The panelists in this session will discuss purchasing links for a wide range of reasons.
Moderator: Jake Baillie
Andy Hagans, Strategist, Text-Link-Ads and co-founder of ReviewMe
John Lessnau, Founder, LinkAdage
Thomas Bindl, SEO Consultant, ThomasBindl.com
Andy Hagans from TLA and ReviewMe
Theme and link neighborhood
Themes are usually associated with the domain name, and Andy says to look at the site as a whole.
PageRank is just a quick starting point — it’s by no means the end-all. Do a site:domain.com search on Yahoo! Site Explorer and see who is linking to them. It comes down to trust. Do they have .edus and .govs linking to them or is it just cheesy link directories?
If you are just buying a link based on SEO benefits, you can never tell how they are really working. But if you are also doing it based on traffic, those links can wind up paying for themselves or at least let you break even.
If it’s buried or at the bottom of a page, for example, it’s never going to get traffic. You want it to be in the content area – that’s why people are coming. Search engines devalue links outside of the editorial content. Try to get it in the content.
Trust but verify
Very hard to do, but look at your traffic logs – what kind of traffic are you getting from your links? Are you ranking higher within 3 months?
Think natural – match natural link building (don’t buy 1000 links in one day). Get natural links from natural sites within your theme. Get trust.
John Lessnau from Linkadage
John starts out talking about SurvivorMan and how it relates to a new webmaster just starting on the web with very little money.
There’s no such thing as a free link
- Pay cash
- Link as a favor
- A traded link
- Link to your great content
- Link to your great web tools
What would Survivorman do?
- He’d get lots of links with little resources
- Would he care about PageRank? Nope.
Link buying tips
- Buy your keywords embedded in other websites’ content
- Buy on indexed, inside pages
- Don’t worry about PageRank
- Buy only permanent one-way links or year-long links
- Don’t spend over $5 per month (or $60 per year) or $150 for permanent links
- Contact sites that aren’t really making money on their sites and approach them. Do 5 – 10 per day – it will cost you a few thousand but it will be huge for you!
- These sites rank for keyword phrases related to your site
- These sites would love the novelty of actually making money with their site
- Virtually undetectable as paid links
Beware of links…
- On homepages with very high PR
- In long lists at the bottom or sides of page
- Link under “Sponsored Links” text
- That are “run off-site”
- On sites designed to sell links
- On artificial networks of sites
John’s biggest piece of advice: Keep it natural.
Thomas Bindl – Independent Consultant
How to avoid technical pitfalls:
- Always look at the cache of the page before buying the link
- Toolbar PageRank is not necessarily real
- Check backlinks and related links
- Redirects (download.com, for example)
- Robots.txt – no benefit for you
- Commented links
- Iframe links
- User-agent cloaking
- All other forms of cloaking
- No cache of the website
- [site:domain.com "anchor text"] unsuccessful
- Metatags are different in Cache
- Cache is different
Does the link pass PageRank?
- PR of existing links don’t get passed -1
- Link exists for more than 3 months
- Big rotation of sponsors
- You don’t feel a boost after 2 weeks
What can happen to you for buying links?
- Your site gets kicked out of the search engines
- Your ranking is about 30 positions worse
- You don’t pass PR
- You rank for anything except the targeted term
Question: How do you calculate what is really a related link? Example is golf shoes.
John: Keep it broad – for example, sports rather than just other golf shoe sites.
Question: I see my competitors spending lots of money and they rank high, but I think the sites are overpriced for what they offer. Should I buy?
Thomas: Find better places to buy links. Get creative.
Question for John: Do you feel that you can get better deals by searching deeper within your site?
John: On Linkadage some of the best deals are the new sellers and you can get some really good deals that way.
Question: Do we know for sure that the SEs (search engines) are penalizing sites that buy text links?
Thomas: We know for sure b/c it happened to me and it seems to happen even more lately. Why shouldn’t Google be also doing this – going to text link ads and trying to buy them and seeing who is really selling.
Andy: Buying links can sometimes be a terrible idea or can work really well. Sites that are on older domains and that have obtained trust can do very well buying links. But with a new site, all the first links come from a link network – this can cause a problem. There is risk involved.
John: There was a site called seoblackhat who was offering Google Bowling – I don’t know if it works.
Question: How can we tell which links actually help us?
John: Whoever figures that out will become a rich man. Best advice would be to try and buy incrementally and see what helps.
Andy: You can weed out at least some of the worst links by actually visiting the publisher and seeing who is really selling a lot. I would never recommend someone buying links as a permanent strategy. You should eventually be dropping your paid links.
Question: What do you think about site-wide links?
John: If you have an established site, it probably won’t help you, but if it’s a brand new site and your first links are site-wide, it will probably be sniffed out.
Andy: I used to be in the camp where I thought a single was better than site-wide, but I now think a mixture is okay. Look at a blog-roll – those are sitewide. Michael Gray actually posted about Sandbox Crawling on his blog.
Question: If you get penalized – what is a surefire way to even know you are being penalized? Secondly, how do you know how long its for and how do you get out of it?
Andy: Good luck with that one. I had an affiliate site that was doing really well and I woke up one day and my rankings were 32, 33, etc. Then I read about it on Threadwatch and no one really knew what it was. In regards to a filter, I have never gotten one removed before but I know someone who says they have.
Thomas: To get rid of a penalty it’s usually 95% a link thing. All the dodgy links – get rid of them. Wait and make a webmaster reinclusion request via Webmaster Tools.
Question: Are there any tools that you recommend to track your links to make sure they are in place?
Thomas: Excel – We have in-house tools to check.
John: We offer a free link checker that will let you do this.
Question: I have been looking into presell pages on .edu pages that aren’t linked to main navigation.
John: I don’t think they would be worth as much but they may have some value.
Question: John – I am curious about the keyword text links and how far out of the range you should go?
John: Since they are so cheap, I don’t think you are going to get hurt by them – even if they are close.
Question: How would you compare a blog with PR5 and a site with PR5?
A resounding “no difference.”
Question: How long does it take to get a site out of the sandbox?
Thomas: Depends on a number of factors.
Andy: When it has trust.
Question: Are there any good paid directories out there anymore?
Andy: I use Yahoo Directory, Business.com, BOTW, bCentral, JoeAnt and Gimpsy – that’s it.
Question: What type of success should you be seeing after two weeks from a link?
Thomas: Traffic or rankings increase.
Question: Let’s say I buy a link today – how long should it take to see it in my backlinks?
Thomas: 2 weeks.
John: Probably never in Google but MSN and Yahoo! – I say 2 months.
Question: Top level domains – if you are in the UK, will a UK domain help more?
Andy: I think it would help you more but any legit link that is relevant and trusted is going to help.
Thomas: My rule of thumb – the closer it is to the audience location and relation wise, the better.
Question: Google Bombing – does it work?
Andy: I don’t think you are really going to be able to screw your competitor if they are trusted. With a low quality site, yeah it can.
Question: As far as link dilution – let’s say there are links going out and also to sub-pages — does that dilute it?
John: Internal linking is okay – within reason. You are more concerned about how many outbound links there are.
Thomas: I disagree. The more links going away, the more it dilutes it.