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May 05

Balancing Linkability and a Subscription-based Business Model

The New York Time’s announcement that they would be moving to a partly subscription-based model didn’t surprise me at all.

Of course, the move ticked many bloggers off; Nick W at Threadwatch wrote "Stupid, Stupid, Stupid"
in his headline for the story. When people are used to getting
something for free, and then are asked to pay for it, it is only
natural that they would be unhappy.

But the Times reasoning made sense to me (see their full explanation here, subscription required):

Mr. Sulzberger said that while some Internet users accustomed to free
content might not be willing to pay, many others would be attracted by
the online package of columnists, archives and other material.

advertising growth on the Web has been just spectacular the last few
years," he said. "But like any business, it’s going to mature over
time, and when that happens, it will flatten and then you’ll get into
the normal cycles just like we do it on print. And at that point you’re
really going to need to have another revenue model."

advertising has seen a huge boom since the advent of pay per click, and
I expect that it will see some more growth before it declines.
Advertising is notoriously cyclical though, and there will be a point
in time when internet ad-buying takes a dip. At that point, those
publications who have diversified their revenue streams will be sitting

Furthermore, in terms of SEO and linkability, the majority of
content at NYT will still be available free of charge, and bloggers and
webmasters will continue to link to it. Really what this is is a form
of market segmentation: for those users who aren’t willing to pay for
content, NYT puts most of it out in the open. They then obtain
subscription revenue from the "diehard 5%" who are willing to pay for
the extras.

In my not-so-humble opinion this is a smart hybrid business model that has proven itself over time. For proof, see SEW or WMW ;)

May 05

Google Toolbar and Web Accelerator’s Role in Fighting Link Spam

Google has amassed quite a bit of user behavior data with the Google Toolbar, and the Web Accelerator will only increase their vast knowledge of surfers’ habits. I would be willing to bet the farm that this will drastically impact their search algorithm soon.

For instance, suppose we’re looking at two Web sites that rank for "blue widget". Site A has 500 higher quality backlinks from related sites. Site B has 40,000 lower quality backlinks obtained by spamming blogs. In the past, these two sites might have obtained similar positions in the SERPs.

But with data collected from the Web Accelerator and toolbar, Google knows that visitors to Site A tend to stay for 3:41 and view about 4 pages, while visitors to Site B stay for 0:31 and view 1.3 pages. Further, Google knows which of each site’s backlinks are being clicked, and which are never clicked by users (hint: the spammy blog comments are rarely clicked on).

When Google fully integrates user behavior data into their algorithm, sites with HQ content and HQ, highly trafficked links will benefit.

DaveN said something similar on this post at SEW Forums:

the way SE’s look at links is changing and changing fast imo If you can
ask yourself will this link i have just added get traffic from people
visiting that site, then you are on the right tracks if the answer is

Getting HQ links seems to be the theme of our blog in its initial days :)

May 05

Press Release Spam Goes Mainstream

In case you missed this thread over at Search Engine Watch Forums, press release spam has gone mainstream. I’ve noticed dubious releases in sites like PRWeb for years, but I think it’s safe to say that the problem has gotten worse.

Bob Gladstein highlighted this point with a press release he got syndicated as a bit of a joke. Excerpt (italics added):

Experiments for the week included an attempt to determine the efficacy
of the use of search engine submission forms and a study of the
attention spans of editors working for online press release services

In other news, Gonga and Maya continue to enjoy their birthday gifts,
and this has significantly decreased the amount of work getting
accomplished in the office.

I think this little experiment proves that press release services need to increase quality standards. The way things are now, even terrible press releases with grammatical errors get into Google News (this doesn’t happen through PRWeb, where you need $30 to get into eMediawire, but there are other press release services that get a release into Google News for free).

An SEO’d press release can be a helpful link building tool, though, as it provides a backlink from a contextually relevant page. It can also drive heavy traffic if it gets syndicated in Yahoo! News or Google News. The bottom line: we should all use press release services to get targetted links and traffic, but if abuse continues, the usefulness of this marketing method will decline.

May 05

Eric Ward on ‘The Passively-Obtained Backlink’

Eric Ward is one of the most respected experts on linking on the Web. His latest article is a good read and one that I think highlights what a good link building strategy should be:

Every web site has its own universe of inbound links it can reasonably
expect to come about from a passive approach.  But you can’t just
sit back and wait for a webmaster somewhere to happen upon your site and
link to it.  The key is to be strategically active, rather than randomly

This isn’t referring to an approach that requires 1000 reciprocal
links on your site, or buying links from 50
"" type Web sites. Instead, think about
where you could be linked from sites in, or related to, your industry. This will likely not require money, but instead, will require time.

As search engine link algorithms improve, quality links will perform
much better than reciprocal or spam directory links. Any possible
algorithmic feature-whether Hilltop, TrustRank, "the sandbox" or VIPS-will
reward HQ links over spammy links. And if you have a long term SEO
strategy, that fact should dominate your link building strategy going

Read more: Linking’s Holy Grail: The
Passively-Obtained Backlink

May 05

Building Links With Articles

Articles just may be the most powerful link building method you’re not using.

And I say that from experience: my old homepage
ranked for terms like "link building," and this was accomplished almost
completely by getting links from articles.The trick is writing a good
article and catchy title so that the article will be widely syndicated,
and then using the "resource box" (author bio) to fit in the links. The
great part about the resource box is that you get to pick your link(s),
and can use any anchor text you choose.

Here’s what an article syndication offers:
1) Free, permanent links from many domains and IPs
2) Links from pages with your keywords contained in the content (and sometimes in the title, too)
3) Deep links (from your resource box)
4) Keyword rich links (from your resource box)

Note that numbers 3 and 4 are bonuses that a high quality directory won’t give you.

The Nitty Gritty
Related sites that reprint articles are the best places to submit articles. But if your article is on something very niche,
it’s unlikely you will find very many sites in that niche that will
print your article. Hell, you might be the only guy in your niche!

Which brings me to the beauty of the article bank. Article banks will reprint most any
article, which is then archived permanently (with your links in the
resource box intact). If you get listed in 15 article banks, that’s 15
links already.

As time goes on you’ll notice your article will also appear
elsewhere. Sometimes new sites will raid these for related content that
they can reprint. Other sites exist solely to syndicate articles from
these article banks. Finally, many scrapers pick up content from these
article banks–usually leaving the links intact. All of these types of
sites will give you a link from a contextually-relevant page on a
unique IP.

The catch: many article banks are not actively reviewing and accepting articles, but I’ve put up a pretty current list here.

Aside from SEO
If you mine the public stats of
my old homepage, you will see that it also gets a lot of direct traffic
from these syndicated articles. It’s guaranteed that the people
clicking over are qualified leads, since they read the article I wrote,
and were interested enough to click through. This is, I believe, the
litmus test for a golden link. A golden link is a link that is great
for SEO, but that would also be great if the search engines didn’t