Link buying advice often sounds something like, “Get links from relevant sites and pages for the greatest boost to your rankings.” Link buying advice is often wrong.
According to everyone’s favorite content network guru, keyword selection on the content network needs to be based on demographics. That’s why I saw the following weight-loss ads on a page that had nothing to do with weight loss, and nor did the site hosting the page.
Their very similar copy suggests to me that the “rules” ad copy formula is successful.
In 2009, I think that we’re going to see the savvy link buyers use content network data to make their text link ads more effective. They’ll be asking interesting questions, and likely closing the loop with customer surveys to discover with greater precision what their customers’ demographics are and what their content consumption habits are.
- What sites convert?
- What keywords are we targeting to show up there?
- What does this tell us about our likely demographics?
We’ll likely see customers being asked questions such as the following:
- Are you male or female?
- How old are you?
- What is the highest level of education you have completed?
- What is your religious affiliation?
- What is your ethnicity?
- What magazines do you read?
- What email newsletters do you subscribe to?
- Which of the following subjects are of significant interest to you?
- What do you like best about our product?
And that likely means that text links ads will look more like AdSense, and be integrated above the fold in areas known to generate clicks. The ad copy will likely be adapted to the features customers said they liked best. There should be less of the footer and lower sidebar crap you see currently. And of course, more banners will likely make their appearance on the scene.
What does that mean for search engine algorithms?
We already know what Google wants – and relevance isn’t king. User experience is king. And if it converts to a sale or lead generation, the user experience is positive. Ergo, these paid links should be counted towards lifting a site’s rankings.
Of course, engineers perceive the usefulness of a ranking factor partly according to how easily it can be manipulated. So this could get out of hand. But like I said – the successful ads will be those relying on content network data. Therefore, by cross-referencing their own PPC and Analytics data, the search engines should be able to keep crap link buying’s effects in check. If the analytics MSN provides to webmasters ever work, MSN might even gain enough adoption to make this a useful tool in their algo…
So maybe link buying advice isn’t wrong, but it’s certainly incomplete. And link buying is nowhere near done evolving. Here’s to a great 2009 for search marketers!