I realize I'm the new old skool when I took a look at the Link Fish Media site, saw no blog and inside my head it went "....<static white noise>..."
No blog.... What's up with that?
We started the business before getting a website and I had to rush to get something legitimate out there, so I simply grabbed the fifth template I found and it's still the same, a few years later.
It's horrible, we're all mortified by it, but we invested a lot of time and effort into having someone redo it and, to put it nicely, that didn't turn out very well.
Ever since then, there always seems to be a reason why I don't have it redone (mainly because I forget how horrible it is) but I am actually in talks with someone who might be able to rid the web of it.
Ok sorry for rambling... no blog! There's also a good reason or two for that.
Firstly, there are already good blogs and blog posts about link building, and I already write for a few fantastic sites. I have no desire to pollute the web with more noise just to see my company's name in print.
Secondly, I have a staff of 18 or so employees and we're talking and on IM and email all day discussing link building. I'm reading about it on Twitter all day. I honestly don't see a need for Link Fish to start a blog when we have information overload right now.
I am lucky enough to be able to regularly contribute to Search Engine Land, SEO Chicks, Search Engine Journal, and Search Marketing Gurus, and honestly, it really is a struggle to find something decent to write about at times. I love doing it because it helps keep me current and it's a great way to lay something out and see it in a different way, which translates into making me a better link builder.
Boiling it down a lot, link building seems to come down to two options: people see something and link to it ... or you ask people to link to something. Only one of these is a real strategy.
It's yet another viral kitten video vs. the slimy link email.
What's the real art of link building... ?
Human connection is the real art of link building. I don't mean it in that smarmy "reach out and touch someone's life" kind of way, I mean that the process of finding a good site where you want a link, reaching out in your preferred manner to the webmaster, and somehow negotiating what you want requires a serious artist in human interaction.
Since we don't use automated systems for link building, every link that we build comes through manual labor. I see the email threads that come across in the process of procuring one small link and it is actually some amazing stuff. My link builders are all talented Mr. Ripleys!
Seriously though, we can almost always tell in the interview how well someone will do with link building. It's nothing to do with a resume or any special accomplishments, but we get a vibe from people that, 99% of the time, translates into an amazingly prolific and quality link builder.
Our link builders are simply amazing with people. Their social skills are amazing, and the fact that they see link building as something more than a tedious task makes me very, very happy to go to work.
Paid links. Sounds like: crap, forum bought mass links, outsourced spam, maybe text links on a text links network. But we also see hints at secret talk! Sneaky under the table bought links! Deals! ...
Educate us: what's your mental picture when you discuss paid links as a tactic?
I absolutely love paid links. It's much easier to get what you want when you offer someone money, and I see no difference whatsoever in quality paid links and non-paid links. I imagine that you have some control whenever you ask for a link in general, but when you're offering money, people seem to feel a bit more compelled to give you the anchor text that you want and point the link to the page that you give them.
Our business model came from buying links. We don't always pay for links these days, but it's definitely our strongpoint. If we were a shop specializing in writing content that generated tons of inbound links, maybe I'd be a bit snobbier about the whole thing though.
People like to think of all paid links as being irrelevant and spammy, and many people do get these types of links, but that doesn't mean that all paid links are horrible. I like quality, relevant links, the same as anyone else. If I could get clients the kind of links that we buy for free, I'd obviously do it in a second, but sadly we live in a capitalist society and most webmasters realize that they can make some money for their trouble.
Our clients are aware of the risks of buying links, and so are the people from whom we buy links. There's a risk in any type of marketing, so I have zero ethical issues with giving someone $100 if it helps my client move up in the rankings and get some new relevant visitors.
We are also in a very unique situation at Link Fish. This ties into that horrid website of ours too. We've never used the website as a sales tool because all of our clients so far have come from referrals. We are known as a link building company that will indeed buy links. People seek that out because they are in a massively competitive industry for the most part, but some people just want things to happen quicker, etc.
We haven't come across a client where I thought that paying for links could easily ruin the company; if that happens, with my massive guilt complex, I'd turn them down. Risk is fine with me, but carrying the burden of having ruined someone's livelihood is not.
Do we overcomplicate links and link building?
We get caught up in analysis, reports, spreadsheets, etc. It's very similar to what happens with any form of marketing where you aren't immediately doing something. Everyone wants to consult, but no one wants to implement.
Luckily, our focus is implementation, so maybe that gives me a different perspective. While we definitely conduct analysis and we track progress, we actually work on building links very, very soon after someone signs a contract.
I read someone like Garrett French's link articles with total awe. I think he's incredibly good at what he does, but it's fairly far away from how I do things, so it fascinates me completely.
Link building, to me, is definitely more art than science, and therefore I like to take a much more organic approach.
That's easy for me, but for a more logical person, it might not be. As much as I do tend to say a bit too much to certain people at times, overall I find it exceptionally easy to deal with almost everyone. Since our method of link building is making connections (and possibly offering some cash), a lot of it does indeed seem like extra complications on top of what is, for me, a fairly easy process. However, that's mainly due to our business model. Things aren't all that complicated when clients have loads of money to wave around.
You have a <cough> non-SEO-ed music blog ... <skeptic look> SEO's optimize their *email* address .... What's the story behind the "non-SEO-ed" music blog?
I just wanted to grab one more spot for my name, and so far it's worked.
I do happen to be a music freak, but since I find reading music blogs to be tedious most of the time, I realize that no one wants to read my thoughts on the Sex Pistols. Therefore, I've kind of given it up but I might find it within myself to write about the English Beat when I see them in May.
Is the time that you can go on the web and start a business running out -- or has it already ran out?
I think that a lot of it started with Sphinn. All these unqualified people came out of nowhere and started making names for themselves, without having anything to back it up other than loads of time spent online.
Twitter made it 1000 times worse. I'm not knocking either of those sites, either, as I rely on both of them to keep myself updated on the industry, but I also realize that someone trying to wade through all the crap out there will definitely have a harder time now than he or she would have even a year ago.
There are two people of note that I'd like to mention here, both of them people that immediately seemed to me to be the people who would succeed, who were genuine, and who I'd be seeing later on down the road.
Stephanie Weingart (@Frozen2Late), formerly of the SEO Chicks blog and the most recent hire at 10e20, is one of them. She baited me into talking to her by talking a tiny bit of funny trash about a post that I wrote, and her moxie blew me away. I was absolutely thrilled to see her joining that team, because I've always thought she had a great mind for social media and she's not fake.
This is someone I mainly know from Twitter, but Alysson Fergison (formerly @SEOAly, no @Alysson) continues to impress me. We share a love of CSI Miami and some leftist views, but overall I think she's just got her head on straight, and I like the way she says what she wants without regret.
I could absolutely see either of these women successfully starting a web-based business today. Others...not so much.
You love Evernote -- do you like MindManager or other mindmapping applications?
I am using Evernote for this interview actually! So far it's the only one that I use. I haven't found anything that I cannot do with it, and I'm easily confused. Maybe later though. Mind mapping sounds a bit too sci-fi for me.
Your favorite way to prepare coffee?
Someone I should seriously consider for this interview series?
- Ruud Questions: Chris Brogan
- Ruud Questions: Jill Whalen
- Ruud Questions: Dave Harry aka the Gypsy
- Ruud Questions: Barry Welford
- Ruud Questions: Alexander van Elsas
- Ruud Questions: Brian Wallace
- Ruud Questions: Garrett Pierson
- Ruud Questions: Marty Weintraub aka aimClear
- Ruud Questions: Kim Krause Berg
- Ruud Questions: Angie Haggstrom
- Ruud Questions: Shana Albert
- Ruud Questions: Steve Gradman
- Ruud Questions: Rae Hoffman aka Sugarrae
- Ruud Questions: Joost de Valk
- Ruud Questions: Debra Mastaler
- Ruud Questions: Mike Grehan
- Ruud Questions: Bryan Eisenberg
- Ruud Questions: Ralph Tegtmeier aka Fantomaster
- Ruud Questions: Marie-Claire Jenkins
- Ruud Questions: Cindy Krum
- Ruud Questions: Steve Plunkett on Google Is Our Friend
- Ruud Questions: Brian Carter
- Ruud Questions: Tamar Weinberg
- Ruud Questions: Hugo Guzman
- Ruud Questions: Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu
- Ruud Questions: Matt McGee
- Ruud Questions: Michael Gray a.k.a. Graywolf
- Ruud Questions: Christina Gleason
- Ruud Questions: Michelle Corsano
- Ruud Questions: Glen Allsopp aka ViperChill
- Ruud Questions: Joanna Lord
- Ruud Questions: Kristy Bolsinger (RealNetworks)
- Ruud Questions: Julie Joyce
- Ruud Questions: Carol Skyring
- Ruud Questions: Henk van Ess
- Ruud Questions: Anna Gonzalez (from News 8 Austin)
- Ruud Questions: Hugh Macleod aka Gapingvoid
- Ruud Questions: Tadeusz Szewczyk aka Tad Chef aka Onreact
- Ruud Questions: Arnie Kuenn
- Ruud Questions: Richard Hamilton (from XML Press)
- Ruud Questions: Steve Rubel
- Ruud Questions: David Allen
- Ruud Questions: Aaron Wall
- Ruud Questions: Stephan Miller
- Ruud Questions: Meg Geddes aka Netmeg
- Ruud Questions: Ed Bennett
- Ruud Questions: Gab Goldenberg