SEO Experts Answer – The Most Effective Link Building Strategy

Edit 31 May: Got a reply from Tom Critchlow, my mail must have been lost somewhere as he never got it, but the second time around he was more than happy to provide an answer, and this answer is probably something none of us expected.

Edit 21 May: Just got a reply from Rand Fishkin, like I said, the guy is just busy, from my experience he is always ready to reply, and what a reply I got from him!

Over the past few weeks we have been concentrating on link building as a center topic on this blog. I know some of you think the sun shines out of my… with my slick advice and all, but I thought it would be a good idea to offer insight from the top SEO’s in the market today for one simple question:

What is in your opinion the most effective link building strategy at the moment and why?

I must admit I was surprised by the replies, the quantity and the quality of them. I didn’t receive replies from only two people, and that is to be expected as I know they were busy with ProSEO, so here is a shout out to Rand Fishkin and Tom Critchlow who are always fast to reply, I know you were busy, and if you decide to add to this post feel free to drop me a line.   So here are the answers I received from the few people I respect and admire:

Tom Critchlow –

Tom Critchlow SEO ExpertObviously the perfect link building technique depends on the client and industry etc but if you want the all out most effective thing right now I’d say it’s design and HTML5. Sites that look stunning and leverage fresh technology seem to do exceptionally well. For example consider and

Rand Fishkin –
Rand Fishkin SEO ExpertIn my opinion, social engagement is one of the best ways to earn links in today’s environment. Because participation in social media (and not just Twitter + Facebook, but blogs, forums, LinkedIn, Quora, StumbleUpon, Flickr, etc) is still so nascent in so many industries (outside of technology + startups), there’s an outsize benefit to becoming a leading participant and authority in those spaces. By contributing robustly – comments, answer to questions, intelligent comments, substantive discussion, etc. – to social areas of the web, you can build up a great brand presence that earn links of all kinds.

In particular, I recommend not only participating on other sites, but bringing the discussion back to your own site’s content. When you post a rebuttal or a discussion or simply an opinion about what’s happening in other parts of the web and cite the participants, there’s a strong chance you’ll earn natural, high value links from across your industry. Those links will bring not only higher search engine rankings, but more awareness, visitors and subscribers, all of whom will increase your potential to earn new links with future content.

Greg Boser –

Greg Boser SEo ExpertThe short answer is that I think the premise behind the question is flawed because it’s making the assumption that what is “the best” strategy will be the same across multiple spaces, but that isn’t accurate.

What is best is always completely dependent on a) the individual metrics of the site you are working with, and b) the competitive landscape of the space you are working in.

And given Google’s incredible improvements over the last year when it comes to being able auto-filter sites at the query level, focusing more on a customized blended strategy approach helps you mimic the footprint of the dominant sites you want to beat is more important than ever.

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty SEO Expert

Well, my answer is obvious, I guess :)   I am a huge believer in building links through providing great content, especially through hosting this content on powerful blog (outside your personal network of sites). This increases your reach and builds your brand visibility as well.

Here’s how guest blogging differs from article marketing:

And here’s how guest blogging is different from blogging for yourself:

And, last but not the least, here’s why guest blogging is useful only when you provide high quality:

Neil Patel –

Neil Patel SEO ExpertI prefer viral link bait. If you can write great content that people want to link to, your rankings will naturally start to increase. At the end of the day, good content will always win.



Michael Gray

Michael Gray SEO Expert

Create content that’s links worthy, then promote it to the people who want to read it and the linkerati.

(I would expect the same answer from Matt Cutts, short and to the point)


Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines SEO ExpertI think the most effective link building strategy you can focus on is quality over quantity.  A lot of people are out to get as many links as possible in as little time possible, and with Google’s crackdown on low quality content, you can be assured that they are going to devalue low quality links as well.  And if you want high quality links, you better have high quality content on your site to attract those links!


Dejan Petrovic

Dejan Petrovic SEO ExpertGuest blogging works great as a tactic as barrier to entry is usually high. This means that it’s hard to manipulate link signals on a mass scale. Google will feel no threat from links secured through content contributions to high quality websites. Spammers will stay away from this as they do from any technique which requires energy and effort.


Mark Thompson

Mark Thompson SEO ExpertI believe that guest blogging is the best type of link building you can do.  Google is really placing a lot of value on high quality content and contextually based links, so if you can find high PR or authoritative blogs to guest post on, that is going to be the best way you can drive quality links to your site.

The only caveat is that this strategy does take some time, because you are creating unique content.  However you can outsource this to an expert if you have the budget.  More and more companies are allocating budget towards content development, because they are seeing how important it is, if they are looking to be found on the web.

Dan Cristo

Dan Cristo SEO ExpertAt an agency level, the most effective link building strategy is a strong relationship with traditional PR firms and media buyers. Why? Because these guys hold the key to reaching the most powerful websites on the web. Most of the time they’ve already established relationships and are spending money with the big players, why not work some inbound links into the contract? This is hands down the easiest and most effective tactic available IF you’re lucky enough to have these partners working on your accounts.

At an in-house or freelance SEO level, I think guest posts on industry blogs is the best way to get inbound links. Of course it’s time consuming to write great content, and you’ve got to be willing to connect and participate in blog communities, but the payout is worth it.

Great Stuff Guys, Thanks Again

So there you have it, one simple question “What is in your opinion the most effective link building strategy at the moment and why” gets this many different answers from different SEO experts. This will surely help you in your link building efforts, so consider the advice given here when you start your link building.


About The Author

is the founder and CEO of Practical SEO and also a passionate blogger. All of his free time he dedicates to his Practical SEO blog and giving free advice as well as participating in the blogging community.

Connect with me on Facebook | Twitter | Google + | LinkedIn

40 Response to SEO Experts Answer – The Most Effective Link Building Strategy

  1. Conde on May 18, 2011

    For me also, the best and effective link building strategy is content of your site itself, the tags, title, the head, the keywords is very important in SEO techniques. The Link building is a very important task to get your site in the top search results of Search engines. Link building is all about getting quality links for your sites.

  2. Leonard@redacteur web on May 18, 2011

    I totally agree with Greg Boser. Indeed, no one knows about the algorithm of the robots of google. So, no one can guess for sure what is the best Strategy for SEO. Thank you so much for this interesting discussion.

  3. Adam Humphreys on May 18, 2011

    Seriously, blogging great content especially in the how to, and top things in many cases works wonders. Being actively engaged on a social media basis allows your content to flow to the linkerati. Sites like reddit are cool for getting a lot of new traffic to a site if you have interesting content. Since Google is actively using click data it’s pretty important to write good content and if you submit your content to the right sources the links will surely follow. Following this strategy I’ve watched the tiniest of sites crush absolute titans.

  4. Zarko on May 18, 2011

    Did anyone notice that the post was without Neil Patel’s answer for about 3 hours? Managed to skip it, damn Excel spreadsheet…

  5. Kristi Hines@Blog Marketing on May 18, 2011

    Thanks for including me in your list of people to ask! :) This is a great collection by some solid SEO authorities… definitely a go to resource for anyone getting started in link building. Or those that need a friendly reminder of what they should be doing!

  6. Anna on May 18, 2011

    Hi, Zarko
    It was really interesting to read the answers of these people to this question. I agree with those who rely on high quality content and consequently on guest blogging.
    But I have my personal opinion – doing only one thing is not enough and will bring little if no success, only the combination of several most effective methods can give results.

  7. Zarko on May 18, 2011

    @Kristi, it was my pleasure, thank you for providing me with an answer :)

    @Anna, well, the question was what was the most effective linking strategy, no one said to do only that, they just gave an opinion on what is the most valuable link building method at the moment :)

  8. lawmacs on May 18, 2011

    Hey Zarko i love the answers given by everyone here one thing for sure there is a lot of different methods mentioned here however i believe at the end of this the one that benefits you is the one you should persue. the most intriguing thing about this post is the debate you spark from asking a simple question.

  9. Zarko on May 18, 2011

    Hi Gary,

    yeah, ask 10 people one question and you will sure get different answers, this is just a proof of that. Each one of them replied from their own experience, so this one sure matters: What works for one blog doesn’t mean it will work for another :)

  10. David Johnston on May 19, 2011

    The way Bing and Google are fighting to dominate using social signals to add you to personalized search results it would be wise to start buying Likes and paying for promoted Tweets.

  11. Infonote on May 19, 2011

    Rewording the question would have been better.
    Assuming you have great content, how would you promote your blog/site.

    I would answer;
    – Forums
    – Blog commenting
    – Guest posting
    – Answer services such as Yahoo Answers.
    – Stumbleupon, Twitter and Facebook.

  12. Zarko on May 19, 2011


    Yeah, maybe it would have been better, but that’s not the point, plus, your answer is something we all do all the time, the idea was to get the opinion, not a fact, of several influential SEO experts on what they think the most awarding strategy is at the moment, nothing more.

  13. Zarko on May 19, 2011


    These are not links we are talking about, they are much easier to get (for now) so buying them is out of the question, also, they are one of the factors, not the only one. I guess I’m against purchasing something I know I can get for free, if the situation was different maybe my opinion would be as well!

  14. fred@finallyfast on May 20, 2011

    Great concept for a post, including all these different points of views with their little profile avatars, etc!

    Of course Greg is right, but he isn’t offering any solid details or cold hard strategies for someone to get started.

    Also re: Michael Gray. “Create great content that’s link worthy.” Well of course this is the key, isn’t it? The key to everything. Easier said than done, mate!

  15. Dan Cristo on May 20, 2011

    Hey Zarko,
    Totally agree with you about different answers based on different experiences. There are so many factors that play into a question like this. For example, “What kind of industry are we talking about?”, “Is it an established brand?”, “How old is the domain?”, “What sort of budget are you working with?”, “What content already exists?”, etc.

    But as a general rule of them we all pretty much agree that content + relationships = valuable links.

  16. Zarko on May 20, 2011

    @Fred, you are right, it is easier said than done, but I know where both him and Greg are coming from. If you just concentrate on quality, for both content and links you will do much better than trying to think up new ways to score a fast link. In the end, Dan over here provided some more insight into the matter… Everything comes into play, is it a known brand, a new brand, presence on the web, in social media, connections, partnerships, these are all link opportunities we are talking about. for a new website there is not much to think about, focus on great content and network, engage other people from the niche and engage social media influencer’s and linkerati…

    @Dan, thanks, that is what it boils down to for every market, offer quality and connect with your users and customers on a more personal level and you will sure have some positive effect from it.

  17. dlysen on May 21, 2011

    When you talk about the content niche for SEO, its hard for me to compose sentence but I try to keep up on blogging. I guest some visitors leave on my page quickly because of my wrong grammar. But I don’t think search engine recognized only the keywords and not the grammar. I edit my works later if have have time. If you have good niche plus good writing skills, it would be a great plus people will enjoy reading.

  18. Dan Cristo on May 21, 2011

    Loved how your answer focused on the value of building a personal brand. Sometimes it’s not one specific tactic as much as the long term investment of engaging that builds links without you specifically requesting one.

  19. DiNaRa on May 21, 2011

    Hi, Zarko
    I think Rand Fishkin is absolutely right and I agree with him: participating in online communities, social media sites, forums and blogs can attract and bring to your site real visitors who will help us achieve our goals – to turn visitors to clients and so – to earn money.

  20. Zarko on May 21, 2011


    He has the most well rounded answer (he had the luxury of taking a peak at other answers before adding his)

    A good community, a well know brand, plenty of people that know you and think highly of you and your brand, those are the things that get you links, any type of links :)

  21. George@Hifu on May 23, 2011

    Enjoyed reading the post and the comments Zarko, it was like a real rendezvous with the top guys from the world of SEO. I completely agree that quality will always rule over quantity and this shows how important it has become to practice quality link building strategies and also at the same time produce quality contents. Both link building and strong contents are equally important to keep a brand alive.

  22. Penna@Network Topologies and their types on May 23, 2011

    Well going through the advice of experts i feel the best 2 ways of getting good linkbacks are
    1) Good Quality content.
    2) Submitting articles to other sites as Guest Blogger.

    Well personally i feel one should focus on quality content and write good articles on one’s own blog, because writing as guest blogger is a tough job. And at the same type one should focus increasing gains from Social Networks.

  23. Mike@ SEO Best Tips on May 23, 2011

    Thank you for reaching out to all these players in SEO. Some great info to read and there seems to be a common them, content. No doubt that Google has always been headed toward weighting sites based off content quality, usefulness, and innovation. Panda has helped put a better filter for Google to reach those goals.

    For link building my strategy is always heavily diversified. I think your on-page SEO and content needs to be top notch for a start. Then move towards social interaction links: guest blogging, forum posting/discussion, blog commenting on relevant content, and social media network creation. This provides a very solid base for natural growth of link bait toward your primary URL and social networking, then you can start building the lower quality links to better target specific keywords later. Those are easier to manipulate and will be pointed toward inner-pages of your domain.

  24. Ross on May 24, 2011

    Great all ’round discussion with lots of opinions. I find it’s very effective in marketing local businesses I work with through local blogs, social networking with local interest groups, etc. When you’re local and you’ve got a good message, word spreads quickly.

  25. Edgar@project management on May 25, 2011

    From my experience, guest blogging is really a good way to go as Ann and Dejan suggest. The most powerful and obvious thing though, is to create a link worthy content. Thanks for the opinions.

  26. waterpearls on May 27, 2011

    Hi Zarko,
    It is a very nice and interesting post.Well I like all the opinions but the opinion I like most is of Rand fishkin that is social engagement is one of the best ways to earn links in today’s environment.

  27. Hulbert Lee on May 28, 2011

    Hi, I’m just beginning to get into SEO. After reading this blog post, I learned a lot of SEO techniques that will help my website. It was also cool seeing the different perspectives from top SEO experts. Thanks for going out of your way to create this post for us; I liked the interview format.

  28. Andrew Walker on May 31, 2011

    I am a follower of Kristi Hines. I totally agree with her opinion. People often think only about quantity. But the real matter is the quality. Thanks for collecting the opinions from all of the SEO experts, Zarko. Great job!

  29. Seoxcell on June 1, 2011

    Best link building strategy can be relevant content of your website and link exchange with proper website having relevant & effective content. This can lead you to effective link building.

  30. marketing agencies london on June 7, 2011

    Very well said. I think in the modern era of search engine optimization, all the major search engines, especially Google focuses on the quality of the links from where you achieve for your domain. Achieving links from authority sites like .edu, .org etc. increase the trust factor for your domain and helps to score better in SERP. Anyway, i fully agree with the author.

  31. Alex@Promotion inevitably on June 12, 2011

    I’m argee with Ann and others. Guest blogging is the best strategy. For more effective promotion you may share URL’s of guest posts, add to bookmarks, social networks and etc!

  32. arquigrafico@pisos de piedra on June 16, 2011

    I used to make articles in the farm directories for backlinks. But now with the google panda, i dont know if it worth it!.

  33. Personal Protection Equipment on June 17, 2011

    Mentioned all SEO experts opinions are great. I really like and agree with Dejan Petrovic and Mark Thompson because I also think guest blogging is the best type of link building.

  34. ekupovina on January 10, 2012

    Most effective strategy…

    – Great (just good is not enough) quality content…
    – Good attention bait…
    – Optimize for visitors, not search engines, but keep onpage SEO in mind
    – make a video with you (or someone interesting to people) talking about the subject (We’ll use this later)
    – giving incentives to people for referring or mentioning you (example: You offer an additional content of high value for those who spread the word – PAY WITH A TWEET – try it out, it does wonders)
    – promote you offer alongside “pay with a tweet” type offer to heavy traffic forums and social media and social bookmarking sites
    – do some great quality guest posts on “famous” peoples blogs and repeat the steps above
    – use TubeMogul to spread your video like a plague:))… and SEO optimize your video on all video sites
    – article marketing (outsource it), don’t be too greedy, use the right approach (I could write a book about it, but it can’t fit in here:) )
    – do some press releases if you can (Google News is AWWWW!)

    Now for something out of the ordinary (a little bonus):
    – make a coupon if you can and
    – submit to coupon distribution sites

    Always look for traffic generating backlinks first and then use the “static” ones.

    Hope you like it:)

  35. Curt on February 7, 2012

    It’s always interesting to see how different the answers are between SEO experts and the guys in the forums. I think that it says a lot about their level of commitment to this industry.

  36. Ritesh on March 16, 2012

    “Bing and Google are fighting to dominate using social signals to add you to personalized search results it would be wise to start buying Likes and paying for promoted Tweets.”

    Yeah Agree on this.

  37. Honeybee Gregory on March 23, 2012

    Lists are a wonderful way to attract the ‘reasonable surfer’ and foster a quality link building process that grows organically because many surfers are looking for easier and more convenient ways of doing things. This could be anything, from the analysis of core industries in terms of some important characteristics or do it yourself guides.

  38. Mariah@SEO company on March 26, 2012

    Most effective strategies, based on my experience are as follows:

    – Guest Blogging
    – Social Network Engagement
    – Blog Commenting (.edu sites)
    – Press Release Submission
    – Reviews and Answer sites,, yahooanswers, etc)

    As we all , Google loves natural links, especially if these come from credible sites and are relevant to your niche.

  39. Pete Goumas on March 30, 2012

    Hi Zarko,
    Its a good step to share your admirer experience with us.I liked what
    Kristi Hines said that high quality contents are better than high quantity content,sometimes it is not easy to make high quality contents at the early stages of blogging but by the time you could make good content easily but all need is your effort and determination.

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