Announcer: 00:01 On this episode of Edge of the Web…
Adam White: 00:04 You really should have quadruple the number of episodes about link building. That’s how important I think link building is to SEO. I mean, like, again I’ve been doing this since 2002 and have optimized well over 300 websites. I don’t know. Maybe over 400. At some point, I just stopped counting, but what has always made the most difference, what has always been the most impactful was how well I did the link building. Nothing else has ever come close, and so I think that it cannot be oversold.
Announcer: 00:38 Your weekly digital marketing trends with industry trendsetting guests. You’re listening and watching Edge of the Web. Winners of best podcast from the Content Marketing Institute for 2017. Hear and see more at edgeofthewebradio.com. Now, here’s your host, Erin Sparks.
Erin Sparks: 01:00 We certainly want you to join our newsletter so you can get all this information right to your inbox on a regular basis. Check out… Just go join… Actually, you can type in the number to your smartphone, 2-2-8-2… Let’s do that again, 2-2-8-2-8, the word Edge Talk, and you can sign up right there free of charge. We won’t use your email for anything but sending you the digital nuggets of gold, like this interview and previous interviews in the past, although we haven’t done the complete, Adam. This could actually go down in flames. We don’t know. But, join the newsletter and you’re certainly welcome to give us feedback on how everything’s going on the newsletter, and let us know if we can do anything to bring you the most updated information as easy as possible to you. Go over to edgeofthewebradio.com as well, and you can actually join right there.
Quick update. We want to let you know, guys, we had a great interview with Andy Drinkwater of IQ SEO and went over his SEO checklist. We were so excited… Well, I was. I kind of geeked out for a pretty long interview last week. We’re actually going to have another round with Andy, but this time we’re going to do an SEO audit of a website live on air. Yes, live. We’re going to be live on November 13, noon Eastern, on YouTube, and we’re going to have a scheduled link posted very, very soon in social. We’re going to be taking site submissions at edgeofthewebradio.com to review the site live, and don’t be timid about having your baby called ugly.
So, if you’re willing to have us look at it, don’t get bent out of shape. We’ll mention the page in social so you can go there, submit your website, and we’re going to be taking those submissions all the way up to the day before, so we won’t have a selection chosen. We’re going to be looking at the site fresh as soon as we go live, so that’s going to be fun. What the heck could go wrong there, right? So pay attention to Edge of the Web. We’ll toss out that form to submit to, and again, you won’t be sold anything. This is just basically to witness an SEO process and, boy, this is going to be fun. Geeks, bring your popcorn, because this is just going to be a wonderful moment in YouTube history.
All right. We want to thank Ahrefs for being a return sponsor for Edge of the Web. Ahrefs makes competitive analysis easy. They’re tools show you why competitors are ranking, getting the traffic that their actually getting. You can see the pages, the content, and most importantly, the inbound links that are actually getting them those phrases, and on top of that, the exact words they’re ranking for. So jump on over to Ahrefs today. That’s Ahrefs, R-E-F-S, dot com, and sign up for a free trial right then and there. It’s a great deal that we use here at Site Strategics, and gets great data on a regular basis.
All right. There’s our news. There’s our gratuitous plugs for ad gen. Follow all the feature training topics at edgeofthewebradio.com, but now let’s deep dive with these week’s featured guest.
Announcer: 04:05 Now it’s time for Edge of the Web featured interview with Adam white, founder and CEO of SEOJet.
Erin Sparks: 04:17 All right. So thanks for hanging in there everybody on the YouTube. We certainly want to ask you to jump in there and ask questions of us as we’re having this interview. That’s part of the live interaction that we have on Edge of the Web. I’m Erin Sparks, your host here, and we certainly want to reintroduce Adam White.
SEOJet was actually founded by Adam White, longtime SEO professional. He started his SEO journey in 2002 with utah.com. He then went on to work as a head of SEO department for submitawebsite.com. He decided to branch out on his own and start his own SEO company where he sold that in 2009 after getting it number one on Google for the phrase “SEO services,” and that’s a nice Wayne’s World, we’re not worthy. My gosh, man, that was a bell ringing moment. I’m sure that was, right?
Adam White: 05:08 Yeah. That was back in the days, though, that you could… I mean, quite frankly, you could cheat the system by just getting as many links as you possibly could using the phrase you wanted to rank for.
Erin Sparks: 05:08 Yep.
Adam White: 05:18 You know, those are the good old days of SEO, and it’s basically like what do I want to rank for this time? And then go out and do it. You know, I apparently was good enough at that to be accomplish that feat, and then luckily sold the thing before everything went south.
Erin Sparks: 05:33 There you go. See, you got out when the getting was good.
Adam White: 05:33 Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 05:36 So you have a long history of both the black hat and the white hat side of inbound link building, and hey, everybody has that background if they’ve been in SEO as long as you have. Since 2002, you’ve optimized over 350 websites, including your recent work on Marcus Limones, the TV show, “The Prophet.” That’s pretty cool man.
Adam White: 06:03 Yeah. Yeah, that was a crazy story. You know, I was just a big fan boy of the show, and excited to write a blog post that was like, you know… I knew there was a million blog posts out there why this was the greatest show ever. I love him so much, and I’m like you know what? I’m just going to take a different take, and I’m going to title this “Why This is the Worst Show on TV,” and just do a tongue-in-cheek article about why I hate the show so much and how it keeps me up at night, because I’m always focused on helping other people’s businesses and he’s so motivational that it’s ruining my life. That was kind of the thing, and I just… I did like a little… I posted that blog post and did a little five dollar promotion on Facebook to his fans, the fans of the show.
Erin Sparks: 06:47 Oh, wow.
Adam White: 06:48 And then within like an hour, he had… he saw the post and had re-posted it to his 250,000 followers, and all he said was, “Finally someone writes an accurate article about my show. I’m not sure about the title, though,” or something to that effect.
Erin Sparks: 07:09 Right.
Adam White: 07:10 And it went to viral that it literally shut down my website, and all the people could see was the title, which is “Why the TV Show, “The Prophet,” is the Worst Show on TV.” That’s all they could see. So they try to go read the article, all his fans, and they can’t read it, and they just assume it’s a really bad article. He didn’t say it was positive. He just said, “Finally someone writes an honest article.”
Anyway. So then all these people just like start bashing me, like I’m the meanest person in the world. I’m the biggest idiot ever. On his Facebook page they’re bashing me, and I’m just like this has got bad real fast. So I post to Marcus on the Facebook page, “Hey, I don’t know if people didn’t read the article or what, but I was being very sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek. I love your show.” He immediately replied and goes, “I know it was. It was a great article. That’s why I posted it.” And then once he did that, then everyone’s like, oh, Adam White’s the smartest person ever. He’s the greatest. I’ve always love him, and they all wanted to side with Marcus so they came to my defense.
Anyway, it went so viral for him that he started literally promoted paying for traffic to my blog post on Facebook, because it created so much buzz for him. And then he messaged me on Twitter one day, and he’s like, “Hey, I just wanted to show you this,” and it’s just like a picture, and it says, “Is “The Prophet” the worst show on TV?” And I’m like that’s cool. Why are you sending me this? And then he sent me another picture of this one phrase on a billboard in Los Angeles. So they took my blog post and put it on a billboard in one of those billboard trucks that drive around Los Angeles.
Erin Sparks: 08:47 Wow.
Adam White: 08:48 I’m like, okay, so he clearly thinks enough about me at this point where I’m just going to pitch him at this point. I got nothing to lose, and so I just went, “Hey, man, I love the billboards. Speaking of love, I’d love to help you… all your new businesses with SEO. We should chat sometime.” And that’s all I said. He immediately responded and was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.”
Erin Sparks: 09:07 Wow.
Adam White: 09:08 That was the sales process, and then I had to follow up with him like 20 times going, “Hey, I’m ready to start. I’m ready to start,” and he finally goes, “Great followup. Let’s get started.” So that was kind of the process.
Erin Sparks: 09:19 That was the test right there.
Adam White: 09:20 Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 09:21 Wow.
Adam White: 09:21 He loved the followup. He said that was a big factor in him saying yes to me is because I hounded him all the time.
Erin Sparks: 09:21 Hey, you didn’t let him go.
Adam White: 09:30 Not in a stalking way, but yeah, exactly.
Erin Sparks: 09:32 So, lesson learned is what we should all do is go try to insult/sarcastically stalk all of our favorite influencers, and see if we can actually all do business for them, right?
Adam White: 09:43 Yeah, only if you can get something out of it. Otherwise, I don’t know if it’s worth it.
Erin Sparks: 09:48 You also took a brief hiatus from SEO to write and direct the award-winning feature “Inspired Guns,” and you’re living in Arizona. You’ve got seven kids. You have a link management software platform called SEOJet. It’s to help SEO agencies be able to build natural links as opposed to paid links. We certainly reached out to you because you’re in the link space. We want to know how you got to your role over at SEOJet, briefly.
Adam White: 10:21 Yeah, so when I was working with Marcus, actually, one of the things that I… This is a few years ago, and Google had kind of made those changes where it was like you had to be really careful how you build links, because if your anchor text profile doesn’t look natural, you’re going to get penalized, right?
Erin Sparks: 10:38 Yep.
Adam White: 10:38 And so I was… I really was petrified on building links. I’m like I don’t want to ruin… This guy already has a lot of natural popularity because of the TV show. I don’t want to ruin this because I’m going out and getting him links, and it doesn’t look natural the way I do it. So it really just kind of handicapped me a little bit, and I don’t think there was enough movement for him because of that. And I thought this is dumb. Like, somebody should’ve figured out… I should know exactly what to do for every single link. There’s no reason not to.
So I just went right to the source. I went to Google and just literally started looking at number one linked back link profiles and going what does Google want to see in a back link profile? What do they think deserves to rank number one for any search time? I looked at thousands and thousands of back links, and as I did that, I categorized every single anchor text. I created 12 anchor text categories, categorized every single link, and then when I started comparing number one ranked pages side-by-side, their back link profile, I realized that they were very similar. Almost every one was very similar.
That was kind of the big aha moment that now I had a really good idea of what Google really wants to see in a back link profile to rank number one, so I started building out what I call link maps, which is literally just a road map of what links I know that I need to match what a number one ranked back link profile has. Then I built SEOJet around that. So to just automate everything… not everything, but to automate more of the process so that it was just easier to manage.
Erin Sparks: 12:07 Got it. Yeah, yeah. You got some cool tools in there, cool gauge tools to be able to understand your natural profile.
Adam White: 12:14 Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 12:15 So it gives you good deal of audit but also tees up opportunity links, to be able to cross-section and be able to link… look at their intersections of competitors and what have you.
Adam White: 12:27 Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 12:29 So we certainly appreciate that focus in the building of that type of tool set, because it’s not an SEO audit tool for everything. It’s a very specialized tool. So we wanted to unpack a couple key thoughts regarding link building, and first and foremost, I mean, over the last ten years, arguably it’s been the most important factor for SEO. We’ve done a number of shows here regarding links. In fact, gratuitous here. So, 12, 44, 79, 165, 169, 176, 239, 240, 298, 302, 303, 315, and 319 were all focused on links, so…
Jacob Mann: 13:12 And now 330.
Erin Sparks: 13:13 And now 330.
Adam White: 13:14 Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 13:14 And we were focused… I mean, the focus is imperative. We’ve been talking about for a long time, if you don’t know your link profile, you’ve got to understand it, so we’ve seen a huge growth in the marketplace in regards to best standards. We’re always watching what Google’s actually telling us about links, but what’s your take on link building over these recent years? There’s the paid link ear, where quantity really mattered, but what over the past ten years can you actually kind of point at as key, pivotal changes in the kind of the link… in the inbound link timeline?
Adam White: 13:56 Yeah. Well, first off, I would say that you really should have quadruple the number of episodes about link building. That’s how important I think link building is to SEO. I mean, like, again, I’ve been doing this since 2002 and have optimized well over 300 websites. I don’t know. Maybe over 400. At some point, I just stopped counting.
Erin Sparks: 14:16 Sure.
Adam White: 14:18 But what has always made the most difference, what has always been the most impactful, was how well I did the link building. Nothing else has ever come close, and so you know, I think that it cannot be oversold. Right? It really is the most important thing. I think content is great, but great content without good links is invisible content, as far as I’m concerned.
Erin Sparks: 14:41 There you go.
Adam White: 14:44 I think what’s really changed over the last ten years is, like I said before, before you could really… The anchor text is what really matters. Well, let me rephrase that. The anchor text is one of the key principles, right? It used to be the thing that matter. It didn’t matter how good the site was that the link came from back in the olden days. It was… What the anchor text said is what mattered in terms of ranking. Now it’s much more how relevant is this site to your site? Is it in your same neighborhood, as Google likes to call it? Do other people link to that site? Does that site have its own organic traffic? You know, those things really matter a lot more.
And then just maintaining an anchor text profile that looks… that is natural. So not too many key phrase anchors, not too many anchors that are click here. You know what I mean? It’s really just maintaining the profile that would happen naturally in the evolution of the internet.
Erin Sparks: 15:44 No, no. Absolutely, and I appreciate that position, because it is huge. There are also so many factors of authority that come into play regarding the link profile. What do you say to companies that have never focused on their… we call it the online credit score, for lack of a better description. What do you say to companies that haven’t even looked there yet?
Adam White: 16:11 To… That haven’t even built links?
Erin Sparks: 16:14 No, that haven’t even looked at their link profile to begin with.
Adam White: 16:17 Oh, I mean, yeah… You know, if they have good rankings, it’s probably because they’ve looked. If they haven’t… If they don’t have good rankings, they’re probably looking now going why don’t we have good rankings? If they haven’t looked, it’s because they haven’t been doing SEO.
Erin Sparks: 16:34 Right.
Adam White: 16:36 I mean, if you’re not looking, then you’re not doing SEO the right way. I mean, honestly, there’s a reason why people get stuck on page two or three of Google, and that’s because you have links probably, but they don’t… but there’s something holding you back. You haven’t built enough brand authority on your home page. The links just don’t looks as natural as they should. Something like that that’s most likely stopping you from getting to page one.
Erin Sparks: 16:58 Yep, yep, yep. We can’t buy our way to the top. We have to be able to earn it. What are some natural ways that sites can earn links?
Adam White: 17:07 One of my favorites is to use… I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but helpareporter.com is one of my favorites.
Erin Sparks: 17:13 Yeah.
Adam White: 17:13 It’s really, really… I’ve gotten some pretty amazing links from that just by posting a quick response. I usually take about ten minutes a day to go through all the emails. They send out a whole bunch of emails of requests from reporters going, “Hey, we’re writing an article on this,” and most of them don’t ever apply to me, but the ones that do, I’ll usually find one day that I can reply to, and I just give a good in-depth answer and try to make it something that would really help.
I know they’re going to write an article, so I make sure it’ll help the article and then they’ll… I always get a link out of it. So, you know, fitsmallbusiness.com is one. Fastcompany.com, I got really cool ones just replying to an email. It costs no money. It’s free, and it… and you get some really cool stuff. The other way is doing blogger outreach. I mean, I think that is the most effective way is to do guest posting for other businesses.
A third is… I won’t go into that one, because that one’s covered pretty awesome, but a third that’s been pretty cool is podcast interviews, because every time I do a podcast interview like this, the podcast owner always will say, “Hey, this is their blog. Go check it out,” and you just get a link out of… You get it that way. So those are three ways I think that you can get natural… build natural authority, get some good links. The guest posting’s really good, because you can really control what the anchor text is, and you can control where the link points to a lot more.
With Help a Reporter and with podcasts, you’re getting homepage links. Although, one could argue that that’s more important now than it ever has been, so and you know, we can talk more about that later. But anyways, those are the big three that I like the most.
Erin Sparks: 18:52 You’re also… That’s really good. You’re also talking about, in the podcast and the interview and the engagement factor, that… I mean, it’s not an easy game, and getting that link from that type of setting like a podcast is contextually oriented. There’s much more than a byline type of thing. Literally, there’s a lot of information around what was talked about, which is also a key factor of authority and endorsement and additional expertise factors.
We’re in the realm of EAT now, but I do want to first talk about the discipline of inbound link building. There’s a lot of different techniques of keyword analysis and competitor gap analysis of what links they have and what links we don’t have, but from an outreach campaign, you just talked about a number of things, the discipline of doing this on a regular basis, how much time in your digital marketing budget should you be investing in an inbound campaign?
Adam White: 19:59 Well, like I said before, you can’t oversell link building. You really… It’s so important, so as much time as you possibly can give to it, I would say give that amount of time to it.
Erin Sparks: 20:10 You’re not biased at all, right?
Adam White: 20:14 I’m not. I am very biased. You know, listen. I don’t… I’m just trying to help people do what works, right?
Erin Sparks: 20:14 Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Adam White: 20:20 And anyway, I think that it’s just such an important factor, and I think if you’re going to do the outreach yourself, then you need to spend… you need to have somebody that’s going to spend a lot of their time on it. I mean, a lot of companies we talk to have just employees that that’s their job. Outreach is their job.
Erin Sparks: 20:40 Wow.
Adam White: 20:42 There are services out there that you can say, hey, look, I don’t have time to do it myself, here’s what topics I like, here’s what we want to write about. They’ll do the outreach for you. That’s something that’s out there if you don’t have time to do it yourself. But, yeah, I think you just have to give it… For me, in SEO, there’s not a better return on investment, either time or money, than link building.
Erin Sparks: 21:07 Wow. That’s a powerful statement right there. Along with that, to be able to make the argument to maybe individuals in a company, how do you get that buy-in from that company owner or decision-maker to put more time into that outreach and that link building campaign?
Adam White: 21:29 Man, that’s a good question. I just… I think it just goes with education, really. That’s a hard sell sometimes to people, because it is going to be one of the two. It’s going to be time or money, and those are obviously finite resources.
Erin Sparks: 21:45 Yep.
Adam White: 21:47 I guess there’s enough out there, in terms of blog posts or articles that have been written, that someone can be educated enough to go yeah, this is obviously the big factor in success… in the longterm success of the business.
Erin Sparks: 22:03 You certainly have tools now that you can compare one competitor’s link profile to another, and…
Adam White: 22:08 Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 22:08 … you can kick the door open on that, being able to say, look, we’re completely outgunned here with this. We have to have that as an ongoing investment, but it’s not a short term play.
Adam White: 22:18 No.
Erin Sparks: 22:18 It’s got to be a long term pursuit, and you know, unfortunately, the metrics aren’t there. You’re not going to see a return on investment from, hey, we got so many links, and we got so many new leads come through, right? That’s not the KPI you’re looking for. You’re looking for that domain authority rise. You’re looking for that page authority rise. You’re looking for that, obviously, the rank rise, right? These are the bootstrap moments, the credit score that you’re building for your organization.
Adam White: 22:50 Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 22:50 Let me turn it to EAT real quick and the roles of links that are no being evaluated for authority creation and expertise creation. We’ve created… We discussed a good degree on the show here that it’s no longer just domain authority. It’s not a 0 to 100 game. Links are now focused on authority in respective industries, for example, citations in the medical community. Links could very well not have the same level of high authority, but inside their niche industry, these links have a powerful connection that authority and expertise of the subject matter that they’re in. What are your thoughts about maybe not going after those high domain authorities… or not nixing high DAs whenever you’re going after a link campaign, and how do you create that industry specific pursuit?
Adam White: 23:46 Yeah, I mean that’s tough, right? Because there’s only so many options. When you’re trying to build back links from people that are directly in your industry or as relevant as you possibly can be, there’s only so many options Now, the good news is your competitors only have those same options, right? So that’s who Google’s going to compare you to side-by-side with your competitors, and whoever does a better job wins.
Erin Sparks: 24:07 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Adam White: 24:08 But, for me, I’ve just seen over and over again that the people that can be more targeted, more niche-specific in what they’re trying to be an authority in, just do a better job. I mean, there’s a website… a business that we sold recently that was focused solely on guests posts. The topic was all guest posts all the time, and we were just able to rank so much easier because we were so focused on just that one topic. And so all of our content, all of our articles, everything was all guest posts, all the time, and so the interlinking passed a ton of SEO value, and then obviously, we would get our own outreach with pushback with relevant stuff as well.
Erin Sparks: 24:53 Right.
Adam White: 24:55 But we would get rankings with 70% less links than our competitors, because we were focused on that one topic and they were focused on SEO overall.
Erin Sparks: 25:03 Wow. Wow. That’s actually really important, and that was the direction I was leaning into is that it’s not just about quantity. Absolutely not. It’s also not about… You can’t have apple to apple authority measurements in different industries. You have to be niche and you have to know that space, and you also have to learn the industry to a good deal greater than just hunting for top line domain authority or page authority pages, right?
Adam White: 25:38 Yeah. Exactly. I mean, I think that’s… Really, it’s such a big factor now. That’s just the way that Google has shifted now. The more topical you can be and going after links on blogs that are relevant to yours is how you should spend your time. I hate it when people are like hey, but it’s a DA40. I’m like DA40 doesn’t mean anything.
Erin Sparks: 25:59 There you go.
Adam White: 26:00 That’s a metric made up by a different company that’s not Google. You know?
Erin Sparks: 26:03 That’s true.
Adam White: 26:07 Is this blog relevant to my blog, and do they rank?
Erin Sparks: 26:11 Right.
Adam White: 26:11 Do they get organic traffic from Google? Those are the two factors that you should really look at.
Erin Sparks: 26:19 Oh, absolutely. I love it. I love it. Because, absolutely, the SEO industry has kind of fabricated how to measure themselves, and this isn’t coming from Google. I mean, it’s a parallel universe, basically, but yeah, don’t get completely persuaded on that number as opposed to understanding what’s really valuable out there. The EAT concept in links, I wanted to ask one more question. We’re talking about expertise and authority. Could you actually suffer from an inbound link that maybe has a good authority to it, but the trust factor of that site… And those are those quality grader guidelines. Do they have specs on their shipping or their return policy? All these different would you trust that site with your credit card concepts. It’s not a direct authority scale, but it is a trust scale. Now we have something else to look at and evaluate of the link pursuit is to be able to see, okay, this link looks good. It’s in the niche. It’s in the industry, but their site sucks.
Adam White: 27:22 Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I mean, that’s a tough one, because one, you can’t ever control who links to you, right? Anybody can point a link to you, and I think if it was… I think if it would put you at risk, those that have bad intent would take advantage of that more often.
Erin Sparks: 27:39 Yep.
Adam White: 27:39 You know what I mean?
Erin Sparks: 27:40 Yep.
Adam White: 27:41 So, for me, I don’t personally worry as much about if one person’s linking to me. You know, you can always disavow a link if you’re worried about it, right?
Erin Sparks: 27:52 Absolutely. Absolutely.
Adam White: 27:54 But I think that, in general… And, again, this is why I say look at who ranks in Google. If you’re going to try to get a link from somebody, try to get someone who has good organic traffic, because then you know that they have Google trust because Google ranks them. They rank them enough to where they’re sending them traffic through those rankings, so they’re not going not pass… it’s not going to be a negative thing if they link to you. It’s going to be… All that trust they’ve already gained from Google, they’re passing on to you when they link to you, so that, to me, is the key metric.
Erin Sparks: 28:25 Absolutely. As a sidebar, how often would you recommend people disavow?
Adam White: 28:33 I mean, I don’t… I don’t know that there’s a set date to do it or a set time frame. I think it’s if you see something bad happen and you know that there’s a reason it happened, then you do it. You know, if…
Erin Sparks: 28:33 Do you think that-
Adam White: 28:45 I don’t just do it for fun.
Erin Sparks: 28:47 Well, there’s a lot of link tools out there, obviously, and they all have some newly acquired link viewpoints or apertures there. Do you want to disavow as quickly as you find a negative link?
Adam White: 29:03 I mean, that’s probably up for debate, honestly. There’s a million ways to do SEO. Like I said, for me personally… Like, if I start seeing something negative happen and then I recognize that that would be the cause of it, or likely could be the cause of it, then I’ll go through that person. Otherwise, I don’t spend a lot of time going… I mean, you could drive yourself crazy doing that, you know, going is this a good or bad one. You know?
Erin Sparks: 29:03 Right.
Adam White: 29:28 You know, if I get… I’ve written for Search Engine Journal before, for example, and they get a thousand copycats that just syndicate, basically. Just copy the content and put it on these garbage blogs and post it out there, and guess what? That’s a link to me now, because my link is in that article, but I know that Google’s smart enough to know that they’re doing that every time, right? These thousand little blogs are all doing the same thing, and so I basically just say Google’s not counting that link for me or against me.
Erin Sparks: 29:58 There you go.
Adam White: 29:58 It’s a pointless link.
Erin Sparks: 30:00 Got it. All right. You recently wrote a blog here about common mistakes in link building. What are some of the most common mistakes that we can tell our audience here?
Adam White: 30:15 I think a big one… And this is just because we have lots of users, and so I see lots of link building happening, and what people are doing, and just the mistakes that are being made. I think one of the biggest ones for local SEO is people… somebody wants to rate for “plumber Chicago,” they’re going to put the work Chicago in anchor text when they build links, because they want to rank for “plumber Chicago,” but what we tell them is Google is smart enough to know your location without it being written anywhere, right? They can just look at the IP, so they always know where you’re at. You don’t need to tell them Chicago if someone’s searching and they’re in Chicago.
Erin Sparks: 30:51 Right.
Adam White: 30:52 But what it does tell them is that’s not natural. Like, somebody doesn’t link to someone else using the word Chicago. You don’t talk like that. You wouldn’t build a link like that, right? That’s just… That’s the biggest key is your links… Your anchor text in your links should be conversational. It should be able to fit right into the middle of a sentence, and if it doesn’t, then it probably doesn’t look natural to google. So “plumber Phoenix” or “plumber Chicago.” Give me a sentence where that makes sense. You have to really stretch to find one.
Erin Sparks: 31:21 Yeah, yeah.
Adam White: 31:24 We tell people keep your city names out of the anchor text. It doesn’t look natural.
Erin Sparks: 31:24 Right.
Adam White: 31:30 It doesn’t want to see it. And all it’s doing is raising red flags saying, “Hey! I’m doing SEO over here, so you should come check it out!” You know? That’s all you’re doing.
Erin Sparks: 31:38 That’s pretty important. Absolutely.
Adam White: 31:41 I think that… Again, bad capitalization in anchor text. Again, you want it to fit naturally into a sentence, so when you start capitalizing things badly, like not capitalizing city names or doing all caps or just weird things like that, that doesn’t flow into a sentence in content. This is how you should always build out your anchor text unless it’s like a directory listing where it’s like website is the anchor or just their URL or their brand name.
Erin Sparks: 32:07 Right.
Adam White: 32:09 So there’s that. Yeah. I’m just looking at the list here, because I wrote that a few months ago.
Erin Sparks: 32:18 Yeah. No worries.
Adam White: 32:18 Yeah. Building links to promotional pages is another big one, right? Like if I have a page where I sell my SEO services, for example… I don’t do that anymore, but… If I had an SEO agency and I was like, “Come check out my SEO services page,” there’s not a reason a lot of people would link to that page naturally.
Erin Sparks: 32:39 Right.
Adam White: 32:39 There’s not, right? No one cares, right? Hey! Check out Adam White’s SEO Services page. It’s fantastic! Like, that doesn’t. Nobody cares.
Erin Sparks: 32:47 I’ve never seen a page… What a great resource! Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Adam White: 32:50 Man, he really provides a service! You know, it’s like, they don’t care, so no one would do it. So if I’m building a whole bunch of links to those pages, Google’s going to go, okay, why are so many people linking to this promotional page?
Erin Sparks: 33:01 Yep.
Adam White: 33:02 Obviously, I want that page to rank because if people see I provide the service, they’ll hire me, right? But you just have to go about it a different way. It doesn’t work that way.
Erin Sparks: 33:10 So we’re circling… Go ahead. Keep on going.
Adam White: 33:14 I was going to go to the next one, so if you have a-
Erin Sparks: 33:15 No, go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.
Adam White: 33:17 Okay. So the next one, I would say, is the 500 word guest posts, and this one really has come to be because so many people hire guest posting services and everyone’s default is we’ll write you a 500 word article as part of the thing. And I just think to myself, there’s no way that you can get real quality content in 500 words. Like, nothing meaty, nothing worthwhile is ever going to come out of 500 words.
Erin Sparks: 33:40 Right.
Adam White: 33:42 And so… But now there’s ten million 500-word articles that have links in them on the internet, and I think to myself, if I was Google, I would just go all right, let’s just write an algorithm that says look for 500 word blog posts and discount the link, because every single-
Erin Sparks: 34:02 That’s a scary algorithm change right there.
Adam White: 34:05 I know. It is, but the point is-
Erin Sparks: 34:05 That makes sense.
Adam White: 34:08 The point is if it’s a legitimate guest post as legitimate content, it’s going to be more than 500 words, and so that’s… So I tell people, “Don’t do 500 word articles if you’re doing a guest post. Do something that’s at least 750, at least, because then at least you’ll differentiate yourself from all the ten million 500-word articles.”
Erin Sparks: 34:26 Nope. Absolutely.
Adam White: 34:27 There’s that one. You know, another big myth is that if you write amazing content, people are just going to naturally link to it, and I think this is what everyone says in the industry, and you know, look, I’m the voice of reason and the voice of let’s be brutally honest here. Just because you write amazing content doesn’t mean anyone’s going to link to it.
Erin Sparks: 34:47 Right.
Adam White: 34:47 And it could be the most amazing content ever. People aren’t just naturally going to find it and link to it. That’s just not how it works. If you don’t promote it to get people to know about it, no one will ever link to it, and so you can’t just say, “Well, everyone says just write amazing content, and you’ll do well.” That’s not true. If you don’t build links to your content, if you don’t go out and actively promote it, then you probably won’t ever… You know when you start getting links naturally to an article is when it ranks number one on Google. Isn’t that ironic? Like, when it’s in the top three of Google, then people start linking to it naturally, and that’s the only time. So that’s the truth of that myth.
Erin Sparks: 35:25 There you go. It’s the field of dreams myth that we want to bust. You will not get links if you just post that information, that beautiful article on your page. You’ve got to go pursue it. You’ve got to point people… Nobody’s going to know about it. Come on.
Adam White: 35:40 Yeah. Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 35:40 All right. So, there’s some good mistakes right there. Absolutely. Absolutely. We’re circling around natural and language and how everything kind of fits together. Now we have BERT, and I’m going to pull it back around. Bi-directional, Encoder Representations from Transformers. All right. We’re going to do this real briefly. We’re not going to do it nearly as much justice as I would love to do on this, but this is brand new, just rolled out. You got to understand BERT. It’s about natural language processing. BERT’s a natural language processing, pre-training approach that can be used on a large body of text. It handles such tasks as entity recognition, part of speech tagging, and question answering, among other natural language processes.
Now, we’re talking about natural language, and all of a sudden if we have a link text out there that is in part of a natural string of characters, and it actually has references or those transforming elements that actually make a relationship between two different key concepts in the link, right? Could we start… Again, this is a theory, a hypothesis, here.. Could we start looking at links in a different aspect as opposed to quantities and qualities of domain authority, and not only looking at the authority side of things and the expertise, but also if that content on that linking site has a transformer in it in that link text, or the context of that page of content is valuable information and is referring to a page that is actually naturally language oriented to the degree that you’ve optimized the content, not for keywords, but strings of characters, voice recognition, voice schema, on the page, could that actually be a new way to optimize towards the BERT algorithm? Go.
Adam White: 37:44 Yes. Thank you for that setup. You know, I think that the reality is link building to specific pages has, in my view, become less and less important, and what has become more important is building brand authority through Google. Google loves big brands like Amazon, Wikipedia. If you look at the home page back link profile on any of these big brands, what you’re going to find is the same thing. Ninety-five percent of the links that point to them have either their brand name, or their URL, or some… like their brand name dot com. Like that’s going to be the anchor text on almost every single link, and we’re talking thousands and thousands of links, right?
Erin Sparks: 38:33 Right.
Adam White: 38:34 This is what Google expects to see. Now what happens is when you build that brand authority, that authority can get passed through to every page. If you set up the pages right and the site map and all that, that authority gets passed through to other pages that you actually care about ranking. Now, how that relates to this new update is that… Again, this goes back to it’s all about creating a better user experience. Right?
Erin Sparks: 38:57 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Adam White: 38:57 What they’re doing is saying we understand what you want, and now we’re able to give it to you better. I don’t know that links is the way to help you take advantage of this new change. I think that having the right content is more important, but the right content without having built that brand authority means you just have invisible content. So when you’ve built the brand authority and you have the right content, then, at that point, that’s when you can take advantage of whatever the user intent is.
Now if somebody’s searching for something and you’ve been showing up in the rankings, but you didn’t really deserve to show there because it’s not a relevant result, then it probably wasn’t converting very high for you anyway, in terms of making you money, so I don’t know why people would be very, overly upset about it other than I lost the rankings, but revenue’s not going to change much. Like, that’s obviously what ultimately matters.
Erin Sparks: 39:47 Sure.
Adam White: 39:49 Anyway, did that make sense?
Erin Sparks: 39:50 It does. Yeah, because what you’re… You’re giving me the common recipe of brand is the largest… If you’re talking about Venn diagrams or if you’re talking about the value of certain links or the references, you’re going to have brand… there’s always eclipse in the game. But if you take those out of the equation and just look at the utility factors of links, and you break out all the stuff that’s non-brand but it’s directory links for that matter, it’s that referenceable knowledge that’s coming from other websites that have, potentially, a way to educate BERT.
For example, and I’ll wrap up with this, is that we got an example from Google, from their blog post, about can I pick up somebody’s medicine from a local pharmacy, right?
Adam White: 40:43 Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 40:43 And the transformer was for someone. Right? Instead of having a link coming from, if you’re trying to do local SEO regarding pharmacy and a particular locale, if you’re actually putting content on your website regarding that particular concept and then have that link approach, where you have those transformers in the anchor text itself, could that be, by association, informing BERT of this is truly a key factor of understanding what’s different about this as opposed to other sites that have pharmacy and locale in the mix? You see what I’m saying? There’s a utility factor there.
Adam White: 41:27 Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think you’re right on, and I think it goes back to when you create your anchor text, again, make them fit into a sentence, because then you’re going to have those transformative words, because it’s a natural way to speak. Do that when you build out your anchor text. Don’t try to just target the key phrase, but target a phrase that fits into a sentence in a natural way, and you’re going to have those phrases in there, and I think that you will get credit for helping teach the AI that Google’s using to create a better user result.
Erin Sparks: 42:02 Absolutely. Thanks of going down this theory with me. We talked to Bill Schlosky about… I mean, he just dives into patents on a regular basis. My gosh, that man is sold and determined to figure out everything that’s happening on the Google side, and we saw patents earlier regarding entities, and Google’s understanding the relationships between entities, external entities in the internet as it applies to a particular topic.
If we’re looking at entities and BERT actually understanding these particular transformers, you have the ability to find those linking entities out there and then also be able to provide anchor text that is able to educate BERT. Maybe this is that new realm of entity optimization that’s going to pass through to your site as opposed to any type of keyword ranking or any type of on page ranking. It’s really creating those relationships out there, and then being able to bring your content, your landing pages, your home page into that entity triangle. What do you think about that?
Adam White: 43:09 Yeah, I think it’s going to be really interesting to start testing this now that we’ve… they’ve kind of openly said here’s what we’re doing. It’s going to take a while, because that’s the way… that’s the nature of SEO, but I think over the next few months, we’re going to really get a good idea of, okay, how do we take advantage of this now that we know this is what Google’s doing?
Erin Sparks: 43:27 Absolutely. They kind of opened the kimono there to be able to show exactly what they’re doing. Now it’s us, from SEOs, to realize that this is no longer gamification. We have to know these relationships out there and get our clients in front of those.
Adam White: 43:42 Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 43:43 So, we went a bit long here. I do apologize, Adam, but we always do want to wrap up with some key insights from our guest regarding the industry they’re in. So, first and foremost, thank you very much for you time today. Let me ask you, what bugs you about your industry right now?
Adam White: 44:01 I mean, what’s always bugged me is I spend a lot of time… When I used to do SEO, I talked to a lot of potential clients that have said, “Hey, I just got burned by somebody in SEO,” and you hear that phrase so many times.
Erin Sparks: 44:14 Yeah.
Adam White: 44:14 “I got burned by somebody in SEO.” The sad reality is that because SEO… It’s easy to sell, right? Everyone knows you need it, so it’s easy to sell. But there’s not that many companies that actually know how to fulfill and to do a good job, and a lot of people will just… it’s a money grab. They’ll just take whatever money they can get and don’t take enough to actually do the job right. You know, there’s a lot of these issues, and just trying to take away the negative stigma that comes with the phrase SEO, I think that’s probably the most annoying thing that I don’t… You probably deal with it, too, on a daily basis.
Erin Sparks: 44:52 Absolutely. Absolutely. No, it sucks. It also sucks because clients who have gone from other SEO companies didn’t know what was done to them or didn’t understand, maybe from companies that were actually doing a good job but they thought they were getting burnt, because they don’t have that tangible factor. I mean, they don’t understand the link values or they don’t understand what optimization is. I mean, there’s some challenges there, because there’s a continued stigma, and sometimes deserves, and sometimes not deserved, because I mean, the client’s got a responsibility to understand this side of marketing, don’t they?
Adam White: 45:30 Yeah, and I think that goes to really just SEOs failing to set the expectation properly, right?
Erin Sparks: 45:35 There you go.
Adam White: 45:36 Because when so many people think hey, I should be able to rank in two months, right? That’s all it takes. In two months I’ll see results. I get that question all the time. So in two months I’ll see results? I’m like I don’t know. I don’t know if you’re going to see… It might take six months. It might take a year. I don’t know. If you’re not in it for the long term, you don’t have the expectation set that it’s going to take a long time and that this is something that is not… you’re not going to stop in two months. You keep doing it forever. Then those people end up happy, because they understand this is something we’re just always going to have to budget for and do it. The ones that you’re too scared to tell them that because you know you might lose them as a client, those are the ones that end up made and say they got burned, you know?
Erin Sparks: 46:14 It’s a lot easier to point fingers at somebody else as opposed to yourself. All right. Conversely, what excites you about the industry right now?
Adam White: 46:23 Well, you know, it’s interesting, because I used to… Back in the olden days, I did a lot of affiliate marketing, and that was fun and great, but one thing that always just nagged at me a little bit was I didn’t take a lot of ownership in any of the affiliate stuff I was doing. It was just like let’s just see how much money I can make selling someone else’s product, and it’s great, but I really always wanted… Like, I want to build my own brand, something that I can really get behind and just go this is… I’m all in on this, and I’m proud of this, and I tell my grandma about this.
You know, that type of thing, and it’s been really cool to see Google really shift their focus… and I touched on it a little bit already, but shift the focus on how important having a brand is. I just… I teach this, and I reiterate this over and over again with the users at SEOJet. If you’re not doing a good job of building brand trust with Google, you’re not going to have great results. You won’t.
And we’ve even seen it more now. We’ll see people create these amazing blog posts that are 3,000 words long and just awesome. They’ll build links in with stuff, and they’ll get beat out by competitors who have a similar blog post that has no links but they have amazing brand trust. They have lots of home page links that are all branded anchors, and they get beat out by those guys. I get beat out by people like that. Do you know what I mean? You see it over and over again, and so again, can’t reiterate enough how important that is. I think it’s great that that’s what Google’s doing, because you can really take ownership in your business and it’s only going to benefit you from an SEO perspective.
Erin Sparks: 47:57 Absolutely. Absolutely. Well said. Well, is there anything that we can promote for you today?
Adam White: 48:02 Well, I mean, obviously we have the software SEOJet. This has been my baby for the last three years, and it’s been an awesome ride. You know, if you’re doing any type of link building, the software, if nothing else, will just show you to make sure you’re doing it in the right way, make sure that your back link profile looks natural to Google, and it’ll tell you what to do next.
Erin Sparks: 48:02 Cool.
Adam White: 48:25 If something’s messed up we say, okay, well, here’s what you need to do to fix it, and then just go out and do the outreach to make the changes that need to be made.
Erin Sparks: 48:32 Very cool. Very cool. We’re going to have to check that out, mean. I know I’ve talked to you about having a demo of that, because it sounds really cool.
Adam White: 48:39 Yeah. No problem.
Erin Sparks: 48:40 So you guys want to go over to seojet.net, because you’ll want to be able to create a personalized back link plan for each of your pages, so your back link profile can always look natural to Google. Fantastic. I really appreciate the time today. We want to make sure that our listeners follow you on The Real Adam White on Twitter as well as adam.white.906… Where did the 906 come from?
Adam White: 49:05 I have no idea. Like I said, I’m not on Facebook very often, so I don’t even know, but SEOJet has a page on there, too, but I honestly don’t do a lot with social media. I just spend time working in the business. I should do more. I know, it’s sad, but anyways.
Erin Sparks: 49:17 Hey, if you’re focused and intentionally focused on your work SEO, and especially in inbound link building, we don’t have time to be in all these spaces, so no harm, no foul, man.
Adam White: 49:31 Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 49:32 All right. So final words for our audience that is eager to get started in link building. One thought.
Adam White: 49:40 Just go build links to your home page. If you do nothing else, build links to your home page, but make sure the anchor text is your brand name or some form of the URL. If you do those two things, you’ll be successful.
Erin Sparks: 49:51 But don’t avoid it. Got to get it done now.
Adam White: 49:55 Do it.
Erin Sparks: 49:55 Do it.
Adam White: 49:56 Do it and keep doing it.
Erin Sparks: 49:58 All right. Well, Adam, thank you so much for your time today. We really appreciate it, and we’d love to have you back on the show soon.
Adam White: 50:04 Yeah, that would be awesome.
Erin Sparks: 50:05 Cool, cool, cool.
Adam White: 50:05 Thanks a lot.
Erin Sparks: 50:05 All right. No worries. Well, thanks for listening to Edge of the Web Radio and a special thank you to our colleagues over at Site Strategics for our continued production, especially our guest, Adam White. Make sure you check out all the must see videos over at edgeofthewebradio.com, edgeofthewebradio.com, and hey, if you’re interested in what we’re doing on YouTube regularly, go over to youtube.com/edgeoftheweb and hit that bell so you can get reminded when we’re going live each and every week. So, from all of us over at Site Strategics and Edge of the Web, thanks so much. Special thank you to one of our sponsors, Ahrefs, and hey, we’ll talk to you next week. Do not be a piece of cyber driftwood. Buh-bye.