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The other day I saw Rand Fishkin’s tweet linking to this article that shows that, as Rand says, “evergreen content that ranks beats everything else:”. I am, of course, inclined to agree and because I can’t  keep my mouth shut on topics like this I tweeted this:

Then an interesting discussion happened between myself and Patrick Coombe, who is someone that I respect and value his opinions. He raised the point of nofollow links and how some people still think that there is no (business) value in them. This was the discussion (full tweet discussion here, image below because Twitter’s embedding doesn’t work like I need it to): nofollow-tweets At one point in that discussion I said this, to which Rand replied that now that I’m no longer at a big company, I may think differently:

Obviously I believe that there is business value in high-authority nofollowed links, but I’ve come far away from thinking about links as “followed” or “nofollowed”. So, I am curious as to the rest of you. Do you still think of links as follow/nofollow, or is a link a link?

The poll closes in 2 days and I will publish the results after.

Do you take "nofollow" into account for SEO and promotion of content/your business?

  • If it's a high authority site, I don't care if it's followed or not. (43%, 30 Votes)
  • I think about it, but it doesn't keep me from doing outreach for that links (27%, 19 Votes)
  • No (16%, 11 Votes)
  • Yes (14%, 10 Votes)
  • Yes for links, no for promotion (13%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 70

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Online marketers, and SEOs especially, like to talk/write/read about linkbuilding. SEOmoz has a category of linkbuilding articles that has the most, and most well linked-to, blog posts on the site. Heck, Distilled even has our Linklove conferences in the spring, which are one day conferences all about linkbuilding.

But many SEOs, especially those who do not linkbuild full time and are hopefully decent at it, miss one main consideration when doing outreach for links.

What’s in it for them?

Continue Reading…

People often come to us and say that they want linkbuilding. I assume that this is because many people are under the understanding that SEO = linkbuilding = rankings. While there have been posts written about why this is not true, this scenario plays out again and again.

I bet this happens to you as well, if you are an SEO consultant or work in an SEO agency. Sometimes it is quite difficult to know whether or not to take them on. On the one hand, the money is nice. On the other hand, we have to do what is right for the client and not always what is right for the office bank account or personal wallet.

The goal of this post is to provide you with a framework for success when deciding whether or not to take on a client for linkbuilding. I’ll walk you through what I check before I agree to take on a client for linkbuilding, which will hopefully help you to do the same.

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Linkbuilding is always a hot topic within SEO, and different schools of thought exist. There’s the Throw Away Your Form Letters approach, and then there’s the school of form letters are great, just make them personalized. I did a lot of linkbuilding at my old job, and am doing some now for clients, and I prefer to take a more nuanced approach.

Different targets require different approaches. Let’s break the types of link prospects into three groups:

  • High level – these are the most important links. High quality sites.
  • Mid-level – these are valuable sites, but maybe not as hard to get.
  • Low-level – when you need mass.

Let’s examine the different approaches required for each.
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Google has an author search. Did you know that? We’ve been talking about author authority for some months now, and in earnest for about the past five or six. When rel=author was announced back in June, the SEO world went nutso talking about “SEO is dead” and “The Era of Linkbuilding is Over” and “We all have to go in-house now” and all sorts of craziness.

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Note from John: This is a guest post by Tom Mcloughlin, who works for The WebMarketing Group, an SEO company based in the UK. You can follow them on Twitter for more link building tips, or add them to your circles on Google+.

Twitter has taken the world by storm since it burst on the scene in 2006 and now sees more than 100 million people log in every month and has a total of more than 200 million registered users. It’s an absolute juggernaut and now even your nan and your dog are tweeting the latest from their action packed lives.

Continue Reading…

15 Linkbuilding ProTips

John Doherty —  February 2, 2012

Recently at our Distilled-a-thon in London, Phil Nottingham decided that he was going to ship some pro-tip videos, which are short videos of under a minute in length, where we gave away some actionable soundbites. We have a lot of really smart people in Distilled, so I decided to go watch them for myself.

HOLY MOLY. The content on our Distilled Youtube page is amazing, with tips being given by everyone from our CEO (Duncan) to our PR Exec (Lexi) and many others, including Analysts and Consultants who are stuck in every day moving the needle for their clients. Watch and learn! Continue Reading…

SearchLove NYC happens at the end of this month. This is the first time that Distilled has brought a conference to the City that Never Sleeps, where I am fortunate enough to live and work.

Full disclosure: In case you don’t know, I work for Distilled in New York. That being said, I would write this post anyways. In fact, I did write a very similar post back in February about Linklove London.

My Story with Distilled Conferences

Back in the beginning of the year I heard about Linklove and decided that I wanted to go. My two coworkers went to a different conference, but I saw that Rand, Wil Reynolds, Russ Jones, and many others were speaking in London and knew that I had to go, since I was going to be on vacation in Europe at that point anyways.

Long story short, I went to the conference and it absolutely blew me away (and not least because Distilled announced that they were going to be opening an office in NYC. Here I am. Oh, and we’re hiring.) You can read my recap of it here.

Here’s the crux of what I got from the conference:

I came back and, using the link prospecting tips I gained from the conference, took a 30,000 local searches/month keyword from #16 for my then-employer to #4. Oh yeah. I did it in 4 weeks.

Wil Reynolds at LinkLove

Wil Reynolds at #Linklove

This conference was also where I began making real friends in the SEO industry. I had the chance to have breakfast with Wil Reynolds the day after, I met the Critchlow brothers (now my bosses), Rand Fishkin, Russ Jones, and many many others. I even was first introduced to Gianluca Fiorelli via Twitter, and then met him in July at Mozcon.

Quite simply, if you want to meet some of the smartest, most helpful, and kind people you will ever meet, come to SearchLove. It’s not networking, it’s relationship-making.

The Words of Others

I don’t want you to just listen to me and what I did from the conference. Here are the words from David Cohen of CollegePlus, who came to ProSEO Boston:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/explorionary/status/122328999107104768″]

Rand said about Linklove in an SEOmoz post:

“Distilled’s Link Building day in London has just, in my opinion, grabbed the title of “best single day of content” ever at an SEO event.”

And Tom Critchlow said:

And Wil Reynolds tweeted:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/wilreynolds/status/48702321084989440″]

If you missed it, Rand also wrote a post over on the SEOmoz blog with 10 Pictures Why SearchLove NYC is a Must-Attend.

Seriously, Come

There is still time left to buy your tickets. The price is $899 with a Moz Pro discount. Believe me, you will not regret it. If I did not work for Distilled and could not get work to pay for it, I would pay for it myself. It’s that good.

See you there.

Today I want to talk about a simple tactic that you should try if you have been working on linkbuilding for a specific site for a while and have had some blog posts written about your site, without links.

The Skinny

At my old job, my coworker had been working on building links to the site for a while. He came up with the idea of doing a blogger awards series, whereby we would give a blogger in a specific industry-related niche an award. They would receive a badge to embed on their site, and sometimes they would write a nice blog post about the award.

For a while, my coworker sent a Press Release with the award announcement email, and asked them nicely to publish it. Many of them did, but unfortunately a lot of them also took out the links back to our site.

Enter Operation “Get Those Links!”

When I was at Linklove London, I heard many speakers talking about reaching back out to old contacts for links. I realized that we had many sites that we had awarded these awards to, yet were not linking to us.

Luckily, we had kept the list of all of the past contacts.

What I did

I went back and found all of the sites that we had contacted. Then, I ran the OpenSiteExplorer backlinks report for the site.

Next, I put all of the award winners into one Excel spreadsheet workbook, and all of the links to our site in another. Then, I got the clean URLs of those sites using this formula (assuming the URL was in column A):


Then, I did a simple VLookup between the two spreadsheets to find the sites that were already linking to us. Here’s the Vlookup formula:


Then I sorted out all of the sites already linking to us, and boom, there was my initial list of prospects.

Next step: Qualifying

Since I also knew the name of the name of the campaign, I was able to put that into Google in quotes. For the sake of anonymity, let’s use the example of “The Werewolf Club’s Young Werevolves Award”.

I ran the following search:

“The Werewolf Club’s Young Werevolves Award” -site:http://www.mysite.com

Now I simply opened the sites that had this text and manually qualified if they were actually already linking back to us. If no, I put an “N” next to the site so I could reach back out to them. (PS: I’m sure there is another way to automate this.)

Important: I also made a note of the sentence in their blog post where I could insert a link. This helped me to customize the link request!

Outreach Time!

After going through all of the sites, which took a bit of time, I finally had my link targets and could reach back out to them.

Here is how my link request email looked:

Hi [name] –
I want to reach out again from (my site’s brand) and congratulate you for winning one of our awards. We hope that you have found the information helpful. Also, thank you for writing a blog post about the award!
I was wondering if you might be willing to add a link back to (my brand) from your post (insert post link). Doing so would really help us out!

Here is what I would propose:
(Their text with the link embedded)

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Cheers –

So what happened

I sent out about 30 of these emails. Guess what my response and success percentage were?

Close to 50%

I was building links towards a very competitive keyword as well, with 33,000 local searches a month yet one of the most competitive in the niche.

When I started this campaign, we ranked 18th behind a lot of strong domains. Our domain was strong (700+ linking root domains and a bunch of links related to the keyword phrase I was targeting), yet we were way behind the competition.

So I added 14 links, from old articles, to our page. Guess what happened?

In 4 weeks, we jumped from #18 to #5. These are the only links I built to the homepage during this period.



Evil GeniusThe Internet is a dodgy place. There is a lot of bad information and people get things wrong. Also, there are a lot of bad people on the Internet who want to profit from your hard work.

I’m talking about scraper sites. A lot of top sites and blogs get scraped and copied every time a new blog post is published. SEOmoz is one of these.

I read an article once upon a time (probably 6-8 months ago) that was talking about why you should always link back to yourself in any blog post you write. At the time, I did not understand why, other than for basic-level linkbuilding purposes.

Now I realize why.

Last month, my The Tweet Effect post on YOUmoz was promoted to the main blog. I had made the judgment call to include a link back to this site using my name, because I am trying to rank this site for my name, which unfortunately is not super easy because my name is fairly popular overseas.

So I linked back to my site using “John Doherty.” Once the post was promoted, I looked at the incoming links discovered by WordPress. 20 new links coming to my site because my blog post was scraped and curated around the Internet!

Why not turn lemons to lemonade, then?

5 Steps to Inbound Links via Scraper Sites

1. Create great content that you can guest post on well-trafficked site. Make it noteworthy. In this post, link back to other posts on your site, or your company’s site if that is your main sounding board. (Pro tip: if you’re in the Internet marketing business, you should build your own site.)

2. Find the influential sites in your niche. A simple way to find if their content is scraped is to take a chunk of text (a sentence will do) from the post, throw it in quotes, and do a search for it.

Take the below example for Tom Critchlow’s “Agile Tools” post:

3. Curate relationships with the webmasters or influencers at these influential sites. (Another pro tip: don’t do this to use them. Be nice. Relationships build natural links.) This way, you have a good chance of being published on those sites.

4. Submit the post and give it a bit of a social push with your contacts online. I’m not saying this will increase rankings of any sort, but you might get links to that site from your followers, which will increase the strength of the links back to your site from your post.

5. Once the scrapers do their dirty work, check your backlinks. If you use WordPress (like I do on this site) you can easily see these links on your dashboard when you log into your admin panel. Otherwise, wait for OSE to be updated and then check them. You might get a lovely surprise.

Until next time, happy linkbuilding.