Linkbuilding with Sean McGinnis at ContentJam 2013

Link BuildingA  necessary component of search engine optimization is linkbuilding. That is the process of going out and convincing other websites that are better than yours to put a link to your site on theirs. For many of us who proclaim to be digital professionals in the web-o-sphere, building links … okay let’s step right here. I think that term is one of the reasons why people do this wrong often.

You don’t build links, you earn them.

A link from one website to yours is a vote, that web team is saying “hey, look over here, this other site that isn’t our own that we get nothing from and thus have no reason to point it out other than it is doing something cool is doing something cool and we like it!” unless of course they attach that awful ‘nofollow’ clause to their link which could be their way of saying ‘hey that website is doing something dumb ad we are laughing at it’.

Links are earned by creating great content which brings us to what Sean McGinnis said in his engaging presentation at ContentJam 2013.  Here are my notes from the presentation.


The top 72 ranking factors, according to the 2013 Moz report on search all relate to offsite elements. (
[Mind Blown – as a content obsessed person I am shocked content exists so low on this list.]

The number and quality of the link coming to your content is a vote. Not all votes are equal. A vote from the New York Times carries more weight than a vote from a random blog set up yesterday or a vote coming from a domain filled with random links.

Content correlation to ranking is .13 (if 1 means there is a direct absolute correlation, .13 is pretty low). This means on-page SEO has less to do with PageRank than the links coming into the site.



No one is going to link to a 300 word article that doesn’t 1)educate 2)excite 3)entertain

2. STOP blogging just to blog

Just because you can spit out 400 words doesn’t mean you should. Good content is developed, nurtured, and crafted.

3. Start Thinking BIG!!

Shoot for the moon. Devote time and energy developing content that will blow people away. I’ll also add, start thinking DIFFERENT. Step away from the normal and be unique (remember Seth Godin’s Purple Cow?)

4. Guest Blogging

new Google guidelines seem to point to it as a danger – it isn’t if you aren’t spinning content. (

5. Create Infographics (not a sucky one, please)

This is hard. Don’t create an infographic of something that can be more easily expressed in words. Invest time and professional artistic effort into making an infographic that can be a piece of content many, many people want to link to.

6. Curate a List (research, research, research)

20 People Who…
Top 100 Companies that…

7. Host an Event

Lots of content can be built around the event

8. Host a contest

Lots of content relating to the contest

9. Press Releases

Old school press releases that aren’t meant to just be republished but attract the interest of a reporter.

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) | reverse angle press release, these are reporters looking for people to help them out on stories.

10. Interview an Expert


1. Spammy links

if a link is easy to get, everyone is doing it, and since SEO is a zero-sum game, you still have to go and fight for the hard to get links.

easy links to get today are the links Google is going to devalue tomorrow. Future proof your site by earning real links.


2. Buying links

Matt Cutts hates you for life, and your little dog, too.


3. Links from unrelated or irrelevant sources

Improperly contextualized links are meaningless to Google and Bing


4. Links that won’t bring traffic

A link on a brilliant page that no one ever visits brings nothing to your content


5. Links from sites that exist just to share links

These aren’t actual votes for your content in Google’s point-of-view


6. Using the exact same anchor text in all your links

Common sense, it looks unnatural to Google. Any hint of gaming the system will give Google a reason to drop your rank


7. Relying on only one tactic.

Natural organic links will come from a variety of sources, slowly, over time. This sort of growth will let your content slowly rise in rankings.


Bottom Line
DON’T GAME THE SYSTEM – If you think you have found a trick, and use that trick consistently, that trick will eventually be discovered and your site will lose ranking once the algo is adjusted. Google is reading the same black hat forums you are.


1. Build links as if they won’t help your search results.

Make it about your audience

2. The value of any link building activity is inversely related to its scalability.

If you can generate 100 links in a day, those won’t be as valuable as the link it takes a month to create.

3. Links from bad sites can harm you, build carefully.