Posts on the latest trends and developments in the online marketing industry from the Mozetta team

What Makes a ‘Good’ Link?

What makes a good link? A good link in SEO is not an exact science but is a sum of a lot of different factors; there are a number of criteria that I personally look for when deciding what makes a good link

  1. One of the major factors in a good link is relevance, that is, how related the contents of the linking website and webpage are to our site. It doesn’t have to be identical. For example, if our site was about Weight Loss, then pages about Healthy Eating, Workout Routines, and even semi related topics like Weight Related Health Disorders and Depression Support would be ok; however, things totally unrelated like Video Games or Politics would not.
  2. It is not an exact rule, but generally speaking, the bigger the site, the better the link. There are a lot of ways to measure what makes a ‘big’ site. Two you make be familiar with are the Alexa Ranking as well as the Google PageRank. If you want, add a column for the Alexa and Pagerank for these links to make sorting easier… however…
    1. The size of the site itself is not everything. The actual page where the link is on is extremely important. We always want to have our links on an important page of a website that will be seen by their visitors. The homepage would be the best, while an isolated page, even on a site like twitter.com which is huge, would be less valuable unless it has lots of links, followers, and posts that make it important within its own site. A homepage or important blog post on a smaller or medium sized site will usually be more important than a random small page on a massive popular site.
    2. When it comes to site size, balance the overall size of the site with the importance of the actual page
  3. Another factor of importance, though not usually as much as the first two, is the number of other links on a page. If a page only has 5 or 10 links on it, it will be more important having a link there compared to a page with 300. Usually I don’t care as long as it’s under 50 or so, and I only start to worry if it has more than 100 (to pages that are NOT on the same website). There are many outbound link check tools. If you wish, you can add a column for this on the spreadsheet and add the data.
  4. Placement of link. Generally speaking, a link will be better if the link is within a paragraph of text surrounded by content, rather than alone by itself in the footer, sidebar, or in a list. This factor is less important that #1-3 above though.

Next up, there is what constitutes a BAD or Spam link. Something we do not want as it can get the website in trouble.

  1. Completely unrelated content. This can be foreign language, poorly written gibberish, or sites that have random unrelated paragraphs on seemingly unrelated topics all next to each other
  2. Sites with no value or visitors. One of the biggest indicators of spam is a site with lots of content, but it’s bad, filled with links, and the site itself has no visitors itself. Sites like these are basically made for spam. The best indicator of this would be a site with a good Pagerank (3 or higher) but a bad Alexa (3 million or lower). Unless this site is clearly related to our topic and not filled with unrelated links to other sites, we always want to avoid these sites and mark them as spam
  3. Too many links. Some pages are ‘too easy’ to get a link on, and as such will attract hundreds and hundreds of links, mostly from unrelated topics to ours. We usually want to avoid these
  4. ‘Bad Neighborhoods’. There are a few things we never want to be associated with. For a tech and software site, these would be: Pornography, Gambling, Pharmaceuticals (Viagra etc), Hate/Racism/Violence. Any page with these on it, or in its comments/links, is something we want to avoid. This is the most important of the rules when deciding if a site is spam.

Get Free Targeted Links from Tumblr

In SEO, you’re always on the look out for more links. Most the methods for building links are either relatively difficult (manual requests, guest blogging etc.) or very heavily used and often spammed to death, such as directory submissions, blog commenting, social bookmarking and wikis. It’s always nice when you find a new source of links that everyone else is not going after, and a month or so ago, I was lucky enough to find one here, which I have been using for great effect recently.

For those who aren’t familiar with what Tumblr is, it is a self blogging and sharing platform that anyone can use to have their own little site. It’s also a very social platform, with a ton of interacting between these mini blogs. Essentially, Tumblr is a blend between WordPress and Facebook.

When it comes to building links using Tumblr, what they have is a paid of neat features called Liking, similar to Facebook, and Reblogging, which takes someone elses post and reposts in on your own Tumblr blog.

Due to bit of a fault in the Tumblr system however, there’s a neat trick that allows you to enter a custom domain for your Tumblr blog, but this URL doesn’t actually have to be set to your own Tumblr. The end result, the Reblog and Like links from Tumblr will actually go directly to your main website.

The best part of this is that the Reblog links are all DoFollow and carry SEO weight (Likes are only NoFollow). Since Tumblr is so big, a lot of these mini blogs are actually quite large and authoritative sites, meaning links from them are quite powerful. You can also, using the tag search feature at Tumblr.com, or some creating Google searching, find blogs that are directly related to the content of your own site. In my opinion these links are by far the most powerful.

These Tumblr links are by no means a magic bullet, and there’s always a chance Tumblr will prevent them from being made or switch them to NoFollow at some point in the future, but they work quite well right now, and are a great addition to a diverse link portfolio and back linking strategy.

Things I’ve learned For Getting the Best CTR on BuySellAds

I recently started using BuySellAds.com as a traffic source, as they have some traffic that looks to be very relevant for a project I’m working on. Like with any new traffic source or method, it’s always best to do some research to find out what’s been working for others, as well as the general consensus. With BuySellAds, I was surprised at the lack of information, especially on the advertiser side of things. Almost all of the information out there is for publishers.

What little information and case studies there are for advertisers, they seem to be almost exclusively negative. I came across articles complaining of shockingly low 0.04% CTRs, or celebrating optimizing ads up to 0.22% CTR. Needless to say this made me a bit apprehensive. At least until I started browsing the inventory and taking a look at what other advertisers are doing. I was shocked to see that most advertisers on BuySellAds are acting like it’s 1996. Giant, flashy, unfocused ads, surrounded by other, equally obnoxious ads. Based on what I felt was weak competition I decided to give it a try anyways.

Fast forward four days later: With only 3 ads that have been running long enough to have data, one is at 2.5% CTR, one is at 1.5%, and the last at 0.5%. I will try and put up a full case study later, but from initial results, I already feel confident making a few conclusions that seem to have been missed by the vast majority of advertisers on BuySellAds.

1Subtlety Wins Out Over Flashy

The first thing I notice relates to that 1996 comment I made earlier. It seems as though most advertisers on BuySellAds are treating it like they have to make their banners over the top with animation and bright colors to be in the reader’s face. It’s 2012, and users can pretty clearly tell a banner ad when they see one, especially the types of visitors on BuySellAds sites. Seems pretty obvious that these excessively bold banners aren’t working, unless all you want to do is brand, and even then, it’s kind of annoying, so probably not the best message to send.

2Don’t Put Borders Around Your Ads

This is not a hard and fast rule. On some self serve ad platforms (particularly Plentyoffish) having a border on your ad can make a huge positive difference. On the vast majority of the sites on the BuySellAds network however, adding a border to your banner is a very bad idea. Your placements are already located in the sidebars, footers and headers and marked as ads and sponsors, so why bother to point out even further that this section right here is an advertisement. I think a lot of people are adding borders out of habit. Personally, the fact that BuySellAds don’t add a border to ads by default is one of their greatest strengths as a network, because it lets you…

3Match the Colors and Styles of the Publishing Site

An extension on subtlety, matching the publisher’s site colors and general styling makes your ad looks like it belongs. Why people are placing giant bold red and orange banners on a site where the design is all done in blues and greys makes your banner stand out like a sore thumb, and usually not in a good way.

4Don’t Put Your Ad Next To Other Ads

Your ad can be the best in the world, but if it’s in an area of the page surrounded by other ads that are poorly designed, it’s going to deter visitors from ever even giving that portion of screen real estate a fair chance. It’s hard to make it look like your ad belongs, when it’s in a section of the page that clearly does not. My rule for this, has been to only buy ad inventory where there are other ads on a maximum of one side (top, right, left of bottom) of your ad. That way, any faults of others’ banners should not be able to negatively effect you. Further to this point…

5125×125 Ads are Useless

I can see why webmasters love selling 125×125 ad blocks. You can sell 4, 8 or even 16 of them in a sidebar and by pixel, it’s probably their highest ROI. For advertisers, these look like a good way to ‘test the waters’ as well, since they’re very cheap. Personally, I think anyone testing a site by buying it’s 125×125 inventory will never have a chance to see whether the site is worth it. The first problem with these ads is that almost always are contained within blocks of other ads. They’re overly graphical without enough text to really convince anyone to click. Also, it’s very rare any real webmaster would ever have a column on their site that narrow, so these ads, by default, tend to look out of place no matter what. Finally, due to their small size, these ads don’t allow me to utilize two of the most important tools I use to maximize CTR…

6You Don’t Need to Use ALL of Your Allotted Banner Space

Everyone seems to think, that if you’ve bought, say 300×250, you should fill absolutely all the space. I see people putting in 3 or 4 different selling points, several logos, various text, borders, images, just about anything they can do to fill up every available pixel. The logic behind it is simple. You paid for that space, you’d be wasting your money if you don’t use it all right? If you only have a small amount of content to put in your ad, you should be buying a smaller ad block, right? What these people fail to realize, is that empty space can be just as, if not more valuable, than actual content. This is especially true on busy, crowded pages. My best performing ad right now is a top right located 300×250. The page has quite a bit of ads scattered around, and the webmaster has jammed a lot of content into all available space himself, so what I did, was make a relatively small simple ad (my brand logo, a short sentence ad, and a small call to action button) surrounded by a good 50 pixels of empty space on each side. The result of this, is that the empty space actually draws all the users attention to my otherwise, small, subtle ad. Which they seem to be clicking on in droves, because unlike a surprising amount of advertisers, I always…

7Always Include a Call to Action

As a huge fan of heat mapping. There are several indisputable truths I have learned. ALWAYS place a call to action in ANY banner. You always need to have something that screams out CLICK ME! (not necessarily in those words). I have done heatmap testing with massive banners (600×250), and even on a banner that takes up half the page, users will always click on the little 50×25 ‘click me’ button in corner of it. If you don’t have some form of a call to action, no matter how big your ad is, and no matter how great you’ve done everything else, people won’t click on it. This can be a decent trick if you’re paying per click but only want to build a brand and keep your costs down (a nice trick for an entirely different discussion), but on any CPM platform like BuySellAds, where clicks are your goal, you need a call to action, and it should be the most prominent and attention grabbing part of your ad.

As far as my own campaigns are concerned, I’m still waiting for some more relevant data. One of my placements is already ROI positive, and a few more show promise. I have to say overall that I really like BuySellAds platform as it makes it very easy for someone who’s relatively new to media buying like myself, to learn and test in what overall is a very low cost arena. It’s a nice benefit of not having to put down the $5000+ minimum deposits of a lot of premium networks, or have to worry about getting lifetime bans and the like with Google’s Content Network.

I will try and post a full case study once I’ve let me campaigns run their full course.

Also, if anyone reading this wants to try out BuySellAds and is looking for something to promote that works with their traffic, one of my clients has a great product that has an excellent affiliate program, so send me a message through the contact form above or leave your email in the comments!