Ten Commandments of Link Building

I really enjoyed this post on Blog Oh Blog (who created the template I use for TheCartBlog.com) discussing link building. The idea behind link building is to increase the number of hyperlinks on other sites to your site. This makes your site easier to find, increases traffic, and can increase your Google PageRank.

My favorite commandment was number 4: Web Directory Submissions. To expand on this just a bit: if you Google “<your keywords> directories,” you will find directories who will accept link submissions. Typically the only price they charge is a backlink to them from your site, so it’s a very inexpensive way of building links.

There are also a ton of link building ideas in Dawud Miracle’s post 15 Amazing Interviews About Link Building.

More Content -> More Sales

Tracey E. Schelmetic from Customer Interaction Solutions magazine talks about the importance of content on the product information pages. I never see this bullet in “top then things to do to improve sales” lists, but it’s right up there. InternetRetailer is talking about a similar finding from a recent E-Tailing Group survey, which found that 77% of buyers were influenced by website content quality when making a purchase decision.

We’re #1! We’re #1!

In healthcare spending. :(

The big brains over at McKinsey Global Institute have come up with an analysis of our healthcare spending (free registration required). Even if you’re not a US resident, it’s worth spending some time reading it just for the mental stimulation that thinking about large, difficult problems provides. Unlike the presidential candidates of both parties, they feel that there’s no silver bullet – and there’s not even a whole lot of low-hanging fruit.

Some of the key points:

  • They developed a metric called Estimated (healthcare) Spending According to Weath (ESAW), and found that the United States was 30% above where it should be. So the argument that we spend more because we’re richer doesn’t hold water.
  • The US system doesn’t deliver objectively better quality and access despite the higher cost.
  • Disease mix and burden does not explain the higher cost.
  • Excess administrative expenses are the chief component of higher cost; the comprise a quarter of the excess spend.
  • Drug costs are 70% higher in the United States than in peer nations.
  • Outpatient centers are taking away high margin procedures from hospitals, and leading an increase in testing, since many of these facilities are physician owned.
  • Only 4% of excess spend is attributable to malpractice insurance costs.

My thoughts:

Thinking about healthcare spending, especially as a trend over time, is fraught with false comparisons because the basket changes over time. We can have a meaningful conversation about the price change from 1967 to 2007 of, say, the food budget of a family of four. But it’s incredibly difficult to talk about the price changes from 1967 to 2007 in health care costs for that same family because many things that are common now simply were not available at any price in 1967.

The McKinsey synthesis is only 17 pages and is incredibly readable. In fact, even Paul Krugman liked it. :)

MMM: Mark Sellers on success

Greg Mankiw quotes hedgie Mark Sellers instructing Harvard Business School students. Greg focused on the Mark’s comments that clear writing expresses clear thinking (and you’d better be good at clear thinking), but I got a lot more out of the transcript of the speech than that.

Sellers develops the idea of a “moat” as a sustainable competitive advantage and outlines the four economic moats. Anything which can be duplicated (such as technology) is not a moat; it’s a short term advantage. The moats he describes are:

  1. Economies of scale and scope (WMT, HD)
  2. The Network Effect (EBAY, MA, AXP)
  3. Intellectual Property (DIS, NKE,DNA)
  4. High switching costs (MSFT, PAYX)

He then develops the idea of seven traits of great investors that constitute sustainable sources of advantage. Again, things that can be duplicated easily (such as reading more books or getting an MBA) may be important, but they’re not sustainable sources of advantage. A very interesting speech.

Sticky Services

I really enjoyed reading Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. I actually believe the term stickiness predates Malcolm Gladwell, but he certainly popularized it as a way to describe things people become attached to after trying. For instance,

  • digital video recorders
  • checking accounts with electronic bill pay
  • loyalty rewards credit cards

Where’s the tie-in to e-commerce?

One of the challenges of etailing is that the Internet has created a transactional mindset. People want to buy and then move on. But what you want as a vendor is a relationship, not a transaction. And the way to create the relationship is to make your site more sticky.

The Heaths address stickiness from the perspective of ideas (rather than products or services), but the concepts they teach can be applied to a variety of things, including your marketing campaign.

They created the acronym ‘SUCCES’ to represent the steps you must take to make an idea sticky:

  • Simplicity – eliminate the excess; focus on the core of the message.
  • Unexpectedness – surprise them to gain focus
  • Concreteness – nothing ambiguous, jargony, or abstract
  • Credibility – use an expert, compelling details or a statistic
  • Emotions – make them feel something when they hear your message.
  • Stories – telling a story instead of a series of facts gives your message resonance.

My only criticism of this mnemonic is that it doesn’t include the last S which I thought was quite obvious:

  • Specificity – in the Information Age, people armed with data gleaned from the Internet and other sources are acting as their own physician, general contractor and psychiatrist. They’re no longer impressed by vague claims (“breakfast of champions”); they want to understand the specific benefits of the product to their own situation (“contains vitamin Z9 for healthier skin and nails”).

Arguably this is a rehash of Concrete, but it rounds out the acronym so I’m sticking with it. :)