See part II of my interview with Rand Fishkin here: What does the Bing-Yahoo deal mean for SEO?
Do you think that link building is become more or less relevant in SEO? What would be your top tips for link-building?
I think that it depends on how you define link building. If you talking about link building as being like manual link building, like I go to a guy and try to convince him to link to me on his little site or I go and talk to a blogger and try to get him to write about me or link to me in their side bar. Or I go to this directory and pay $49 to get listed. I would say those tactics are going to be less relevant and valuable in Google over time. However, the link graph is not going anywhere, I think it's just getting more and more deeply refined. And so therefore what you will see is more of a value and a value proposition around building very high quality links that come from things like natural mentions in the blogosphere, people writing about you, press and media, partnership relations with important companies on the web, those kinds of things. So that the degree to which you're a big content provider to like CNet, and Techcrunch, the New York Times and the Washington Post and you know, what is it? New Zealand Herald? You know, you'll be getting those great links, and those a very, very important for rankings, very important for getting indexed and those kinds of things. But if you're asking me about low level tactics, they're going to be less valuable. But I don't think the link graph is going anywhere, I think the search engines still think it provides a ton of value.
So you asked me about my top link building tips... that's a tough one. So the two strategies that I like best. Number one is, a) have a product that serves a user group that controls websites. So if you are a Yelp, for example, your user group is restaurants. You're user group isn't actually the people who come and consume, your user group is restaurants who have websites and you want to make them look good so you give them badges that say I have 4 star reviews, I have 5 star reviews on Yelp. If you are Avvo, which is a local Seattle startup which does reviews and ratings of lawyers across the United States, you know, their goal is basically, every lawyer has a website of some kind, a professional website of some kind. Let's get them to adopt the Avvo ranking as the standard metric of how the rate themselves and how the public rates them, and then they'll all want to put that ranking on their site and then link back to us. I think those strategies where you play on the pride of a user group that has websites - very critical. So the extent that Technorati can say you're this rank in the blogosphere, you're going to put that on your site. Or you're like, All Top, Guy Kawasaki's thing. Those kinds of things.
The second one that I really like is embedded content. So let's say you offer some kind of widget or a profile or a video embed or Slideshare does this or you know Docstock or Sqribed or those kinds of places. Anything where you have embedded content that people are going to be putting on their websites that comes from yours - that's a huge powerful motivation because people want to embed that content and you get the link at the bottom, you know outside the iframe in the HTML code. And you can control where that points and you can control what it says in the anchor text. Really powerful. So I love that.
The last one I'll mention is, I really like viral content. I think viral content is really powerful, particularly viral content that goes beyond the, you know, ha-ha funny story that got on Digg, like viral content that is consistently interesting and lots of people want to play with it and media wants to write about it. You know good example would be Travelpod, their like Traveler IQ test - it's basically just a geography quiz online but the game is really well done and they did a Facebook play with it. They got like thousands and thousands of links to it, and tons of people in the press writing about it. And of course, they did a great job, and Tipadvisor brought them for like tens of millions of dollars. So to the extent that you can do things that are truly interesting – The same sort of ways we think about start ups as "take a simple problem that everyone's got and solve it with technology." I think that's a great way to earn links and attention.
Next part in the interview will be posted tomorrow. Check back then!
Rand Fishkin is the founder of SEOmoz - an SEO consultancy and training site. I highly recommend them as one of the best SEO resources on the web.