Takeaways from linklove link building seminar, London

Apologies for the slightly tardy write-up – anyone familiar with the INTP personality type will know that we need to take time to reflect on information before volunteering an opinion. Since Friday I’ve been chewing over some of the vast quantity of material covered at linklove, the awesome link building seminar laid on by Distilled. I don’t tend to take a lot of notes (apologies for any inaccuracies) and will certainly look forward to going back over the slides when they’re available, but two days later, these are the common themes that I took out of the day – my key takeaways.

N.B. Duncan Morris, Distilled CEO, requested a spoiler alert for anyone planning to go to linklove New Orleans. I’m not really sure it’s necessary because I have zero chance of steeling that kind of thunder – nevertheless, consider yourself alerted.

The reddit resource

Action number one is to spend a whole lot more time on reddit. The social news site got a mention in most of the talks, at least twice in the context of being the new digg. By all accounts reddit currently offers the search marketer’s holy trinity: *high traffic* *active community* *easily gamed*. The stand-out tactic came from Russ Jones who posts links to previously popular but now passée subreddits – so long as the community has moved on, an off-topic link will remain undetected.

The advent of social search

Social search is here (as if there were any doubt). We heard anecdotes of social results integrated within SERPs (already in place in the US) delivering outstanding results for users. Rand‘s Future of link building highlighted some of the shortcomings of current search ranking factors and pointed toward a utopian future where Google recognises sincerity, and where twitter bots are defunct because their profiles lack the depth of real people – “[bots] don’t have girlfriends”. Rand’s argument was typically compelling – it makes perfect sense for the consumer, so why wouldn’t Google be headed in this direction?

Irrespective of Google knowing people from bots, the recent Jennifer Lopez experiment on SEOmoz shows there’s currently a lot of scope for boosting rankings with twitter, albeit for limited periods. Again loads of great ideas for how to exploit this. One tool of choice was followerwonk which allows you to search twitter bios and sort the results by number of followers to find influential people for your keyword.

Be careful what links you wish for

Wil Reynolds delivered perhaps the biggest bombshell of the day when he showed empirical evidence that one of his clients had suffered a rankings drop as the direct result of coverage (and links) on high-authority sites such as the New York Times and Cosmopolitan. His client’s back-link profile was apparently “overweighted on high-quality, trusted news sources”. I’m still struggling to get my head around this one – the idea that you could score an editorial link from Cosmo and the next day your rankings crash… WTF? It seems there’s a whole lot more to competitor back-link analysis than I’d ever really appreciated.

Russ Jones: “White-hat, grey-hat, and awesome-hat

If there were ever any doubt about white-hat tactics being hard work then surely there is no longer. I’ve done some writing for SEO so was particularly interested to hear what Will had to say on Scalable white-hat link building. He covered some really interesting analysis of the average number of linking route domains achieved per article, comparing the BBC and New York Times with content farms. Making the case for quality content, he proposed following some the efficiencies of ehow‘s machine learning techniques to figure out what subjects to write about, then pay for real writers to produce the content – no real short-cuts to quality unfortunately.

More in the grey-hat / awesome-hat territory, I loved hearing several of the speakers talk through ideas for churn and burn sites which are variously redirected to your main site using 301 or canonical links. Cheekiest example was from Martin Macdonald:

  1. Set up www.yourcompetitor-reviews.com
  2. Write some nice things about your competitor
  3. Your competitor is flattered and links to the site from a blog post so more of their customers can see the nice reviews
  4. After a safe period has elapsed the post is archived and unlikely to ever be reviewed, redirect www.yourcompetitor-reviews.com to your main site
  5. BOOM! Your competitor is now sending you their valuable link juice

The importance of your network

I have to admit that I find it slightly frustrating whenever I’m reminded the of the importance of networking, chiefly because I find it difficult (that INTP thing again). But with reluctance I’m forced to accept that existing personal networks are a huge asset in link building. I loved Rand’s tip of searching Quora profiles to track down tech journalists – spending some time answering their questions could be a great way to get on their radar. Also a mad Twitter scraper from Tom that allows you to profile your twitter followers to quickly find those that carry most influence and have high quality sites linked from their profile.

Plausible deniability

My last takeaway was the glorious phrase “Plausible deniability”. If the content on your site is user generated, then it stands to reason that the user who generated it might take some pride in it and want it to rank, right? You can hardly be held responsible for their actions, can you?

Thanks to all at Distilled for a brilliant day.

18 Comments , ,

18 Responses to “Takeaways from linklove link building seminar, London”

  1. MOGmartin March 21, 2011 at 09:16 #

    Great writeup of the distilled #linklove event mate, it was certainly one of the best seo conferences Ive been to!

    Just a quick correction, that sneaky competitive reviews using a sneaky cross site rel canonical was in my presentation, not Wil’s..

    The slide deck (well most of it anyway) will be posted up on my blog pretty soon, as soon as it is up I will be tweeting a link to it so make sure you follow @seoforumsorg

    cheers

    Martin Macdonald
    MOGmartin

    • Tom March 21, 2011 at 09:22 #

      Yikes! Sorry Martin – so much information, some of it gets a bit mixed up! Thanks for pointing out the error – will get this corrected.

      Tom

  2. itsmartie March 21, 2011 at 09:28 #

    i dont like the sound of that be carefull what links you wish for. I couldnt make the conference was abit gutted about that the reviews sound good. I dont see how google can make you go backwords from big companies linking to you surely that would show them your website can be trusted and is worth ranking

    • Tom March 21, 2011 at 09:38 #

      Totally agree. I got the impression that Wil was pretty mystified by the result too but the data don’t lie. I don’t think Wil mentioned what industry his client was in – maybe it was very special circumstances. It’s certainly a weird result.

  3. Lari March 21, 2011 at 10:11 #

    Great write-up Tom!

    As a fellow INTP it will probably take me some time to chew over it myself. ;-)

    Lari

    • Tom March 21, 2011 at 10:29 #

      Thanks Lari, it’s a blessing and a curse in equal measure. I used to have a line manager who was also INTP – a favourite anecdote is her declaring to the whole room that the problem was her “P’ness”. How we laughed :)

  4. Robert March 21, 2011 at 10:53 #

    Thanks for your round up, from one of those who didn’t make it!

    Cheers,
    Rob

  5. Adrian March 21, 2011 at 11:40 #

    I love the idea of creating a friendly review for a competitor and then pulling the rug out from onder them. Great idea!

  6. RedditRevenge March 21, 2011 at 14:15 #

    You just dissed a website that has an army of world-class hackers at it’s disposal. Did you think they wouldn’t find out?

    • Tom March 21, 2011 at 15:10 #

      Oh dear. Guess it wouldn’t help to say no disrespect intended.

    • Nick March 21, 2011 at 18:24 #

      “*high traffic* *active community* *easily gamed*.” Thanks for trying to capitalize on our community. It’s not the next digg, it’s reddit. People that try to profit on our free flow of information are not welcome. You have now made the front page (http://imgur.com/ZDrFX)

      Otherwise, if you would like to post something relevant in your field, in a subreddit please feel free to share your expertise. It will always be welcome.

  7. disgusted March 21, 2011 at 15:16 #

    You people are parasites, destroying the best parts of the Web. You believe yourself to be “clever”, and in the least flattering sense of “clever”, I suppose you are. Fake praise which later gets redirected to your site? You really think that would do anything but turn me off to your site/product forever? I know you CAN spam reddit, and perhaps that will work for a while, but as soon as it is detected, it will subtract more than was ever gained by the tactic.

    If I believed in a Hell, I would happily see you burn next to the bankers. Have a nice life.

    • @Darren_wills March 23, 2011 at 10:35 #

      “If I believed in a Hell, I would happily see you burn next to the bankers. Have a nice life.” – WOW!

      Nice summary Tom!

    • Mike March 25, 2011 at 16:07 #

      What is wrong with you? Calm down and stop wishing damnation on people whom you’ve read one article about, childish idiots.

  8. Stephen Cowan March 22, 2011 at 17:08 #

    Wow that is a shocker, the fact that to many high quality backlinks can negatively effect your site rankings. I would like to find the reasoning behind this. The fact that you are able to even obtain such links that alone should cause praise and increase your rankings. I just have to shake my head at google for that one.

  9. Arizona SEO March 22, 2011 at 17:11 #

    I’m attending the New Orleans Conference and this post has me excited to hear more tactics like those listed under “Awesome Hat”! Thanks for spreading the link love!

  10. DMA March 23, 2011 at 10:58 #

    Wow!

    This has really stirred up the community over at Reddit. If it had value I’d say it has none as of today. Russ is copping it over this comment now.

    I’m sure he regrets it.

  11. Alex March 29, 2011 at 15:25 #

    Great post! I went to the New Orleans Conference and had a chance to interview Rand as well. Go INTP’s we are a different breed….so expect to see my post in a week or so.