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If you are actively building links as part of your SEO efforts, you are probably tracking your metrics, but are your metrics helping you? You should be actively watching KPI’s to ensure your link building is heading in the right direction. This begs two questions two questions: What KPI’s do I track and how do you record these metrics so that they are actionable?

The second question is pretty easy – you should be tracking your KPI’s in a dashboard. This is great because it allows you to see trending data for your important metrics that should be shaping your link building efforts. I have made a link building dashboard template that you can download here.

So what metrics should you be tracking? You should be watching KPI’s that indicate the results of your efforts so that you can reshape your link building efforts as needed. The following are the metrics that I track, as they impact how I focus my time:

Total Links

This is pretty straightforward – How many external links are pointing to your entire domain. If you want to create a competitive intelligence dashboard, you can also include your competitor’s links. I recommend using Google Webmaster tools data for this KPI – Don’t forget to subtract internal links as Google includes this number in WMT.

Number of Linking Domains

While it is good to know the number of links pointing to your site, the number of linking domains has a higher correlation with good rankings and is vital to track. This is really good to watch alongside your total links graph as it will help you understand if you are getting a lot of contextual links or if you are getting less valuable links, like sidebar links.

Number of Linking Domains Gained

How successful are your efforts? How many linking domains are you gaining each week? This is a good number to look at to judge the scalability of your efforts in order to help evaluate your effectiveness. If you are putting a lot of effort in but are only getting a few mediocre links, then you should probably look into a different tactic.

Number of Phrase Match Anchors

I like to know the number of links I am building with targeted anchors. I track how many links use phrases containing the anchors that I am targeting. While the raw number is helpful for seeing the effectiveness of your efforts, it is really important to look at this as a proportion of your links. You want to make sure you don’t have 50% of your links being targeted anchors as this is indicative of targeted link building efforts that could easily be detected by search engines.

Number of Branded Links

How many links contain your brand name? Create a percentage of the number of branded links compared to your entire backlink profile. You should know your competitive landscape and what the branded backlink portfolio of your competitors looks like.

Links to the Homepage

How many of your links are pointing to your homepage? You want to create a dashboard that will show you the ratio of links going to your homepage. Compare this ratio against that of your competitors and the top ranking sites. The purpose of this is to make sure that you are still building links in the appropriate ratio to corresponding pages so that your backlink profile doesn’t appear unnatural.

I created a template that you can download and put your own data in that you can download here.

While there are a huge number of other metrics you can track, and that you should probably look at, these are the KPIs I track consistently. As this is for a dashboard, you want to only include the vital metrics that give you a quick overview of the performance of your link building; you should be able to tell if something looks off and needs further investigation.

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Link Building: Graph Theoretic Strategies

This is a continuation of the article Link building structures: hunters and collectors. What I’m doing is looking at web traffic control from a graph theoretic perspective. This is article is hypothesis, though I believe you can use the principles in reality.

Look at the diagram below. There are a number of different types of graph networks and clusters.

Overall graph shows nodes and clusters of mixed connectivity

The green node is a hub site.

not show links from each of the blue nodes to the green node. Instead, this is shown in shorthand visual notation using the larger circle encompassing each cluster.

Peach nodes are traffic “collectors” – they get traffic sent to them by the hub.

The curved green lines show traffic flow, from blue to green to peach nodes.

How can we use this link structure to send traffic from blue nodes to peach nodes? One possible scenario is as follows:

Blue nodes are part of separate blog network clusters. Their fully-connected link nature likely means high traffic for all nodes. That’s assuming, of course, that each network has high authority. Ownership is different for each network, and unrelated to the peach and green node network.

The strategy would be to get links on to the blue sites so as to draw traffic to the green site. Possible ways include:

Purchased text links on-site or in-feed.

Purchased reviews.

Targeted articles and linkbait on the green site to draw links from blue sites.

Guest articles on blue sites.

The green hub node could be some sort of general or portal site, with the peach nodes being niche domains.

The traffic redirection from green to peach is done through a number of methods:

By placing strategic articles on the green site, with links to peach sites.

The next article will discuss a traffic-building strategy that I’m trying for a client, using some of the concepts discussed here.

7 Uncommon And Powerful Link Building Techniques

An SEO’s job can get monotonous when ideas run dry. Submit a guest post here, a press release there. Email bloggers and hope they respond. Draft up an article and try to get influencers on board. These techniques can offer reliable and sustainable results, but it’s the big ideas, the uncommon approaches, that are the real game changers.

Here are seven techniques you’ve probably never heard of before. They will bring you success if you use them wisely. Hopefully, they will also get the creative juices flowing, so that you can come up with your own uncommon techniques.

1. Free or Cheap eBooks

Have a linkbait idea you are particularly proud of, but aren’t quite sure how to reach a big enough audience? An eBook could be the solution. There’s a pretty decent amount of articles out there on how to use eBooks to monetize a site that already has exposure, but eBooks can actually be just as effective as a method of gaining exposure in the first place.

The thing to realize about marketplaces like Amazon and Barnes&Noble is that they aren’t nearly as saturated as the Google search results. Your high-traffic search term might have been eaten up by impossible competition in Google, but there might not even be a book with that particular title. Get an eBook listed in these marketplaces for a low price (or free), and make it good enough to get four- or five-star ratings, and you can expect a decent readership to develop rather quickly.

Get your website on the cover and in the pages of the book, and links will almost certainly follow.

Amazon and Barnes&Noble don’t allow you to price your book below $0.99 through their native interfaces, but if you distribute through SmashWords you can get your book listed for free if you want to.

If you don’t think you have what it takes to write an eBook, keep in mind that a free or cheap eBook could be as long as five blog posts, or even shorter, without too many complaints.

2. Hire Established Bloggers

If you think hiring an established author is outside of your budget, think again. There’s no need to put them on your payroll. Without a product of their own to sell, even somewhat high-profile bloggers aren’t exactly rolling in cash. Try reaching out to a few bloggers with a freelance opportunity and see what they’re willing to work for. You might be surprised.

It’s pretty natural for a blogger to link to an article that they wrote for you, especially if you didn’t ask them to write anything they might consider damaging to their integrity (probably best to avoid product reviews). Just doing this once in a month can be a great source of solid links from genuine influencers.

3. Interview an Influencer

You might not be able to interview Brad Pitt or the President, but if don’t think you can get an interview with somebody noteworthy, you’re selling yourself short. Heavy twitter users, book authors, and bloggers love exposure just as much as you do. Offer to interview them and many of them will respond positively.

Certainly, many of them will think your blog is below them, but many of them will not. These influencers are only promoting themselves by linking to the interview afterward, so it’s not too difficult to pull this off if you know how to ask.

4. Commission an Artist or Photographer

Once again, if you think this is outside of your budget, you are mistaken. Artists and photographers are just as hungry for freelance work as bloggers, and you can easily pay them fairly without draining your budget. There is an incredible amount of talent out there, and most of it is underpaid.

5. Offer Free Work for an Influencer

Hopefully, it’s clear that you shouldn’t simply offer a product or service to an influencer and ask for a link in return. However, offering to provide them with a service that they need can be a great way to launch an online relationship that can be leveraged to build links down the road. Whatever product or service you produce, there is almost certainly a type of blogger who would be happy to receive it for free.

6. Be the First to Break a Story to an Influencer

Established bloggers and tweeters love being the first to announce a breaking story. A good way to establish a relationship with an influencer is to let them know about an important story before they say anything about it. Being in front of a good story, instead of behind it, is something that they will thank you for and remember.

Clearly, if you are sitting on insider information that people will find irresistible, you’ll probably do best by simply posting the information on your own blog and contacting your network to let them know. If, on the other hand, it’s a piece of news from an established source that simply hasn’t hit the twitter-sphere and blogosphere yet, it’s worth it to reach out to influencers with the information instead.

A good way to stay on top of information like this is to subscribe to press release sites and other “raw data” sources that report on information before it hits the New York Times or the rest of the Web.

7. Mine Quora and Yahoo Answers

Check out the top questions on Q&A sites like these and look for questions that you can answer better. Write a blog post on the subject and compile as much helpful information as you can, presenting it in a comprehensive, appealing, and easy-to-navigate format.

After posting the article, summarize your answer in a response on Quora and reference your blog post in the process. If the answer does well and is seen by enough people, it will be a steady source of traffic and links for the new article.


Innovative link building techniques may not be as predictable as tried and true methods, so they shouldn’t necessarily replace them entirely, but they are what separates you from the competition and allows your site to prosper on the Web and in the search results.

Can you think of other uncommon but powerful link building tactics? Don’t forget to pass this along if you thought it was helpful.

The 7 Worst Link Building Myths Holding Back Your Campaign

As long as search engines shroud their algorithms in secrecy, the industry will continue to be rife with spam and myths.

I’d argue this encourages businesses to pursue the wrong strategies rather than strategies that work.

That’s why some people have lost faith in the value of SEO. This limits opportunities more than it creates new ones.

As you read through this chapter, you’ll notice a number of popular myths that cast a negative light on link building and leave people scared of pursuing manual link building practices.

This is understandable from where the industry has come from.

But I’d argue that this leaves us blind to good link building opportunities.

Do search engines justify links by their ends (value) or by their means (practice)? I’d argue the latter.

But the point here isn’t to argue ethics. It’s to showcase value.

Here I’d like to dispel seven popular myths and misconceptions about link building that are causing more harm than good.

Once we’ve busted these myths, we can deliver our clients more value by better understanding the core basics of link building.

Myth 1: Backlinks Are a ‘Top’ Google Ranking Factor

This myth dates back to a Google Q&A, when Google Search Quality Senior Strategist Andrey Lipattsev stated that links, content, and RankBrain were Google’s top three ranking factors.

But if this were true, it would ignore a vast majority of signals, such as user experience, query intent, and hundreds of other ranking factors to prioritize pages by the amount of backlinks they have.

John Mueller even clarified this.

Google’s ranking factors are dynamic, employing different algorithms when determining the results of different queries for different user intent.

But countless correlation studies have shown that pages in the top three results tend to have an huge number of backlinks.

The question is:

Do these pages rank high because of their backlink profile – or do they have so many backlinks because they are ranking high?

It’s all relative.

We don’t know. So we shouldn’t limit our strategy.

Does this mean that backlinks aren’t an important ranking signal?

Of course not.

The influence of links may be more substantial in first-page search results when most other factors remain equal.

Myth 2: The Penguin Penalty

Penguin is an algorithm, not a penalty handed out by Google.

The distinction is important for two reasons.

Google won’t warn you when your site is devalued because of its backlink profile.

Recovery from an algorithmic devaluation offers simpler solutions.

Despite promises from Google that Penguin 4.0 does not trigger negative sitewide ranking actions, countless case studies have proven differently.

Check out these case studies here and here for more proof.

Recovering from negative SEO caused by spammy link building only requires disavowing those links that qualify as obvious spam.

Generally, you shouldn’t worry about Penguin if you’re pursuing good linking strategies and avoiding links farms and networks.

Even if Penguin does catch some malicious links, which every site has, then I still wouldn’t freak out because chances are Penguin won’t even register those individual links.

Myth 3: Link Quality Can Be Defined by DA or PA

How do search engines define link quality?

We aren’t sure.

So how should you define link quality?

This might be considered more of a misconception than a myth.

Third-party metrics, such as Domain Authority (DA) and Trust Flow, are merely barometers or guesses for how well a site compares to others.

DA is neither a ranking signal, nor does it give us complete insight into how qualitative a website is for link building.

I’ve run into so many sites with a high DA that were either abandoned or just obvious link farms.

This isn’t to trash DA specifically. The problem is relying on a single proprietary metric to justify junk link campaigns and charge clients.

So let’s take a stab at determining what a good link is:

Linking domain offers content relevant to your business.

Linking domain has high traffic value.

Anchor text is contextual.

Linked-to page offers value to users.

The website has an editorial process in place for content.

It’s really that simple.

What’s dangerous about this line of thinking is that chasing DA leaves you blind to opportunities right in front of you.

This includes ignoring relevance, new websites, and even low-hanging fruit in the fruitless quest for DA.

Myth 4: Asking Someone for a Link Is Spammy

As we’ve all heard, asking someone for a link or exchanging a link between sites is spammy.

But reclaiming citations or manually reaching out for a link from a relevant directory or publication should not be grouped into the same category as link exchanges.

If so, it would mean that broken link building and resource link building should be avoided.

Myth 5: High Link Velocity Contribute to Manual Penalties

Many people fear that building tons of links to a single piece of content could negatively impact its keyword rank.

As impressive as search engines are, their ability to index the entire web and identify trends like this would be nearly impossible.

Besides, it makes sense that a highly original and valuable webpage would generate backlinks exponentially on its own.

Every time somebody links to your content it increases its visibility and gives it the opportunity to acquire additional links.

If this increases keyword rank enough, this effect significantly compounds.

It’s the very idea of organic link building.

That said, if you acquire a ton of low-quality links from content networks and spammy directories, then you could be slapped with a manual penalty or significant link profile devaluation.

Myth 6: Guest Posting Negatively Contributes to Link Building

We’ve been hearing about how guest posting is dead for years.

These statements, like many from Google, were later rescinded or clarified.

Why would search engines punish you from guest posting in a highly relevant and trafficked publication to market your business and thought leadership?

Obviously, contextual links are valued higher then homepage links in your byline, but spamming your contextual links with keyword-rich anchor text could be self-defeating.

Guest posting just to build links misses the point of link building.

Guest posting, and even acquiring nofollowed links, could have indirect benefits on your digital marketing from increasing your brand visibility across the web to your flow of traffic from these sources.

Myth 7: Link Building Is All About Links

Link building can:

Increase your brand’s visibility across the web.

Increase traffic to your domain.

Showcase your brand’s authority and value.

Primarily, manual link building should be more about building relationships with other websites for marketing opportunities than simply acquiring a link.

I compare it to brand building in many aspects.

With that said, link building does have an obvious direct result in your rankings, but it also offers many positive indirect results that go on behind the scenes.


The moral of the story?

Avoid spam, but don’t avoid low-hanging fruit and good opportunities in the pursuit of DA or appeasing a penguin god.

As with everything online, digital marketing is just as filled with facts as it is fallacies.

Know how to spot the truth and follow the best practice of link building for the best results for your marketing campaign.

Featured Image Credit: Paulo Bobita

A Big Building For Big Ideas

A Big Building for Big Ideas At 17 floors, Data Sciences Center would be hub for collaboration

The stretch of pavement between BU’s College of Arts & Sciences and Sargent College will, if all goes according to plan, soon give way to a towering addition to the Boston skyline: the BU Center for Computing and Data Sciences. Encompassing mathematics and statistics, computer science, and the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering, the 17-floor building will orient this intersection as the academic heart of BU. It will also be awe-inspiring.

In spring 2013, the University’s leadership team held a design competition to “find an architect that would make a statement,” says Robert A. Brown, BU president. They selected Toronto-based KPMB Architects to construct a building that would “mark the dynamic change in the University and talk about the century we’re in”—one driven by computational and data sciences.

“Every industry is being formed by new and novel uses of data,” from medicine to media marketing, Brown says. “And those uses of data are going to keep transforming the way society works. It’s becoming inculcated in every discipline, so every one of our fields is developing a data science piece. As a university, we asked how we’ll meet that demand.”

Situated at 645 Commonwealth Avenue, at the corner of Granby Street, now the site of parking lot, the proposed 345,724-square-foot building would be the tallest on campus, at 297 feet high, with a footprint of 20,500 square feet. (By contrast, nearby Warren Towers is 174 feet tall and the Prudential Center is 750 feet high.) “By putting this building at the nexus of campus, we’re making the statement that it’s central to the University,” Brown says.

Following an approval process with the city of Boston that could take up to a year, the project could begin site preparation, including drilling test geothermal wells, in spring 2023. The team anticipates full construction to be under way in fall 2023. When the building is completed, approximately 60 percent of all BU classes will be taught within a five-minute walk of the Data Sciences Center.

“This will be a significant building that will change the architectural fabric of the University, integrating a cutting-edge design into the existing campus and enhancing BU’s—and Boston’s—skyline. People will know where Boston University is,” says Walt Meissner (CFA’81), associate vice president for operations. “You can have modern and old right next to each other if they can work well together.”

The proposed design for the Data Sciences Center picks up elements of the surrounding buildings, like the warm reds of Bay State Road’s brick townhouses, and it will change color, depending on the direction of the sun as it passes across the building’s fins. These fins “likely would be metal, a screening device that would help animate the building,” says Marianne McKenna, founding partner of KPMB. In addition to being architecturally unique, the fins are essential to the building’s energy efficiency. “The profile of the building will be quite extraordinary,” she says. “It’s very timely for BU to step out to have a landmark.” The fins echo the ridged face of the Rajen Kilachand Center for Integrated Life Sciences & Engineering building, which opened in spring 2023, and its expansive windows reflect those of the new Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre and the College of Fine Arts Production Center.

The ground floor is designed to be a public space, incorporating a café, informal lobby spaces, and general-purpose classrooms, as well as BU’s Early Childhood Learning Lab. The second floor—which may be connected to the first by “collaboration terraces” and a grand staircase—would house the BUild and the BU SPARK! programs, as well as additional classroom, collaboration, and study spaces.

The higher, more specialized floors will be organized into departmental neighborhoods connected by a central stair. “Each department has developed a common language of modular offices clustered around open collaboration and computing spaces,” according to the KPMB executive design summary. Each department’s technology-enabled active learning (TEAL) classrooms and collaborative spaces will be tailored to its individual needs. For example, computer science (floors 6 through 10) will likely be designed on an open plan, while mathematics and statistics (floors 3 through 5) may have enclosed offices. The Hariri Institute will be housed on levels 11 through 17.

“The building is designed to have flexible spaces for students and faculty to gather informally and have opportunities to collaborate,” says Jean Morrison, BU provost and chief academic officer. “It’s really state-of-the-art space that is responsive to the needs of highly collaborative and interconnected work.”

Central to this initiative are the proposed interconnected collaboration terraces that form a ramp connecting the ground and second floors. These platforms may include furnished seating areas and walls and windows intended to serve as writing surfaces. Other floors may also feature terraces, event spaces, and cafés to establish the building as a public facility, and an indoor-outdoor conference room on the 17th floor will offer dramatic views of Boston and the Charles River.

“We’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about how this building will interact, on the street level, with its surroundings,” Morrison says. The design is intended to transform adjacent Granby Street into a two-way landscaped thoroughfare that will improve access to the new Dahod Family Alumni Center and BU Admissions at the Alan and Sherry Leventhal Center, both on Bay State Road.

The proposed plans also call for redesigning the park behind the building with terraced lawns, pedestrian ramps, and bicycle storage. “You’ll be able to walk through it to Bay State Road,” Morrison says. “We want the building to be a seamless part of Commonwealth Avenue so students can easily flow in and out of it.”

If all goes according to plan, the Data Sciences Center will promote sustainable practices like reducing potable water use through low-flow and high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and mitigating light pollution by way of light features that comply with LEED requirements. It would also have between 40 and 55 geothermal wells that use the earth’s natural heat to control the building’s temperature. These, and many other aspects of the design, would ensure that the Data Sciences Center would be a 90 percent carbon-free building.

When the BU campus emerges from the snow in spring 2023 and this new building opens its doors, it will mark the University’s new architectural era and its investment in the burgeoning industry at the center of society.

“For us to build a beautiful building at the heart of our campus attests to the University’s growing strength and impact,” Morrison says. “It’s important to our continued growth as a world-class research university that we build the Data Sciences Center, and that it be architecturally significant.”

Read more about the new Data Sciences Center here.

Lara Ehrlich can be reached at [email protected].

Building A Successful Information Security Strategy For Your Business

Christopher Grey is the co-founder and COO of Manhattan Beach, California-based CapLinked, the maker of a virtual data room platform.

For the average company, information security may not feel like a top priority. However, data breaches that concern private information are unfortunately very common. These breaches have serious consequences for the companies. 

In the modern era, work-from-home practices have further expanded the need for network access. Together with concerns about breaches, information security has never been more important.

In this guide, we’ll address some of the reasons why information security is so important and offer a few tips for building a successful information security strategy for your company:

Before work-from-home arrangements became common, companies had a higher degree of control over access to their data and networks. They did not necessarily have to deal with the security concerns of off-site access to their internal networks. 

Internal access makes it much easier to identify authorized connections. But with the shift to work-from-home models that came with lockdowns during the pandemic, companies needed to make a quick shift to offer outside access to their business networks. 

For many companies, this meant that sensitive data was now accessible through the internet. While access often requires using employee credentials, these can be spoofed or compromised.

To protect information, whether it’s customer data, private employee data, or protected trade data, companies need to be aware about some key elements of security. 

The first is encryption, which prevents data transfers from being intercepted by third parties. This is a potential risk introduced by many work-from-home arrangements.

See more: 19 Best Encryption Software & Tools

Endpoint security is another major factor to consider. Firewalls and other tools are designed to prevent unauthorized access and malicious connections. When used appropriately, firewalls can allow access for work-from-home employees, while denying it to outside parties.

Lastly, it’s critical to maintain backups of sensitive information, documents, and data. Regularly backing up important data is one of the most overlooked aspects of information security, especially at small and middle market companies. Information sources should be backed up weekly to prepare for attacks or theft that could result in loss of documents.

Without a good information security strategy, your company risks data breaches. These breaches can carry a number of serious consequences. 

For example, if your company mishandles customer information, you might face legal action. When personal information is compromised, your company could lose the trust of customers for years to come.

Without a solid information security strategy in place, you also risk losing proprietary information to competitors. This could cost you your competitive edge.

See more: Top 10 Cybersecurity Threats

Some industries can face more serious information security consequences than others. Medical industries fall under the authority of HIPAA, an act designed to guarantee patient privacy. A breach of patient information under this act can carry significant fines. 

The same is true for any company that handles information for government agencies. These companies have to operate under the rules of the Federal Information Security Management Act. Failure to fully protect this sensitive data can have major consequences for your business.

See more: Top 10 Ways to Prevent Cyber Attacks

The need for information security strategies is incredibly clear. But how can these strategies be implemented for your business? 

Here are a few methods that can work for just about any business:

Distributing files and making them available for users is a complex security task. Going with a file-hosting service may not be the best choice. Using these tools can leave your organization open to significant information security risks.

Creating a secure environment for document sharing and editing is crucial. That should include having mechanisms in place like permission control, watermarking, and digital rights management. You should have the ability to safely upload files to a secure location and view them directly on your browser. Hosting documents on a secure server also allows for version control, in order to track any changes made to a file. These practices should be implemented not just for word docs, but all sensitive files, including photos, PDFs, and videos.

Another way to protect your business networks is to use multi-factor authentication (MFA). This adds another layer of protection when authorized users attempt to access the network.

To do this, you may choose to rely on a dedicated app on a trusted device or to verify user permissions through email or SMS messages. In either case, only having the right device or the login credentials shouldn’t be enough to gain access to your networks.

See more: Multi-Factor Authentication Best Practices & Solutions

Implementing customized user permissions across your organization will prevent the wrong users from accessing sensitive information, while minimizing risks of data breaches by limiting how many users access sensitive content. All files and documents in an organization should be private by default, with only relevant users being granted access to view or edit. Group permissions can be created to also limit access to documents by certain teams or departments. Access should be immediately revoked when individuals change roles or leave an organization.

There’s no question about it — your business can’t afford to go without an effective information security strategy.

By creating the right protocols, you can protect your sensitive data, your customers, and your reputation.

See more: Top Cloud Security Companies & Solutions

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