Authority Building Versus Link Building In A Search Meets Social World

Session highlights

Session highlights from SMX Advanced 2012 authority & link building session.

Casie Gillette:

  • Get a little wild & crazy. They rebranded to grasshopper. Nobody cares. They Fed-Exed chocolate covered grasshoppers with a link to a video to 500 influencers. Got 200+ news stories. 900K YouTube views. Great links.
  • The most frequently used word in conversations is I. Gave shoutouts to TechCrunch, gizmodo and Mashable in a video called “The New Dork.” Got links.
  • Created “National Entrepreneur’s Day.” It got picked up, and proclaimed by the president. They got a lot of mentions ad links.

 Thomas Shmitz:

  • For all the naysaying Google+ gets, if you’re not there, you’re crazy.
  • Send your customers to rating sites when they finish their experience with you.

 Philip Petrescu:

  • If you have lots of links with no brand, you’re in trouble
  • Social signals are very important in the early stages of ranking but if those social signals don’t generate links, you’ll lose the ranking.

Eric Enge:

  • The real accelerator is if you have influencers who will support you.
  • To find influencers look at your categories in Klout. Twitter search on hashtags. Amazon book search. Conference agendas. And find who influences them, using Klout.
  • Kiss Metrics only posts their own content about once a week on their own blog. Mostly they exchange content, guest posting on other sites, and have other quality authors guest post on their site. And they focus on building relationships with influencers. And it works.

Live blog

And here’s the full coverage …

Lunch is over and we’re back for the 3rd session of SMX Advanced. Authority Building starring:

Moderator: Elisabeth Osmeloski, Managing Editor, Search Engine Land (@elisabethos)

Q&A Moderator: Mark Munroe, Senior Director, SEO, Reply (@markemunroe)

Speakers:

Eric Enge, CEO, Stone Temple Consulting (@stonetemple)
Casie Gillette, Online Marketing Manager, Grasshopper (@casieg)
Philip Petrescu, Founder & CEO, Caphyon (@philippetrescu)
Thomas Schmitz, CEO & Owner, Schmitz Marketing (@TomSchmitz)

For more, search Twitter hashtags #smx #13A

Elisabeth mentions there’s no such thing as Advanced link building, it’s mostly just good solid marketing advice.

Thomas Shmitz

Thomas leads it off. He runs Schmitz Marketing. Wonder how he thought up that name.

He’s been investigating Panda and Penguin. Google wants you to think they’re warm and cuddly, but they’re really ninjas trying to save the world. But you probably think of them as Batman’s enemy. And not the cute ones. The one played by Danny Devito.

Search engines are faster and smarter than ever before. In the beginning, there was PageRank, and it was good. The more links you had, the better. The more links the sites linking to you had, the more power they passed to you. That’s all still true.

What changed is how they measure authority.

Google wants to use any information it can get. But they’re just getting started on measuring authority. So we have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve.

Some of us need to cleanse ourselves from the sins of our past. If you’ve been hit by Panda delete all your low quality content. If you’ve been hit by Penguin, get rid of all the bad links. And Google has said there are some domains that can’t be rehabilitated.

Search engines talk relevance and tone down the talk about authority.

Search engines are not that smart. Did you know that Andy Williams is in 2 punk bands and a Christian group? [Shows a right rail where Google incorrectly combined men of the same name.]

“Computers don’t understand things, they understand strings” — Amit Singhal.

Think of getting authority, budgeting the authority

You can tell Google about your connections.

+1, Facebook, Twitter. Search engines are polling as many sources as they can.

For all the naysaying G+ gets, if you’re not there, you’re crazy.

Twitter and Facebook create content faster than Google can crawl and index it. Are they using it? A lot of people say yes. I don’t know. But what I do know is that if people are Tweeting, Liking, and Pinning your stuff, it’s giving Google the authority signals you need.

Local search is another way to jump around.

Platform & intent: People are using mobile for price comparisons and locations.

Ratings: Complete your profiles. If you see where it says Show reviews by source, that’s where I see who my competitors are getting ratings from. Send your customers to those sites when they finish their experience with you.

Eric Schmidt said brands are the ways to separate the good from the bad. A brand is a name that people keep talking about. Cross-reference that with an index and you can establish authority.

I don’t think page speed is a big deal. If you’re not getting warnings, I think you’ll get diminishing returns. [That's not the conventional wisdom at these conferences.]

Bounce rate: Matt says Google doesn’t use it, Bing says Bing does. If you have a high bounce rate and go back to Google and say “don’t show this again” it will hurt you. [Google may not use what we call Bounce rate, but I have no doubt that they count how many people pogo-stick: go from Google to your site, bounce quickly, and click on a different result from the same SERP listing].

Elisabeth: Now that we’ve laid the foundations, what are the tactical solutions? Here’s Philip Petrescu.

Philip Petrescu

They have a blog on their web site. They rank #1 on the title of new posts less than 5 minutes after being published. Shows examples where they rank for mildly competitive 3 word phrases immediately, without links, with just a few social shares. Why?

It’s fresh. Good enough to get shares. On average they get 50 – 100 shares.

Example from Martin MacDonald: The Curious Case of Camper Shoes.

Said he got an article ranking well with no links. Got a lot of Tweets and interactions. Got #2 for Camper Shoes, just from the social interactions, with no links.

Google is getting better at learning user intent.

Social signals are very important in the early stages of ranking. But after about a week your article will start to lose the ranking. If it’s good, that’s enough time for people to link to you, and that will add important signals. To rank long term you need those links.

Shows a bunch of graphs. Conclusion: Relevance signals are important, but too many exact anchor texts don’t help. Brand signals help more than authority with no brand. If you have lots of links with no brand, you’re in trouble. Social signals help, especially at the beginning, and especially if it’s trusted people sharing.

Do you know the secrets of Google algos? There are none. If you create a great product, how will people link to it? From the name. That kind of thing helps you become an authority. Don’t try to get all these links the hard way. Build a great product that people want to share. That’s how you become an authority.

Elisabeth: Everybody wants the magic bullet for link building. And we’ve seen the damage that can do. The purpose of this session is really to explore how authority and influence come into play. Key takeaway is how much authority is coming into play. And now Eric Enge.

Eric Enge

I’m supposed to talk about the magic bullet of link building. [laughter]

You have to have a great product, you have to be able to tell people about it, and if you have good social accounts that’s great too. But the real accelerator is if you have influencers who will support you.

Influencers have a much bigger audience than you do. And people respond more to what they have to say.

You want to be able to publish something and share it. That drives new followers and fans. Which drives more shares, in a virtuous circle. The influencers add an accelerator to this whole process.

Where does influencer marketer live in the organization? Definitely in marketing. PR, as long as they understand what you’re trying to do. Executive: only if they have a charismatic person driving it.

How to find them? Look at your categories in Klout. Twitter search on hashtags. Amazon book search. Conference agendas. And find who influences them, using Klout.

Who else writes for the same blog?

Ways to verify influence: Twitter followers, Twitter following, Facebook subscribers, G+ followers, G+ following, subscribers. Also need to look at relevance.

You want links that don’t just look natural, but actually are natural.

A natural profile has mostly some version of your brand name, and most of the rest is some version of your domain name.

They don’t have a lot of links from: Blog comments, sites that don’t care about content quality, link networks, directories.

Guest posts are good.

Gives example from KISS Metrics:

Their basic strategy:

  • Post great content, 3 – 4 times per week. 2/3 from guest authors
  • Guest post on other sites: 3-5 times per week
  • Always building relationships with influencers
[Interesting. Most of their writing goes on others' sites, and most of their site is others' writing.]

They get more than 200,000 visitors per month.

Last up is Casie Gillette.

Casie Gillette

They’re in a boring industry (virtual phone system). Big , rich competitors. Generic brand name.

Brand name profile has spikes from times when they were picked up by a site like TechCrunch. Quality often leads to quantity.

To get authoritative links:

  • Get a little wild & crazy. They rebranded to grasshopper. Nobody cares. They Fed-Exed chocolate covered grasshoppers with a link to a video to 500 influencers. Got 200+ news stories. 900K YouTube views. Great links.
  • The most frequently used word in conversations is I. Launched a video called “The New Dork.” How do we get on TechCrunch, gizmodo, Mashable. In our video we gave a few shout-outs to them. We got links.

Where to begin:

  • Do your research
  • Create something valuable
  • Tell them about it

Other ideas that have worked for them:

  • Quote influencers
  • Interviews
  • Lists

The key is to find the right people, and tell them about it.

Be a little controversial. Without being an asshole.

They wrote a post “How to create a Tivo-Proof Ad”

  • Put up a blog post
  • Bragged about it
  • Reached out to press

Gawker made fun of them. Other sites had better discussions about it. No real harm done, and they got mostly good attention. [Even though they made a claim that they knew they couldn't back up]

Created “National Entrepreneur’s Day.” It got picked up, and proclaimed by the president. They got a lot of mentions ad links.

Put on your PR hat. I heard Marty and Rhea say this today. These are all merging. Social, link building. It’s all PR, marketing.

Use

  • HARO
  • nytimes.com/twitter
  • muckrack.com
  • wefollow.com
  • twibes.com/reporters/twitter-list

Journalists are on twitter. She got featured on WSJ and Boston Globe because she was paying attention to Twitter and HARO and responded to relevant queries.

That’s how you build relationships, and that’s how you build links.

I think Casie’s presentation was my favorite so far today.

Quick exchange from the Q&A:

Q: Have we failed people at these conferences in what we discussed about link building?

Thomas: Yes. It used to be much easier to game, so we advised that. But that stuff doesn’t work anymore.

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