Link Building

Five Experts on SEO Link Building

By Elisa Gabbert March 16, 2010 Posted In: Link Building Comments: 14

A while back we interviewed a handful of link-building experts (Garrett French and Ben Wills, Wiep Knol, Debra Mastaler, and Julie Joyce) on everything from what features they'd want in their ultimate link-building tool to how to brainstorm linkbait. Here, you can find all of their answers to eight key SEO link-building questions in one place.


Five Experts on SEO Link Building
Question #1What factors go into a quality link?

Garrett French
Cofounder of Ontolo link building company

The backlink profile of the prospective linker, an engaged relevant audience, and the distribution and target reach of the site.
Ben Wills
Cofounder of Ontolo link building services
The site's relevance and value, the keywords used on the page, and the quantity and quality of backlinks.
Wiep Knol
Partner for
A relevant link on an authoritative website that's not very easy to get, preferably with good anchor text.

Debra Mastaler
President of Alliance-link

A variety of links from relevant sites.
Julie Joyce
Cofounder and Director of Operations at Link Fish Media
Links that fit into a site nicely, are on topic, have the potential for traffic, and have good keywordized anchor text.
Question #2Which link building tools do you recommend?
Garrett FrenchOntolo link prospect data, BuzzStream, Yahoo Site Explorer, SEOBook Toolbar, spreadsheets, email, phone.
Ben WillsThe public and private ones we've made, and Majestic SEO.
Wiep KnolFirefox add-ons Search Status and Link Diagnosis, SEOBook's paid tools, Majestic SEO
Debra MastalerAlert services including Google Alerts, SEO Quake, Search Status, eBay's Pulse tool, Shopzilla's Top Searches and Amazon's Best Sellers.
Julie JoyceMajestic SEO, Aaron Wall's Link Suggestion Tool, SEOMoz's suite, and Excel.
Question #3What features would the ultimate link analysis tool include?
Garrett FrenchWe've built it--when can we schedule a walkthrough for you?
Ben WillsA tool that would give PageRank, authority, titles, and assessments for how likely a prospective link will turn into a link.
Wiep KnolThere is not a perfect link building tool. Every campaign is different, and requires a different approach.
Debra Mastaler 
Julie JoyceSomething that gives a quality score of some sort that is dependent on the site's niche. Also, the tool would indicate whether the link will help or hurt the site.
 Question #4What are some strategies for brainstorming and creating linkbait?
Garrett FrenchIdentify high ranking sites in your niche, use Yahoo Site Explorer to identify their most linkable pages, and note characteristics of highly linkable content. Then modify your site appropriately, and email your linkbait to potential linkers.
Ben WillsFigure out what people want, and give it to them really, really well.
Wiep KnolDetermine which or what type of websites you'd like to get links from. Then brainstorm for content ideas that match those sites.
Debra MastalerAvoid launching a negative or controversial campaign unless you're sure of your facts and stance. Otherwise incoming links could bring negative attention and hurt your reputation.
Julie JoyceHave a great team of writers that spends time brainstorming good content ideas. A good way to get original ideas is by reading many different types of publications. You also want to make sure content is written for your target audience.
 Question #5How does social media change the SEO link building game?
Garrett FrenchLink building for pure search engine influence may diminish as search engines discover other ways of calculating the value and relevance of content.
Ben WillsI don't think it will change because the nature of link building has always been a constant evolution and change.
Wiep KnolSites like Twitter only made link building easier. It's a lot easier to find key influencers, and share content.
Debra MastalerSocial media has made it easier to find and target specific groups of people for linking and promotions.
Julie JoyceWe may become more reliant upon social media, but I've lived through enough backlashes to know that it's not good to expect everything to last.
 Question #6How should marketers go about making link requests?
Garrett FrenchKnow beforehand what motivates the target site owners/operators to link.
Ben WillsOffer money, though that can put you on Google's bad side.
Wiep KnolUse the phone. It will drastically raise your conversion rates and the quality of the deal. It also forces you to focus on the best sites only.
Debra MastalerName dropping and using business associations work well. Other options include directory submissions, content syndication and advertising.
Julie JoyceState your purpose, be polite and move on.
Question #7If I engage in link buying, how can I avoid being caught by Google?
Garrett FrenchUse a proxy for negotiating. Be careful who you discuss your efforts with and how.
Ben WillsMake sure your link does not appear near the words "paid links," "sponsorship," "paid advertisements" or "sponsored links."
Wiep KnolAvoid public marketplaces, like link networks, forums, and sites like eBay.
Debra MastalerSometimes you can't avoid being caught. So before you decide to engage in link buying, make sure you know what you could lose.
Julie Joyce 
Question #8What's better: a link from an authoritative but unrelated website or a link from a medium-authority, highly relevant website?
Garrett FrenchA high-relevance, medium-authority website. You will get more leads and clicks from a relevant site, as your link is going to fit more naturally with the content and be relevant to the audience.
Ben WillsA "pretty authoritative" backlink from a relevant website is better than a "highly authoritative" backlink from an irrelevant website. Relevance is more significant than value.
Wiep KnolI'd pick two relevant links for every one authority link. Relevance is very important, but you'll need authority as well.
Debra Mastaler 
Julie JoyceI like relevancy, so I'd pick the link from the pretty authoritative, highly relevant website for one big reason: traffic!


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Tuesday March 16, 2010

MakeBuzz (not verified) Said:

Valuable points! I would also suggest that companies should focus on using existing relationships to gain high quality links from industry partners and suppliers. A few hard-coded, super-relevant links from sites with an outbound link parity are infinitely more valuable than thousands of paid-for links created solely to emulate search engine content.

Tuesday March 16, 2010

crockstar (not verified) Said:

I think Julie is the only one that passed the test on the paid links question... and I suppose Debra provides a good answer as well :)

Thanks to all the participants though, all of this information is quite helpful.

Tuesday March 16, 2010

Kathleen Mongero (not verified) Said:

Great post. I love the Q&A format! Very helpful.

Tuesday March 16, 2010

seobro (not verified) Said:

I have found that paid links have ROI that is plus max. Not only do you get traffic and PR, but also the buzz factor and exposure. Goog hates people paying for links. Well, I hate billboards, but the guy with the motel on the highways can buy a board or starve.

Wednesday March 17, 2010

links for 2010-03-17 (not verified) Said:

[...] Five SEO Link-Building Experts, Eight Questions | WordStream A while back we interviewed a handful of link-building experts (Garrett French and Ben Wills, Wiep Knol, Debra Mastaler, and Julie Joyce) on everything from what features they'd want in their ultimate link-building tool to how to brainstorm linkbait. Here, you can find all of their answers to eight key SEO link-building questions in one place. (tags: SEO Link-Building Experts) [...]

Wednesday March 17, 2010

Nick LeRoy (not verified) Said:

Awesome Post! I always love to read posts the survey some of the best in our industry. I think the best question was the one that poked the their brains for viral content ideas! Link requests can be difficult so it's always nice to get some incite on that too!

Wednesday March 17, 2010

CompetitionDemolition (not verified) Said:

Some interesting points for sure, I think some of these could have been expanded a bit more - but then given time constraints i guess it's not surprising some experts don't want to or don't have time to reveal all of the strategy. Thanks for putting this up.

Wednesday March 17, 2010

haseeb najam (not verified) Said:

I think link buying effects only small websites and not the larges fishes. even seoroundtable has a Sponsored Links section which is apparently paid links but still google hasn't penalized the website as it do the small websites :)

Thursday March 18, 2010

Indianpaolis SEO (not verified) Said:

A theme I picked up on was that if there is a good possibility that the link will provide traffic, it is probably the right kind of link because it will probably also need to be relevant and somewhat authoritative. Thank you for posting.

Wednesday April 14, 2010

Sean Hecking (not verified) Said:

Great interview, very insightful. On the subject of link building tools, I have done some research on the top link building tools for SEO on my blog if you are interested. A lot has changed in the last couple years in link building, the tools seem to get better and better.

Saturday April 24, 2010

Link Building Company (not verified) Said:

Really great, If someone really interested for link building, this post must help us all. Great Info there man. THX

Tuesday June 15, 2010

eagle09 (not verified) Said:


Thursday July 15, 2010

tom (not verified) Said:

very informative. i'm very much interested about link building service. and this post, really added more spice to my curiosity. thanks.

Tuesday July 20, 2010

SEOgist (not verified) Said:

We consider following factors while creating back links: The domain strength has to be good as it can gives you additional boost if you are linking with strong domain. Page PR matters as long as all links coming to us are followed. Page relevancy and link neighborhood, to confirm the page is clean and not linked to bad neighborhood. I think all SEO company considering these parameters. What you think?

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