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Link Development Training: How Link Building for SEO is Like Picking Up a Girl

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 11 years and 361 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

Link development is tough. Not everyone can create amazing linkbait, as easy as the experts make it sound. It’s not an easy proposition to get people to link to your website if you’re a local realtor, mortgage broker, or holistic doctor for that matter. It is POSSIBLE though with the right approach to actually solicit and develop links that will help your search engine rankings. From LOTS of trial and error, here’s the process I’ve developed for training link developers to become true link ninjas that will hunt and pursue links that actually make a site rank high for targeted terms.

The updated "How to Train a Link Developer for 2009 Guide"

    Teach them why links are important and the basic criteria for establishing their value

  1. Overall value of the link theme (use cost per click as a rough metric)
  2. Total links
  3. Total unique linking domains (find with linkharvester)
  4. Anchor text and surrounding text variables
  5. Placement on page
  6. Check Age (
  7. More link value factors

Explain the contradiction of pagerank mattering

  1. It is a quick indicator to dismiss low value websites
  2. Toolbar pagerank is for entertainment purposes only, and can be spoofed
  3. Finding high pagerank (or global link popularity) sites is a great starting point to finding authority links

Show them how to find good starting points
(and WHY this is important)

  1. google directory (sorted by PR)
  2. keyword combination tool
  3. creative queries (soloseo link tool)
  4. Competitor backlinks

Explain how to find contact information

  1. Page search for name or webmaster
  2. or other whois tool
  3. Phone number search
  4. People search

Explain how to search source code and within the browser to find things quickly on a page

  1. Firefox – control+U to view source
  2. Control+F to find text
  3. Find text on the actual page
  4. Open tabs with shift+click or other methods
  5. Mouse gestures FF plugin

Explain the 12 different types of links

  1. Order of importance
  2. How to get each
  3. How much time to spend on each type
  4. Links is to SEO’s what Snow is to Eskimos.

Explain how to write contact emails (see pickup tips below for more)

  1. Explain how to write converting titles to improve open rate
  2. Explain how to write an link request

Write some descriptions and anchor text

  1. Explain getting content for article links
  2. Explain writing titles and description
  3. Explain varying anchor text
  4. Explain current keyword strategy
  5. Co-citation techniques

Demonstrate how to negotiate

  1. anchor text or alt text
  2. type of link
  3. rates
  4. term
  5. exclusivity

Explain how to tell if a webmaster is cheating or if a site sucks

  1. Non-cached pages
  2. Linkfarm pages
  3. Sneaky redirects
  4. Robots.txt
  5. Nofollow
  6. Buried links pages

Let them go out and get some links

  1. Setup a paypal account with limited access
  2. Setup a one time credit card with a limited amount
  3. Have them verify purchases

Allow tool use for link development

  1. Link Harvester
  2. Linkscape
  3. Hubfinder
  4. Local Rank tool in SEObook community
  5. Majestic SEO
  6. Link Management tools (like Raven SEO Tools, or BuzzStream)
  7. FF Quick Searches
  8. Other tools?

Explain how to mine a competitors backlinks

  1. Linkscape
  2. Link Harvester
  3. Yahoo Site Explorer
  4. Quirk Search Status plugin for FF
  5. Hubfinder (in SEObook community, and a few legacy versions)

Start a persona for your website

  1. Real or psuedonym (real are much more credible)
  2. Be consistent across websites (and interlink within reason)
  3. Have picture and bios
  4. Make sure you own your brand (in addition to generic personas)- Secure with KnowEm

Explain they are a brand advocate, and their actions represent the company

  1. Similar to business development
  2. Establish phone etiquette
  3. Establish email and IM etiquette rules

How Link Building for SEO is Like Picking Up a Girl

Yes – I understand that I will probably get a bunch of flack for writing this part of the article. I’m willing to bite the magic bullet, and make the parallel anyhow for the good of humanity.

The simple facts are:

  1. I will likely use as a presentation to train people on link development
  2. It’s remotely entertaining and memorable.
  3. Like a beautiful women, a great link can be damn sexy.
  4. (if you agreed with #3, you’ll agree) Most people who practice SEO, and lots of people I train are geeky like me, and could use a little bit more understanding of the female species.
  • If you are female, you can debate the finer points of both how and why both work or why they don’t(conversation is important to the development of both of these skills).

    This post is inspired by a handful of things including my original post on "how to train a link developer" (from 2005 that was sorely in need of updating), and the "emotional progression model" laid out by the infamous Mystery from VH1 and "The Game" fame.

    1. Approach **

    1. Learn to get a response (of any type) from a target
    2. Use Twitter, IM, Email, Facebook, or any other communication method
    3. Overcome approach anxiety and approach sites early and often


    1. Discuss webmastering
    2. Discuss content of a similar nature
    3. Mention the website you are associated with


    1. Demonstrate value as a webmaster
    2. Demonstrate value as a web user
    3. Demonstrate value to the webmaster’s users


    1. Allow the opportunity to have a webmaster help you in return (ask intelligent questions)
    2. Find attractive opportunities to work together (perhaps brainstorming ideas or content trading)


    1. Discussing opportunities to work together through trading links
    2. Discussing advertising opportunities


    1. Discussing anchor text and surrounding text
    2. Discussing ad placement and terms


    1. Discussing the duration of the contract
    2. Discussing renewal terms of the contract
    3. Discussing mutual arrangements of the contract
    4. Make sure there are no lies (nofollow, robots.txt, javascript redirects)

    **Numbered points are from the "Emotional Progression Model" For more on information on SEO and link development training, check out MarketMotive, or let me know if you need something more custom.


    Additional Resources:

    Anything I missed? Great Tips? Great Tools? Great Links about Links? Leave ‘em in the comments.

    More information about Todd Malicoat aka stuntdubl.

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    • Yura

      SEO for Firefox is an excellent way to:
      – check competitors links quick
      – estimate the power of competitors by checking the quality of sites that link to them and by checking the sites that link to those sites
      – find worthy sites to get published on

    • fireboy

      fireboy’s top 5 reasons why link building is like picking up women.

      1. If your not successful at naturally attracting women or links, sometimes its just easier to pay for them.
      2. Buying/selling links can get you in trouble with Google. Buying/selling women can get you in trouble with the law.
      3. Sending gifts to Women/bloggers is a great way to get them to put out.
      4. Women don’t like cheesy prepackaged pickup lines. Webmasters don’t like them either. Be personal.
      5. While the risk might be minimal, it’s always safest to wear a link condom.

    • Mary Bowling

      Todd, Thanks for such an thoughtful and in depth article referring other great articles and tools. It should be mandatory reading for all SEO’s!

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    • Affan Laghari
    • Aneil

      Excellent article Todd! Really helps nail down the teaching part of this.

    • Melanie Nathan

      It’s also like picking up girls in that you’ll strike out quite a bit lol. Hence the more prospects you try for, the better your chances ;)

    • Abhilash

      Nice work, Mr. Ploppy. I’ve already sent it on to several for digestion. So considering the ultimate goals of picking up girls (depending on your value system), I’d like to see you define “rounding the bases”.

    • Bronson

      Thanks for posting this one and sharing some nifty tools and great tips. It’s always good to mix it up with research tools to keep the leads pool fresh and the work intereting.

      Ultimately you’re spot on that it’s like the story goes – you have to kiss a few frogs to find your prince.

      The difference with link building is that once you get the girl, you’d better make sure she doesn’t follow anyone off into a bad neighbourhood and spoil the relationship.

    • Lisa Hirst Carnes

      Fun, fresh way to approach to a relatively dry subject matter.

    • Aussiewebmaster

      Sometimes it is easier to just pay for it

    • Domain Superstar

      HaHa Love this post. Very well done.

    • Charlie

      “like a beautiful woman, a great link can be damn sexy.”

      flippin’ priceless.

    • Anonymous

      If you tell girls you are a “link builder” in a bar – your not getting laid period.

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    • SEO Companies London

      I have to be honest here, after being single for over 3.5 years and having been in Online Marketing and SEO for the last 9+ years I would say link-building was in fact easier than picking up a girl! However an enjoyable and fun read!!

      Thank you!!

    • bongseo

      wow, how great this tips , very usefull for me , thanks for sharing this great articel brotha
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    • seo fighter

      link building is the best strategy in seo, thank you so much
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