My last live blog of the excellent Distilled information-laden conference is on Patrick Altoft of Branded 3′s presentation about his experience of Google link devaluation and how to avoid this. His focus is on link building efficiency, as he believes the majority of people just don’t realise how many links Google devalues.
Don’t buy links unless you are 100% sure it’s safe. Think about it: most text link brokers actually have Google Analytics on their site so Google knows exactly what they’re doing!
- Download links for all competitors into one excel sheet then de-duplicate domains to start with smaller, easier numbers.
- Use filters to find what sort of links your competitors have and compare these to your numbers.
- Do they have many .ac.uk, .edu, .gov links?
- Does their anchor text contain target keywords
- Find and make a note of blogs, forums, directories linking to them
- Do an IP to country lookup to geo-locate links
Patrick’s case study focused on the mobile phone market where brands seemed to be ranking very well, looking at link profiles to find anomalies and answers.
- Use Wordle.net – easy anchor text visualisation. Download everyone’s anchor text and plug it in.
- Download competitors’ inbound link anchor text, create pivot table and find top 10 anchor texts by count.
- Use pivot tables to find brand authority –using SEOMoz domain authority stats.
- Create link profiles for your top 30 competitors – every industry’s link profile will be different but compare enough within the same niche, and you will get a decent idea of what looks right and wrong.
- Plot the authority of sites against brand queries – bubble chart will show how strong an individual brand is within a given niche. This will easily allow you to see where you are lacking and where your competitors are beating you. You can also reverse this, looking at exact match anchor text.
NB. Brand links are a safety net. There’s a fine line if you are link building very aggressively between being ok and tripping a penalty.
Conclusions from the case study
- If you have a lot of natural links then Google appears less likely to devalue your unnatural looking links
- If brands in your sector have a brand link authority of X with Y% of those links coming from sites with authority Z and above, then you need to be -building the same
- Non-brands are using branded anchor text links to make Google believe that they are brands too.
- Analyse competitors and find out the county and authority of each type of link and each type of anchor text
- Compare your link profile and build up the parts that your competitors are beating you on.
- Once you have as much branded trust and authority, start to build up your keyword authority without going too far and tripping a filter or penalty. Large affiliate sites are taking this very seriously – putting a lot of time and effort into building up a natural looking brand profile, to then allow them to later build up more low quality links to get them up the rankings.
- Content syndication is the best way they have found to build authority and keyword links at the same time. Because Google is focusing on paid links so much, old fashioned techniques like article syndication are working a lot better now than they were 12 months ago.
What if your brand name is the same as your target keyword?
This would be the problem for many exact match domains, and would be more difficult as Google will struggle to differentiate. Patrick suggests including the .com/.co.uk within your link to help define it as a brand.