This week I am pleased to present my interview with one of the 25 people profiled in the book Online Marketing Heroes
, from Wiley and Sons. Eric Ward
the President of EricWard.com
offers content publicity and link building services, as well as training and private consulting, assisting companies in learning how to generate organic content awareness via links, publicity and online buzz generation.
Elise Redlin-Cook: In the past, and it could be years ago or even just yesterday, what link are you most proud of acquiring for your site or a clients site?
Eric Ward: I’m proudest when the links I am seeking and acquiring are helping the client in a tangible way, be it click traffic and conversions, organic search rank, viral buzz, etc., For each project I’m working on, the goals may be different depending on the content, so the link targets I’m pursuing and the impact they have can be quite different. A client that sold Equine supplies to vet schools, for example, was happy when I was able to identify and help obtain links on multiple vet school resource pages. These links helped both organic rank and drove business.
Elise: What specific tools are in your link building arsenal to help you acquire links for a client who is just getting started?
I use Link Insight
, a tool I’ve spent six months creating with AdGooroo.Along with Link Insight, I use every engine’s advanced search functionality, and I mean taking this to the extreme. It’s amazing how much an engine will tell you if you ask it the right way and know what to look for in the results. Prior to creating Link Insight, I used my own proprietary tools and scripts.
Elise: Do you employ competitive analysis in your link building strategy for clients?
Eric: Yes, it’s a key piece of the puzzle. I also use link analysis within vertical subject areas, not necessarily limiting this to competing sites.
Some of the best linking targets can be found when you move away from analyzing your competitors existing link profile, but stay within your industry niche. You can also use link analysis to identify new verticals you may want to pursue, where no competitors currently do business. I was working with a client who had a product line with a sub-line that was aimed at motorcycle owners. They had never done any link building in the motorcycle vertical, and when I showed them how many motorcycle club web sites there are around the country, their jaws dropped. A competitor analysis would never have I.D. this strategy for them. The key is to employ multiple tactics, and find what it is you do that can set you apart.
Elise: What are your views on no-follow vs. do-follow links?
Eric: I do not look at source code or use any add-ons to see if a link is followed or not. I make the determination as to whether or not I want to pursue a link based on a hundred other factors and follow/no follow is not one of them.
Great! So, how have your link building
techniques changed over the years as the search industry has evolved?
As new methods of communication have come out, going all the way back to the first instant messaging apps in the 90’s to the today’s Twitter, the link builder in me is always playing with these tools to understand how they work, what would be appropriate behavior within that world, and whether or not they make sense for any given project. I think the key is to remain curious.
It’s not so much to always be looking for new ways to force links on people, it’s about recognizing where potential opportunity exists.
Elise: Have you made any big updates to your tools or released any new products that you’d like to talk about?
Eric: I mentioned earlier my role in the launch of Link Insight. It’s designed to get people away from the revolving door link building mentality. People are on a treadmill every day chasing the wrong kinds of links. After 14 years doing this, I have a particular approach that has been incorporated into Link Insight, through the amazing work of Rich Stokes and his team at AdGooroo. The purpose of Link Insight is to identify and remove the many pointless link opportunities that exist, and provide a personalized map showing you the best link targets for your website. Link Insight then takes it a step further: it analyzes every page and gives each backlink four grades:TrustSignal, SocialSignal, GeoSignal, or SpamSignal. These four simple signals tell you how effective or risky each potential link is before you spend precious time pursuing them. The result?A small set of high-potential links which can help to build both your website’s traffic as well as its trust and authority. These four signals are how I’ve evaluated hundreds of thousands of links over the years and helped establish some of the biggest brands on the web. The side benefit is that during this process, you’ll avoid wasting time and money with bad link building tactics.
Eric: I was contacted by the author Michael Miller and asked if I was interested in being profiled. I thought he was kidding. I don’t feel like a hero. My story is just timing, luck, and stubbornness. I’m the only person on the planet who has been building links non-stop for 15+ years. That’s not a hero, that’s a glutton for punishment.
Elise: So, outside of the business arena, are you driven by any great passions?
Eric: When I started, my girlfriend (now my wife) and I were in school, without a care in the world. The dotcom heyday and bubble bursting was an amazing experience.
I went from thinking I would retire in my thirties to realizing I would never retire at all. Now, years later, we are about to have our third child, and my motivations are all family driven. We’ve moved to the beach, where we can raise our family in a way that is simpler, more connected. I’m closer to 50 than 40, so my perspective has changed. I work now for them and their future. They are my passion.
Thanks to Eric for some great tips on Link Building Tools in this interview and if you are looking for more information join us for our upcoming webinar on “Link Building Tools for Success” on June 10th, at 11:30AM EST!