Controlling the Conversation - SEO Beyond Links


IMHO you can ignore links. If a site is useful, generating conversation, and gaining mindshare the links and rankings will fall into place. And most legitimate publishers don't give a crap whether or not they pass PageRank. So why are people still debating the risks of selling links? And where is the risk in creating conversation or buying relevant advertising?


Need a link? Make a link.

Need a link? Make a link. You'd be surprised at how damn effective that can be. Want to buy a link? Buy one. The risk I see, is using sledgehammer when a tack hammer is all that's needed.

If you think you need 30,000 links, step away from the keyboard and think again. You're attacking the problem from the wrong direction.

You have a couple of weeks

You have a couple of weeks to rank for Ted Leonsis. Go ahead, get onto the first page without serious linkage. I dare ya.

I am one of those "links don't mean crap" people and have been for years (since spring 2004). However, there are cases where links are the only way. Sure they are subject to scrutiny, but still less than keywords are IMHO. No big deal to hear that recips are graded, linkage adoption rate is evaluated, blah blah blah it's just evolution at work.

Google says they know about every important web page, so link analysis works as a weighting function. As long as that index monopoly stands strong, Google is right. Move more links outside of Google's view and watch how they change their tune on that one.... such as would happen if the trendy world of the web adopted ajax in a big way and Google couldn't judge value by static linkage.

>> why are people still

>> why are people still debating the risks of selling links?

oh come now - we all know that - because the hysteria induced in the main by Google about what they don't consider to be natural linkage makes it almost impossible for many many people to just relax and get links in a 'natural' way

Got a good viral idea? OMG but what happens if sites from unrelated topics start linking to you?

Buying links for traffic? But what if Google think the site sells links for SEO and penalises you?

Friend with a gardening company offers to link to your luxury furnishings site? Yeah yeah, the demographic's the same but but the sites aren't on the same subject so Google will penalise you won't they?

Feel like linking to a really nice site you just found? But you found a link on their site from 6 months ago to JeremyZ? Bloody hell better not - you know he's a bad neighbourhood.

This discussion will go on forever, how long ago did PR *matter* and the forums are still full of people asking how to get a PR5. The legacy of 'be careful with your links' is going to go on for years, and the thing is, links do matter and we all know it, saying "If a site is useful, generating conversation, and gaining mindshare the links and rankings will fall into place" is fine when you're a well known player in an industry which links generously but a small e-commerce site just launched to sell totally normal products by an unknown guy who doesn't happen to know a TW regular is going to do what, exactly, to make the links and rankings fall into place?

Buying links works

The problem is that this year buying links works wonders in Google for certain industries (adult mainly). Until it stops working people will still buy them.

Well said Gurtie

That links and rankings will fall into place is one of the daftest things I've read these last few years when applied to the average small business. If you're "in the trenches" you have to work to a completely different game plan.

what if people don't converse about your product

Watch out for blanket generalizations. It's an entirely different world when you're selling an SEO book then it is when you're a small niche company that can't really produce linkbait content (without inventing sensational headlines).

In any market, if you can't

In any market, if you can't create linkbait and be talked about, it simply means you haven't read your market well or are lacking in creativity.


come on then Aaron, give us some ideas for, say, a small shop wanting to setup an e-commerce site in the North West of the UK selling plumbing supplies to the trade. (no I don't have one of those for a client so this isn't free consultancy :) )

Plumbing Ideas

How about designing a bathroom sink with a laptop in it behind some water proof barrier.

How about an article featuring pictures from the most expensive / lavish bathrooms in the world

How about an article on how to turn your home bathroom into a spa like oasis

How about an in depth article about the history of toilets from huts to modern day

How about an article on the most sophisticated toilets like the ones at google

How about an article showing how faucets that turn on/off automatically can save you hundreds of dollars per year on your water bill

How about a series of videos showing how to install a new faucet, replace the inside of a toilet, put in a new shower head, or clean out your p-trap.

How about some pictures of sexy models in your new line of shower stalls. For added benefit make it the "Joe's Plumbing Shower Girl of the Month"

How about 127 different tips to help you redecorate your bathroom

59 Tips for cleaning your bathroom and making it germ free

If you can get links from your customers websites that's the best you can hope for with link bait. If you can get links from relevant and related sites that still good. Even making it onto geeky tech sites like lifehacker with plumbing related tips won't hurt you.

Plumbing web 2.0

How about a "singing in the shower" contest where people upload videos of them singing in the shower to youtube

how about an "everything in the kitchen sink" contest where you give a prize to the person who stuff the most/ most unique items in their kitchen sink uploaded to flickr

How about an "toilet that most needs to be replaced" flickr photo contest.

How about a "plumbers crack" photo contest.

Xmas bollocks

Bunch of toss being posted all over the SEM shop by people who appear to spend more time talking to each other (and then posting about it) at conferences than actually working at ranking sites.

Better to talk about not needing links when you don't have your own mutual masturbation society (sorry, aka SEM blogerati).

Linkbait is your answer, Gurtie, how come you're just not getting it? Set up someone with a Prince Albert using one of your plumbing bolts, submit the video to Youtube, Digg it, set up a profile on and provide free clip-on prick bolts for Dickbait at the next SES conference...

Jeesh, Gurtie, sometimes you're just like so slow, dudette.

it all depends

If you have the right website links don't matter. If you have a site like TW, or a site which gives away good free software links won't be an issue. But for a mom and pop e-commerce site links are a huge issue. And they are generally fucked if they play it straight. The current link algos totally favor economies of scale.


Stunts like those might get your site noticed but will they actually help you to reach the target audience and sell them plumbing parts????

In the real world, a cost-effective increase is sales is the only valid measure of a promotion's effectiveness.

good ideas, but

the example given was "selling plumbing supplies to the trade." that means b2b, no?

With all those ideas

With all those ideas graywolf you are wasting your time even thinking about search.

If someone doesn't have "it" they often supplement their small size (pun) with links.


Sigh ...

If you can find ways to get links from B2B sites great if not beg, borrow, steal, or bait to get them from anyone else who already has trust in google. The more you get the more trusted your domain will become. The more trust your domain has the more you are able to leverage your own internal anchor text and rank for the terms you really want to.

Social Media is not about making the sale today! I have has sites that have gotten over 1000 diggs and 20,000 visitors, but I didn't make enough money when it happened to buy a happy meal from McDonalds. 2-3 Months later all the links I gained were passing the mojo and traffic was flowing.


the links I gained were passing the mojo and traffic was flowing

But were *sales* flowing along with that traffic??

That's the acid test here.

the traffic comes via

the traffic comes via relevant rankings due to increased site authority. thus if traffic does not equal sales then the site generally sucks at converting (outside the linkbait).

and if the site doesn't convert, the person who made it must have been on acid during the development process ;)

sigh right back at ya...

I agree graywolf but a small site selling plumbing supplies to the trade is about making the sale today.

If we're talking about a small company then we're also talking about a limited budget and a strict timescale within which results must be seen, there isn't the money for a long campaign or clever creative requiring a long lead time or lots of promotion to get it known (eg; in your examples, how will we get the message out to people who have crap toilets they need to take a picture and post it? how will we incentivise them to do so (sadly appearing in plumbers monthly is not an incentive for 99% of the population to take a picture of their bog!) - so if the company has to pay me to do the creative, impliment and promote it, incentivise entry and then spend the time to judge it, would they not be better off just paying me a couple of hundred quid to buy links from a trade site or two?

Also consider that if everyone can do these campaigns then there aren't enough social media sites to support them. If every plumbing trade supplier in the UK starts asking for pictures of plumbers cracks we're all going to get very bored of hairy arses very quickly aren't we?

I'm sure most of us here can come up with all sorts of viral campaigns for all sorts of people - actually if I wanted plumbing trade links I would ask plumbers and the public to send their old and damaged plumbing parts (either actual or pictures) and their amusing stories of how they got damaged - I'm sure plumbers would enjoy telling other plumbers how stupid some customers are and that would be more relevant to the trade than most of the other ideas but also extend to the more blog-happy public, but I don't believe viral is always the most appropriate way to get links any more than I believe press releases are always the most appropriate way to get column inches.

Stunts like those might get

Stunts like those might get your site noticed but will they actually help you to reach the target audience and sell them plumbing parts????

Why not?

For plumbing I would

For plumbing I would think:

1. what are the exact parts they are selling - do people search for them?

2. do they want to be "the man" locally? - that should be easy to rank there with two or three backlinks.

3. what are the main phrases that descibe the business?

For example, if you sell a hose bibb, you do a search for "3/4 brass hose bibb" and who do you find? That's right, you find a plumbing supply company (if there even is any competition). Study that website and learn it's ways. It's simple.

Now the site your competing against might be older with well established authority but again no problem. Do a "graywolf" on them and 2 years down the road you shoot out of the gate.

If you have "clients" that can't wait educate them in the ways of the sandbox, SEO takes time.

I agree with Aaron that few links are required, my sites are competing with in a few areas simply because of being more understood by search engines on a machine level. You know webmastering? Good basic crawlable quality relevant content.

can't hurt, BUT

There's been a restaurant in Arizona making a lot of linkbait press lately, I've seen it 3 times in Digg, 2 or 3 times in Fark, and also in a substantial number of blogs, link-of-the-day sites, etc. You may have seen the same:

But other than the "can't hurt" part which, in this case, would probably be tourism and fluffing the possibility of franchise sales, I can't see it bringing sustained, long-term business.

The has

The has quickly built a brand which might have been their only plan. Looks like it worked, I do not even visit Digg or watch TV often and have heard of them!

A local ass crack contest might just get on the news, done!

I will shut up now, wouldn't want to "control the conversation". ;)

Lots of ideas which if

Lots of ideas which if nothing else are good for generating other ideas.

b2p? I can think of tons of scenarios where a plumber needs a part and can't get one fast enough, unless he calls the right b2p supplier.

Graywolf made me imagine a campaign to get local people to put my plumber promo magnet on their refrigerators... who you gonna call whenit's a truly embarassing situation? The plumber you trust will be discreet.. heh heh heh.

And how about normal (fat) people in the shower behind shower door glass... best to fog it up, right? But what if it was carnival glass? Makes you look good through the glass... until you open the door to step out. Who's making you look good in the mirror? Your local plumber/outfitter... heh heh.

Thansk for the fun, Graywolf. Never did plumbing before ;-)


When plumber 2.0 unleashes their amazing viral marketing idea, they may get some links but where will they come from, digg, local news site, the links aren't going to be as relevant or as on topic as when a new seo tool comes out and all the seos link from an seo blog for example.

relevance or trust

I'm not sure what you would consider the BBC, MSNBC or CNN to be relevant for, but I'd take the trust a link from them will send over instead of the most relevant site in any space any day of the week. Andy figured that out in 2005.

Everyone is making good points

I agree with both sides of the argument here...

seobook, graywolf & co are right in knowing there's linkbait potential in any niche even if it is as boring as plumbing. They had great ideas on plumbing too.

However, I also agree with littleman and doolally's argument. Linkbait is going to benefit SEO and techie type blogs a hell of a lot more. Why? because the audience of those sites are way more likely to digg or link to an article.

Same reason that Alexa rank is so flawed.

well said rickstar

what i'm taking from this discussion is that link baiting and social media strategy can really help a site build authority and rank. however, the time and money commitment is not scant.

graywolf says "Social Media is not about making the sale today!"

truth is a lot of companies have to make the sale today or they can't afford the investment. a 6 to 12 month delay in ROI is unacceptable for most of the entities i work for because of both the time and money.

How's everyone else's new

How's everyone else's new plumbing sites doin' today?...


after they paid for the seo and ppc.

"How's everyone else's new

"How's everyone else's new plumbing sites doin' today?..."

That's it! =P

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