Christoph Cemper, founder and CEO of LinkResearchTools shares some of his industry leading knowledge with PI- and gives us a taste of what to expect from his speaker session ‘Lessons in Link-Building and Good SEO‘ at Performance Marketing Insights this month. 

For those who are not as familiar with LinkResearchTools, please can you summarise what the company does? 

Christoph Cemper: LinkResearchTools belongs to the forerunners in developing SEO software solutions that help users rank better in Google. We know that in today’s world nobody can afford to neglect a strong Web presence or risk it with wrong tactics. No matter whether you are a SEO-expert or a beginner, if you want your business to be competitive on the Web, you need to understand what powers your competitors and make yourself visible in the best possible way.

This is why we offer a broad range of tools, covering all off-page areas of SEO – be it to fix your own site or learn tricks from your competition. Our software helps people find out what has brought them to their ranking, and how they can make use of their link potentials to the fullest.

Do you constantly have to adapt your business approach in response to Google’s updates? How do you keep ahead?

CC: Well, Google gets better every day, and so do we. It’s no secret that Google has never revealed their algorithm, so the only way to find out what works in Google, is constant observing, testing and listening to our broad community of certified LinkResearchTools professionals. As a matter of fact, we’ve seen SEOs turn to desperation when trying to comply with the seemingly unpredictable Google algorithm changes and ever-changing rules for link quality. Let’s be honest, people don’t have time to unlock Google’s secrets, and they fail desperately when searching for the answers Google doesn’t give them. But fortunately, we at LinkResearchTools can make use of more than 10 years of experience and SEO-expertise to provide users with the information and tools they need.

Take Google Penguin for example. The penalty was just a matter of time in coming, but innumerable websites were hit hard after its release and suffered drastic drops in ranking. Anticipating Google updates is thus a must.

This does not only apply to penalties, but to Google ranking calculations as well. From what we have observed, Google does not only include technical data to its calculation, but also feedback from users. This is something that SEOs must consider for their own analysis and the reason why we extended our algorithm in the same way. Users must be able to rate individual links to get more precise results. By doing so, they will also train the system for future evaluations.

How do we keep ahead? Well, it is thanks to our broad client base that we can generate significant user stats and simulate Google calculations in the first place. Our users and their input helps us get the best of our tools.

What can the audience expect to take away from your speaker session?

CC: In my session, I’ll be happy to share my expertise in the field of SEO, link building and penalty recovery. I will present the cornerstones of a future proof strategy for safe SEO and link risk management in a post-Penguin world era. Strategies, tactics, DOs and DON’Ts will be covered just like key learnings from 1,000s of recovered websites and analyses of “given” statements like “NoFollow hurt” cannot hurt you. Be prepared for deep data dives into high profile sites and a lot of data.

Without giving too much away ahead of your session, what would be your three fundamental principles of good SEO practice? 

CC: The three basic rules for link building are: Recover – Protect – Build.

In your first step, you need to recover from your Google penalty. This is what we refer to as “Link Detox”. There are hundreds of internal variables and dozens of metrics to evaluate your link profile and tell good links from bad ones. Find all harmful links that point to your website and get rid of them, either by contacting the webmasters directly, or by uploading a disavow file to Google. Both are critical elements when going through a reconsideration request with the Google Spam team. We also have ways to ensure those actions are actually seen faster by Google, so there are ways to boost the recovery process.
As soon as you have cleaned up your link profile, your second step should be to make sure you protect your site from future penalties and negative SEO. This is was we call “Link Risk Management”. Monitor your link profile regularly, classify your links by risk types and risk probability, and receive notification whenever backlinks to your site change. Regular review will allow you to react right away in case of unwanted changes.

Last but not least you should check out your link potential and start building strong and trustworthy links. To do that, you should become familiar with your market. There are basically two tasks on your agenda: first, check out your niche-specific requirements. Then set the keywords, countries, and language settings you need. Keep in mind that every niche is different, so use your personalised settings to achieve the best possible results. Second, check out your competition. See where they have strong and healthy links that you could use for yourself. Don’t let your competitors overrule your ranking, but instead learn from your competition to get to the top. But before you start though, make sure these links are really trustworthy and healthy. The best thing you can do is check the links you want to build in a What-If mode and see how your link profile will change.

Having worked in SEO and link building for over ten years, what have been your biggest highlights working in the industry, and biggest challenges you’ve faced?

CC: There is no doubt the biggest shift in SEO was the time when Google first released Penguin in 2012. All of a sudden, bad links became harmful. Up until then, common practice in SEO was to build as many links as you could, regardless the quality of the link. SEO meant buying hundreds of random links – every dog has its day.

But this SEO practice started go down the hill in 2012 with the first Penguin release. Out of the blue, Google started to penalise bad links, and rankings dropped drastically. As mentioned before, it was actually just a matter of time before Google put an end to the era of link spamming. But still, many website owners were caught by surprise.

This has led to critical voices pronouncing SEO as dead. And yes, it was, or at least the former SEO-strategy. However, ranking in Google remained important so a new type of SEO was born. Website owners are now faced with a new challenge: clean up the messy leftovers from the past, make sure it doesn’t happen again and build new, healthy links for the future, which brings us back to our link building strategy from above: Recover – Protect – Build.

Do you have a networking strategy for the event, or any tips you’d care to share? 

CC: Socialising at the event is not only a pleasure, but also very important to me. I always enjoy seeing familiar faces and meeting the masterminds behind other exciting innovations. Networking and social media is what brings to life the best ideas. I’m looking forward to learning new views and perspectives – it helps you think outside the box sometimes. And other than that: tweets proved to keep you up to date at conferences and events like these, and besides, an easy way to catch up for breakfast.  

Finally, what are your must attend sessions at PMI London?

CC: Well, there’s obviously plenty of interesting sessions. I’m very excited to see Owen Hancock and Ed Lovelock speak on smart uses of data. Integrating audience data is becoming a huge topic in SEO as well so I’m really interested in hearing more about their findings. The same goes for Marcus Tandler and Frank Fuchs discussing the impact of customer behaviour on the search scene. Customer input is essential, I can speak from experience here. Having met Frank in Munich just end of September and Marcus dozens of times, I’m very happy to connect with them once again in person. It’s always enlightening to meet such bright minds in person.

And as I always try to keep an eye on future developments, I wouldn’t miss Mark Andres’ contribution on Performance Marketing Technology and the next big innovation. Let’s see what exciting developments the future will bring.