How do you politely explain years and years of progress in SEO to someone that you know is either reading very old information, or is just completely misinformed?
If you read the email I got below, that’s what I was faced with, and I answered for the benefit of a current client (potentially getting him a backlink or three? 😉
John (my client) had an old friend get in touch with him, wanting a link from their site.
John emailed his friend back, and cc’d me.
As I read the email, I realized that Johns friend was either reading 8 year old Webmaster World posts, or he was being seriously misinformed by some sort of SEO poser*, so I figured I could try to bring him up to speed quickly, and hopefully help both of our sites in the process.
After I sent it, I thought it would make a pretty decent SEO 101 blog post, so here it is, with only the domain names and identifying personal innformation [snip] ‘d out.
)Like an e-mail, read from the bottom up…)
Congratulations on the web success you’ve had, and yes, sure, we can probably benefit each other for visibility.
However, this type of “reciprocal linking” has very limited value, and just as important is the actual phrase that is linked, called the “anchor text”.
For example, If we were to link to you with the words “[snip keyphrase]” you would rank better for that, etc.
Aside from contextual relevance, it’s also FAR more beneficial to have the link appear in the actual reference area, or the “main body” of a page, as opposed to the sides or the bottom, where it’s just a link / advertisement.
It’s also not nearly as advantageous to have the link be on a page with a bunch of other links either, and while nether “method” is totally devoid of value, Google has been discounting those for a few years now.
Because of the fact that a contextual link is best, a great strategy among partners is to write an article, or “guest post” and put it on each others sites.
Keep it topical, and relevant, and useful to the reader, and it can help provide a long term trust factor for your domain.
For example, here’s one that was provided to us by [snip] in California, – http://[snip]/
And here’s one that was done by a [snip] in Colorado – http://[snip]/
We’ll be happy to put one up with a couple of links, and we’ll provide one back to you in exchange.
(and if you do want a sidebar link too, we’ll be happy to reciprocate there as well – they do still have SOME value)
Here’s an example of one we would send you…
(although we’d not send something related to Colorado 😉
Please let me know what you decide, and shall I assume we can send you one to put on your site?
Search Commander, Inc.
From: John [My client]
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2010 12:15 PM
Cc: Scott Hendison
Subject: Re: Hey
Dave, Scott Hendison handles all this stuff for us offsite so I will send your note to him. Congrats on the new move!
On 9/16/10 4:26 PM, “David [Johns friend] wrote:
As you know I started my own [snip]. I have a partner, but am in charge of advertising, etc. I have done a lot of research and work on web advertising and have been informed that two of the big factors considered by google (all their factors rotate) are content and links.
I have worked hard on the content and am starting to come up on the first page on a lot of [snip] related searches. It is now starting to pay off slowly. Where I can become more important to google is if other sites link to mine. Since we obviously are not competitors, what I am hoping to do is have a mutual link referring back and forth. Like a useful links page that simply says something like:
“For [snip] see http://www.[snip].com/”
And on your site something similar – “for [snip] see http://www.[snip].org/”
By linking back and forth like that, we both are supposed to rank higher in google and other searches. If this is something your firm would consider, let me know. If not, I will not take it personally, so no worries or pressure.
On another note, we have not spoken in a while, so hope things are going well. How’s [snip] doing? How are the kids? There may be a few sunny days left if you ever want to schedule a day [snip]. Not sure if you know, but I have a [snip] moored on the [snip]. Very relaxing. Maybe one time when [snip] comes up we could have a [snip] on the river!
So, what do you think? Did I give a pretty good beginner explanation?
* (Note that the link to SEO poser was NOT meant to imply that THEY are posers in any way – I like their post – so please don’t Peak out on me! )