Easy Link Opportunities That Die

As time passes algorithms change and more is required to be remarkable, and easy link opportunities die off. In the past I was a big fan of donating for links, but eventually the typical page that you can donate and get a link from gets filled with junk co-citation that puts the page in a bad neighborhood. For example, Moodle has a donation page that says

Donators over US$50 can add their link to this page (it seems to bring good Google Juice!). Please remember to hit the "continue" button after paying to see the form where you can enter this linking information yourself.

It is no surprise that the page has a bunch of gambling links on it. When I donated in December of 2004 that link probably carried weight (as the page was yet to be spammed out and the link relevancy algorithms were not as advanced back then). No way a sophisticated search engine would still want to count that same link today though.

If you can get a PR6 or PR7 link for a one time $50 fee then eventually the market is going to drive its true value toward that price. And if all your authority rests on those links then your risk to reward ratio of owning a business with a foundation in sand is not good.

I also donated to Mozdev for a link back in 2004. Soon after I did it many people followed my path, spammed the page up with a ton of donations, and the price was increased to $1,000. Now if you donate there you can't even get a link.

I just saw on the 2007 Bloggies page that they no longer allow you to get links for donating prizes. Another link opportunity that was closed off.

Google's duplicate content filter improvements and changing crawling priorities were largely about keeping many undesirable link sources (like low quality directories that will sell anyone a link) out of their index.

Some link sources are closed off due to greedy people taking advantage of them (like people offering to donate prizes to Bloggies winners and never donating the prizes, or directory owners selling hollow PageRank without enforcing any editorial quality standards), some are closed off due to algorithmic improvements, and others are closed off because as time passes you have to do more to be remarkable.

Many of the best ranking SEO sites rank well because they have crappy submit your site to search engine buttons that were placed on many authoritative college pages long ago. You can't compete by hoping that naive webmasters or webmasters no longer maintaining their websites will change their pages.

You have to find where the current conversations are today and find ways to get people to want to talk about you today. Instead of trying the search engine submission button maybe people would be willing to link to SEO for Firefox. Instead of creating a better Yahoo! Directory or a better DMOZ the popular new directories are social bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us. Find out where people are going rather than where they have been.

If you are first to market, it is worth doing something well such that you create the market standard, and are hard to beat. If someone else already owns a market position you may need to come up with another angle to beat them. The good thing is that now more than ever there are more people actively sharing their thoughts online. If you watch ideas spread all day long (Techmeme, Digg, Del.icio.us, Technorati, etc. etc. etc.) then it shouldn't be that hard to create a few ideas that will spread. And if you understand how to create ideas that spread, it will be much harder for competitors to duplicate than a profile that is powered exclusively by donation links and other links that will be algorithmically discounted or links that just about anyone can get.

When you are new there is nothing wrong with chipping away at the edges to try to get a bit of a boost from it. But it is still important to learn how to spread ideas. If you understand how to create ideas that will spread and how to spread them, then every day the web is feeding into your future profits. If you are only picking at the market edges then you are fighting algorithmic improvements and the general nature of the web, which will get tougher and tougher every day.

Published: January 30, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing


January 30, 2007 - 12:51pm

Nice post, watching ideas spread is valuable, but can eat up a lot of your time. I try to balance the creative work (which brings the biggest payoffs eventually) with some of the more tedious link monkeying. I found if you setup an aggressive strategy and work very hard, it's difficult for competitors to catch up or even figure out what to do when you're taking advantage of so many different angels of opportunity all at once (blogs, social media, paid links, easy link opportunities, link bait, reciprocals, traffic sharing)

January 30, 2007 - 2:02pm

Has SEO gotten harder? No, it's just favours the creative thinker a bit more.

It favours the the wordsmith, the one who can spin yarns.

Social media is driving this new methodology of SEO.

And having a background as a creative writer, I like it.

January 30, 2007 - 2:11pm

That's some solid advice, Aaron. Eventually, it' still comes down to where the people are and what they need, regardless of what the SEs are and will be doing.

Solomon, I found that focusing on delivering higher value to the people gets the most return. While I understand your point, the link monkeying isn't as efficient and it won't be counted for a while.

January 30, 2007 - 5:03pm

SEO used to be the realm of the opportunistic scripter.

Today SEO is the realm of the opportunistic marketer.

January 30, 2007 - 6:48pm

I for one welcome our new difficult to master SEO overlords.

While its getting harder and harder to find easy links hopefully this will lead to some natural selection with some of the less talented "submit to every directory in one afternoon" SEO firms that give the whole industry a bad name.

January 30, 2007 - 6:50pm

I think it all depends on the type of site you're talking about, and your niche. Let's face it, some niches just don't lend themselves to the same level of social marketing as others. Sites for businesses such as mold removal. auto part shops, hospital supplies, etc come to mind. Yet, these are just as valid sites as any of the more glamorous.

I'm sure you can come up with cool marketing ideas for hospital gowns, I'm just not sure it's needed, in some niches. I think Solomon's approach works very well, and will continue to do so, especially in the more mundane businesses. Of course, this may be due to the fact that in some of these businesses, not much SEO of any real quality is being done, even now.

January 30, 2007 - 7:30pm

Great post.
It underlines the fact that if people are serious about Internet Marketing, they need to take Internet Marketing seriously and become a professional in the field.

January 30, 2007 - 7:42pm

Aaron two things stand out to me here. One is that a big key to success is looking forward and not looking back. Understanding where things are heading is far more important than seeing where they have been and what has worked in the past.

The second is the ability to create ideas that will spread and help them on their merry way.

When you mention watching ideas spread all day are you suggesting checking in on the home page of sites like Digg, del.icio.us, etc and simply watch what makes it to the home pages as a way to understand the ideas those communities are currently seeing as important?

Do you see this as a short term benefit in the sense of writing your next blog post about those same ideas? Or are you meaning this as a longer term strategy, understanding what the community is hungering for and working to create something to fill that hunger?

Perhaps a little of both?

January 30, 2007 - 9:40pm

Hi Steven
Yeah...I was talking more about the longer term strategy.

January 31, 2007 - 12:15am

Thanks Aaron. That's what I thought, but it never hurts to ask.

I thought maybe a short term strategy in all this could be following along with the front pages of social bookmarking sites on Monday and Tuesday say, to make a usual Wednesday post a little more linkbaitable.

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