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Local Link Building & Google LocalRank

Nothing new here, just mentioning the LocalRank patent from long ago. Claus Schmidt published a great article about LocalRank a couple of years ago.

The more interconnectivity there are amongst the top results the more algorithmic weight you could place on interconnectivity. Many search queries are not as competitive as they seem at first glance, because in some industries there are few industry hubs, so many of the high PageRank sites have little interconnectivity. If 10 to 20 of the top 200 results rank at your site and only 2-3 rank at most of the other top results it should not take much (if any) additional general authority to outrank competing sites.

Also keep in mind that pages which rank #50 for your main query may rank #2 or #3 for related queries, so links from top ranked and mid ranked related resources can be great in providing indirect value (ie ranking boosts) AND direct value (ie traffic). Some algorithms like these might make SEO harder if you use outdated techniques, but if you use current techniques it makes SEO easier because you do not have to deal with trying to get as many links if you are focused on getting the right links.

LocalRank sorta ties in with the concepts presented in Hilltop (brief overview of Hilltop here).

Keep in mind that if a site has enough authority it can rank well without needing much LocalRank, but getting links from related resources makes it easier for you to rank without needing to bulk up on building up tons and tons of PageRank.

I doubt Hilltop was implemented exactly as described in that paper (especially since I have many affiliated sites ranking next to each other in search results). Other biasing algorithms, like , likely allow Google to topically bias or personalize search results while perhaps still making it rather hard to manipulate them when compared with algoirthims such as Hilltop.

Aaron Wall, Search Marketing / SEO Coverage and Rants – Aaron Wall is one of the most vocal search engine marketers in the business and he has channeled his thoughts and expertise into his widely popular eBook, SEObook.

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Link Building Techniques : Competitor Link Analysis

As part of my series of blog posts on link building techniques I have decided to look at how we can use tools and build a process to analyse a competitors backlink profile to help create a list of target sites for you to approach. After all, if your competitor can be on that website then why can’t you?!

If you’re new to the term “backlink” it’s simply a link from another site to yours which Google may count to boost your ranking if it considers it’s a quality link.

The key to this process is getting the appropriate data about yours & your top 5 / 10 competitors (in search) back links so you can filter & prioritse the actions off the back of it. Both you and your competitors are going to have backlinks which do very little for your website both in terms of ranking & referral traffic so be sure to spend the team filtering.

I also worked with Dave on a separate post reviewing 5 backlink analysis tools.

Benefits of using Competitor Back Link Analysis

Relatively easy compared to other link building methods

Data is readily available to help prioritise

Targeted towards sites you know will have a positive impact on your search efforts

The aim

Identify who are your major competitors in Natural Search for your top 10 keywords?

Which backlinking approaches do they use?

How does their backlink profile vary in number of links, types of sites, age and growth of links

The Process Collating the data on you & your competitors

While writing this blog post I noticed that SEOMOZ had just written a guide on how & what to analyse for competitor link analysis. You should definitely checkout the blog post here. Following Justin’s blog post will allow you to appropriately analyse your competitors backlink profiles and arrive at the list we need to progress this process.

In short armed with the tools Justin talks about & armed with your top 10 keywords you need to arrive at a list of websites you need to target in your link building activity. To make the decision on which websites to prioritise you need to understand:

The volume of links with the appropriate anchor text against them

The quality of the websites the links come from

Prioritising & Planning

Now you have more data than you could ever want we need to turn this into a plan & a focussed todo list. Starting at keyword number one you need to choose the top 10 domains that you want to target from your research. Repeat this process for the other key-terms. You should now have a list of 100 websites to target, though you will probably need to de-dupe this list as well.

Once you have your list of websites to approach you need to spend time on each website & determine your approach. Key questions you should answer when considering each website:

How important is this website to my plan?

Who would visit this website & why would my business be relevant to them?

What would this website find valuable (content, guest post, guides, widgets etc) that I could gift them in return for a link?

What has no other company done on this website that I can do to show my businesses value?


So considering you now have a good proportion of the links your competitors do, as well as some links of your own + what you would hope is a highly optimised web page for each keyword, have your rankings improved? One month in I would start a weekly ranking check for the keywords you selected and monitor over a 12week period. This should be plenty of time for any impacts to show. Remember though your competitors will not be sat idle and you are most likely using other link building techniques so it is sometimes difficult to tie & action with reaction in this industry but you should get some indicative results.

Crucially though if you do rank better than before the activity you need to understand how this has impacted, traffic & ultimately sales.

Tools required to complete the process:

Our review of 5 backlink analysis tools.

Recommended Link : SEOMOZ Guide to Competitor Link Analysis

Do you have any tips / stories our questions on competitor link analysis? Please get intouch below if so!

Link Building Through Social Media Monitoring

So much of our online marketing efforts overlap with one another. With the right coordination, the line between search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing begins to blur. Marketing tactics that started out solely as a means for improving social media visibility are now transitioning into viable SEO strategies. One of my favorite examples of this is link building through social media monitoring.

Social media monitoring is basically the process of monitoring conversations about your brand and/or product(s) across social communities. This can range from tweets to blog posts to mentions in news articles. The point is, if someone is talking about you or your products – you want to know about it.

But what if someone mentions a keyword you are targeting for SEO? Doesn’t that stand out to you as a new link opportunity? In addition to tracking brand and product mentions, you can use your favorite social media monitoring tool as an automated link researching tool. It’s like having that intern you keep trying to get your boss to let you hire, except this one will work 24/7 for you and you don’t have to teach it anything.

Keywords your targeting. I mentioned this one at the beginning of the article. The idea is if someone writes a blog post about a keyword you’re trying to rank for, it could be a great opportunity for you to reach out to them and convince them to insert a link to your site in the post or to allow you to guest post for them. It’s also a great way to discover popular communities in your industry (e.g. forums) that you should be participating in daily – and including links in your posts where relevant. The opportunities are endless, especially considering how many keywords you’re probably interested in ranking for.

Keeping an eye on your competitors. Where are your competitors building links and participating? This is a great opportunity for you see see where they are focusing their link building efforts so you can also engage in those areas. It’s also a great way to keep tabs on what anchor text they are focusing on so you know what keywords they are targeting. You just mind find a few that you hadn’t though of targeting in the first place.

Identifying industry authorities. Finding the key influencers in your industry and getting them to write about and discuss your company, products and services can be a dream come true for your SEO. With just a few simple reviews on their blog or even just through their Twitter stream, you’ll start to see more organic reviews showing up that didn’t require any effort on your part.

What ways are you using social media monitoring for SEO?

Top 4 Link Building Mistakes To Avoid In 2023

Link building campaigns not meeting your goals?

Feel like your efforts have become a kind of SEO groundhog day? You know, the same thing repeatedly with little to no new results?

Break the cycle of bad link building.

Discover which mistakes you might be making and how to fix them.

On February 2, I moderated a sponsored webinar presented by Michael Johnson, Partnerships Development Manager at Page One Power.

Johnson demonstrated how to identify and correct link building mistakes and provided campaign tips for helping you rank higher and drive more traffic.

Here is a quick summary of the webinar.

To access the entire presentation, complete the form.

Issues In Link Building

Time and again, companies of all sizes face the same link building issues.

They consistently dedicate time, energy, and resources. They follow the same processes, yet they get the same lackluster results.

So what are they doing wrong?

Here are the most common link building mistakes:

Not looking at on-page SEO & search intent first.

Not creating linkable content.

Performing bad outreach.

Setting poor expectations.

[Get The Steps To Overcome These Mistakes] Instantly access this webinar →

Mistake 1 – Not Looking At On-Page SEO & Search Intent First

Looking at and repairing on-page SEO and search intent issues is a must before you start building links.

How to fix this mistake:

In the webinar recap, Johnson gives a great example of what chúng tôi did when they could not rank on page one for the keyword “payroll:”

Make sure your target keyword is referenced on your page so that Google knows what you’re all about.

Look at who is currently ranking, do some competitor and industry research, and get some suggestions on improving on-page SEO.

Show that you’re an expert on your subject matter through a robust content strategy.

[Steps Explained] Instantly access this webinar →

Mistake 2 – Not Creating Linkable Content

Organic link building is about leveraging relationships and finding a common interest within your relationship’s audience.

Linkable content is one way to do that.

How to create linkable content:

Step 1: Look at competitor content.

Use a tool like Ahrefs to find highly-linkable content ideas.

Check out their “Best Pages by Links,” which helps you see what pages on your competitors’ websites have the most links right now.

Ask yourself, why does the competitor’s most linked content stand out?

Does it have informational/educational value?

What is the piece’s defined audience?

Is there an established link authority?

Step 2: Confirm link opportunity.

Before you start creating new content, make sure that there are great sites that may want to link back to it.

Use Boolean operators.

Small business inurl: links.

Entrepreneur inurl: links.

Look at a lot of pages.

Check if the page links to external sites and similar resources.

[Learn How To Use These & Confirm Link Opportunity] Instantly access this on-demand webinar →

Step 3: Look for similar resources you want to pitch and see who’s linking to them.

Now, look for and make note of additional backlink opportunities by researching the profiles of resources that are similar to the content you’re planning to create.

Building a robust list of source links that you can work from and pages you can try to get links for will prepare you for your future outreach step.

Mistake 3 – Performing Bad Outreach

Bad outreach will derail your link building campaign and ensure you’re ignored or intentionally avoided.

[See examples of good and bad outreach] Instantly access this webinar →

How To Send Good Outreach Emails:

In Subject Lines:

Be direct: subject lines should be short, simple, and straightforward.

Be specific: include the correct details.

Be intentional: include the desired outcome.

Be personable: if you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it.

Be editorial: Use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

In The Email Body:

Get to the point.

Explain the value to them and their audience.

Show. Don’t tell.

Avoid sales or vague language.

In Follow-Ups:

Understand that web admins are busy, and they get a lot of emails.

Send three emails.

Call back to previous emails.

Mistake 4 – Poor Expectations

Everybody wants a scalable link building campaign that generates quality, organic links.

Usually, this means linking to promotional transactional pages at the mid and bottom of the funnel. This limits your link building campaign from the onset. You can’t have everything.

Therefore, one of the first things you need to do is set expectations.

So, here are the different configurations you can reliably create:

[Learn How To Use This Chart] Instantly access this on-demand webinar →

Set your organization’s expectations around why you want to build links to these kinds of pages and how these pages can help accomplish your overall goals as an organization.

Rise through internal linking by creating various linkable assets and internally link to the core transactional pages you want to influence.

By doing so, you can get organic, quality links at scale and benefit from having more successful campaigns.

Key Takeaways

Sometimes links are not the problem.

Not having linkable content is a huge mistake.

Poor outreach will either get you ignored or avoided.

Have realistic expectations about your link building campaign.

[Slides] Top 4 Link Building Mistakes To Avoid In 2023

Here is the presentation:

Join Us For Our Next Webinar! KPIs, Metrics & Benchmarks That Matter For SEO Success In 2023

Reserve my Seat

Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

3 Scalable Link Building Tactics That Won’t Leave A Footprint

(and No, “Content Marketing” Isn’t One of Them)

In a recent interview with Jon Cooper, Jon gives a realistic answer to a question about safeguarding against a link penalty from Google:

How do you safeguard your link-building efforts from possible Penguin penalties?

Don’t leave a footprint. Penalties detect patterns. If you don’t have one, no matter what might seem “black hat” or “against Google guidelines,” they really can’t get you for anything.

This begs the question: How do we ensure that our link building isn’t leaving a nasty footprint that will leave the site open to manual or filter link penalties, while still practicing techniques that can be scaled? I have some answers!

Here are three link building tactics that our team uses in-tandem to ensure that we are producing results within budget, and that we are avoiding those big ugly link footprints.

Broken Link Building What it is:

The idea here is simple, and most SEJ readers have almost certainly read about this tactic. Essentially what we are doing is:

First: Finding pages on the Web that link to sites like ours.

Second: Finding broken links on those pages.

Third: Telling the webmaster about the broken links (because we are good-hearted people with no self interest whatsoever).

Last: Kindly suggesting that a link to our site be added to the page because our content is relevant and their users will find it endlessly useful.

How to scale it:

Much has been written on scaling broken link building by some great link builders like Paddy Moogan, Kristi Hines, and Anthony Nelson, but here, I want to talk about it from the perspective of a strategist directing a team on this process—my perspective. Here is what I would do to ensure that the broken link building my team is doing is as efficient as possible:

1. Determine the niche you want to target.

I have a client who sells Flexible PVC Pipes, and one of the varieties of pipes he sells are pond tubing, which can be used for maintenance of water gardens. Guess what? There are TONS of sites and forums where people who freakin’ love water gardens hang out. Let’s get links there.

2. Determine search queries to find pages linking to other pages in those niches:

3. Have your team record those pages, and track the opportunities using Buzzstream.

4. Perform outreach using a template created in Buzzstream.

This process is repeatable, effective, and requires little to no creativity or thought from the link builder. In other words, this is a great way to scale broken link building.

Guest Posting (Yes, Guest Posting) What it is:

You know the drill:

Write a cool/interesting/funny/useful blog post, and get someone else to post it on their blog.

Drop a link to your site in the post.

How to scale it:

Guest posting is still a good way to get a link, despite what Matt Cutts says about Google cracking down on it. As with all link building tactics, if you’re focusing on targeting site’s that people actually read, and not crap article dump sites, you’ll get some fine links. Here is how my team scales guest posting:

Lord knows if a process can be automated, a link builder will automate it.  So why would a link builder writing guest posts all day, every day bother switching up his author byline?

2. Evaluate the link profile of a competitor who is doing good guest post link building.

Using your link profiler of choice, search a competitor and find his best guest post link.

3. Get the byline.

When you find a good one, copy his byline:

4. Google search the byline.

Slap some parenthesis around it, and search it:

5. Shazam! Guest post opportunities … lots of them!

6. Write and Outreach.

There are a number of tools you can use to scale outreach. Some recommendations are Buzzstream (not free), Tout App for GMail (free), and Boomerang for GMail (free). All of these tools allow you to essentially create templates and send messages at the optimum time. Here are a couple of my favorite posts on good outreach:

*The byline idea is Paddy Moogan’s from Mozcon 2012.

Comment Marketing How to do it:

Disclaimer: This tactic will by no means push your site over the top for any highly competitive keywords, as most of these links will be no-followed. The idea is to drop links to your site in front of already engaged audiences, and give insightful contributions which establish you as an authority among those audiences. Any ranking benefit from dropping links (which I personally have seen time and time again) is a bonus.

Mr. Fishkin has a good Whiteboard Friday expanding more on the extent of the value of this type of marketing, but here I am talking about its value in terms of being a scalable link building method.

I have found that a lot of clients are quite interested (perhaps too interested) in seeing reports that show that a whole bunch of links are being built (I guess, as a metric to justify their investment…). Comment marketing is a great way to get lots of links quickly. The concept is simple:

Read a blog post.

Drop a link in the “Website” or “URL” field.

How to scale it:

1. Perform a simple Google search like “top [vertical] blogs.”

2. Check out one of the already compiled lists (which you will almost certainly find for most verticals) like this one.

3. Collect the URLs of 20 or so of these blogs. These blogs should have the following properties:

They should have a field to drop a link.


Grab a sentence:

Search it:

If the site appears, you’re good to go.

Anyone who has ever been expected to achieve link building wins in 2013, while working within a tight budget, will understand that the ability to scale link building efforts without leaving a big, ugly, dangerous link footprint is critical. Hopefully these tips will help you do just that.

Author Bio: Matt is a SEO Strategist with Ethical SEO Consulting. He LOVES building links, like the one he dropped in this very author bio. If you want to get a hold of Matt for any non-criminal reason, you can contact him through his blog, DM him on Twitter @MChuckGreen, or chat him up on Google+.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / -AnnA-

4 Link Building Ideas That Won’t Get You Into Hot Water

I’m hearing lots of talk in the SEO community questioning the value of building links.

The current SEO trends seem to be leaning toward focusing on the technical aspects of SEO and leaving link building as an afterthought – or not a thought at all.

I think technical SEO is extremely important and a great technical SEO professional is worth every penny they earn.

But failure to create a strategy around building quality links is leaving money on the table.

If you are stuck on measuring links by volume, I think you’re doing it wrong.

I have many case studies that show that a few relevant, high-quality links will garner better results than several thousand non-relevant, lesser quality links.

Modern link building is not a numbers game.

Modern link building is a relationship game.

Relationships are hard.

Relationships take time.

Link building is hard.

Link building takes time.

But this article is not about creating an overall link building strategy.

In this article, I’m going to give you four link building tactics that work.

None of these ideas are groundbreaking.

But my hope is that some of you get some ideas from this list and put your own spin on it.

And I’m sure to some of you, at least a couple of these tactics will be new to you.

Feel free to use any and all of these ideas, and don’t hesitate to put your own spin on them.

After all, there are many ways to do link building wrong, but there isn’t one way to do it right.

1. Vendors, Customers & Friends

Link building is about relationships.

It stands to reason that one of the easiest ways to gain quality links is to leverage the relationships your company already has.

One of the first link building activities we do with any client is asking them to brainstorm a list of vendors, customers, and friends they think might be willing to provide a link.

Then, using our link building evaluation methodology, we evaluate each opportunity and prioritize.

Don’t get me wrong, we don’t go after every opportunity that is out there.

Relevance is important.

While a high-quality link is always desirable and can, in many cases, still provide significant value even with a small degree of relevancy, most people’s personal contacts can only provide links that aren’t exceptionally authoritative.

However, I’d argue that if you have a business relationship with a company, their site intrinsically has a modicum of relevance to yours.

The action item for this tactic is to create your list and don’t skimp.

Create as comprehensive a list as you can.

Then evaluate the links that could be garnered from the list and prioritizing them based on your evaluation criteria.

Next, take the top prospects on your list and meet with them or call them on the phone!

As a general tip, we find that if we can talk to someone in person or on the phone, we are far more likely to gain a link than if we merely send them an email.

For the rest of the list, communicate with them through the appropriate channels.

The appropriate channel is how the prospect is most comfortable communicating with you.

Don’t forget to ask for the link.

2. Trade Publications

When I worked in a Public Relations firm, trade publications were the bread and butter of easy publicity success.

Once, a colleague at the PR firm was praised for landing a story in a trade publication.

I’ll never forget when the big boss hit reply-all (instead of just reply) to tell the manager that she shouldn’t praise account executives for getting hits in trade publications.

He said we should own the trade publications.

He was right.

If you have a decent product and can differentiate yourself, you should have articles in trade magazines focused on your vertical.

The articles, which frequently appear in the online versions of the trade publications, should give you a highly relevant, quality link.

The action item for this tactic is to explore the different trade publication in your niche and start reading them.

Get to know the frequent writers – who are most likely either editors or freelancers.

Follow those writers on social media – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, wherever they are.

Interact with the writers, providing them with feedback on their stories as well as information that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with your company.

Basically, work to make their job easier.

Then, when you come up with something newsworthy about your company, pitch away.

Don’t forget to ask for a link in the story.

It amazes me how many times public relations folks don’t even ask for the link.

Journalists frequently don’t think in terms of links, so reminding them that you would like one usually doesn’t insult them – in fact, they are usually grateful.

3. Link-Worthy Content Campaigns

Why do sites link to other sites?

The answer is pretty simple.

Sites link to items that they think will be useful to their audience.

One of the most common tactics I see sites employ is to look at what is currently working for your competitors and copying the type of content, but trying to out-execute the competition in terms of the quality of the content.

This is a viable tactic – but one that frequently fails to provide optimal results.

The smaller your pool of likely linking sites, the less effective copycat content will be.

Creating linkable content is difficult.

But you won’t ever know if a piece of content is linkable until you try it.

The action items for this tactic is to brainstorm at least three quality pieces of content that you think influencers in your space will like too.

While it’s a good idea to look at what type of content is working for others, try not to crib too much from your competitors.

Work to come up with a content idea that hasn’t been explored very well.

When creating the content, think about exuding expertise, authority, and trust, or as Google likes to call it, E-A-T.

The content you create should be a resource for both influencers and end-users wherever possible.

But creating the content is not enough.

This is where the “campaign” part comes in.

You need to put together a plan to get your content noticed by the gatekeepers that can reward you with a link.

Don’t try to pitch to everyone in the world.

While it is tempting to play a volume numbers game, you will be more effective if you limit the pool of influencers you want to peddle your linkable wares, too.

Concentrating on the most important contacts allows you to spend the time needed to successfully obtain the highest quality links.

4. Be Controversial

Controversy gets links.

If you know how your audience feels about a particular issue, taking a stand on that issue only reinforces your brand’s relevance to your target customers.

Brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia, Heneiken, Starbucks and many others have successfully parlayed arguably controversial social stands into thousands of links from high-quality sites.

And the links have come from not only relevant sites that cater to the brands’ supporters, but from high-quality sites that cater to those opposed to the brands’ social positions.

In other words, they get links from their supporters and their detractors.

The saying “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right” has never been truer than in the battle for high-quality links.

The action item for this tactic is to make sure you understand your audience and what is important to them.

If you don’t understand your audience, don’t employ this tactic.

Just ask the folks at the Komen Race for the Cure, who are still recovering from their controversial decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood almost a decade ago.

But if you know your audience, be vocal about the causes that are important to them.

Don’t be afraid to take a stand that your audience will appreciate.

One caveat – taking a stand can be somewhat exhausting.

Trolls are real.

There will be those who oppose your stance that will work to harm you online.

If you have extremely limited resources to combat your detractors, taking a controversial stand might not be feasible, no matter how well it will play with your target audience.

But if you can fight the trolls, the links you can garner from taking a stand are well worth the risks.

Once you have taken a stand, you aren’t done. You need to create a campaign to let folks know about your stand.

Just like in the last tactic, you need to make sure that the important folks know about the stand you’ve taken.

Again, don’t play a numbers game with your outreach.

Find the most important folks, and make sure they are aware of your stand.

This list will most likely be different from your other lists, as you’ll want to find the influencers that are particularly interested in the stand you take.

In Conclusion

There are literally thousands of ways to creatively obtain high-quality, relevant links.

Most look at link building as an impossible chore.

I think that’s because they are looking at link building in the wrong way.

It doesn’t take thousands of links to be successful – it just takes a few of the right links in most cases.

Letting your creative juices flow to create unique and effective link building campaigns is one of my favorite parts of SEO.

If you understand that success is achievable if you push boundaries, it might become one of your favorite parts of SEO as well.

More Resources:

Image Credits

Featured Image: Created by author, July 2023

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