Link Emperor Blog

Reputation Wars: Advanced Guide For When "Reputation Management" Fails

January 20, 2015

Emperors!
 
Nothing feels worse than having some low-life post a nasty article about you online. All your friends and potential clients can read it!
 
Who knows how much business it can cost you.
 
Losing control of those listings can easily crush a business, and the worst part is that the things they said may not even be true.
 
That's why I decided to write an in-depth "advanced guide" to dealing with particularly sticky SEO situations. I hope it helps.
 
(NOTE: One of the biggest benefits of the new Link Emperor update from last week is that it makes it a whole lot easier to do reputation management. We created slots for different types of content that we believe are most effective for grabbing multiple spots on any individual keyword. If you haven't seen the changes yet, you can learn more here: http://www.linkemperor.com/post/2015-link-emperor-redesign)
 
For anyone who's new, by reputation, I mean the listings that show up when you Google your own name or your company's name. The stuff people find when they try to research you.
 
So, let's get started.
 
The Basics: Choose Your "Weapons" & 
Build Tons of Backlinks
 
 
Start With Stuff Google Already Loves
 
Let's say you have a couple nasty articles ranking for your name that you want to get rid of. Maybe a forum thread or two.
 
First you want to take a look at what Google is already ranking for your name, and see if there's anything good in there that you would be happy to have ranking on the first page. Go back a few pages, and save the URLs of the pages you like. If it's on the first 3 or 4 pages, it may not be very hard to get that up to the first page.
 
The stuff that Google already likes is definitely where you want to begin. Your job may be a whole lot easier if you just have to build backlinks to stuff that's on the 2nd page, rather than creating a ton of stuff and getting it all the way to the first page.
 
Use A Wide Variety of Content Types
 
The next most important thing to realize is that Google doesn't want to rank a ton of the same types of content on the first page.
 
For instance, we love ranking press releases and videos, because those are probably the two easiest types of content to get ranking out of everything. However, Google doesn't want to rank a page full of Yahoo! Finance articles. They would love to rank ONE page from Yahoo! Finance, but that's generally the most that they will rank from a single domain.
 
So you want to go down the pages you have, and make sure you have a variety of strong domains mixed in.
 
Don't stop at 10, either... you'll want to have at least 20 pages that you're trying to rank, because sometimes Google just won't like the same pages that you think it will.
 
I usually try to mix things up with the following types of content:
  • YouTube
  • Yahoo! Finance Press Release
  • Facebook Page
  • Forum Thread
  • Twitter
  • BBB (if you paid their ransom, those pages do rank well)
  • Soundcloud
  • LinkedIn
  • About.me
  • Itunes
  • Google Plus
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • ...and anything else Google happens to already be ranking.
 
Do you notice how many different types of content are mixed in there?
 
Particularly, I like to look at the list of "Search Tools" at the top of every SERP. They move them around occasionally, but I pay close attention to "Videos", "Maps", "Shopping", News" and "Discussions".
 
If you can find one type of content that fits under each of those types and backlink it, you can often take up 5 of the top 10 spots without breaking a sweat.
 
This is why Press Releases are so easy to rank. They fall under the News category, which is pretty rare compared to most of the other pages you generally see ranking.
 
Google likes to try to make every searcher happy. Not everybody prefers videos, but many do. Not everybody is shopping for something, but many are. They like to show something for everybody on the first page of results if they can.
 
"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."
 
Build A Ton of Backlinks
 
The nice thing about reputation management is that you're always working with high-authority domains, so you can build literally tens or even hundreds of thousands of backlinks and the pages won't get penalized.
 
I don't care what Google update you want to talk about, up to this point, super-high-authority domains have not been penalized for having a massive backlink profile. That's why we love to take advantage of these types of pages.
 
So, the best way to get them ranking is to create them, put a ton of content on there with a solid headline that has your keyword in it, and throw it into Link Emperor to blast a massive amount of links at it. 
 
We get great results every time. You'll start to see the pages you like floating up in the rankings over the course of a few weeks or occasionally months. Just stick with it.
 
 
Advanced Mode: Dealing with Click-Bait Headlines &
Pages That Just Won't Budge
 

All that said, there are sometimes cases where it's tough to get rid of a couple particularly sticky listings. It's not that the listings you like aren't moving up... it's that a couple of the listings you don't like won't seem to move down.
 
You may have gotten a bunch of your favorite listings from the 2nd page to push up to the bottom half of the 1st page, and you may have even won spots 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10... but you just can't seem to get that 3rd position article, the one created by the person you hate with a burning fiery passion, to budge.
 
Something like a page on RipoffReport.com with a title that says something like:
 
"John Doe Stole My Watch, Kicked My Dog
and Took My Girlfriend on an All-Expenses-Paid Vacation!
Now I'm All Alone!"
 
And boy, can that be frustrating. 
 
Not just for the guy who lost his girlfriend, (who knows if the story was true), but unfortunately that's going to be a really, really tough result to knock down in Google.
 
Here's why:
 
EVERYONE clicks on that article. That headline is pure gold! It belongs in the National Enquirer, it's so good.
 
And since its click-through rate is so high (probably 3x higher than the rest of the stuff on the page in many cases), Google thinks it is the most relevant result on the page by a long shot, whether or not it even has a single backlink pointing to it!
 
By the way, this is why I rant and rave about studying up on your copywriting. The better the headline, the easier your job becomes as an SEO.
 
So, here's what happens...
 
A few months after subscribing, a customer will come to us and complain that our software doesn't work because the page they're trying to get rid of hasn't budged an inch.
 
Even though, in the meantime we got 9 out of 10 of the other spots filled up with the pages they'd been building links to. It doesn't matter to them.
 
And in those cases...
 
It's Time to Pull Out Your Own Wild & Crazy Headlines
 
In my opinion, this is your best and only shot.
 
If you're up against a great headline, you're going to need 10 more click-worthy headlines to beat it, and they're going to all need a ton of backlinks.
 
I know it sounds crazy. But you may have to actually get a little crazy in order to compete here.
 
The good news is, if you have the ability to change the headlines of some of the pages that are already ranking high, you may not have to create all new content.
 
This is where you should be thankful that legendary copywriters have done a lot of the work for you in advance.
 
Specific Ideas
 
Often, the best strategy is to set up headlines that look scandalous, but really are not once the searcher clicks on the article. Stuff like:
 
"Is John Doe A Ripoff Artist? 5 People Speak Out" ... and those 5 people happen to be honest, positive testimonials for your product or service line.
 
"How Much is John Doe Really Costing You?" ... followed up by a lovely explanation of the money-saving wonders of your service.
 
"What John Doe Doesn't Want You To Know About Your Bill" ... followed by an itemized explanation of why your company doesn't rip off their customers with the fees that your competitors might.
 
... You get the idea.
 
I know you'd rather have a headline that just says "John is such a great guy". I would, too. But unless people are dying to click on it, it's not going to have a chance of beating a really nasty listing.
 
CTR is, by far, the most important factor in Google. Always think like a customer. They're going to be drawn like a moth to any negative headline when they're considering using your service, so you may have to get a little dirty if you really want that negative result to drop.
 
But don't forget -- the page itself still has to be interesting, otherwise the bounce rate will kill your ability to rank. So don't go "pure click-bait" on this and totally fake people out or anything. It has to be interesting once they land on the page.
 
Here are a couple free resources for headline ideas:
 
(Gary Halbert is my favorite, and his types of wild headlines often work best in this scenario.)
 
Lots of Content On Every Page
 
Here's one thing I often notice. People forget that every single page needs lots of content to be really competitive.
 
There may be a result ranking on the second or third page for your name that's on a really good domain, like twitter or facebook or something like that. But if you don't have a ton of content on that page, it's not likely to be able to raise up to the #1 spot. It may max out halfway up the first page.
 
You may be able to get a lonely, empty twitter account up to the 9th position or something like that, if Google can't find too much else to rank there, but it's not going to get any higher unless that's an active page where people don't bounce as soon as they land on it.
 
If you're seriously trying to make a run at a tough page ranking for your name, every single asset you're working with needs to be loaded up with content. Searchmetrics recommends at least 975 words per page.
 
Pay Off Journalists / Bloggers
 
This can definitely come in handy, too, when you're running out of ideas. 
 
There are guys on sites like Huffington Post and other sources of questionable journalism that will accept money to write an article about you.
 
Obviously this isn't the type of thing where I can link you directly to someone, but if you keep your ear to the ground, they're available. Combine an article on a site like that with a really clickable headline that has your name either in it or in the first paragraph of the article, and you can do some serious damage. It may cost you a pretty penny, though.
 
Bloggers are always looking to get paid, too. Just make sure they have a blog with high domain authority in Majestic SEO, otherwise you're just wasting your time.
 
I hope this article helped some people. It's one of the toughest situations people have to deal with when it comes to marketing themselves online.
 
Bobby MacDonald
Co-Founder, LinkEmperor.com
 
P.S. If you haven't already, I highly recommend trying out the new Link Emperor campaigns. They really make it easy to tell how you're doing with a reputation management project. Now that we're targeting specific keywords much more aggressively that we used to, Link Emperor is better for rep management than it ever was.
 
 

Announcing the New Link Emperor: Re-imagined Campaigns, Unlimited Keywords and a Smarter Algorithm

January 16, 2015

Emperors!
 
We decided it was time to shake things up.
 
Aside from doing a full redesign of the backend (it's pretty!), we took some time last year to re-imagine the way campaigns work. We threw in a few extras, too, like unlimited diversity keywords to help make sure you never get caught by that nasty Penguin again.
 
I'll go into more detail in a second, but first allow me to explain why we made these changes and how they're going to simplify your life.
 
Back when we first created Link Emperor in 2010, SEO was way different (no kidding).
 
It was a lot easier to rank one single page on your website for all sorts of different keywords, just so long as you built a boatload of links with all sorts of different anchor texts.  You could even rank for stuff that was only barely related to the content on your page, so long as you had enough links. 
 
For instance, we used to rank the exact same page on our money site for the keywords "MGM Grand Las Vegas" and "MGM Grand Las Vegas Swimming Pools" ...aaaaaaandddddd "MGM Grand Las Vegas Shows".
 
(Insert "those were the days" type comment here.)
 
That's why, when we first built Link Emperor, we used a simple structure for organizing keywords that was based around the money site page (what we called the "Target").
 
Campaigns > Targets > Keywords.  
 
That's how it worked... You just piled keywords on top of the pages you already had, and for long-tail keywords it worked often enough that it was generally the smartest, most cost-effective strategy.
 
The idea was to take the pages you already had and rank them for as many keywords as you could. Obviously, it would be better to have more pages with more laser-targeted content, but that's also more expensive. So we tried to get away with as little content as necessary.
 
Fast-forward to 2015, and that strategy just doesn't make sense any more. 
 
In fact, I doubt anyone could rank the same page for "MGM Grand Las Vegas Swimming Pools" and "MGM Grand Las Vegas Shows" today, except maybe Wikipedia. There's just way more content in existence and things are way more competitive. The long tail keywords are not nearly so "long tail" as they used to be.
 
So, we were recently chatting about all this and realized that the entire structure of Link Emperor itself actually encouraged old school thinking. The organization of it made you think about your Targets first, then your Keywords.
 
Totally backwards for today's content-centric environment. You have to think about Keywords first, then find or create content that matches.
 
So, we spent the last quarter of 2014 rebuilding Link Emperor to follow that concept, and threw in some other great new perks along the way!
 
...And today, we're proud to present a brand new Link Emperor for 2015.
 
Here's what's changed:
 
TOPICS
 
Within each Campaign, you won't find Targets any more.  You'll find Topics.
 
A Topic is a tight group of largely synonymous keywords around which you'll build pages to rank. Imagine a campaign called Las Vegas Hotels. Example topics might include Tropicana Las Vegas and Wynn Las Vegas.  But you might also have a topic for Tropicana Las Vegas Pools, Tropicana Las Vegas Shows, Tropicana Las Vegas Slots, etc.
 
Basically, topics should correspond one-to-one with things that you can write different content about.
 
So before you go creating your topics, you should start with keyword research!  We recommend the Link Emperor Research tab (click here to learn more about it) for identifying the keywords you'll want to go after. But feel free to use as many research sources as you have available to you.
 
The key is to pick your topics without regard for what content you currently have. Once you understand what topics you should be going after, then it's time to create the content you need to rank.
 
Once you know your Topics, you're ready to tell Link Emperor about your content that you're trying to rank.
 
TARGETS
 
For each Topic, Link Emperor now allows you to input Money Sites, Parasites, Videos, and Press Releases as separate types of targets. We will automatically apply the best link building settings to each type of target. For instance, money sites need to be completely protected, whereas we can build a ton of links to a Press Release or YouTube video.
 
The other reason we break this out is because we want the topic page to visually remind you of what assets you're working with for each major keyword. Generally, you want all of these different types of content for each and every topic! 
 
Your goal should be to get at least one money site, parasite, video, and PR into every SERP.  It's okay if you don't have them all ready to go, but a blank list of content for any given target type should remind you that you've got work to do.
 
MONEY KEYWORDS
 
Now, how do keywords work in the new system?
 
For each Topic, you define Money Keywords, which work like Keywords have always worked in Link Emperor. These are rank checked, and will be used in (some) of the anchor texts of the links that we build.
 
DIVERSITY KEYWORDS
 
However, we've also added a new feature called Diversity Keywords.  This is the Unlimited Keywords thing I talked about at the beginning of the blog post.  Adding these into campaigns has delivered a huge improvement to the folks that have been beta testing the new Link Emperor.
 
Diversity Keywords are basically extra anchor texts that we will use in your link building to make it look more natural. It really adds considerable variety to your campaign, which is essential these days.
 
These should include synonyms, extra words, sentences, etc. for each topic. The sky is the limit here, you don't want to skimp on these because they help protect you. You may add an unlimited number of diversity keywords to each topic, and we will use them in link building for no extra charge.
 
Customers who have been beta testing our new system are having great results by using 100 or more diversity keywords per topic!
 
MOVING FORWARD
 
These new features are live in Link Emperor right now. We've also put together an in-depth video to show you what everything looks like and how to use the new system. 
 
 
We hope you enjoy this new system as much as we enjoyed creating it.
 
More to come in 2015!
 
Kevin, Bobby, Colton and Jeremy
Link Emperor Team

This SearchMetrics SEO Whitepaper Is Wonderful (My Notes)

September 15, 2014

Searchmetrics just released a fantastic, totally free, fact-filled white paper called:
 
"SEO Ranking Factors and Rank Correlations 2014 - Google U.S."
 
That might sound boring, but I read all 83 pages of this darn thing, and it was simply fascinating.
 
I'm going to summarize here what I found particularly useful, however I really suggest you opt-in to get a free copy of the full study for yourself: http://www.searchmetrics.com/en/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/
 
(I am not an affiliate, I don't even know these guys. But I love 'em.)
 
If you sell SEO services in any capacity, the proof in these charts will help close more sales than you'd believe. I already sent this to our customer support and sales people to study in detail.
 
NOTE: For the record, this study is full of correlations they've detected, but it's nowhere near guaranteed that these are all ranking factors. Only Google has access to the true algorithm. That said, you are a smart person, and as a smart person I know you will get a lot out of it.
 
Ok, let's talk about what's inside...
 
Click-Through Rate's Importance is Literally Off the Chart
 
Having a great headline is 2x more important for ranking than the next closest factor. Nothing else even compares. Google tests everything, and when searchers are interested in your page, Google will reward you handsomely.
 
Similarly, if you have an absolutely terrible headline, it will take an absurd amount of link building to get it to stick to the front page. Beware!
 
Build Long Mega-Pages, Over 975 Words
 
Whereas we used to be able to rank short, keyword-targeted pages all day long, Google has drastically adjusted what they consider "great content." It's now more important than ever that you include a bunch of topically related information and keywords in your content.
 
You want your page to be a holistic representation of the keyword and the entire topic that surrounds it (think Wikipedia) rather than just being about the particular keyword itself. This goes hand in hand with the fact that the average word count of a high-ranking page is up to 975 (and that's the average!) 
 
So if you have a bunch of shorter articles that are each built around a single keyword (the way we used to do it, in little interlinked silos), then you'd likely be better off combining all those articles into a few mega-pages that encompass the entire topic. Those pages can rank for multiple keywords so long as you have your Titles, H2's and Meta Descriptions done properly.
 
Think about it this way... Google is absolutely in love with ranking Wikipedia pages, so why wouldn't you style your content similarly to how they do it? They put everything related to one topic on a single, often very long page.
 
(By the way, if you need lots of quality content, I really feel that our writers offer the best value you'll find anywhere. Learn more at TestedContent.com.)
 
Raw Number of Backlinks is Still the #1 Off-Page Factor
 
Quality backlinks are obviously important to ranking.
 
However, I see a lot of SEO's swinging a little too far in the opposite direction since the Penguin hammer came down.
 
Over the past year, I've heard from so many people "All you need are a couple really good links." Well, this study shows that that's simply not the case. It might get you towards the first page, but it usually won't get you to the top.
 
Searchmetrics shows, without a doubt, that higher-ranking pages have MORE links than their competitors across the board. Bulk link building is not going anywhere... and if you're trying to rank a page that sits on an authority domain (Amazon, Youtube etc.) it's still practically the Wild West in terms of what automated backlinks can accomplish.
 
(Side note: You might have noticed that Google+ is ranked above backlinks in correlation, and that is an off-page factor. However, if you read the full study, they go to great lengths to discuss social signals, how complicated of a factor they are to measure, and the fact that Google explicitly came out and said they don't use social signals as a ranking factor. So they're a giant question mark. On top of that, we're seeing great success right now ranking pages without any social whatsoever.)
 
Nofollow Links Help
 
This answers an eternal argument. Many people complain about nofollow links, or say they have no value so there's no point in getting them. However, smart SEOs have been continuing to acquire nofollow links practically from the beginning.
 
Not only does it look unnatural to have 100% followed links, but we've seen multiple case studies demonstrating that nofollow links can help a page rank all by themselves.
 
Searchmetrics says: "Good ranking pages have a significantly higher proportion of ... no-follow links in their backlink profile"
 
Press Releases Are Awesome
 
"Backlinks from News Domains" was one of the most highly correlated factors, tied with "Having New Backlinks" which is obviously important too.
 
This obviously goes hand in hand with nofollow links being a positive factor, since most press releases are nofollow.
 
I'm tempted to go off into a tangent related to the new information I've been learning about what happened when PRWeb and some of the other big press release companies got penalized a few months ago. However, I'm going to do that as an entirely separate report in the near future, so stay tuned.
 
For the time being, I'll simply say that we're getting great results with PressAdvantage.com right now, both in terms of ranking the releases themselves and getting SEO benefits from the backlinks. Join here!
 
Shoot for a 25% Ratio of Keyworded Anchor Texts
 
Ever since Penguin, people have been extremely cautious about building anchor-texted backlinks directly to their money site (and for good reason.) However, I've heard all sorts of answers when it comes to the "proper" ratio of anchor-texted links.
 
As with everything, moderation is key. It'll be tough to rank if you don't put any keywords into your anchors. However, too many can easily set off a penguin penalty.
 
According to SearchMetrics, the right balance falls somewhere in the 20-30% range. This of course varies by keyword, so if you want to be super-careful, use Majestic SEO to look up the approximate ratios of the other sites ranking in your niche. But based on this study, you generally want to shoot for around 25%. 
 
Just be careful not to get too high (that goes for you college kids, too!) … if you do, just build a bunch of branded or naked links without anchor text until you get your ratios back into the target zone.
 
Keyworded Domain Name / URL is No Longer a Factor At All
 
Anybody who owns a fancy, million-dollar exact match domain took a huge hit this year.
 
It is, however, still important to have the keyword in the title, H1, body and meta description.
 
Vary Your Backlinks As Much As Possible (Duh)
There are a number of graphs related to this topic, so I'll just sum them all up here.
  1. Use stop words in your anchor texts
  2. Use multiple words in your anchors.. at least 2
  3. Get some nofollow links
  4. Continuously get fresh, new links every month
  5. Get links from tons of referring domains
  6. Get links from news domains
  7. Link deep into your site (not just to the homepage)
  8. Use lots of branded anchors (yourdomain.tld, yourdomain) -- at least 15% of your total links
Smaller Page File Sizes Rank Better for Mobile Searches
 
This is especially important for local business websites. Keep your page sizes low.
 
...and, that's all for now.
 
Bobby
 
P.S. Seriously, get the full Searchmetrics report for yourself here: http://www.searchmetrics.com/en/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/

 

Press Releases & Panda 4.0

June 03, 2014

Emperors!

Barry Schwartz recently published a story called "Press Release Sites See Huge Drop In Google Ranking After Panda 4.0" at

http://www.seroundtable.com/google-panda-4-press-releases-18631.html.

Being the owner of a press release distribution service, I’ve already been contacted a few times about his article.

My opinion? -- Barry is absolutely right.

Press Release Sites did get slapped hard and I believe that they will continue to get slapped even harder. 

However, I want to be very clear that both Barry and I said "Press Release SITES," not "Press Releases."

When he talks about Press Release Sites, he's talking about domains like PRweb.com, BusinessWire.com, PRNewswire.com, and PRLog.com. These are services that sell press release distribution, but have worked to build their own domains into a platform for “gaming” Google.

These Press Release Sites contain no legitimate news, and do no actual reporting.

Yet they were ranking for tons of keywords.

It's very unlikely that anyone ever goes to the homepage of PRweb.com to read through the top stories of the day. Therefore, in my opinion (as well as Google’s), that makes it a Content Farm.

However, Press Releases on actual news websites are still ranking as well as they ever were.

It simply comes down to whether the distribution you’ve purchased is going to real news websites, rather than the Content Farms many marketers have been relying on.

We saw that coming when Matt Cutts tweeted about press releases last year, which is why our goal from the beginning has been to syndicate and distribute Press Releases to the websites of actual news organizations. Websites that run real news stories and have useful homepages that get lots of legitimate traffic. Sites like Yahoo Finance and the biggest ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox Affiliates in the country. 

Our releases have been unaffected by this update. They’re on the same domains and featured in the same sections as real news.

If your Press Release strategy currently relies on something like PRweb.com, it's time to adapt.

Learn about our distribution at http://pressadvantage.com/distribution

Best Regards,

Kevin Bombino, Founder

Press Release Secrets Webinar

April 29, 2014

Emperors!

In case you missed it, by popular demand, here is the replay of Kevin and Bobby’s Press Release Secrets training webinar.

In it they cover ALL the strategies from the Press Release Secrets emails, including:

  • Launch Jacking and how to make the fastest internet money possible...
  • How to write the best titles so you get WAY more clicks.
  • How to rank a Press Release in Google and make sure it keeps ranking for a LONG time…
  • Managing your reputation online easily with press releases...
  • How to make sure your releases stay safe and play by Google's own rules…
  • AND a little demo of Press Advantage so you can see what our other customers are raving about!
  • and more!

 

Check it out:

Press Advantage Webinar from Link Emperor on Vimeo.