Build Content, Build Links – Wil Reynolds at #Searchlove

Build Content, Build Links – Wil Reynolds at #Searchlove

24th October 2011

Up next and with our last post of today we’ll be having a listen to what Wil Reynolds has to say about building content and in turn building links. Wil is one of the brightest minds in the industry (in my opinion) and I’m really looking forward to what he has to this time around as I believe he received the highest positive feedback from the last Distilled conference.

Wil will be chatting through content led linkbuilding ideas – let’s go.

Starting strong with the warmest round of applause of the day- the true title is “Content Based Link Building” this is definitely right up my alley – always been a strong proponent that content led is the linkbuilding Gold (please see mahifx).

Straight into the data- Wil does NOT believe have anywhere near as much impact as social as anyone would have us believe. He’s taking some very simple metrics looking at blogs posted in the last few months with more than 10 RT’s and what percentage of them have inbound links from sites with a PageAuthority of over 40.

He compared these as well to the percentage of links with branded anchor text – “Hey Google, I’m building a brand” and people are searching for us all the time and Google should be able to see this.

However, if you look at the same set of companies with SEO in the anchor text. Many fewer in his dataset. So who do we think is doing best? It’s the anchor text guys… in a landslide. RT’s, 1000’s of followers, etc. Some day it may mean something but today it does NOT in terms of ranking. There is probably value in this but it’s not changing rankings.

What could Google see? Increase in subscriptions? Increase in links? Google reader data? Yet in spite of all of this fantastic data that Google CAN see in their own warehouse they are not using it in rankings.

“Good luck getting those tweets that’ll help it rank better. It’s BS. I know we’re all mad about it, but I’m right.”

Solution: what we should really be doing is getting articles spun and so forth. This will hopefully change and the presentation is on different subject matter but it’s an interesting point worth thinking.

Wil suggests that anyone who has a blog and is using WordPress has loads of links right under their nose.

Broken Link on the blog?

Wil watches the comments really closely so it can only be one of two things: either the links wasn’t done properly or it’s something to do with the comments.

Example Wil uses: my friend Marilyn ( is a good example who was going nuts on social and SEO. She realised it was hard and quit, but her site has 60-70 links, so who picked up the hosting cost in exchange for a link? It’s relevant, Philly based SEO stuff, so why not?

Legitimate asset in his blog post?

A blog post that Wil linked to, site went down and Wil found out. If you need an “in” this is a great way to help someone in the industry: do you need any help. The link is really just the beginning of a relationship here.

Alternative approach is: what if the person who had a page went down got lazy? Republish it on your own site and go out and reach out to the rest of the folks who linked to it here is the plugin (thank you very much, I will be grabbing that later).

Big brands are not agile.

Wil had a quick rant about how big clients lack agility and tend to fail, what’s the solution? Everyone usually builds microsites because dealing with internal politics can be the only way around it.

Launching infographics is HARD.

Wil asked for a personal applause for Tom because he admitted that sometimes we do stuff that doesn’t work. Shit doesn’t always work how you plan it, no matter how hard you plan for things. Yet, somehow big clients think launching a billboard is easy, so what’s the easy solution?

Find all your competitors silly microsites and here’s how to go find them and put it to use. Go find out who was linking to them and why, and go get it to use it against them. The example he uses is: Starbucks registering for just one year and not really thinking it through. There are problems with microsites.

Another tip: search for the email attached to the whois address – a tip from @joehall.

Writing Content is Hard and Pushing it is Also Hard!

You may not have a ton of followers to ask for tips. A good place to start though may well be to ask what little following you have what they want to hear about.

Wil suggests using Google Suggest to find stuff to write about. If you’re in the ecommerce space, you may well want to look at Google Product Search suggest- totally different results. This is a really key insight as a way to pick up some additional keywords to target. [This is one of my favourite tips of the day- can’t believe I hadn’t thought of this one yet!]

Are you after the right keywords and a genuine audience with your content?

Make sure there is a market for what you want to talk about and make sure you’re using the right words!

First he was talking about the value in PostRank before it went defunct (missing that one too).

It’s not entirely gone, Wil suggests you can still use the following plugin for chrome. It’ll drop in some of the info about number of Tweets, comments, the old PostRank, you can also select HackerNews, etc. This plugin is not as easy as you can’t just pick the best/most valued PostRank one as you could do previously.

Another quality tool that Wil recommends using a lot is Topsy – shows you how many other people have posted or tweeted the link, but it will also tell you whether or not they highly influential, influential, etc. It also finds tweets that don’t have your keyword so you don’t necessarily overlook things.

So what is this really good for?

Wil thinks it’s the best way to get the most coveted guest blogging opportunities is use this research to talk to someone and they will respect the fact that you know what takes off and gets them pageviews, etc. It’s a lot better for outreach than doing it without any clue, your email will go straight to the trash.

How do you make an infographic nearly failproof?

1. Have a real marketing plan!

2. Treat it like a true marketing asset know who you are going to look out for it.

3. Long posts suck, good luck finding popular long posts, so don’t go over the top. Make readers look smart using this stuff, so you may want to look at old, really long posts from clever sources – recreate a news story, etc.

4. When looking at the research areas/news stories you’re looking to visualise, etc. look for the following: Who commented on it? Who tweeted? Who linked to it?

5. Pay someone to put it up. Is that black hat? Use special ad sections, it’s not illegal! It may not be a followed link but it’s obvious that it’s an advertisement, so what’s the problem? Worst case this is defensible. (Pro-tip search for “special advertising section”).

6. Use Google image search after you launch an infographic! Go to Google images, click advance, put in the URL of the infographic and it will show you embeds. Great way to find who included your graphic and din’t necessarily link to you.

7. Getting original infographics? If you’re outsourcing this stuff you may want to run the final version through the same advanced search because someone may well have copied it and then tried to charge you a bunch of money for it.

8. Look for surveys, “funded research”, etc. People will generally be happy for you to make your data accessible for people. Put it in a format that people actually want to read!

9. Pay for huge research reports: Pew Charitable trusts, .govs, etc. All sorts of opportunity here.

10. Never invest in making them easier.

Moving onward very quickly to talk about people in your “neighborhood” you’re ignoring.

The first step is to check out and find out who your followers are, ping them in and find out who you follows you, who could you meet up with? CONNECTING WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS IS NEVER A BAD DECISION TO MAKE.

There is all sorts of value in engaging with people who are already following you and see value in what you’re doing. How easy as well would it be to find out if any journalists are following you? Using ctrl+f is a lot easier than starting from scratch! And then you can start the stalking engagement. Or you could just throw it into a tag cloud.

What else can you do? Check out Quora and get an RSS feed for an individual or even just what they answer. Makes things a lot easier to manipulate, throw into a database, etc. If you want to get an in with a subject matter look at the questions they’re answering there!

RSS = Scale

If you were to scrape out the content of long blog posts and do some keyword and character calculations to find mention of “increase” or any other percentage based references and this has infographic material written all over it.

Look for Content vs. Rankings

People are looking for the quickest possible answer, make it easier for them! People don’t want to read really long posts if they search for “hardwood flooring costs” you don’t want to read for hours – the example was that the right asset was actually a “hardwood flooring calculator” – the only real issue is that the site mis-labelled it. It’s the most helpful answer for the query, but it’s targeting the wrong keyword. Really it’s all about making the best asset the easiest to find, you will get links.

*People love sliders, if people can adjust calculations with this it might even be better.

Leveraging Community in a Different Way

Make people’s wish come true – give away a product each week by asking users to promote and talk about their 5 favourite products and give something away to one person each week. You make them happy and you get deep product links. [Note from Sam – I know some of the Google folk at a4u last week took issue with this sort of thing so you may want to be a bit careful].

That concludes a fantastic presentation. Very good stuff! That’s me done for the day, I’ll be back with more coverage tomorrow.

See more coverage of Searchlove 2011


Written By
Sam Crocker is SEO Associate Director at OMD UK. Sam focuses on increasing traffic and conversions for websites whilst always keeping his eye on a company’s bottom line.
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