Today I was able to attend the Hoth‘s webinar about SEO link building. It was lead by Alex Pyatetsky, and discussed a wide range of topics surrounding link building. There were a few mentions of the Hoth and their product, but for the most part Alex stayed on topic.
I’m not going to discuss everything that was said, because a lot of it was introductory stuff, but I had a few good takeaways that are worth sharing. Alex came across with an interesting way to look at link building. Very similar to the way nutritionists use the food pyramid, he discussed a link building pyramid to maximize your efforts when creating links to a brand new or existing website.
There were three steps to this method, and all of them involved getting the quality, authority, and relevant links we know are vital for improving organic traffic.
Foundational Link Building
While most people want jump out of the gate running, Alex said that foundation link building was key to this entire process. Dominating your niche starts at the bottom, by getting authority links from your inner circle. He called this the circle of family and friends.
You can also recruit investors, employees, and people you have existing relationships with. These foundational links are the easiest to achieve, but they are the most crucial to your overall SEO strategy. Without a base of solid authority links, the next levels won’t be as effective. You will only be as strong as your foundation.
Once you get a good foundation, you can move onto to general link building, or online activity. This includes things like blog commenting, forum posting, guest posting, and paid advertising. This part of SEO link building is a little bit more difficult. You don’t have as much control over these links, and the weight they hold.
Most people want to immediately start with services from companies like the Hoth, but he said that would be a mistake. It was refreshing to hear such honestly from a link builder!
I found it interesting that Alex still valued blog commenting as an important part of the second stage of SEO link building. He stated that blog commenting is under valued by many people. His logic was that blog commenting still allows you to place choice, relevant links on pages across the web. These links can come from authority pages, and there are plenty of opportunities out there.
Another interesting blog commenting strategy was the, “be first to comment” idea. By being one of the first few people to leave a quality comment on an authority blog, you are getting the attention of not only the blogger, but everyone who visits the posts and browses the comments.
Alex’s strategy was the follow important thought leaders in his industry, and be the first to leave an insightful post that adds value to the original. He had some great examples of this working very well to his advantage. Here is a great quote from Alex’s thoughts on blog commenting…
It’s more than just link building for the sake of the link, its getting the attention of the right people!
Another good nugget was taking advantage of commenting Loyalty programs, who give the most frequent visitors a link back to their website. Commenting regularly on an authority blog can be just like adding a blogroll link that you have control over. That link is powerful and just as relevant to your niche.
For blog commenting, Alex discussed commenting tools like Comment Kahuna to help you find relevant content. The big theme for the second part of the SEO link pyramid revolved around relevant blogs, it was definitely a big them.
Another really cool point he brought up was paid advertising as a form of link building. Not in the sense that your are buying links, but that the best way to network online with a blogger is to buy ads on their website. I’m sure this is a technique they have used frequently for the Hoth, as I have seen their ads all over the web.
Once you are a paying customer you have an automatic in with them, which can lead to guest posts and further discussions that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Here’s Alex on buying ads for link building again…
Buying ads is probably something you are doing anyways, realize that it’s important for relationship building, which will lead to quality links.
Surgical Link Building
The last part discussed by Alex from the Hoth was surgical link building for SEO. This includes social bookmarking, article marketing, guest posting. This is also I’m guessing where a large part of the Hoth’s business comes from. While I’m sure they would help with any aspect of your link building efforts, surgical building is their specialty.
This is the final part of your strategy, and luckily you have control over things like anchor text, location, keywords, and scale. Surgical link building is the difference between the winners and losers.
Risks of Automated Link Building
Beware of picking up link building software from an affiliate store Link building tools are great for casual pushes, but you just can’t game Google like that anymore. Sure you can build hundreds of thousands of links in a few days, but at that point you aren’t doing anything but hurting that website. The other unfortunate thing is that many of the bookmarking sites that come standard on bookmarking demon have been spammed to the moon and back.
These have all turned into bad neighborhoods on the web you definitely want to stay away from. So if you need something to submit a few of your best articles too in mass, go pick up a tool, but trust me it’s not going to make or break a website. The best way to build links is still time and effort, it just doesn’t come that easy anymore.
Summary from Alex @ the Hoth
Unlike some other surgical link building methods, The Hoth is safe to use on new sites, etc. The reason is because we model the authoritative link -> multi site syndication model. In other words, all of the links we build *make sense* to the search engines and we do see new sites rank just by using our product.
It would therefore be easy/convenient to conclude that its the only thing you need, for really solid, sustained rankings. However, as I mentioned in the webinar, this isn’t the smartest approach. Although you do get authority, relevance and popularity from a tool like ours, its not a replacement for the foundational authority of links like blogrolls from friendly industry blogs.
Likewise, although our links provide relevance through relevant content and anchor texts, they are not coming from root-domains that are relevant to your niche. Therefore, its smart to supplement what we do with the activities I suggest in the “Friends, Family & Fools” and “Online Activity” portions of the link building pyramid (the bottom & middle levels).
We have seen some people rank for over a year just using our tool, but it would be arrogant for me to say that everyone can achieve the same thing. Using the tool as part of a well rounded strategy (i.e. “The New Link Building Pyramid”) is a much more consistent way to achieve rankings, and much more stable for keeping them.
Part of a Bigger Picture
Think of this as the seasoning on your dish, you may have all the ingredients, but it’s that last pinch of salt that makes it happen. The problem is most link builder’s won’t be patient in waiting for this last step, and that’s understandable. We live in an instant results world where people want traffic and revenue almost overnight.
The temptation is to only build only surgical links, but without the foundation of link building, you might rank well but you won’t stay near the top. This can lead to huge swings in traffic, but also frustration Alex from the Hoth says.
If you just build surgical links you might rank, but your totally at the whim of the search engine. You’ll see volatility, and you’ll be pulling your hair out more often.
As the webinar came to a close Alex offered more great advice about your overall link building strategy, talking about going after the low hanging fruit, and then branching out from their. Link building can be a science, so stop reinventing the wheel. There is a smarter, more consistent way to build links for SEO.