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Distilled’s LinkLove 2013 – my key takeaways

As far as industry conferences go, Distilled put on a great show. Having now been to four of their SEO conferences in London, LinkLove 2013 did not disappoint. Packed with quality speakers and countless takeaways, LinkLove 2013 provided my colleagues and I with some great ideas for our SME client-base here at Creare.

I must admit, over the past 18 months, I’ve been a bit of a conference sheep. Magento Live, MK Geek Night and Responsive Day Out all within the last few months alone. Now that I’m working very closely with our SEO team, I’ve also had the privilege of attending several SEO conferences including LinkLove 2013.

Creare's CTO Colin Craig (right) enjoying the front row.
Creare’s CTO Colin Craig (right) enjoying the front row.

Despite Will Critchlow announcing that this would be the last ever LinkLove, my colleagues and I brought home some great takeaways from the day’s speakers:

Wil Reynolds – There is no Link Building Finish Line

Despite arriving for LinkLove slightly late, I only missed the first five minutes of Wil’s talk. The key takeaways for me were around the opportunities and analysis available for Twitter.

  • Getting followers for your Twitter profile is the first step towards good social link building. During the presentation Wil described a fantastic guest blog opportunity on Rackspace that came about due to Twitter.
  • Use auto-reply emails, email marketing to nudge your visitors to follow you on Twitter.
  • If you use online tools and software within your business, consider giving them a review. Wil loves this free one-way branded link on Basecamp that he wrote for them.
  • Followerwonk by SEOMoz is a great tool to analyse your Twitter following.
  • twtrland is another great tool that can show you how many people retweet your links, your most popular tweets etc.
  • With mobile usage increasing, InfoGraphics should be responsive compatible.

You can find Wil’s slides here.

Lyndon Antcliff – how do i get them to link?

Creating engaging content can be difficult, particularly if your client is a small business, in a humble trade, where nothing exciting happens. Lyndon’s presentation on ‘Linkbait Coaching’ really broke down the preconceptions that writing link-worthy articles for any industry isn’t always possible.

  • The best Link Baiters work on instinct and not necessarily theory.
  • Lyndon shared a couple of fantastic and successful articles that he wrote for a UK home security company. The articles were titled ‘How to stop Murderers from breaking into your house’ and ’10 locks to keep zombies out’. Due to their striking ‘tabloid’ headlines they drew a lot of engagement and ultimately links for his client.
  • Links can indeed be earned for any industry, it just takes time, patience and money.

You can find Lyndon’s slides here.

Hannah Smith – 23,787 ways to build links in 30 minutes

Hannah Smith is one of my favourite industry speakers and her 30 minute talk at LinkLove did not disappoint. Hannah shared a lot of usable takeaways in a much welcomed shot-gun approach to out-of-the-box link building.

  • Zemanta is a great way of putting your content in front of bloggers who wish to link relevant content. Here’s a great blog post that explains more.
  • If you or client has photography that you believe others might value, try uploading them to Flickr under a Creative Commons License with a simple request for a back-link if used. Then intermittently after upload, simply do a reverse image search in Google to chase up back-links for those who may have ignored the condition of use.
  • If you create Infographics for your client, track their usage too as they may used around the world without providing an easily gained text link credit.
  • Build team profile pages on your websites. Other sites are much happier to build links to author pages.
  • Hannah also reiterated the consistent message of the day “Do stuff to get links, not for links”.

You can find Hannah’s slides on Slideshare.

Ian Lurie – enterprise link spam analysis

Portent’s Ian Lurie‘s talk was a really practical and insightful look at the tools Ian uses to analyse backlink spam on an ‘Enterprise’ scale. My colleagues and I were already familiar with a lot of the techniques and practices that Ian covered, however I noted the following key takeaways from Ian on backlink spam:

  • The Portent team use a combination of SEOMoz, Majestic and Google Webmaster Tools when compiling a master backlink list for analysis.
  • Ian believes that Google are currently working their way down backlink spam and slowly tightening the noose as they further improve their algorithm for devaluing unnatural links.
  • “Clean up now” even if you’ve not yet been penalised.

You can find Ian’s slides on Slideshare.

Richard Baxter – how to build agile and actionable link data reports with apis

Leading on from Ian Lurie, SEOGadget’s Richard Baxter gave a live demonstration on how you can use feed APIs into Excel to gather and refine some very lean backlink reports. As Richard’s talk was a live demonstration, there are unfortunately no slides for everything he shared.

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Rand Fishkin – how to transform your CEO into a link building, social sharing machine

SEOMoz’s CEO Rand Fishkin is always an eagerly anticipated speaker. At the last ever LinkLove, Rand’s presentation was an eye-opening look into the power and influence a CEO can have. Particularly when it comes to building links.

  • CEOs should be the chief evangelist if your business. Richard Branson is a great example.
  • SEOMoz have three full time staff who work primarily on inbound marketing.
  • CEOs amass favours, call them in by asking for links and social shares.
  • As SEOs we should be encouraging and influencing our client’s CEOs to help and support the SEO campaign.

You can find Rand’s slides on Slideshare.

Ade Lewis – small business seo for £350 per month

One of several first-time speakers, Teapot Creative’s Ade Lewis had to be one of my favourite of the day. Much like Creare, Ade works with small businesses who usually have tight SEO budgets in the region of £350 per month. Ade’s talk was clear, simple and packed with actionable tips for clients of any size.

  • Successful Small Business SEO relies on face-to-face communication.
  • Small Business clients will stay with you longer if they are engaged and involved with their campaign.
  • Ensure your clients have a website that deserves to rank. You’ll find that a good design will be easier to build links to. Ade also explains how at Teapot they might use a client’s first few month’s budget to redesign the client’s website.
  • All clients must have a blog. Now is the time to educate clients about authorship. Blog about local topics, issues and events.
  • Find and fix orphaned links using Majestic, Screaming Frog, Excel and 301 redirects. Ade has written a blog post explaining exactly how they do this at Teapot.
  • If your client’s website has thin content, consider combining pages to make them stronger.
  • All Small Business owners have friends who run their own businesses locally. Easy links are available from family and friend websites.
  • Teapot have created a Link Prospecting Tool to help discover linking opportunities.
  • Ade is good friends with Outsourcing expert, Matt Beswick and recommended checking out his Guide to Outsourcing.

You can find Ade’s slides on Slideshare.

Claire Stokoe – out of 5 million infographics only 1.3% will give you an orgasm in 0.3 of a millisecond

With my roots in graphic design, I was really looking forward to Claire Stokoe‘s talk about infographics. I’ve yet to actually produce one myself (watch this space..), but they are clearly a relevant and great way to display and share good content. They’re not much without the narrative, but Claire’s slides have some great examples and comparisons of infographics. Here are a tips that I took from Claire:

  • Find Data > Sort Data > Arrange Data > Present Data > Share
  • Aim high with your outreach. If you can say that your infographic has been on Mashable, you’ll find it easier to convince other webmasters to share and embed it.
  • Include sources/references within your infographic.
  • License your infographic under creative commons so that you can challenge usage without linking credit.
  • Colorlovers.com is a great resource for colour palettes.

You can find Claire’s slides on Slideshare.

Will Critchlow – the future of link building

Last but not least, Distilled’s co-founder and CMO Will Critchlow, wrapped up the day’s proceedings with a talk on The Future of Link Building. After announcing that this would be the last ever LinkLove, Will explained why – in his usual fast-paced, animated, statistical but engaging fashion. Here are a few things I took from Will:

  • Link building isn’t quite dead – however SEO’s need to focus on high quality content and social.
  • Infographics are still a relevant way to build links, however SEO’s are diluting and spoiling them. Make sure you do them well to a very high quality and your efforts will survive.
  • SEO’s should be looking more at load speed rather than C-blocks.
  • SEO’s need to evolve their terminology. Link Juice should be referred to as Link Equity!

You can find Will’s slides on Slideshare.