Yesterday I attended Distilled’s sell out Link Love 2012 conference in London. This was my first visit to an SEO conference and I was lucky enough to watch presentations given by the industry’s leading search engine marketing experts. In this post I’m going to share with you a few key pointers from each presentation.

I highly recommend that you download and view the decks of all speakers especially those by Rand Fishkin, Wil Reynolds and Martin MacDonald.


Rand Fishkin | SEO Moz

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In recent weeks 700,000 ‘notice of unnatural links’ have been sent to webmasters via Google Webmaster tools. It’s only a matter of time before the impact of this action is felt in Europe too.What’s best for your business? A great content strategy or throwing lots of cash at links?

  • Google claims that they don’t use the Facebook open graph. A quick check in your Google account will show you that they do.
  • Facebook search is coming and it will be driven not by links, but by social signals.
  • The true measure of your marketing activity is customer acquisition cost ratio – the cost of acquiring a customer versus how much they are worth to your business. Reduce the cost of customer acquisition and you will win.
  • Content is the key to all online channels – search, social and brand visibility. We must look beyond links and work on our brands.
  • Take questions from Quora and answer them on your blog.
  • An example of great video content: – the SEO was wrong but they did reach an audience of 4 million of which 250,000 have signed up.


Mike King | iACQUIRE

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An overview of research conducted into the distribution and response rate of outreach emails.

  • It shouldn’t matter who sends the outreach email; male or female – there isn’t much of a difference.
  • Personalised outreach emails have a higher closure rate. If you can’t personalise, ‘hey’ is better than ‘hello’.
  • Outreach emails should ideally be around about 1,000 characters in length.
  • To increase the closure rate manually send emails at 09:00 on a Tuesday.
  • Alternatively if you prefer automation then schedule your emails to be sent at 02:00 on a Saturday. Tools like Boomerang can help with this scheduling and ensure that you can get some sleep.
  • Include a high quality company logo in your email signature when sending an outreach email. For even better results link this logo to your website.
  • Strangely the results weren’t so good when a telephone number was included; so leave this out.
  • Be persistent, it will pay off.
  • Stop using the terms ‘link juice’, ‘link equity‘ sounds much better!
  • In addition to using a brand’s Twitter account, create additional ‘persona’ accounts using your real name and photo. These should target specific niches.


Branko Rihtman | Rankabove

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Some excellent insights into the science behind SEO and the use of Microsoft Excel.

  • Take an investigative approach to SEO. ‘Tinker’ with things and see what works and what does not. Making mistakes is all part of the journey.
  • It is not enough to link to a page, nor is it enough to focus on social signals. A combination is optimal as the social signals help to maintain longevity.
  • When measuring social outreach as a product of the number of links per social signal +1s on Google+ were found to be more effective than Facebook shares and likes and Tweets.
  • If you want your Pinterest pages to rank well, make sure you link to them.
  • Tip: try to do the things that search engines want to be doing themselves.


Jane Copland | Ayima

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What are the links that really matter? How you can get those links that your competitors can’t.

  • There isn’t much point following the crowd when it comes to link building.
  • You can easily build links and match your competitors in this department, but it’s those strokes of genius that set you above the competition.
  • Try to seek out the opportunities that competitors fail to see.
  • Create great link worthy content and others will reward this with links to that content.
  • Power users on Twitter might even share it!
  • If your business is mentioned somewhere don’t be shy; promote it. For example, ‘As featured in …’.
  • PR Web is a great tool for locating journalists and their subject interests.


Wil Reynolds | SEER Interactive

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The outstanding presentation at Link Love London 2012. Real link building value and real relationships #JFDI!

  • It’s all about the relationships you build with people online.
  • Don’t be afraid of going after the ‘big target’, but build the relationship before you ask for the link.
  • People follow people that add real value.
  • iGoogle can be transformed into a great tool for ‘stalking’ and monitoring these ‘big targets’.
  • Simply install the Google Chrome RSS plugin and this will import your target’s web interactions into iGoogle. Now we have Really Simple Stalking.
  • Analyse who they follow and build a profile in order to discover opportunities to help the target.
  • Use Mozenda to scrape Twitter user details.
  • is a great place to help you get more followers. All you have to do is help them and they’ll follow you.
  • Tip: buying followers can help you ‘fake it ’till you make it’ by establishing you as an authority on Twitter.
  • Tip: to discover how shareable a user’s post is simply add a + to the end of their URL.


Tom Anthony | Distilled

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Does Google still love links? Are they moving more towards social or a combination of the two?

  • Google prefilters a page to work out how trustworthy it is.
  • Links are a proportionately diminishing part of the algorithm. In the last 2 years 15% of the algorithm that was based on link signals has been moved across to other factors.
  • When link building try to diversify. Think of your competition, would your link profile stand out if compared?
  • The Panda update sacrificed some good companies in order to bring down a load of bad companies.
  • These sort of updates are showing that Google are more than prepared to deal with a little collateral damage if it means that they can remove the bad guys.
  • Google is preparing to unleash another update that will clean up the web. The last update saw 30,000 domains deindexed overnight.
  • Make sure you use the rel=”Author” tag in your blog posts. This is a strong positive signal to Google’s social graph.
  • The social graph is different to the web graph and so it will not replace links. However, author data could replace them.
  • Tip: Try to create authors in every business and make sure that they have trustworthy and active social profiles.
  • Trustworthy authors that recommend sites will have a greater impact on that site than a link.
  • Shift from where are we getting links from to who are we getting links from.


Martin MacDonald | Expedia EAN

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A superb and enjoyable, no-nonsense presentation. How to scale link building.

  • If your competitors build links in a certain way, don’t do the same. You have to innovate – go against the flow, it’s much easier to win.
  • Build a community of link builders and think big.
  • Incentivise your community to build the links on your behalf.
  • Publish great content on key content systems and you will get great links.
  • Scale your link building efforts by creating widgets that are compatible with the most popular Content Management Systems (CMS).
  • Use rel=”canonical” to control link equity.
  • Don’t follow the crowd.


Will Critchlow | Distilled

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The hierarchy of needs by Distilled founder Will Critchlow.

  • If your campaign is failing, start by asking ‘why’ 5 times. This should help you get to the root cause.
  • Why do you not get links? Often it’s not doing enough of the right things regularly enough. Move quickly.
  • Look at areas where you are good and become great. If you have a good email list then do something great with it.
  • Visitors will generate links if your content is good enough. Analyse the number of links you get per visitor. Improve that and then improve traffic.
  • Benchmark yourself against a competitor that is doing it better than you at the moment, but you know that you can beat them.
  • Analogy: a content library is like physical real estate.
  • Analogy: a good conversion rate is like an efficient supply chain.
  • Look at Gawker’s editorial strategy: write less, but make it better.
  • If you’ve got an idea launch the smallest component of that idea that will test the biggest risk factor.
  • Can you think of 10 target sites to link to your idea in 10 minutes? If not it’s a dumb idea. If you can, have these sites linked to such a thing before?
  • Discover what you need to improve and win.
  • Pitch big visions and small next steps.
  • Experiment to find ways to improve and to persuade.
  • Invest with evidence and experience in hand.
  • A conversion rate win over your competitors is a key competitive advantage as it means you have a greater margin and can invest in more marketing.

I hope that you find these pointers helpful and if you were at Linklove 2012 say hello and leave me a comment.

A big thank you to @zazzlemedia who through their post have helped to refresh my memory a little. For a more comprehensive review of the day I recommend you read Foliovision’s post.