Secrets of Link Building

Yesterday I had three people from separate companies ask me to sign an NDA, actually they weren’t people they were clients. And clients have a much higher status than people, at least they do around these parts.

The bigger the client of course, the more you are likely to trigger an NDA and of course an NDA can cut both ways. It protects you if you are offering seo services and protects your client who is hiring the seo company. So, everyone should be happy and signing the NDA is all good stuff.

But that got me thinking. What’s the point of the NDA? Ultimately is about protecting confidential information and secrets.

Secrets!

It’s a massive word, much over used in online marketing of course. Come learn the secrets of link building, buy the latest ebook, SEO secrets revealed.

The Zen master will tell you that the secret to success is that there are no secrets. That the secret lies within yourself.

Megh!

Whilst there is truth in that, I know of a high ranking authoritative website where you can drop a dofollow link, point it at a target page, using the correct keyword and get it to rank quickly and rank well. But, I’m not going to tell you where it is. It’s a secret. If I published it on this blog the harvest would be shortened and the fruit would soon be over ripened and riddled with maggots.

So it stays secret. The point is, there are secrets, little bits of information floating around that would benefit your online marketing efforts.

No this isn’t a lead in to a “Secrets of Link Building” ebook.

To get to know these secrets of link building you do have to revisit the Zen Master and learn that there are no link building secrets. The reality is, there is nothing that you cannot know in the click of a mouse that will teach you all you need to know to create the most amazing online marketing campaign.

Because, it’s not the secrets to link building that will make you a great link builder. It’s the other stuff, the stuff that expert link builders give away for free on their blogs, it’s what gets talked about at SEO conferences, in free downloads of pdf files. It’s what given away in the seo books stacked on the shelves of you local book shop for a tenner.

The secret stuff, probably only makes up 5% of the mix, if that. The other 95% is hard work and focussing on what works.

The reason why people are looking for that link building secret is because link building is boring, simple and hard work. Which is why people outsource to link building agencies.

Which is the Best UK SEO Company?

It’s an interesting question which people ask a lot.

However, the expert will tell you that there isn’t an absolute answer, the answer is relative. In other words, it depends.

The number of factors which you should consider when deciding which is the best SEO company are many and what you should really be asking is not which is the best, but which is the best for you?

For example:

How much is your budget?
What specific goals do you want to achieve?
What are your businesses resources?
Do you have a current SEO strategy?
What is your overall online marketing strategy?
Do you prefer a local company which can give face to face time?
What level of reporting do you require from the SEO company?
Do you have any in-house SEO or web design experience?
Do you need the same SEO agency to also be able to implement your social media strategy?
Do you need an SEO agency who has knowledge of Local search?
Is your website going to be pulling data from a database and deploying data dynamically?
Do you need the agency to provide in-house training?
Would you require Adwords expertise?
Are you comfortable with a “work from the bedroom-seo-ninja-mercenary-assassin”, who may laugh in your face when you explain you don’t know what .htaccess is, or do you need an agency with a pot plant in the corner and a fit blonde with very white teeth on reception and generic pictures on the wall bought from B & Q?
Do you need an SEO company that will not only get you ranked in Google but will understand you business and help you develop a customer conversion strategy that will increase your profit.
Do you need a link building service rather than a general seo agency?
Do you have your own access to writers or do you want to outsource your writing to the agency?

And I could probably go on and on. But you probably get the picture. An expert in the field will instantly know which SEO company will suit you. The answer to “Which is the best UK SEO company?” Is there isn’t one, it’s the wrong question to ask.

“Which is the best UK SEO company for my business?”, however, is a better question.

Although even that needs to be qualified. In my experience no two seo agencies offer the same type of service. You could hire an independent expert to find the best for you, but how could you really know they would not be biased?

The reality is, only an expert can truly spot another expert, which means you must go on other indicators.

The best way to find a great SEO service provider is through personal recommendations rather than asking Google.

But I’m sure you already know that.

Is Blog Commenting Useless for SEO

The difference between an SEO who has tested commenting on blogs and one who hasn’t is that the one who hasn’t says it doesn’t work and the one who has keeps quiets about it and keeps commenting.

As an SEO it also marks you out as to whether they are in the Premier League or still slugging it out for the pub team.

Some SEO “experts” will see say, “nofollow”, doesn’t pass juice. End of.

This is a mistake.

A blog comment is an advert, it is a branding tool, it will add to the sum of how people perceive you. How people perceive you has a direct impact on whether they will link to you.

For example, when SEO “experts” say blog commenting is useless, my perception of their skill as an SEO is further informed.

It’s well known that blogs and their comments get scraped and nofollow removed.

A visible link means that a human can visit the site and drop a dofollow if they like what they see.

Blog owners tend to check out the links left in the blog comments, which means you can get very important bloggers to come to your site.

A blog comment can demonstrate your skill in an area and make people go, “ooohhhhhh, she’s good.”

If blog spamming did not work, do you really think it would still be happening? What’s interesting about the nofollow that was introduced to blogs to stop spamming is that it hasn’t done anything to stop it.

Also, even when the link was dofollow and SEO’s would look at a blog and say, “but it’s not a real website”

Does this mean that you should go out and leave “Great post”, in the comments of as many blogs as you can find. No, because there is a way to blog comment and there is a way to not.

Blog commenting is a tool in the tool box, brought out for specific tasks and for specific reasons. I’m not not going to give you a step by step guide of how to do it as you probably have a massive brain (you’re reading this blog) and have worked it out on your own by now.

However, I am always willing to listen to the other side of the argument and so if you have data on to show that blog commenting is useless I would love to hear it.

One of the problems of course is that it can be really boring if you hae no opinion and that outsourcing it can lower the quality.

It’s tricky, which means if you hit the sweet spot there are few others creaming it.

Ultimate Guide to using Quora for SEO Ranking on Google

I don’t like Quora.

I didn’t get to invest in it or create it.

Quora is going to succeed.

But, I am not going to be adding to its database, unless it’s to do a bit of reputation management for clients.

Also, if lots of places start scraping it, it may be worth dropping a link, even if it is nofollow.

There are going to be specific advantages to using Quora, however it’s not going to be what the site owners originally intended. If you are in the business of getting people to go to your website to buy stuff or you have clients who need people to go to their website to buy stuff, I would take a very close interest in Quora.

Why?

Because it’s going to get eyeballs, and it looks like it is going to crush Yahoo answers and those SEO mercenary, Ninja assassins are already knee deep in Yahoo answers gore, getting websites to rank.

So, expect an e-book to pop up entitled, The Ultimate Guide to Using Quora to rank in Google. Expect to pay $47. But, not from me, I would never give away such great info. Only my paying clients get the good stuff ;)

My advice, open an account at Quora, have a little play. Do a few tests. See if you can rank for a keyword.

But don’t use it to throw up tons of original, interesting content. Have you any idea how much you are worth an hour?

Note: Apologies for the use of “Ultimate”. I should be ashamed.

Note 2: This did start as a comment at Quora when I thought, “Don’t be a Numpty!”

Note 3: If you secretly share your SEO Quora tip with me, I will secretly share that I have back at you.

How Can I Spam Quora?

This is the question that in my Twitter feed every SEO is thinking, but none are asking. A search for this on Quora leads to How will Quora fight spam. Hmmm, doesn’t really answer the question does it.

I for one will not be spamming Quora, I will simply include a link to a website that will be beneficial to my bank balance and that of my clients. Because as we know, it’s wrong to use Web 2.0 properties for personal gain.

Come, let us sit round the camp fire and sing praises to humanity.

Update: From the Quoara page on spam.

We have a bunch of ideas but we’re not really sure yet; right now, everyone in the system is pretty good, and so it’s hard to really tell where the abuse will come from.

Make my marshmallow nice and toasty.

I’m thinking that the naive, techno hippy quotient may be a little on the high side and they need to find the most evil, badass black hat SEO and get him on the team now. It will be their most valuable hire ever.

Surely they must be aware of what is out there?

A Quick Dip into the Spam Comments that this blog gets

We all get spam comments, a quick look at what Akisimet is blocking can sometimes be entertaining, my favourite is the last one. Below is a list of comments that Akismet auto blocked on this site.

It’s interesting to note the certain commonalities of some of them, like the ones that try to keep it ambiguous and not specific about what they are talking about.

I guess if I wanted to be a comment spammer this is the kind of stuff I would be studying, but time is best spent elsewhere.

Nice blog here.. did you design it yourself or was it made by a professional company? Really nice choice of colors

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Why Stumbleupon is not Dead

A quick look around the blogosphere and there are a number of posts about Stumbleupon being dead. When what they really mean to say is, “I can’t get Stumbleupon to do what I want it to do so it must be dead.”

There is of course an overuse of the “Dead”, when it comes to describe something they think no longer works. For me dead equates the end, finality, nothing left, no coming back.

When perhaps what they mean to say is, Stumbleupon has got a slight head cold.

Here are some quick stats on Stumble traffic from a site I look after.

Stumble traffic

Stumble traffic

Now of course, Stumble traffic isn’t the same s all traffic, in fact most traffic from one place tends to have it’s own unique flavour.

Stumble traffic tends to decide more quickly if they want to leave or not, you have less time to grab them. A lot of people simply complain about this saying that Stumbleupon traffic is just surfing through and does not monetise. But that’s the wrong way of looking at it. More useful to say, OK, I accept that I need to craft content to appeal to the stumbler.

Don’t blame the traffic, blame the content.

Stumble traffic is human as any other, if you give them a tickle they are going to smile like any other humans. They laugh, they cry, they fart and they spend money.

So try not to come up with excuses about why you can’t and try to develop ways in which you can sate the desires of this fast moving, but very alive bunch.

Inspirational Women In Business

I still firmly believe that business is unfortunately still a mans world, you only have to too peek into the board rooms of the top 100 companies to prove this. Which is absolutely nuts, as it means we are wasting a huge resource that is simply sitting there waiting to be unleashed.

The argument for not having more women in business has been made redundant by the examples of what happens when women have no barriers to entry or when they simply chose to ignore those barriers.

I heard this week that when a high flyer was promoted to the board of Sainsbury’s supermarkets they were surprised to find it comprised of all men. Even I know that women make over 85% of the purchases. So not having at least an equal amount of women in the boardroom and in leadership positions is crazy.

I’ve checked the make of up of the board and leading leadership roles at Sainsbury’s and they now have it down to about 80% men. I don’t want to single the one company out for this as I think it’s probably like this in most corporate boardrooms.

Also when I look at my own industry it’s crammed full of hairy blokes. The females that are in the business are brilliant, I haven’t met one who doesn’t impress. I know the arguments, that women aren’t mathematical or analytical, blah blah blah. Which is quite frankly bullshit.

Did you know that the first algorithm designed to be processed by a machine was created by an English women, a Countess no less and daughter of the poet Lord Bryon. That the first computer program was created by the same women, whose main squeeze at the time was a guy called Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first computer is kinda cool.

First computer programmer

The first computer programmer

It could be argued that it’s a cultural thing, that men find it easier to work with their own kind. This may be true, but it doesn’t make for a better, more efficient and profitable business. It’s inefficient to leave such a resource under utilised. Any nation or culture who penalises 50% of their population is going to be at a disadvantage.

As most of the SEO industry is male, this post might not be received well, it’s interesting that in the social media world the balance is more representative of the population as a whole. Don’t ask me why this is as I really don’t have an answer.

Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook

Sahar Hashemi, who co-founded Coffee Rebublic

Julie Meyer of Ariadne Capital

Because It's Not Google

Do you find it weird that BING is an acronym for, Because it’s not Google.

I am sure it is an odd coincidence, but the conspiracy theorist in me likes to think there is a Microsoft engineer who is laughing his ass off right now, whilst eating his Doritos and leveling his Dwarf Mage.

I’ve been a heavy user of Google since 1998, a very happy user in fact. The big G always came up with the goodies, the search experience was mostly sunlight whilst birds would sing on trees as I pushed the search button.

But, for a few months now it seems that the information I want and need is buried under a pile of rotting corpses.

As someone who makes a living from massaging websites up the search results ladder, I have never been one to hit the forums to have a moan that G have changed the results and nobbled a client. Such occurences should be already factored in and G always gives a good search experience when it changes the way it serves up the data.

However, I have now decided to change my default search engine. Not the one I use to track my clients, but the one I use for personal reasons.

Recently I searched for “jason calacanis seo snake oil”, for an article that showed examples of people annoying and alienating large groups of people, but still being successful. If you don’t know the story, just BING it.

When using Google it served up three entries from the jasoncalacanis.com website, none of with gave me the goodies and one page was absolute garbage for what I wanted..

Bing however, gave me exactly what I needed. The Search Engine Land article from 2007 about the incident. If you like a good lunch time read and you are not familiar with the story it really is quite entertaining.

Now, this is just one search and it really isn’t a big deal. But I think it is illustrative of what is happening right now in the search world. And as G is so dominant, it makes it a big thing.

Can G push a button and improve things in an blink of an eye. Absolutely, but it all depends on their goals and objectives. There may be other plans afoot which makes sense of all this (conspiracy theorists get your blogs at the ready)

I don’t really know, but it’s definitely going to be an interesting space to watch the next few months.