Ralph, better known as Fantomaster’s presentation is based on his own self-constructed link network, baptised Link Whisperer. So why should you do it? The simple answer:
You get 100% control over your in-links, which then allows you to fine tune your web campaigns and boosts your ranking potential.
Setting up a link network is not that complicated. Setting up a strategy for it is the difficult part. Without decent content, all link building campaigns will fail anyway.
Conventional link building – the methods and the problems
- Buying links (yes we know, we’re not supposed to). Aside from that age-old issue, paid links are also getting increasingly expensive as demand is limitless. They’re also all too often easily detectable and search engines will flag them up.
- In house link building. It’s resource intensive, costly & slow, there are high levels of staff training, maintenance and recruitment costs involved.
- Outsourced link building – classic example? SEO Skype spam. It’s a low reliability technique, with a higher risk of penalties. If you get into trouble, you get penalised or you get banned – it’s pretty hard to to track the cause of that back to the original point.
The more crucial point for all three? You will never have full control over any 3rd party links. Full control is a lot of things: where they are, what kind of environment they’re in. the anchor text they have
So what’s the ideal solution? Your own link network.
What do you actually need to do this? According to Ralph, you want to be able to:
- determine the location of your links
- specify their anchor text
- roll these out within specific timeframes
- scale them successfully (e.g. highly competitive environments, focusing on key pages and/or search terms)
- modify them at will (e.g. keeping up with changes in ranking algorithms)
The key idea is to create the most natural link profile possible – mixing it up, deep links and homepage links or keyword anchor text as well as not. There’s no set formula, it could be something along the lines of deep linking 60/40 ratio in favour of your homepage.
Ralph’s core features for a link building network:
Unsurprisingly these are very much in line with what would be called ‘best practice’ links – working to make the backlinks look as natural and random as possible.
- Initial competitive link analysis AND regular ongoing follow ups (competitors will also be working, researching, changing and building!)
- Customised proprietary, topical websites
- Unique and quality (there’s the crucial words folks) content
- A large range of hosts and IP addresses
- No artificial link structures
- An organic deployment of yours sites (ensuring you’ve planned a sustainable long-term strategy)
- Structural variance – don’t make you sites clones of one another
- Create the least amount of footprinting possible, focusing on making sure search engines cannot see through your network
- Consistent fresh, updated content and natural linking patterns
- Fully customisable anchor text links with unlimited keywords
- Unlimited linking targets
- Totally flexible and reassignable alternative monetisation options – pre-empt changes in your business model, it takes time to set your own network up so you need to be ready to wait for it to mature.
- Sustained appreciate, with high investment value.
Ralph’s point to remember:
This is only a mid to long term solution – you need to be ready to invest time and allow things to build gradually.
Question from Paul Madden: Should you place the links in the content immediately or would you publish the content then gradually add the links in at a later date?
Ralph’s answer: He tends to always generate the content with the links in it from the very beginning. However the possibilities are limitless, boxes may be there for a reason but you can think out of them. You can sell a link on one of your sites and use that investment to push back into the next.
Editor’s note: Paul happens to be sitting next to me. He kindly pointed out he also had a ‘a long and rambling stream of thoughts’ on this very topic – Building a Distributed Link Network. Read more at your peril.