Sunday, March 30, 2008

Some Link Ditties

Hey everyone, hope you're doing well. I have a couple of things to share:

Today's the last day for the SEO's Fight Fat , here's what I look like now as a result of my participation...

Yeah, I wish. Donna hasn't posted final weights or who won yet but it sure as heck won't be me. While I would have liked to have lost as much as Jennifer and Scottie , I didn't and that's that. I did however, get back into an exercise routine so I'm happy.

(great abs but I bet her personality stinks ;)
Eric Holter from sent a long some links to a couple of SEO videos he's created. They're about 14 minutes each but hey- pick up a coffee and start your Monday on a learning curve. (Or for some of you, a refresher course ;)


I came across this list of companies providing advertising opportunities to bloggers. It's probably the most comprehensive list I've ever seen so I'm sharing:

Ok, that's all I have for now. Until next time -- think links!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Looking Cool Can Look Link Stupid

Have you seen the new social networking site Starbucks launched about two weeks ago called MyStarBucksIdea?

The media release Starbucks issued calls it an online community network but after going through it, it does seem like a glorified customer feedback form. Since I prefer Diet Coke as my caffeine poison of choice, I don't really care what Starbucks is calling their new venture but I was very interested to know how they were going to sell the concept to their customers.

I'm a big believer in cross promotion and incorporate offline advertising into all the custom linking services I offer. IMO, it's smart to advertise to your demographic offline because people assign credibility to what they read and transfer that trust to an online brand when they see it.

And we know trust helps to build links. So I figured I'd learn a thing or two from a company that managed to make paying $4 for a paper cup of coffee at any time of the day an unconscious part of our routine. I was curious to see how this retailer was going to promote a new online opinion venue to a customer base that's predominately offline. I headed over to our local StarBucks cafe to see if they were displaying any in-store collateral supporting the new networking site.

Surprise surprise - they weren't and the counter clerk didn't know anything about the site either. Which sincerely surprised me as I always had the impression StarBucks was marketing savvy.

I'm sure StarBucks spent a ton on money on creating this new Web2.0 platform so it's a surprise to see they're not taking advantage of in-store collateral annoucing it's creation. I know it's perceived to be cool to have a social media tool in your marketing arsenal and while I applaud StarBucks for making an attempt to build community, I'm shocked at their lack of basic Marketing 101.

I know that sounds a little harsh but I really feel that way. Everyone wants to use the latest toys and look cool because when you're cool, people talk about and admire you. But I have to wonder... here's a company with an almost 100% offline presence and they go and launch an online social networking site to build a -- community? They already have community in their stores everyday.

Which is why they should capitalize on it to market the new online venue. If they launch a new coffee, where do they promote it?

In the stores of course. So why wouldn't they promote a major new portion of their business in-store as well?

I know, I know, just because our local StarBucks aren't pimping the new site doesn't mean it's not happening elsewhere. It SHOULD be happening here, Williamsburg is a hot tourist destination and was visited by the Queen last spring so we're not total hicks. Starbucks owns thousands of offline stores -- thousands. Are they using them to promote a new marketing tool designed to listen to customers, the very people they want becoming part of their new community?

From what I can see -no. Too bad too. If the idea is to use the social networking site to empower customers, they're not doing it at the most effect level - the storefront.

Now I ask you, is that cool?

People turn from being customers to brand evangelists when they feel empowered and part of something. Think about your loyalties and why you have them, do you feel the way you do because someone listened and acted on your opinion? Probably. :)

If you have an offline store supporting an online presence, or even if you exist only online, it makes a world of sense to cross expose your URL/promotion at every opportunity.

If you're going to go through all the trouble of creating something as detailed as a social networking site or as a simple as a magnetic sign for the side of your car, be sure it's going to be seen by the people who can make a difference and in a format that reinforces credibility.

You want to look cool? Buy sunglasses. You want to grow your company and your link base? Advertise in on and offline publications and venues reinforcing your credibility.

Time for a fresh diet coke. :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Directory Discounts

Here's a couple of directory submission discounts I wanted to share:

Aviva Directory's 3rd birthday special is almost over. $20 off all new submissions - both regular and featured. To take advantage of this special offer, simply enter the following coupon code into the coupon field when submitting: birthday3

You can use this code for multiple submissions. Time is running out to take advantage of this offer. This offer will expire at the end of March - on March 31, 2008.

----------------- is offering a 50% discount as a promotion for Link Spiel readers to their US Business Directory. Simply use this coupon code before paying: linkspielrocks. This offer is valid until April 30, 2008

Being a member also allows you to participate in other areas of the site. Here's what's available:

Article Directory
Your own blog:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

God Knows How To Market For Links

A little over a year ago a new social media company came on my radar, it was a Christian based video site called GodTube. Basically, GodTube is a YouTube clone sprinkled with holy water.

It's also sprinkled with a whole lot of marketing hutzpah. You can learn a lot by watching niche sites like GodTube, their marketing tends to be focused which means they know how to reach their limited demographic. There's a couple of excellent components to this site I wanted to point out, first the obligatory screen shot:

GodTube has, unlike other video sites- an entire section translated into Spanish. Which makes sense given census trends and the fact the Spanish community is know to be largely Christian based.

Since the US Census puts the Hispanic population at 47.8 million in 2010, or 15.5% of the US population, offering your site in Spanish makes sense.

Something else worth noting on this site are the contests by Liberty and Regent University. Both are offering a full ride as a grand prize, which is awesome when you consider what tuitions are running these days.

Of the two, the Regent University contest is worth dissecting. Click the banner and you're taken to a promo site set up to house the contest, it's linked to an internal page of Regent University

The Regent contest takes full advantage of social media sites like Digg, YouTube, Delicious, Facebook, Myspace and StumbleUpon and not with little icons here and there, but great big attention grabbing icons.

The guy in the tweed jacket hawking the contest is a well known Hollywood casting director and a professor at Regent University, he has a short but to-the-point script that made me want to go out and make a video. Also notice the countdown monitor in the upper righthand corner, it's there to give a sense of urgency to the whole process.

Back on GodTube they've created a media center that does a really nice, job of showcasing their features in mainstream TV. Notice how they'e added the term "GodTube" in all the media titles, this takes advantage of the way people search and reinforces brand.

The Spanish translation - smart. Hosting other people's contests and capitalizing on their advertising in the process - smart smart. Showcasing media involvement (capitalizing on credibility) and offering a single stop for all things press related - smart smart smart.

Bless them for doing it right.

Give A Warm Reception to Receptional Tool

My friend Dixon Jones from Receptional has given me access to his link analysis tool and graciously allowed the readers of the Link Spiel to use it as well.

Receptional's Link Analysis Tool compares sites and bring back link totals for: trusted links, news sites, .edu, .gov, DMOZ and Wikipedia (yawn) as well a long list of social network sites like,,,,,,,,, and .

Want to try it? Password and username is thelinkspiel Have fun.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Links For Sex.

This is what it's come to. (no pun intended)

Enjoy the weekend.

Monday, March 03, 2008

SMX Photos, Friends And People I Want To Meet

Liana and I have a deal going, she doesn't point her camera at me and I spring for beers when we travel. (Michelob Ultra of course)

I feel like I get the better end of the deal but the problem is, she never keeps her end of the bargain... :(

This time though I didn't mind, since she got me with some of my favorite people in SEOLand. (Chris Sherman above, Detlev Johnson below) LOL - don't you just love the expression on Chris's face?
I really like what I do as a link builder and am grateful my job has allowed me to meet and become friends with a number of wonderful, talented and all around nice people in this industry. I'm a better person for knowing them all.

The SMX conference had a cool networking feature that allowed you to let the world know you were someone's fan or tell them you wanted to meet them. I took advantage of it although I wasn't able to connect with my one shout-out (to meet Gillian Muessig) but hey we'll connect eventually.

That whole process got me thinking about people I didn't know and really wanted to, so I sat down and drew up a list of names. In no particular order, here's who I'd love to meet this year:

1. Mike Moran

3. Ester Dyson (ok, so a girl can dream can't she?)

Jennifer was able to set up a lunch date with Mike Moran while we're in SES NY this month so I'm on my way to making that a reality shortly. Yay Jen!

Then there are people I talk to almost every day but have never met in the flesh. Of course first and foremost is my dear friend Donna Fontenot, then Michael VanDeMar, Adam Audette and Wiep Knol. Hopefully I'll get to put a name and face together on each of these folks soon.

So who do you want to meet this year and what are you going to do about it?

Directory Savings - BOTW & Aviva

Our friends at Best Of The Web are offering a promotion code for discounted submissions to their Directory now through the end of the month. Here's the details:

Throughout the year, we like to provide our valued members with savings on additional BOTW listings. It's been a while since our last promotion, so this month we offer you the opportunity to save big. From now until the end of March, you can SAVE 25% on All NEW Submissions and Sponsorship Advertising in the Best of the Web Directory and BOTW Blog Directory.

When prompted, enter the following Promo Code: SAVEBIG

Be sure to enter the Promo Code: "SAVEBIG" during the sign up process and you will instantly save 25% on new directory submissions as well as sponsorship advertising products.

The promo code may be used multiple times for multiple products and services during the month of March. Remember - the code will expire on March 31, 2008 so be sure to take advantage of the 25% discount before it's too late!

If you've bee thinking about submitting your site to BOTW, now's the time!


An email came in from Jeff at the Aviva Directory with a discount special of their own, here's what they're offering:

Aviva Directory has just turned 3 years old. We could not have made it this far without your valuable support. To thank you, we are offering all clients a third birthday special of$20 off all new submissions - both regular and featured.

To take advantage of this special offer, simply enter the following coupon code into the coupon field when submitting: birthday3

You can use this code for multiple submissions.This offer will expire at the end of March - on March 31, 2008. So, hurry and take advantage of it before the special ends. We look forward to many more birthdays in the future, and continuing to provide you with a top quality web directory.

Any other directories out there want to add a discount code?!

Bee's Do It, Even NonProfits Do It. Let's Do It, Let's Fall In Link Love

Beth Kanter of Beth's Blog recently published an interview she did with Jonathan Colman of The Nature Conservancy. Jonathan is their Associate Director of Digital Marketing and he shared some insight on how the Nature Conservancy (a non-profit) was using social media as part of their marketing mix.

A lot of the interview struck home and made me think about the parallels between traditional linking and social media promotion. While I agree the two entities are different animals and call for seperate strategies, the bottom line is the same for both... to increase traffic and link love.

With some people holding SEO to the fire for exploiting social media, I thought it might be interesting to look at those parallels based on comments made in the interview and see if there's any common ground. Let's start with this one: of the most interesting parts of engaging in social media is how you can measure just about everything that you do. The real challenge, of course, is to determine the meaning behind those numbers.
There's been some chatter on how links generated through social media are somehow less relevant than those secured through traditional link building methods. In traditional link building you identify a link, assign value to it and then proceed to do what you can to get it. If you're successful in securing the link, it becomes a commodity because of where it came from and the importance you placed on securing it.

It's the opposite with social media. You put the content out there and if you're lucky you'll see big traffic and some quality inbound links. Generating links through the social networks can be a crapshoot, you get what you get. Unlike traditional linking, you can't pinpoint where those links will come from or control which sites to target.

So the question is, are the links generated through social media campaigns any less efficient?

The short answer is -it depends on your goal. In today's linking landscape it's important to secure links from high quality sites, and/or those in your niche for maximum ranking impact. Getting links from places like CNN and The Huffington Post are also great provided they aren't dynamic. But if you're looking to generate eyeballs and traffic, then general links in massive quantities are fine, it should be easy to determine their effectiveness.

Here's another comment Jonathan made:
… another principle strategy of ours: connecting with people where they are rather than making find us. ...Rather than force people to come to our site ... we’re happy to ind them where they’re already engaged and introduce them to the Conservancy in venues of their choice.
Advertising/participating on sites your customers frequent when they're not on your site, that's just smart marketing. It's why keeping them engaged through reviews, surveys and customer commenting on your site is so important. Use your site to pull the info you need to find out where they are. No matter what type of linking campaign you do, you need to know what your customers want, where they are and what sites to target. That's Marketing 101.

He then went on to comment on some specific tactics/sites the Nature Conservancyy was using:
I routinely bookmark and comment on environmental news, green blogs, and stories about sustainability and alternative energy technology. One of our foremost social media strategies is to try to link to and promote as many stories as possible outside of our own site.
When we talk about link popularity as a concept, we tend to overlook the importance of topical relevance for the more impactful issues like anchor text and quality links. It's a given that anchor text and inbound links are strong factors but it's equally important to establish community relevance by linking out to sites within your community. By finding and linking to sites hosting your demographic, you work the opportunity from both sides... you get targeted eyeballs and establish your site in a cited, topical network.

.... with Digg visitors, these folks just viewed the landing page and most of them immediately left without viewing any other pages. But that’s OK, because our popularity on Digg drove in 50+ links from blogs, including a few elite sources like The Huffington Post and, and also caused “spillover” popularity into other social news networks. The real value from this particular success on Digg wasn’t so much the initial spike in traffic, but the increased SEO positioning and second wave of visitors coming from blogs and other sites.

The article being referenced can be found here on Digg , some of the "spillover" sites he mentions are Mixx, Hugg, Care2, Reddit, Magnolia, and Netscape . While you may not get as many votes from any one of these "spillover" sites as you would Digg (provided the story was went hot), put them all together and their numbers are impressive.

You'll also get a wider circle of inbound links which is good for establishing a varied linking pattern and increasing visibility overall.

I turn to Twitter to publicize my social media campaigns, usually the ones on Digg. ... a handful of friends following these tweets ... actually click through and vote on the stories. Twitter, Pownce, even IM can be used to draw people into your campaigns...

I've noticed a change in the way people are using Twitter these days. When I started it was more conversational but now, people seem to be using it to annouce new blog posts, ask questions and ask for Diggs/Fetches/Sphinns. More than once I've picked up an URL or a new site that's been helpful; I recently added a link I saw on Twitter to my latest SEL column, I had finished the post and was ready to send in when the tweet happened. Being able to find and react to information that quickly is every marketing person's dream.

Cherry picking links is still a good idea, you target what you want and what you know you need. Social media is good for spreading the word while attracting links in the process. The links are less targeted but no less efficient or important to your overall inbound link graph. Successful link building is about blending both and loving the results.