With the recent unfortunate Analytics change (not provided to 100%) and the rain of algorithm updates in the past 18 months, Google seems to make everybody’s life harder. Personally, I think that Google is doing a great job making sure the SERP’s are the stage of the new, creative, and relevant. However, many others suspect Google is causing a major and inevitable industry shift that will lead online visibility to become a limited real estate shared by those with the right means.

The organic section is no longer the way we knew it. Now, there are multiple type results, and 7 is the new 10 (for up to 36% of the searches – as of Sep 2013). Google is substituting regular organic results with map, video, news, pictures, etc.

In addition, the SERP is now personalized making it even harder to predict ranking, visits, and some other metrics web marketers were tracking. The question is, how do we drive traffic to our website without working blindfolded hoping for things to fall right into place?

The blindfolded marketers

Sounds familiar? Well, at some level we all suffer from this syndrome. Testing and trialing are the best pain point reliefs. However, let’s put things in perspective. In many cases off-line marketing is no different, and it has been around for much longer. We feel blindfolded because web marketing became very much like TV commercials or ads in a magazine. It is getting harder and more complex to track results (still not impossible) and now the question of cost-benefit is rising.

Watch how Rand Fishkin (CEO/founder of Moz) explains how to “overcome” the not-provided issue in analytics. While watching this video, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking, “are you serious??” This is how hard it has become to track results and obtain data? It used to be accessible and free, but now it’s literally rocket science. I mean if you did manage to go through all the hoops and loops to obtain data for reporting, would you still have time to do your actual work?

Packing my suitcase and leaving to the SES

From the list of lectures and networking sessions, I had two topics in mind I wanted to cover, link building and penalty recovery. For many reasons that I won’t list right now, these two go hand in hand; they are both very hot topics in today’s SEO world. Since we have an established method for both link building and penalty recovery, my mission was to collect others’ opinions, challenge other experts, and bring constructive arguments that we all can learn from. I stopped by to take a quick picture with Matt Cutts 🙂


Google did a great job educating people (the hard way) what not to do. It seems that most people have vast knowledge of the type of links and content we need to stay away from. I swear, people can talk for hours (in the conference) about this topic and write long posts about bad toxic links. On the other hand, only a few can talk about effective link-building methods for the same amount of time. The truth is, Google has significantly narrowed down spammy link building activities, which left a lot of link builders looking for alternative methods, OR using ones they should of used from the first place. This marked such a positive trend that brought the creativity and the voice of genuine authority back to the web.


The person that grabbed my attention was Jon Ball from One Page Power. Jon retold his personal story, and in my opinion he is a true link builder. We saw a lot of similarity between what he does to our methods.

Beating the beast

Google keeps all of us on our toes. We are constantly chasing the uncertain and trying to reverse engineer every move they make. This alone takes a great deal of time and resources that could be set aside for other things. For example, I’ve had clients that had 80-90% organic traffic and were still highly invested in maintaining and growing it even more. Money was not an issue, but their mindset was! The beast is not Google…we are prisoners of our own minds thinking that organic traffic is everything. So how do you teach yourself to think like a real marketer? Simply take Google out of the equation.

What if Google didn’t exist?

Wow, we don’t need to worry about links anymore – Exactly! So where will you get traffic from? Stay with me, this is not a fantasy; this is the next marketing plan that will set you free from this chain ball so called “link building”. Now, that the centerpiece is traffic and Google is not in the picture, let’s get to work and bring some quality traffic to our website.

The process:

Best client characterization is an essential part of every marketing plan, have you ever researched this? Many marketers simply overlook this phase, which is fundamental for your marketing plan’s success. Hence, as a marketer, you should answer the following questions for each and every new client:


  • Age range
  • Male / Female / Target both
  • Family status
  • Geographic location
  • Data resources used
  • Possible likes
  • Possible dislikes
  • Language
  • Revenue range
  • Level of education
  • Industry field
  • Position in the organization
  • Company size
  • Direct competitors
  • Current marketing budget
  • Years in business
  • Awards / credentials
  • Organization
  • CAC – client acquisition cost

Specific (only examples)

  • Business owner Yes / No
  • Has a Facebook page Yes / No
  • Communication preference
  • Website Yes / No
  • Hobbies
  • Where do they shop
  • Where do they spend their extra time
  • Where do they network

Now, I know Google doesn’t exist, so let’s pretend for a second that we are using kugel Inc. (I sure feel like eating one now), and we are going to use it only for simple partner searches. The idea is to go through a genuine search process in effort of finding websites that are relevant to your industry and have a good amount of traffic and willing to link back to you (not competitors). The goal is for every link that points to our website, gain some of the traffic that website has. Now, hold on to that thought and multiple the process by 100, now by 1000. Do you get the point? Next, make a list of all the possible places where you can find potential clients that fit your best client characterization. That list can be generic and it doesn’t have to include all fields in your client characterization research. At this point you should have a good idea of where to begin and where you need to focus your efforts.

So how do we find these websites?

Google (or Kugel) search parameters are manual and are most effective in finding traffic partners (Ha, I didn’t say link partners!). Here is the complete list:

  • intitle:{keyword} AND “news”
  • intitle:{keyword} AND “association”
  • intitle:{keyword} AND “classified”
  • intitle:{keyword} AND “directory”
  • {keyword} “guest blogger” OR “guest post” OR “guest article” OR “guest column”
  • {keyword} “become a contributor” OR “contribute to this site”
  • {keyword} “write for us” OR “write for me”
  • {keyword} inurl:category/guest
  • {keyword} “Powered by phpBB” OR “powered by vBulletin”
  • {keyword} “Blog powered by TypePad” OR “powered by WordPress”
  • “keyword phrase” sponsor charity
  • “public library” “useful links” keyword phrase site:.gov
  • linkdomain:competitor1.com; linkdomain:competitor2.com; -linkdomain:mysite.com
  • “useful keyword phrase sites” library –clientwebsite site:.edu
  • “helpful keyword phrase sites” library –clientwebsite site:.edu
  • “favorite keyword phrase sites” library –clientwebsite site:.edu
  • “best keyword phrase” site:.edu OR site:.org
  • keyword phrase resources public library site:.us
  • keyword phrase site:.edu
  • site:[companywebsite.com] + [name] + email
  • site:[companywebsite.com] + [name] + contact
  • site:[personalblog.com] + [name] + email
  • site:[personalblog.com] + [name] + contact
  • {keyword} + “add a site”
  • {keyword} + “submit url”
  • {keyword} + “intitle:directory”
  • {keyword} + “inurl:directory”
  • [linkdomain:example.com site:.edu “keyword”]
  • [linkdomain:example.com site:.gov ” keyword”]
  • [site:linkedin.com inurl:in “social media expert”]
  • [site:.bebo.com inurl:profile inurl:bebo “social media expert”]
  • [site:www.cafemom.com inurl:cafemom.com/home/ “stay at home mom”]
  • [site:facebook.com/people “led zeppelin”]
  • [site:flickr.com/people “@gmail”]
  • [site:twitter.com -inurl:statuses -inurl:status “social media expert”]
  • [site:youtube.com/user “social media expert”]

* Full list credit – www.searchengineland.com

Inspecting prospects:

Ladies and gentlemen, SEMrush! Does the website show traffic? Is it following an ascending or descending trend? Is it stable over time, or illustrates a spike and then dives back? Answer all these questions and make a decision based on your findings. A good website to partner with will show stable traffic with a slow ascending trend over time.

What else to look for?

Take a look at their domain authority and Page Rank (only to make sure it’s not n/a); we don’t really care for PR otherwise.

Outreach – genuine and human

Prospect DomainDA > 40PR > n/aSEMrush

We use excel to record all the searches we performed for every client and track replies. It is important that you create personalized outreach emails and not generic templates that will make the addressee mark it as spam.

The magic

If you are doing it right, overtime you’ll start gaining referral traffic. Here is the best part, you just did SEO and it’s 100% “certified” Kosher by Google. Check your rankings 🙂 my friend.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

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