Ruud Questions: Arnie Kuenn

by Ruud Hein March 12th, 2010 

Arnie is one of those people I think deserve more credit. Then again, he most likely gets just that but from his large clientele. Street cred versus rockstar fame, so to say.
Hes on the link building side of things, the place I call in the trenches " its fascinating to get his input on that.

Click the tweet-thiswitter icon to tweet a quote

Search engines went from a spam mess to being quite relevant. Now the emphasis seems to be on pushing out the most recent status update or Tweet as fast as possible. Why is that? What's the use?

Arnie Kuenn Well I certainly cannot speak for Google, Bing or anyone else, but I personally feel it was a bit of pressure and a reactionary move to the success of Twitter and Facebook. 

Clearly people like and want real-time information, which partially explains the amazing growth of Twitter and FB, so the search engines figured they would give it to us.  However, whats the use? is a good question.  I dont see much use in it myself. 

If I want Twitter updates I go to Twitter or my favorite Twitter app.  I am not sure I have ever clicked on a real time results in a SERP.  The implementation has been so clunky, I usually hate to see them there as they just get in the way of what I am really looking for. 

In fact, new studies indicate that most users look right past the real-time results.

High level, how do you see these real time results folding back into link building campaigns? Just keep on repeating a certain tweet until enough people see it?

Arnie KuennI dont really see them affecting link building campaigns at all unless you are using Twitter to promote link worthy content.  In that case, sure, Tweet away and hope it hits the search results and that people click through to the content. But practically speaking, I dont think that is the right approach or a very good use of our valuable time.  (Not to mention the spam factor.)

We played with that a little here, and unless you have just the right opportunity its pretty hard to match up a clients content with the right Tweet and have it displayed on a regular basis in the search results. So we tend to just ignore that whole side of the equation right now.

There's always a lot of talk about how this or that in SEO, in Google, changes but unless it's painfully "in your face", there's not a lot of talk about what's changing in link building. As a self styled link building expert — what has changed and what is changing?

Arnie KuennNo doubt in the last year, off-site or off-page optimization went through the biggest change.

The part of the Google algorithm that calculates link juice is getting more and more refined making it more difficult to achieve success with traditional link building methods.

If a
link
is easy
to obtain, Google
knows it,
and discounts it
The methods we used for link building in previous years are almost impossible now, unless you are able to tolerate a higher risk level which is another way of saying paid or rented links.

I often say that if a link is easy to obtain, Google knows it, and discounts it tweet-this accordingly.

Most people think of Vertical Measures as a link building company, and for the most part that is still very true, however, we have dramatically changed our methods to obtaining links for our clients over the years.  Today, our link building strategies always include promoting link worthy content via social media and other viral techniques to get high quality and diverse links for our clients.

Going forward the old saying content is king is going to move from slogan to reality. 

Between the push technology that is on the horizon, and constant improvement to the algorithms, content is going to be a huge factor in backlinks and ultimately rankings.

Facebook is growing to be "almost" as large or important a traffic driver as Google. Game changer or "whatever"? And — why?

Arnie KuennGame changer might be a pretty good word for it. 

But first a little disclosure: I am not much of a Facebook user, and we have some experts on our staff who implement our FB campaigns for our clients, so I am not anything close to a Facebook expert. 

But I do have an opinion I see our staff and my wife engaged on Facebook every day, morning til night.  I have never seen this before and I have been in the tech business for more than 25 years.  Any time you have this much traffic and engagement you have a serious player. 

I am certain Google does not want to be relegated to a research site where people go to find information, but this is clearly possible with the rapid development of FB and Twitter. 

Google is still the best site in the world for B2B and even B2B conversions, but if they are losing Internet time in a significant way to other sites, we could see a bit of a change in the game.  After all, there are only 24 hours in a day and how we use it really matters to all of the major players online.

"You get what you pay for" is a common warning among link builders. So, if a shady link building company would simply raise its price from $10/month to $2000/month — how would a business site owner know what to look for to determine the good from the bad?

Arnie KuennWow that is a great question Ruud. And a really difficult one to answer.  We lose some prospects to the low cost providers.  We try to warn them, but most people just have to learn on their own.  I cant fault them either. 

link building is problem solvingOver the years we have tried it all.  A couple of years ago I even went to India in hopes of setting up an SEO team inside of a call center to build links for us.  It didnt work.  SEO and link building is a lot of problem solving.  What we found is that the cheap providers want to crank out links like they are a factory.  A few years ago that worked, today, it just does not work. 

Sure you can always find examples of site ranking and all you see in their backlink profile is tons of free directories and cheap blog posts, but 95% of the time the way you get ranked is having a really solid on-page SEO strategy coupled with a high quality backlink profile.

So how does the average person know the difference up front?  We tell the prospective client to call the link building company before you hire them. Cant find their phone number? Big red flag.  Find a number, but no one answers during business hours?  Not a good sign.  Now if someone does answer, ask them if they can create a custom link building campaign for your specific website.  Most of the time they will recommend directories and articles, nothing special and nothing that will truly make a difference.

You gauge the value of links, for sure. You're not just throwing links at a site until something sticks. That means that you know what you're looking for. What are some quality indicators you can share that people can use to determine if the links *they* are getting are any good?

Arnie KuennThis is also a bit difficult to answer in this format.  There are so many different factors that can determine a quality backlink. It takes many months for us to develop a link builder.  We know they are a professional link builder when they can eyeball a page and determine the value of a link from that page. 

Factors like traffic, backlinks, cache date, Google pagerank, the number of outbound links on the page, location on the page, and anchor text all help determine the value of a link.  There are also some great tools now that can help you quickly determine a good page for a link.  We use SEOmoz tools and their Mozrank to help us quickly determine the value of a link. 

With all that said, I think the first rule of thumb would be are you proud of that link? If not, its probably not worth much.

I imagine link building as its own competitiveness scale, but then one based on linkability. Is that true? Is it easier to build links for a beer site than it is for a life insurance one? And; does that reflect on pricing?

Arnie KuennYes, linkability is a huge factor in determining the ease of getting links, which certainly has an affect on pricing. 

You see us talking a lot about link worthy content.  We look at a clients site to see if they have content that people might want to (voluntarily) link to.  If not, we often develop content for them.  As I mentioned above, a lot of what we do is create link worthy content, not just Linkbait, but real content, then we work hard to promote it.  Most of the time the links will come.  Not always, but maybe 60-70% of the pages we promote will draw a decent amount of backlinks.  The more fun or educational or interesting the piece, the easier it is to promote. 

Beer, and related content, will probably be easier to promote than say insurance.  If we have a lackluster or more highly competitive market, and nothing special to promote, the job is much more difficult and often times much more expensive.  Remember, the site you are asking to get a link from wants to know whats in it for them.  If the link is not a great experience for their visitors, they will often want something in exchange.  And I think we all know what that means.

If link spikes are tempered in value, which we suspect, is running viral campaigns in some cases something you would wish *not* to do?

Arnie KuennI think the only time a viral campaign is a bad idea is when you just do it once, it works, and its the only thing you do to gain backlinks.  Our recommendation is to be consistent in whatever approach you take to obtaining links.  If its viral campaigns, keep at it. Better yet, try several different methods so that you are building links from a variety of sources.

The New Poor, the New York Times calls them: the millions of people who'll be unemployed for years to come. Part of the reason of these Q&A's is to give enough value to maybe help some of those people out. Today is your chance to *click* with someone and help them change their life. If they were to make the step to making a living online then what should they be doing the coming 6-12 months in regard to link building?

Arnie KuennWe have hired quite a few people that were laid off from industries that cratered over the last couple of years.  Some with minimal experience in our industry.  And I dont just mean the link building industry, but the search marketing industry in general. 

What we look for are really bright people who have accomplished something significant in their life (graduating from college could be one example) and demonstrated they wanted to get into the search industry.  We ask them questions like What blogs do you follow?, What are your 3 favorite SEO websites?, Can you show us your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts?, How familiar are you with the terms anchor text, backlinks and title tag?, Have you set up a blog?.  All of these are things someone can do from home and demonstrate their sincerity in becoming an online marketing person. 

So my recommendation would be to go out and do those things so you can answer questions like that, you can learn an incredible amount about our industry online.  You will be much further ahead than most.

If you wouldn't be working, you'd be…

Arnie KuennFirst of all, my wife tells me I will never retire, at least never stop working.  But if I were to do so, I really enjoy fishing, especially bass fishing.  I also love to golf, but almost never have the time to.  I cannot tell you the last time I was on the course.  I also like to read and travel.  So if I could do anything I would travel the world, fishing, golfing and reading " with my best friend " my wife.  A man can dream!

Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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4 Responses to “Ruud Questions: Arnie Kuenn”

  1. John Soares says:

    Excellent SEO ideas here.

    Regarding Facebook, more and more people are on it, including me. And I see people using it to promote their businesses, either subtly on personal pages or openly on Fan pages. And I think it can have good ROI, once you have a large number of friends or fans.
    .-= John Soares recently posted: 5 Reasons Why You Should Subscribe to Angela Hoy’s WritersWeekly Ezine =-.

  2. [...] Ruud Questions: Arnie Kuenn, Search Engine People [...]

  3. Great to see Arnie get some press and recognition. He is a great guy and as Rudd says, way undercredited (is that even a word).

    Thanks for providing some insights into the link building industry and yet not giving away the "juicy" secrets so all can see. ;)

  4. [...] Ruud interviews Arnie Kuenn over at Search Engine People, and they discuss some advanced link building topics. I particularly like the part where Arnie says, "You see us talking a lot about link worthy content. We look at a client’s site to see if they have content that people might want to (voluntarily) link to. If not, we often develop content for them. As I mentioned above, a lot of what we do is create link worthy content, not just Linkbait, but real content, then we work hard to promote it." [...]