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Not All Pink Links Stink

July 6th, 2007 · 12 Comments

Do you wear a link condom? If so...I know

Following my conversion on the road to Damascus (i.e. embracing the DoFollow campaign), I installed a Firefox extension called SearchStatus. It allows you to see a whole heap of information about a website including Alexa ranking, Google PageRank, domain registration details and whether or not the site employs link condoms.

If SearchStatus discovers a nofollowed link, it highlights the link in pink. Hence the title. And the condom.

Anyway, I was in discussion with my mate Blog Bloke the other day about a linking strategy that I use which drives quite a bit of traffic to my sites. He pointed out that the links were nofollowed so they didn’t carry much weight which is certainly true in terms of passing PageRank but with this particular strategy, these pink links don’t stink.

Interestingly enough, this approach was mentioned in the ‘Give It Up’ session at the recent SMX Conference. A number of the movers and shakers in the world of search had a “behind closed doors” session where they talked about SEO tips, tricks and secrets. They were honour bound not to publicly discuss these tips for 30 days. The embargo is now up so you can read the tips here, here and here.

The Tip: Google run a number of official blogs. Some of them allow comments, some of them don’t. All of them, however, allow trackbacks. If you link to a post on one of Google’s blogs, the trackback appears on the page.

Screengrab from Google Webmaster Central blog post about using robots.txt

The link, however, is wearing a link condom as we can see in the screen grab so none of the Google juice is flowing back to our site but what you are getting is some pretty nice traffic coming from the link. It’s not just any old traffic either. It’s traffic that is specifically searching official Google pages about your topic so if they click on the link there’s a good chance that they’ll read or bookmark your site if it helps them.

Search engine expert Danny Sullivan suggests that you need to be either the first person to post or the last person because nobody ever clicks on the links in the middle. I disagree and this is where I’ve had success in the past.

Look at the screen grab again or visit the actual page on the Webmaster Central Blog. Where are your eyes drawn? Where do you feel most inclined to click? Is it the dull “Official Google Webmaster Central Blog” link? Is it the “Como utilizar a meta tag robots” link? Or is it the “Creating the ultimate WordPress robots.txt file” link? Or the “Good information on No Follow tags”? My money is probably on “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Robots.txt”.

It’s all in the headline.

It doesn’t matter if you’re first or last, if you’re headline stands out then you have a much better chance of getting that click. It’s exactly the same principle with any of the social media sites. Do you think my tongue in cheek post about getting on the front page of Google would have got the same amount of interest on StumbleUpon if I’d titled it “How To Change Your Google Settings”?

Let’s say, for arguments sake, I wrote a post about link condoms and called it Not All Pink Links Stink and then dropped in some links to a number of Google’s official blogs. Do you think that my headline would stand out and result in a number of clicks? Well I guess we’re about to find out 😉

I just picked 6 Google blogs at random but in reality you’d want to link to a post which fits your topic. This is good for both your readers and the people clicking on your backlink because you’re giving them additional reading on the subject.

Bonus Tip: Following on from my post about using Alexa rank to make money, here’s a nifty way of improving your rank for non technical websites. I’m surmising here that most people who read the Google Webmaster Central blog will have the Alexa toolbar installed.

Let’s say you run a blog about knitting. Most of your readers aren’t going to have the toolbar installed so your Alexa rank sucks. Post a story on your blog about how a particular post on Webmaster Central helped you improve your blog and include a link back to the relevant post. Hopefully you’ll see some traffic coming to your site and, most importantly, they’re more likely to have the toolbar so it’ll help bump up your Alexa rank. Who knows? They may even subscribe to your RSS feed too. Even geeks webmasters like knitting sometimes…

I’ll keep you posted via the comments as to how much traffic I get back from the 6 links above. In the meanwhile, here’s a list of Google blogs that you might like to consider adding to your feed reader. Personally I have a separate folder marked Google and as soon as I see a new post appear I’m straight onto it to see if I can blog about it.

  1. Google Webmaster Central
  2. Blogger Buzz
  3. Custom Search Engine Blog
  4. Docs & Spreadsheets Blog
  5. Google Analytics Blog
  6. Google Checkout Blog
  7. Google Finance Blog
  8. Google Maps API Blog
  9. Google News Blog
  10. Google Online Security Blog
  11. Google Reader Blog
  12. Google Web Toolkit Blog
  13. Inside AdSense
  14. Inside AdWords
  15. Inside Google Desktop
  16. Official Google Blog

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Tags: Search Marketing

12 responses so far ↓

  • Blog bloke // Jul 8, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    Whoa! There’s a lot of good material in here. Excellent post Mike.

  • Danny Sullivan // Jul 9, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    I didn’t actually say no one clicks in the middle, even though it got reported that way. I said, I believe, that you want to try and be first or last on the list to maximize the clicks you might get. First or last are places people naturally look. But absolutely, I’ll take the middle with a good headline as well. I guess I think it’s also because I assume people understand they should be writing good headlines that I skip past that and say think about first and last — you should have a good headline in either case, so why not get the position too :)

  • Mike // Jul 9, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    BB – Glad you enjoyed it :)

    Danny – Thanks for stopping by. Nice to see you on Twenty Steps.

  • TheDanielRichard // Jul 18, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Wow. I didn’t know that there are blogs where Google doesn’t allow comments on. There’s such an inconsistency?

    Would there be times when trackbacks to the post are not captured?

  • Mike // Jul 18, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    I’m not aware that Google remove trackbacks from their blogs but I guess if it’s pointing to a dodgy site that they may give it a..ahem..hand job…

    I experimented with using trackbacks on Seth Godin’s site but he definitely seems to manually remove unrelated links. Either that or he employs someone which is more likely 😉

    Thanks for stopping by.

  • jessica // Oct 26, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    Always had a lot of problems finding all the google blogs, thanks for putting them all into one place. Care to keep that list updated?

  • Mike // Oct 26, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    That’s not an exhaustive list by any stretch. For a full list of Google blogs, go to the Official Google Blog and navigate through the sidebar. There’s hundreds of the buggers!


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