Expert Panel Discussion: Effective B2B Link Building
Link building for B2B sites can be a challenge given the competitive nature of most industries. How do you get links if no one in your niche will give them to you? Our experts look at multiple ways to attract links and show how to manage the process of building links for B2B businesses.
In this webinar, our panelists, Debra Mastaler, President of Alliance-Link and Scott Fasser, Director of Customer Experience at Optify, present their unique approaches to link building for B2B. Following the short presentations, the panelists conducted an extended Q&A session.
Watch this webinar to learn:
- Effective B2B link building
- How to use reviews as a link attraction tool
- How infographics can be used to attract media attention and links
- How to effectively build inbound links to drive traffic through social media
- How to optimize search traffic by understanding demonstrated B2B link building strategies
Presentation: Effective B2B Link Building
Webinar: Effective B2B Link Building
Note: Given the overwhelming number of questions submitted to our panelists during the Q&A portion of the webinar, we’re only posting six answers. Additional questions and answers have been posted on Search Engine Land.
- Q: Please restate the 4 factors of good Link ranking.
Debra: Link popularity is comprised of many factors but four of the main components are link quantity, link quality, relevance and anchor text. It’s considered an off-page factor, meaning, it uses links sitting on other people’s pages pointing toward yours in the ranking mix.
Link quantity is the number of links pointing to a page. We often use the word “page” and “site” interchangeably but technically, links point page to page so this is a computation of the number of outbound links pointing to a page.
Link quality is determined by the authority of the host sites and the sites linking to them. Quality flows from one page to the next through links. PageRank determines quality factors, it is a link analysis algorithm used by Google to determine the quality factor of a page based on its inbound links. PageRank is indicative to Google as TrustRank is to Yahoo! I’m not sure what Bing calls their quality factor, sorry!
Anchor text is the clickable part of the link you see, it’s a query ranking indicator that tells both humans and search bots what’s coming next. Anchors using keyword phrases provide additional “weight” and carry semantic value. In a rare instance of clarity, Google published this on its official search blog about anchor text:
From Google: …”anchor text influences the queries your site ranks for in the search results…”
Bing has also published this on anchor text: From Bing: …”anchor text helps define the theme of a linked page…”
Relevance establishes where you belong topically based on what your site says and how it relates to pages/sites linking to it. Links to and from contextually related pages (supposedly) convey more authority.
Your goal when building links is to secure a large number (quantity) of (quality) links using keyword anchors (anchor text) and pointing to thematically related pages (relevance). Is it easy? No, but a goal I always try to shoot for!
- Q: Do links from twitter help SEO, or are they no-follow links?
Scott: Links directly from Twitter are no-follow so don’t help from an authority perspective. However, they do help from a content syndication and traffic perspective. However, most link shortening services like bit.ly utilize 301 re-directs so using those links and getting the shortened url syndicated to non-twitter.com sites can drive SEO authority.
Debra: Twitter does use the nofollow attribute on the t.co links they use. However, Twitter recently created an embedded tweets option (if you have new Twitter installed) which allows you to embed a tweet on a webpage. If the embedded tweet includes a link, it will not use a nofollow attribute unless the webmaster embedding the tweet installs one. If a webmaster embeds a tweet you’ve made and you included a link from your site in the tweet, the link will pass link popularity provided the webpage is in the index.
Tweets can be found in the index of all three engines. For example, I tweeted this February 24, 2012 and found it in Google’s index here. Notice my Twitter profile is also listed as are a number of my retweets. Anytime a link/content shows up in a search result, some “credit” is being passed. How much and what type is anyone’s guess.
Another benefit of Twitter is click through traffic, lots of RT’s or a controversial tweet will get people clicking and that’s great on both an algorithmic and business front. I think Twitter is a great tool for getting information in front of people, I have more luck with it than Facebook or G+ . It’s also great for chit chatting with friends :)
- Q: I thought Page Rank that is visible was dated, inaccurate and not what Google really uses. So why pay any attention to it?
Scott: Page Rank is delayed and not as accurate as it used to be. It is still useful from a relative perspective – so if you are looking at a top line metric of how authoritative a site is, it is a good start. The MozRank from OpenSiteExplorer is a better metric for a site, but still is a guess based on factors they’ve assessed.
Debra: For me, looking at the PageRank displayed in the Google toolbar is an easy way to get a quick look at how Google feels about a page. Unless the page has been slapped hard, that meter of green won’t go down too much between updates so I feel using it for casual information is fine. If the page shows a higher number (say five or more) then I’ll pull phrases off the page and see how they are returned. If the page ranks well, YAY me! If not, oh well. The real SEO measure of any page’s worth is where it ranks.
However, I will say this; any page showing a five or better I’ll back link. Five may seem like an average number but given the size and scope of the link graph today, five is an old man’s number!
- Q: Do you believe you get penalized for getting a surge of links to your site if you had no links before? For example from 0 to 40 in a month?
Scott: Yes, the engines are looking at “naturalness” of link acquisition per site type. To go from 0 to 40 in the fist month of a site being live, that would look fishy. For a site that already has 1,000 links to add 40 or 50 seems more natural.
Debra:These types of questions are hard to give a blanket answer to; there are so many variables involved. In general I’d probably say no unless all 40 were the same type of link. On the other hand I might say yes if the site only had a handful of pages. I’d also say yes if the site was for a very unusual (long-tail) term. New sites in more competitive spaces have a little more wiggle room, but on the other hand, because they are in competitive spaces they’ll need to work harder to rise above the fray.
And then there is the whole anchor text issue. Are you using 40 links with the same anchors? Now there is a real kiss of death, I’d try to avoid that at all costs. I think balancing content growth with social signals and inbound links with varied anchors is the best approach.
- Q: The latest panda update, google confirmed they dropped one ”linking factor” from ranking algorithm. what you think that may be? how you think that may affect link building strategy?
Scott: This how Google worded it:
“Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often re-architect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.”
Nobody knows of course what exactly that means, and whether it is temporary or permanent. I look at it as another attempt by Google to reduce spam as a result of people trying to game the system using link building. It’s a good thing; remember that link building is among the most notable technique’s used by black-hat spammers to game the system. Possible change candidates could be link volume over all, anchor text, and many more. Some say true PageRank will decrease in importance, and a “TrustRank” will take over (which is presumably harder to game). At the end of the day it shouldn’t change the “white-hat web marketer’s” world too much, just continue to build relevant and high-quality content for your users, then share it where it makes sense.
- Q: Now that we have a list of propsective links, what are the most effective outreach methods?
Scott: Outreach depends the type of site and type of content on site. For example, if it is a blog site – the first thing might be to make an insightful comment to add to the content and start to establish the relationship with the blogger. You might include a link back to your site as well. If it is something that is more news/editor/pr based – lean on whoever is handling your editorial relationships. If it is a university or school – then finding the student or profession who has published/own the page and making a targeted appeal as to why you should part of the page and what your participation should be.
Debra:I’m having a lot of luck offering content to bloggers and trade journals. Product reviews are hot as are informational articles using economic data especially when promoted on Twitter and G+. Just about everything works at the moment, do a lot of different things so you vary the types of inbound links pointing to your pages and hit a wide demographic of people
About the Speakers
Debra Mastaler is President of Alliance-Link, an interactive marketing company focused on providing custom link building training.
Scott Fasser is Director of Customer Experience at Optify. Scott was previously President and COO of Domain Strategies, a domain aggregator, and led online marketing initiatives at companies including RealNetworks, Amazon, and aQuantive.