The Only Link Building Secrets Out There Are The Ones You Don’t Listen To



One of the comments left after my link building interview on SearchEnginePeople (thank you Ruud) made me raise an eyebrow.  It said:




Good advice but they are completely basic and well known . i always think whether their are some hidden secrets which make the link building very easy


Bold is mine.  The comment was made in response to a list of link building tactics I supplied in the SearchEnginePeople interview.

Whenever I speak at a conference or workshop,  people pull me aside after my spiel and ask if I’d share the “real insider tips” on link building.   Never mind the fact I had just spent the last 45 minutes on stage sharing how we use the media, customer surveys, website elements, RSS, directories, content development and offline sources to build quality links.

Nope,  they still think I’m holding out.  So they sidle up to me and start asking questions.  The conversation usually goes something like this:

Person:  Good talk Debra, got a few nuggets but  can you share a couple “easy” “secret”  tips with me?

Me: Thank you for saying that.   Sure I’d be happy to share my favorite insider tip with you, it’s super-super “easy”, effective and can be summed up in one word!

Person: (laughs and breathlessly scrambles for a pen)  One word – oh boy this must be a great tip!

Me: Yep,  and best of all, it’s very inexpensive to implement.

Person: Really?  WOW!  What is it?

Me: Postcards.

Person: (blinks rapidly) Wait, what did you say?

Me: Postcards.

Person: (sounding a little confused)  Do you mean  Is that some incredibly high PageRank site with free dofollow links?  (gets breathless again)  How do you get them?

Me: Nope, I mean postcards as in those little paper things you send in the snail mail.  We use them as part of our link building campaign to increase email open rates.  That’s the “secret” “easy” link building tip I have that works every time.

Now… some people press me for details and I’ll explain how we use the postcard to increase  our email open rates, build trust and brand.  It’s a “secret” communication weapon I’ve used for years and works everytime.   They get it, smile and leave happy.

But others don’t smile and don’t get it.  They’re convinced there’s a cache of  “easy”  “secret” tactics known only to link builders and using postcards simply couldn’t be one of them.  I get asked about redirects,  widgets,  comment dropping and paid links  because people think these are link building “secrets”.  I’m not sure why but believe it has to do with the fact they’re not talked about as much and people equate them with some degree of difficulty since they’re more technically related.

I get it, I used to be under the same impression until I actively worked with these techniques.  Redirects are awesome and can point a lot of link juice in a short period but you still have to have the pages in place to redirect from.   Widgets work too provided you target the right demographic and have the money to get them launched.

Thinking about it, I consider the technical tactics the “easy”ones  since they’re (mostly) automated, dependent on scripts and require little if any marketing strategy.  They’re certainly faster than the tactics I recommend but fast doesn’t always equate to long-term and in marketing, you want long-term.

So… my two cents about this comment:

i always think whether their are some hidden secrets which make the link building very easy

No, there really aren’t any “secret”  link building tactics, what you hear  is pretty much what’s out there.  But there is some secrecy around website sources and where to find them so the answer to the question is yes and no.    Focus on finding partner sites that have been:


  • online for a couple years
  • have been indexed
  • will allow links in content areas
  • use clean links
  • are host to your demographic
  • are in the major directories


And so on.  It’s going to be hard to meet all the criteria I listed so go for as many as you can.  If you do, you’ll find it “easy” to rank well no matter what tactic you use.  That’s the big “secret”.  :)



  1. says

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  2. Seo Pakistan says

    Very well written. This is the kind of information that is useful to those want to increase their SERP’s. Keep up the good work.

  3. The MUSEUM says

    Link Building should be designed in a 3 step process

    Create a check list of link building steps

    Follow the check list to the end

    Redesign your check list and start all over

    If you do this at least 3 times you will have the best
    link building process available

    Most important – know your market and where you
    want to be in that market – not everyone wants to
    be rich – not everyone wants to be poor.

    – IMHO >> In My Humble Opinion – The MUSEUM, Zazzle, deviantART, ArtFire.

  4. search engine consultant says

    Just wondered about link building and how purchasing links are bad policy with Google.. if so – why does google allow any sites which have ‘link building’ or ‘buy links’ to rank in Google?

    Thoughts anyone?

  5. O.C. Search Consulting says

    Element Directories. I saw you speak on this at SES SJ this year. Do you have any examples of element directories you could share with us? Thanks!

  6. shaunjudy says

    So many secrets so many methods. All want to now what they are, just start by working on all the methods (white hat) little at a time. Online and offline. Some of the little weird things I do offline are that my routers name is the name of my site. And the BlueTooth on my phone has it to.


  7. affordable web services says

    What happens to all those Wavers that think [a]Getting Links = SEO[/a] when that majority of the Google algo is devalued in many ways? Wavers built their fortunes on “links=seo”. When that goes away, the Wavers have zero to hold on to.

  8. John Treby says

    great post-link building is one of the hardest and most boring part of internet marketing to me-your post was very helpful-Thank you

  9. says

    This is one of the first posts about SEO that I can say I 100% agree with from any website. Everyone once in awhile I read what other SEOs are writing about and it is quite interesting how much they contradict each other with their secrets. I think it all goes back to two things: 1) Become the number one resource in your category which brings me to the second point 2) Earn your results-stop trying to take shortcuts.

  10. Andy C says

    Ok Debra so the secret here is


    If only people would really understand this from the beginning. Life would be much simpler.

    Thanks for the rant…. I feel better now.

  11. Debra says

    Sorry I haven’t jumped in here sooner to respond.

    @Kevin – Really – there are NO secret methods. The tactics are all out there you just have to figure out ways to apply them to your site and find the right sites to get the links on.

    People in the SEO community are extremely generous almost to the point of stupidity sometimes, no one is holding back on ‘how’ to do things.


    We use the cards and other tools to help open lines of communication with potential partner sites. A lot of email ends up in spam bins when it’s sent cold so the mail contact helps with this.

    Overcoming objections is key in selling, find out why people don’t want something and overcome the obstacle.

    Gotta run but thanks for all the comments :)

  12. says

    Debra, I have often thought about writing a similar post as I get asked the same question all the time. And I must confess I usually say what Ryan says: “it’s work”. Everyone wants the easy way to build high quality links, but it really just takes thought & persistence.

  13. says

    I thought you were going to say that “work” is the one word “secret” to getting links. Removing distractions would be another. How many times I’ve sat down to do some work at the computer that by the time I’ve finished – or my battery charge ran out – I haven’t done anything to propel my business forward.

  14. says

    It is crazy that people still think there is a magical online pill that gets you great rankings. it requires a handful of everything all working together.

  15. Vincent H says


    Great post – would it be possible if you could go deeper into what you actually do with the post cards?


  16. says

    I think when people come to link building and link building articles they’ve got their estimates off. So your tips seems like real work to get real links :)

    Like Jim Boykin said:

    “If a ninja were able to get 10 links for any one site in a week I’d be impressed. […] ninjas are getting links the best way, they’re analyzing and writing and not pushing buttons […] get a great link and watch your rankings jump faster than all your push button efforts combined.”

  17. Gagan says

    Oh , So my comment raised your eyebrows .I clicked a link in searchenginejournal today because it contains word link in it (Link spiel ) because I thought that it would help me on my mission in finding link building Secrets LOLZ :) and the first post I read contains my comment . I am so happy .

    Actually My point was that every Popular SEO guru Just talk about getting authority and high quality links etc but in reality its very difficult to get them for small websites .

    That’s why I just wrote a basic comment that “whether there are any secrets” But I never thought that you would notice it

    Best Regards


  18. says

    After you have spent all day trying to link build everyone wants some secret method to follow. I know I do.

  19. says

    Thanks for the interview Debra! It was a great one! I guess everyone is always looking for a “magic bullet”. In reality, its like weight loss. There is no magic bullet!!!!!

  20. says

    Good one! I think the difference between those who achieve their goals and the mere wannabees is the willingness of the person to actually put in the necessary work versus spending all his/her time chasing mythical “secrets” that render the task “effortless.” And in most cases it’s not really that it takes some superhuman amount of work — just that you be willing to put forth at least some effort.

    It’s like the old joke: a tourist on the streets of NYC stops a native New Yorker and asks him, “Can you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?” The New Yorker says, “Practice!”


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