Can you explain the expertness three-legged stool (Inbound, Outbound and External) and how each is important to a successful SEO campaign?
Sure. The expertness three-legged stool relates to the link profile for your site and is a part of how your site conveys importance, trust and authority. A link in the online world is a vote of confidence.
When you link to something, you are saying, “this is important or relevant, check it out.” Other sites are saying that when they link to you, and you are saying that when you link to others.
Your internal linking structure also has a lot to do with siloing, and since we just talked about that, let’s start there. Your internal linking structure is a user’s navigation through your site. When done correctly, it should be extremely easy for search engine spiders and users to move about your site and find what they need.
The more technical part of that concept is PageRank. PageRank is a way that Google determines the value of your internal, inbound and outbound link profile. Google links to an explanation about PageRank in Wikipedia from its corporate site, if you want to learn more about it.
So you can build authority through the way you link internally – which pages you “vote” for. Similarly, you can build authority by who you link to and who links to you.
Your page importance is measured in many ways, generally based upon who you associate with online. When you link to another site, then you are saying “I recommend this site.” And you are passing PageRank from your site to theirs. But if you link to a low-quality or spam site, then that link harms your reputation and hurts your own site.
So you want to consider who you are linking to for the protection of your site, your brand and also your audience. You want to create an experience that is continuous for your users and the search engine spiders when they leave your site.
Now your inbound link profile; this contains the sites that are linking to you. The more people who link to your site, the more votes you get, and the more your site can be viewed as an authority. Likewise, spam sites can also link to you and hurt your site. And while you can’t control who links to you organically, there are some things that are in your control.
When Google’s Penguin algorithm update hit, many of the sites that were penalized by losing their rankings were those with suspicious and unnatural inbound links. So sites that had lots of other sites pointing to them with the same keyword-rich anchor text were among those that were hit, for example.
Google sees something like this and it’s a red flag that it’s probably something that is part of a manipulative plan to get rankings. And the search engine doesn’t take kindly to sites that are trying to game the system.
So the takeaway here is to be strategic with your internal, outbound and inbound links. When your link strategy is done correctly, aside from the technical PR aspect, you are ultimately helping your brand, the search engine spiders and your audience with the online experience you are creating.
For someone looking to do SEO what software tools do you use and recommend?
There are a lot of great tools out there. We have SEO tools of our own called the SEOToolSet®. Our SEOToolSet offers a lot of critical data to marketers. We launched Version 5 in 2010 with a bunch of new, great features, and we’re planning to unveil a major release of our tools in the few months. Our tools are feature rich, yet inexpensive.
A couple of other tools that are well liked: Majestic SEO as a link analysis tool and SEMrush as a keyword research tool.
When you’re thinking about tools, more important than just gathering data is to know how to apply it. So we always talk about the intersection where data and wisdom meet to offer the most strategic approach to your SEO.
How can someone who is just starting a company learn more about the science of SEO?
You can read books and blogs, take SEO training, listen to webinars, go to workshops and attend search marketing conferences like SES and SMX. But nothing beats getting in there and learning from experience.
Before the experience happens, however, the most important thing is to learn how to do the fundamentals of “White Hat” SEO very well. This ensures your approach to SEO is solid, and all your efforts can always fall back on that. This is the approach we teach in our SEO training classroom and conference SEO workshops.
And don’t forget the importance of continuing education. Just as SEO is an iterative process, so is your marketing education.
In conclusion, if you were as inspired as I was in learning the answers to these questions and would like to learn more about these topics and more I would highly suggest anyone who does SEO whether you have done it for a long time or if your just starting out to take this workshop and read the book he co-authored with Susan Esparza “Search Engine Optimization All-In-One for Dummies”. This book can be purchased on Amazon. But, once you have taken the workshop I can tell you that it is well worth it to take the week long course that goes even further in depth into SEO and all the seminars are taught by Bruce Clay himself, the Master of SEO.