Disclosure: Please note that links to merchants mentioned within this post might be using an affiliate link which means that - at zero cost to you - I might earn a commission if you buy something through that affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t personally use and find to be a valuable asset to my business.

Link Building with the Experts – 2011 Edition


  1. *puh* great and long article! Thank you! I really enjoyed reading it. I’ll go on by reading the last year’s Edition, because I guess I’ve missed it.
    I really like it, that you let a bunch of SEO Experts answer the questions, so you don’t have just one opinion. Great! :)

  2. Rob Adler says:

    Now that’s a frickin’ long beneficial post. The post should have cited itself as an example of “content worthy of +1ing/liking”.

    See you at ASE Rae. :)

  3. Tanner Christensen says:

    There’s a lot of juicy information hidden in this post. Thank you for taking the time to put it all together.

    Would love to see someone make an infographic or interactive chart from some of the highlights.

  4. Jason Stuart says:

    Thanks Rae and everyone, lots here to wade through and digest!

  5. Quite a long post to try and give a meaningful comment that would reflect every question or the post in general. However, a few thoughts about brand signals and aggressive filtering as I feel the two now go hand to hand.

    I’ve seen that the effect of exact match anchors have diminished, in fact it can easily have a negative effect if you are not careful. Analyzing some competitors we saw that they mostly have partial anchor match in the link, and the brand name is always in the anchor, example: Ontolo advanced link building tools.

    SEO company came to mind, but you get the picture, they rank for brand terms even without social activity, which is annoying, (I’m talking about the analyzed websites and not Ontolo) while most companies do leverage the use of social media to their benefit some companies simply go into the smallest details with their SEO to replicate the natural linking pattern, where people mostly link 5-7 words including the brand name. So they give out social signals, brand name in links and their choice of keywords to rank all in one anchor text and Google considers that natural… that strategy actually works rather well with guest posting…

  6. Rosenstand says:

    Thank you Rae! I’ve been looking forward to these articles yearly ever since you started them. I like the inspiration and because I’m human (sort of at least) I like to be confirmed in my knowledge and own observations. Great job! And thanks to interviewees as well :-)

  7. Robert Kirk says:

    Just found your website today and this post my first read. Where has the last half hour went :) what a great read, really one of the best posts I have read in a while some really interesting honest answers from all the big respected players out there.

    now better get back to work :)

  8. Very interesting insights. Also thanks to the SEO experts :)

  9. many people have said to me that nobody reads long articles online – that people these days just don’t have the patience or attention to read in-depth posts. My argument against this is always that people are willing to read articles of any length IF the articles are compelling, useful, and meaningful. This article completely supports my position – long, but really useful, interesting, and helpful. I will read this multiple times and recommend others do the same.

    Thanks for a great article.

  10. seoschurk says:

    “I think”, “I would say”, “I suspect”…where are the facts?
    Experts state hypothesis, test them and share emprical results…
    or not?

  11. Ryan Clark says:

    Thanks everyone for that crazy awesome post! To correlate what I’m seeing, link citations in the local areas are definitely picking up some weight. I’ve also yet to see a lot of movement from reTweets, but the Facebook shares have done some killer upwards movement in Bing, and somewhat in Google. We’re currently running 3 different blogs testing out FB/RT’s/+1’s for any signs.

  12. Rae Hoffman-Dolan says:

    @seoschurk – I can’t speak for anyone else, but regarding me, I absolutely test and my statements in this article are a reflection of the results I’ve seen… but, the bottom line is that I don’t work for Google, so my testing and interpretation of them are my opinions and experiences. :)

  13. Ben Fisher says:

    Very insightful post thank you! Learned a lot from everyone’s expertise here.

  14. I love it when you do these panel posts every year. Great stuff and a variety of opinions, which just emphasizes that there’s more than one way to achieve a great result and everyone needs to find what works for them while building quality content and adding value. Thank you, Rae! :)

  15. Bill Parlaman says:

    Great Post. I think the thing to remember about SEO is you must test. I still see sites with crappy content and crappy links ranking highly in the search engines.

  16. Kaye Swain says:

    WOW! What a great resource. Thank you so much. It’s going to take awhile but I’m determined to read through it all. And yes, I just voted for you. I really appreciate all your help over the last three years. :) Thank you, again.

  17. Mansoor Siddique says:

    Great Article,

    What this does show is though the experts might agree with the underlying policy, but there are various opinions on how to go about it.

    Unfortunately what 95% of people do NOT understand is that proper link development takes time, quick fixes rarely help. I am surprised no ones question about their stance on Forum profile links? Every single one of my tests have show they have been devalued significantly..

  18. Ralf Skirr says:

    Wow, it’s a lot to read (about 30 pages in print), but well worth the time. Really interesting to see how each expert has something different to say on the questions. I would have expected everyone to say nearly the same, but thankfully it’s not the case. The articles linked throughout the answers are also worth reading.

  19. Kieran Flores says:

    Didn’t stop until finished, great peace of content. Shared via all my social profiles. Thank you, SEO gurus.

  20. Great resource as usual guys! Love the “link cartel” answer.. Great stuff!

  21. Dave Robinson says:

    It all keeps coming back to having something people want and will have a reason to link to. Sure cheating will continue to work but more of the new clients we sign up are switched on about linking than even 12 months ago so the conversations at the outset are getting better and more realistic.


  22. Asim Ahmed says:

    Great article Rae!

    In essence when it comes to building sites, links, brand etc it really comes down to building quality, and value to the end user. That’s where Google is shifting their search engine, and that’s what the most successful and top SEO’s are practicing their online marketing efforts.

  23. Brian Greenberg says:

    This is a tremendous post! Great questions, and great answers from some very intelligent people. I wish you did this kind of thing more than just once a year.

  24. Jon Cooper says:

    First of all, great job on the questions. I just have one question – on Question 7, Debra talked about submitting to directories, and mentioned submitting to “general, niche, element and local” directories. What are element directories?

  25. This is a super informative and long posts with all the top experts in internet marketing. Love the varied answers and opinions from different experts. The general theme here seems to be that link building is an ongoing process and that search engines are becoming smarted on sniffing out crude link building and low quality. I say it is better to think of building links in a much more future proof context than how it is now. I believe social proof is going to be of more importance judging from the answers I’ve seen here.

  26. Chip Sheppard says:

    Puts a lot of the info floating around into a nice package for easily digestible, seolicious fun.

  27. Modi Mann says:

    Great stuff from great link builders. IMHO the biggest takeaways are the following two:
    – Do not rely heavily on exact match anchor text in order to avoid getting in trouble.
    – Do rely on Social Media, make sure all content is sharable.

  28. Gary Lee says:

    The question I would have loved for you to ask is “Who is the Best SEO Authority in the World?”

  29. Eric Lenhard says:

    Great post Rae! A lot of useful information! I have learned many new things about link building. Thanks a million!

  30. Ken Schmidt says:

    Great information. Thanks for the time and effort it took to put this post up and thanks to the panel of great SEO experts!

  31. Metapilot says:

    Thanks Rae, for sharing your insight, experience and access. And thanks to the interviewees, as well. It’s good to know that there is still plenty of room at the top for differences in tactics and strategies.

  32. debra mastlaer says:

    @Jon Cooper – Your website is made up of (or should/can be) various elements. Maybe you offer coupons, or videos, images, PDF’s, presentations, job listings, etc. Every one of those things is an element which can be submitted to directory’s designed to showcase those elements. For example if you offer coupons, spend time looking at all the resources online showcasing coupons. “coupon” + “directory” is a good way to start. Change up the words, use “resource”, “listings” etc instead of directory. Dig past the top ten, a lot of these resources don’t always pop out right away. As long as the page is in the index and the links are clean, they’ll pass link pop. Good luck!

  33. Mel Lifshitz says:

    Yes, there is the mighty Panda. But, the worth of building links is still very crucial in search engine optimization. On-page SEO won’t work that much without LB.

  34. Ana Hoffman says:

    I was surprised that I wasn’t surprised more. Nothing new under the sun?

    I did love the brand question though – definitely makes a lot of sense and something I haven’t considered heavily in the past. Thanks, Rae!

  35. If this is in podcast format please direct me to the link. If it isn’t, it should be.

  36. Thank you for sharing this – now I know how to spend the rest of my vacation :-)

  37. You mention Google is focusing more on brand names in their ranking system. I have a website that is the plural of a word, lets say, (for privacy purposes) its mysites.com and my competitor went ahead and registered mysite.com. This has actually happened and I cannot put into words how angry I am that they have done this! My question is, if I link build and brand build and mention “my sites” throughout the net, will google also attribute these mentions of “my sites” to the competitor’s “my site” web page. I know that in terms of keywords, google pretty much ranks the singular and plural the same. So I think Google is confusing my references of “my sites” with the competitor website, “mysite”. Is this correct?

    Any guidance of how I can build my brand without helping their brand would be very much appreciated because this person seems to be riding on the back of my hard work.

  38. SugarRae you rok. Seriously your content is so helpful….love it!

  39. Al Sefati says:

    “I think links from sites that were hit by Panda still count just as much as they did” ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!! I have great respect for Aaron but are you telling me that a link from a page that was de-indexed from Panda still counts? How is that even possible? If google doesn’t see the content how can they see the link and count it?

  40. Stephanie says:

    wow what a long and epic post.. :) I havent read it all, but i will split it up for the next couple of days.. :)
    Thanks for creating this awesome post :)

  41. The one thing that smacks me in the face and continues to do so each day is the tremendous power that Google has over the search market.
    An analogy…
    Google for me is like an island country which has nice real estate all along the coast. The closer you are to the coast of Google Island the more you have to pay for that location. The reality is nobody wants to be 5 blocks deep with no view of the sea so you have to pay to get a better position.

    Now this Google island only has a finite amount of space. You need to put a huge amount of work or pay a large amount of money to be in a prime position.

    Other islands like Blekko , Bing , Qwiki etc are relatively cheaper and less populated (only 2 blocks deep) but aren’t visited as often. But as with all trends over time popularity with Google Island will eventually diminish when people wise up to the fact that the Island they have created has become too expensive to live on.

    So does there need to be a paradigm shift from people who use search engines to bring the cost of marketing and advertising down? Or will search in 5 years be completely different?
    Does anybody think in 5 years time there will be an emergent technology that will surpass Google’s domination today?

  42. Thanks for the read here people – I must admit i didnt read all the responses – Justilien was my preferred answerer and I saw sense in most of his comments…

    I do love the question about why links are so expensive – I often lead with – have you seen the ROI they can deliver?!

    But Justliien again cracked me up here – Ive been building links for many many years now to clients large and small – I like how you are debating the worth of social media links…

    Have a think – there has always been sense in having your links appear on popular websites – twitter is no more than a popular website – so yea a link from here does count – with twitter – the thing to do when you place your link is hashtag the post with something generic about the topic – this way the twitter spammers and autoreposters and that stuff will pick up your tweet and retweet it ….

    FB is a waste of time, although i have 400 friends in my personal account – I did a competition to win a phone an on the analytics 57 of my FB pals clicked it… so that was nice… but FB for links -na, fan pages, maybe…

    Just make one way links people – the rest is total crap -link wheels OMG what is this 1999?


  43. Wow! Lots of food for thought out there, the links issues has always interested me and like most things SEO it depends on how compettitive your niche it. I think some things can be assumend like great content, good keyword analysis, on page optimisation etc

  44. Neil Ferree says:

    Now the Panda is alive and well, On Page Optimization, Content Creation, Link Building and how those Links are established and managed seems to be ever more important. It wasn’t so long ago I was able to get a client’s site ranked for competitive KW’s in a relatively short period of time. Now, its taking longer and more $$ to achieve page 1 results.

    I am paying attention to what they guys from Noble Samurai are getting ready to roll-out soon since their value prop is all about content (article) syndication and how this business model will help me get a client WordPress SEO results, finding and getting PR4+ links is proving to be more challenging than ever before. Glad I found your site Rae. This intel was timely and useful.

    BTW, in case your tracking such matters and I suspect you are, I found your site by way of the Thesis DIY “ninja” page. Might need to hire someone like YOU on the near term ;-)

  45. Awesome post. I’ve had it in my bookmarks toolbar for two weeks and been reading and rereading. You have to read between the lines a little ;-)

    Thanks to everyone that contributed.


  46. I will follow Erick’s advice and find out the so called “branded sites” in my client’s niche and prepare a plan accordingly. Link building has witnessed many changes in the past years and it will continue to evolve.

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