With the release of Penguin 2.0, webmasters nearly lost their minds worrying about their link building strategies, their rankings, their livelihood, their children. And though most sites have reported little to no impact (you know, sans The Salvation Army, pornographic, and gaming sites), webmasters still fret and worry themselves into a full-on panic-driven craze every time Matt Cutts says those four little words–an update is coming. Instead of playing defense every time there’s an algorithm change, make your link building strategy work for you instead of against you, and in the wise words of Jayson DeMers, get a grip people.
To help some of my fellow link builders out there, I decided to reach out to and interview some of the most well-known thought leaders in the industry to see what they thought about link building today and what some of their favorite and least favorite strategies were. I decided to break this post up into a three-parter, so stay on the lookout for my interviews with Julie Joyce from SEO Chicks and Aaron Wall from SEO Book.
Interview With Jon Cooper
First up is Jon Cooper from Point Blank SEO, a well-known link building blog where he offers his own insight and advice on link building strategies. Jon also offers a link building course for those who are just starting out as well as those looking for new and improved link building tactics. Some of my favorite posts from Jon include “Link Building Strategies-The Complete List” and “Link Building Resources-A Curated List.” And now, on to the interview!
Jon Cooper is an SEO consultant and the author of Point Blank SEO, a link building blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @PointBlankSEO.
1) If there was one link building strategy you wish would fall off the face of the earth, what would it be?
Guest blogging. Then, the average link builder wouldn’t have a clue how to do “white hat” SEO.
2) Conversely, which link building strategy do you wish more people would employ?
First of all, if more people employed a strategy I’d love, it would mean less opportunity for me (let’s be honest, it’s a zero sum game). But I do think not enough people take advantage of fail-proof content for link building.
3) What link building strategy do you believe Google’s next update will hit the hardest?
It’s obvious, but guest blogging. Every Google cycle a new link building strategy will be employed by such a large portion of the Web, that it ends up (at it’s lowest form) becoming spam, whether it was black or white hat to begin with. There is still such a thing as quality guest blogging, but again, everything has a lowest form that is spammy.
4) What are your thoughts on directory submissions and social bookmarking as a link building strategy? Is it worth the time?
Directories are worth the time if there’s a lot of competition, and if there’s niche directory opportunities available. They’ve stood the test of time, and I don’t really see them being kicked any further by Google. Social bookmarking on the other hand is practically dead from a white hat perspective; it’s only alive, from the standpoint of effectiveness, in large scaled tiered link building campaigns.
5) What are your thoughts on the link disavow tool?
I haven’t used it myself, but it seems as though, once again, the small businesses are left in the dark, just because I feel like it takes an expert (a highly paid one) to effectively use the link disavow tool to help remove a penalty.
6) What are your 3 favorite tools for outreach?
I just have one main tool that I use, which is Buzzstream.
7) What’s the most creative way you’ve ever gotten a link?
[Not answering because I gave this answer exclusively to my email subscribers; I like to give them benefits they can’t get elsewhere. Sorry!]
*Editor’s note: If you’d like to subscribe to Jon’s newsletter, enter your email here.
8) What resources would you recommend those new to link building read?
I highly suggest this list of resources I created that I like to keep updated – created it for questions just like this.
9) Do you consider link building and content marketing to be synonymous? Why or why not?
Not at all. It’s like saying tactic = strategy. A tactic is just one way a strategy can be carried out. In this case, link building is the strategy, and content marketing is the tactic. But content marketing can (and does) serve more purposes than just link building.
10) What’s an example of really superb content you’ve come across recently? What drew you to it?
One of the best examples of content I’ve ever seen is the NYT’s story titled Snow Fall. They incorporated interactive elements (i.e. gifs, videos, changing backgrounds, etc.) with text making one of the best digital experiences I’ve ever seen. I think it’s a great example of telling a story using design without making it all about design. Sometimes we want that extra parallax effect or cool graphic, but it doesn’t always ‘fit’ or make sense to the reader. In this example, the interactive elements added to the story and improved it, rather than being it’s own thing just to look at.
11) What’s one thing you’re surprised most SEOs don’t know/think they know?
I guess one thing SEOs think they know is where to draw the line on what link building tactics are considered safe, and which aren’t (regardless of hats). I’ve gotten messages from people saying “but Jon, that’s against Google guidelines!”, but at the end of day, that kind of link building will never get devalued, let alone penalized (as long as they’re not being completely blatant with what they do).
12) What’s your favorite sitcom, and why is it Friends?
Haha my favorite sitcom is actually Parks & Rec. I recently changed it from The Office because their last few seasons have been so subpar.
A special thanks goes out to Jon Cooper for participating, and be sure to be on the lookout for my next interview with SEO Chick’s, Julie Joyce.
What did you think about Jon’s comments? Join the conversation below!