Are You A Link Loud Mouth?

 In the ten years I’ve owned my link marketing firm, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to work on a wide variety of sites from almost every industry in the business world.  

Competitive, not-so-competitive, Fortune 50, Fortune 500 – 1000, mid-size, small, affiliate and sole proprietor.  I’ve worked with the media, individual journalists, well known celebrities, rock bands, TV shows, movie launches, book launches, bloggers and local politicians.  I’ve worked on planes, train, and automobile sites, in food, baby, finance, printing, online gambling, offline casinos, theme parks, solar, gift baskets, nuclear conductors, health care, telecommunications and laptops.  If it’s manufactured, printed, displayed, projected or sculpted, I’ve probably worked on it. 

Based on my experience I’ve found when it comes to link building strategies and tactics, what works in one industry doesn’t always work in another.   I’ve also found what works for one website in a given niche might not work for another in the same niche.  There’s no guarantees with any of it due to the physical and historical differences behind each site and because of the size of the current  and ever growing link graph.  

If you consider there are 274 million websites online and each has links to, from and within it, trying to comprehend the size of the link graph and the pages they connect is close to impossible.  There are trillions of connections and almost two billion people using the Internet, it’s  huge, it’s massive and continues to grow.   There’s no way to predict how a web page/site will react to any marketing campaign, regardless of the tactics and host sites used.  As SEO’s and link builders, we see a snapshot of Web/Net through the tools we use, but we’re never sure we see everything.  This is why it’s not a good idea to depend on any one set of marketing tactics or depend on one source for your link building information.

Normally, I’m not publicly critical of link building articles written by others but lately there seems to be a rash of them with content like this one and I find it concerning.    The obvious mis-statements aside,  it’s interesting how a  person can provide a list of tactics and then outline what they do, their effectiveness, and how they’re viewed by the search engines when they don’t work for a search engine.   I’ve used the tactics outlined in the article for a long time and never had issues with any of them, they all work.   How and to what extent depends on a great many factors. 

If you come back at me and say I’m suggesting comment spamming is ok, I’m not. They might  be “bad” under certain circumstances but overall?  Definitely not.  But don’t take my word for it, here’s what Google says about comment dropping: 

Comments are a great way for webmasters to build community and readership.

Bold mine to point out a lot of people agree with the idea you can drop comments and build brand without being a spammer.  Granted, Google also says comment spamming is a no-no but you can’t make a blanket statement all comment links are “bad” without mentioning why and under what circumstance.

I’ve never met a link I didn’t like, comment, directory, reciprocal, paid, content…even the broken ones can be used to build links and create buzz.  To not use a “type” of link is to leave equity on the table.   If you understand the basic concept of link popularity, then you’ll understand why most link building techniques will work.   That includes the good, the bad and the ugly.  Again, don’t take my word for what link popularity is all about, check out Google ‘s definition:  

 It is not only the number of links you have pointing to your site that matters, but also the quality and relevance of those links  


Like I said earlier, the link graph grows daily and with all the social media, local and real time “stuff” being added, there’s almost no way you can’t be successful, at least short term.  And therein lies the rub for many in our business.  

There’s always going to be a facet of people who build crappy sites or use mass comment links (etc) for the sole purpose of hosting links to their profit centers.  That’s life.  It’s not my job to call them out or tell people it’s not a good way to do business.  That’s the search engine’s job or, your parish priest.    I don’t promote that type of linking because my strengths are in other areas so I don’t write about it or do it professionally.   But I also don’t tell people they shouldn’t do it.  There’s a measure of risk involved in creating networks or doing massive comment spam, the people using those tactics are well aware of that fact and don’t need the likes of me to tell them otherwise.   

Which sort of dovetails into my final point with this lovely, uplifting post :)  To all of you out there bashing people who speak at conferences and the conferences themselves – bite me.  I speak for the same reasons YOU would speak if you were asked or if your pitch was accepted.  Not everyone spends panel time pimping their companies and those that do?  Usually don’t come back.  And so what if they do take 30 seconds to let you know who they are and where they can be found?  If you don’t promote yourself, no one will.

I present material per the session outline and take GREAT pains to work with my co-panelists not to duplicate material.  We’re not always successful but the vast majority of the time, we are and a wide cross section of content is shared.  Do I share my best tips and secrets?  WOULD YOU?  I doubt it and if you tell me you would, put your money where your mouth is and leave them  here in the comments.  Most people want easy, fast and cheap tips they can run home and implement, well,  me too.  Fact is, there aren’t any “new” tactics being talked about because there aren’t any.  What people hold close to their chest are sources because sources are the magic bullet these days; if something new does pop up it’s because the source presents the opportunity.    If you need to rely on conference presenters to tell you how and where to find links, you’re destined to fail.

We work in an industry where we have no control over the outcome.  This is no different than the rest of the world if you think  about it, doctors can’t control how a patient will react to medication,  retailers can’t make people buy.  They can predict outcomes based on historical and tested data but like us, they’re never certain of the outcome until it happens.   I never hear professionals from other industries telling people what they should and shouldn’t do without disclaimers and/or printed research, why should we be different?  If you’re going to publish link building comments as fact, back it up with data or at least a disclaimer that it’s your opinion.

OK, I’m done but not alone it seems,  I recommend you pop a fresh Red Bull or Diet Coke and check out Alan’s post  and Jill’s “Google Sucks” article.

Until next time, good linking!


  1. Stevo says

    A fresh insight into an aging subject, that has been cut straight to the point and delivered decisively. It’s has become clearer to me that you basically have to construct your own link-building campaign, as there is no link-building template that can be applied en-masse to a myriad of sites. As each site is an individual, so then should be the link-building campaign. Nice one Debra, I’ll certainly keep my eyes peeled for your future comments and articles. Thanks for the clarification.

  2. Nick Stamoulis says

    Interesting article on link building. It’s true that what might work for one type of business might not work for another. That’s why it’s important to develop new strategies and test for those in all of the different niches that you might be working with.

  3. Debra says

    Well…. yes I do think there are people who will tell you how to do it, just not where :)

    Another huge issue here is the type of sites being promoted. They’re typically split into two groups – sites owned by business owners and sites owned by business developers. Big difference. Owners typically focus on one site, maybe two and put all their efforts into selling products/services from their site. They want to be associated with their sites and welcome publicity.

    Developers – they own multiple (sometimes hundreds or thousands) sites and because of time constraints, need to be able to launch multiple tactics for many sites at one time. They depend on tools and look for quick easy ways to get links. They don’t want to be associated with their sites and welcome automated publicity.

    Neither type of site owner is better or worse than the other, they’re just different. But. Developers don’t have the luxury of time like the Owners do. They can’t build relationships or spend hours writing new content for a single site or they’d go broke. So they look for what we linkers call ‘injection” tactics. Developers use the same tactics as Owners but they use them on public sites or those they create themselves. Owners have the luxury of looking for new sources because they have the time. What they both have in common is a need for sources.

    It always comes down to location, location, location!

  4. says

    What a breath of fresh air. Everybody will tell you the benefits of link building, the importance for SEO, the ethical dilemma of white, gray, and black techniques… do you really think ANYONE out there will put all of their cards on the table and just say “this is how you do it?”
    Yes, Virginia, there IS a Colonel Sanders.

  5. says

    I am also astounded by the number of statements made about links that are black and white, as if there is some kind of magic bullet that works across all industries.
    As Debra points out all of the SEO techniques work some of the time. Different websites require different solutions based on their history.
    Of course it is not helped by the constant asking of questions like “what should I do to promote my website” on the various forums that generate a spate of generic seo tactics that work for a different website with incomparable history.

  6. doug says

    Nice post…I’m new to your blog and enjoyed this. And keep on speaking, it’s easy to criticize leaders by those who are not willing to lead.

  7. Ros Phillips says

    A very refreshing article to read… it is so easy for newbies to spend all their time reading, looking for the ‘holy grail’ that will lead them to #1 on google – but much of what is out there that is ‘what to do’ is all the same. What is harder to find is the ‘how’ or the sources…

  8. says

    Not a day goes by that I do not learn something new about search and link building. Simply working at getting them is the best teacher as you all know. Another thing that amazes me almost daily is a Debra points out is how fast something good gets turned to spam. Everything in moderation people, everthing in moderation.

  9. Warner Carter says

    Thanks for thoughtful and reasonable ideas about link building.

    My focus is for content based links. I am a big fan of guest blogging and think many people foolishly under rate article directories. A clever title on an article can build more links all by itself than many other methods.

  10. Debra says

    Thanks Don :)

    Several years ago one of those membership training programs did an update on locations people could use to drop content. Two days later they sent another email asking people to stop spamming the sites they outlined and link responsibly. Didn’t happen of course and those sites went pink in a hurry. Business is business and competition for space on good sites is tough, I get why people hold their sources close. Or at least I do!

  11. says

    Thanks for this Deb,

    I think we concluded the other day that loose lips sink ships in terms of sources. For me, it’s not so much that I would mind sharing a source, but once I did, would it be over-used and abused to the point of devaluation? I think I can trust a handful of peers to leverage a source with moderation. There are a lot of hacks in this space, and even more misinformation. Thanks for sharing your thoughts esp. this one: “If you need to rely on conference presenters to tell you how and where to find links, you’re destined to fail”.

  12. Debra says

    I get caught up with how Google looks at links since they’re the prominent search engine, when you build links for rank you have to :)

  13. Debra says

    Thank you Dan, Sheldon. :)

    Eric – I might have written “bite me” but you know what I was thinking.. ;)-

  14. says

    You said it best when you said: “I’ve never met a link I didn’t like” I think too many people get caught up in the way they think GOOGLE is going to look at that link. There is life beyond Google kiddies ….

  15. says

    Definitely one of the best posts I’ve read in a while, Deb!

    I agree with you entirely… a link is a link. I’ve never bought links, but I’m not going to say that I wouldn’t do so, if the need arose. In some niches, it’s almost a necessity, I think. I’m a firm believer in the old adage about walking a mile in the other fellow’s moccasins.

    Like you say, what works for one site may not work for another. We’ve seen enough changes just in the last year to realize that different techniques are often called for, in order to achieve the same results. Maybe that “air of mystery” is part of what keeps us in the game, eh?

  16. says

    Awesome post with a lot of truth behind it. For me this is the key:

    “Based on my experience I’ve found when it comes to link building strategies and tactics, what works in one industry doesn’t always work in another.”

    Unfortunately in their rush to be noticed, to become the next authority figure in seo or just to pump out their next piece of content a lot of folks rush to generalities.

    “If you’re going to publish link building comments as fact, back it up with data or at least a disclaimer that it’s your opinion.”

    That would be great but I’m not holding my breath…

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