Monday, September 26, 2016

The Power of SEO in Political Campaigns

The Power of SEO in Political Campaigns

It was  a memorial day weekend and many of you were enjoying a long weekend. After having my breakfast, I was checking my messages and emails including the ones on linkedin, then I noticed Hillary Clinton’s linkedin profile on my page. She has a very impressive educational backgorund I clicked at her profile.

I noticed how powerful SEO can be even in politics and presidential campaigns. I remembered how I and my team helped Mr. Obama’s campaign during his second presidential election on social media.  I believed he WOULD Win! And…he won the election for the second time. Those of you who follow me on twitter, Facebook and Google plus may remember the time when I and my team were running Obama’s social media campaigns on social networks. Seo and social media are very powerful processes in digital marketing for brand reputation, brand management and sales.

My channels are dedicated to increasing awareness and marketing nonprofit organizations, unemployed individuals who need a little bit of boost to get a dream job ( see my #hirejason’s campaign on twitter) small businesses, experts, humanitarian movements and environmental promotion. I popularize them because i believe it is the right thing to do. I contribute and dedicate my time and energy in order to spread love, harmony, happiness and peace so that we build a better future for the next generation.

I am against exploitation of the consumers under capitalism. Although capitalism stands for consumers’ freedom, but monopoly worsens this condition which is a negation of everything the capitalist philosophy stands for.

When a company or an individual starts a campaign, Internet is one of the most important tool to begin with. Because of that, search engines are playing an  important role in Internet branding strategies. If you want to make your brand visible among your targeted customers and have more traffic,sales and transactions, you need to upgrade your ranking by applying search engine optimization, social media marketing and search marketing campaigns.

When I work on my clients’ websites I always combine SEO with social media marketing and content writing. I am not going to explain what exactly I do to rank my clients websites as this is not my intention to discuss in this article, instead  explaining how powerful SEO and social media marketing can be in any campaigns.

In my previous article in French ” La commercialisation de contenu sans SEO ne sert à rien” i explained why content marketing without SEO is useless. They say content is king.  If content really were king and you had five sites that were all on the same subject, well written and SEO optimized, how would the search engines determine which site was most relevant? One of those sites is going to have to be first and one of those sites is going to have to be the fifth. You have to rely on off page optimization ( link building seo), pay per click and social media marketing otherwise nobody would know about  your content.

SEO combined with social media marketing is a powerful marketing campaign for politicians.
Hillary Clinton knows it and uses SEO in her presidential campaign 2016 with implementing search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing among her other strategies.

I am very fond of Hillary Clinton and have been following her for a few years. She is hyper-competent, highly intelligent, and well connected.

Due to all defamation and harassment against her on social media, I admire her perseverance and the way she handles her campaigns.

She has all the skills necessary to be a great President, and as a bonus, her husband was one of the two best Presidents of the past 50 years. Her political views, which are slightly left of center, are in the right place to protect and continue the economic growth of the Obama years and to oversee the dramatic transition to self-sustenance and sovereign stability that is occurring in the Middle East.

Not only will Hillary Clinton make an excellent President, but she is also the Democrat with the best chance of winning the general elections in 2016 AND 2020. And in doing so, and nominating a sensible liberal judge to the bench, Hillary Clinton will save and restore the integrity of American democracy.

Hillary Clinton is also, the best hope for the survival of true democracy in America and bulwark against further corporate oligarchy.

In conclusion, if SEO combined with social media marketing is done right, businesses are able to increase sales and ROI. As search engine optimizers we expose the awesomeness of your brand. We were and are the ones who promoted Google company’s search engine via SEO, branding, social media, press releases and chat rooms. We can do it for your business too.

Have a project? Let’s hear it. Contact me here

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Panda 4.1 Google’s 27th Panda Update Is Rolling Out

Google has announced that the latest version of its Panda Update — a filter designed to penalize “thin” or poor content from ranking well — has been released.

Google said in a post on Google+ that a “slow rollout” began earlier this week and will continue into next week, before being complete. Google said that depending on location, about 3%-to-5% of search queries will be affected.

Anything different about this latest release? Google says it’s supposed to be more precise and will allow more high-quality small and medium-sized sites to rank better. From the post:

Based on user (and webmaster!) feedback, we’ve been able to discover a few more signals to help Panda identify low-quality content more precisely. This results in a greater diversity of high-quality small- and medium-sized sites ranking higher, which is nice.

New Chance For Some; New Penalty For Others

The rollout means anyone who was penalized by Panda in the last update has a chance to emerge, if they made the right changes. So if you were hit by Panda, made alterations to your site, you’ll know by the end of next week if those were good enough, if you see an increase in traffic.
The rollout also means that new sites not previously hit by Panda might get impacted. If you’ve seen a sudden traffic drop from Google this week, or note one in the coming days, then this latest Panda Update is likely to blame.

About That Number

Why are we calling it Panda 4.1? Well, Google itself called the last one Panda 4.0 and deemed it a major update. This isn’t as big of a change, so we’re going with Panda 4.1.
We actually prefer to number these updates in the order that they’ve happened, because trying to determine if something is a “major” or “minor” Panda Update is imprecise and lead to numbering absurdities like having a Panda 3.92 Update.
But since Google called the last one Panda 4.0, we went with that name — and we’ll continue on with the old-fashioned numbering system unless it gets absurd again.
For the record, here’s the list of confirmed Panda Updates, with some of the major changes called out with their AKA (also known as) names:

Panda Update 1, AKA
Panda 1.0, Feb. 24, 2011 (11.8% of queries; announced; English in US only)
Panda Update 2, AKA
Panda 2.0, April 11, 2011 (2% of queries; announced; rolled out in English internationally)
Panda Update 3, May 10, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
Panda Update 4, June 16, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
Panda Update 5, July 23, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
Panda Update 6, Aug. 12, 2011 (6-9% of queries in many non-English languages; announced)
Panda Update 7, Sept. 28, 2011 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
Panda Update 8 AKA
Panda 3.0, Oct. 19, 2011 (about 2% of queries; belatedly confirmed)
Panda Update 9, Nov. 18, 2011: (less than 1% of queries; announced)
Panda Update 10, Jan. 18, 2012 (no change given; confirmed, not announced)
Panda Update 11, Feb. 27, 2012 (no change given; announced)
Panda Update 12, March 23, 2012 (about 1.6% of queries impacted; announced)
Panda Update 13, April 19, 2012 (no change given; belatedly revealed)
Panda Update 14, April 27, 2012: (no change given; confirmed; first update within days of another)
Panda Update 15, June 9, 2012: (1% of queries; belatedly announced)
Panda Update 16, June 25, 2012: (about 1% of queries; announced)
Panda Update 17, July 24, 2012:(about 1% of queries; announced)
Panda Update 18, Aug. 20, 2012: (about 1% of queries; belatedly announced)
Panda Update 19, Sept. 18, 2012: (less than 0.7% of queries; announced)
Panda Update 20 , Sept. 27, 2012 (2.4% English queries, impacted, belatedly announced
Panda Update 21, Nov. 5, 2012 (1.1% of English-language queries in US; 0.4% worldwide; confirmed, not announced)
Panda Update 22, Nov. 21, 2012 (0.8% of English queries were affected; confirmed, not announced)
Panda Update 23, Dec. 21, 2012 (1.3% of English queries were affected; confirmed, announced)
Panda Update 24, Jan. 22, 2013 (1.2% of English queries were affected; confirmed, announced)
Panda Update 25, March 15, 2013 (confirmed as coming; not confirmed as having happened)
Panda Update 26 AKA
Panda 4.0, May 20, 2014 (7.5% of English queries were affected; confirmed, announced)
Panda Update 27 AKA
Panda 4.1, Sept. 25, 2014 (3-5% of queries were affected; confirmed, announced)
The latest update comes four months after the last, which suggests that this might be a new quarterly cycle that we’re on. Panda had been updated on a roughly monthly basis during 2012. In 2013, most of the year saw no update at all.
Of course, there could have been unannounced releases of Panda that have happened. The list above is only for those that have been confirmed by Google.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bad Link-Building You Should Be Doing......

Bad Link-Building You Should Be Doing

I’m in the process of training a new staff member in the art and science of link-building. For those who read SEW regularly, you’ll know that for the past few months my articles have focused on link tools, ranging from a new favorite tool, SpyFu’s Backlink Builder, to classics like Majestic SEO and ahrefs. Going through those tools and discussing link profiles as a whole and not simply how to look at an individual one got me thinking…in a lot of cases, links from methods that many would consider bad are not just part of a natural profile but can drive traffic and PageRank.

So what am I talking about here? I’m talking about links that come from methods that have been heavily hit by Google in the past. Why would you want to build them? Because there’s a reason they were counted in the first place, and done right they can be part of a solid overall profile. The bad link-building methods I’m going to discuss here are:

  • Directories
  • Article writing
  • Guest posting
  • Forum commenting

That’s right; you just read those four link-building methods correctly. But a point I will repeat later just to make sure it’s understood – these are meant to be part of a link profile, not the extent of your link-building. A VERY important distinction. So let’s begin …

Link-Building With Directories

Large-scale directory submissions are a golden ticket to an unnatural links warning. Of the general directories there are a handful and it’s shrinking list of decent ones. What can be built into a solid link profile are niche and topics directories. That is, directories that are specific to what you do and a little more. This may be part of a larger site or the entire site may be a directory. Either way, the criteria when judging the site is pretty straight-forward:

Is the fee for a review? If there is a fee for submission, it should be for a review not for the link. If there's no offer to refund your money if they don’t accept you or if the fee buys you the listings, it’s not a good directory.
Do they require a link back? If so, it’s probably not a great directory.
Is their PageRank three or below? Yes, it's an old metric, but is still helpful to gauge general site health. A directory with a PageRank of three or less will, at best, pass virtually no weight; at worst, it'll cause you problems. Generally, you should only look at PageRank three directories in the case of niche directories; with general directories, don't even consider anything less than a four.
Common sense. Ask yourself, "Does it make sense that this link should pass weight to my site?" If you can honestly say "yes" to this then it's likely a good link.

Link-Building With Articles

Article writing got a bad name due to its large-scale abuse. Generally in this abuse, a single article (generally poorly written) was syndicated to dozens, hundreds, and sometimes thousands of websites. The result…garbage. And thus the announcement of the death of articles and it’s vilification as a link strategy. But right now you’re reading an example of this method.

What needs to be understood is that Google was not out to kill people who wrote articles as a marketing tool or even people who got links from it. What they wanted to do away with (and rightfully so) was the mass syndication angle that had become prevalent.

Writing articles for other sites, preferably hubs in your industry (you know, like Search Engine Watch is for SEOs) is a great way to build reputation, trust, and of course…links. That said, unless scraped without permission, you won’t find this article anywhere else. It’s a lot of work, but to use articles as a link and marketing tool you have to be willing to generate quality content (hoping you agree that this is) and give it to only one other website for use.

Finding such sites can be hard or easy. You may have to contact your industry hubs cold but there’s also a good chance that they will have a “Write for us” page. Entering queries like:

my niche keywords "write for us"
can be a route to quick wins. Of course it’s a lot of work so you need to make sure the sites you offer to write for are high-quality and highly relevant.

Link-Building With Guest Blog Posting

There isn’t much to say here but it had to be included in the list. The reason there isn’t much to say is that what needs to be done is the same as articles; it’s only the cause of the method getting a bad name that’s different.

Where guest blogging went wrong is when people set up blog networks and selling massive numbers of low-quality posts (with a link of course), resulting in announcements like:


That said, there’s nothing wrong with blogs linking to you. There are two ways that this can be done, providing information or product to bloggers to review or to offer to write for other blogs on related subjects. With this said, please don’t send out emails on mass to tons of bloggers starting with "Hello webmaster. I’ve seen your site and I think I’d be a great fit to provide a 450-word article. I only need 2 links." or some other rubbish. Remember: you’re building a relationship.

Actually read their content, wait until you have a great subject that would serve their audience well, and communicate with them as a human. Maybe via LinkedIn or other social avenue and not just another email so you don’t get confused with the litany of spammers or are at least lumped in with a smaller group of them. Alternatively, you can try reverse guest posting. Find industry authorities you know to be solid bloggers and who are strong socially and interview them for YOUR blog. There’s a good chance they’ll link to you from their blog (especially if they do industry roundups) or at the very least push it out socially.

Link-Building With Forum Commenting

I expect to hear a thing or two in the comments about this one. I first discovered the continued benefit of forums when looking up subject for articles and blogs. I mean, what better way to find subjects to write about than to look to forums and Q&A sites and see what questions people are asking about? What I found is that it often occurred that after writing up the post or article on the subject (or having the business owner do so) it made good sense to go back to where the inspiration came from and mention having written up a piece answering the question or discussing the subject.

So if when you think "forum commenting" you’re thinking "forum signature abuse and crappy commenting" then you’d be right to question its validity. But if you’re thinking as I am that it’s "gathering information on interests, genuinely answering questions using a profile that is honest and linking to points that add value to the conversation," then you can see why it would work. Heck, even if it doesn’t help for rankings it’ll get you some trust and traffic and having been there will help you understand what people want to know about the industry and write better site copy.

As a note, people in forums don’t format anchor text, they just use http://. You should too.

As Promised

The link-building methods discussed above are meant to be used in conjunction with other methods to form an overall broad and healthy link profile. Used alone you’re almost begging for a penalty of one type or another but used properly and in conjunction with other methods you can achieve great results. I noted above I would repeat this and now I have. Now go forth and multiply (your link energies), remembering my motto in the area: Diversity is security. Cover all the bases and your signals can’t help but be good…Or at least not draw the wrath of an "unnatural links" penalty.

Article Reference :

Saturday, August 30, 2014

14 Ultimate Link-Building Guidelines to Keep Safe in 2014

14 Ultimate Link-Building Guidelines to Keep Safe in 2014

How do you know what link-building is safe in 2014? Is there such a thing? That’s a question most SEOs, marketers, and business owners have been trying to answer since Google Penguin first hit in April 2012

The only answer you can really provide is that all links should be naturally acquired as a byproduct of your brand. As Matt Cutts says above, Bing’s Duane Forrester followed up recently by stating that "You should never know in advance a link is coming, or where it’s coming from."
People are much more cautious about link-building now, and rightly so - no one wants to leave a footprint for Google. Yet we still all need links! Everyone knows links are still a very strong factor toward organic rankings, and despite all of the algorithm updates, this still isn’t likely to change in the near future.
As an agency we have always developed our own internal guidelines to make sure that link acquisition is more natural and content-driven. Below I have listed these guidelines to share with readers:

1. Build an Audience, Not Links

Your biggest link-building weapon should be your publish button. If you publish content to four readers, unless they are the biggest influencers in your industry, it's very unlikely to go viral!
Whereas if you have a publisher readership of more than 100,000 subscribers, it's much more likely to resonate and have a natural outreach effect of shares/links, because you've got the attention of the right crowd. Being in this position is the ultimate position you want to build into, but if like most you’re not quite there yet - try leveraging someone else’s audience instead!

Look to Place Content on Sites With Clear Readership Levels.

Don’t take any of these figures too seriously individually, but this can be determined via a combination of the following:
  • Brand recognition of website
  • Number of quality comments on recent posts
  • Social engagement levels of recent posts
  • Number of Facebook fans/Twitter followers (measured against engagement levels)
  • Associations within niche (partner sites, mentions, celebrity writers)

Make It Win-Win.

Always have something to offer the publisher that they can’t get elsewhere (not money - unless the link contains a nofollow attribute and is clearly labelled as sponsored/featured, but even then be careful!) - but think about how you can create outstanding content, crafted specifically to their audience. This can be:
  • Well-researched and relevant data, a study or a news story
  • Something fun, creative or interactive
  • An expert opinion, unique angle or take on a topical/news story

Target the Content to the Readership of the Publisher, Not the Brand.

This process can be worked out with the publisher, but the following should be taken into account:
  • Who are the readers of the publisher? (Age range, demographics, intellect, level of niche interest, familiarity with brand)
  • What topics will interest them?
  • What angle will encourage them to engage with the piece? (How, what, why)
  • What will annoy them? (Overly branded content, overhyping of claims, bland content)
  • What kind of writing style will appeal to them? (lifestyle, scientific, thought-provoking)

Give Them Something That Can Send Them Your Traffic.

Think of a reason, or follow-up why people would click through to your site. If you can create outstanding content, people are more likely to be intrigued - that means they visit your site and hopefully start to read/subscribe to your content. This builds your marketing list and your own audience for future promotions.
Bear in mind that most blogs get paid on a CPM advertiser basis so they are interested in building an audience and supplying them with content that will encourage them to visit the site. If you can create a content piece that you know will resonate and be a big hit with their readers, it’s much harder for them to say no.

2. Human Engagement

Think about what great content looks like; it's not just about publishing a piece of content that links to you from a strong domain (advertorials and guest posts do that, but it doesn’t make them good links). Great content has human engagement and trust signals, such as recognized authorship, quality comments, social shares from influencers within your industry, co-citations, and links.
Think more about the strength of the page than the domain. If readers don’t care about your links, why should Google?
Analyze how readers have reacted to your post compared to others on the site. If it’s positive, then the site is worth revisiting for future content as it’s a good fit as a target audience; if poorly, then analyze why and try again/look for other external sites to target.
  • How much content is published by the publisher per day? Did your piece get enough time on prominent pages? What’s the quality vs. quantity, or signal vs. noise ratio?
  • Did the publisher share your piece on their social profiles?
  • Did the piece perform strongly in one or two areas (G+, Twitter, comments) but not in any others?
  • Did you share it on your social profiles?
  • Could you have promoted the piece more through paid social channels? (StumbleUpon, Facebook, Outbrain, Taboola, etc.

3. Authorship

Content that is written by a recognized and authoritative author will often create better links and get more engagement than content written anonymously. Even forgetting about the debatable value of Google authorship, if you have a writer with a popular and highly targeted social following, the promotion they are able to provide should be a big boost to your content.
Any extra boost you can have from the author is also likely to increase the organic performance of that article as a knock-on effect from the links, engagement, and social attention generated beyond the level of the publisher.
  • Always have content written or associated with a relevant industry professional/expert
  • Where possible, connect the article to the authors G+ account using the rel=author attribute
  • Encourage authors to promote themselves via social media and build their personal engagement levels.

4. Anchor Text Distribution

Keep it branded where possible, and link to deep URLs where within context - as opposed to just trying to place links to top target money pages.
  • Use a mixture of anchor text that are  branded, brand + phrase, variations
  • Always make anchor text contextual, never link to transactional/commercial content unless you are talking specifically about it. Linking to studies/research is much more natural, this is an original source that is credible and adds value to your content - it’s not a placed link.
  • Don’t force it. Link to informational content if you can and then pass on that link equity more naturally internally. But if you can’t link within context, don’t - you want to build up a strong reputation as a writer, don’t risk it, the SEO value will come in time anyway - so keep it natural.

5. Avoid SEO Footprints

Avoid anything that is old-school SEO, or looks like a link-building footprint. While Google may never know for sure if a link was built or natural, they have the data (and the analysts!) to understand enough signals to give them a pretty clear indication on the common signs.
  • If placing the article is solely for SEO, it’s normally pretty obvious just in the way it’s written and the lack of engagement around the page
  • Try to avoid any of the following terms included in the post title, post URL, or on-page content: paid, guest, advertorial, sponsored, featured.
If the article is being placed for promotional/traffic value (with no intended SEO value) then paid placements are acceptable with the rel=nofollow attribute included and clearly labelled as sponsored/featured content - even then, be careful and don’t overdo it.

6. Link Out to Others

A clear sign of link-building is that you only link to your brand. Mix it up and try to add links to other informational content, news articles, etc. to add credibility to your story. This is how people write naturally to add value to the story, so think about the readers and what they want to see - rather than your own SEO objectives.
  • Ensure you link to any claims or studies that are referenced in the article
  • Link to articles that support/add value to any information given in the article

7. Topical Relevancy

If you're a dating site and you have links from the finance sector, it looks unnatural - Google has gotten much better at identifying topical relevancy and it's more about engagement on-page now, which means you need a targeted audience to generate interest.
  • Always establish the theme of the publisher and assess whether it is relevant to your site
  • In cases where the theme isn’t directly relevant, make sure you always have an appropriate angle that connects the publisher with the brand
  • In cases where there are multiple themes/categories within a site, make sure that the article has been placed in the most appropriate section
  • Poor relevancy is usually shown by poor engagement. If articles posted on sites have low engagement levels then that suggests the topic wasn’t relevant enough

8. Data-Driven Brand Assets

To make it PR newsworthy, you need data - run surveys, dig deep into analytics, interview influencers, etc. Make your content much more research heavy: "78 percent of people reported by [brand]" is much more appealing to journalists - this is why data visualization works so well in infographics/HTML5 to get that message across. It's a lot more time-intensive, but also means your building real brand assets, which have value in itself as long-term brand assets, it’s more sharable, and it’s a natural link target.
  • Offer publishers unique and exclusive insights or data-driven pieces - they are more likely to go for a piece that is contains something unique to them and readers react to new facts and research much better than opinions.

9. Local Link-Building

If you can have one great national idea, think of how you can spin it into lots of local angles.
For example, with a property client we created a visualization of house prices vs. travel time vs. train fares to find the best/worst places to commute into London. This generated great London/national coverage, but then opened up lots of local PR, blogger, and social opportunities afterward.

10. Creativity Wins, But be Prepared to Fail Along the Way

You need to be innovative to stand out and win. But if you're doing something for the first time, you've got to face up to the fact that it might not work. No one can predict what is going to go viral before it goes viral - just make sure you learn from it and improve.
If you just follow the trusted approach that has worked for you in the past, you lose an element of creativity and end up following a templated process. If instead you can provide something that no one has ever done before, and lose the fear of failure - the potential rewards are much bigger at the end.

11. Less Is More

Volume of links should no longer be your goal. Therefore it makes more sense to focus activity on bigger projects that generate high quality but low numbers of links than vice-versa.
  • Find the most authoritative sites within a niche and create a plan to approach them. Analyze what the best content on their site is, and ask how can you create something just as good or better for them?
  • This is a longer game but it is worth it - build that list of dream sites to get links and attention from and then keep working on it.
  • Leverage connections again - too often people look for one link from one domain and then move onto the next. If you’ve found a great audience for your site, leverage it. Forget about SEO and if it has value to publish to an audience, why wouldn’t you do it? And then surely if you’ve written 34 posts on a site, that looks more natural than if you’ve only written one or two - it’s building real authorship, not a guest profile.

12. Co-Citations Are Natural

Following the above example, rather than focusing on hundreds of guest post links, some which will work and others which will set you back, test putting that effort into bigger projects/campaigns. If you can line up additional outreach/attention around the same theme, and let's say you get 25 links on average per project - surely it makes more sense to put your efforts into promotion of a small number of bigger campaigns.
  • Rather than just focusing on the end product (the links that point directly to you), think about the signals that natural content has. Your links having their own links is a much stronger signal and the link to you becomes a by-product of great content and not the main goal.
  • If content is placed on a big publisher first as an exclusive, they should be linked to from additional outreach/coverage - with the client/brand as the original source - this is how a PR story would break and it’s how a natural link profile would often look.

13. Focus on Traffic, Not the Link

Look to run social promotion campaigns, use social advertising on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit - and content distribution channels such as Outbrain and Taboola - to build more human engagement around the content and think about how you can get this in front of a targeted audience. If people/readers like it, Google is more likely to reward it anyway.
  • Set aside a social budget that can be used to boost engagement with each content piece
  • Ensure that the brand has posted and promoted the content on all their social profiles to get our audience engaging with it

14. What Type of Content Ranks and Attracts Links

Learning is an important step with link-building. Understanding what works best and what your competitors are doing well can prevent lost time on poor content and create better campaigns.
  • There's some useful analysis in this post - analyzing what type/length of content ranks is important to build a more effective campaign in the future.
  • Tools like Majestic/OSE can be used to find top content pages on a domain, both yours and your competitors. But rather than looking at the link targets, learn what has worked best for them and how to make content that if promoted well it can become a link magnet over the long-term.
Of course, any link-building guidelines need to be an evolving process - but hopefully this was valuable to share and I’d be interested in seeing what other people use as their own. Please let us know in the comments!
Article Reference :

Friday, August 1, 2014

Google’s Matt Cutts: Link Building Is Sweat Plus Creativity ( Matt Cutts Confirmed This Link Building Is Not Dead)

Matt Cutts Confirmed This Link Building Is Not Dead

 Back in June, Google head of webspam Matt Cutts participated in the annual You&A at SMX Advanced in Seattle, an hour-long event in which he was interviewed by SEL founding editor Danny Sullivan live in front of a large audience. A variety topics were covered, including important Google news, changes, and updates. The video itself is now on SMX’s YouTube Channel, and definitely worth an hour of your time As always, Sullivan asked outstanding questions, doing his best to ascertain definitive answers with minimal wiggle room. Cutts was as frank as he ever is, although representing a giant corporation such as Google means he needed to be vague in some aspects. There was, however, one topic on which Cutts was crystal clear: the efficacy of links. In case you’ve missed it, Cutts has tackled whether or not backlinks will continue to matter numerous times in the last six months. Cutts seized SMX Advanced as yet another opportunity to stand behind links. One moment in particular stuck in my mind: when Cutts referred to link building as sweat plus creativity. I knew then and there that I had to write a post about Cutts’ words.
Let’s start at the beginning. The Evolution Of Links Perhaps the biggest change within SEO in the last few years is Google’s ability to detect spammy and manipulative links. Prior to the release and improvement of Penguin, there was a very real links arm race happening in the SEO world. Link spam worked — and it worked too well. But Google’s dependency on links didn’t change with the launch of Penguin (just watch this video), only their ability to detect manipulative and low quality links. This means that links are still important, but bad links will either be discounted or penalized. This begs the question: How do I get the links that matter? What is and isn’t safe? And that’s where we run into our problem: Google has been adjusting their Webmaster Guidelines, compounding confusion and fear. It’s frustrating. We’re very aware of the fact that links matter — confirmed by both Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal – but Google is changing what is and isn’t okay when it comes to links. A great example of this is Matt Cutts’ post on his personal blog in January, The Decay and Fall of Guest Blogging (for SEO). The “for SEO” was added after original publication. Danny Sullivan actually left a comment himself on the post, which did a great job articulating the frustration many SEOs felt:
Cutts did not respond to the comment, though Danny definitely voiced similar questions at SMX Advanced — likely hoping to end confusion and frustration.

 Google Links Today Questions concerning the role of links in SEO today weren’t skirted — Danny was clear and direct, pushing for real answers. Matt Cutts was frank about the state of links today: they matter, but there aren’t any shortcuts. Specifically, Matt talks at length about links at 27:03, and then link building (and links) at 54:20. Four messages stand out to me, beyond the typical Cutts statements about being excellent (which really isn’t enough with the amount of noise online).

The era of shortcuts to quick rankings is over 
Link building is not dead Cutts refers to links as your “online reputation” Creativity will beat out any tool, product, or service The Era Of Shortcuts To Quick Rankings Is Over Shortcuts aren’t good for anyone. We learn this at a young age, and it’s fundamental knowledge taught by all walks of life. We know, both as individuals and as a society that taking shortcuts leads to ruin. Some quotes from extraordinary people who lived in different time periods, practiced different professions, and all had different backgrounds relay this same ethos:

Short cuts make long delays,” said J.R.R Tolkien. What is once well done is done forever,” advised Henry David Thoreau. And “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” voiced John Wooden. Whether you’re an academic, a philosopher, or an athlete those all are words to live by. SEO fell into an unfortunate arms race when it came to links. Google didn’t have the sophistication to back up their guidelines. Link spam worked, and it worked like crazy. Just a few years ago if you wanted better rankings, all you had to do was spam crap links at your website. Search was a marketing shortcut, because Google was easy to game. As the web matured, so too did the market’s appreciation of search. No longer do people hesitate to purchase online. People worry much less about sharing personal information online. Real people interact with brands online without blinking. Today having your company represented and visible in search is important in both branding and sales growth. So it was really only a matter of time before such a valuable marketing channel matured. For search to remain valuable, its integrity can’t be questioned. People need to continue to trust the results. Which means no more gaming, tricks, or shortcuts. Google can’t allow bad results in search if they want to retain their control of the search market, and the subsequent billions in ad revenue. In the last few years Google’s algorithm has finally caught up to their intent. That’s fundamentally changed SEO. The only solution left is real links that matter. But that by no means translates to SEO, or even link building, being dead.

 Link Building Is Not Dead

 Despite what Mashable says, both SEO and link building are alive and kicking. Matt Cutts confirmed this, as recently as last month. A survey recently posted on Moz confirms this as well. Matt Cutts has a million reasons to declare link building dead, or at the very least to discourage SEOs from building links. It’d certainly make his life easier in his role at Google, as Head of Webspam. But he didn’t. I can only speculate as to why, but I definitely have a few educated guesses. What it boils down to is this: links are the backbone of the web. They’re our means of navigation, the way we vote and share, the very currency of the web. This was true before Google: it’s what made their original algorithm so powerful. Did Google further spur this online reality? Absolutely. Would this be true if Google didn’t exist? Yes. Google can regulate links all they like, but when you really look at the web you’ll realize that links are still the primary way information and ideas are shared online. That makes them powerful in their own right. So Google can control how they (and their algorithm) respond to links, but not links or linking behavior. The web is too big, and links too ingrained. Discouraging online marketers from links would be similar to discouraging PR professionals from pursuing press mentions.

  Links Are Your Online Reputation

 Cutts references links as “your online reputation” within his speech starting at 28:49. There are a few things within this section that I don’t necessarily agree with, but I think it’s extremely interesting and insightful that Google’s Head of Webspam conflates links with online reputation: “…it’s also the case that if you do enough excellent, interesting, useful, funny, compelling stuff, usually your reputation, or your links, however you want to think of it, takes care of itself.” - Matt Cutts Now online or offline, “be excellent and the rest will follow” isn’t really the truth. If it were the need for marketing, paid advertising, reputation management, PR firms, etc. wouldn’t exist. I also don’t agree with Cutts’ statement of “What’s my link building strategy? I post useful things, and that’s my link strategy.” I think that Cutts, as Head of Webspam at Google, has just a little bit of a built-in audience interested in the things he says. And to be fair, Cutts did go on to explain in greater detail various ways to build your authority. But I absolutely agree with Cutts that links are your online reputation, because links boil down to a share: someone sharing your website, your page, who you are. And how people share your company with others is directly tied to your reputation. Why wouldn’t you be interested in not only monitoring but guiding this conversation? That’s why I so believe in the efficacy of links, and why link building is fundamental to growing a useful, powerful online presence. Links improve your visibility, increase your reputation, place you in front of new audiences, and increase your name recognition and branding power. Not just in search, but within the sites and pages sharing your link.

Creativity Will Beat Any Tool, Product Or Service

Link building is the marketing of a brand, product, company, or website with links as a priority goal. That doesn’t mean that you put links over a relationship, or ignore any other opportunities. That doesn’t mean that you pursue a link at any cost. It means that you understand the value of a link, and make sure no links are left of the table. Link building and acquisition are an integral part of any online marketing initiative. Otherwise, you’re missing the hard earned links you deserve. But when it comes to the actual work of building links, creativity is key. I’ve long said that the most powerful link building tool in the world is the human brain. The human mind is capable of creativity, ingenuity, and foresight that no technology can match. That no prepackaged plan, strategy, or tactic can meet. The only way to build real links is to invest in human care. A whole hell of a lot of it. Every link building campaign needs to be customized and given care, thought, and consideration. There are no more shortcuts. No more outsourcing, no more link wheels, no more link stuffing. No more thin content, no more links just for robots. Only sweat, hard work, creativity, experience, and human caring. That’s the real secret to building links: be willing to invest. Otherwise you’re just looking for the shortcut. And we all know that shortcuts lead to short results.