Things that aren’t (real) linkbuilding strategies

Things that aren’t (real) linkbuilding strategies

At the risk of coming off too abrasive, I have to say that nothing makes it more apparent that very few link builders are capable of actually building links than reading the link building strategies recommended by industry (ahem) experts in roundup or Link Building Strategies articles.

In a list of fifty to a hundred SEO professionals trying their hardest to write a coherent or clever response about their best, most successful and highly recommended strategies, MAYBE 5 of them will be decent ideas worth pursuing.

The rest are typically slight variations of these:


Seriously, read just about any link building strategies article and Ctrl+F “great content” and count how many times that phrase is mentioned (hell, do it in this one). As if investing dozens of hours into content creation is a sure-fire way to get links. (It’s not.)

The reason this is terrible advice is because the kind of content that is likely to attract links on its own, is EXACTLY the kind of content you should be actively building links to. So recommending to simply “create good content” is very short sighted. On the other hand, in my experience, content created with the main goal being to attract links is typically pretty shitty content.

Content isn’t a link building strategy. It’s just an asset that makes good link builders’ lives easier. Good content rocks. But if you can’t build links without it then you’re not a link builder. Sorry.

Just “build great content!” is a cop-out by people who can’t actually build links. (That’s fine. It’s really hard, and at times really boring and there is a lot of other SEO work that should be done prior to building links.) 

So, absolutely invest in content. Just don’t stop there.


I get it. Public Relations professionals are great at communication, have a ton of connections and they can undoubtedly help you get featured on a ton of publications that I or other link builders might have trouble even getting in contact with. They definitely offer benefits to nearly any company’s digital marketing efforts.

But assuming that PR can replace link building is an insult to professionals who dedicated a huge amount of their time staying up to date. I know exactly zero (good) link builders who don’t read and keep learning about link building or SEO in their personal, unpaid time away from the office. There’s simply a huge amount of knowledge that can only come with working to build links for hours a day, and that’s not what PR does.

And any link builder who has been hired by a website which has previously hired a PR firm to build links knows that there is almost always a lot of clean up to do.

Anyways, Gisele Navarro recently wrote like a billion words about this in a much better way than I could express it, so I’m just going to link it here:


Oh, god. I guess this could be considered a strategy, but it’s the kind of strategy you fall back on when you’re struggling to build real links for a website. Therefor anyone who talks about how they got 40 “high quality .edu links” by building a scholarship landing page and blasting the same email to a couple hundred colleges is getting nothing but an eye roll from me.

It’s great if you honestly want to give students money to further their education. Otherwise, setting up a mediocre $500 scholarship for this purpose is literally just buying links.

Also, look at just about any scholarship page and there’s a solid chance you’ll see some scholarships from SEO companies. That’s reason enough to steer clear of this “strategy”.

.EDU websites might typically be high authority, but they’re usually not incredibly relevant (for most clients, without some real stretching). As if a backlink profile full of .edu/scholarships links doesn’t look spammy. You might not get in trouble for it (yet; I wish you would), but there’s no way search engines don’t know what you’re doing with this.

Relationship building

I keep seeing people talking about building relationships as a great way to get links. The long con. Absolutely leverage pre existing relationships for links if you can, but other wise this just seems like 1) something you should be doing regardless of SEO 2) a huge waste of time as a link building strategy.

If it makes absolute sense for someone to link to your website, there’s an almost 100% chance they would do so regardless of any relationship you’ve built with them over a dozen emails. In the time it takes you to build a relationship to the point where you could comfortable ask for a link from them, you could have found hundreds of perfectly relevant websites which would have been likely to link to you simply because it makes sense.

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