Link-Building Hogwash

  |  September 22, 2008   |  Comments

Ten years ago, Google announced that linkage data was a major factor in its ranking algorithm. There's been plenty of progress in information retrieval since then.

There I was, sitting on a plane in Portugal reading the newspaper as we took off. Nothing new for me. Thirty minutes later, I'm sitting with a doctor who's administering oxygen. Very new for me. Forty minutes after that, following an emergency landing in a small town in northern Spain, I'm in the accident and emergency department of the local hospital.

Still, I live to tell the tale. And after a brief rest-up in the U.K., I'm back at my desk in New York. Never a dull moment.

As you're probably aware, if you can't keep on top of your e-mail due to illness, when you do get around to it, it's an avalanche!

Like everyone else, I receive ridiculous link requests on a regular basis. Most times I just delete and carry on. However, when you have to go through almost a week's worth of e-mail, you suddenly realize just how many of these stupid requests you get. Especially if you have a lot of e-mail accounts.

Are you one of the people who sends those link requests?

Then you should be horsewhipped!

For starters, these guys send their spammy link requests to an e-mail address harvested on the Web by some mindless bot; it starts with "Dear Webmaster." With quality companies that own quality Web sites (the kind you really want to link to you), the Webmaster is probably the last person with the authority to place a link. In fact, without specific instruction, usually the Webmaster has no authority to place links. Not only that, the kind of company and Web site where the Webmaster is able to give you a link probably needs links even more than you do.

I'm not poking at reciprocal linking, as such. Anyone who understands how that works doesn't send an e-mail to a competitor saying, "Your site and mine have the same theme, so it will be beneficial for us to link to each other."

Here's the thing. Don't be a link collector, be a business developer. You don't need links. You need business relationships. Think about all the stuff you can do offline with your marketing, then apply it online. Advertising, PR, co-promotion, sponsorships, charitable events, business in the community, ad infinitum.

With a good online marketing and PR plan, quality links will become a by-product of simply doing good business. When that happens, you'll find that you don't need to turn up, like the afore mentioned e-mail misfits, with a link-begging bowl.

I can't understand why so many people are still living under the misty purple veil of SEO (define) 1999. Ten years ago, Google announced that linkage data was a major factor in its ranking algorithm. Ten years ago!

Surely it's inconceivable for anyone in this industry to imagine there's been no progress in information retrieval on the Web since then.

Yes, linkage data is still a good signal. But these days, it's only one signal. In 10 years, search engines have picked up so many other strong signals, including end-user behavior, toolbar data, online bookmarking, tagging, and rating.

SEO 1999ers (or textbook SEO professionals) still have tunnel vision when it comes to search engine rankings. And perhaps that's why they are stuck with this whole "links, links, I gotta have links, I have to be number one at Google" approach. But search engine rankings (and ranking reports) are so passé in 2008.

While competing for the most popular keywords, it's about quality of links, not quantity. And where really popular queries are concerned, you might need to factor in the Britney Spears problem.

But think about this: even micro businesses now have the opportunity to hit the top spot at Google without so much as a Web site, let alone links. Take a look at the results for "bed and breakfast New York." Notice the number one listing, after the paid results?

It's a listing directly from Google's Local Business Center, sitting right above the organic results. And no spammy e-mail required.

Plus, universal search and blended results mean there are so many more opportunities to get in front of your potential customers via search engines. I've talked so much at conferences about the need to shift from the 56k dial-up-modem style, 10-blue-links result set to a much richer broadband experience for the end user.

And earlier this month, Google's Marissa Mayer alluded to the shift from this static, guesswork approach in her Future of Search column. "We've barely scratched the surface with universal search, but it's an important first step to exploring the full range of what we can do with rich media," she writes. "For the past year, our goal has been to take advantage of these new types of results and evolve the interface design and user experience in response. You'll see the fruits of this experimentation in the coming months, but even these changes are just the beginning."

In July, comScore stated that over 11 billion videos were viewed on the Web. And of those, Google accounted for about 5 billion views. In one month!

Link monomaniacs, don't you feel you might be missing something here?

Join us for a new Webcast, High-Touch Personalization, The Successful Marketer's Secret Ingredient, September 29 at 2 p.m. EDT.

ClickZ Live San Francisco This Year's Premier Digital Marketing Event is #CZLSF
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) brings together the industry's leading practitioners and marketing strategists to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, this year's comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Grehan

Mike Grehan is Publisher of Search Engine Watch and ClickZ and Producer of the SES international conference series. He is the current president of global trade association SEMPO, having been elected to the board of directors in 2010.

Formerly, Mike worked as a search marketing consultant with a number of international agencies, handling such global clients as SAP and Motorola. Recognized as a leading search marketing expert, Mike came online in 1995 and is author of numerous books and white papers on the subject. He is currently in the process of writing his new book "From Search To Social: Marketing To The Connected Consumer" to be published by Wiley in 2013.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Search newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

BigDoor: The Marketers Guide to Customer Loyalty

The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

WEBINARS

    Information currently unavailable

Jobs

    • Internet Marketing Campaign Manager
      Internet Marketing Campaign Manager (Straight North, LLC) - Fort MillWe are looking for a talented Internet Marketing Campaign Manager to join the...
    • Online Marketing Coordinator
      Online Marketing Coordinator (NewMarket Health) - BaltimoreWant to learn marketing from the best minds in the business? NewMarket Health, a subsidiary...
    • Call Center Manager
      Call Center Manager (Common Sense Publishing) - Delray BeachWanted: Dynamic Call Center Manager with a Proven Track Record of Improving Response...