22 Jan 2007

Expert Link Building Can be Fun!

You could take this as a continuation of my last post about link bait.
See, even from the 4 articles that I referenced that night, a few of those made statements like:

Sheesh, rather you than me squire. I can’t think of anything more mind numbingly tedious, not to mention soul destroying, than sending out hundreds or thousands of link requests. Whether you do this by hand, or (heaven spare us) automatically, it’s just shit. Plain and simple.  NickW on Search Engine Land

Compared to some of the alternatives – begging for links – link baiting is a far more useful and productive strategy. Peter Da Vanzo

Link begging is mind numbingly tedious compared to fun of linkbait. Garrett French.

Bah! That’s what I say "BAH!"

And it’s just not only these articles that make statements like those above. Many of the recent articles I’ve been reading about link bait have statements such as these. I take offense to these type of statement because I, for one, enjoy building backlinks! Really! And I’d like to think that my team of Ninjas also enjoys the art of getting great links.

A lot of what I’ve been hearing is things like: "Google is too complicated for link building", or "link building is just too hard", or "who wants to build links"?

Let me address a few of these points:  

"Google is too complicated for link building"
 I’m sure most of my readers are pretty advanced link builders themselves, so I’m not going to get into what I think is important to link building (see Jim’s favorite posts on the bottom), so I’ll say that "Google is not too complicated for link building". When you can analyze theories, mixed with speculations (If I were google I’d ….), referenced with "here’s what’s happening based on what I see accross sites", and combined with what the "SEO "word"" is on the streets (forums, blogs, etc)…..hey ya know what, maybe link building IS rocket science…. I didn’t get into that debate last week, but YES, it is. When you’re dancing with hundreds of google phd’s, you sure are doing rocket science – because if you’re not, your dead or soon will be. But if you can see what’s "Food" and see into the future (they’re getting smarter), then you can excel at link building for rankings. If you know what is needed (and I take it most of my readers know what is needed), then it’s not too complicated – it just takes time and thought.

"Link building is just too hard"
Yea it’s hard. It takes time and goes slow. People don’t like that….we’re all guilty of "it’s never enough" when it comes to links….and the day that some big company head says "Can’t you just push some buttons, or outright purchase links on the streets and "be done with it"….that is the day your website just saw it’s death in the future.

Last week one of my ninjas set a weekly record for the most backlinks in a week. She got 39…but keep in mind, she’s got a lot of sites that need links so it’s easier for us to find nice link homes. If a ninja were able to get 10 links for any one site in a week I’d be impressed. Does that number scare you, think it’s too small? Don’t – if your ninjas are getting links the best way, they’re analyzing and writing and not pushing buttons. When you are a HUMAN ASKING FOR A DEAL, you’re talking time. Time to find sites (Human time), Time to compose an email (No Template), Time to deal back and forth a few times, time to create an ad, time to record the work….time time time…..but get a great link and watch your rankings jump faster than all your push button efforts combined.

If you’re got the time, it’s not too hard. It’s only too hard if link building is assigned to some poor guy who’s also in charge of lots of other stuff and is expected to get hundreds of links each month with a total of 10 hours of link building….Ha, yea right. 

 If you’ve got someone dedicated to link building doing it 40 hours per week, slow and steady. It doesn’t have to be hard if they don’t look for short cuts and aren’t expected to get an unrealistic amount of backlinks each month. Humans make deals, not machines.

"Who wants to build links?"
I do, that’s who. I actually get my kicks building backlinks and wish I could do it tons more than I do personally. It’s an art, some may even call it rocket science 😉 It’s a combination of SEO knowledge, Analysis, and The Art of the Deal, along with "The art of the ad".

Sure, if I were pushing buttons and analyzing useless data and not seeing rankings, and being told "You Need More!!!" than who would enjoy doing that?…not me.

It’s no fun being a link monkey, but it can be a fun challenge to be Link Ninja. Everyday I have someone here run to me with a great link they got…..it’s exciting to hear about getting an edu link that we asked for, or getting an ad on a page with over 1000 backlinks to that page, or getting a great presell page on an authority related site, etc, etc. It’s a Expert Game if you make it, it’s fun, it’s a challenge. We have 4 Ninja rooms here. Each room has 4 link ninjas, and one designer. The ninjas compete against everyone else (and post numbers on a board to compare against others) and teams compete for the Winning Ninja Room trophy. It’s a fun game around here. We’re not link begging, we’re creating win/win deals with other webmasters. –


Now, don’t think I’m putting down link bait, because I’m not. I think link bait is a great SEO method, and has huge potential…but it’s not a replacement for getting specific links that you’ve asked for….and ya know what, it can be a challenge, and it can be fun, and most of all, it can be very effective.

Is there anyone else out there that enjoys the thrill of seeking and obtaining backlinks via the Art of Asking?


  1. Rob January 22, 2007 at 7:19 PM

    Ha! I actually enjoy it too.

    I think rather than that making me cool, it actually makes us both a little sad.

    I dunno though, I get a feeling of satisfaction to see my sites jump a little on the phrases I am aiming at (and I am currently on a high for a number 2 ranking in google for my targetted keyword phrase!)

  2. Jonathan Cherry January 22, 2007 at 7:26 PM

    Sounds like you need more Link Ninjas….. HaaEEEYAAAAAAAAH! More Link Ninjas=More links. I could be a super stealthy, clever yet friendly LINK Fu master, with a little guidance. I send out messages and emails all day anyway, just for fun. Don’t toss that resume, its a link in and of itself…..to me.

  3. Link Building Is Tiresome January 22, 2007 at 7:56 PM

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  4. Ninjutsu Link Builder: Brett January 23, 2007 at 12:44 AM

    Jim… I am with you my man… I love the skilled art of one-way link building and getting those super high quality “stealth” links are a blast 🙂

  5. Mike January 23, 2007 at 1:43 AM


    Great post. I agree, link building is tedious work but usually well worth the effort. Nothing beats a targeted link from a high quality site. Very smart of you to make it a competition for your ninjas to motivate them. Just like salespeople, contests and rewards make people try much harder than they normally would. While it takes more than a “trained monkey” to do link building the right way, it’s not that difficult once people understand how to find quality links (the whole “rocket science” thing is overblown). The other part of the link building equation is convincing the other party to link to your sites. Sometimes I find that a simple phone call (instead of an email) can work wonders.

    I say let those who choose to try and link bait, bait away. For me, I prefer to fin

  6. Melvin Ram January 23, 2007 at 6:22 AM

    I don’t see what all the debate is all about.

    It’s like debating whether it’s better to be a company that builds great products that gets lots of people talking organically or being a company that markets products very very well (web, pr, print, trade shows, etc). Both… duh!

    Am I missing why people are passionate about this discussion on “Link Ninjas” versus “Link Baiting”?

    ~ Mel

  7. earlpearl January 23, 2007 at 9:08 AM

    I love your writing style and my experience is that targeted links with appropriate anchor text works. So I’m still doing it for my local business and one client–and doing some link baiting for quantity…and I’m doing other stuff (running a business) so it is time consuming.

    Currently I’m trading business services for one way anchor text links within text….so my site can continue to dominate a broad range of phrases that combine a variety of geo terms and relevant business terms. That is a lot of work.

    But if we continue to dominate critical serps the competition struggles getting seen and or has to spend more on ppc. Hah.

    Its a combination of challenge, research, time, and relationship building.

    But it works…it works…and BTW….it works.


  8. Lee Odden January 23, 2007 at 10:45 AM

    Well said Jim!

    I agree, there’s just something about scoring great links that offers the challenge/reward which makes it fun.

    I do think doing fundamental link building is not for everyone though. If someone doesn’t have the interest, patience or the skills, link building can seem tedious and boring.

    I say that’s great news because it means there’s less competition for link requests.

    Link building, link bait, online PR, tagging, bookmarking, etc are all tools available for link builders. It’s a smorgasboard we can all pick from according to the situation.

  9. Arnie January 23, 2007 at 12:46 PM

    One of the things I enjoy most at the conferences like SES or Pubcon is hearing all the people sigh when it comes to talk of link building. To me it means a market opportunity — if they hate it, we’ll do it for them.

    I started to wonder why 90% of the people there hated link building, but I gravitated towards it. Then it struck me — most SEOs have IT or Web Dev roots. They like to build and tweak websites or code. I have no desire to build sites.

    However, I am a marketer. I love the “sale”. Especially when it requires cleverness and intelligence. I have run a few sales organizations that had rooms and contests just like you described. Now we have a few “link pros” and the same excitement is there.

    Never saw a room full of developers high-five over a perfect sitemap… probably why they dislike link building… it’s too much like “sales”.

  10. The Love of Link Building January 23, 2007 at 3:54 PM

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  11. Chris M January 23, 2007 at 4:28 PM

    Everybody is kung-fu fighting…

  12. Brad January 23, 2007 at 7:05 PM

    Yikes. 10 links per week? This really scares me. I hate getting backlinks. I am not creative enough to be able to figure out how to do it. I like the build it and they will come route.

  13. kelvin newman January 24, 2007 at 6:56 AM

    I think Link Building could be seen as a little tedious if going for the quanity rather than quality approach, which really is a little niave link building strategy.
    For some sites link bait is never going to be as approapriate or effective as a small number of well researched links from top high quality authority websites.

  14. Nuno Hipólito January 24, 2007 at 10:27 AM

    You are right Jim. Getting links should be fun work. If you look at it as being very hard and tedious, you’ll never excel at it. And a good SEO should excel at getting great links, even if he dosen’t quite get 10 a week. Just a couple a week should be enough, if they are high quality links!

  15. Bruno January 24, 2007 at 5:46 PM

    Building links is more fun then anything else in SEO, all other is just boring 🙂

  16. Don January 25, 2007 at 12:20 AM

    I find it boring and tedious also. However, I do consider it a “must do” for better rankings. I actually schedule my link research and link building so that I will do it.

    Tuesday afternoon/night I spent 6 hours researching and sending request for a couple of my sites that need some link love. Out of about 22 request, I received 2 backlinks from PR 7 sites.

    What’s your average conversion rate? (link request sent versus links obtained?)


  17. Dina January 25, 2007 at 8:07 PM

    You know, Jim, I’m with you, though still wondering if such activities bring some benefit…

  18. Ross January 26, 2007 at 5:14 AM

    I completely flit between the two!

    Being quite time-poor the baiting obviously has its appeal as I’m writing for the blog all of the time anyway. But I have to say, blogging in an industry that doesn’t have a very large or techie background means that there are fewer bloggers and site owners out there who would link back to the bait. I know, I know – you have to be more creative and cross over industries, but it isn’t always that easy.

    However, I can, with concerted effort keep picking up relevant links one-by-one and then still see progress (albeit a bit slower).

    I guess in an ideal world you do both don’t you? But for me, there just isnt the time…!


  19. StrongVibe February 18, 2007 at 9:53 PM

    Hey Jim. How do you get links? I know you contact website owners but what do you say? Do you do 3 way links?

  20. Jim Boykin February 18, 2007 at 11:01 PM

    we don’t do 3 ways, we don’t do trades…we either pay them money or get them for free.

  21. StrongVibe February 19, 2007 at 12:09 AM

    If its not giving away any SEO secrets, how do you get them for free?

  22. Jim Boykin February 19, 2007 at 8:27 AM

    no secret, no trick….
    “Hi Bob,
    On http://www.yoursite.com/this-page.htm
    could you add
    to the resources you list on your page?

  23. Manish Pandey February 19, 2007 at 3:10 PM

    Yes, i do!

  24. Norman March 8, 2007 at 6:47 AM

    Actually link building might be done not by yourself , it take lot of time , I think it’s better to give some money to good company and wait for results

  25. Jeff April 13, 2007 at 3:01 PM

    We are just now starting to develop our links. There are so many opinions out there. So far all I have figured out is if it seems too easy, it probably does not work. Keep up the articles, some of us need the help.

  26. brazz June 1, 2007 at 8:53 AM

    I agree with you on this and most other posts. If I needed a job, I would apply with you.

    I also enjoy spending time hunting links, and also feel these are the links with the best impact.

    Some time ago, I found a page maintained by an American professor, whose topic was [something related to ships]. One such thing existed in my city; I paid a visit to the place, took photos , interviewed people and wrote an essay about the thing. I asked for a link to the professor; not only did he put the link, he also thanked me for the ‘excellent information’.
    Next thing I did was to visit cities in my neighborhood (about which I also maintain websites), and created pages about that [something related to ships]. I obtained a few great links, and still contributed to the wealthiness of information about the topic on the web.

    There have been other cases where I did something similar: first, look for a potential linker (a relevant page, where the author clearly is willing to link to relevant content); then, ask myself what I could make (write about what? in which depth?) to get a link from them; take the time to make whatever I think it takes. Only then do I ask for a link. It works wonders.


  27. 20 Link Building Quickies | WebGeek June 1, 2007 at 12:05 PM

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  28. Alkmaar June 14, 2007 at 4:08 PM

    What also works very well for me is making a list of links where you can get free links. This way you can get many links to your site. The links to your site won’t be of high quality, but it does help your PR go higher. This makes trading links easier…

  29. Jim Boykin June 14, 2007 at 4:43 PM

    free links are often worth what you paid for them 😉
    Esp if it’s for the purpose of link trading for the sake of “links”.
    and worth nothing if they’re on “links” pages.

  30. Some HTML Required… « Freelancing Online June 21, 2007 at 11:30 PM

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  31. alex June 28, 2007 at 8:45 AM

    i like your article it explains alot i think i learn quite alot today from this blog thanks
    Alex wong

  32. Arthur June 29, 2007 at 7:30 AM

    Couple of pointers I have been working on recently when trying to accumulate links

    1. Use of niche specifc directories.If you do a searh on keyword+directory you may turn up with 1 or 2 gems to submit to even if they cost $5 or $10

    2. Line up 10 potential link partners and Phone up the really good PR ones. Expect at least 2 out of 10 to be willing to discuss a link
    Recip links are ok when yo get above the pr2 level.

  33. Artem July 18, 2007 at 3:37 PM

    To get 40 links per week is not too hard, but get such quantity of quality links with high PR – is very hard as I think

  34. Sreeseshan August 1, 2007 at 9:14 AM

    Writing anything is an art, that too writing something like Jim should require enormous skill. Great piece Jim, hats off to you.

    I have been in this field last 2 years collected some great links for my clients. Initially I found the going was very tough to get desired links for the couple of sites. In fact I felt that I should not have taken this profession. Over a period of time I understood that any profession you take will not be a bed of roses.

    What I have understood from the experience is that nothing is free in this world. When I request for a link from the relevant site, I try to find in which way I can be helpful to the site before asking for a link. Some of the links I got by extending some services to them.

    Everything available at finger tips. If one has patience, one can find sea of information in the net that will help everyone to get their job done.

    Ofcourse, there are experts out there, before them I am nothing. Just ranted something out of my experience.

  35. Ed Hardy September 3, 2007 at 5:25 AM

    The Link-Ninja strikes again. Another 4er – Haoiiiiiii!

  36. Job Ireland September 19, 2007 at 12:45 PM

    LOL – this is my first time seeing a SPAM protection that I do not need to put my glasses to read some messed up characters, but can read normally and use brain to calculate. Well done. For us with aged glasses, calculating creates less eye strain! 🙂

    Anyway, regarding the article itself. It is fun. And sooo rewarding. When you find out that your site have JUMPED again over the weekend…

  37. Donetsk September 26, 2007 at 9:25 PM

    I certainly have fun doing it. And I don’t think it is too complicated or an arduous task. I take my time and approach things in a very relaxed way not taking anything too seriously.
    Regards Don.

  38. batteryfast October 25, 2007 at 10:15 PM

    I agree, there’s just something about scoring great links that offers the challenge/reward which makes it fun.

    I do think doing fundamental link building is not for everyone though. If someone doesn’t have the interest, patience or the skills, link building can seem tedious and boring.

    I say that’s great news because it means there’s less competition for link requests.

  39. Lars Bachmann December 21, 2007 at 3:12 AM

    I hate building links, so lets make a deal? I write some of your post’s and you build some of my links 🙂

  40. ed hardy March 16, 2008 at 12:28 PM

    Linkbuilding is the most fun part of seo imho 😀
    keyword research is fun too… but producing content sucks hehehe

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