Developing a Team

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how best to develop my team. In terms of growing Receptional as a business, one of my key roles is to train the individuals in my link building team in the most effective way to build links for our wide range of client sites.

In the past, responsibility for building a vast majority of client links rested upon myself, and one other individual. Now we’re a team of 6, and growing, and we need to pass our knowledge and expertise onto newer employees, who don’t have the same level of industry experience as us. Whilst they are all great link builders in their own right, it’d be brilliant to see them come even further in the New Year.

The Chartered Management Institute have just released the results of their annual survey, and I was pleased to see that other managers are resolving to focus on their team’s development for 2015, putting their employees ahead of chasing revenue  – revenue has at times, been my main focus too.

Being fairly new to management myself, I was also pleased to see that there are plenty of resources for managers online, and the support is there when I need it.

If you’d like to read more about the survey, you can click here.

So what is my pledge for the new year?

I’d like to bring my team up to speed, by including all of them in the planning phases for a majority of new link building campaigns.

I’d like to teach my team technical SEO, but in a workflow format so they know how to plan a campaign intelligently, not just how to run site crawls and interpret results from third party tools.

I’d really like for the team to spend time evalutating the links they have got, and identifying the strengths and weaknesses in each.

I think this is a great way to start developing the team further.

How Well do you know Google, the Search Engine Giant?

There’s plenty to read out there around cracking Google’s algorithm, and plenty written about battling your way to the top of SERPs, but how much do SEO’s really know about Google?

Any decision that Google make in regards to adapting their algorithm has a profound effect on their business. Their customers are the both the end user (searcher) and the businesses who rely on Google paid search to maintain internet based leads.

When Google make a drastic change to the way their search engine feeds back information to the end user, the revenue generated through paid search is affected. And therefore, Google’s net worth as a business is also affected.

Google have in recent times made moves to diversify their revenue streams with heavy investment in mobile operating systems (Android), Artificial Intelligence (drones, cars) and computer hardware (Chromebook). Google have even secured a licence to run a bank.

To give you more of an idea about the business side of Google, online binary trading platform, anyoption have kindly put together an infographic that details the ins and outs of Google’s financial history- there is plenty more Google-related financial news on their blog.

An infographic detailing the financial progression of search engine, Google.

With the advent of new and exciting products like Google Glass and the Self Driving Google Car, our favourite search engine are already making good progress to gaining the top spot as the most profitable company within the Unites States.

Do you think Google can do it? What do you think the next steps in Google’s financial evolution are? How do you think all of Google’s investments tie together to shape the modern world?

Manual Penalties: Your Questions Answered

I’ve compiled a list of the most common questions I get asked about Manual Penalties, and tried to give some concise answers.

I’ve assumed that you already have a basic working knowledge of Google Manual Penalties.

Hopefully, I be able to shed some light on some confusing areas around Manual Actions.

Should I use Link Detox or a similar tool to audit my links?

Firstly, I should make it clear that I’ve not used one of these link auditing / risk assessment tools before, although I believe I have a fairly good understanding of how they work.

My opinion is that the best way to get a sense of how to deal with your penalty, is by doing the leg work yourself, and reviewing your backlinks with as little automation as possible. Don’t forget that a manual penalty has been imposed by a human, and not by an algorithm, so you probably can’t rely on an algorithm to generate you a list of links that you should keep / monitor / remove.

Where should I get my link data? Majestic SEO, WMT, Moz, Ahrefs or somewhere else?

Having as much link data as possible is the best way to prove you’re serious about dealing with the penalty. I’ve always used at least Majestic SEO, Google Webmaster Tools and Opensite Explorer (Moz) to get as greater coverage of inbound links into a site as possible.

Which of Majestic Index should I be looking at?

If you really want to be comprehensive – look at both the Historic and the Fresh index. Google might have links flagged that have long since expired naturally, so even if you find yourself looking at pages of deleted links, this information might prove valuable during your reconsideration request, especially if Google’s data isn’t as current as Majestic’s.

Can I just “turn off” the affected pages?

You can! But first you need to assess what impact this might have on your business.

For instance, what share of your traffic to the affected landing page is direct (bookmarked) or referral traffic? You might have quite a bit of work to do to keep that traffic if you suddenly turn off a penalised page. Updating referring sites with a new link can be time consuming if you have to do it on bulk, and on a case-by-case basis.

Just remember not to redirect the old URL, because you can pass the penalty to the new page. Have the URL return a 410 (Gone) to “black hole” those links.

How long before my rankings / traffic comes back?

This depends on the extent of the penalty – and how many backlinks you might have to remove to get your manual action removed. We’ve seen site’s rankings return within hours of a re-inclusion message appearing in WMT, other times it’s taken days and a few fresh links to spur on re-indexation.

If you’ve removed a large enough portion of links, there might not be much left to keep your site afloat, and for this reason, your rankings might not return until you start to generate some great quality backlinks.

How can I avoid a penalty?

Aside from NOT building links that blatantly go against the spirit of Google’s guidelines, there are a few things I can recommend to help you keep on top of your backlinks.

Set up tracking reports within Majestic SEO in order to discover any sudden surges in backlink discovery, or drastic changes in your site’s Trust Flow.

Regularly audit your backlink profile and keep on top of mentions of your brand on external sites using a combination of link intelligence tools, and Google Alerts.

How badly could I be penalised?

Your site can either:

  • Experience a slight demotion in rankings on specific pages or across the site
  • Experience a complete drop in rankings for specific pages or across the entire site
  • Experience a penalty against its brand name and / or URL, so the site doesn’t appear for brand related searches.
  • See its Google+ Local page(s) fail to show in SERPs
  • Disappear from Google’s index completely

What’s the difference between Partial and Site-wide?

Partial match penalties apply to one or more URLs, but not all URLs. Site-wide affects ALL URLs.

What’s the difference between a manual and algorithmic penalty?

Algorithmic penalties don’t appear as a notice in your webmaster tools. You cannot submit a reconsideration request if you’re being penalised by Google’s algorithm.

Why am I being Penalised? Why aren’t my competitors?

Google give many reasons for penalising a site. Most of the time these days, it is for participation in link schemes.

Often, you check your competitors’ backlinks and wonder why they aren’t penalised too. Don’t be so quick to get yourself worked up, you can’t see the contents of their disavow file!

If you feel the need to report your competitors, you can do so here.

I’ve been penalised and I don’t know what to do now?

Don’t panic! Your penalty is nothing that can’t be fixed with a little time and effort. Audit your links, compare them to Google Guidelines and remove anything that shouldn’t be there.

If you’re still stuck or having trouble, drop me an email, or get in touch with me via the contact form in the sidebar. The link building team at Receptional have had a 100% success rate in revoking manual actions, and recovering lost traffic. 

5 Quick Wins every Link Builder needs to Know

We’ve all read “recent” SEO articles about how we should be moving link building forward, and how SEO led PR is “the new link building”.

But is chasing PR7 newspaper links really the way to kick start a successful link building campaign?

Not really.

Although if the opportunity arose to get that PR7 link in the first few days of building links for a client, I certainly wouldn’t turn it down.

The key thing to remember here, is that building links for a new client takes time, and although quality is the most important thing, volume is definitely the second, and getting links in volume requires you to get links that perhaps won’t stand out as your best work, but ones that do offer some simple, quick wins, and more immediate results.

These links are the foundation of any great link profile.

Competitor Analysis

At the start of every new link building project, you should aim to look at replicating your competitor’s links. The effect of this is three-fold.

  • Devalue your competitor’s links by reducing the amount of “link juice” that is shared between links on any one page
  • Gain a valuable backlink for yourself
  • Benefit from co-citation (being linked, or mentioned alongside sites in the same niche improves rankings)

To get a list of potential targets, I use Majestic SEO’s clique hunter software.

The Process

Phase 1 – top ranking sites at Page / URL level

  • Choose one of your target keywords
  • Type this into Google
  • Record the top 9 or 10 results (as URLs) depending on if your client already ranks in the top 10.
  • Put these + your client into Clique Hunter and generate a report

Phase 2 – top ranking sites at Root Domain level

  • Take the list you generated in Phase 1
  • Put these + your client into Clique Hunter as root domains, and generate a report

Then, just repeat this process for each keyword you want to rank for.

Pretty soon, you’ll have a huge list of link targets to sift through. Your next step is look for the sites that link to 2 or more competitors, but not to you, and to approach these for links, providing you’re happy that these links won’t affect your site in a negative way.

It’s up to you then how you chose to link, and with what anchor text.

Link Reclamation

As time progresses, links break. And as a link builder, you should set aside some time each month to keep on top of them.

Links break due to your client retiring pages, changing URLs during redevelopment projects, or because of misspellings in URLs on third party websites. Any time you see a link that points to a page that then returns a 404 server code, you’re looking at a broken link.

Finding broken links to your own site is another activity that has multiple benefits.

First off, a link to a 404 page on your site is a negative signal to search engines. It shows that you don’t keep on top of your content, or that you create and retire content with little regard for your end users. Remember, a link is a navigational device first and foremost, so a link should never point to a dead page – that’s not where the user wants to be.

Secondly, you’re missing out on the opportunity to keep those good links coming in.

How to find broken links

I use two methods.

Method 1

Generate a top pages report in Majestic SEO and then filter this by:

  • Pages that have inbound links
  • Pages that don’t return a 200 OK sever code

Method 2

Check Google Analytics Landing Pages, and then filter by referral traffic only

Download this and upload into Screaming Frog and see which pages fail to return a 200 code.

Luckily, fixing broken links is easy

For misspelled or changed URLs

  • Contact the webmasters and get them to update the link
  • Set up a 301 redirect on the misspelling of the URL to make sure traffic lands on the right page

For retired content

  • Recreate the content
  • Redirect the URL to something similar
  • Create a custom page that explains that this content is no longer here, but the user might be interested in something else

Broken Link Building

Similar to repairing your own broken links, “poaching” your competitor’s best broken links is also an effective and simple strategy with potentially huge gains.

  • Generate the same top pages report as you did in Method 1 for Link Reclamation, but for your competition.
  • Now, check the pages that return 404 errors, but that have significant link equity.
  • Check the Internet Archive to learn what should have been on those pages
  • Recreate those pages, only better
  • Inform the webmasters that they’re linking to a broken page and that this is bad for their own website performance, and user experience.
  • Offer them your version as an alternative.

Link Auditing

As you’re no doubt aware, penalties are being handed out thick and fast by Google – if you’ve been hit by a manual penalty get in touch and we can talk about recovery.

If you’re not under penalty, then keeping on top of your backlinks has never been so important, and conducting a link audit at the start of any link building campaign is essential.

You should be making a note of:

  • Over-optimisation of anchor text
  • Image links that put strain on your site’s bandwidth allowance
  • Suspicious anchor text
  • Links from scrapers, spam sites and link networks
  • Comment Spam
  • Negative SEO attacks

Of course, it’s not only the penalty risk that should be spurring you on to check your links. You might also find:

  • Safe anchor text opportunities
  • Images that are linked without Title or Alt text
  • Mentions that don’t link to you (Majestic can report these)
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Popular content that you could refresh or develop further

Partners & Suppliers

Most businesses have suppliers who have websites, or supply other businesses who have websites. Any of these should be a viable link partner.

Effective ways to get links from your partners:

  • Offer a testimonial about their services
  • Suggest writing them a blog post
  • Suggest partnering on a case study

It doesn’t stop there

These are just some easy quick win strategies that can help you form a solid foundation for your future link building.

Let’s talk today about essential link building strategies for your business – please leave a comment or get in touch using the contact form in the sidebar.

Results Driven Digital Marketing & Link Building