Link-Building Finale: Out-Execute The Competition (link loopy, part 5)

Ian Lurie

Yup, we’re here. Part 5 of 5 in my link-building series. In spite of rain, sleet and lack of brain, I made it, and so did you.
You now know why link building sucks, what tools to use, how to research competitors’ links, and how to get the links once you find ’em.
So here’s the thing: All of the advice I gave you in the last 4 posts just catches you up to your competitors. It doesn’t help you win.
This post will give you the Magical Secret Formula to Link Domination.
Get a piece of paper.
And a pen. You don’t want to miss this.
Do it better than your competitors do.
Wait! Don’t smack our forehead (or mine, for that matter) just yet. You do need to out-execute your competition. That’s how you win in the link-building wars.
Out-executing means finding links where they don’t, and making sure you squeeze every last bit of authority out of every link. Here’s how you do it:

Build Authority Slow and Steady: Article Marketing

Sign up for a service like Article Marketer. Write 10 biography blocks. Be sure you link to your site in the bio block. Then publish 10 good articles a month, each one with one of your biography blocks.
The article site will syndicate your content to sites that want it. Those sites publish your article, including the bio block.
Bingo: More links.

These are not high quality links. They’re kind of lame, actually. But they add up, and in my experience article marketing builds a great foundation for your link building campaign.

Fix Every Broken Link: Google Webmaster Tools

The easiest links to get are the ones you already have. How zen is that? But it’s true: Fix broken links and you’ll boost your authority right away. And it’s a lot easier to fix a busted link than it is to find a new one.
Get your site set up and verified with Google Webmaster Tools.
Then go straight to Diagnostics > Web Crawl > Not Found.
Look the list of not found URLs. In particular, look for ones with multiple ‘linked from’ pages.

Click the ‘linked from’ count and you’ll see where those broken links come from:
Every one of those links comes from another web site. They could be sending you link authority but they aren’t, since they’re broken.
It’s a pain to contact every webmaster and ask them to fix the links.
Instead, create a 301 redirect from the broken link to the working one. It must be a 301 redirect. Search engines pass most of the link authority through a 301 redirect to the correct page. Voila. All fixed.
Once you’ve fixed all of those, fix all the broken links you created on your site, will ya?

If you don’t know what a 301 redirect is, contact your web hosting provider. You probably have a control panel or some such that will let you set them up. If they won’t set it up, fire them immediately and switch providers. 301s aren’t that hard to do.

Your goal: Zero ‘not found’ URLs in your Webmaster Tools Report. I’m not saying it’s possible. But it’s a good goal.

Buy Links…?

I can’t say ‘buy links’ because Google Hath Proclaimed Link Buying Is Bad. However, I can almost guarantee your competitors are beating the crap out of you, in part, by buying links.
So, if I were going to suggest buying links, I’d say something like this: Don’t buy from link-building services. Instead:

  • Sponsor industry associations. They often provide great links in exchange.
  • Join the Better Business Bureau. They’ll link to you.
  • Get your site certified by a service like McAfee Web Security. Yes, it’s basically a sticker. Your site is only as secure as your most pissed off webmaster. But they’ll list you in a directory of certified sites, which means a nice link.
  • Get your site listed in every relevant directory. SEOMOZ has a fine list of resources here.

There are more, I’m sure, but since I’m not actually saying this, I can’t tell you about them here.

Grab the low-hanging fruit

There are lots of links out there that don’t cost a dime, too. I can’t just give you a list, because it varies depending on your industry and location. But possible link resources that your competitors likely missed include:

  • City business directories.
  • Social media sites: LinkedIn, Facebook and lesser-known sites all provide a few quality links if you know where to get ’em.
  • Press releases do still provide links. Use a service like PRWeb and include a link or two in your press release. As the press release gets passed around, it’ll create a nice base of links for you. Not great ones, but links are links.

What not to do

Whatever you do, do not:

  • Trade links. Reciprocal link trades went out with trickle-down economics. They don’t work.
  • Buy links from a service. Have to say it again. I’m not paranoid but if I were, I’d worry about Google sitting and watching just those services to see who’s cheating.
  • Hire some service that calls you out of the blue promising to get you 199 quality links. Run. Screaming.
  • Use an automated program, unless you really, really know what you’re doing. Someone just accidentally plagiarized 1/2 my site using one of those programs. He had to read one angry Tweet after another from me and everyone else I told about him.

It’s not about the plan. It’s about doing it.

You can read the whole series again and again. But at some point, you’ll have to get out there and just get to work. So go do it.
Why are you still here?

The Link Building Series

Part 1: Why Link Building Sucks
Part 2: 3 Competitive Link Research Tools
Part 3: Finding the Opportunity Gap
Part 4: Get those links
Part 5: Out-execute the competition

SEO Copywriting eBook
Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at

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  1. Using Google’s Web-master tools to find and fix broken links is quite an effective process which is surprisingly nor followed by many SEO experts. I have been using Google’s Web-master’s tool for some time now to analyse my sites. However is is only recently that I have started focusing on all warnings or suggestions I receive, whether it is to do with Site map warnings or broken links. SEO is getting more competitive by the day and one needs to focus on the minutest of details in order to be successful.

  2. I’m looking into Article Marketer. I’ve had similar experiences with article marketing in general – a little boost of traffic, a few links but nothing to rave about.
    However, I’ve always used free article syndication sites. What are the advantages of a service like Article Marketer that justify the cost?

  3. @Mike I find that the paid services like Article Marketer expedite delivery. Also, they push your article to a LOT of outlets at the same time, which is really a plus. I can post an article and have it go live on several dozen sites within a week.

  4. Hey Ian,
    Good read! Article marketing is a great way of building up your link profile. However, for me it’s all about building up coverage and brand rep, which tends to build links indirectly anyway.
    It’s my first stop at your blog, will definitely be dropping by again.

  5. Ian, this series of articles you wrote is insane! It’s great, has lots of great tips, it just rocks! I’m very busy with linkbuilding and I know this series gonna help me a lot. And I really need to sign up for a SEOmoz pro account don’t I?

  6. @Machiel Tell your boss to bring lunch 7x/month, instead of going out. That’ll save the entire cost of SEOMOZ 🙂

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