Tag Archive | "Link"

SearchCap: Google Image search, Google AMP Stories, picking link partners & more

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.



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Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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The Rules of Link Building – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by BritneyMuller

Are you building links the right way? Or are you still subscribing to outdated practices? Britney Muller clarifies which link building tactics still matter and which are a waste of time (or downright harmful) in today’s episode of Whiteboard Friday.

The Rules of Link Building

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Happy Friday, Moz fans! Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we are going over the rules of link building. It’s no secret that links are one of the top three ranking factors in Goggle and can greatly benefit your website. But there is a little confusion around what’s okay to do as far as links and what’s not. So hopefully, this helps clear some of that up.

The Dos

All right. So what are the dos? What do you want to be doing? First and most importantly is just to…

I. Determine the value of that link. So aside from ranking potential, what kind of value will that link bring to your site? Is it potential traffic? Is it relevancy? Is it authority? Just start to weigh out your options and determine what’s really of value for your site.

II. Local listings still do very well. These local business citations are on a bunch of different platforms, and services like Moz Local or Yext can get you up and running a little bit quicker. They tend to show Google that this business is indeed located where it says it is. It has consistent business information — the name, address, phone number, you name it. But something that isn’t really talked about all that often is that some of these local listings never get indexed by Google. If you think about it, Yellowpages.com is probably populating thousands of new listings a day. Why would Google want to index all of those?

So if you’re doing business listings, an age-old thing that local SEOs have been doing for a while is create a page on your site that says where you can find us online. Link to those local listings to help Google get that indexed, and it sort of has this boomerang-like effect on your site. So hope that helps. If that’s confusing, I can clarify down below. Just wanted to include it because I think it’s important.

III. Unlinked brand mentions. One of the easiest ways you can get a link is by figuring out who is mentioning your brand or your company and not linking to it. Let’s say this article publishes about how awesome SEO companies are and they mention Moz, and they don’t link to us. That’s an easy way to reach out and say, “Hey, would you mind adding a link? It would be really helpful.”

IV. Reclaiming broken links is also a really great way to kind of get back some of your links in a short amount of time and little to no effort. What does this mean? This means that you had a link from a site that now your page currently 404s. So they were sending people to your site for a specific page that you’ve since deleted or updated somewhere else. Whatever that might be, you want to make sure that you 301 this broken link on your site so that it pushes the authority elsewhere. Definitely a great thing to do anyway.

V. HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Reporters will notify you of any questions or information they’re seeking for an article via this email service. So not only is it just good general PR, but it’s a great opportunity for you to get a link. I like to think of link building as really good PR anyway. It’s like digital PR. So this just takes it to the next level.

VI. Just be awesome. Be cool. Sponsor awesome things. I guarantee any one of you watching likely has incredible local charities or amazing nonprofits in your space that could use the sponsorship, however big or small that might be. But that also gives you an opportunity to get a link. So something to definitely consider.

VII. Ask/Outreach. There’s nothing wrong with asking. There’s nothing wrong with outreach, especially when done well. I know that link building outreach in general kind of gets a bad rap because the response rate is so painfully low. I think, on average, it’s around 4% to 7%, which is painful. But you can get that higher if you’re a little bit more strategic about it or if you outreach to people you already currently know. There’s a ton of resources available to help you do this better, so definitely check those out. We can link to some of those below.

VIII. COBC (create original badass content). We hear lots of people talk about this. When it comes to link building, it’s like, “Link building is dead. Just create great content and people will naturally link to you. It’s brilliant.” It is brilliant, but I also think that there is something to be said about having a healthy mix. There’s this idea of link building and then link earning. But there’s a really perfect sweet spot in the middle where you really do get the most bang for your buck.

The Don’ts

All right. So what not to do. The don’ts of today’s link building world are…

I. Don’t ask for specific anchor text. All of these things appear so spammy. The late Eric Ward talked about this and was a big advocate for never asking for anchor text. He said websites should be linked to however they see fit. That’s going to look more natural. Google is going to consider it to be more organic, and it will help your site in the long run. So that’s more of a suggestion. These other ones are definitely big no-no’s.

II. Don’t buy or sell links that pass PageRank. You can buy or sell links that have a no-follow attached, which attributes that this is paid-for, whether it be an advertisement or you don’t trust it. So definitely looking into those and understanding how that works.

III. Hidden links. We used to do this back in the day, the ridiculous white link on a white background. They were totally hidden, but crawlers would pick them up. Don’t do that. That’s so old and will not work anymore. Google is getting so much smarter at understanding these things.

IV. Low-quality directory links. Same with low-quality directory links. We remember those where it was just loads and loads of links and text and a random auto insurance link in there. You want to steer clear of those.

V. Site-wide links also look very spammy. Site wide being whether it’s a footer link or a top-level navigation link, you definitely don’t want to go after those. They can appear really, really spammy. Avoid those.

VI. Comment links with over-optimized anchor link text, specifically, you want to avoid. Again, it’s just like any of these others. It looks spammy. It’s not going to help you long term. Again, what’s the value of that overall? So avoid that.

VII. Abusing guest posts. You definitely don’t want to do this. You don’t want to guest post purely just for a link. However, I am still a huge advocate, as I know many others out there are, of guest posting and providing value. Whether there be a link or not, I think there is still a ton of value in guest posting. So don’t get rid of that altogether, but definitely don’t target it for potential link building opportunities.

VIII. Automated tools used to create links on all sorts of websites. ScrapeBox is an infamous one that would create the comment links on all sorts of blogs. You don’t want to do that.

IX. Link schemes, private link networks, and private blog networks. This is where you really get into trouble as well. Google will penalize or de-index you altogether. It looks so, so spammy, and you want to avoid this.

X. Link exchange. This is in the same vein as the link exchanges, where back in the day you used to submit a website to a link exchange and they wouldn’t grant you that link until you also linked to them. Super silly. This stuff does not work anymore, but there are tons of opportunities and quick wins for you to gain links naturally and more authoritatively.

So hopefully, this helps clear up some of the confusion. One question I would love to ask all of you is: To disavow or to not disavow? I have heard back-and-forth conversations on either side on this. Does the disavow file still work? Does it not? What are your thoughts? Please let me know down below in the comments.

Thank you so much for tuning in to this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I will see you all soon. Thanks.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Internal links: Link building’s secret sauce

Contributor Andrew Dennis explains why you shouldn’t overlook internal links on your site: They leverage link equity from external links and direct organic visitors to important, converting pages.



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SearchCap: YouTube video ads, AI-driven call intelligence, link building & more

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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Risk-Averse Link Building – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by rjonesx.

Building links is an incredibly common request of agencies and consultants, and some ways to go about it are far more advisable than others. Whether you’re likely to be asked for this work or you’re looking to hire someone for it, it’s a good idea to have a few rules of thumb. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Russ Jones breaks things down.

Risk Averse Links

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, folks, welcome to another great Whiteboard Friday. I am Russ Jones, Principal Search Scientist here at Moz. I get to do a lot of great research, but I’ll tell you, my first love in SEO is link building. The 10 years I spent before joining Moz, I worked at an agency and we did a lot of it, and I’ll tell you, there’s nothing more exciting than getting that great link.

Now, today I’m going to focus a little bit more on the agency and consultant side. But one takeaway before we get started, for anybody out there who’s using agencies or who’s looking to use a consultant for link building, is kind of flip this whole presentation on its head. When I’m giving advice to agencies, you should use that as rules of thumb for judging whether or not you want to use an agency in the future. So let me jump right in and we’ll get going.

What I’m going to talk about today is risk-averse link building. So the vast majority of agencies out there really want to provide good links for their customers, but they just don’t know how. Let’s admit it. The majority of SEO agencies and consultants don’t do their own link building, or if they do, it’s either guest posting or maybe known placements in popular magazines or online websites where you can get links. There’s like a list that will go around of how much it costs to get an article on, well, Forbes doesn’t even count anymore because they’ve no-followed their links, but that’s about it. It’s nothing special.

So today I want to talk through how you can actually build really good links for your customers and what really the framework is that you need to be looking into to make sure you’re risk averse so that your customers can come out of this picture with a stronger link profile and without actually adopting much risk.

1. Never build a link you can’t remove!

So we’re going to touch on a couple of maxims or truisms. The first one is never build a link you can’t remove. I didn’t come upon this one until after Penguin, but it just occurred to me it is such a nightmare to get rid of links. Even with disavow, often it feels better that you can just get the link pulled from the web. Now, with negative SEO as being potentially an issue, admittedly Google is trying to devalue links as opposed to penalize, but still the rule holds strong. Never build a link that you can’t remove.

But how do you do that? I mean you don’t have necessarily control over it. Well, first off, there’s a difference between earnings links and building links. So if you get a link out there that you didn’t do anything for, you just got it because you wrote great content, don’t worry about it. But if you’re actually going to actively link build, you need to follow this rule, and there are actually some interesting ways that we can go about it.

Canonical “burn” pages

The first one is the methodology that I call canonical burn pages. I’m sure that sounds a little dark. But it actually is essentially just an insurance policy on your links. The idea is don’t put all of your content value and link value into the same bucket. It works like this. Let’s say this article or this Whiteboard Friday goes up at the URL risk-averse-links and Moz decided to do some outreach-based link building. Well, then I might make another version, risk-averse-linkbuilding, and then in my out linking actually request that people link to that version of the page. That page will be identical, and it will have a canonical tag so that all of the link value should pass back to the original.

Now, I’m not asking you to build a thousand doorway pages or anything of that sort, but here’s the reason for the separation. Let’s say you reach out to one of these webmasters and they’re like, “This is great,” and they throw it up on a blog post, and what they don’t tell you is, “Oh yeah, I’ve got 100 other blogs in my link farm, and I’m just going to syndicate this out.” Now you’ve got a ton of link spam pointing to the page. Well, you don’t want that pointing to your site. The chances this guy is going to go remove his link from those hundreds if not thousands of pages are very low. Well, the worst case scenario here is that you’ve lost this page, the link page, and you drop it and you create a new one of these burn pages and keep going.

Or what if the opposite happens? When you actually start ranking because of this great content that you’ve produced and you’ve done great link building and somebody gets upset and decides to spam the page that’s ranking with a ton of links, we saw this all the time in the legal sector, which was shocking to me. You would think you would never spam a lawyer, but apparently lawyers aren’t afraid of another lawyer.

But regardless, what we could do in those situations is simply get rid of the original page and leave the canonical page that has all the links. So what you’ve done is sort of divided your eggs into different baskets without actually losing the ranking potential. So we call these canonical burn pages. If you have questions about this, I can talk more about it in the comments.

Know thy link provider

The other thing that’s just stupidly obvious is you should know thy link provider. If you are getting your links from a website that says pay $ 50 for so and so package and you’ll get x-links from these sources on Tier 2, you’re never going to be able to remove those links once you get them unless you’re using something like a canonical burn page. But in those cases where you’re trying to get good links, actually build a relationship where the person understands that you might need to remove this link in the future. It’s going to mean you lose some links, but in the long run, it’s going to protect you and your customers.

That’s where the selling point becomes really strong. Imagine you’re on a client call, sales call and someone comes to you and they say they want link building. They’ve been burned before. They know what it’s like to get a penalty. They know what it’s like to have somebody tell them, “I just don’t know how to do it.”

Well, what if you can tell them, hey, we can link build for you and we are so confident in the quality of our offering that we can promise you, guarantee that we can remove the links we build for you within 7 days, 14 days, whatever number it ends up taking your team to actually do? That kind of insurance policy that you just put on top of your product is priceless to a customer who’s worried about the potential harm that links might bring.

2. You can’t trade anything for a link (except user value)!

Now this leads me to number two. This is the simplest way to describe following Google’s guidelines, which is you can’t trade anything for a link except user value. Now, I’m going to admit something here. A lot of folks who are watching this who know me know this, but my old company years and years and years ago did a lot of link buying. At the time, I justified it because I frankly thought that was the only way to do it. We had a fantastic link builder who worked for us, and he wanted to move up in the company. We just didn’t have the space for him. We said to him, “Look, it’s probably better for you to just go on your own.”

Within a year of leaving, he had made over a million dollars selling a site that he ranked only using white hat link building tactics because he was a master of outreach. From that day on, just everything changed. You don’t have to cheat to get good links. It’s just true. You have to work, but you don’t have to cheat. So just do it already. There are tons of ways to justify outreach to a website to say it’s worth getting a link.

So, for example, you could

  • Build some tools and reach out to websites that might want to link to those tools.
  • You can offer data or images.
  • Accessibility. Find great content out there that’s inaccessible or isn’t useful for individuals who might need screen readers. Just recreate the content and follow the guidelines for accessibility and reach out to everybody who links to that site. Now you’ve got a reason to say, “Look, it’s a great web page, but unfortunately a certain percentage of the population can’t use it. Why don’t you offer, as well as the existing link, one to your accessible version?”
  • Broken link replacement.
  • Skyscraper content, which is where you just create fantastic content. Brian Dean over at Backlinko has a fantastic guide to that.

There are just so many ways to get good links.

Let me put it just a different way. You should be embarrassed if you cannot create content that is worth outreach. In fact, that word “embarrassment,” if you are embarrassed to email someone about your content, then it means you haven’t created good enough content. As an SEO, that’s your responsibility. So just sit down and spend some more time thinking about this. You can do it. I’ve seen it happen thousands of times, and you can end up building much better links than you ever would otherwise.

3. Tool up!

The last thing I would say is tool up. Look, better metrics and better workflows come from tools. There are lots of different ways to do this.

First off, you need a good backlink tool. While, frankly, Moz wasn’t doing a good job for many years, but our new Link Explorer is 29 trillion links strong and it’s fantastic. There’s also Fresh Web Explorer for doing mentions. So you can find websites that talk about you but don’t link. You’re also going to want some tools that might do more specific link prospecting, like LinkProspector.com or Ontolo or BrokenLinkBuilding.com, and then some outreach tools like Pitchbox and BuzzStream.

But once you figure out those stacks, your link building stack, you’re going to be able to produce links reliably for customers. I’m going to tell you, there is nothing that will improve your street cred and your brand reputation than link building. Link building is street cred in our industry. There is nothing more powerful than saying, “Yeah, we built a couple thousand links last year for our customers,” and you don’t have to say, “Oh, we bought,” or, “We outsourced.” It’s just, “We just do link building, and we’re good at it.”

So I guess my takeaway from all of this is that it’s really not as terrible as you think it is. At the end of the day, if you can master this process of link building, your agency will be going from a dime a dozen, where there are 100 in an averaged-sized city in the United States, to being a leading provider in the country just by simply mastering link building. If you follow the first two rules and properly tool up, you’re well on your way.

So I hope to talk more to you in the comments below. If you have any questions, I can refer you to some other guides out there, including some former Whiteboard Fridays that will give you some great link building tips. Hope to talk to you soon.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Tracking Your Link Prospecting Using Lists in Link Explorer

Posted by Dr-Pete

I’m a lazy marketer some days — I’ll admit it. I don’t do a lot of manual link prospecting, because it’s a ton of work, outreach, and follow-up. There are plenty of times, though, where I’ve got a good piece of content (well, at least I hope it’s good) and I want to know if it’s getting attention from specific sites, whether they’re in the search industry or the broader marketing or PR world. Luckily, we’ve made that question a lot easier to answer in Link Explorer, so today’s post is for all of you curious but occasionally lazy marketers. Hop into the tool if you want to follow along:

Open Link Explorer

(1) Track your content the lazy way

When you first visit Link Explorer, you’ll see that it defaults to “root domain”:

Some days, you don’t want to wade through your entire domain, but just want to target a single piece of content. Just enter or paste that URL, and select “exact page” (once you start typing a full path, we’ll even auto-select that option for you):

Now I can see just the link data for that page (note: screenshots have been edited for size):

Good news — my Whiteboard Friday already has a decent link profile. That’s already a fair amount to sort through, and as the link profile grows, it’s only going to get tougher. So, how can I pinpoint just the sites I’m interested in and track those sites over time?

(2) Make a list of link prospects

This is the one part we can’t automate for you. Make a list of prospects in whatever tool you please. Here’s an imaginary list I created in Excel:

Obviously, this list is on the short side, but let’s say I decide to pull a few of the usual suspects from the search marketing world, plus one from the broader marketing world, and a couple of aspirational sites (I’m probably not going to get that New York Times link, but let’s dream big).

(3) Create a tracking list in Link Explorer

Obviously, I could individually search for these domains in my full list of inbound links, but even with six prospects, that’s going to take some time. So, let’s do this the lazy way. Back in Link Explorer, look at the very bottom of the left-hand navigation and you’ll see “Link Targeting Lists”:

Keep scrolling — I promise it’s down there. Click on it, and you’ll see something like this:

On the far-right, under the main header, click on “[+] Create new list.” You’ll get an overlay with a three-step form like the one below. Just give your list a name, provide a target URL (the page you want to track links to), and copy-and-paste in your list of prospects. Here’s an example:

Click “Save,” and you should immediately get back some data.

Alas, no link from the New York Times. The blue icons show me that the prospects are currently linking to Moz.com, but not to my target page. The green icon shows me that I’ve already got a head-start — Search Engine Land is apparently linking to this post (thanks, Barry!).

Click on any arrow in the “Notes” column, and you can add a note to that entry, like so:

Don’t forget to hit “Save.” Congratulations, you’ve created your first list! Well, I’ve created your first list for you. Geez, you really are lazy.

(4) Check in to track your progress

Of course, the real magic is that the list just keeps working for you. At any time, you can return to “Link Tracking Lists” on the Link Explorer menu, and now you’ll see a master list of all your lists:

Just click on the list name you’re interested in, and you can see your latest-and-greatest data. We can’t build the links for you, but we can at least make keeping track of them a lot easier.

Bonus video: Now in electrifying Link-o-Vision!

Ok, it’s just a regular video, although it does require electricity. If you’re too lazy to read (in which case, let’s be honest, you probably didn’t get this far), I’ve put this whole workflow into an enchanting collection of words and sounds for you:

I hope you’ll put your newfound powers to good. Let us know how you’re using Tracking Lists (or how you plan to use them) in the comments, and where you’d like to see us take them next!

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How to create catchy, effective subject lines for link outreach

Are your outreach emails falling flat? Contributor Gisele Navarro shares specific tips you can use to write subject lines that will work to get your emails opened.



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Faster, Fresher, Better: Announcing Link Explorer, Moz’s New Link Building Tool

Posted by SarahBird

More link data. Fresher link data. Faster link data.

Today, I’m delighted to share that after eons of hard work, blood, sweat, tears, and love, Moz is taking a major step forward on our commitment to provide the best SEO tools money can buy.

We’ve rebuilt our link technology from the ground up and the data is now broadly available throughout Moz tools. It’s bigger, fresher, and much, much faster than our legacy link tech. And we’re just getting started! The best way to quickly understand the potential power of our revolutionary new link tech is to play with the beta of our Link Explorer.

Introducing Link Explorer, the newest addition to the Moz toolset!

We’ve heard your frustrations with Open Site Explorer and we know that you want more from Moz and your link building tools. OSE has done more than put in its time. Groundbreaking when it launched in 2008, it’s worked long and hard to bring link data to the masses. It deserves the honor of a graceful retirement.

OSE represents our past; the new Link Explorer is our fast, innovative, ambitious future.

Here are some of my favorite things about the Link Explorer beta:

  • It’s 20x larger and 30x fresher than OSE (RIP)
  • Despite its huge index size, the app is lightning fast! I can’t stand waiting so this might be my number-one fav improvement.
  • We’re introducing Link Tracking Lists to make managing your link building efforts a breeze. Sometimes the simple things make the biggest difference, like when they started making vans with doors on each side. You’ll never go back.
  • Link Explorer includes historic data, a painful gap in OSE. Studying your gained/lost linking domains is fast and easy.
  • The new UX surfaces competitive insights much more quickly
  • Increases the size and freshness of the index improved the quality of Domain Authority and Spam Score. Voilà.

All this, and we’re only in beta.

Dive into your link data now!

Here’s a deeper dive into my favorites:

#1: The sheer size, quality, and speed of it all

We’re committed to data quality. Here are some ways that shows up in the Moz tools:

  • When we collect rankings, we evaluate the natural first page of rankings to ensure that the placement and content of featured snippets and other SERP features are correctly situated (as can happen when ranking are collected in 50- or 100-page batches). This is more expensive, but we think the tradeoff is worth it.
  • We were the first to build a hybrid search volume model using clickstream data. We still believe our model is the most accurate.
  • Our SERP corpus, which powers Keywords by Site, is completely refreshed every two weeks. We actively update up to 15 million of the keywords each month to remove keywords that are no longer being searched and replace them with trending keywords and terms. This helps keep our keyword data set fresh and relevant.

The new Link Explorer index extends this commitment to data quality. OSE wasn’t cutting it and we’re thrilled to unleash this new tech.

Link Explorer is over 20x larger and 30x fresher than our legacy link index. Bonus points: the underlying technology is very cost-efficient, making it much less expensive for us to scale over time. This frees up resources to focus on feature delivery. BOOM!

One of my top pet peeves is waiting. I feel physical pain while waiting in lines and for apps to load. I can’t stand growing old waiting for a page to load (amirite?).

The new Link Explorer app is delightfully, impossibly fast. It’s like magic. That’s how link research should be. Magical.

#2: Historical data showing discovered and lost linking domains

If you’re a visual person, this report gives you an immediate idea of how your link building efforts are going. A spike you weren’t expecting could be a sign of spam network monkey business. Deep-dive effortlessly on the links you lost and gained so you can spend your valuable time doing thoughtful, human outreach.

#3: Link Tracking Lists

Folks, this is a big one. Throw out (at least one of… ha. ha.) those unwieldy spreadsheets and get on board with Link Tracking Lists, because these are the future. Have you been chasing a link from a particular site? Wondering if your outreach emails have borne fruit yet? Want to know if you’ve successfully placed a link, and how you’re linking? Link Tracking Lists cut out a huge time-suck when it comes to checking back on which of your target sites have actually linked back to you.

Why announce the beta today?

We’re sharing this now for a few reasons:

  • The new Link Explorer data and app have been available in beta to a limited audience. Even with a quiet, narrow release, the SEO community has been talking about it and asking good questions about our plans. Now that the Link Explorer beta is in broad release throughout all of Moz products and the broader Moz audience can play with it, we’re expecting even more curiosity and excitement.
  • If you’re relying on our legacy link technology, this is further notice to shift your applications and reporting to the new-and-improved tech. OSE will be retired soon! We’re making it easier for API customers to get the new data by providing a translation layer for the legacy API.
  • We want and need your feedback. We are committed to building the very best link building tool on the planet. You can expect us to invest heavily here. We need your help to guide our efforts and help us make the most impactful tradeoffs. This is your invitation to shape our roadmap.

Today’s release of our new Link Explorer technology is a revolution in Moz tools, not an evolution. We’ve made a major leap forward in our link index technology that delivers a ton of immediate value to Moz customers and the broader Moz Community.

Even though there are impactful improvements around the corner, this ambitious beta stands on its own two feet. OSE wasn’t cutting it and we’re proud of this new, fledgling tech.

What’s on the horizon for Link Explorer?

We’ve got even more features coming in the weeks and months ahead. Please let us know if we’re on the right track.

  • Link Building Assistant: a way to quickly identify new link acquisition opportunities
  • A more accurate and useful Link Intersect feature
  • Link Alerts to notify you when you get a link from a URL you were tracking in a list
  • Changes to how we count redirects: Currently we don’t count links to a redirect as links to the target of the redirect (that’s a lot of redirects), but we have this planned for the future.
  • Significantly scaling up our crawling to further improve freshness and size

Go forth, and explore:

Try the new Link Explorer!

Tomorrow Russ Jones will be sharing a post that discusses the importance of quality metrics when it comes to a link index, and don’t miss our pinned Q&A post answering questions about Domain Authority and Page Authority changes or our FAQ in the Help Hub.

We’ll be releasing early and often. Watch this space, and don’t hold back your feedback. Help us shape the future of Links at Moz. We’re listening!

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Efficient Link Reclamation: How to Speed Up & Scale Your Efforts

Posted by DarrenKingman

Link reclamation: Tools, tools everywhere

Every link builder, over time, starts to narrow down their favorite tactics and techniques. Link reclamation is pretty much my numero-uno. In my experience, it’s one of the best ROI activities we can use for gaining links particularly to the homepage, simply because the hard work — the “mention” (in whatever form that is) — is already there. That mention could be of your brand, an influencer who works there, or a tagline from a piece of content you’ve produced, whether it’s an image asset, video, etc. That’s the hard part. But with it done, and after a little hunting and vetting the right mentions, you’re just left with the outreach.

Aside from the effort-to-return ratio, there are various other benefits to link reclamation:

  1. It’s something you can start right away without assets
  2. It’s a low risk/low investment form of link building
  3. Nearly all brands have unlinked mentions, but big brands tend to have the most and therefore see the biggest routine returns
  4. If you’re doing this for clients, they get to see an instant return on their investment

Link reclamation isn’t a new tactic, but it is becoming more complex and tool providers are out there helping us to optimize our efforts. In this post, I’m going to talk a little about those tools and how to apply them to speed up and scale your link reclamation.

Finding mentions

Firstly, we want to find mentions. No point getting too fancy at this stage, so we just head over to trusty Google and search for the range of mentions we’re working on.

As I described earlier, these mentions can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so I would generally treat each type of mention that I’m looking for as a separate project. For example, if Moz were the site I was working on, I would look for mentions of the brand and create that as one “project,” then look for mentions of Followerwonk and treat that as another, and so on. The reasons why will become clear later on!

So, we head to the almighty Google and start our searches.

To help speed things up it’s best to expand your search result to gather as many URLs as you can in as few clicks as possible. Using Google’s Search Settings, you can quickly max out your SERPs to one hundred results, or you can install a plugin like GInfinity, which allows you to infinitely scroll through the results and grab as many as you can before your hand cramps up.

Now we want to start copying as many of these results as possible into an Excel sheet, or wherever it is you’ll be working from. Clicking each one and copying/pasting is hell, so another tool to quickly install for Chrome is Linkclump. With this one, you’ll be able to right click, drag, and copy as many URLs as you want.

Linkclump Pro Tip: To ensure you don’t copy the page titles and cache data from a SERP, head over to your Linkclump settings by right-clicking the extension icon and selecting “options.” Then, edit your actions to include “URLs only” and “copied to clipboard.” This will make the next part of the process much easier!

Filtering your URL list

Now we’ve got a bunch of URLs, we want to do a little filtering, so we know a) the DA of these domains as a proxy metric to qualify mentions, and b) whether or not they already link to us.

How you do this bit will depend on which platforms you have access to. I would recommend using BuzzStream as it combines a few of the future processes in one place, but URL Profiler can also be used before transferring your list over to some alternative tools.

Using BuzzStream

If you’re going down this road, BuzzStream can pretty much handle the filtering for you once you’ve uploaded your list of URLs. The system will crawl through the URLs and use their API to display Domain Authority, as well as tell you if the page already links to you or not.

The first thing you’ll want to do is create a “project” for each type of mention you’re sourcing. As I mentioned earlier this could be “brand mentions,” “creative content,” “founder mentions,” etc.

When adding your “New Project,” be sure to include the domain URL for the site you’re building links to, as shown below. BuzzStream will then go through and crawl your list of URLs and flag any that are already linking to you, so you can filter them out.

Next, we need to get your list of URLs imported. In the Websites view, use Add Websites and select “Add from List of URLs”:

The next steps are really easy: Upload your list of URLs, then ensure you select “Websites and Links” because we want BuzzStream to retrieve the link data for us.

Once you’ve added them, BuzzStream will work through the list and start displaying all the relevant data for you to filter through in the Link Monitoring tab. You can then sort by: link status (after hitting “Check Backlinks” and having added your URL), DA, and relationship stage to see if you/a colleague have ever been in touch with the writer (especially useful if you/your team uses BuzzStream for outreach like we do at Builtvisible).

Using URL Profiler

If you’re using URL Profiler, firstly, make sure you’ve set up URL Profiler to work with your Moz API. You don’t need a paid Moz account to do this, but having one will give you more than 500 checks per day on the URLs you and the team are pushing through.

Then, take the list of URLs you’ve copied using Linkclump from the SERPs (I’ve just copied the top 10 from the news vertical for “moz.com” as my search), then paste the URLs in the list. You’ll need to select “Moz” in the Domain Level Data section (see screenshot) and also fill out the “Domain to Check” with your preferred URL string (I’ve put “Moz.com” to capture any links to secure, non-secure, alternative subdomains and deeper level URLs).

Once you’ve set URL Profiler running, you’ll get a pretty intimidating spreadsheet, which can simply be cut right down to the columns: URL, Target URL and Domain Mozscape Domain Authority. Filter out any rows that have returned a value in the Target URL column (essentially filtering out any that found an HREF link to your domain), and any remaining rows with a DA lower than your benchmark for links (if you work with one).

And there’s my list of URLs that we now know:

1) don’t have any links to our target domain,

2) have a reference to the domain we’re working on, and

3) boast a DA above 40.

Qualify your list

Now that you’ve got a list of URLs that fit your criteria, we need to do a little manual qualification. But, we’re going to use some trusty tools to make it easy for us!

The key insight we’re looking for during our qualification is if the mention is in a natural linking element of the page. It’s important to avoid contacting sites where the mention is only in the title, as they’ll never place the link. We particularly want placements in the body copy as these are natural link locations and so increase the likelihood of your efforts leading somewhere.

So from my list of URLs, I’ll copy the list and head over to URLopener.com (now bought by 10bestseo.com presumably because it’s such an awesome tool) and paste in my list before asking it to open all the URLs for me:

Now, one by one, I can quickly scan the URLs and look for mentions in the right places (i.e. is the mention in the copy, is it in the headline, or is it used anywhere else where a link might not look natural?).

When we see something like this (below), we’re making sure to add this URL to our final outreach list:

However, when we see this (again, below), we’re probably stripping the URL out of our list as there’s very little chance the author/webmaster will add a link in such a prominent and unusual part of the page:

The idea is to finish up with a list of unlinked mentions in spots where a link would fit naturally for the publisher. We don’t want to get in touch with everyone, with mentions all over the place, as it can harm your future relationships. Link building needs to make sense, and not just for Google. If you’re working in a niche that mentions your client, you likely want not only to get a link but also build a relationship with this writer — it could lead to 5 links further down the line.

Getting email addresses

Now that you’ve got a list of URLs that all feature your brand/client, and you’ve qualified this list to ensure they are all unlinked and have mentions in places that make sense for a link, we need to do the most time-consuming part: finding email addresses.

To continue expanding our spreadsheet, we’re going to need to know the contact details of the writer or webmaster to request our link from. To continue our theme of efficiency, we just want to get the two most important details: email address and first name.

Getting the first name is usually pretty straightforward and there’s not really a need to automate this. However, finding email addresses could be an entirely separate article in itself, so I’ll be brief and get to the point. Read this, and here’s a summary of places to look and the tools I use:

  • Author page
  • Author’s personal website
  • Author’s Twitter profile
  • Rapportive & Email Permutator
  • Allmytweets
  • Journalisted.com
  • Mail Tester

More recently, we’ve been also using Skrapp.io. It’s a LinkedIn extension (like Hunter.io) that installs a “Find Email” button on LinkedIn with a percentage of accuracy. This can often be used with Mail Tester to discover if the suggested email address provided is working or not.

It’s likely to be a combination of these tools that helps you navigate finding a contact’s email address. Once we have it, we need to get in touch — at scale!

Pro Tip: When using Allmytweets, if you’re finding that searches for “email” or “contact” aren’t working, try “dot.” Usually journalists don’t put their full email address on public profiles in a scrapeable format, so they use “me@gmail [dot] com” to get around it.

Making contact

So, because this is all about making the process efficient, I’m not going to repeat or try to build on the other already useful articles that provide templates for outreach (there is one below, but that’s just as an example!). However, I am going to show you how to scale your outreach and follow-ups.

Mail merges

If you and your team aren’t set in your ways with a particular paid tool, your best bet for optimizing scale is going to be a mail merge. There are a number of them out there, and honestly, they are all fairly similar with either varying levels of free emails per day before you have to pay, or they charge from the get-go. However, for the costs we’re talking about and the time it saves, building a business case to either convince yourself (freelancers) or your finance department (everyone else!) will be a walk in the park.

I’ve been a fan of Contact Monkey for some time, mainly for tracking open rates, but their mail merge product is also part of the $ 10-a-month package. It’s a great deal. However, if you’re after something a bit more specific, YAMM is free to a point (for personal Gmail accounts) and can send up to 50 emails a day.

You’ll likely need to work through the process with the whatever tool you pick but, using your spreadsheet, you’ll be able to specify which fields you want the mail merge to select from, and it’ll insert each element into the email.

For link reclamation, this is really as personable as you need to get — no lengthy paragraphs on how much you loved or how long you’ve been following them on Twitter, just a good old to the point email:

Hi [first name],

I recently found a mention of a company I work with in one of your articles.

Here’s the article:

Where you’ve mentioned our company, Moz, would you be able to provide a link back to the domain Moz.com, in case users would like to know more about us?

Many thanks,
Darren.

If using BuzzStream

Although BuzzStream’s mail merge options are pretty similar to the process above, the best “above and beyond” feature that BuzzStream has is that you can schedule in follow up emails as well. So, if you didn’t hear back the first time, after a week or so their software will automatically do a little follow-up, which in my experience, often leads to the best results.

When you’re ready to start sending emails, select the project you’ve set up. In the “Websites” section, select “Outreach.” Here, you can set up a sequence, which will send your initial email as well as customized follow-ups.

Using the same extremely brief template as above, I’ve inserted my dynamic fields to pull in from my data set and set up two follow up emails due to send if I don’t hear back within the next 4 days (BuzzStream hooks up with my email through Outlook and can monitor if I receive an email from this person or not).

Each project can now use templates set up for the type of mention you’re following up. By using pre-set templates, you can create one for brand mention, influencers, or creative projects to further save you time. Good times.

I really hope this has been useful for beginners and seasoned link reclamation pros alike. If you have any other tools you use that people may find useful or have any questions, please do let us know below.

Thanks everyone!

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Moz’s Link Data Used to Suck… But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Earlier this week we launched our brand-new link building tool, and we’re happy to say that Link Explorer addresses and improves upon a lot of the big problems that have plagued our legacy link tool, Open Site Explorer. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand transparently lists out many of the biggest complaints we’ve heard about OSE over the years and explains the vast improvements Link Explorer provides, from DA scores updated daily to historic link data to a huge index of almost five trillion URLs.

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!


Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I’m very excited to say that Moz’s Open Site Explorer product, which had a lot of challenges with it, is finally being retired, and we have a new product, Link Explorer, that’s taking its place. So let me walk you through why and how Moz’s link data for the last few years has really kind of sucked. There’s no two ways about it.

If you heard me here on Whiteboard Friday, if you watched me at conferences, if you saw me blogging, you’d probably see me saying, “Hey, I personally use Ahrefs, or I use Majestic for my link research.” Moz has a lot of other good tools. The crawler is excellent. Moz Pro is good. But Open Site Explorer was really lagging, and today, that’s not the case. Let me walk you through this.

The big complaints about OSE/Mozscape

1. The index was just too small

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

Mozscape was probably about a fifth to a tenth the size of its competitors. While it got a lot of the quality good links of the web, it just didn’t get enough. As SEOs, we need to know all of the links, the good ones and the bad ones.

2. The data was just too old

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

So, in Mozscape, a link that you built on November 1st, you got a link added to a website, you’re very proud of yourself. That’s excellent. You should expect that a link tool should pick that up within maybe a couple weeks, maybe three weeks at the outside. Google is probably picking it up within just a few days, sometimes hours.

Yet, when Mozscape would crawl that, it would often be a month or more later, and by the time Mozscape processed its index, it could be another 40 days after that, meaning that you could see a 60- to 80-day delay, sometimes even longer, between when your link was built and when Mozscape actually found it. That sucks.

3. PA/DA scores took forever to update

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

PA/DA scores, likewise, took forever to update because of this link problem. So the index would say, oh, your DA is over here. You’re at 25, and now maybe you’re at 30. But in reality, you’re probably far ahead of that, because you’ve been building a lot of links that Mozscape just hasn’t picked up yet. So this is this lagging indicator. Sometimes there would be links that it just didn’t even know about. So PA and DA just wouldn’t be as accurate or precise as you’d want them to be.

4. Some scores were really confusing and out of date

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

MozRank and MozTrust relied on essentially the original Google PageRank paper from 1997, which there’s no way that’s what’s being used today. Google certainly uses some view of link equity that’s passed between links that is similar to PageRank, and I think they probably internally call that PageRank, but it looks nothing like what MozRank was called.

Likewise, MozTrust, way out of date, from a paper in I think 2002 or 2003. Much more advancements in search have happened since then.

Spam score was also out of date. It used a system that was correlated with what spam looked like three, four years ago, so much more up to date than these two, but really not nearly as sophisticated as what Google is doing today. So we needed to toss those out and find their replacements as well.

5. There was no way to see links gained and lost over time

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

Mozscape had no way to see gained and lost links over time, and folks thought, “Gosh, these other tools in the SEO space give me this ability to show me links that their index has discovered or links they’ve seen that we’ve lost. I really want that.”

6. DA didn’t correlate as well as it should have

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

So over time, DA became a less and less indicative measure of how well you were performing in Google’s rankings. That needed to change as well. The new DA, by the way, much, much better on this front.

7. Bulk metrics checking and link reporting was too hard and manual

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

So folks would say, “Hey, I have this giant spreadsheet with all my link data. I want to upload that. I want you guys to crawl it. I want to go fetch all your metrics. I want to get DA scores for these hundreds or thousands of websites that I’ve got. How do I do that?” We didn’t provide a good way for you to do that either unless you were willing to write code and loop in our API.

8. People wanted distribution of their links by DA

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

They wanted distributions of their links by domain authority. Show me where my links come from, yes, but also what sorts of buckets of DA do I have versus my competition? That was also missing.

So, let me show you what the new Link Explorer has.

Moz's new Link Explorer

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Wow, look at that magical board change, and it only took a fraction of a second. Amazing.

What Link Explorer has done, as compared to the old Open Site Explorer, is pretty exciting. I’m actually very proud of the team. If you know me, you know I am a picky SOB. I usually don’t even like most of the stuff that we put out here, but oh my god, this is quite an incredible product.

1. Link Explorer has a GIANT index

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

So I mentioned index size was a big problem. Link Explorer has got a giant index. Frankly, it’s about 20 times larger than what Open Site Explorer had and, as you can see, very, very competitive with the other services out there. Majestic Fresh says they have about a trillion URLs from their I think it’s the last 60 days. Ahrefs, about 3 trillion. Majestic’s historic, which goes all time, has about 7 trillion, and Moz, just in the last 90 days, which I think is our index — maybe it’s a little shorter than that, 60 days — 4.7 trillion, so almost 5 trillion URLs. Just really, really big. It covers a huge swath of the web, which is great.

2. All data updates every 24 hours

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

So, unlike the old index, it is very fresh. Every time it finds a new link, it updates PA scores and DA scores. The whole interface can show you all the links that it found just yesterday every morning.

3. DA and PA are tracked daily for every site

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

You don’t have to track them yourself. You don’t have to put them into your campaigns. Every time you go and visit a domain, you will see this graph showing you domain authority over time, which has been awesome.

For my new company, I’ve been tracking all the links that come in to SparkToro, and I can see my DA rising. It’s really exciting. I put out a good blog post, I get a bunch of links, and my DA goes up the next day. How cool is that?

4. Old scores are gone, and new scores are polished and high quality

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

So we got rid of MozRank and MozTrust, which were very old metrics and, frankly, very few people were using them, and most folks who were using them didn’t really know how to use them. PA basically takes care of both of them. It includes the weight of links that come to you and the trustworthiness. So that makes more sense as a metric.

Spam score is now on a 0 to 100% risk model instead of the old 0 to 17 flags and the flags correlate to some percentage. So 0 to 100 risk model. Spam score is basically just a machine learning built model against sites that Google penalized or banned.

So we took a huge amount of domains. We ran their names through Google. If they couldn’t rank for their own name, we said they were penalized. If we did a site: the domain.com and Google had de-indexed them, we said they were banned. Then we built this risk model. So in the 90% that means 90% of sites that had these qualities were penalized or banned. 2% means only 2% did. If you have a 30% spam score, that’s not too bad. If you have a 75% spam score, it’s getting a little sketchy.

5. Discovered and lost links are available for every site, every day

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

So again, for this new startup that I’m doing, I’ve been watching as I get new links and I see where they come from, and then sometimes I’ll reach out on Twitter and say thank you to those folks who are linking to my blog posts and stuff. But it’s very, very cool to see links that I gain and links that I lose every single day. This is a feature that Ahrefs and Majestic have had for a long time, and frankly Moz was behind on this. So I’m very glad that we have it now.

6. DA is back as a high-quality leading indicator of ranking ability

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

So, a note that is important: everyone’s DA has changed. Your DA has changed. My DA has changed. Moz’s DA changed. Google’s DA changed. I think it went from a 98 to a 97. My advice is take a look at yourself versus all your competitors that you’re trying to rank against and use that to benchmark yourself. The old DA was an old model on old data on an old, tiny index. The new one is based on this 4.7 trillion size index. It is much bigger. It is much fresher. It is much more accurate. You can see that in the correlations.

7. Building link lists, tracking links that you want to acquire, and bulk metrics checking is now easy

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

Building link lists, tracking links that you want to acquire, and bulk metrics checking, which we never had before and, in fact, not a lot of the other tools have this link tracking ability, is now available through possibly my favorite feature in the tool called Link Tracking Lists. If you’ve used Keyword Explorer and you’ve set up your keywords to watch those over time and to build a keyword research set, very, very similar. If you have links you want to acquire, you add them to this list. If you have links that you want to check on, you add them to this list. It will give you all the metrics, and it will tell you: Does this link to your website that you can associate with a list, or does it not? Or does it link to some page on the domain, but maybe not exactly the page that you want? It will tell that too. Pretty cool.

8. Link distribution by DA

Moz's Link Data Used to Suck... But Not Anymore! The New Link Explorer is Here - Whiteboard Friday

Finally, we do now have link distribution by DA. You can find that right on the Overview page at the bottom.

Look, I’m not saying Link Explorer is the absolute perfect, best product out there, but it’s really, really damn good. I’m incredibly proud of the team. I’m very proud to have this product out there.

If you’d like, I’ll be writing some more about how we went about building this product and a bunch of agency folks that we spent time with to develop this, and I would like to thank all of them of course. A huge thank you to the Moz team.

I hope you’ll do me a favor. Check out Link Explorer. I think, very frankly, this team has earned 30 seconds of your time to go check it out.

Try out Link Explorer!

All right. Thanks, everyone. We’ll see you again for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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