Organic Search Is All About the Links

AMA Search Engine Marketing — San Francisco, CA

April 20th, 2007

Seminar by

Links are the currency of search engines. Without good inbound links to your web site, your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts will be in vain. Link building is arguably the most difficult, most misunderstood, and most poorly executed aspect to SEO. Join SEO and link-building expert Stephan Spencer as he guides us through the quagmire showing us the way to great search engine rankings.

You will learn:

  • Google’s PageRank scores: red herring or useful metric?
  • What makes a link valuable or not
  • Creative strategies for building link-worthy content
  • What works when approaching webmasters with link requests
  • Pitfalls to avoid if buying or bartering links

Stephan Spencer, Founder and President, Netconcepts

Interview with veteran link builder Eric Ward

March 23rd, 2007

Eric Ward has been link building since the early 1990รข??s and well before the days of Google’s PageRank. His client list includes such large companies as and the Discovery Channel.

Listen to this 36-minute interview, as AMA conference chair Stephan Spencer pulls some great link building tips and tricks out of Eric.

Screencast on link building with Stephan Spencer and Eric Ward

February 13th, 2007


Join our founder and president, Stephan Spencer, along with renowned link builder Eric Ward, in this archived webinar of an information-packed 90-minutes of link building tips and tricks. The webinar, for, was called “Inside Secrets to Building Links for Online Publicity, Buzz and Search Engine Optimization”. It was a follow-on to Stephan’s webinar for MarketingProfs 6 months prior, on the topic of boosting Google rankings through links (also available as a 90-minute screencast).

Watch Stephan and Eric’s webinar as a streaming Flash video »

Or, alternatively download/watch as a Quicktime (m4v) movie (169 MB) or as a Windows Media (wmv) file (59 MB).

Interview with social media optimizer Neil Patel

February 13th, 2007


Neil Patel is a leading practitioner of social media optimization, the new art of weilding tools, strategies, and influence for the purpose of gaining visibility on social media networks and websites like,, reddit, NewsVine,, MySpace and even Wikipedia. Featured in the Wall Street Journal as one of the top influencers on Digg, Neil has is a sought after speaker at conferences such as Search Engine Strategies, PubCon, and the AMA’s Hot Topic: Search Engine Marketing. In this interview with our founder and president Stephan Spencer, Neil shares his thoughts on the best social media sites, how to gain traffic and visibility on them, and much more…

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SEO: To Buy Links, or Not to Buy Links?

January 1st, 2007


Originally published in Practical Ecommerce

If Google engineer Matt Cutts had his druthers, buying links would become an extinct SEO practice.

Cutts has addressed the topic of link-buying on a number of occasions on his blog ( and in blog comments elsewhere. He’s admonished webmasters who buy links for PageRank and encouraged webmasters instead to buy only links that have been “nofollowed” — in other words, where the rel=nofollow attribute has been added to the link so that the search engines do not count that link as a vote. He has stated in no uncertain terms that Google considers “buying text links for PageRank purposes to be outside our quality guidelines.”

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Screencast on link building for Google SEO

October 31st, 2006


Join our founder and president, Stephan Spencer, in this archived webinar of an information-packed 90-minutes of link building secrets. The webinar, for, was called “Google in the Real World: How Links Boost Your Ranking”.

Watch it as a streaming Flash video »

Or, alternatively download/watch as a Quicktime movie (72 MB).

Case Study: logo

  • On page 1 for “website hosting” in Google within first 8 weeks
  • Hosts over 12 million members
  • Sustained high search engine rankings since early 2004
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Case Study: WritersNet logo

  • Turned a loss making site into a profit center
  • Now generates over $5000 per month in Google AdSense revenue
  • Over 86,000 pages in Google
  • Traffic levels in the hundreds of thousands of visitors per month
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Your link building strategy, PageRank, & pieces of the linking puzzle

July 12th, 2006


Link building is not all about transferring PageRank. Don’t get caught in the trap of basing your decision on high PageRank score alone. There are other considerations to be taken into account.

For example, your backlinks need to represent a range of importance scores (PageRank) so that Google doesn’t construe your link network as unnatural. Building links exclusively or mostly from high PageRank endowed sites may flag your site for artificially trying to boost your PageRank. And do you really want to attract additional scrutiny?

For long term benefit and security, sites that are selected for inbound links should be from an on-topic neighborhood, have aged domains, and if possible, have .edu and .gov sites in there. The list of sites needs to be analyzed to ensure that there are no technical limitations that slow the flow of “link gain” (e.g. PageRank). For example, the directory has let pages with session IDs (“PHPSESSID”) in the URLs slip into the indices, which makes it less ideal as a backlink.

In general, all links help (unless from “bad neighborhoods”), regardless of their PageRank. Some of the links NEED to be topically-relevant or your site is going to appear unfocused and the links won’t appear to have been “earned,” but instead bought, borrowed, bartered or stolen.

Directory submissions should be a component of your link building strategy, but don’t put too much emphasis on them. As Stuntdubl says, you need to balance the link equation and not rely too heavily on directories, and you need to spread your submissions out over time.

Certain directories are considered to be “hubs” or “authorities” or both (unfortunately only the search engines know which ones, so try to cover your bases as best you can), in which case it may be used by a search engine as an indicator of the topically-relevant neighborhood that your site belongs in.

Bear in mind that toolbar PR scores are months old and can’t really be trusted. The REAL PageRank is outside of our grasp, locked up within the Googleplex.

Also bear in mind that PageRank is Google-specific. That’s not to say that you can’t use PageRank to make some inferences about the importance of a page in the eyes of Yahoo! and MSN Search. The concept of “link gain” or weighted link popularity is alive and well at Yahoo and Microsoft, they just have different ways of calculating it and names for it. At Yahoo it’s been referred to as “Web Rank” and “link flux” (a term from their days at Inktomi). I don’t know what MSN calls it. The higher the PageRank, the more useful it is as an indicator of a powerfully important site across all 3 engines. For example, I’d have little doubt that a PageRank 9 link would be an amazing link opportunity that would reap benefits across Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search.

Case Study: InnSite logo

  • Went from loss-making venture into a profitable web project
  • Google AdSense revenue regularly exceeds $10,000 per month
  • SEO techniques turned Innsite into an ongoing revenue stream
  • A free service for users, yet still profitable for us
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