Friday, February 29, 2008

Dude, Where's My Leap Link?

Hey there, hope all is well out in linkland. I have a couple things to share:

If you've been thinking about doing SES New York, here's a priority code for a 20% discount when you register: 20SPKRGUST. Be sure to stop by the linking session on Wednesday, March 19 and say hello, I'll be there talking about links again.

Good news! The Aviva Directory is back in Google's index with a new and "improved" outlook on link life. Jeff wrote an awesome post on what happened and how they changed what they were doing to get back in Google's good graces. You'll find the whole post here on the Aviva blog. Thanks for sharing what you learned and here's to living in the green from here on out!

Two more things and both are from Search Engine Roundtable.

If you didn't make it to SMX, here's the week's recaps minus the one I'm supposed to be doing on the Linking Basics session. Pretty sad when you have to cover your own session 'cuz none of your cohorts thinks it's sexy enough.

Oh well, note to self: next time we do a Linking Basic's panel...pack push-up bra and convince Eric to show some chest hair.

The other thing from SERoundtable is a post about how paid links can hurt you. Yep, you read that right, seems there's been chatter about how your competitors really can slap you into the penalty box. We'll see. People also go on and on about how funneling PageRank is the next coming and duplicate content means the end of search life as we know it. Hmmm.

Our friend Matt McGee has a great post on the new Yelp/Yahoo! relationship:
At the bottom of every business profile page on Yelp, right next to the “Write a Review” button, there are now links to view the appropriate category results page on Yahoo Local. And even better, those are followed links with terrific keyword usage in the anchor text.
Smart move Yahoo!, that Yelp is a keeper and you got there first, nice.

During the Link Building Basics session at SMX I had a slide in my tactics section that said this:
  • Ask your customers to write reviews on Yahoo! Local and Yelp.
Especially now with what you know about Yahoo! and Yelp, it may be a very good time to develop some sort of incentivized review program with your customers. Or at the very least, point them to both Yelp and Yahoo! and encourage them to add a review.

This will put some pressure on customer service departments which is a good thing, with people using the review sites and the results surfacing across the Web, companies will have to be at the top of their game or suffer humiliation and loss of sales. Which can be good and bad I guess... this has the potential to affect small business when it's really the big guys that need the kick.

Hmmm (a lot of humming tonight) I wonder if my suggestion to encourage people to review could be seen as spamming. Could be I guess, since Yelp is considered one of those social media sites.

On the other hand, I'm really not sure why, is encouraging people to leave a review on Yelp any different than offering a discount on the back of a printed receipt? You've seen those - call a 800 number, take a survey and you get a discount code for a future purchase. Maybe it's the paper that makes it all public relations instead of spamming.

Who knows. Ok enough from me, have a great weekend. :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Link Laugh With The Hound

Enough already with the rants, time for something light. This made me smile so enjoy and enjoy the coming weekend. I'll be spending mine at an AAU basketball tournament with my daughter up in Stafford (Virginia). Me, three other moms and 15 nine year olds -- send bourbon. :)

For those traveling home from London and on to Santa Clara, safe travels and I'll see you soon.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Do You Link Dope or Incestuously Link?

Holy cow. Did you know the practice of link doping and incestuous linking are bona fide methods of link building?

Honest. Says so in the Wikipedia.

As I was trolling around today I stumbled on a page in Wikipedia titled "Methods of website linking". I found it after searching on the term "link popularity".

Clicking through I was taken to a page describing methods of website linking I've never heard of like - "Link doping" and "Incestuous linking". Incest and doping and links - oh my!

(click the images if you want to see them more clearly)

Keep in mind I searched on the term "link popularity" and came to the page expecting to see just that. Instead, I found terminology used to describe outdated , incomplete and irrelevant link methods sitting under a title that lead me to believe I was going to read about hyperlinks. Say huh?

Ok, so I backed up and decided the page was really trying to talk about link building methods. Where's the disclaimer and link to search engine guidelines on link exchanges and paid links? Those changes to the guidelines happened last year and were significant. Looks like paid links are on another section but this one talks about recip links so I assumed I'd find updated info. Well you know what they say about assumptions.

I couldn't find any information on link popularity per se, there's a little paragraph there but it's not accurate and far from complete. (The page was redirected from the "link popularity" page which is empty). There are calls on the main page for "cleanup" but they're from November of last year and the revision history shows edits made to the page February 18, 2008. Which means this page has been touched recently and it still contains outdated and irrelevant information.

It amazes me that link popularity, one of the most fundamentally important concepts to understand when talking about search engines and online marketing is on a page with "Link doping" and "Incestuous linking". Where exactly is the tie-in? Everyone (including me) says the Wikipedia is an authority source, but what I found for the term "link popularity" is anything but.

If I get over the fact I didn't get what I was searching for (link popularity) and focus on the page I was led to, I'm still left shaking my head. The page is titled "Methods of Website Linking" and yet - what's being showcased doesn't have anything to do with website linking. Most of the linking building tactics mentioned aren't really tactics and the one key concept on the page - link popularity- doesn't even talk about anchor text. How can you talk about link pop and not mention anchor text?

It appears the people taking care of this page definitely aren't authorities or even moderately versed in current SEO, they've mistakenly jumbled two concepts and stuck them under a generic banner. I'd roll my eyes and let it go if the page wasn't redirecting from one titled "link popularity" and 3/4 of the info on the page wasn't SEO related. Nope, this is a case of someone not knowing what they're doing - and others letting it sit that way for months.

And yet, when I publicly suggest knowledgable people with good content should contribute to the Wikipedia, I'm spoken down to, told to read the conflict of interest guidelines and criticized. Yeah that's right, I can't let go of that little incident, and don't think I should after seeing this.

And if you come back and say - "why don't you help clean it up instead of bitching about it Debra" -- forget it. It will be a cold day in Wiki hell before that happens.

People new to SEO and who want to learn about link popularity and/or link building methods shouldn't give this page on the Wikipedia a second glance. It's inaccurate, outdated, uses terminology no one in the business uses and is mis-matched for the title. This one's a dud.

Maybe Wikipedia should change the tactic "Link doping" to link dropping dope. It fits.

p.s. Pope image is the cover of an old album produced by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Fetch / Sphinn
Add to Mixx!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ugly Sites Won't Get A Link

Are people always complimenting you on the design of your site? Do they say things like "wow that's pretty"?

Do you get email after email from perfect strangers asking who your designer was?

Does your site use CSS?

If you answered yes to all of the above, you may be eligible for a link from any one of these 50 CSS design galleries...


There's 50 sites/galleries listed so if you're pretty and use CSS and don't mind a little elbow grease linking, submit your site. Just remember, ugly ducks need not apply. :)

Added 2/18/08:

Wiep just IM'ed and pointed out this list of CSS sites was originally posted on YouMoz last year. I picked it up from TalkDirectories, note the post was made there 2/8/08. Just an FYI that it's been done before and was originally posted on YouMoz.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Small Business Conference in Houston A Must Do

This April (21-22) I'm taking part in the Small Business Marketing Unleashed Conference in Houston. If you're a small business owner trying to make a name for yourself on the Web, this is a conference you won't want to miss:

Early bird rate ends March 15 and with only 200 seats available - best to act now.

Take a look at the room options you have, I reserved a room with a fireplace (bear skin rugs are extra ;) All of your meals are included and the menus are awesome, I've seen them. No stale danish or boxed lunches here!

Every attendee will leave with a flash drive full of session notes, outlines and a blueprint of "how-to's" not to mention a bag full of assorted goodies. And look at the place hosting the conference, it's definitely not your ugly airport hotel:

Hope to see you in Houston!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

This SEO Fights Fat and Fights Back

Donna Fontenot, pinged me a couple weeks ago with an idea she had for a weight loss challenge. We chatted about it briefly and before I knew it, Donna had a domain name, program outline, a website up annoucing the challenge and a blog page with my name on it. Whoo hoo!

SEO's Fight Fat is about a few SEOs who decided to get together and make their weight loss challenge a public event by sharing their attempts online for the whole world to see while making some money for charity in the process.

If you are looking for a visible and worthwhile way to spend some of that advertising money you have in your 2008 budget, consider sponoring this worthy cause. Check out the SEO's Fight Fat Sponsor Us and Support A Charity page that explains where the money goes and how you can help.

My latest entry:

For me, this challenge is about more than just losing weight, it’s about getting back on track and in a routine I lost control of.

I used to be disciplined about working out and taking time for myself but somewhere along the line in the last year I let other things get in the way and take over. For a self diagnosed organizational freak who prides herself on being on time and well
prepared, that’s scary and downright unacceptable.

And no smart-ass dig will take away from one simple fact — I am a busy person. I have two wonderful active children, a self-employed husband who occasionally needs help in the office, an active volunteer life here in Williamsburg, a terrific circle of friends (both on and offline) and a business for which I am solely responsible.

And like a lot of people, when life gets a little hectic one of the things that gets dropped (aside from blog posts and interviews) is the exercise schedule. In my case, the very visual and net result of this slip is a 20 pound weight gain in 10 months which totally sucks no matter how you rationalize it.

So again - I’m glad SEO’s Fight Fat came along when it did and am looking forward to implementing my strategy of refocusing energy where it’s important and needed.

I’ve been rooting around the house for my pedometer, found my hand and leg weights which I’ll need since I’m going back on schedule with my walking group. It’s forecasted to be in the 40’s tomarrow (hello Mother Nature - this is the SOUTH!!) so we’ll head indoors to our local rec center and walk the track there. That’s step one.

Step two will be to hire a personal trainer... preferably a good looking, young buff boy. Hey, if I’m going to sweat and feel the burn I may as well have something good to look at.

Change has never been easy for me but I recognize the need for it especially in regards to the way I look and feel. I may be getting older but I don’t need to look it –or– more importantly, feel it. So change starts today.

Throw the SFF feed into your reader, keep up with our progress and maybe make some of your own. It's going to be fun.

Have a good week.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Tools, Awards And General Link Stuff

I've been up to my eyeballs creating presentation slides for the upcoming SES Training program in San Francisco, love to do these sessions, hate doing slides. We have a nice crowd coming to a great hotel on historic Union Square so it should be a good session.

I'm happy to annouce the Link Spiel won the SEMMY award in the link building category. I was shocked to be honest, didn't think I had a paid link's chance in hell given who the finalists were but -- it did and I'm extremely grateful to all that voted.

Help! I’m New, I Need Links, What Can I Do? Debra Mastaler, The Link Spiel 9/29/07

Andy Hagans’ Ultimate Guide to Linkbaiting and Social Media Marketing Andy Hagans, Tropical SEO 2/5/07

Revealing your Competitor’s FULL External Relevance Profile – One of my best kept secrets Hamlet Batista 10/17/07

In other news, I have been meaning to download and try out a couple of SEO/link tools and finally did so this weekend.

First one is SEOQuake which shows a large number of SE parameters under each search result. There's a download for Firefox and one for IE but I couldn't get the IE to work properly so couldn't test that one. You can pick and choose the various engines/parameters you want to see, (PageRank, inbound link counts per engine, if they have edu links etc) there's a lot of them but several strong ones you can use to help determine whether or not to pursue a site as a link partner.

It's helpful, offers a great one-stop look at a number of things and is free to use. But like a lot of these tools, it doesn't have export features or comparative analysis capabilities that would propel it to awesome status and become something I'd pay for.

The other tool is one Michael VanDeMar created called Bad Neighborhood Link Checker:

This tool will scan the links on your website, and on the pages that your website is linking to, and flag possible problem areas. This can greatly ease your seo efforts.
Basically, the tool scans your outbound links and tells you if the sites you're linking to could have issues that may affect your ranking. I had to giggle a little at what came back for my site, not sure I'd call SEOByTheSea, Marketing Pilgrim or StoneTemple potential spam sites but hey- who knows what the guys are really doing over there. ;)

Ok, in fairness and because I know I'll get a raised eyebrow from one of those "guys"-- all it means is the blog I was linking to had a disproportinate number of the same type of inbound links so a little "possible problem" flag was raised. The tool recognized a lot of "sameness" in the link structure which is, if you believe everything you hear, not a good thing when it comes to links.

You can hover over the different images and information boxes pop up to tell you what the image stands for - I like that. I also like the fact the tool identifies which link is questionable and why.

For example, I had one questionable link (which is different than the "possible problem" flag) come back identified as containing verbiage "questionable" for the SEO community. The word was "sex" and while I think it's safe to say people are having and talking about sex in the SEO community, as a term on a site talking about SEO, it's out of place -- even if only by one letter.

What triggered the blip to the Bad Neighborhood tool was in the comments on a blog I linked to. Seems the word "sex" was used both in the anchor and surrounding text so my site was guilty by association and the link was flagged. This little tool is handy-dandy if you don't want to spend a lot of time looking over potential partner sites.

Disclaimer here: There is absolutely nothing wrong with a site that uses verbiage outside the topical realm. There are comments on this blog which could be considered off topic, I can't police everything and don't want to. The point here is - if you run that tool and find a lot of off-topic verbiage/links then think again about partnering with them.

As a reminder, Aaron has a terrific list of free SEO tools over on LinkHounds as does Joost de Valk so check them out as well.

A couple of people have asked how my website and blog redesigns are going. Great! I'm excited at what's being done. Never thought it would take so long but hey, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Thanks again for voting for my link building post and for supporting this blog. It's much appreciated. :)