In case you have not heard, Danny Sullivan, Editor of SearchEngineLand.com let loose with an incredible stream of consciousness rant about link building today at SMX Advanced. I was recording it, and you can hear the entire 7 minutes of it right here:
UPDATE: Here’s the text transcript:
Danny: [mumbling while skimming list of audience question for the Ask the Experts panel]
Vanessa Fox: [inaudible] we can’t hear the questions, we’re just enjoying you reading them in your mind.
Danny: Okay, okay. Oh, slap down! Can we talk about Panda recovery stories? No? Not right now.
Panda? Those who don’t want to hear about links, you want to hear about Panda?
Audience: [Various no’s and groans]
Danny: You see how hard this is to sit there and, “No, I don’t do Facebook, because I have people.” Look, let me just get the link question out of the way. I want no more than five minutes’ discussion on it, but I’m just going to tell you all the link stuff that’s coming down… I’m going to read it out to you, and get it into your mind and come up with your quick responses.
What are your top tips for doing link building? Links are still important. Nobody would deny that it’s getting harder and harder. What would you do? Gosh, my competitor is using WordPress theme links, paidlinks, and trust seal links. What should I do? Should I report those links? What percentage of your links can be crappy and still be okay? What stops competitors from buying 6,000 Xrumer links for $5 on Fiveeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.com?
I haven’t heard anybody talk about link building tactics like article marketing, directory submissions– you see what’s in my mind– and do you still believe these tactics are effective?
Don’t just contemplate it, let is spin in your head with your ideas. Yeah, come over here and live in my world.
I still have a root domain with a strong link profile. In general, it won’t be the strongest. Does that strength allow me to be less strenuous with the deeper links that I’m targeting with the link building campaign?
Can I continue getting partial or exact match anchor text links? And it goes on like that.
Vanessa: You were right before not to take questions.
Danny: No. No, I’m not even halfway done with the link questions. Do you guys buy links, or do you do non-compensated placement campaigns? And if we did, we’d call paid links non-paid links, that’d be like calling paid inclusion, “paid inclusion.”
Are link wheel services still safe? Some seem to have survived Penguin, but are they legit?
Panel: [Various attempts to respond]
Danny: No, no, no. Do you have enough of the sense of the confusion that’s going on?
Vanessa: I don’t quite get it yet.
Danny: Let me just summarize it like this, and kind of crystallize what I’m seeing. [inaudible] I was telling [inaudible] this last night. Penguin has been [inaudible] really understood that a lot of people seem to think that link building meant just get links. It didn’t matter whether or not anybody actually saw the freaking links to
click on them to go do something.
When I was a little kid walking through the snow and we built links, we got links from websites that people actually went to in some way because they wanted to go to the website, they read some information, and then they said, “Oh, there’s more information about this topic. I can click on this link that will take me over there.”
You didn’t get links from websites that when you go to the homepage they say, “What is the purpose of this website? To give you links.” Or we didn’t have to worry about 2,000 directories being banned, because we only had 3 directories. We had three directories because we used them to FIND shit.
And they were called Yahoo! and the Open Directory and Look Smart, and we used them to find things. And when Google came along and said, “We would like to kill them, but we can’t kill them right away. We need to figure out what the good sites are. We’ll just crawl them, figure out what all the good sites are because they’re linked in the directories, and eventually we’ll be better than that.”
Then people said, “Well, Google, you’re all hot and awesome. How do we get to be listed with you?” Google said, idiotically, not anticipating 20,000 directories would later come, “You should get directory links.” AND THEY MEANT GET LINKS FROM Yahoo! and the Open Directory and Look Smart.
God HELP US that they ever said that, because that led us to getting the best links for ever on the top of top 20, $20 for [inaudible] nofollow.com, .edu, .org. And now, it’s like all the 13th generation SEOs that have grown up on Black Hat Warrior Fiesty Fighter [inaudible] or GetMyLinksFastXrumer.com, and that’s like . . . so
Danny: [inaudible] answer the question. I’ve been dealing…I’ve had a lot on my mind recently… but that is why I said to Matt yesterday, “it is fine if you guys sit there and say, ‘Just go get links. It’s so easy.” It’s like, I swear, I want them to go out there and spend 30 days to get links, just to go get links, because they’re freaking hard.
One last story and I’ll let you respond. Okay? Just to illustrate. Back when I started Search Engine Land, which is a new website that I had to start over with from nothing. I had to go do link building. And one of the links that I wanted to get was from this other site that you may have heard about, run by this guy named John Batelle.
Perhaps you’re familiar with John. Big luminary in the search world. When I see John, he says, “Hey, Danny.” I say, “Hey, John.” We know each other pretty well. He seems to like me.
Okay, I’m like, “Hey, John, you linked to my old site on your blog, which is a pretty important blog about search. I would love if you would list me as one of the resources for my new site.” John’s like, “oh, dude, we’ll totally make it happen, I’ll get my guy to do it.”
Guy doesn’t do it. Who wants to put a link on a website, right???
So then I’m like, “Hey, John, I’m really sorry, but I know you said you’d link, but you haven’t added the link, and I’d really like to get the link… is there any way you think you could add the link?”
Eventually, John was like, “yeah, yeah, I’ll get my guy to do it.” Eventually, I do get the link. But the guy when he goes to install the links decides that’s now the time to make all the links FREAKING nofollow.
So I got my link and it was worthless. And that’s from someone who knows me and trusts me.
I’m not saying it’s not like [inaudible] if you didn’t hear Casie talk from Grasshopper, she was doing some kickass link things… Now I’ll shut up now.
Panelist Greg Boser, President of BlueGlass Interactive, summed up the panel’s response best saying, if you’re taking link building shortcuts (link wheels, buying links, etc.), “it’s like riding a motorcycle 200 mph down an alley with a brick wall at the end… it’s not going to end well.” Rae Hoffman, President of PushFire told the crowd, the old days of paying for links are gone. Link building is hard… get over it.
I have to say, a rant against junk link building makes me smile… This is exactly why I co-founded BuzzStream 5 years ago (BuzzStream is a CRM that helps online marketers curate and manage influencers to promote their content). And it’s awesome to see the efforts of Grasshopper, a big time BuzzStream user, touted at SMX, but moreover to see that keeping our eyes on true North was the right decision.
Photo Credit: Mat Siltala
Many thanks to Danny Sullivan for granting permission to post this.