Changing Course In The New Linking World

In the wake of the Great Google Massacre (i.e., everything that’s happened over the past couple years since Google got serious), there are many sites that survived the carnage but aren’t as successful as they used to be — and they’re looking for ways to get back to where they once were.


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The scenario most often encountered sounds like this:

“Our site used to dominate for all our keywords. Ever since (choose your reason) hit, we lost rank, but didn’t receive any unnatural links warnings or manual penalties.  We’ve simply lost tons of traffic, and it’s killing our bottom line. How do we get back where we were?”

These are my favorite scenarios, because they indicate hope.  If your site has not participated in link schemes (or other truly manipulative link building activities) and has not been warned by Google, there is a definite opportunity to change your approach and style of link building… if you are willing to.

Those five words are the key, because you’ll need a complete change to your fundamental approach to link building and content publicity. This is where I try to help sites see what they have to do to get where they want to get, and then it’s up to them whether or not to do it. Many sites don’t. They want the newest and quickest way back to the top of Google, and they want it by Friday. Those sites are doomed. Other sites pay lip service to adopting a new style of link building, but revert back to old ways and techniques when they aren’t at position one within a couple months.

Changing Course In The New Linking World

Then there are the real converts. These are the brands that recognize the remarkable shift that is taking place right now, in which algorithms and human reviewers and link analysis tools are getting so much better that the path to organic success moving forward means adapting to new strategies and techniques.

One of my favorite (and eye-opening) ways to illustrate to a client the link attraction power of useful content is to find sites in their niche that have already attracted high-value links as a result of specific content.  I’ve written on this before, but back then people laughed. They aren’t laughing now.

Examples always help. Let’s use the search [skatepark locator] and check out the results. Have a look at the number of tools, apps and websites there are to help people find skateparks. Some look like they are completely commerce free, like (a website with an accompanying free app) and Others have an obvious angle, like Thrasher Magazine, a site sells that sells skateboard gear and magazine subscriptions.

Now, have a look at these search results: [Pushwood SkatePark Locator]

Wow. That’s link love awesomeness for a pretty nichefied app, isn’t it? And, if you take the time to study the backlinks for the top ranking sites for phrases related to skateparks, you’ll start to notice how some companies have used the web to great advantage with content and tools that would be impractical to produce otherwise. A printed skatepark directory would be out of date before it was published. And costly. The skatepark finder is just one example.

After this exercise, show your client subject-specific sites they may never have thought of, but which illustrate the potential for high trust inbound links in certain niches. I like to start with a tricked out Google search, show them a specific example, and then hope the light comes on for them. For the skateboarding site, try this search:

["skateboard club" useful links OR .org]

The search results for the above search phrase are one big piece of your blueprint for content publicity, awareness building, and links in the age of the new Google.

This is only an example — these sites won’t all be perfect, and they won’t all be receptive. Some will be head-scratchers, but think deeper than the top ten results. We are being shown what Google believes to be hundreds, thousands of credible URLs in this niche.

Your job now is to see, recognize and pursue a path that will land you on those sites.

Good linking.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Building | Link Building: General | Link Week Column


About The Author: has been creating linking strategies for clients since 1994. Eric publishes the strategic linking advice newsletter LinkMoses Private, and provides linking services, training and consulting via

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  • John McDougall

    Great stuff as usual Eric.

    You told me four or five years ago link building should be thought of like a PR function / department and that has gotten more and more true after Penguin. Well, I should say people HAVE to think this way now thankfully even though that has always been true. My team is finally starting to get re excited about content based link building that has a PR type outreach and vibe to it now that clients HAVE to listen and take our ideas more seriously.

    I wonder if there is a good way to get more education out there so clients are not so “deer in the headlights” when we talk about link building and they want it to go away…to India lol becasue it is too weird to them and some are cheap and lack creativity. Starts with us I suppose being more frim in our teaching and what we accpet as gigs.

    BTW: Love your book (makes sense you would be the one to finally do a link specific book) and link newsletter.

    Seeing what the top sites have for linked to content and common backlinks are my favorite activities lately.

    Any favorite tools of your own or others you prefer lately you can recommend outside of ahrefs, majestic OSE etc?

  • Nick Stamoulis

    Obviously depending on your niche there might be more of less subject-specific sites, so the key is to also look for related sites that are still a good fit for your website. In the case of the skatepark example you used, what related industries might be a good tie in? Skateboarding equipment companies (obviously), but also clothing companies that cater to skateboarders, video games that center on skateboarding, X Games type events and more.


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