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Link Building – The Reality in Practice


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Link building concepts, ideas and methods from the traditional whitehat tactics to the dark shadows of blackhat.

Experience level: Intermediate
Target audience: Affiliates/Publishers
Niche/vertical: Link building

Robert Adler, President, The Link Builders, LLC (Twitter @Bofu2U)

Published in: Technology, Design
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Link Building – The Reality in Practice

  1. 1. TYPICAL DEFINITIONS OF LINK BUILDING “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results.” (Wikipedia) “Link-building is the practice of obtaining links from external web sites to your own to improve both direct referrals (people clicking on the links) and search engine ranking.” ( “The process of establishing relevant, inbound links to your website which help your website achieve higher ranking with the major search engines and drive targeted traffic to your site.” ( “The process of building high quality linkage data that search engines will evaluate to trust your website is authoritative, relevant, and trustworthy.” (
  2. 2. MY DEFINITION OF LINK BUILDINGTo me link building is a game of building connections through different methods of internet promotion. Outside of normal “a href” links, this also includes: Activity on Twitter Getting regular tweets & retweets to pages on your site as well Activity on Facebook Page/Group Facebook likes to your pages, and shares too. Activity on other “social” like sites. Keep your link in your profile if possible. For a list of other Social-ish sites check out Any other types of presence where you can list your brand, and participate. If Google can find it, it matters.
  3. 3. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BUILD LINKS?From #93 to #15 in just over 30 days Image from
  4. 4. EVERYTHING YOU ONLINE DO IS NOTICEDHere’s a small (and I do mean small) list of potential metrics to look at whendetermining the complexity of a term on the website level.A website’s current …  Domain’s backlinks  URL’s backlinks  Domain Age  Words on page  Keyword Density  Number/Source of ads (if any) on page  Facebook Likes – Root Domain  Facebook Likes – Deep Link
  5. 5. YOU THOUGHT THAT WAS IT? Twitter Mentions – Root Domain Twitter Mentions – Deep URL Digg’s ( – Root Domain Digg’s – Deep URL Stumble’s ( – Root Domain Stumble’s – Deep URL Delicious Bookmarks ( – Root Domain Delicious Bookmarks – Deep URL Google +1 – Root Domain Google +1 – Deep URL Pages indexed There are way too many sources to even attempt to list here, but this is only scratching the surface.
  6. 6. I KEEP HEARING ABOUT „HATS‟ IN SEOTypically there are 3 hats that are talked about in regards to SEO.• Whitehat • Seen as never “breaks the rules”• Greyhat • Seen as sometimes “breaks the rules”• Blackhat • Seen as “always breaks the rules”
  7. 7. WHITE HAT - “MR CLEAN”• Likes • Press Releases • Guest Posts • Doing things manually • Blogger Outreach • Matt Cutts• Dislikes • Everyone that doesn’t do things manually • Anything that may be a “too fast” form of link building • Automation of any sort, unless it’s used for reporting • Any type of link that they “wouldn’t get themselves” • Robert Adler
  8. 8. WHITE HAT - EXTENDED“Slow and steady wins the race” is a phrase that normally comes to mind when I think about Whitehat SEO. A lot of the actual link building techniques would revolve around a few possibilities:• Press Releases• Directories• Guest Posts• Linkbait• Site wide “exchanges”, 3 way’s (A->B, B->C, C->A), reciprocal links, etc• E-Mailing Webmasters – “Our site may be beneficial to your readers”• Social Bookmarks• Any other type of link that would “provide value”
  9. 9. GREY HAT• Likes • Obtaining/Producing as many types of “cleaner” links as possible. • More complex linking schematics. • Usually has “test bed” sites to throw new links at for testing. • Rides the line between “obviously blackhat” and “whitehats wouldn’t do that”. • Whitehat on-page with dark(er) colored link building.• Dislikes • People who report his sites.  • Algorithm Updates (sometimes). • The idea that he’s doing Blackhat.
  10. 10. GREY HAT – EXTENDEDUsually when I think about the overall picture of a Grey hat I think about someone who usually purchases his link building (not paid links) from multiple sources, which are normally people with a lot of automation. He’ll piece together what needs to point where, and how. Types:• Blog Comments• Blog Posts• Social Bookmarks• Forum Profiles• Web 2.0’s• Wiki’s
  11. 11. BLACK HAT• Likes • Automation. • Promoting a LOT of sites simultaneously. • Linking schematics that’ll make your head spin. • Example on next slide • Building more links than an entire country. In one day. • If it’s scalable and has a “Start” button, he made/has it.• Dislikes • Snitches • The time it takes to stay ahead of the curve. • Deindexing based on a footprint that could take ~50% of his assets down. • Matt Cutts
  12. 12. BLACK HAT – EXTENDEDBlack hat is probably the one I know the most about, because everyone labels me as one. Most black hat’s attempt to internalize everything possible (and a lot/most are programmers) to make the “rank it” button. Press it once, and the next 3-6 months is completely automated. Types:• Blog Comments• Blog Networks / Posts• Social Bookmarks• Forum Profiles / Posts• Web 2.0’s• Types that aren’t mainstream • But people use it Image from
  13. 13. HOWEVER …I’ll come out and say it. Hat’s don’t matter. Just do what works.Always have an open mind and try whatever you can on “test” properties tosee how your sites react. You’ll be extremely surprised at not only theeffectiveness but also the longevity behind some of the “darker” methods.Don’t trust “case studies” or “guides on what’s best”. Do your own testsand find out for yourself. Best practices aren’t a bad thing to keep inmind, but when you see it with your own eyes is when you should startbelieving it.Now, onto my guide of what links I think are best.
  14. 14. WHAT I‟M ABOUT TO COVER:These are just the “types”, there are many more “subtypes” within each.• Forum Links• Blog Links• “Social” Links• Article Links• Press Release Links• Directory Links• Web 2.0’sAfter those I’ll talk about different ways to do “passive promotion” of links.
  15. 15. FORUM LINKSOne of the most publicized programs for generating links from Forums (among other things) is called XRumer.It can:• Register the accounts• Crack the CAPTCHAs with OCR automatically• Check the e-mail accounts• Click the verification link• Setup a full profile• Even post a message (new thread, another thread, or even register another account and reply to itself in the form of Q&A).
  16. 16. FORUM LINKSOutside of that realm, let’s talk about what different types of links you can have/obtain on a forum:• Site-Wide Links (site-wide footer, etc)• In-Content (in a post)• Signature Links (signature on your posts)• Profile Links (on your profile page)• Category-Wide Links (like sponsoring a category)• Category Redirect (the entire category redirects off-site)
  17. 17. BLOG LINKSThere are many types of links that can come out of a blog, so here are the main ones:• Contextual (Blog Post) • Paid Posts • Guest Posts • Blog Network Posts • Buying a Link in an Existing Post• Blog Comments• Blogroll• Sitewide Footer
  18. 18. “SOCIAL” LINKSI put Social in quotes because there are two types of social links if you go by my definition of a “link” I said earlier. Types:• Social Bookmarking Sites • Actual Bookmarks • Comments• Stories (entities that can be “rated”, +1’d, Liked, etc) • Facebook • Digg • StumbleUpon • Reddit • Google +1 • Twitter (Retweet’s count!)
  19. 19. ARTICLE LINKSArticle links are pretty commonly used in link building today. Types:• Links in the body of the article• Links in the resource section/resource box• Links on the Author “About Me” Page
  20. 20. PRESS RELEASESPress releases when executed correctly can carry a good amount of link weight to your site. Free PR sites aren’t necessarily bad, but the paid ones get you very nice syndication. Types:• In-content (of the actual release)• Sidebar/Resource Box• Author Page (sometimes, not all sites create one)
  21. 21. DIRECTORY SUBMISSIONSThere are clearly two types of directories you can submit to. The high quality ones are almost always paid, and the “lower” quality ones are almost always free. Types:• “Listing” – On a list of other listings as well• “Listing” – A standalone page with just your listing
  22. 22. WEB 2.0‟SWeb 2.0’s is probably the most vague way to say “sites with a social component”. Any type of “community”. Types:• Profile Links• In-Content Links • Video Descriptions • Article Descriptions • Updates, Posts, etc
  23. 23. 1 LINK ISN‟T JUST 1 LINK SOMETIMESBy this I don’t mean that you’ll always end up getting more than 1 link to your site directly, but think about the true power behind internal linking.Now take that power and picture this. You just posted a blog entry about my session, and you have a plugin that auto tweets it. Your post is now:• Linked to from your blog homepage (traditional blog format)• Linked to from each of your tags• Linked to from your archive• Linked to from your category/categories• Have a “Recent Posts” widget? That’s a sitewide.
  24. 24. BUT WE‟RE NOT DONE …Don’t forget about your tweet! Assuming your plugin used the tags/categories as #hashtags…• You get a link direct from the tweet (usually through redirect).• Your tweet gets listed on the search pages of all #hashtags• Your tweet gets listed in every “list” you’re “listed” on• I’m not even going into & Syndication…• Now picture someone retweets it. It’s everything above, again.
  25. 25. ONE MORE EXAMPLEHere’s one more example about how being active on a site like Digg can increase that one link’s power exponentially.Did you know that for every single “entity” that you “thumbs up”, you get a link from that story/post back to your profile?This means that every single time you thumbs up something, the main page of your profile gets an internal link – and that page is your submissions.• Submit Story• Thumbs up 20 stories.• Your profile now has 20 internal links, which points to your story URL.
  26. 26. HOW IT WORKS OVERALL Image from
  27. 27. PASSIVE PROMOTION THROUGH SYNDICATIONThis is really simplistic to say. If you do link building using any number of methods and they give you an RSS feed … submit it for syndication.You want to do this – especially if you’re going to update the same source multiple times like an article directory.See:•••••
  28. 28. JUST REMEMBER THE #1 RULEWhatever it is that you’re doing to promote your site just make sure that it can be viewed by other people. That’s what true link building is all about.It doesn’t have to be a specific type of link building. They don’t even have to be the traditional definition of “links”. Promotion is promotion. When it comes down to it: you’re either doing it, or you’re not.