London Affiliate Conference: Golden Links Panel
Panelists: Marcus Tandler – Mediadonis, Ralph Tegtmeier – Fantomaster, Christoph Cemper – Cemper.com, Sebastian Wentzel – Text-Link-Ads.
We start off by debunking a few myths. Ralph goes through them; only high PageRank links are good, all paid links are bad etc. Don’t obsess too much about high PR links. PR can go up as well as down.
Another golden rule – not all links are equal. A good link building strategy needs competitive analysis and expertise. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, as your behaviour needs to look natural. What’s natural about 100 permanent links all a PR5+? Basically; don’t obsess about the “myths” or your behaviour becomes unnatural.
Our MC (conveniently Michael Caselli) asks – Is PR still important?
Ralph – yes. It is indicative of trust. Just don’t obsess and remember the toolbar PR is not the same as the Google internal PR. It’s “for entertainment purposes only”.
Marcus – it can be hard to find sites without paid links so monitoring drops in PR is a good way (when no other factor seems to warrant a penalty), to work out if a source is taking paid links.
Christoph – also be aware of how PR drops can identify linkbuyers. If you have a paid link source and that source drops 2-3PR and you remove the link, you’re identifying yourself to Google – yes, I bought that for the PR. Again Christoph echoes Ralph; don’t obsess about PR and don’t base your strategy on this.
A member of the audience brings up the “bad neighbourhood” term.
Christoph – look at other links on the site linking to you. Are they quality. Are they relevant?
Audience – is there a danger in having links from a site that takes paid links, even if your is not?
Marcus – Yes! (back to bad neighbourhood). Marcus given an analogy “if you’re sat in a bar next to Bob (Rains) and Dave (Naylor) – that’s a bad neighbourhood”. (LOL.)
Christoph – Great links are the ones your competitors can not get easily.
Sebastian – You need to start with analysis, backlink tools, your links, your competitor links. If you believe in white hat only in this industry, then Good Luck! Penalties are over-rated. Too much money in this industry and everyone is buying links. (Basically; they can’t spank the whole industry overnight.)
Ralph goes back to “bad neighbourhood” to give a different perspective – relevancy isn’t too concerning. A bad neighbourhood is more – cheap Viagra, buy Cialis – that sort of stuff. Agrees with Sebastian that this is a highly competitive industry, if you don’t go for black hat, you’re toast.
MC – when is too far?
Ralph – “When you fail” (I love this!)
MC – How many links do I need to get to position one for poker?
Ralph – (I’m paraphrasing) – “How long is a piece of string?” You can have a site with 7000 links in position 1 or a site with 150,000 links in position 1. Remember not all links are equal and your link strategy is just one part of over 200 factors. So many other variables in the mix.
Q from the audience – What is the one “Golden Link”?
Marcus had a great one from W3C. Essentially when they introduced the donation facility on their site, high donors got a link. Marcus was one of the first few – paid his $1k for a year. In his own words that link was “better than sex”.
Christoph – points out that when such trust is transferred from a link like this, then linking to the next level down the tree is also of great benefit. Being a degree or so removed from that golden source is still worth it. Accumulating such links takes time and also why age/trust are inextricable.
Sebastian – if you develop a new domain, keep it clean, do your press releases. Buy a couple of great paid links; then when the site gets some trust and some traction, then you can really go for it.
Ralph – one of the problems with hunting for that “golden link” is often you can’t tell until after the fact.
MC asks the panel. If you want to rank for the term “Poker”, where is your golden link? Apparently this is a favourite question from Marcus and one he has previously offered money for the right answer for. Marcus thinks this time he could be out of pocket, but it turns out not everybody knows the answer. Which is of course “from the number 1 in the SERP for “poker”. Just ask Google who they trust, and that’s number 1.
Q from the audience – I have a German site and I’m building links from the UK – good or bad?
Sebastian – try to keep a 70/30 rule (70 being the country of origin). Be careful of link brokers here.
Christoph – A link has to pass the smell test. A site in a different country and a different language might make perfect sense; just thing about it logically, naturally and factor relevance.
Q from the audience – How does Google determine relevance? e.g. is “Sportsbook” related to “poker”?
Sebastian – don’t think of Google as a fancy sophisticated bit of .php. Google has been trying for years to emulate human behaviour. Human interpretation of relevance is probably much wider than a machine interpretation.
Ralph – points out that there are linguistic tools available that can assist with this. Also, do bear in mind that text around your anchor text is not ignored. Don’t drop a link with anchor text into a completely irrelevant paragraph.
In summary: Don’t obsess over any one factor in your link-building strategy or you risk losing sight of the whole. Don’t be too timid in this industry or you will sink. Don’t be too rigid or inflexible in your approach or behaviour. Make sure you don’t stink.