Why you F*%$ing Suck at Link Building

I wanted to write this blog post as a response to some posts from people on internet marketing blogs and forums who feel that the Penguin Update has ruined their easy link building efforts. Well guess what it has. The barrier to entry for link builders was lowered with the simplicity of cheap blog networks and automated tools such as Xrumer and Scrapebox which can build thousands of links per day with very little user interaction. IM Forums are littered with SEO’s crying that it’s just too hard to obtain editorial/contextual links from webmasters or bloggers and guess what I’m happy. A skill set I’ve worked at over the past few years to develop has just become even more in demand.

Well I’m going to tell you why YOU suck as a link builder.

It’s all about YOU YOU YOU – I’ve seen your outreach emails, I get them every day in my spam folder and the ones that slip through are pure narcissistic egotistical waffle. Nowhere in your outreach efforts do you offer any form of benefit to the webmaster to link to your site. It doesn’t have to be an exceptionally long piece of prose but a few bullet points to explain why a link to your site would be of interest to their community would probably increase your response rates 10 fold.

Pay it Forward – Your responsibility as a link builder grown adult is to establish some sort of relationship and invest in it before expecting someone you’ve never met to do you a favour? Come on, grow up and welcome to the real world. Subscribe to your prospects blog or Twitter Feed. Comment on their blog posts, share their stuff on your social media accounts and answer their questions on Quora. If you have anything about you the first email you send to them won’t be a begging letter for a link but actually offering them some feedback, advice or technical assistance. Just remember when you are link building you are dealing with a REAL person with REAL emotions and not a website.

Put the hours in – there was a reason you were paying a few dollars per link to BMR. You haven’t worked a single day in your life. The best link builders hard working, they get into the office early just to Skype with a blogger in a different time zone. Their mobile devices are buzzing day and night with emails to let them know their prospects are checking in nearby on Foursquare or have Tweeted a question. If you want to succeed at link building you need to work hard…

You have to pay to play – you don’t always have to pay or offer payment in kind for your site or product to be featured. Beyond the fact Google don’t like paid links, the FTC requires bloggers and celebrities to disclose of payments received for endorsing a product online. It’s very important as a link builder to understand the difference between editorial content & advertorials. My belief is that outreach is more about PR than paid media.

All Hail the Mommy Blogger – so many link builders and outreach professionals praise at the foot of the “mommy blogger” temple, but the thing is the “mommy blogger” is actually a mythical creature much like a Unicorn. Lots of people see “mommy bloggers” as a “link cash cow” as their lifestyle blogs often cover a wide variety of topics and categories from iPad apps to food to home furnishings and clothes. It’s quite common for “mommy bloggers” to want some form of payment for their work and I have found more success with bloggers who have a long tail lower ranked niche blog and have never been kissed by an agency.


What do you say to a failed Link Builder?


Y U NO Tenacity? – Wait a minute you just sent someone who probably receives hundreds of emails every day, one email? Do yourself a favour and if you haven’t received a reply in a few days send another. What you didn’t get a response the second time? Pick up the phone, dial in their telephone number and speak to them. A good link builder won’t fall at the first hurdle and if after all this effort they still don’t link to your infographic on kittehs, make sure you keep their information for future link opportunities.

You’re just playing a numbers game – you scrape a bunch of contact info from Google and then just blindly fire out emails. Guess what, you’ve probably got more chance of winning the lottery than getting a link from an authority website in your niche with that method. Research and find the right people by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How many social followers do they have?
  • Who are they connected to by checking with tools such as Mentionmapp or Klout?
  • Will they link to me? Have they linked to anything similar before?

If you follow the advice I give above you’ll start #winning at link building. We all reach points in our projects where we would rather blame a bunch of external factors than actually look at the things we can have an effect on.

Just like any marketing effort link building doesn’t just magically happen, we need to plan, measure, execute and refine our processes.

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14 Responses to Why you F*%$ing Suck at Link Building

  1. Pingback: Why you F*%$ing Suck at Link Building – Triple SEO | Inbound.org

  2. Mr Tom says:

    Im with you here in regards to guest posting or even asking for a link. But link building needs to be more diversified. So instead of telling the lazies they suck, offer some suggestions on where they can build some great properties and build their own links without having to rely on others. Think Squidoo

  3. Chris says:

    Thanks for the comment, yes these tips are mainly for outreach link builders but that is probably where the links that provide my clients with the most bang for their buck in terms of traffic + rankings. The types of links eg Squidoo you refer to offer little traffic & since Panda 1.0 little in terms of ranking power.

    There are literally hundreds of these “zero outreach” types of links e.g. Squidoo, Hubpages, wetpaint. A list of some good ones can be found here http://www.northsideseo.com/zero-outreach-linkbuilding/

  4. Mike says:

    Nice job Chris–I love the fact you took a different angle on Penguin, even for a lay person like me.

  5. agree 100%. especially one point: you want to be a good linkbuilder and have good links? you have to work hard. no matter what.

    put some creativity, for fuck’s sake, in everything you do in your life, so linkbuilding as well.

  6. Great post, Chris. Really like your take on how to approach linkbuilding. Many could learn from this. Just shared this link in our marketing department. Thanks.

  7. Marc says:

    Great post! I think that for those real link builders out there, Penguin should have been the best thing that ever happened to them. The pool of so called link builders is leaking rapidly and those that do real stuff will rise to the top and dominate.

  8. Emma Drury says:

    Great comments – this is a must read and do for anyone involved in linkbuilding .

    The more involved and creative you are the better the response, it’s simple common sense

    • Chris says:

      Thanks for dropping by & sharing Emma.

      Do something that makes you stand out from the crowd, be bold, be creative, be likeable. 🙂

  9. Dan Alderson says:

    This is a great post. Too many people try and rush to get links (come on we have all done it!) which lowers the quality, when in reality, by following the 5 simple points above will help anyone build better links for themselves/their clients.

    As with anything in SEO, things don’t just happen straight away, it takes time. If you wan’t things to change immediately go work in PPC!

  10. KKTC says:

    Good Job ! Thank you..

  11. Jill Mckenzie says:

    Thanks! Its a total help.

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