopHatRank @rosshudgens look at HelpaReporter.com for link opportunities.
@TopHatRank @anthonybrunetti HARO rules. But again – its a lot of work for a maybe link! We use HARO all the time.

The two easiest answers to scale are “buying links” and “outsourcing work”. What are your opinions on these subjects?

I am against disruptive link acquisition. This ruins the web. I am not against non-disruptive link acquisition.

Non-disruptive link acquisition is any link that improves user experience/fits well in-content. These CAN be paid for. Outsourcing SEO menial tasks fine if you are a good manager and stay on top of it. See here for more depth: http://www.rosshudgens.com/death-to-the-paid-link/. Non-disruptive links mean they don’t jar the user when they see them. They BELONG there. People DO pay for these.

Disruptive links are all of JCPenney’s dress links on car blogs. Or car insurance links on blogs about ducks. So, yes, by utilizing money to scale non-disruptive link acquisition, you can scale very well AND help the web. If you go out and buy all the disruptive links, you hurt the web, give SEO a bad name, and also put yourself at risk.

Buy non-disruptive links at own risk. This requires hyper-focused efforts and many of Gladwell’s 10000 hours to do correctly. Outsourcing should be used for any bulk, manual task (for now).

This is like anything else. Expect to fail up front. Your 1st efforts w/outsourcing will probably go bad. Iterate, try new folks, improve comm., cut costs, improve efficiency. If you have an engineer in-house, try to automate manual tasks as much as possible over outsourcing. If that’s not possible, you can always outsource engineering work to eliminate need for manual tasks. :)

@garyjmag In your opinion, what parts of the link building process CAN be effectively outsourced?
@RossHudgens @garyjmag Anything that can eventually be replaced by a script
@KrisRoadruck @garyjmag @chrisbennett had a really good answer to this “You can’t outsource giving a shit”. Everything else is fair game :-)

@AnnieCushing Just don’t buy sitewide links that could set off red flags for unnatural link velocity.
@RossHudgens @AnnieCushing I had a site that got hit recently for too many brand links on an EMD.. believe it or not, brand links can hurt. Removed brand links, and the site immediately recovered for that keyword.
@AnnieCushing @RossHudgens Wow, haven’t seen that. SEOs just need to stop riding the pendulum and go for balance.
@RossHudgens @AnnieCushing If your EMD has commercial intent, too many brand anchors could be used as a counter to EMD power.
@AnnieCushing @RossHudgens Excellent point. Alogs are trying to replicate searcher intent to sniff out anything artificial.
@garyjmag @rosshudgens Removing links? Sounds almost as hard as building links!
@RossHudgens @garyjmag Build positive relationships and contact webmasters and it’s pretty easy.
@Laura_Rike agreed how is this done?
@RossHudgens @Laura_Rike Contact the webmaster, be authentic, be helpful, be appreciative, links will come down.
@AnnieCushing @garyjmag If they’re paid links, some of the link brokers (won’t name names) really push back on removing them.

@anthonybrunetti Disruptive Links also have a very high attrition rate.
@RossHudgens @anthonybrunetti And don’t pass as much value as non-disruptive, and don’t drive actual clicks, the list goes on.
@anthonybrunetti @rosshudgens Word but TBH they are effective in the short-term with new clients. Before the quality kicks-in they can help.

@joshbachynski exact != bad, TOO MUCH exact = bad, need better link spread

@dan_patterson Vary your anchor text, vary your link types, vary your c-blocks, vary vary vary!!!

@Thos003 Too many in text or including Goog-Ads? Do you feel that they will only ding you in EMDs for too many branded terms in content or both content and Ads on page.
@RossHudgens @Thos003 I’m talking about external links, not page-level attributes.

@garyjmag Somewhat related to outsourcing link building: Outsourcing content creation. What’s the best way, post-Panda?
@RossHudgens @garyjmag Iterate. Hire, test content creation ability, fire, fail, try again till you get the process down.
@KrisRoadruck @RossHudgens be caseful with that one… they may take your code idea and run depending on cleverness level of the idea.

@jasonmun @RossHudgens Do you know of a tool that can keep track of links built and disable them when you notice a penalty?
@KrisRoadruck @jasonmun this can be done with a clever bit of php and a link “server”.
@RossHudgens And to be clear I didn’t remove the “brand” links I requested an anchor text change.
@RossHudgens @jasonmun If you only get non-disruptive links you’ll never have to “Disable” links.. you could over-anchor though. In these cases just ask for an anchor text change to something different/semantically related.
@TopHatRank @jasonmun @RossHudgens Use @Raventools they have a feature to add link partners to address book and use across multiple profiles.

@joshbachynski w/ respect, I disagree about automation – i use cheap college kids who are well managed and smart organic always better, just IMO. http://bit.ly/cHyO1h – find good college students.
@AnnieCushing @joshbachynski Using APIs you can automate a lot. Use college kids to then to transform data dumps into actionable graphs/charts.
@RossHudgens The answer is never “automate or don’t automate”. The answer is automate some, don’t automate others.. do what’s right for you.

@AnnieCushing OK, what about using semantically related terms that don’t themselves have search volume? What’s your take on that?
@RossHudgens @AnnieCushing They can help other rankings.. use tilde (~) to find semantically link terms that Google sees as relevant. Put the tilde in front of your search term and Google will bold like terms it sees as relevant. So it seems likely these same keywords in anchors should help rank for your KW as a good variant.

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