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Category Archive: Link Building

  1. Is it Beneficial to Have Multiple Links from The Same Site?

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    Backlink building is an integral part of any SEO strategy, serving as the bulk of most offsite optimization strategies since the early 2000s. However, due to aggressive link building, inappropriate link building, and downright spam-level tactics, Google has gradually increased the sophistication of its backlink profile analysis and has refined the way it views backlinks as a means of conveying online authority.

    A decade ago, quantity meant everything. The sites with the greatest number of backlinks pointing back to them were the ones with the highest domain authority, and were the most likely to rank for a given set of keywords. Today, that’s simply no longer the case. In order to get the authority and ranking benefits from a backlink, you must adhere to a strict and often ambiguous series of rules and guidelines that Google implemented through its Penguin algorithm updates.

    Link sources tend to be at the center of this scrutiny; building links on low-quality sources can compromise your perceived integrity. Building too many links on one source alone can also make you seem like a spammer, but diversifying your links, using multiple sources and links to multiple internal pages, can improve your standing. As such, many webmasters wonder: is it beneficial to have multiple backlinks from the same site?

    Anatomy of a Backlink

    articleimage787 Anatomy of a Backlink

    First, you have to understand the function of a backlink, and what elements of a backlink contribute to its SEO value. Google looks at a number of factors when it comes to judging your backlinks, including:

    • The root domain of the backlink (this will always be the same if you’re posting links back to your own site).
    • The individual page of the backlink (posting too many links to one page can be seen as spam, whereas using a plethora of different internal pages can be beneficial).
    • The quality of the source (authoritative sites carry more weight than low-quality sites).
    • The appropriateness of the source (in terms of its relevance to your industry).
    • Anchor text (while anchoring your links with keywords was once beneficial, doing so excessively can now earn you a penalty).
    • Context clues (a judge of whether your link is helpful and beneficial to the conversation or just there to promote your rank).
    • Frequency (which we’ll cover in more detail shortly).

    All of these factors, working together, are what comprise the overall “authoritativeness” of your individual backlinks.

    External Links and Root Links

    articleimage787External Links and Root Links

    For the purposes of determining the authority and “value” of a given backlink, it’s important to distinguish between individual links and what’s become known as “root links.” Root links refer to the number of domains that link to your domain, while traditional external links refer to individual instances of links to your domain. For example, if you have 1,000 links split between four different external websites, you would have 1,000 external links, but only four root links.

    Google tends to place more value on root links than it does on external links. So, if you have 1,000 different links on four different sources, you’ll get significantly less authority than if you have 1,000 different links on 1,000 different sources.

    Frequency and Diminishing Return

    articleimage787Frequency and diminishing returns

    When considering the number of your external links, and the frequency with which you post them on an external site, it’s important to understand Google’s law of diminishing return. Posting a link on a new domain will earn you a new root link, which is greatly beneficial to your authority. Posting another link will not grant you a new root link, and will not pass as much page rank as your first link, but will still pass a significant amount. Your third link will post slightly less authority, and so on. The more links you post on a given source, the less authority you’ll get from each link.

    Let’s say you have two cases with an identical number and type of root links; in one case, you have 100 external links split amongst those sources, and in the other case, you have 1,000 split amongst those same sources. In the second case, you will have a higher total authority coming from those sources, but the average individual value of your links will be lower.

    However, this analysis does not take into account the idea that each of your links can point to a separate internal page. Pointing to multiple internal pages can increase the individual page rank of those pages, in addition to whatever domain authority increases you receive. For example, if you have 1,000 links pointing to your home page, you will receive X amount of increased overall domain authority, but the only page more likely to show up in search results will be your home page. However, if you have 1,000 links pointing to 100 different internal pages, you’ll receive X amount of increased overall domain authority, but you’ll have 100 different pages more likely to show up in search results.

    Multiple Links on the Same Page

    There’s also a case where you have two links pointing back to your domain on the same page of an external site. For example, if you write a guest blog post that features multiple links back to your domain, you could encounter this problem. According to Matt Cutts, in this situation, any links on the same page will be recognized as carrying page rank. Therefore, if two links in the body of your guest post point to the same internal page, you would get roughly twice as much page rank as a result. Differing anchor text will not affect this, so don’t be afraid to post multiple times, as long as the context of your links is appropriate.

    The Bottom Line

    If you’re building high-quality links, then every link you build will have some benefit for your domain.Therefore, building multiple links on the same site is a worthwhile strategy.

    However, it’s important to note that your root links are more important than your total number of external links. If you build links continuously on the same external site, you’ll get far less value than you’ll get by building links on other external sites. Building links that point to different internal pages is also important so you can maximize the number of internal pages showing up in search results.

    The bottom line here is that even though posting the same link many times on one site is beneficial, it’s more beneficial to diversify your strategy wherever you can; use multiple anchor texts, use links to multiple internal pages, post links on multiple pages and most importantly, post links on different external sources.

    However, in the words of Matt Cutts, spending too much time worrying about the logistics of individual backlink analysis is akin to “splitting hairs.” There are much more important qualities of your campaign to consider. For example, the structure of your site, the crawlability of your content, the user experience of your site, your social media presence, and your ongoing content management strategy are all far more important elements than individual link analysis. Take the information in this article into consideration when developing your backlink building strategy, but don’t let it overpower your focus on the more significant factors that influence your rank.

  2. The Penalty-Proof Way to Build Backlinks

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    Ranking penalties, as the result of Google algorithm updates, have plagued search marketers and webmasters since the search engine got serious about defeating spam back in the late 2000s. The Penguin update of 2012 and its subsequent iterations were responsible for most of the link-related ranking volatility of recent years, distributing penalties to sites with irregular, irrelevant, or otherwise non-valuable backlink, leaving many to abandon or dramatically overhaul their offsite SEO strategies.

    Today, backlink building is still an integral part of any SEO strategy, as a means of increasing your site’s domain authority and making it easier to rank for almost any phrase. While there are modern tactics to build a high quantity of links without earning a penalty from Google, the safer approach is to incorporate a long-term, penalty-proof system of link building, which will keep you safe in the short-term and protect you against any future Google updates.

    Step One: Choose Your Sources Wisely

    articleimage772Choose Your Sources Wisely

    Your first step is to build and maintain and inventory of quality external sources where you can build links. Consulting and abiding by this list will protect you against penalties based on the type of sources you use, and help boost your domain authority even further by increasing your relevance and building meaningful associations.

    As a general rule, you should scout for sites that are authoritative (meaning they’ve been around for a while, they have value for their users, and a respectable amount of traffic), and sites that are directly related to your industry. You can find these sites by performing regular Google searches, using an aggregated news feed, or by examining the link profiles of your competitors using a free tool like Open Site Explorer. Collect a long list of these possible sources and begin making requests for your links on a rotating basis.

    Be sure to avoid the following types of non-authoritative sources:

    • Article directories. Article directories exist for the sole purpose of publishing random articles for the sake of building backlinks. Such sites are few and far between since Google began their crackdown, but stay far away from them regardless.
    • Link farms. Link farms, much like article directories, exist solely to help other sites build backlinks. They publish hundreds of links pointing back to your domain, but all of them are very low quality and will likely result in a penalty.
    • Payment-based sources. Google has an explicit policy against paid link building, which means that any links you pay for (other than advertising or affiliate links) can earn you a harsh penalty.
    • Irrelevant blogs or forums. Forums, blogs, and directories can all be quality sources for backlinks—but only if they are relevant to your specific field. Posting a link on an irrelevant forum, or in an irrelevant conversation, can do more harm than good.

    Step Two: Post Like a Person

    articleimage772 Post Like a Person

    If the search engine giant suspects that your link was built through automation or by a scheme to improve your rank, it will penalize you. So if you post like an ordinary, unbiased user with no ulterior agenda, you’ll be in the clear.

    There’s no “trick” to getting past these evaluations of Google’s algorithms. Instead of trying to make your post look like it was posted to improve user experience, bypass that step and post content that is actually valuable.

    The biggest key here is relevance. When you find a thread on an industry forum that seems like it might be a good fit for a link, read through it before you post. If your company doesn’t have anything to do with the topic, move on. If there’s a blog post that elaborates on a topic mentioned or substantiates a claim made in the thread, post a link to it! And don’t just post the link and be done with it; take the time to write up an explanation of why you’re posting the link, and why you think it would be helpful to the conversation.

    Similarly, you’ll need to ensure that all your guest blogs and offsite content align with the expectations and standards of your offsite sources, and of course, ensure that they are well-written. Keep your hyperlinks to only what’s necessary or what’s helpful in understanding the article.

    Step Three: Diversify

    Another key in making sure you avoid any penalties in the future is to diversify your entire strategy. You’ll want to include as much variation as possible in every step of the process if you want to hedge your bets against the search engine’s next moves and stay ahead of the game no matter what.

    First, you’ll need to diversify your sources. Hopefully, you’ve got a fairly long list of potential sources to draw from; take advantage of its entirety. Rotate your sources regularly, and never post too many links on any one source.

    Second, you’ll need to diversify your timing. Don’t post all of your links on one day of the week or even worse, one day of the month. Spread your links out at random times over random days in an irregular pattern. Links look more natural that way.

    Finally, it’s a good idea to diversify your link structure. Avoid posting the same link to your homepage over and over again. Instead, use deep links from your interior pages and blog posts to vary your external posts—it will also help ensure that your posts are specifically relevant to the conversation at hand. For good measure, be sure to build a significant number of linkless brand mentions as well. Brand mentions pass authority without garnering the negative attention of excessive backlinks.

    Step Four: Audit Regularly

    articleimage772 Audit Regularly

    Unfortunately, maintaining solid best practices throughout your implementation isn’t enough to fully protect you against the possibility of a penalty, or even against the possibility of error in your own work. If you want to maintain the quality of your strategy and catch potential problems early on, the best course of action is to audit your backlink profile on a regular basis.

    There are a few ways to do this, but the easiest is to consult a link-based search tool like Open Site Explorer, which we mentioned above. Here, you’ll be able to review all the links on the web that are pointing back to your site, and evaluate them for diversity, appropriateness, and authority. If you find any links that are irrelevant or questionable, you can easily get rid of them by asking the webmaster to remove them. If you find that your strategy doesn’t include as much diversity as you’d like, or if you spot too many patterns in your posts, you can adjust your process accordingly.

    Plan on implementing a full backlink profile audit at least once a month, possibly more often if you have an aggressive link building strategy in place.

    Put these steps into action for your entire offsite SEO strategy, and you’ll protect yourself against whatever new algorithm updates Google throws at you. Google’s entire motivation in rolling out updates is to make the web a better place with more relevant, accurate content—so if you focus on creating the best possible online experience for your visitors and modern searchers, there will be nothing for the search engine to penalize.

  3. 6 Strategies to Optimize Text for Click-Throughs

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    If you’re managing an active online presence, the more traffic you can get to your site, the better. Finding ways to drive more clicks and more visits to your site is a surefire way to get more visibility for your brand, more conversions on your site, and of course, a greater stream of revenue as a result. With a myriad of external links pointing to your website embedded or sandwiched in text, if you can optimize that text to increase the likelihood of viewers clicking through, you’ll enjoy the benefits.

    Increasing Click-Throughs for Syndicated Links

    Whether you’re working on building your domain authority for SEO through external links or building your brand reach through syndicated content on social media, there are dozens of places where you post links to your site on a regular basis. Cleaning up the text you use to introduce those links will give your users a more concise, more compelling message, which will increase their tendency to click your link and visit your site.

    Increasing Click-Throughs for a Google AdWords Campaign

    In a Google AdWords advertising campaign, you’re only going to pay for people who click on your advertising, up to your set budget. Therefore, increasing your total click-throughs will not increase the total traffic to your site—it will just help you hit your budget faster.

    However, increasing your click-throughs on an AdWords campaign has a ton of other benefits. It can increase your Quality Score, which can indirectly give you a boost in rankings, and simultaneously lower your average cost per click and minimum bid—making your entire campaign cheaper in the process. High click-through rates are a sign of authority and quality, both of which are favorable qualities to Google, and Google always rewards the sites that play by its rules.

    No matter what types of campaigns you run, you can use these strategies to optimize your text to get the greatest number of click-throughs:

    1. Explain the unique value of clicking to the user.

    articleimage756Explain the unique value of clicking to the user
    There are a lot of links floating around on the web, and most of them are garbage. The average user is aware of this fact, and generally browses past hundreds of links a day without clicking a single one of them.

    If you want to attract someone to click your link, you have to explain why it’s valuable for them to click it—either directly or indirectly. Complicating things even further, you have to explain why it’s uniquely valuable—why would your user click this link before any other similar links he/she encounters?

    For example, if you’re posting a link on social media to a recent how-to guide you’ve written about repairing an old sink, don’t just post a link that says “Sink repair guide.” It’s too general, and it doesn’t explain what the benefit is of reading it. If, however, you dress up your language using something like “Learn how to stop your leaky sink and save moneyon your water bill,” you’ll be giving your users plenty of reasons to click through.

    2. Call the user to action.

    articleimage756Call the user to action

    Using indirect language that compels a reader to take action is a subtle strategy that increases the chances of a user eventually clicking. You can’t be too blunt with this—using wording like “CLICK HERE!!!!” is going to alienate your users and earn you scorn from Google.

    Instead, strive to use your language more subtly. Command words that start sentences like “Read how…” or “Join us” lead people to a natural conclusion that taking action is necessary. Imbuing your text with a sense of urgency, using words like “now,” “today,” or other time-related modifiers, can also increase your average user’s chance of clicking.

    For example, if you’re running a promotion that includes a discount on users’ total orders, the phrase “Significant discounts applied to your entire order on our site” doesn’t exactly call a user to take action. On the other hand, something like “Join today and you’ll earn discounts of up to thirty percent on your next order,” calls the user to action immediately and also explains the unique benefits of clicking.

    3. Tease, but don’t give away the full story.

    articleimage756Tease, but don’t give away the full story

    This strategy is especially useful for content marketers trying to entice people to read more of their stories. You might see this strategy used for article teases that pop up on your news feed, and while it can be annoying if overdone, it can also be highly effective if used tactfully. Consider the article title, “This dog walks into a liquor store, and you won’t believe what happens next!” It’s bona fide click bait that will earn more links than a flat headline but might also give users a bad impression of the brand—the point in this exaggerated example is to show how the writer teases the full story without giving everything away.
    You can do the same thing for your articles to increase their appeal. For example, if you’ve written an article about a new exercise routine, you can tease it by saying something like, “Three weeks, and this exercise routine will have you six pounds lighter and happier than ever.” It implies the full body of the content without giving everything away up front. It lures the user to click so he/she can read more.

    4. Make your copy ultra-specific.

    Each phrase you use in your introductory copy should be as specific as possible. That doesn’t mean contradicting the mysteriousness we set in point 3, but it does mean refining your word choices to be as unique and specific as possible. In the example from the above point, we call the user out with indications of “three weeks” and “six pounds,” both highly specific values. If the title read, “This new exercise routine will make you lighter and happier than ever,” it wouldn’t carry nearly as much click power. Use numbers and specific adjectives whenever you can.

    Users crave specificity because there’s a lot of content on the web, and if you write ambiguously, your text will fall into a pit of white noise, never to be seen or clicked.

    5. Cut out any unnecessary words.

    This step can be difficult, especially if you’ve added several words to make your text more specific, in compliance with point 5. However, cutting out any unnecessary words from your introductory text is a perfect strategy to put the final polish on your copy.

    As much as users crave specificity, they crave conciseness. Fleeting attention spans and infinite volumes of content have significantly shortened the chance you have to capture a user’s attention. If your text has too many filler words, it will be gleaned over. If your text is too long, it will be ignored entirely. Study every word in your sentences and evaluate their necessity in your copy. Eliminate any that aren’t absolutely necessary for your message.

    6. AB test.

    There are some intangible factors that affect click-throughs, which can’t be concisely identified in a bullet point. Some users prefer the texture of certain words over others. Some prefer subtlety while other prefer frankness. You won’t know for sure until you test in the field.

    Use AB tests to measure different variations of your copy against each other. Set each to run under similar circumstances, at similar times of day and on identical platforms, and measure which variation is more effective at generating clicks. Do a few rounds of this, and you should be able to form a clear conclusion on which text works best, and apply those findings to the remainder of your campaign.

    Put these strategies to good use when writing any new text around your external links. Measure the results of your efforts, make adjustments when necessary, and eventually you’ll hone a near-perfect strategy to attract more people to your site through links.

  4. 4 Types of Traffic to Measure for Your Site

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    For most online marketers, web traffic is everything. The more web traffic you can earn, the more visibility your products you’ll get, the more conversions you’ll see, and the more revenue your company will get as a result. Content marketing, social media marketing, and other inbound marketing techniques are all developed as ways to increase this volume of traffic, but unless you have a way to objectively measure your increases and determine which strategies are effective for increasing them, you’ll be operating blind, with no real insight into what makes your campaigns tick.

    There are four main types of traffic that will be coming to your website, and it’s important to familiarize yourself with all of them: direct traffic, referral traffic, organic traffic, and social traffic. By segmenting your efforts and measuring them against each other, you’ll be able to figure out the core strengths and weaknesses of your business and make the adjustments necessary to keep growing your revenue year after year.

    Why Objective Measurement Is Important

    Small business owners and new entrepreneurs sometimes invest in a marketing campaign, either in money or in time, without any formal plan for how to measure the results. Measuring your results, objectively, is the only way to improve your campaign in the future, and it’s the only way to measure your return on investment (ROI), so you can know exactly how profitable your campaign is. For example, if your traffic is growing slowly but your ROI is exceptionally high, you’ll know to invest more money into your campaign, and you’ll grow faster as a result. If your ROI is dwindling and your traffic patterns are unpredictable, you’ll need to analyze what’s wrong and make adjustments before you start losing money.

    Analyzing the fluctuations in your four main sources of web traffic can help you understand the scope of your campaign and possible areas for improvement.

    Direct Traffic

    articleimage724directlink

    Direct traffic is composed of users who found your site by plugging in your URL directly into their browser. People who found you this way must have had some prior knowledge of your brand—otherwise they wouldn’t have known to plug in a direct URL. Oftentimes, this is the result of a previous website experience, but it is possible to get new visitors in the direct traffic pool, especially if you use printed advertising to advertise your domain.

    Few digital strategies can optimize for direct traffic, since the main sources of online traffic are from search engines, social syndication and referral links. However, repeat traffic in the form of direct visits is a good indicator of whether your website is impressive enough to encourage visitors to come back for more. Even if you don’t use printed advertising, monitor your direct traffic closely, especially in comparison with your other traffic sources. If you find that you’re getting insufficient repeat traffic, you might want to step up your efforts to encourage revisits.

    Referral Traffic

    articleimage724 Referral Traffic

    Referral traffic is based on users who found your site through external links, such as affiliate links or links from external press releases. Obviously, not all external links are equal, so it’s important to pay close attention to which link sources are earning you the most traffic. For instance, if you notice the bulk of your referral traffic is coming from one specific guest posting opportunity, you should consider stepping up your efforts accordingly. Or, if you notice one of your affiliate links declining in popularity, you might want to find an alternative source of traffic.

    Some of your referral traffic might be out of your control—such as links that your infographics or viral content attracted naturally—but for the most part, you have strict control over which of your links are syndicated and where. Keep a close eye on your link profile as well to ensure that your links are getting the greatest possible visibility.

    Organic Traffic

    Your organic traffic is the traffic that finds your site after performing a search, either using branded or non-branded terms. If you’re running a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, you can consider it responsible for the size and relevance of your organic traffic. The more effort you put into optimizing your site for search engines, the higher you’ll rank, and the more organic traffic you’ll begin to see as a result.

    If you’re just starting an SEO campaign, it’s normal for your first few months to see only minimal activity. It isn’t until a few months into a campaign that your momentum truly starts to build. However, for as long as your efforts remain consistent, you should see exponential increases in your traffic, month over month. If you notice a sharp drop in organic traffic, it could be the result of a soft penalty from Google or a negative backlink that’s dragging you down. Keep an eye out for such anomalies, and use them as launch points to perform thorough campaign audits and recover quickly.

    Social Traffic

    articleimage724socialmediatraffic

    Finally, you’ll take a look at social traffic. As you might suspect, this is all the traffic that is generated from your and other social media profiles, such as your Facebook page or Twitter account. It’s worthwhile to take a look at the individual links and posts that led to the greatest percentage of social visits—if you notice trends, such as post subject matter or time of day, pursue more posts that follow suit to increase your numbers.

    Like with organic traffic, you can expect this number to grow slowly at first. However, if you ratchet up your efforts consistently, you’ll see explosive growth, month after month. Adding more social media profiles to your repertoire and focusing on positive engagement with your core audience can lead to greater following numbers and eventually more traffic as a result.

    Where to Find This Information

    You don’t need any fancy tools or subscriptions to measure and analyze this information. It’s all available in Google Analytics, which is free and relatively easy to set up for your site. Once you start pulling information based on the integration code, you’ll be able to log in and check out all this data under the “Acquisition” tab. There, you’ll be able to get a general overview of your stats, with charts comparing each channel against the others, or drill down to each individual channel in order to learn more information about the type of traffic that’s coming through that channel, such as bounce rates, and whether the traffic is composed of repeat visitors.

    While it’s important to review your information regularly, it’s also important not to go overboard. Daily fluctuations can be wild and inexplicable, and forming assumptions or taking actions based on such limited data could lead you in an inefficient direction. Instead, try to look at broader trends that develop over time, usually over the course of a month, before you make any major decisions about the future of your campaign.

    As you learn more information about the demographics that favor each channel, you’ll also be able to perfect your targeting strategy, refining your messaging to optimize for conversions and ultimately making the most of the traffic you’re getting—a step beyond just increasing your traffic numbers.

  5. When and How to Perform a Link Quality Audit

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    articleimage638When and How to Perform a Link Quality Audit

    Link building is still a viable and necessary strategy for SEO. External links pointing to a domain pass authority to that domain, and the more authority a domain has, the easier it will be able to rank for specific keywords.

    Unfortunately, the link building process is more complex than just posting links on external sites; Google’s Penguin update, which originally released in 2012, has made the link identifying components of Google’s search algorithm incredibly sophisticated. Its most recent iteration, 3.0 in October of this year, pushed those changes even further. Under Penguin, your external links need to be diverse, authoritative, and of a high quality. Otherwise, you could face a penalty and suffer a ranking drop instead of a boost.

    As a result, it’s important to perform an occasional link quality audit to review your overall strategy, identify possible weaknesses, and preventing the possibility of getting hit with a sudden ranking fall.Many search marketers know this information, but still fail to perform an audit regularly. This guide will help you understand not only when—but also how—to perform a link quality audit for your campaign.

    Reaction to a Penalty

    articleimage638Reaction to a Penalty

    Unfortunately, most search marketers only implement a link quality audit after they’ve already been hit with a penalty. It’s easy to spot a penalty when it happens, especially if you keep a tight watch over the progress of your campaign. Your rankings will start to diminish for some or all of your keywords, and your organic traffic numbers will start to dip.

    These penalties are usually not “penalties” per say. Instead, they’re the result of a new update or data refresh rolling out, such as Penguin 3.0. When this happens, Google refines what links it sees and how it sees them, and automatically recalculates the rank for every business on the web. A decline of rank after a rollout is just an unfortunate and automatic drop in perceived significance.

    Manual penalties also exist, but these are very rare. In these cases, if a website has committed a particularly atrocious offense, a Google analyst may submit a manual penalty and greatly reduce that website’s visibility across the web. You will receive a formal notification if this happens, and the road to recovery is long and difficult.

    Nevertheless, if you have already suffered an automatic penalty, your first step is to respond immediately by performing a formal link quality audit and find the root of your problem.

    Ongoing Maintenance

    articleimage638Ongoing Maintenance

    Obviously, the better way to solve a problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. If you can identify your bad links before Google can get to them with a data refresh or an update, you’ll never have to experience a ranking drop at all.

    The first step, of course, is to build exclusively high-quality links in your profile. If you only submit the best links, it makes sense that you’d never have to worry about a penalty, and a link quality audit would seem redundant. However, it’s still a good idea to go through your link profile occasionally and clear up any inconsistencies. Old links and negative SEO attacks are just two possible liabilities a link quality audit can catch.

    You don’t need to perform a link quality audit every day, or even every week (unless you’re running a very high-profile campaign). Bi-weekly or monthly link quality audits are suitable for most businesses.

    Step One: Identify the Culprits

    The first step to any link quality audit is to find any questionable links pointing to your domain. It’s not enough to simply review what links you personally posted and where; you’ll want to take a look at every link on the web pointing back to your site. You can do this using a free tool like Moz’sOpen Site Explorer, or some other external link-based search system.

    Once you have a list of all the links pointing back to you, start going through them one by one. If you’ve already experienced a penalty, you can be pretty sure there’s at least one bad link hiding in the others. Keep an eye out for links that exhibit any of the following questionable qualities:

    • Links stuffed with keywords as anchor text
    • Backlinks on questionable sources, such as article mills or local directories that have nothing to do with your industry
    • Links that are unhelpful to readers or irrelevant to the conversation
    • Links you’ve paid for (other than affiliate links)
    • Links on guest blogging networks or other link building schemes

    You don’t necessarily have to remove every link that seems questionable. Unless you’re facing a harsh penalty, only remove a link if it truly stands out as suspicious.

    If you haven’t found any questionable links in your link profile, then congratulations! Your link profile has passed the audit, and you can relax until your next regular check.

    Step Two: Reach Out to the Webmasters

    Now that you know the worst offenders in your link profile, you need to work on removing them from the web. Otherwise, they could damage your reputation and make your ranking situation worse. Your first step is to try removing the links yourself through a login and manual removal. If you are unable to do so, you’ll have to go straight to the webmaster.

    If you remember building the link in the first place, you should still have the webmaster’s contact information. If not, you can usually find it listed on the site itself under the contact page.

    If you’re still having trouble finding the webmaster, do a Whois search in Google by typing “Whois” followed by the domain. This will give you all the publicly available information on a given domain such as the contact information and the hosting company. You can also contact the hosting company directly to try and get closer to the webmaster.

    Once you have the information, write a polite email to the webmaster and formally ask that the link be removed. In most cases, they’ll be happy to help.

    Step Three: Escalate the Removal

    Asking the webmaster for help removing the link is the easiest and most reliable way to go. However, there may be rare instances when they refuse to help or ignore your request. In these instances, there is a last-ditch effort option available through Google Webmaster Tools.

    You can find the tool here, but only use it as a last resort. Google rejects a vast majority of link disavowal requests.

    Step Four: Repair Your Ongoing Strategy

    Finally, take a look at the links you removed and determine the fault point that led to their creation. Where was the flaw in your strategy? Make any corrections that you need to make, and get your team up to speed on the adjustments. The more you refine your strategy, the better your link profile will be, and your link audits will be much easier as a result.

    Commit to performing a link quality audit at least once a month for your campaign, even if your link building strategy is only a small component of your overall direction. Finding and removing one bad link can save you the pain of dealing with a ranking drop, and proactively keep your site’s domain authority rising over time.

  6. 5 New Link Building Strategies for a Post-Penguin 3.0 World

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    Penguin 3.0 is finally here, and it’s delivered a similarly powerful scope of changes to the world of optimization as its predecessors. Penguin 1.0 started altering the linkbuilding landscape back in 2012 with an algorithmic change that impacted more than three percent of all search queries. The update targeted low-quality backlinks, such as those stuffed with keywords or those posted on sites whose specific purpose was hosting external links.

    Now, more than two years later and more than a year after the last Penguin refresh, Penguin 3.0 is forcing link builders to alter their strategies yet again. Fortunately, there are several new tactics that can keep you afloat and push you forward, free of ranking penalties.

    Penguin 3.0’s Refinement

    Penguin 3.0 has continued in the tradition of Penguin updates, refining what constitutes a “good” link in the eyes of Google and launching a more sophisticated algorithm for weeding out the negative offenders. Since most obvious negative links have already been caught and penalized with previous updates, Penguin 3.0 has focused on targeting previously unnoticed low-quality links. While the exact algorithmic changes remain undisclosed and therefore unclear, it’s reasonable to expect that the “naturalness” of external links can be somehow measured with even greater precision.

    Your goal as a link builder should therefore be to build as many natural links as possible, while cutting out any strategies that could make it seem like you’re building links only for higher ranks.

    Strategy 1: Get More Local

    articleimage572getmorelocal

    Local optimization isn’t just a strategy for mom-and-pop gift stores or hole-in-the-wall restaurants. It can and should be harnessed by all businesses with a physical office, even if they operate nationally. Pursuing a local SEO campaign gives you a much higher relevance to a slightly smaller audience, with much less competition to deal with. You’ll immediately get more visibility with a wider range of keywords that deal with local-specific terms, but more importantly, you’ll open the door to a new world of link possibilities.

    Local optimization demands attention for local-specific publications and PR opportunities. For example, if you want to build links with some region-specific language around them, it’s a good idea to attend local events and publish press releases around the opportunity. You can also post more on your social media profiles about local events, and make blog posts about local developments. It’s an easy opportunity to attract new links, and it will give you immediate authority for local-specific keywords. All you have to do is pay attention to the local news, and put yourself out there.

    Strategy 2: Create Infographics for Niche Topics

    articleimage572 Create Infographics for Niche Topics

    Infographics have always been a high-quality link building strategy because they’re permanent, high-quality pieces of content that are easily shareable and naturally attract tons of backlinks. However, the modern market has been saturated with infographics, and building one that’s both relevant and interesting is becoming more difficult. Churning out infographics that are redundant or ones that serve no purpose could earn you a penalty, or worse—a poor reputation.

    Instead, start creating infographics for niche topics—the hyper-specific topics that no one in your industry has tried to do before. You’ll sacrifice the sheer volume of your audience, but the audience you have left will be much more appreciative, and your infographic will get much more visibility. For example, making an infographic about the most powerful buzzwords in Twitter marketing is much more specific than making one about “social media marketing” in general. In the end, this strategy will earn you more links and give your infographics a much better shot at getting found (though you may have to perform some original research to put them together).

    Strategy 3: Selectively Hunt High-Quality Link Sources

    articleimage572Selectively Hunt High-Quality Link Sour

    The highest quality link sources are also the most difficult to build links with. Governmental sites ending in .gov and colleges and universities that end in .edu tend to be some of the most powerful and authoritative link building platforms, but getting your links on those sites is difficult and occasionally problematic—first, you have to find a way to build a relevant, valuable link, and second, you have to convince the webmaster to host it.

    Instead of trying to post links yourself on these sites or sending out a mass email to fish for an opportunity, take time every week to hunt down a handful of key opportunities. Offer a new program or product that fits with their purpose—such as a scholarship that can apply to several colleges and universities. Then, reach out to each webmaster individually and politely request that one of your links be featured on their sites. Don’t be surprised if your response rate is low—the links you do win will be that much more valuable to your strategy.

    Strategy 4: Diversify, Now More Than Ever

    Diversifying your link profile has always been a good strategy, but in a post-Penguin 3.0 world, it’s not enough to simply build links on different sites. You have to build several different kinds of links (such as 301 redirects, nofollow links, and broken links) on several different sources, in several different ways. Diversity is an understatement—no two links you build should be alike.

    It’s a difficult strategy to manage, especially if you’re running thin on sources to build links on, but the payoff is worth it. Every couple of weeks, you should do a run-through of your link profile as it currently exists using a tool like Moz’sOpen Site Explorer, which is free and open to the public. You’ll be able to see all the links currently pointing back to your site, including the domains they’re hosted on, and you should be able to infer broad themes about your link building strategy and note key areas for improvement or development.

    Strategy 5: Link Build Without the Links

    It sounds counterintuitive, but there’s a way to build links without actually building links. Google recently disclosed that brand mentions (instances of your brand’s name on the web), even without an accompanying link pointing back to your site, pass authority to the appropriate site. This means you can build “brand mentions” instead of links to get a similar boost in page rank.

    As with links, you’ll have to keep your diversity in mind. You don’t want a backlink profile that exists entirely of backlinks, nor do you want a profile that exists entirely of linkless brand mentions. Vary up the format of your brand mentions too—for example, if you’re running a company called “Bunker Media Marketing and Advertising,” you could build brand mentions such as “Bunker Media Marketing” or simply “Bunker Media.” Those variations add up to register as natural occurrences, since no “real” customers are likely to use the exact trademarked brand in every single instance.

    These strategies can all help you achieve a more natural, more authoritative link profile, but keep in mind your direct efforts are not nearly as significant unless you have a dedicated audience building links for you. The true key to cultivating a high-quality, Penguin-proof link profile is nurturing a linkworthy content strategy that people want to link to. Spend your efforts making and distributing great content, and you’ll never have to worry about links.

  7. The Importance of Interlinking Your Guest Blog Content

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    Guest blogging has always been a great SEO strategy; it increases your brand visibility, gives you more opportunities to link back to your main site, and creates a tight network between your main site and a series of high-authority external sources. If executed properly, a long-term guest blogging campaign can multiply the power of your brand and significantly increase the authority of your site—both from users’ and search engines’ perspectives.

    In order to get the most out of your guest blogging campaign, it’s a good idea to implement a process of interlinking to strengthen the bonds between your posts and help direct users to more valuable content—ultimately getting you closer to a converted lead.

    What Is Interlinking?

    articleimage559What Is Interlinking

    At its most basic, interlinking is a strategy that embeds hyperlinks in your articles which lead to your other articles. Essentially, you’ll be using your content as a bridge that connects users to other pieces of content that you’ve written, usually on your main site or on other external blogs.

    There are several benefits of interlinking, including:

    • Increasing the readability and authority of your article. When people see hyperlinks embedded throughout the article, it immediately imbues the article with an extra layer of authority, plus it looks great and helps your content become a more “visual” piece.
    • Giving users a chance to spend more time reading your material. When users click your links, they’ll be brought to other pieces of your content. Your bounce rate will decrease, and your users will have more reasons to stick around on your site.
    • Increasing traffic to your site (and other guest blogs). By interlinking your guest blogs, you’ll be automatically driving more users to your site—users who might not have found you otherwise.
    • Building a tight, scannable network for Google’s robots. Google likes to see connections between things. If you have your guest blogs aligned with a similar web of interrelated links, it will view all of them with a higher authority, and your main domain will see increased ranks as a result.

    No matter how often you guest blog or what sites you use to do it, it’s important to interlink your content as much as possible—without spamming or annoying your users.

    Interlinking Guest Blogs with Your Main Site

    articleimage559 Interlinking Guest Blogs with Your Main Site

    The main purpose of interlinking a guest blog is to get more traffic for your main site. The more traffic you have, the more chances you’ll have at converting leads, and ultimately, that means higher sales and revenue. Interlinking your guest content with your main site also passes authority in the eyes of Google, so if you link from a high-profile, high-authority site to your main website, you’ll eventually see a ranking increase as a result.

    You do have to be careful with how many links you have pointing back to your site, however. If a user clicks on multiple links within your article and they all link to one domain, they may become suspicious that you are trying to lure them into a sale, and they will distrust the intentions of your content.

    Interlinking Your Guest Blogs with Other Guest Blogs

    It’s wise to complement your interlinking strategy by including links to other guest blogs you write, either on the same host or a different one. The idea here is to give users a chance to explore your other content so they can get a wider view of your experience—and of course, to give them more value by providing helpful resources where they are required in the context of the article.

    Interlinking between guest blogs will also help build and strengthen the network of links and affiliates you display to Google, meaning increased authority all around.

    Best Practices

    articleimage559bestpractices

    Interlinking, while straightforward in theory, is a bit more complicated when you look at correct implementation. It’s not a process you can just start, stuffing as many links as you want into the body of your content. While the idea of building many bridges is appealing, you also have to keep the preferences of your users and the search robots at Google in mind. If you annoy your users, the strategy crumbles, and if you’re seen as a questionable practitioner in the eyes of search engines, your rankings will plummet.

    Keep your interlinking strategy healthy by incorporating these best practices into your campaign:

    The Importance of Link Relevance                                   

    Your links must be relevant to the subject of your article. If you try to stuff a link that leads to a meat processing factory’s website from an article about financial planning for seniors, you’re going to get some confused users and a red flag from Google’s algorithm. Google robots use contextual clues and semantic analysis to determine when links are appropriate or inappropriate, so use them only when they’re relevant and can give users more information. Your first goal should be making an informative, authoritative article, and your interlinking efforts should only enhance that purpose.

    Choosing the Right Anchor Text

    Anchor text has gotten a lot of attention lately, especially with the recent onset of the Penguin 3.0 update. Backlinks aren’t nearly as simple as they used to be; once upon a time, you could root your links in anchor text that contained a keyword you wanted to optimize for, and your ranking for that keyword would improve. Today, if you even try to optimize your anchor text, you’re begging for a penalty. Instead of writing out the names of your articles or trying to stuff a keyword phrase in to justify a place for your articles, embed your links into naturally relevant phrases (like I just did).

    Just the Right Number

    You want to have enough links to entice your users to click, but you also don’t want to overwhelm them. Having too many links from related sources pointing to one another can trigger a red flag from Google, signaling a link exchange scheme. It could also make your text virtually unreadable to the average user. There’s no firm rule for how many links you should have; instead, try and focus on only including the most relevant, highest quality links you can. You also need to vary your link targets—use many different articles in your interlinking strategy.

    Occasional Nofollow Links

    If you want to hedge your bets to avoid a penalty from Google, start using a handful of nofollow links as part of your interlinking strategy. Nofollow links are links marked with a rel=nofollow tag, which instructs Google to ignore the link in its authority-scouting algorithm. Essentially, you’ll be able to capture a share of user interest and traffic without angering search engine robots. It’s not ideal, since you’ll be missing out on a bit of authority, but if your interlinking strategy is tempered with occasional nofollow links, you’ll protect yourself against a possible ranking drop.

    Interlinking is a worthwhile strategy for any guest blogging opportunity. The benefits of increased rank and more traffic are nice, but keep in mind that your first priority should be giving your users a more valuable experience. If your links aren’t improving the quality or value of your article, you might as well have none, so remember your users and interlink responsibly.

  8. 10 Strategies to Attract Links to Your Content

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    Link building is still one of the most effective offsite search engine optimization practices around—the more high-quality links you have, the better. But with the onset of advanced Google updates like Penguin 3.0, it’s becoming more and more difficult to build “natural” backlinks on your own. In most cases, it’s better and easier to let your readers and customers do the work for you, by creating content that naturally encourages people to build links pointing back to your site.

    That may seem difficult, but when put into practice, you may find it’s one of the easiest—and most effective—link building strategies around. Try using these 10 tactics to attract more links to your onsite content:

    1. Show Something New.

    articleimage556Show Something New

    People like to see what’s new, and if it’s new enough and different enough, they’ll want to share it to their friends and followers. Nothing satisfies social urges quite like being the first person to share something new and exciting. If you have a new product or service to unveil, write a post about it, and talk about how it’s going to change the industry. You can also share a new take on an old problem, or share a new idea that has future potential. Anything you can do to share something new will pay off in spades.

    2. Tease Your Audience.

    articleimage556Tease Your Audience

    Build anticipation whenever possible. Anticipation leads to more attention, and the value of whatever you build to will correspondingly increase. You can build this anticipation by teasing your audience of a release to come—either in the form of social media posts, or by the creation of a webinar or content series. For example, you can make posts leading to a specific date like “We’ve got a big announcement for you next week!” and “only two days until the big reveal!” Your content, when revealed, will pack a much bigger punch, and your users will be far more likely to link to it as a result.

    3. Take a Firm Stance.

    Controversy can be a good thing. If you have the opportunity to take a firm stance on a major issue in your industry, or something else debatable, you should take it. Make sure your stance is in line with your brand standards, but don’t be afraid to firmly pick a side. You do run the risk of alienating some of your readers, but the remainder will be far more loyal and passionate about your brand. Those loyal followers will be highly likely to link to your strong, opinionated content—especially if they’re posting their own variations of it!

    4. Give Your Readers a Surprise.

    articleimage556Give Your Readers a Surprise

    Giving users exactly what they expect can lead to satisfaction, but if you give your users a surprise, they’ll remember it. Create content that offers something surprising—you can support an unconventional opinion, offer a unique solution, or simply have a sudden twist in your video content to evoke a surprised response. That surprise element is invaluable to facilitating interest from your readership. People like to share surprises to others, so your content will be far more likely to attract links from other bloggers and readers.

    5. Demonstrate Original Research.

    Original research is one of the juiciest and most attractive forms of content you can provide. Original research is—as the name suggests—original, and that means users can’t get your data anywhere else. Your data is also going to be valuable, at least to somebody, and many people will want to link to you simply to credit you as a source of their information. You’ll be the root source of dozens, if not hundreds, of secondary articles, most of which will link to you as the original source. The only problem with this strategy is the amount of time and effort it takes to perform original research properly.

    6. Let Others Guest Blog on Your Site.

    This strategy is much easier, and can be done by any company in any industry. Make a public request for guest bloggers—most writers are itching to write guest blogs as a source of new readership and more brand visibility. While allowing guest bloggers within your industry to post on your blog might actually send some of your users their way, the benefits to your brand can be just as powerful. Your readerships will “cross over,” and your guest bloggers’ current fans will be likely to link to their content—plus, your guest bloggers will be more than happy to share the links to their content on your site.

    7. Conduct Interviews and Surveys.

    Interviews and surveys are almost a type of original research that doesn’t take much time to implement or analyze. Essentially, you’ll be borrowing the authority of an individual or group of people in order to substantiate your own content—either with new insights or aggregated data. This strategy will attract links, either because it’s interesting, because it’s informative, or some mixture of the two. And if you’re conducting an interview with an individual, make sure to ask him/her to share it with his/her current fans.

    8. Create Something Funny or Entertaining.

    Funny content is self-explanatory—if your content makes somebody laugh, they’ll be far more likely to share and link to it. The trick is to find something funny to create. Amusing videos are one of the more popular options, but you can also write a parody post or something similar. If your brand voice is casual or flexible, you have a lot of room to work with—remember, that everybody loves to laugh deep down.

    9. Write Landmark Pieces.

    Landmark pieces, like whitepapers or thorough guides, are some of the best types of content you can write. They are longer, more detailed, and more useful than typical blog posts or infographics, and usually come through a PDF download link rather than existing onsite. These pieces are highly shareable, and are perfect for attracting links because they are seen as having a high level of authority, and they’re usually evergreen, meaning they’re useful for a longer period of time than a typical blog entry, and will attract links for a much longer time as a result.

    10. Reward Shares Directly.

    This is one of the easiest ways to build links, and one of the most effective—as long as you’re careful with it. Directly compensating users for linking to your content can be seen as manipulative and therefore against Google’s terms of service. However, you can encourage links to your content by offering entry into a competition, or by offering small rewards like discounts or credits. One specific example is asking your users for videos explaining why they love your ____ product, which in turn link back to the original competition page. You can also encourage social sharing along the same lines.

    Link building doesn’t have to be a massive internal effort. By leveraging the power of your own audience, you can build your reputation and naturally allow the development of all the links you could ever want. It’s still a good idea to occasionally review the sources of your links, and pursue extra high-quality link building opportunities in order to create the best possible backlink profile, but with these 10 strategies, you’ll be in an excellent position to let your link building campaign grow on its own.

  9. Is Infographic Marketing Still Effective for Link Building?

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    Infographics have been hailed as a penalty-proof strategy to build backlinks effectively, but now that they’ve been around for a few years, the enthusiasm for their utility is beginning to wane. In order to get the best results from your SEO campaign, you need a link building strategy that accomplishes three things:

    1. It builds links quickly enough to influence a significant change in page rank
    2. It builds links cost effectively, keeping the campaign within budget
    3. It builds links safely, without attracting any negative attention from Google

    Infographics once easily met all three of these criteria, but are infographics still an effective way to build backlinks?

    The Theory

    articleimage432The Theory

    The theory behind the usefulness of infographics in a link building campaign is still solid. At their best, infographics are concise, visual pieces that convey complex significant information in a compelling, entertaining, and easy-to-understand way. This is a perfect recipe for “viral content,” which has a high propensity to be shared amongst peers.

    Viral content has a number of advantages on its own, such as widening the reach and visibility of your brand, but its advantages for link building are what have made infographics such a popular medium for search marketers. When a piece of content, particularly an infographic, is shared on a new site, the sharer typically posts a link back to the original poster. Any of their readers who share the infographic would also link back to the original, eventually generating a large network of backlinks.

    The best part about the strategy, compared to other link building tactics, is that it is completely organic. One hundred percent of the links generated with infographic marketing are naturally produced by audience members, which means the marketer spends less effort building individual links and Google has no real reason to implement a penalty.

    One of the only downsides of infographic marketing was the cost of doing it right. Creating a compelling enough infographic requires the help of an in-house or freelance designer and several hours of intensive work. But still, infographics were safer and more effective than almost any other link building strategy available.

    Changes in Popularity

    articleimage432changesinpopularity

    Infographic marketing has changed. Over the course of the last five years or so, there has been a stunning increase in the popularity and importance of visual media in the marketing world. Popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter began seeing a trend of people posting, liking, and sharing more visual content than written content. Content marketers noticed that posts with images get far more traffic than posts without. And new, entirely visual social media platforms began to take center stage as the next step in social media evolution. Today, the photo sharing network Pinterest attracts around 40 million active monthly users, while Instagram has over 200 million active users.

    This rise in popularity has actually been a good thing. More visual users means a larger audience for infographics, and a higher potential for infographics to circulate quickly. Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest almost cater to this idea, encouraging users to engage with one another in an almost exclusively image-based format. For marketers, this translates to a higher number of potential backlinks from a more diverse range of sources.

    On the other hand, thousands of marketers have realized the power of infographics and have started producing them on a more frequent basis. This rise in popularity has been a bad thing. Think of this concept as infographic inflation; money is valuable because it is a limited commodity. If the government were to decide to double the amount of money in circulation, it wouldn’t make everybody twice as rich; it would just make money half as valuable. The same principle applies here, at least to some extent. When you see your social media news feeds flooded with a torrent of infographics on a daily basis, over time they begin to diminish in significance, and eventually, they register as white noise.

    The popularity surge of infographics, by some accounts, has overtaken the surge of visual social media sites, resulting in an oversaturated market where the power of the infographic is greatly diminished. For example, Neil Patel of KISSmetrics found that the average power of his infographics decreased from 53,459 visitors and 875 backlinks to 21,582 visitors and 371 backlinks between 2012 and 2014. This is a perfect example of infographic inflation; these infographics are researched, produced, and distributed using the exact same process, yet the number of backlinks produced has been cut in half.

    However, take a look at the current power of content marketing in general. More businesses than ever are using blogs and social content sharing to build their authority and generate revenue, and yet it’s still a relevant strategy with plenty of room for anyone who wants to get in on the action. While infographics have waned in value, that doesn’t mean they are no longer valuable. Even looking at the low figures in the example above, 371 natural backlinks per infographic is substantial.

    Cost and Impact

    Infographics are still effective for link building, but that doesn’t mean they are an efficient strategy. For example, if infographic effectiveness has declined to the point where manual backlink building can earn you more backlinks in fewer hours, then manual backlink building would be a superior strategy.

    Depending on how you develop infographics, the cost can vary. Generally, it takes a graphic designer several hours to perform preliminary research and design out the piece. It then takes a marketer an hour or more to distribute the infographic on the proper channels. An average infographic would therefore cost hundreds of dollars, and like with any piece of design or content—you get what you pay for. Skimping on your infographic budget will only lead to low-quality work that only generates a minimal number of backlinks. With the current popularity of infographics, only quality work stands out.

    Still, even if you pay upwards of a thousand dollars for an infographic, if you can get several hundred unique backlinks from them, it’s worth the investment. Otherwise, you’ll be spending dozens of hours hunting down high quality backlink sources and building links, one by one, on your own.

    Why Infographics Are Still a Great Strategy

    articleimage432Why Infographics Are Still a Great Strategy

    Infographics aren’t nearly as efficient as they used to be. An infographic today, identical to an infographic in 2011, will only generate about half the interest and half the backlinks. Fortunately, that’s still a significant amount.

    But even if you throw out the idea of backlinking entirely, infographics are a great long-term strategy:

    • They are an easy way to promote your brand. Even if you don’t generate any links, if you include your brand, more people will see it and become familiar with it.
    • They are perfect social media fodder. Syndicate your infographics on social media, especially on visual platforms like Pinterest, and you’ll be able to attract more followers to your profile even without the extra backlinks.
    • They facilitate more traffic. You might not get as many links as you used to, but your infographics will drive more traffic to your site (especially if you become well-known for your high-quality infographics).

    All in all, infographics are still a fantastic inbound marketing strategy—they’re just not as good at link building as they used to be.

  10. How to Filter Trackback Spam From WordPress

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    articleimage430How to Filter Trackback Spam From WordPress

    Spam has been a problem since the dawn of the Internet, and it keeps evolving into new forms as increasingly complex solutions arise to conquer it. While some old-school forms of spam have all but been eliminated, modern forms of spam, such as trackback spam, are still problematic for millions of Internet users. The popular blogging platform WordPress features trackbacks as an option, but for many users, the volume of spam associated with trackbacks is too high to warrant their presence.

    There are many options available to deal with trackback spam in WordPress, including filtering options, but first, let’s take a high-level look at the root of the problem.

    What Is a Trackback?

    articleimage430whatistrackback

    A trackback is a type of link posted on one blog, pointing to another, which allows the original article creator (and the focus of the link) to track who is linking to their content. It’s a type of communicative exchange that allows multiple bloggers to connect with each other, and when done correctly, it can be beneficial for both parties.

    For example, if Blogger One posts an interesting article about kitchen knives and Blogger Two writes a blog about cooking with vegetables, Blogger Two might use a trackback to post a link back to Blogger One’s article. This way, Blogger Two can comment on Blogger One’s kitchen knife post while still allowing his own readers to see his commentary. Blogger One would also receive a notification of the trackback, and would have the option of displaying it as a comment on his own site. If the comment is accepted, it will include an excerpt of the new post and a link back to Blogger Two’s full post.

    Pingbacks are a similar, but distinct entity in the world of WordPress, and it’s important to understand the difference. The biggest difference is that pingbacks are automatically sent, whereas trackbacks are specifically created. Let’s take the above example: in this scenario, Blogger One writes a post and Blogger Two simply mentions the article in a new post. Blogger One’s blogging platform (WordPress, in this case) receives a pingback, which can be reviewed and posted as a comment that simply links back to Blogger Two’s site.

    Why Does It Matter?

    Trackbacks may seem like a superfluous feature, but they can be helpful in community building between multiple blogs. Since bloggers have full control over which trackbacks and pingbacks appear as comments on their site, it’s fairly easy to moderate comments and only accept those that are mutually beneficial. For example, Blogger One may not wish to publish a trackback that harshly criticizes his/her original content.

    The exchange of links is also beneficial. Backlinks are an important ranking signal in Google, so the more high quality backlinks you have pointing back to your site, the better. Do take this with a word of caution, however: Google has been known to penalize link exchangers (two parties who post backlinks to each other’s site in an effort to help both rise in rank). So if you engage in trackbacks yourself, make sure you engage with a wide circle of blogs with similar topics.

    Trackback Abuse and Spam

    articleimage430trackbackabuseandspam

    Despite the potential benefits of trackbacks when used properly, unfortunately the vast majority of trackbacks on the web are spam. And spam is annoying for everybody.

    In the older days of the Internet, comment spam was the most popular way to spam links on external blogs. Spammers would simply post blog comments containing a link pointing back to their site and reap the benefits of the increased traffic and higher page rank. However, modern spam filters and smarter blog structures have done a fantastic job of eliminating most comment spam (and penalizing the spammers behind them).

    Trackback spam functions like comment spam in the sense that spammers can post links pointing back to their site on other blogs; however, trackbacks circumvent many of the safeguards intended to protect blogs from receiving comment spam. Some blogging platforms have eliminated trackbacks entirely because trackback spam has run rampant, but WordPress still supports trackbacks for users who wish to use them appropriately.

    Trackback spam can be obvious or subtle, depending on the skill and intentions of the spammer. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to deal with this burden.

    Solution One: Manually Deleting Trackbacks

    If you notice that your blog is receiving an inordinate number of trackbacks, or if the trackbacks you receive seem irrelevant or questionable, you can go through and manually delete the offending trackbacks. All trackbacks appear under the “Comments” section of your WordPress site, where you will be able to review and moderate each individual instance. You can flag these instances as spam, delete them, or approve them if they appear to be natural or valuable to you.

    Solution Two: Setting Up a Filtering System

    If you receive trackback spam regularly, or if you simply don’t want to spend time deleting them manually, you can add a WordPress plugin that filters incoming trackbacks and automatically weeds out the bad seeds. A filter might not catch every single instance of trackback spam, so it’s possible you’ll still have to go in and manually delete some, but for the most part it is a great long-term solution.

    The Simple Trackback Validation plugin is one of the best tools available. Whenever it receives a trackback, the plugin runs a quick check to compare the IP address of the sender with the IP address of the webserver in question. Since trackback spammers tend to rely on bots and third party entities, most IP mismatches are evidence of spam, and are thus thrown out. Next, the plugin tests the URL from the trackback to verify that it links to a real blog. If it does not, the trackback is automatically removed.

    There are many filtering and setup options available, so you can customize the plugin to best suit your needs. There are also a wide variety of other plugins for catching trackback spam—this just happens to be one of the most efficient.

    Solution Three: Remove All Trackbacks

    If you don’t want to manually remove any trackbacks and you aren’t satisfied with setting up a trackback filter, you could also go the extreme route and simply block all trackbacks to your site. If you visit the Options > Discussion panel on the back end of your site, you’ll see an option for “Allow link notifications from other Weblogs (pingbacks and trackbacks),” which is currently checked. Uncheck that option and you will no longer receive any future trackbacks (though current trackbacks will remain until you delete them).

    Disabling all future trackbacks isn’t the best option, however, since trackbacks can be a beneficial feature when used responsibly by other bloggers.

    How you deal with trackbacks is entirely dependent on your personal preferences:

    • If your blog doesn’t receive much traffic or doesn’t receive many trackbacks, you might as well stick with manual moderation and deletion moving forward.
    • If you like the community-building potential of appropriately used trackbacks, it’s probably worth downloading and setting up a plugin that will automatically filter trackback spam.
    • If you don’t like the trackback feature at all and would prefer not to mess with a new plugin, simply disable all trackbacks and continue blogging.

    Remember, you can always adjust your approach if you change your mind.

     

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