Thursday, March 09, 2006

Nascar Links

If you're reading this because you thought you’d see something on Jeff Gordon or that cute Jimmie Johnson, sorry to disappoint. This is all about fast link acquisition and how to avoid the red flags search engines throw up.

Last week at SES NY, we heard a lot of people ask about link acquisition speeds – or – how many links could they get and stay under the engine’s radar. Most of these questions were asked while discussing link buys but overall, since link building is usually done as a campaign, this could apply to any course of linking.

While there is no stock answer, here are a handful of questions to help you chart a course of action. Start by asking:

How many inbound links do you currently have?
How long did it take you to accumulate the links you have?
Where are they coming from? (industry wise)
Where do they point? What’s the ratio between the dot com and internal pages?
Has your content increased since the domain was launched?
Has your traffic increased as well?
What anchors are being used? What’s the ratio between the dot com and keyword anchors?

Look for patterns in your answers. Could be you notice most of your inbound links use your dot com and point to the home page. To suddenly add links pointing to internal pages and using keyword rich anchors could cause red flags. Or, if you've been online for two years and have accumulated 25 inbounds during that time, you probably don't want to add 250 new links all at once.

Success usually doesn’t happen overnight in business, linking is no different. Slow and steady wins out in this scenario just like any other! When you start linking, consider these tactics:

Add interesting/buzz/in demand/credible/newsworthy content to your site FIRST and issue a press release announcing its creation. Links will happen naturally as a result and you’ve paved the way for your “other” links to happen. (You can also add social bookmark tags such as and Digg to facilitate natural link growth)

Acquire links from a wide array of sites within your niche and be sure to include a handful of links from the industries that linked to you originally. If you started out getting links from one niche, it makes sense you'll continue to attract links from that area.

If your original links used your dot com, include it as an anchor with the new set. Mix it up, try to keep the ratio of new and old anchors about the same as when the site was launched.

Write your new anchors with a strong call to action; it’s important to try and draw as much traffic through the links as possible.

In my experience, larger content rich sites and/or older domains tend to be less prone to ranking shifts when large numbers of new links are introduced. It’s why most content generation tactics are currently working in today’s SEO landscape. Market your links to complement your site, just don’t have them added. If you do, you’ll leave your competition in the dust!

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