Link Building in a Post-Penguin World — SMX East 2012

I’m kind of excited to be covering this session because this is one of the Plus tracks – meaning anyone with the free-level conference pass can attend. Looking forward to seeing what it’s all about.

SMX East Logo

Today we have Jon Ball (@LinkBuildingJon) of Page One Power. Wow, full house. He is starting down on the floor with the people. I love it when speakers do that. He starts off by saying you can be as relevant as you can be in your topical theme on your site, but if no one links to you, then you aren’t going to get anywhere.

If Google did not exist but the Internet did, where would you get links? This is “relevancy first” link building. Does it make sense for you to place your link there? Next question: If Matt Cutts was standing over your shoulder when you were link building, would you feel comfortable?

If you can answer “yes” to both, you are probably Penguin-proof.

See about making connections with people outside of the online world. Can you do something for someone in the community that has a cause or business that is relevant to yours – that makes sense for you to get links? This can give you a smart platform to increase your link earning potential and you might also get more business out of it.

Every niche is different. Some people have great and exciting businesses/topics. You might have a very dry keyword set/topic by nature of your business. What do you do then?

Look at semantically relevant topics that are related to your industry/product/service. Then take that list and cross of any topics that does not have a community around it and cannot get you links.

If it’s an instant link, probably not what you want to do. People link to people. Pick up the phone. It’s like 20 times more effective to make a phone call than any other type of contact.

The best link-building tool is your brain. They are creative concepts that make sense. Link building is a team sport. Doing it alone os very hard. It’s about coming up with great ideas.

Forget viral. Build great content and ask for links in the right places. Write good stuff and links will happen. You can’t promise viral, even though there are some companies that focus on viral content.

Relevancy first. Seek PageRank if you can get it. Google is trying to find out who is authoritative.

Next up is making a plan:

  • List assets: What content assets are good on your site? Text, images, video, etc. What are your offline assets? Friends, colleagues, etc., who can help you with links.
  • Research: Compile a concise list of your competitor links. You can use Majestic SEO or Open Site Explorer. Pull out the duplicates and throw out the 404s, etc. Only about a third of what’s left is good links.
  • Strategy: Brainstorm. This is best done as a team.
  • Schedule: Pick your three favorite strategies and put them on the calendar. Be reasonable about it. Don’t do too much too fast.
  • Adapt: Don’t be afraid to abandon a strategy if it’s not working.

Penguin introduced a new interest in anchor text. Exact anchor text with your keywords is dangerous. In a natural link-building world, not everyone is going to use your keyword in anchor text. So when Google sees too much anchor text with keywords pointing to your site, it’s a red flag.

Which page should you build links to? Of all your keywords, which one are you on the hunt for? Make a list of those. You can’t build links for a million keywords. You can build links to your home page, and then the entire site eventually benefits. But most of us have a set of keywords that are very important to our business.

Link-Building Strategies

Get a blog:

  • Decide who the audience is
  • Determine categories in your blog
  • Get keyword lists
  • Brainstorm topics. If you get stumped, look at your related topics
  • Give links instead of just taking links

Research your “local keyword universe”:

  • “keyword” news
  • “keyword” experts
  • “keyword” associations
  • “keyword” forums
  • “keyword” blogs
  • “keyword” trade shows
  • “keyword” events
  • “keyword” classifieds

Find out who/what these are and start building links in those places. These are relevant places!

Guest posting:

Find your target sites – blogs that are relevant to your topic; search: “[keyword] write for us” to help identify. Find authoritative blogs – those sites that are passionate about the topic.

Write a good, quality, interesting post — you have to be a good writer.

Then, write an email to the person that sounds like a person talking to a person. Make it worthy of a guest post. Send a finished article with a title and pictures if you really want it.

Promote it socially! The person you are writing for does not want you to just disappear into the night. Help them. Buy PPC for it even! Then let them know. Then, next time you pitch, tell the peole about your previous success with other blogs.

Write testimonials:

Use your blog to write a post about the products/services that you do business with. Then send it unsolicited to your customer.

Build a museum:

Every industry has a history, what is it? How can you tell that story?

Build a glossary:

Every industry has terms. Create a glossary for yours. These can be very popular.

Give stuff away:

Like run contests, do giveaways, scholarships. It does take a lot of engagement for contest, so giveaways are a lot easier.

[Great session! Awesome job, Jon, and thanks SMX for offering this at no cost to the people!]

Jessica Lee is the founder and chief creative for bizbuzzcontent Inc., a marketing boutique that focuses on digital content strategy and professional writing services for businesses.

See Jessica's author page for links to connect on social media.

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One Reply to “Link Building in a Post-Penguin World — SMX East 2012”

The link building focus should be on finding sites that actual potential customers or clients would visit, links that may actually generate traffic. SEO “link juice” is really just a side benefit. Quality links trump quantity and it’s better to spend your time researching 5 good places than submitting to 20 sites that are of little or no value.


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