Categories
Link Bait Link Building

Weirdest Link Exchange Request Ever?

I get a lot of those ‘we’ve linked to your site, please link back’ type of emails. This one is the weirdest I’ve seen though:

Gerald Gerbrone Here,

We recently started our blog here http://blog.yourseoconsulting.com and linked to your website hoping you would notice us and maybe link back. To be honest we don’t know what the fuck we are doing and are desperate god help us we arn’t even ranking for anything in msn , yahoo or google and need your help. And link would be of great help thanks again, Gerald.

Sincerely,

Gerald Gerbrone CEO
A-Built Computer Systems and Consulting
14781 Memorial Drive
Office 2464
Houston, TX
77079-5210

I’m in two minds as to whether this is the craftiest or dumbest link request ever. I’m erring toward the former.

What do you think?

Categories
Link Bait Link Building

SES London – Linkbait, and When It’s Not

The link baiting season promised to be one of the highlights of SES London. With linkbait being one of the hottest contemporary SEO themes, the crowds filled the room to hear what the industry experts were going to share.

The widget as link bait

First up, Nick Wilson gave a good high level introduction to ‘viral link building’. Giving a passionate speech, Nick discussed widgets as the ultimate linkbait, and his observations were well worth hearing.

Heellloou Jason Calacanis

Dave Naylor gave another extremely passionate speech. During the entire conference Dave entertained the crowd, and this session was no different. Jason Calacanis was the main target, as Dave vented vitriol on the ‘SEO is bullshit’ argument. All highly entertaining.

‘Textual advertisements’

Alan Webb of Abakus gave a presentation on link buying with some interesting, if not ground-breaking, discussion about how to approach site owners when buying links purchasing textual advertising . Bread an butter stuff.

This is the bit When Link Bait Isn’t Link Bait

This last guy annoyed me so much that I actually bailed about 60 seconds into his presentation. The official handbook says his name is Matt Paines, MD of XSEO. This guy obviously does not understand link bait.

He started off by referring to the famous SEO ‘Chris’ until someone in the crowd told him it was Rand. OK, that’s a human mistake – anyone could make it. But the 30 seconds that followed showed that this guy doesn’t have a clue. So fumbling on he’s muttering ‘Wow…. yeah…. Rand Fishkin…. Superbowl….. now that was some link bait’. I got up and left right then and there.

Link bait is contrived content created with the intention of deriving inbound links. [My definition]

So what the final speaker was basically saying that Rand Fishkin contrived his engagement in order to generate links.

I don’t know Rand Fishkin personally, but do read his blog which regularly contains some great posts. Maybe I’m a sucker, but I believe that people are in general innately good. So the idea that someone would go on national TV (and the Internet) to say, first, that he loves his soon-to-be fiancé, and then ask her to marry him, that this was in some way link bait….

Well I didn’t stick around any longer so I’ll never know what else he said.

Categories
Blogs Link Bait

How Would You Like A €2,000 Web Design For Free? It’s Just One Click Away

Well what started out as a a friendly bit of banter over who would buy the pints at the Irish Blog Awards has suddenly escalated into serious contest that could even eclipse the Blog Awards themselves.

First Blog Awards organiser Damien Mulley threw his hat into the ring by entering the official Blog Awards RSS feed into the contest (I’ve heard it’s dreadfully overrated :mrgreen:). And now web designer Eoghan McCabe has really thrown a cat amongst the pigeons. In a calculated (and incredibly sneaky, perhaps even underhand…) move Eoghan is offering a prize of €2,000 worth of web design (yes, you read that right) to one of his lucky RSS subscriber.

Speculation now centers on how other contenders for the ‘Real Blog Awards‘ might respond to this latest escalation. I smell blood.

Categories
Link Bait Link Building

The Ultimate Link Bait

Although his latest guide is called ‘Andy Hagans’ Ultimate Guide to Linkbaiting and Social Media Marketing’, I think it is obvious that this is really quite simply ‘The Ultimate Linkbait’.

And for that very reason it is probably a must-read for anyone interested in link building in general, and social media marketing in particular.

Deserves a hat-tip really – the guide that is 100% self-fulfilling. Sweet.

Categories
Blogs JavaScript Keywords Link Bait Marketing Technology

The Tale of a Link Whore, a Mobile PC, a Site Review, and some Clever Market Disruption

I got an email from Pat yesterday which led to a short rally:

Pat: Hi Richard. Would appreciate any mention. Am beginning to feel like a link wh***
http://blog.roam4free.ie/win-a-pocket-pc-with-roam4free

Me: May I ‘dismantle’ it? It might not be pretty πŸ™‚

Pat: Lmao Please do

Of course I’m not one to turn down a free sacrificial lamb, so…

Before I start…

Before I go any further here’s my policy on posting and linking out on request. If something is worthy of a post or a link I’m normally quite happy to oblige. There, that was easy.

Roam4Free

Roam4Free.ie is a great idea. I’ve been with O2 since they were Digiphone, and for many years was always over-charged on my roaming. And I received many a refund to prove it πŸ˜€

(Fortunately all O2’s roaming partners ‘set’ the same price a year or two back – how anti-competitive can they get?)

I think Pat is on to a winner. But I also think he really has to nail the website because (and I’m assuming here) it is the primary sales channel.

Oh, and by the way, my comments here could easily apply to any website, so I hope they might be useful to other readers, not just Pat.

What’s the first thing you see on any website?

Well more often then not it’s the page title. As one of the top elements in any HTML page, the title is very first on-screen element to be populated in your browser.

When I visit Roam4Free.ie I see this title:

Welcome to Roam4free.ie – The end of sky high roaming charges !

Two things strike me. First there are no targeted keyword phrases in that title. Other than ‘roaming charges’, which I doubt people search on, there are no reasons for people to discover Pat’s service via the number #1 Internet gateway – Search Engines.

So what phrases might I suggest to Pat?

Well I can see that ‘roaming charges’ and broad matches have very little volume. But the terms ,’international sim cards’, ‘mobile international’ and ‘cell international’ (cell = mobile in the US) and a number of long tail derivatives of those phrases have fairly good volume (000’s per month).

Now just for a minute I’m going to take off my SEO cap and put on my marketing cap. Pat is doing a great job of promoting this (Read/WriteWeb just popped up in my reader). So he’s going to get traffic. Therefore he needs to balance the SEO stuff with pure marketing. And the page title can be a powerful marketing tool.

The title has to quickly establish the product’s benefits for visitors. It should also attract some Search Engine Love if possible. Here are some of my suggestions:

Reduce your International Cell & Mobile Roaming Charges by up to x% with Roam4free.ie

or maybe:

Turn your Mobile into a Free International Cell Phone with Roam4Free

Both of those titles include some relevant keywords that might help with SEO efforts. But more importantly, they both tell the visitor exactly what the product does in simple English, and include a clear call to action. I always think the best way to get your message across to the widest audience is to speak in plain simple language (and pop a couple of nice high-volume keywords in there for measure :mrgreen:).

I posted about the benefit of using good marketing copy in your META description tag a while ago, and I think Pat could look at editing his current Description:

Works in over 115 countries. Receive calls for FREE in over 65 countries. Up to 90% discount on standard mobile rates

I would spell it out – mention ‘international sim card’ somewhere in that copy. (Good use of upper-cased ‘FREE’ though.)

One other point worth mentioning here is that different pages can effectively become honey pots for various search phrases (you should always try to target different phrases on your various pages) . And while I’m on the subject, remember that people can land on any page, not just the homepage, so you should consider every page a selling opportunity.

The Homepage Itself – Quick to Figure or Quick to Leave?

The homepage makes good use of contrast and visual boundaries to break up the main page areas:

Roam4Free homepage

I think I have made it clear on numerous occasions that I am not a big flash fan. The flash image on the homepage (sorry, you cant see it in the image above) really doesn’t reinforce the copy on the page. A static image of a sim card will have the same effect in explaining the product. And as for placing static text within the flash file – silly, silly..

And then there’s the font colour, which I feel is too close in contrast to the background colour (blue on blue in places).

This product is crying out for a ‘Sell It To Me Homepage’

Personally I think the homepage should be the seller. If you can convert from the homepage you’re on to a winner. The more pages people check out the more opportunity they have to reconsider that purchase decision.

So how would I make the homepage sell? Perhaps a three point storyboard that explains the product, how to get it, and how to use it:

  1. Get a Sim card
  2. Add credit
  3. Roam4Free

Yes I know all that info is all ready there, but I think it needs to be simplified and given more prominence on the page. Make it feel as simple as possible – 1, 2, 3. Get prospects into the comfort zone.

I would place all the ancillary info into the appropriate story element above, e.g. ‘Use in over 115 countries’, ‘Compatible with most mobile phones and networks across the globe.’, ‘No call set up.’ in step one Get a Sim Card

‘Easy to use. Top up from where ever, when ever.’, ‘Per-minute billing. Save up to 90% on standard mobile rates.’ in step two ‘Add Credit’.

‘No line rental. No minimum contract. No hidden costs – Just FREE incoming calls in over 65 countries, and up to 90% off standard mobile rates’ in the final step.

OK, you might have to edit this last group a little. But the point is to keep the decision process as simple as possible and the purchase path short. Give customers the info needed to make the all important purchase decision without leaving that homepage. (Not sure if implementing the pricing would be possible here though?)

Did anyone else notice the critical navigation flaw?

Take a look at the image above. Apart from there being no obvious homepage link (we read left to right and expect the homepage link to appear top right LEFT of the page), (oops, a little typo there – I’m slightly dyslexic…) I can see the most glaring Achilles heel. But before I declare my hand, some history.

The Internet has been around for a while now, and over time a number of conventions have formed and been widely accepted. The most widely accepted convention is how to link. Unfortunately Roam4Free.ie breaks that convention, badly.

Take a look at the navigation bar:

Navigation Bar

Do you see the link for signing up? Well it’s there all right. But if you are like most Internet users you glance rather than read, and you’d be forgiven if you missed the sign up link.

It’s actually there at the top of the navigation bar: ‘New User ? Buy a sim to get an account today!’.

The link is not underlined, and worse still, it uses the same color as the labels on the login form. One of the most important links on the site, ‘Sign Up’, doesn’t look like a link at all, it looks like plain text.

Click Here To Purchase

This page is straight-forward and to the point. In fact it’s a little thin on content – there’s a lot a free real estate there, so I would consider increasing the font size to make reading easier. The font size should also be varied to give a visual cue as to the importance of various text elements.

But this next bit pisses me off. When you visit a site you have a goal. You want the shortest and quickest path to achieving that goal so you can move to your next goal.

So every moment of time waisted due to poor design reduces the goodwill you have toward the site in question. On the purchase (sign up) page I am given a link to ‘More Details’. Here’s what I get:

More Details link

How has that improved my experience? I just waisted 2 clicks – one to view a useless page, and another to go back to go back to where I came form. And a small fraction of visitors wont bother to go back.

Call Rates Page

Try this without Javascript. OK, maybe I’m a little pedantic on this one, but what about mobile browsers? After all, mobile users are the target market here, and I do think mobile Internet might catch on sooner or later…

Nice use of XMLHttpRequest though.

Have I anything good to say?

Yes! It’s a great idea, and I hope it catches on.

My criticisms of the website might seem harse. I only checked a few pages TBH, and I’ve seen far worse. It’s a nice site, and with a few tweaks could probably really pull in traffic that converts.

I see an affiliate system also in the offing. That should push the boat out further as those clever affiliate people target some of the juicy long tail phrases I noticed.

Something I won’t mention…

On a final note, the site has one thing I haven’t mentioned that I think could be a huge asset and very serious linkbait. I’m not going to say what, but I might whisper it to Pat at some stage :mrgreen:.

(If anyone can guess what it is I’ll give them any link they request – no baddies though.)

Categories
Clients Keywords Link Bait Search Engine Optimisation

A New Year, Some New Ideas, and My Time for Free!

Well even though I’m still on my extended vacation I think it’s time to blog a bit again (just in case Google thinks I’ve given up!).

Happy 2007

It’s a new year (don’t they go quickly?). I’m not a big resolution person, but I do think the coming year is going to fantastic for Search Marketing both globally, and, more particularly, here in Ireland. I think more businesses are going to realise that ignoring Search Engines is a strategic error, and that a deeper appreciation of Search Marketing will be manifested in on-line marketing spends.

Some Fresh Ideas

Some of the projects I’ve been asked to look at have fantastic potential. (BTW I decided some time back not to identify future projects publicly). I’m really keyed-up for some of the projects I going to be working on this year.

I’ve also been doing quite some thinking about widgets and web services, which I think offer a great means to promote your site. I think we’ll be seeing quite a lot of new widgets this year (decent widgets can serve as great link bait).

Some of my vacation free time (almost an oxymoron) has been used up with keyword research – one tool I use has turned up some great keyword phrases with decent volumes that have mapped well to domains (and Google’s private domain registration services for $10 have me totally sucked in :mrgreen:). Ill be working on a few proprietary projects in the coming months whenever client work allows.

Finally a Freebie Offer

I post quite a bit over on the Google Webmaster Group (‘Red Cardinal‘) trying to help out others who have issues with Google. It’s all voluntary, and I get great satisfaction from just a little bit of typing.

It makes a lot of sense to thank the people who have read my blog and taken the time to comment. I really am grateful to everyone who’s been in touch or just dropped by. So to give something back here’s a little new year offer for you guys:

If you leave a comment with your URL I will do my best to respond with a review of your site complete with some free advice on how to rank better.

I’ll keep this open for a week or so (as I type this I’m a little worried no one will take me up – go on it’s free!).

Categories
Link Bait Search Engine Optimisation

Blogging tactics at SEOmoz

I have to admit that the whole blogging thing has quite a steep learning curve for me. I had never blogged or posted my views before launching Red Cardinal’s blog around the end of July.

Luckily there are quite a few distinguished Irish bloggers out there that have indirectly provided guidance (it’s always great to take a look at how other more knowledgeable people do things, and there’s no better place than the Internet to research this).

There are many guides to blogging, but a post over on SEOmoz this morning has really caught my eye. I think it’s well worth a read for both new are seasoned bloggers.

I have the SEOmoz feed in my reader – you can always be assured of picking up something interesting from one of the top SEO firms renowned for the quality of the linkbait they produce (if nothing else this post proves that πŸ™‚ ).

Categories
General Link Bait Marketing

Link Baiting to a Job Vacancy

Via Ajaxian:

I noticed that in the original post, as well as including a neat article about AJAX, the author makes reference to job vacancies at the company he works for.

While he probably didn’t write the guide specifically as link bait for those positions (but who knows?), it very certainly has helped create free highly-targeted advertising and exposure that would normally require a hefty budget.

His post has made it to Ajaxian which has a huge tech based readership. I imagine those positions will be filled quite quickly.

An excellent example of good content getting noticed and achieving business goals.