Stalking for Links: Wil Reynolds

Part 5 of my Blow by Blow account of Link Love London covers Wil Reynolds much talked about presentation on Stalking. Yes… Stalking.

Wil Reynolds - Stalking

Stalking. How you land the links you want

Wil Reynolds – Seer Interactive @wilreynolds

Reading the post conference buzz, this has to be the most talked about session. Wil’s presentation on Stalking was certainly one of the most entertaining ones, but it also outlined a great way of greasing the wheels of outreach. I’ll give an overview of the presentation below, together with all the relevant links. The slide deck of this presentation can also be viewed online here.


  • Stop begging for links
  • Go big: ID influential “marks” who are not following you
  • Set your goals
  • JFDI
  • This technique is so easy that Wil is planning to give the same presentation every year until we all start implementing it
  • The basic technique is to create a “stalkers dashboard” giving you an at a glance look at opportunities to outreach to your Marks

Find the hidden RSS feeds

  • Lots of sites give RSS feeds without making it obvious that they have them
  • RSS-Everywhere is a chrome extension that shows you when RSS feeds are present. Get it here
  • iGoogle lets you create a dashboard of the RSS feeds you are following
  • Together they are a stalking dashboard

Filling up your stalkers dashoard

  • Twitter: You need to find the twitter id first – this tool gives you them. Then visit < just change that number to the one the first tool gave you. If you are interested – that one is Wil’s ;)
  • Google News: My notes suggested that RSS-Everywhere would spot these. That didn’t work for me though. However if you search from Google News then scroll to the bottom of the page there is an RSS link that does work.
  • Blogs: Blogs give up feeds. Easy. I’d personally add that many blogs also give a different feed for each author. Just visit the author page and let rss-everywhere do its thing. The Seer Interactive blog certainly does… guess who’s I’m stalking.
  • Google+: RSS Feeds available thanks to this tool. You do need to register to use this and it is a bit more bother than the others, but it isn’t too painful.
  • Quora: Just visit their profile page and use RSS-Everywhere
  • Gmail: Sorry – no idea. I couldn’t read my notes!

 Using it

  • Who are they following? Be more like them – or at least emphasise the bits that are
  • Find out who they are following using free follower export gdocs (you will need to register an API key for this)
  • Export the bios in to TagCrowd to easily see the common keywords of who they are following
  • Set up alerts for when they tweet that they will be in your area – buy them coffee!
  • .. or use IFTT maybe have it text you when they ask a question using KW you know about

Taking the concept further

  • Pull RSS feeds in to excel for analysis. Combine with Niels Bosma SEOTools for Excel for insights
  • Look out for journalists asking questions – probably means they’re researching a story. Be there for them
  • Stalker tip : When you don’t know the answer, retweet the question
  • Find authors for a publication using Mozenda to crawl for details
  • Use vlookup to compare your followers with who target follows – any common ground?
  • Who do they follow that I know well? Look them up on facebook and scan the faces


For the presentation Wil was stalking @dharmesh, known to many as being co-creator of By Link Love London Dharmesh was already following Wil on google+, but Wil still wanted him on Twitter.  I understand that now is the case. So is this a sneaky was of conning people in to following you so that you can hit them up for a link?  I suspect many will use it that way, but it isn’t how Wil seems to see it.

The idea is to be helpful as a means of making contact. Whilst the presentation talks about stalking, the idea is more about making it easier to be aware of when opportunities arise.  There are elements of this that I can see us using.  RSS-everywhere is already on my browser and I’m finding it pretty useful for a number of reasons. It really is quite amazing how many feeds there are out there.  I can see the techniques, especially if combined with alerts, being useful for putting opportunities in front of niche writers in particular. This is something that we will be exploring, although I can’t see me personally taking anythign to the lengths that Wil went to.  Well that is, unless I decide to complete my Wil Reynolds stalking dashboard.


Is Instagram Really Cheating The Photography World?

Instagram has been a topic of much debate over the last month or so across various photography discussion sites. Part of this would probably be that after a long wait the platform finally got released for Android this week, but what I want to discuss is a recent CNN piece by highly regarded news photographer Nick Stern, which outlined some bitterness towards the application that had over 10 million downloads in its first year alone on the iPhone market.

The article jumped on Instagram and other vintage-filter-style photo applications for, as the title says, “Cheating the viewer”. He continues to outlay many points I can agree with and understand his frustrations on; spending thousands on equipment, years of perfecting technique, and the combination of being quick on the draw in the right positioning vs. time spent tweaking every aspect of a shot to make it perfect for one’s purpose. It has taken decades for Stern to portray what he wants to get across in his work and I’d imagine he continues to be inspired and learn to this day With this in mind, the idea that someone with no knowledge or practice of such an art can spend peanuts downloading an app that does it all for you at the click of a button could feel like a slap in the face. I can’t say I blame Nick for being a bit angry about that aspect of photography applications.

However, there are parts of Stern’s argument that I find myself disagreeing with.

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Getting Golden Links : Jane Copland Link Love 2012

This is part 4 of my blow by blow account of Link Love London 2012, featuring a full run down of each presentation.

Jane Copland - Link Love 2012

Getting Golden Links : Building Links Like Michael Winner

Jane Copland : Ayima @jane_copland

The thought of doing anything like Micheal Winner is probably off-putting to many. Those living outside the UK and not familiar with Mr Winner should just think themselves grateful and move quickly along without worsening their lives by finding out more on this particular point. However, Mr Winner made it in to the title of Jane Coplands presentation due to the way he responded to the introduction of a £60 fine for private vehicles using bus lanes in London. Whilst many complained about the fines, Mr Winner is quoted as having responded  “They only charge you £60 to use them, and you get no points. Wonderful value!”

By approaching the issue from a different angle he turned the problem around. Jane’s presentation kicked off by encouraging this sort of lateral thinking in our link building and using that as part of an approach to get “golden links” – then few that count for lots.

Should Jane Copland ever read this post I would like to apologise in advance for choosing the picture of her stood in front of a big naked arse. I would though like to raise 3 points in my defence: 1. When you made the decision to use a slide of a naked man you must have been aware that this was a risk. 2. Despite the big arse, it is actually one of the better pictures I took, and 3. I am really quite childish.

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Link Love London 2012 : Blow by Blow

It was never my intention to blog an account of Distilled’s Link Love conference. I thought it would be interesting to take a few pictures and offer them to those who were blogging the event, but the idea of writing it up didn’t appeal at all. After all plenty of other people would be writing up the event and most of those wouldn’t be as reluctant bloggers as myself. None the less here I am.

Link Love London

What went wrong right

Firstly, my photos were a bit crap. I’m reasonably handy with a camera, but I’m more used to 15 minute exposures on a cold coast somewhere in near darkness, not papping from a distance with a long lens in a softly lit room. Frankly shooting anything that moves is a bit new to me. OK, I have pictures (and you are welcome to use them – see below), but they were not what I was hoping.

More importantly though I took a lot of notes, and I mean a lot of notes. Depite not exactly being new to this game I came away with a staggering 36 pages of notes from my day at Distilled’s link building event. As I started writing them up for my own reference it struck me that others might find some of the notes useful.

So here it is, the high-definition, blow by blow account of Link Love. This isn’t my usual thing at all, so I’d appreciate any feedback (good, bad or “meh”) through the comments. Continue reading

Social Sharing : Branko Rihtman

This is part 3 of my blow by blow account of Link Love London 2012, featuring a full run down of each presentation.

Branko - Search Scientist

Social Media and Links : The Love Story (with numbers)

Branko Rihtman : SEO Scientist @neyne

After the corporate polish of Rand and the laid back charisma of Mike King, Branko’s presentation brought a change of pace. It seemed that playtime was over and the maths lesson had begun. Branko applies scientific principals to SEO. You only need to look at the mass of charts and tables he includes in every blog post to know that he isn’t just working on “hunch”. Mid-morning brain food – good stuff.

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Quantifying Outreach : Mike King Link Love 2012

This is part 2 of my blow by blow account of Link Love London 2012, featuring a full run down of each presentation.

Mike King : Link Love London 2012

Quantifying Outreach. What we learned from analysing 300,000 Outreach Emails

Mike King : iAcquire @ipullrank

Mike King’s presentation was just about as actionable as presentations can get. Anyone who didn’t come away from this with solid take-aways of how to do better is either a genius or just doesn’t do outreach. Mike is now Director of Inbound at iAcquire. As part of that role he was been working of a study of 300,000 outreach emails to analyse what results in engagement and eventually links. Mike’s Link Love presentation (slide deck here) was a charismatic and witty presentation of key points from the results of that study. The full report is also available to download  from iAcquire.

I don’t want to just reproduce a watered down version of the study here, so instead are a few key points to whet your appetite, after which you can just go off and download the whole thing.

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F%$#! Link Building : Rand Fishkin Link Love 2012

This is the first of my blow by blow account of Link Love London 2012, in what I hope will be a nine or ten part roundup of my take-aways from Distilled Link Love 2012. I’ll be running through one session at a time, giving my key points, links to the relevant resources and a little of my own take on things.


Rand Fishkin. Link Love 2012

F%$#! Link Building (Content Marketing FTW)

Rand Fishkin : SEOmoz @randfish

Rand’s presentation (see deck here) was almost a “state of search” round-up which then led in to more actionable material. The presentation also served as a good introduction to the rest of the day, putting most of what followed in to the frame of why such approaches are a smart way forward. The following are some of key points from the 3 pages of notes I took during his presentation. I’m rather unstructured in my note-taking,and I’ve deliberately not referred back to the slide-deck yet in order to maintain the emphasis I took from the day, so don’t worry if things don’t seem to tie up.

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Mobile Application Development: A hybrid approach

I think it’s reasonably obvious to even those with only the slightest interest in technology that mobile and tablet application development is a rising trend. Unfortunately (and understandably) there is currently no single industry adopted standard allowing for a “write once, deploy to many” methodology. The results of which vary but almost certainly include increased development time and costs and I think it goes without saying that the minimisation of both is highly desirable in such a dynamic industry, more so if the intention is to maximise revenue or capitalise on current trends.

Many developers have decided to adopt a less traditional method of application deployment in the way of remotely hosted HTML5 web applications. The advantages of which include RAD (rapid application development) and easy cross platform deployment. The disadvantages of which will include the prerequisite of an active internet connection and the inability to distribute the application via an official store or marketplace. One such solution to these disadvantages would be to adopt a “hybrid” development model, wherein a bare bones native application is developed which in turn calls a “webview” populated with an embedded HTML5 application. In most instances, the HTML5 application can often be implemented with minimal (if any) modification whilst deploying cross-platform. Not only does this method allow for an almost “write-once” scenario, it also allows for web developers with little native/desktop application development experience to utilise their skill set and yet still produce a native product.

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Basecamp vs Teamwork PM : Why we packed up camp and moved

When Basecamp announced the release of “new basecamp” I have to admit that I was quite excited.  I haven’t been a fulltime basecamp user for all that long, but it was definitely long enough to experience its shortcomings.  New Basecamp looks good. In particular it looks like they have tackled the user interface in a way that might stop you feeling swamped by your projects. However there is one massive shortfall for me:  New Basecamp has no time-tracking Continue reading

Google Doodles and Self-Referential SERPs

I used to love Google Doodles, those cutesy Google  logos to celebrate days that our Google overlords deemed special.  The appearance of a Doodle always sparks curiosity in to what is being celebrated. Some are obvious, some less so. However the answer is only a click away…. well, was.

The problem is that Google Doodles generate a big spike in traffic on one narrow term, which makes those terms desirable to rank for.  So what happens when, previously uncompetitive terms, suddenly generated an estimated 2 million* or more clicks?

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