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Mr. Rogers’ link neighborhood – should you do a link exchange?



Won’t you be my neighbor?

Mr. Rogers as a dinosaur. Original photo by Mike Procario.Chances are if you’ve had your real estate website and/or blog up and running for a while, you’ve received a few (ha!) requests for link exchanges from other real estate agents, mortgage companies, pharmaceutical companies, etc.

What you may not realize is reciprocal linking is not always so good for you.  In fact, it can get you penalized by the likes of Google as I mentioned to Phil Boren.  The thing to keep in mind is you want significantly more non-reciprocal links to stay under the radar.

The best links you can get are from a subject-related link neighborhood.

You’re growing inside

So what exactly is a link neighborhood?

Everett Sizemore, an eCommerce SEO consultant, explains:

“A link neighborhood is a group of websites that are associated with each other through hyperlinks. They can be topic-specific, such as a group of real estate websites; or they can be geographic, such as a group of businesses and organizations from Denver, Colorado. They can also be spammy, such as a group of non-related websites from all over the world linking to each other from dynamic “links” pages with the only binding thread being that they all subscribe to the same link building software.”

You might be wondering, do all the websites in the link neighborhood link to each other (like a link wheel)? Everett clarifies:

“Not all websites in “the neighborhood” have to link to all other websites. If a local chamber of commerce links out to several local businesses, some of which link to each other and/or back to the chamber of commerce – that would be a geographic link
neighborhood – and sites found to be within that neighborhood (both literally and virtually) would probably end up outranking competitors for geo-targeted keyword searches (ie Denver Dentist), all other things being equal.”

Now that you know what a link neighborhood is, you’ll probably want to know how to research a good neighborhood or two to get links for your own website.

Mister Rogers and his trolley

I’ll have more ideas for you

A good place to start is to read my last post on competitive analysis if you haven’t already.  I mention several free tools for doing back link research.  Researching a link neighborhood is very similar.  Pick a couple of sites who rank well and use those tools to see who is linking in to them.  The great thing about these tools is they typically will order the results based on authority.  Nice.

You can also scan your site now (or link exchange page if you have one…did you read what I said about those above?) with the bad neighborhood link checker.  It’s free.

Besides those suggestions, many search professionals and other serious web marketing folks pay for access to some really nice tools.

Here are a few you might want to check out:

  • Raven: I personally subscribe to the Raven tool set as it is an ever-improving group of SEO management awesomeness.  More to the point, they have a really nice, comprehensive tool called “Backlink Explorer” which will allow you to review the link neighborhood of any website, including your own.  (Starts at $19/month and has a free 30-day trial)
  • SEOmoz: I’ve been a long time subscriber to SEOmoz’s tool sets and attended the advanced search engine conferences in Seattle.  Their tool set is also filled with awesome things, but the one on point with this blog post is their “Backlink Analysis” and have “Competitive Link Research Tool” in their labs. (Starts at $79/month; there are some free tools but the best require a paid account)
  • SEOBook: While I don’t personally use this tool, I did use it when it was free and it was great too. (Starts at $300/month)

And finally, you don’t have to do start your link research in your own market.  Frequently, I’ll pick an outside market and see how the ranking look in that area and you’ll often find good links that might be missing from your market.  Then move on to your own market.

And you’ll have things you’ll want to talk about

I hope you do. Leave some comments; ask some questions. The inspiration for this post came from a comment in a previous post (as noted at the top) so let me know what you want me to talk about.

You always make it a special day and a special week for me, by just your being you. There’s only one person in this whole world like you; that’s you yourself, and I like you just the way you are.

Fred M. Rogers is not affiliated with, Raven, SEOMoz or the SEO Book.

Marty Martin is an accomplished SEM/SEO anti-consultant with a broad range of experience working for a wide variety of clientele including colleges and universities, regional and state tourism, government and business. An advocate for business, Marty works hard to share accurate information in a world suddenly overrun with "social media consultants."

Opinion Editorials

How top performers work smarter, not harder

(EDITORIAL) People at the top of their game work less, but with more focus – learn how to replicate their good habits to get ahead.



working smarter

Practice, practice and more practice will get you to be more competent in what you do, but working smarter isn’t always about competency, at least in business. Productivity expert, Morten T. Hansen’s studies indicate that multitasking is detrimental to working smarter. But it’s only half of the problem.

Hansen discovered that the top performers did not try to do thousands of things at a time. He’s not the only one.

Earl Miller, an MIT neuroscientist outlines why humans cannot multitask. As he puts it, “our brains… delude us into thinking we can do more.” But this is an illusion. When we interrupt the creative process, it takes time to get refocused to be creative and innovative. It’s better to focus on one project for a set amount of time, take a break, then get started on another project.

Hansen also found in his research that the top performers focused on fewer goals. He recommends cutting everything in the day that isn’t producing value. As a small business owner, you have to look at which tasks bring in the most profit. This might mean that you outsource the bookkeeping that takes you hours or give up being on a committee at the Chamber of Commerce that is taking too much time away from your business.

Taking on less work will help you work smarter, but Hansen found that it goes hand-in-hand with obsessing over what you do have to do.

When you have fewer burning fires, you can dedicate your time to these tasks to create quality work. According to Hansen, this one thing took middle performers at the 50th percentile and put them into the 75th percentile. When someone is competent in writing reports, for example, and can focus their energy into that, the work is much better.

Top performers also take breaks to rest their brains. One of my favorite analogies is the one where a lumberjack is given a stack of wood that needs to be cut down. He starts with a sharp ax, but over time, as the ax gets dull it becomes harder to chop the wood. By taking a break and sharpening the ax, more gets accomplished with less effort.

Your brain is like that ax. It works great when you first get to work. You’re excited to get started. In a couple of hours, your brain needs a break. Go outside and take a walk. Get away from your desk. Do something different for 15 minutes. When you come back, you should feel like you have a second jolt of energy to take on tasks until you break for lunch. Science backs the need for breaks during the day.

By taking breaks, obsessing over what you have to do, and laser focusing on fewer goals, you’ll be outperforming your competitors (and even coworkers). Work smarter, not harder.

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Opinion Editorials

The real key to working smarter, not harder

(EDITORIAL) We’ve all heard that we should be working harder, not smarter, but how does one go about doing that aside from a bunch of apps?



working smarter, not working harder

I know you’ve heard the phrase, “work smarter, not harder,” but what does that mean exactly? How do you work smarter?

A new book by Morten T. Hansen attempts to answer the question. “Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More” was released at the end of January. Hansen found 7 different behaviors outside of education levels, age and number of hours worked. I’d like to take a look at a couple of the things he recommends. Read the book if you want to know more.

Let’s continue on by addressing the 10,000 Hour Theory of Expertise. Under this principle, it’s thought that if you spend 10,000 hours in deliberate practice of a skill, you’ll become world-class in any field. The Beatles are thought to have used this theory to become one of the greatest bands in history. But it’s not just about practicing until your fingers bleed or you can’t stay awake any longer, it’s really about pushing yourself in an area.

Although it has been argued that this theory doesn’t necessarily apply in business or professions, there’s something to be said about deliberate practice.

When it comes to working smarter, no, you don’t need to spend 10,000 hours in the workplace to get better at your job. But you can put some of the principles of the theory in action:

  • Pick a skill that you need to develop. There’s no way you can work on every skill at the same time. Just choose one to focus on for three months, or six months. Review your performance now. Have a benchmark of where you want to take that skill.
  • Carve out time to work on that skill. Spend 15 minutes a day doing something that helps you get better. You know the old joke? How do you get to Carnegie Hall? “Practice.” You’re going to have to find ways to practice.
  • Work on specific elements of a skill. Typically, the skills we want to improve involve a lot of smaller things. Take a good presentation. You need connect with people, have a good outline and learn to have diction and tons of other things. Work on one thing at a time. ?I used to have a real problem with looking at people when I was giving a presentation. For quite a few months, I made it a priority to be conscious of making eye contact. No matter who I was talking to, the cashier, a patron at the center where I volunteer and even my neighbors. It’s much easier now for me.
  • Get feedback. You may believe you’re making progress, but others may have a different vantage point. Find a couple of good mentors who can really evaluate your performance and offer constructive criticism.

Repeat until your skill-set grows.

To get better, you need challenge and practice. Believe me, you’re going to make some mistakes along the way. Get up, dust yourself off and keep practicing.

Competence in a particular area goes a long way toward working smarter.

But wait, there’s more – the discussion continues in part two of this series, keep reading!

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Social Media

How to quickly make your LinkedIn profile stand out from the masses

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Most of us have a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn, but no matter your feelings, you should be the one who stands out in a crowd – here’s how.




Your LinkedIn is your brand. That’s it. Whether you are job hunting (or people are hunting you), or are showing off your business, insight, acumen, or simply networking; your profile on LinkedIn needs to stay appealing and not drive potential headhunters, bosses, clients, or networking groups bananas.

Let’s start with a three part list of what you MUST do, what you SHOULD do, and what you COULD do.

Here’s what you MUST DO (as in, do it now).

  1. Get a #GREAT LinkedIn photo. Nothing sells you like the right profile picture. No selfies. No mountain biking. Get a professional headshot. Don’t lie about your age. Wear what you wear when you’re on the job. Smile. People are visual.
  2. Simplify your profile. Cut the buzzwords. Cut out excess skills that don’t add to your vision or that don’t represent the kind of job you want. (i.e. most of us can use Outlook but few of us need to mention that skill because we don’t support Outlook). Focus on the skills that are important.
  3. Keep it current. Your LinkedIn should reflect your career and current responsibilities. Update the description. Add new projects. Change your groups as you change in your career and move towards new levels. Indicate when you receive a promotion.
  4. Extra, Extra! Headlines. Don’t use something lame for your headline. How would you want to catch a headhunter to look at you if you could only say 10 words? Make it standout. There are thousands of managers – but only one you.
  5. Custom URL. Just do it. Pick your own URL. It’s FREEEEEEE.
  6. Get the app. Make LinkedIn a part of your mobile life and check it more often than you do Snapchat.

Here’s what you SHOULD DO (Set aside some time at Starbucks and go do this in the next month).

  1. Tell your story. Your summary should bring to live the content of your career. Don’t leave that section blank. Spend some time crafting a cool story. Run it by your professional mentor. Send it to your English major friends.
  2. Connect. Add colleagues. Add partners from other organizations. Use connections to broaden your network. Synch your profile with your address book. Add people after a conference.
  3. Endorse your connections. Identify people you’ve worked with and give them the endorsements – which can get them to come endorse you!
  4. Ask for recommendations. Ask a colleague, partner, or manager to write you a recommendation to help advertise your skills.
  5. Add a nice cover photo. Again, visual people. Some more on that here.

Here’s what you COULD DO (If you’re feeling dedicated, what you can do to give yourself an extra edge.)

  1. Share your media. Upload presentations, videos, speeches, or projects that you can share. (Don’t violate company policy though!).
  2. Publish original content. LinkedIn has a vibrant publishing feature and sharing your original work (or content you’ve published elsewhere) is a great way to share your voice.
  3. Post status updates. Share your reactions. Share articles. Repost from influencers. Be active and keep your feed vibrant.

That’s a quick list to get started. So go start your LinkedIn makeover (and I’ll go do the same). Let’s get connected!

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