Live from PubCon South: Organic Link Building

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Mar 12, 2009
More Articles by Janet

Today I’m at PubCon South in Austin, and I wanted to share the insights being presented here on a variety of topics. This first session today is about Organic Link Building and is being presented by John Lessnau of LinkAdage, Bill Hartzer of Vizion Interactive and Roger Montti, of

John Lessnau

John, who normally talks about buying links, focused today on organic link building especially for new websites. He emphasized that you can’t buy your way to the top with links as easily as you perhaps could have done 3-4 years ago. He shared a case study about his blog, which he used all natural links — over 100,000 — in less than one year.  To achieve that goal, he did the following:

  • did lots of forum and blog commenting with his signature
  • he developed two WordPress plugins as essentially link bait. The plugin also provides a link back to his site..
  • he wrote over 10,000 blog posts — not all manually — but used his own WordPress tool to pull in RSS feed posts from Twitter and other sources.

He said that every site really needs its own strategy — which is really true. What fits your site best? What type of application can you create and give away that fit your company well?

His advice:

  • Find blogs and forums that are in your community — where other companies like yours hang out — and add to the conversation with your real name and become one voice among many sites.
  • You really must have a blog on your website — regardless of what you company does.
  • Once you’ve established yourself somewhat, write a killer article, ask to be a guest blogger on other sites, then repurpose it by rewriting it in several different ways that you can post on other sites. Then eventually do a summary of that same article on your own website.
  • Creating a widget may cost as little as $500 to develop and can drive a high quantity of links. WordPress plugins are a great way to do this.
  • He semi-joked that there are lots of out of work writers now, so if you can’t write, consider hiring a freelance reporter to help you.

He also discussed whether you should buy links or not. He said there are three reasons you might buy links:

  • If you’re a brand new site, you likely have nothing to lose. Give it a try to get quick movement. The penalty for paid links is typically just that the links may not count in the future. The reward can be great however.
  • If your site is struggling to get over the hump, you may want to consider buying links (maybe as much as 10% of your links should be paid).
  • If you have an established site — you should NOT buy links. He mentions the risk to reward ratio is just too high. Don’t take a short cut!

He also said to STAY AWAY from reciprocal linking programs, unless you find a site that does “random” trades.

For more information, visit John’s sites at,, or

Roger Montti

Roger Montti was next up and is a moderator at WebmasterWorld. Roger started his discussion by emphasizing that many of the top ten results in Google are websites that are sometimes using less than reputable linking methods. But high quality links are often ignored by the the “cheaters”, and the quality linkers will definitely leapfrog over the “cheaters”. He discussed using relevant sites — your link clique — where you can get relevant inbound links. Focus on your network! Don’t necessarily mine the backlinks of highly ranked sites.

He encourages you to link out liberally to related content OUTSIDE of your own website and from WITHIN your content. Who you link to says something about what you’re relevant for, subject-wise. Establish a “node” of revlevance. Good backlinks do not need to necessarily have high PageRank to be effective.

He also discussed “forum marketing,” where you share your site in forums. To do it effectively, follow these rules:

  • respect the forum terms of service
  • make useful posts
  • don’t overly market your site
  • become the resident expert
  • create a positive reputation in your industry through quality posts

Sadly, I don’t have time to cover Bill Hartzer — my session is next, so I’m off to get set up! Look for more posts this afternoon on social media and SEO sessions.

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