#SMX East 2013 Interview Series: Roger Montti on Post-Penguin Link Building

SMX East 2013 is four days away. Here on the blog we’ve gotten to interview some speakers on hot topics to be discussed at the conference. Today, the SMX East 2013 Interview Series continues with distinguished speaker Roger Montti. The SEO track of SMX East kicks off with the Penguin-Proof Link Building session, featuring Montti, Thom Disch and Neal Rodriguez. This session will explore link building in the post-Penguin world, delving into:

  • Link building strategies that cause websites to thrive
  • Common link building link building tactics that are harmful
  • How to successfully avoid the proverbial “Penguin trap”

With the way that Penguin and Google penalties have caused a rethinking of SEO and link building strategy, we’re glad to have Roger Montti on the blog to get a preview of the session discussion and his take on links that last.

Q & A with Roger Montti

Montti is the Link Development Forum and Google AdSense moderator for WebmasterWorld. He can also be found “shaking things up” at MartiniBuster.com, his personal site where he offers link building insights and a link building newsletter. Here, Montti shares his thoughts on link building strategies, SEO and Penguin (bold emphasis added).

Kristi Kellogg: What is the overarching strategy that unifies the tactics you’ll be sharing at your SMX East session?

Roger Monti
“Martini Buster” Roger Montti likes to shake things up with his killer link building strategies.

Roger Montti: In the past it was said that it was important to look natural, and there was talk about percentages of anchor text, percentages of links from .edu sites, etc. Now there’s a shift to actually be natural. The strategies I’ll be sharing are some that I have been using and refining over the years. What they share in common are a focus on encouraging natural links. Not just links that look natural. They are natural.

KK: You specialize in “finding quality inbound links, the kind that help a site rank and stay ranking.” What characteristics mark a quality inbound link?

RM: There used to be an amusing commercial for Starkist that featured a cartoon tuna fish named Charlie. Charlie’s absurd life mission was to be captured, butchered and packaged into cans of tuna. So he affected the exaggerated manners of someone who is cultivated in the arts. To which the Starkist narrator would say, “Sorry Charlie, we don’t want tuna with good taste. We want tuna that tastes good!”

Well, that’s sort of what’s happening with Penguin. Web publishers are thinking in terms of being penalized, Panda-lized, and Penguin-ized. It’s understandable. But that approach implies a blacklist type of algorithm, where Google is kicking sites out. The ranking situation actually resembles a white list, where the algorithm is searching for sites to include. It doesn’t help to think of a site that’s no longer ranking as having been kicked out of the SERPs. It’s more helpful to think of it as not being included, like Charlie the Tuna.

Taking that approach, you now have the option to reflect on what inclusion means. In the case of gathering links it means … well … tasting good. Tasting good means that you have acquired notice, a good reputation and goodwill based on the quality of your content, the quality of user interaction, and post-transaction feedback and word of mouth. All that eventually funnels into social media sharing and other kinds of citations, including links.

KK: What is the No. 1 link-building tactic you see as the sweet spot of efficient traffic generation and low Penguin risk?

RM: There are many strategies and variations and variations of variations. To peel one off tactic, I would say build something worthy of praise — it could be a resource or a service — and then tell others about it. I will discuss how to do this in my presentation.

KK: How did you come to develop your SEO specialty in the area of link building?

RM: I didn’t set out to become an authority on links or a consultant. I was focused on creating strategies that helped my sites be successful. Along the way I helped others via the WebmasterWorld link development forum. I initially started speaking at conferences in 2004, also from the same motivation to help others. And also because I am friends with so many in the industry and that gives me a chance to enjoy their company in person. In any case, I’m well known for my link development strategies and advice, but there’s a lot more to me than that because you can’t build links in a vacuum. It’s important to understand things like conversions, user experience, and even some coding fundamentals.

KK: The session description mentions avoiding the “Penguin trap.” What do you see as the major difference between link building before Penguin and since?

RM: The Penguin Trap is about allowing your strategy to be influenced by doing what is convenient over what is beneficial. Doing the beneficial thing doesn’t have to be super hard or grueling. What I’m sharing is a way of earning links that in my experience are going to avoid some of the common pitfalls that lead to an unnatural links warning. The difference between pre- and post-Penguin link building is about letting go of common SEO anxieties surrounding ranking metrics and anchor text. People are coming around to strategies that focus on content and how that content specifically impacts potential clients and influencers, then getting the word out about it.

The SMX East 2013 Interview Series continues tomorrow with Portent Inc. Director of Search Marketing Elizabeth Marsten, who will talk SEM tools. Previously I interviewed SMX East speaker Matt McGee and got an interesting look at Google Glass. And on Friday, we’ll release our SMX East liveblog schedule. Virginia and Chelsea will be bringing all the information live from SMX East 2013 as it happens.

If you have not yet registered for SMX East, admission is nearly full, but you can still get a free Expo+ pass and register for Bruce’s one-day SEO workshop, on Sept. 30. Save ten percent on registration costs when you use the discount code WS-BC10.


Kristi Kellogg is a journalist, news hound, professional copywriter, and social (media) butterfly. Currently, she is a senior SEO content writer for Conde Nast. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, across the Internet and in books such as "Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals" and "The Media Relations Guidebook." Formerly, she was the social media editor at Bruce Clay Inc.

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

Comments (4)
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4 Replies to “#SMX East 2013 Interview Series: Roger Montti on Post-Penguin Link Building”


There is nothing concrete in this article as what I was expecting what link building activity should I involve myself in. The question is still unanswered.

Chelsea Adams

Hi, Neeshu! If you didn’t find what you needed here, you can see more coverage of Roger Montti’s ‘Penguin-proof Link Building Tactics’ SMX presentation here: http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/2013/10/penguin-proof-link-building-tactics/

Is there any post-event slides that shows how best to tell others about quality resource that we are building? Would be interested to know more about this.

Hi Damon, definitely! View presentation slide decks here: http://www.slideshare.net/SearchMarketingExpo :)


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