Live from Pubcon South: Link Building

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Apr 15, 2010
More Articles by Janet

The next session covered the ever-important SEO tactic of link building and featured Rae Hoffman of Outspoken Media, Roger Montti of, Wil Reynolds of Seer Interactive, Jordan Kasteler of Search and Social, and Dixon Jones of Majestic SEO.

Wil Reynolds

First up was Wil Reynolds from Seer Interactive. Wil started by talking about the fallacy of the “authority” link. He shared some data from his clients. He had a client mentioned with links on The New York Times and Oprah Magazine. They were in all sorts of major publications. So Wil tweaked the anchor text and pressed for outbound links, then socially promote the links. However, there wasn’t much of a boost in rankings. Wil said the mistake was to put too much in the authority link “basket”.  He said that the large press mentions failed because:

  • the anchor text is tough to get
  • the old school publications archive badly, burying the links way down in the architecture
  • the sites want pageviews, so they paginate longer articles, which can screw up link value, or they use AJAX, which also messes up link value
  • they don’t really want to link out to anyone
  • if you don’t do advertising with them, you may not have the influence to get a link

So how did they shift it eventually? They had to shift strategy.

  • used press mentions to create credibility and social proof with bloggers
    • bloggers tend to be more appreciative of content sharing
    • rarely have link/ad policy
    • they understand how the web works
    • they don’t over-paginate, because they GET SEO!
    • they pay attention for archiving for SEO
  • used social promotion to pitch collaborative contests with bloggers
  • as CEO’s visibility rose, we contacted HIS industry friends for social promotion too
  • tried to make readers of the publications their friends via social media

Now they get mentions from those bloggers. So be careful of “old media” types of publications – they may not help your SEO.

Some tactics to reach out: If you find broken links on other sites, reach out to those sites about the broken link, and also mention your site.

Wil also mentioned the fallacy of 301 redirects. Seer did a blog post about this topic this week. Interestingly, Bing and Yahoo suffered more with 301 redirects than did Google.

Dixon Jones

Next up was Dixon Jones. Majestic SEO has a massive backlink database.

The first topic Dixon covered was on visualizing links. He suggested downloading all of the anchor text for a site, then uploading the anchor text to a tag cloud app to see clearly the most used anchor text. (Try

Dixon then discussed reclaiming lost links. Using a bulk header tool, you can find the urls that do not give a 200 code (OK) or 301 redirect. Anything else needs to be changed over. There may be malformed links that lead to 404s. BUT, you could create 301s from the malformed link to reclaim the link!

To find what Dixon calls “Golden Links”, he tries to find a competitor’s really good links. First search the keyword and find the competitor. Find out the internal link themes first. Isolate the external links to the inner page (the one that ranks). Verify each one. Then look at the anchor text weighted by a quality metric.

Roger Montti

Next up was Roger Montti who focused on competing against established sites. Some factors that are in your favor if you’re the little guy:

  • Backlinks v. backlinks
  • Relevance
  • Establish link cliques
  • The anchor text advantage

The SERPs do not reflect who has the most links, therefore, you can link smarter. Focus on a variety of sites and links. Focus on kinds of links, like articles, best of compilations, etc. Limit your directory exposure.

To find article sites, Roger suggested doing a search on Google for “article submission guidelines” and limit it to .org websites. This will bring up lots of article site opportunities in niche areas.

Roger also emphasized to focus on anchor text with long tail phrases and vary the key phrases.

Jordan Kasteler

Next up was Jordan Kasteler who focused on link bait. Link bait is creating compelling content to drive viral linking. And links are important for branding, mindshare, subscriptions and traffic as well as SEO.

Some ideas for link bait delivery:

  • quizzes
  • widgets
  • videos
  • audio clips
  • comics
  • animations
  • images
  • infographics
  • tools
  • applications

Link bait needs a “hook”. It needs to be easy for the audience to identify and connect with. First, ask yourself, who will link to this? Why would they care? Then brainstorm a bunch of content ideas that you think you or others might like in your vertical. When you design the link bait, consider how people will consume and digest the content — make sure the design supports that.

The most important thing in link bait is the description and title of your content. Why? If they like your content, they will promote it on Digg and others. Write something descriptive.

Also don’t duplicate what others have done in the past. You’ll get called out on it! Try out the Linkbait Generator for some random ideas based on a keyword search what might be helpful linkbait.

Rae Hoffman

Last up was Rae Hoffman went over what she considers basics of link development and link bait. First, create something great, then make it enticing, and marketing it.

First Rae recommended that you need to develop your “linkerati” list. Make a list or spreadsheet of the blogs of various importance. Gather all contact info that you can.  If there’s a certain editor, find out who that is. Make sure you know what the writer/editor’s style is — do they cover tips, how to, or news?

Biggest thing: reaching out to your list. Don’t wait until you need something! Introduce yourself personally. Ask for feedback and suggestions only — not anything else to start. Remember that bloggers have huge egos – send them kudos emails when they have a good post.

Once you have information to share, contact the right people/blogs at the right time. Don’t ask for a link. Send a link to your content and say you thought they might be interested in the content.


You should be able to get a list of at least 50 possible contacts. Be sure to thank those that write about you.

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