May Boston SEO Meetup Recap
May 16, 2012 by Nick Stamoulis
This month’s SEO Meetup was hosted at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center in Cambridge. The guest speaker, David McBee of Text Link Ads, gave a highly informative presentation called Paid Links: A look at the Truth and the Disinformation.
David McBee made the case that all links, in one way or another, are paid links. Either one site owner pays another directly for a link, or a site owner pays an SEO professional to go out and build links for them. He explained that there is a teeter-totter of links (total garbage vs. good) and the issue isn’t whether paid links are good or bad for SEO, it’s what kind of paid links are you getting.
McBee explained what kind of link building activities (paid or unpaid) that might trip Google’s filter:
- Links on sites are that unrelated.
- Sites that acquire too many links too quickly.
- Too many links on sites with high PageRank.
- Anchor text is over optimized.
- Not enough branded links.
- Not enough variety in kind of links.
- Too many links pointing to the homepage.
- Bad “neighbor” links
- Too many Do Follow links
He went on to explain that some sites may think they have penalized by a Google update (like Penguin), when in reality their “bad” links were devalued by the update, making their link portfolio much less useful. In essence, Google “out gamed” the site owners that were trying to manipulate the search rankings with low quality and easy-win links.
When one of the attendees asked which back link tool was the most useful for investigating the value of each of their inbound links, McBee pointed out that SEOMoz and Majestic were probably the best two available, but even they aren’t capable of crawling the entire web, only Google is. Back link tools that grade your link portfolio can only see a percentage of the web, so while the numbers are a good indication of the overall health of your link portfolio, it isn’t 100% accurate.
McBee also outlined a few best practice tips for link building:
- Acquire links on relevant websites.
- Build links slowly and consistently.
- Acquire links of varying PageRank.
- Vary anchor text and focus on branded anchor text (The best performing sites since the Penguin update have 50%+ branded anchor text)
- Get links from a variety of sources.
- Point a percentage of your links to internal pages.
- Pay attention to neighborhood links.
There was some discussion over the idea of negative SEO. Could a competitor buy a large amount of bad links and point them towards a competitor’s site in order to get that competitor flagged by Google for webspam? McBee pointed out that Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz says that cries of negative SEO are really just an excuse; site owners got caught and are trying to escape blame and penalty for their bad behavior. McBee hypothesized that even if negative SEO were true, Google couldn’t let it go on–it would just create a bigger problem then the one they were trying to solve.
Brick Marketing was the food sponsor of the event.