SEO Advice: Getting Links

[Note: This post was written in December 2005 (!). I’m going through some of my old draft posts and publishing the ones that aren’t too awful. Some of these “Leftovers” will be rough.]

Okay, here are some ways to get high-quality links without emailing, paying, or even paying attention to search engines:

Provide a useful one-time service. It really doesn’t take very much. Here are some examples:

  • Check out in Internet Explorer. You have to sign up for a free account, but then this site provides an online interface to create ANSI-compliant warning signs, and you get PDF files ready to print. This site is great for making gag signs. Here’s one I made in just a few minutes:
    Watch out for falling spam!
  • Is that too much trouble? You don’t know how to create PDFs, or you don’t have safety clip art lying around? Okay, here’s a simpler example: everyone hates getting spam email. If you leave your email address lying out on the web, you’ll get more email spam. Here’s a site that lets you make a graphical badge instead: That url is for Gmail, but lets you make sigs for Hotmail, Yahoo!, AOL and others.
  • Is that too much trouble? Graphics mojo leave you cold? Well, you can also encode email addresses using JavaScript or character entities. For example, can turn a normal email address like into something like
    that email harvesters won’t bother with.
  • Make a robots.txt validator.

Provide an ongoing service:

  • Web-based services like Bloglines are a great example.

Become a resource:

  • You can do this with a personal or company blog. Blogs are a great way to get link love or just to get your word out.
  • If blogs sound scary, start out with newsletters. Or studies. Or surveys. Or white papers.
  • Once a company (I’ll call them site A) that does language translations asked me why they didn’t rank as highly as another website (I’ll call them site B). When I checked it out, site A had very little content, just 5-6 pages with contact info and a short description of what they did. It was like an online brochure. So what did site B have? They offered a tutorial about the difference between Katakana, Hiragana, and Kanji, plus they showed how to write a few characters. Who would you link to, the empty brochure site or the site with tutorial pages?

Provide valuable information.

Be the first. Be the first means coming up with a creative idea that catches the fancy of the web.

Who appointed Loren Baker the judge of the best search blogs? No one at all: he just saw a creative opportunity and took it.

Get an article written about you. Be aware that controversy gets attention, but can also affect how people perceive you. If you bait people too often, that affects your reputation.

Open up your product:

  • I bought a TiVo because I could hack it. I chose XM Radio because they offered they offered a device (the XM PCR) that allowed your computer to get analog satellite radio. And this sexy device has an open-source server so that you can stream RSS or almost any other info to the device in addition to playing music. Help people tinker and hack with your product. When I found out that a local computer store had a 160GB external hard drive that could be hacked to run Linux, I ran out and got one. I installed Linux on it (because I could, dammit!), and made it into a streaming MP3 jukebox. What did I do after that? I went down to the computer store and bought a spare! Buffalo LinkStation, you rule! And because I could hack around with the 160GB hard drive, now I’m eyeing their 1.6 terabyte TeraStation. [Editor’s note: I did get the TeraStation and it served me well for years.] All this because I was able to tinker/hack/mod a product.

[There you go. I think most of these ideas have aged pretty well.]

100 Responses to SEO Advice: Getting Links (Leave a comment)

  1. Hi Matt,

    I’m sure you mean well, but the email obfuscation services you linked to are anything but effective. They are only capable of altering the look of the address, without actually encoding it in a way that scum spiders cannot easily interpret.

    When I saw how easy it was to scalp those addresses even though they were obfuscated, I wrote the following:
    It has other features, as well, like gracefully regressing to a contact form if script isn’t available, and since it uses two simple functions (one javascript and one of any serverside language you use), it’s easy to globally replace it by editing only two files on your site to alter the encoding/decoding methods.

  2. Matt,

    “I’m going through some of my old draft posts and publishing the ones that aren’t too awful. So”

    Not bad at all for an “old draft” 🙂

    May be you find another old draft covering tips about how you open and get indexed on Google a large news article archive (say 500.000 articles) while remaining in good standing with GOOG Quality Guidelines 🙂

  3. Interesting, but somewhat misleading title heh. Opening your platform is indeed a great way to get links, rather then just safeguarding your web application platform – allowing others to expand it allows you to get free advancements and updates and build links and community, all of which are looked favorable upon by search engines and more importantly – users.

  4. Another simple, great way to obfuscate an email address is to not use the mailto protocol at all. With services like tinyURL you can paste in and get a URL back like then use a normal href to the tinyURL link. When people click it, they are redirected to the mailto.

    Spam harvesters would have to know how to resolve links rather than just use REGEX to parse a page.

  5. Become a resource Thats the most important thing and one have to take in mind cuz quality is the key for success !

  6. This juxtaposes nicely, although in a rather less explosive fashion 😉 with Lorens latest post around the same topic.

    @ Harith – Good archive and pagination design + (10 * 50k URL sitemaps)

  7. Matt,

    The gmail tag generator is a good idea, it’s just poorly executed.

    If your gmail address is, the url to the image is, if you save that image on your server as ’emailme.png’ there isn’t much of a problem, but if you link to the image like the site suggests: its easy for nasty spammers to find lots of valid gmail addresses.

    Just do a google image search for, extract all the urls to images, stick the imagename to @gmail/hotmail/etc respectively and voila, a couple hundred e-mail addresses.

    The second problem with that service is that the images are generated on-the-fly (headers show X-Powered-By: PHP/5.2.5), a better solution would be to save the generated image to a file, give that an md5()’ed name, and link to that. That way, if the service were to become very popular, you’d not waste all your servers processor power on rendering images with php.

    Keep up the posting of old scraps though, it’s fun 😉


  8. These tactics do not work for the vast majority. They sound fine in theory, but in practice – it just does not work.

    Getting LINKS is not the only concern. The concern is the KEYWORDS in the ANCHOR text.

    Looking at those Bloggers who shared the details of their traffic – as well as those who have public stats, their search engine keyword traffic is almost completely sub par with their potential. Many have PR 6 and 7 but the keywords that are bringing a few to their sites, are useless.

    Even on THIS blog, when links are given, it is usually just one or two words in the anchors that are not very relevant to the link from a search engine standpoint

    Looking at the new service by COMPETE which sort of reveals the top keywords for popular sites

    Shows many top blogs and reference sites getting search engine traffic that would be useless

    People who are linking to this blog, usually put the owners name in the anchor text – BY NOW This does no real good!

    The blog SHOULD be much more ranked for terms like: SEO, search engine optimization, Google, gadgets etc…

    This also applies to many other top blogs in the Technorati top 100

    When others are giving out links to an article – they do NOT care whether their anchor text helps YOU on the search engines!!!!

    For a commercial site, this is VERY important.

    So the only way to accomplish getting the correct keyword traffic is: Link Trading and Link Buying!!

    Even the top social bookmarking sites are now very dependent on Top members liking something enough to vote on it – it will rarely get to the front pages anymore without their help.

    So now, top blogs have a network or voters who can always be called upon to vote on a piece – as well as outsourcing the voting to the new startups that will promote a submission for a price and have their members vote for compensation.

    In terms of VERY large companies getting links – THEY have no problem because the media is hungry and will consume any press release or leaked news.

    THIS is WHAT small to medium Websites have to compete with.

    You can not really blame them for getting angry enough to start using gray hat tactics 🙁

    Remember the arguments with SearchEnginesWeb during 2005 on those early SEO posts …(the comments have since been deleted in fits of rage)

    What good did THAT do – that only breaks down communication.

    Once communication is killed – then you have nothing!

  9. Hi Matt,

    some e-mail harvesters can decode this easy coding of e-mail-address via JavaScript.

    Last year I made a research what methods could be the best, but it is written in German: (Translation at blog possible)

    However, I believe that this method is the very best of all:

  10. Matt, although this is an oldblog that you have modified, I think you have summed it up in one!

    The same thing can be applied to blogs, unless your providing a valuable unique resource, then people aren’t interested.

    If you came up with a web-site that was so brilliant and offered something so good, people would automatically link to you.

    The reason why myself and thousands of other people flock to your blog is because the information contained is unique and valuable.

  11. i kind of agree with SearcH◆ EngineS WEB, for commercial companies, appearing for random searches is not on their list of priority. They want to appear for the services they offer and these ‘key word’ rich links that are required come from link trading and buying!

    What i will say is that for personal blogs it is a good idea, traffic is traffic.

  12. Teddie,

    Thanks for the tips.

    “@ Harith – Good archive and pagination design + (10 * 50k URL sitemaps)”

    Really don’t know wheather its wise to creat those large sitemaps. Have read different openions about that 😉

    I have spent sometime studying the case of NY Times , and I’m not impressed of the way the NYT opened part of their archive either.

    Our sites are doing very well on Google and all are in good standing with Google Quality Guidelines, and we wish them to stay as such.

    Therefore it would be of great value to hear Matt’s advice about the matter. At least what to watch out 🙂

  13. @ Harith
    NYT: IMHO it’s not very elegant and “spiderbites.” ROFL. They may also be using Sitemaps but I can’t tell.
    Also my bad, should have been (500 * 1k URL sitemaps).

  14. Yes; those are good tips but may not be doable for the average commercial site.

    Teddie; did you read those tips from searchenginejournal? Buy this link, buy that link,… pay for blog reviews,…use text link ads as your broker, etc. What’s new with that? This industry has been promoting the paid link thing for a long time now. Why would you link to this? I am missing something I guess. 🙂

  15. @ Doug
    O’h and they both include Loren 🙂

  16. I think GMail in in itself does a fantastic job of spotting spam – especially with Google Apps which seems to make the spam filters stronger – my opinion 🙂


  17. @Doug and Teddie, Thanks for the discussion but in that post I only identify one form of link buying as an alternative approach and a consideration. I also tell readers not to depend on paid links.

    For some reason link building gets a bad rap as link buying or over-the-top link buying. There is much more to building liks than just throwing money into a payment system or at a bunch of 5 dollar review bloggers.

    @Matt, thanks for the coverage of the search blog awards, I’ve had fun with them for the past three years and will be expanding them to run along with the SEMMY’s at the end of the year.

  18. Matt,

    I love the idea to provide products that people can hack and tinker, although I can’t connect this with getting links. I would be pleased to read ideas about info/digital products that can be hacked and at the same time bring me links lol

  19. I have tried this method by having a bunch of little development type tools at:

    If you do this make it geared towards the widest audience possible and something that will have that ‘cool factor’. If not people may use it but not link to it.

  20. I think the order is reversed here. You shouldn’t think about getting links and then ponder doing interesting stuff. You should ponder interesting and helpful stuff, and once you put it live, you can still think about how to get links to it (or just wait for links to come in naturally).

  21. Philipp Lenssen, I agree. It’s much better to make a great site in your area that will attract links naturally. Too many people want to rank well on a search engine first rather than make a site so good that it will rank well without extra efforts. This 2+ year old post was more to make the point that it is possible to get links by thinking creatively.

    S.E.W., at the risk of engaging you after you’ve gone on a bolding binge, go back and look at my first example. St. Claire’s sells industrial signage. You don’t think it helps to have people linking to their site with text like “sign builder”? St. Claire shows up #1 for the search [industrial signage]. Resources and services don’t have to be off-topic — they’re much better when they’re on-topic, in fact. If you put in work and creativity, you’re more likely to generate long-lasting, editorially-given links that stand the test of time.

    Shawn K. Hall and Tomas, the email obfuscation example is the original one I had from two years ago. On the bright side, many email scraping spambots do seem to respect escaped characters. Maybe it shows that a person is savvy, and thus willing to take more action if they get email-spammed?

    Harith, if you’re not using News sitemaps, I would dig into that. But it’s true that an on-site HTML sitemap can also be useful. I’m guessing that you want to break it down by Month/Year or otherwise chronologically.

  22. Matt,

    “But it’s true that an on-site HTML sitemap can also be useful. I’m guessing that you want to break it down by Month/Year or otherwise chronologically.”

    Thanks a bunch. Thats exactly what I intend to do, so help me GOOG 🙂

  23. The post above about making the item attractive to a wide audience is a wise one.

    I have found if you make a site that is very industry specific, and that industry does not yet have many sites, or blogs (other than advertisement sites) then it is very difficult for a white hat to compete against a black hat if you are just looking for links from that industry.

    The solution as stated above is to make something on your site that appeals to a wider audience, so that even those outside your non-bloggy industry will link to your site.

    I predict that as users mature, and the ratio increases of more blogs per major comercial keyword, then the quality of Google’s results will just get better and better.


  24. OMG You just DON’T understand!!!

    No matter HOW hard someone tries to communicate with you – you just DON’T empathize.

    You are incapable of seeing the other side.

    You are so-o caught up in your ideals – it is almost impossible to communicate with you.

    With all due respect – is THIS the way you run your spam team?!

    Why can’t anyone get thru to you?!

    This is not mean to be nasty – SearchEnginesWeb has personality. It comes thru in everything that is done.

    What what is so mysterious is – WHY WHY WHY WHY can’t you understand WHAT people are going thru?!

    WHY can’t you see how imbalanced the system is – WHY?!

    Let SearchEnginesWeb penetate your brain. Don’t be threatened or offended by the strong personality; there MUST be a way to make you understand!

  25. As someone who has been advocating the “be the first in your field” philosophy for years, I wholeheartedly agree with your advice.

    However, there are people who for acceptably good reason cannot be the first in their fields who still need links.

    Rather than make ranking in search results dependent upon which pages are in the Main Web Index, Google could just level the playing field and stop allowing links to pass value. Serving search results on the basis of relevance would certainly improve the quality of Google’s service considerably.

  26. “You are so-o caught up in your ideals”

    Guilty as charged! And a paycheck to boot!

  27. Should we just hire Performics, now that Google owns them via the DoubleClick merger, I guess this means that the Google team will be doing SEO (for Google) for us?

    Google might want to respond to this conflict of interest that’s starting to make headlines in the likes of TechCrunch, Mashable, etc.

    Seems borderline blackhat, IMHO.

  28. “Getting Links”

    As long as the focus is getting links, you’ll fail miserably. It’s like Guy Kawasaki says: “If the focus of a startup is to make money, it will fail.”

    The idea that getting links is the objective is the result of bad reverse-engineering. The common idea is: “All successful, high ranking, website have many backlinks,…. therefore if my website has many backlinks, It will be successful and rank high.”

    That’s like thinking: “All rich people have lots of money,.. therefore if I have lots of money, I’ll be rich.” (if you don’t understand why this is not correct, you’ll never be rich.)

    Money is the result of some form of success, it is never the cause of the success. The same applies to links. Links are the result of some form of success, they never are the cause of the success.

    To most this feels like a chicken and the egg problem (what’s there first? The success or the links?) If you really want to know what was there first, the chicken or the egg, then you’ll study evolution and find that neither one was there first. They evolved!

    The same applies to success and links. They evolve from something else, something more basic. Trying to take evolutionairy shorts cuts by link building just doesn’t work. It may help a bit, but it hardly ever works.

    Links do come by them selves, first from your friends and family, then from colleagues, then from customers, then from some newspapers, then from communities, and eventually, if you´re really good, from already recognized authorities in your field.

    Most sites however, hardly get passed the colleagues and customer links. There’s a reason for that,.. 😉 But it is also necessary to recognize that in many cases, that’s all people want. Success is a very relative concept.

  29. Dave (original)

    Matt, even the mention of the word “links” by any Google employee whips the SEO industry into a frenzy. I think ALL Google employees should have to sign a decleration that they will never mention the “link” word on ANY OTHER pages, other than the guidelines 🙂

    I bet this post is right up in terms of replies and views.

    I have found the single best way to get links from *targeted traffic* from *simliar sites” is to forget ALL ABOUT LINKS AND SEs and divert that energy on writing great content, provide a great service and IF you run a forum, blog etc, maintain it at a high level. That is, don’t do as 99% of Blog and forum owners do.

    Those chasing links (99% of the SEO “professionals”) always remind me of a dog chaising it’s tail. Funny to watch, but a total waste of time/engery and very pathetic.

  30. Dave (original)

    Loren, you are preaching the same rhetoric as any other SE link spammer out there and no wonder when you have a self-serving vested interest in spam. Your affiliation with the BIG link Spammers only adds weight to the fact you are a black-hat.

    Without even knowing, or caring, you have most likely ruined more businesses than the great depression and profited from it.

  31. S.E.W., I’m trying to understand your argument. You said “So the only way to accomplish getting the correct keyword traffic is: Link Trading and Link Buying!!”

    I gave an example where a business (St. Claire’s) came up with a cool service that attracted links (a safety sign builder), and now ranks #1 for their keyword phrase (industrial signage). There are tons of examples of sites that get the right anchors and search rankings for their desired phrases without trading or buying links. And links that are editorially given by real, informed users are more likely to stand the test of time. The example above is still working well even two years after I wrote this post, for example. That’s why I recommended producing a great resource as one way to help your reputation on the web.

  32. Even, the main thing is the site usability. If your links and work is useful to your visitors, then visitors will automatically appreciate your work and give you back links from their sources like blogs, forums and other boards.

    Even, this is the main purpose to make a website – to give a service which would be useful to this world.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Amit Verma

  33. Matt while I like these ideas and agree they can have a significant impact on your sites rankings naturally I do partly agree with SEW.

    For a start I just put [industrial signage] in and they are not, also the KW has 223,000 competitors, its no “online casino” is it?

    Secondly their backlink profile is not that attractive, it’s not like they have pulled in 5k links all from nice sites, many are from blog pages (like this one) that are completely unrelated.

    I think your advice is more than valid but you do need to consider that not every nice is as uncompetitive as industrial signage

  34. “You can do this with a personal or company blog. Blogs are a great way to get link love or just to get your word out.”

    heeh, that’s sooo 2005… what about 2008?
    Keep publishing the meme’s Matt despite how the vote turned out…

  35. Mutt,
    I don’t understand why so many people think (Matt inclusive) that link buying is such a bad thing. This is just preposterous. The Internet is a little different than a regular business because it exists in the cyberspace. It may not be as tangible as a restaurant but it’s still a business. There is a lot of money out there and Google itself is a good example of how to get the Internet to make you a millionaire. Like in every business you have to invest first in order to reap profits later on. If you don’t have money, you can’t open a MacDonald’s downtown Manhattan. The Internet is a wonderful tool because it provides a pretty good business opportunity with low startup costs (almost non-existent) and a large customer base. If you want to run a site selling a particular product, what is wrong with buying links if you can afford the cost? I can’t think of a situation, in which I would link to a commercial site selling e.g. diamonds or acne products. And I’m a very flexible guy who, frankly, doesn’t give a squat about follow – no-follow, give them a link – don’t give them a link. The profile of most commercial sites just doesn’t warrant any need for a permanent link from my site. It usually a one-time event. You type in your keywords, find, go and buy, so what to link to them for? You need the product again, you repeat the cycle. I think that someone who is willing to pay a lot of money for a link has a very relevant site to the anchor of the link he/she is buying. Otherwise, the deal wouldn’t make any sense. Why guys like you, Matt, feel that you have to create an equal footing for everyone? You seem to be following this line of reasoning: if you don’t have money, you can still succeed in our SE, because we will punish those who can afford to pay for their popularity. This goes against the very idea of branding. So if Nike hadn’t invested in advertising, do you think they would be where they are now? Money influences SE no matter what you do. A rich guy will hire the best team in the world top create content, the best SEO company, become a Google partner, etc. He will succeed and his money will always talk. I’m not saying that I want to buy or sell links, that I approve or disapprove of it from some high moral stand, but I don’t mind if people want to go that way. After all, you tolerate negative SEO, you don’t mind link exchange systems, you don’t shout about millions of sites with just an rss feed, you don’t go on a crusade against robot generated content. You do a lot of unnecessary things instead of concentrating on real problems. I understand that you do all that slowly but surely, but you seem to be preocupied with LINKS LINKS and more LINKS.

  36. youfoundjake, writing an interesting/useful/fun/helpful blog is still a great way to get link love, even in 2008. 🙂

  37. not my algorithm

    Lets even forget looking at small companies for a second. You know how the heavy hitters stand out from the pack?

    Link buying. Enough said. THIS IS A PROVEN FACT. Part of SEO is buying strategically (its gone commercial, its become advertising, its “sold out”, insert whatever remark).

    Buying links on sites relevant to your content can help bring traffic and build impressions, but do it in the format (text link) that will help increase your page strength in Google – and you kill two birds with one stone.

    Site one can have less useful content that site two has and have slightly less site optimisation skills, but when they’re both big league sites, you better believe the one who buys links via networks does much better regardless of what hot content is on site two. This is the same way advertisers work on ad placements across a network, they find relevant sites and then get placement there.

    I have examples of this in almost every major market sector. Sites with unfinished SEO but ranking well. Why? Anchor text links.

    And again, I’m not even talking about mom and pop sites. I’m talking brand names. Some sectors have embraced and in fact commercialised SEO, like it or not. Finance/Insurance is one that comes to mind, real estate and property is another big one.

    So when you talk about SEO, include link buying, as this is a vital part of your marketing plan if you want to even stand a chance in the big leagues. The irony of the current Google algorithm is that small mom and pop sites that do link buying will get punished.

    Thats right, you’ve got to be a big leaguer to the point where 1000 links flies under the radar a lot easier. It’s a bitter pill to swallow at first, but you know what? It’s not my algorithm. As a marketer, I have no choice.

    Good article at – sorry I know someone else posted this article but i cant see where they did it.

    But yeah, this article also admits sometimes you just have to pay. SEO isn’t free anymore.

  38. So all that’s really needed is creativity. I guess there’s a lack of that all around… 🙂

    Thinking outside the box comes to mind. But that’s sooooo difficult isn’t it. Try being a fish and come up with the creative idea that there is something called air, while somebody tries to explain water… Water? What’s that?

    Creativity,.. Matt,.. is difficult to most people. And.. you probably know this already,.. if you have creative ideas, 99% of the people around you will try to kill your ideas because they don’t have the creative power that’s required to understand the idea.

    I remember when my company was in its early stages, very enthusiastic, working my ass off, and people asking: So when are you going to stop playing around and get a job?

    It takes quite a lot of resistance to be creative.. 🙂

  39. SEW, you are living in the past !!

    Go ahead and make reciprocal link trades, buy links in bidding directories or from contextual link brokers if you wish.

    So Matt Cutts and webmasters should listen to your logic ?

    Funny stuff, maybe you should try stand up comedy man.

  40. More relevancy in search and less link juice please 🙂

  41. Dave (original)

    Graig, the site Matt used for an example IS no 1 AND 2 for Also, the estimated number of search results cannot be used to determine how competitive and search term is. In terms of ranking well in the SERPs, the only pages of concern are the top 10.

    Think of search terms like a horce race. Just because the number of horses racing increases, it doen’t mean the favorite is less likely to win. There are MANY more factors that are MUCH more relevant.

  42. I know it may be top on .com I was just pointing out it didn’t flow across to 🙂

    I agree that number of competitors is not the only factor that determines how competitive a search term is but are you going to tell me industrial signage is even a moderately competitive search term in comparison to everything out there? Please.

    Anyway as I said, I think the creative approach to content is perfectly fine, it’s just not always the ultimate SEO factor as it can very easily fail to pay off.

  43. Matt, i am sure i can learn more from you in the future. I never know to turn my email address into graphic, or the code.You are my teacher:)

  44. Matt

    This was 3 years ago, when there were few query time filters, no 950 penalty, and no fear-mongering by Google about Paid links.

    How is this different now, Matt? Can I make a cool sign generator and pay everyone to link to it or is that not cool? Can I leverage my business relationships to acquire links…or would that make them paid.? Is my internal link structure spam, or is it just my navigation?

    Please, Google, design my website and tell me how to run my business!

    Implementing index wide query time filters to solve problems of link “spam”, and then cryptically saying, “if you webmasters are SEO’s you might be hit by these filters or “data pushes”…..and the people penalized? Most don’t even know it, and almost zero will know how to get out of the filters you’ve provided….and also, most aren’t spamming you.

    Good job, build a cool customizable sign, watch the links fly in….definitely not the 07′ “paid links are bad” matt cutts message….

  45. Peter (IMC), it’s true that creativity can be harder to pull out of thin air. And lots of people want to take the easy path (“Where my $49.95 program that will just make me #1 for all my keywords?!?”). But that creativity can really pay off, and the more you do, the easier it gets to think creatively.

  46. Peter (IMC),

    Here is something which might interest you. Its an evergreen 2006 post 🙂

    SEO Advice: linkbait and linkbaiting


  47. Matt,

    No need to convince me that creativity is easy,.. I am always full of creative ideas and apply them too when I get the chance. One idea I have for example is a set of special glasses that help blind people “see” (feel) what’s in front of them by presuring a distance map on their forehead. (I hope I’ll be able to really do something with that idea some day.)

    No lack of ideas for me.. 🙂 Also no problem online. I was more writing that post because I know what difficulties people have understanding what is meant by “being creative”,


    The same applies to linkbaiting. The concept is great, the application is not as easy as the theory suggests. What many people seem to not get is that to get one link bait to work, you most likely have already tried 9 ways that didn’t work. The success stories never talk about the failures.. 🙂

  48. It’s nice to see someone like Matt confirm that content becomes before links. Too many people (I’ve learned this recently) try too hard to get links to their site in a pushy way. Wouldn’t it be just easier to have actual content and let the links trickle in smoothly?

    I don’t worry about links anymore and just hope on receiving them “naturally” as time passes. My trade is too rare for a linking audience to exist. I’ve come to terms with it though and focus on adding content to my site. Patience is not a strong virtue for me but I’m discontentedly coexisting with Google. 😀

  49. Dave (original)

    not my algorithm, link buying simply does not make a site become quality, relevant or authoritative. These ARE all the factors that those who search Google want. If you don’t yet know why organic SERPs refuse to sell out to the highest bidder (like they DID in the past-1995 or so), you never will. IF paid links WERE passing link juice etc, the playing field would be titled at about 45 degrees in favor of those with the deepest pockets. It has been proven beyond doubt that searchers simply don’t want money influenced “organic” SERPs.

    IF you want money links to help rise to page 1, use AdWords and see just how silly the bidding on some phrases are. Paying the top bid for a search term will never make the page become quality, relevant or authoritative.

    Craig, you are missing the point that the site pages Matt mentioned have got to number 1 for a valid search term and has done so through earnest merit, not cheating. Merit=Long Term Success V.S. Cheating=Short Term Success, If Any, Followed By Long Term Failure.

    And lots of people want to take the easy path (”Where my $49.95 program that will just make me #1 for all my keywords?!?”).

    Yep, just like those ads for weight loss and exercises machines, lot’s of Webmasters are totally sucked in the so-called professional SEO out there touting their crap, short term, cheating ways.

    You can tell that SEO will in future be lumped in with other money making scams. How? Because SEO email spam relatively exceeds most of email scams in the scheme of things.

  50. not my algorithm

    dave, you are right in saying “link buying simply does not make a site become quality, relevant or authoritative.” – alone it is useless, and i do think many sites make a mistake when relying too much on that. but i also think some sites miss the boat when they dont include it.

    if it was just bidding and link buying SEO would not be as necessary. BUT, to seperate the men from the boys – when multiple sites are well optimised, you better believe that the good link buying campaigns are what put sites on the top. Its not about highest bidder (just like with ad budgets), but strategic placement. I’m not saying to just buy buy buy links, but buy the right ones and you’ll get that extra yard. Use several different services, not one, and you have more safety.

    Funny you mention that “the playing field would be titled at about 45 degrees in favor of those with the deepest pockets” – because I know many a company whose deeper pockets are what helps take them to the top. Its more blatant in the UK market where many a brand name have recently taken advantage of spreading out keyword placements.

    True, searchers say they dont want money influenced serps (but personally when i watch anyone whos not in the search industry or something similar search online, they couldnt care less – in fact many are critical nowdays anyway). But its not exactly entirely up to the searchers. Results are money influenced, and there is no way of telling what is money influenced or not – as its such a thin line. Thats why i was saying it is just part of the equation. After all dont get me wrong, you need other things done right too – get you site well optimised first to make sure link buying works effectively. But what i am saying is that this is a vital part of how the algorithm works and definately needs to be part of an overall SEO campaign, especially in highly competitive industries.

  51. not my algorithm

    just to add, this has nothing to do with adwords.

    thats a seperate budget all together with most clients.

  52. Dave (original)

    “… the so-called professional SEO out there touting their crap, short term, cheating ways.”

    Those are spammers, not SEOes 🙂

  53. We have found creating free templates for Joomla! has created a wealth of back links without us asking for a single one. Some of then come from great sites too. We don’t insist on a link but most people are happy to credit the originator of decent work.

    It’s not easy to create good link bait but if you do create something people want it’s very powerful.


  54. Dave (original)

    BUT, to seperate the men from the boys – when multiple sites are well optimised, you better believe that the good link buying campaigns are what put sites on the to

    You mean the spammers from the quality content that doesn’t need to buy link juice. Sure, some spammers enjoy their 15 minutes of fame, but that is often followed by page 10+ of the SERPs. You see, while spammers are trying to buy their way up the SERPs, their competitors are adding quality content that gets the ONLY link type that helps in the SERPs long tern. That is, true VOTES. How do I know this? I’m have run, for over 7 Years, a successful site that profits from LOT’S of traffic directly related to true link votes.

    IF the ONLY SE that didn’t use paid links to determine a page relevancy and importance was Google, then you would have a *minute point*. BUT, as all the top 3 SEs discount paid links based on factors/research us laymen would never know, I feel sure the these multi billion dollar businesses know what their customers want 😉

    Use several different services, not one, and you have more safety.I would rather ultimate “saftey” that has a proved long term track record. If/when I want to gamble, I’ll keep my business out of it and go to the races, or Casino 🙂

    But what i am saying is that this is a vital part of how the algorithm work

    With all due respect, I tend to believe the SEs (over a anonymous stranger) when they say paid links are discounted and can cause more harm than good in the long term.

    Those are spammers, not SEOes

    Same thing thanks to the likes of Danny Sullivan and other well known names in the “SEO” industry. That all have a vested interest in SE spam and go out of their way to blur the lines between “SEO” and SE spamming.

    I know of only a handful of TRUE professional white-hat SEO’s. Sadly, the ratio of black-hat:white-hat is about 100:1 and we have the so- called SEO industry “leaders” to thank for it.

  55. There is always some new software appearing that promises to get links and traffic but they either don’t work or stop working very soon normally.

  56. If you had not added the date disclaimer the only reason we wouldn’t have thought it was written yesterrday was the size of the exrternal drive ;-). More thna 4 years ago a friend posted a 10 steps to a better website article … we went through it just last week with a view to republishing … virtually word for word it’s still current … looks like most of us could get a lot further down the highway if we followed the basic rules instead of looking for the next great thibg.

    The rules haven’t changed much.

  57. Great post Matt.

    I just thought of one that will be bangin’, the Matt Cutts conference location tracker.

    Now all you need to do is let me inject you with a little RFID chip at SES, and I’m off to the races.

    Is that cool with you? I mean it’s great for links, and you’ll never get lost, and if you were ever lost in the woods or abducted I could totally help authorities find you.

    See you soon.

  58. In a recent conversation with a top SEO about ways to optimize a website, the recommendations were: 1) Get links 2) Work on Keywords 3) Develop/Improve content.

    That sequence may seem to follow a different logic that what you Matt are proposing; but seems to be working for some people.

    It’s sad to say this, but I concur with the idea that link building for e-commerce sites is so dependent on the amount of money you are willing to invest, more than quality per se. That fact seems to be even more descriptive for big companies who do not hesitate to spend hundreds in links located in high PR sites. Unfortunately that will influence reputation, authority and game Google rankings.

    So, is getting quality links that easy as you are portraying? Not for small ecommerce sites with a limited budget for SEO not interested in buying links. The alternative: develop quality content and hope for the good mercy of Google to pick it up? We’ll keep praying and hoping then.

  59. Dave (original)

    Just to prove my point about the industy leaders (Danny Sullivan in this case) promoting spam, see

    It’s links to which is a how-to-spam SEs. E.g;

    1. Building a fake website that has nothing to do with the content you’re attempting to generate links to.
    2. Trading links with unsuspecting external web sites based on the fake content you’ve just created.
    3. Deliver cloaked 301 redirects to the Yahoo and Google bots and do your best to hide the fact that you’re showing site visitors one page, but the search engines another.

    Shame Danny, Shame.

  60. Some subjects just do not attract natural links, I hope Google is aware of this?

    A website owner also should not have to put on a clown outfit (like some silly social media spamming SEO) to get noticed!

  61. @ Dave (original)

    Just so you know, Google, after buying DoubleClick, got Performics ( as part of the deal. So, ya, Google has indeed made the first step in going back to 1995-ish and is selling organic SERP rankings to the highest payer. Performics is an Affiliate and SEO firm…

    The fox isn’t just in the chicken coop now…the farmer is feeding him.

  62. not my algorithm

    trust me dave (original) – I’d like to think that was true. SE’s patrolled it much better circa 2004-2006 than they do now. They have lost the grasp on paid links. I used to send them complaints and all sorts of follow ups. I have up after only 3 of the 100 sites I reported got punished.

    you say “With all due respect, I tend to believe the SEs (over a anonymous stranger) when they say paid links are discounted and can cause more harm than good in the long term.”

    I wish i could believe the SE’s, but they’ve been wrong so many times over the past couple years in particular. Paid links are discounted…. sometimes. They do a good job catching small sites where a majority of their links look suspicious.

    Dont get me wrong, if you have an old established site with loads of content, you will get loads of votes, and all is well for the most part. But put that in the finance or real estate or any other big money sector, and watch that position drop on top tier terms.

    I agree Dave, paid links is sort of like a casino. And there certainly is a risk. But that risk is “worth it” for a lot of sectors. Twenty big name loans sites buy paid links, one gets penalised and blogged about on loads of sites – you think the other 19 are going to stop? Nope. Loads of people are going to the so-called “casino” – and making a killing!

    Just to add however, I do not like the whole paid links concept. But in many cases this is what needs to be done with clients who want to stay prominent in their sector. SEO always changes after all.

  63. Dave (original)

    Just so you know, Google, after buying DoubleClick, got Performics ( as part of the deal. So, ya, Google has indeed made the first step in going back to 1995-ish and is selling organic SERP rankings to the highest payer. Performics is an Affiliate and SEO firm…OH no! The tin foil hat brigrade 🙂 I hear man never landed on the Moon either………………….PLEASE!

    Any fool should know that Google has never, and never will, sell organic rankings as it WOULD defeat ALL THEY STAND FOR, RIUN THEIR BUSINESS AND SEE THEM INVESTIGATED BY THE MARKET FOR NOT DOING WHAT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THIER SHAREHOLDERS.

    Some subjects just do not attract natural links, I hope Google is aware of this?

    Then the playing field is level……………………………………stil!

  64. Dave (original)

    Just so you know, Google, after buying DoubleClick, got Performics ( as part of the deal. So, ya, Google has indeed made the first step in going back to 1995-ish and is selling organic SERP rankings to the highest payer. Performics is an Affiliate and SEO firm…

    OH no! The tin foil hat brigrade 🙂 I hear man never landed on the Moon either………………….PLEASE!

    Any fool should know that Google has never, and never will, sell organic rankings as it WOULD defeat ALL THEY STAND FOR, RIUN THEIR BUSINESS AND SEE THEM INVESTIGATED BY THE MARKET FOR NOT DOING WHAT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THIER SHAREHOLDERS.

    Some subjects just do not attract natural links, I hope Google is aware of this?

    Then the playing field is level……………………………………stil!

  65. Everytime I think that SEW has managed to discover a whole new bottom underneath the known bottom level of knowledge, he again surprises me by tunnelling further down

    You can’t get targeted links through the tactics mentioned? Really?

    Maybe he should look for better advice then, like running a search for:

    Oh look, this article is #1. I guess Matt must have bought or traded lots and lots of links then.

    Or maybe he used the words in the title and just let the hundreds of inbound links tend to use his article title as the link text as webmasters usually do?

    Please, Matt, can’t you ban SEW because there’s just something about seeing a man beat himself that badly and continually with the stupid-stick that is frankly upsetting.

  66. Ammon,

    “Please, Matt, can’t you ban SEW ….”

    Not yet 🙂

    FYI….. Matt wrote recently :

    “S.E.W. has mastered the fine art of finding my annoyance threshold and then staying one notch below that threshold. “

  67. @ Dave (original)

    No tin foil hatting here. Just go to their site. They’re touting their alliance with Google on their homepage. Also, go to TechCrunch’s post “Google Now Selling SEO Services”, they joined the chorus of others calling for Google to divest themselves of Performics too:

    Please bother to look for yourself before getting all dismissive. It’s for all our own good that Google does NOT keep Performics in their stable of companies. SERIOUS conflict of interest there…

  68. Dave (original)

    No tin foil hatting here

    Never met one yet that admit to it.

    They’re touting their alliance with Google on their homepage

    Why would they, it’s the truth.

    BTW, I have read MANY *factual* pages on the perceived conflict of interest. It is left up to those with common sense and no axe to grind to sort the wheat from the chaff.

    If you choose to read sensationalism from those with a vested self interest and try to “link bait”, you only have yourself to blame for going off half-cocked.

    The sky is NOT falling and Man DID land on the Moon 🙂

  69. Is there any way to search in Matt Cutts’ blog without also searching the comments?

    I’m trying to find out “official” stuff but whenever I do a search, I end up getting lost in the comments.

    And if it’s not possible, MATT, PLEASE DO SOMETHING and help us perform searches ONLY in YOUR posts.

    Thank you.

  70. Pfft…

  71. Ok, I get the whole idea of more links mean better site but I think it’s flawed.

    I run an online chat and community site called oohya chat in September, currently has close to 12,000 registered members, offers regular chat, webcams, voice, custom profiles, photo galleries, videos, groups, and blogs. A far more comprehensive site than all of the competition outside of yahoo chat. Yet I sit in obscurity on page 5 for “free chat rooms” while 2 bit slapped together sites enjoy better rankings.

    Obviously we’re not ranked by quality of site or relevance to the keyword, we’re ranked by our backlinks.

    Now the slogan is always “build a quality relevant site and people will link to you”. But how in the world are we going to get backlinks when our userbase are regular people, not webmasters? Think about it, the only time our users are ever going to post a link to us is maybe from their myspace or yahoo profiles. They don’t run websites. Even if someone linked to us from a blog it probably won’t pass pr and it wouldn’t be considered a quality link anyway.

    How in the world are we supposed to get good quality back links the proper way? Link exchanges aren’t cool, directories don’t do much, blogs don’t pass pr, I’m at a loss here.

    It burns my ass after putting in the kind of work and money that I did on this site to sit in obscurity while people like Chat Avenue enjoy premium rankings. All because they ran an aggressive linking campaign that is supposed to be frowned upon.

    I guess it just goes to show that creating a good quality relevant site does not mean that people will link to you. This is only true if your good quality relevant site is webmaster related.

  72. Dave (original)

    Now that makes some sense 🙂

  73. @ spencer:

    Indeed. A very good insight into how the slogan’s idealism simply doesn’t hold up in the real (i.e. non-geek) world.

  74. Dave (original)

    Obviously we’re not ranked by quality of site or relevance to the keyword, we’re ranked by our backlinks

    Backlinks are ONLY 1 factor of MANY.

    Google is doing just fine, as are it’s users and shareholders, despite ALL Webmasters NOT on page 1 telling the World they SHOULD be.

    Now the slogan is always “build a quality relevant site and people will link to you”. But how in the world are we going to get backlinks when our userbase are regular people, not webmasters?

    Your userbase is not relevant, only similar sites linking to you will give you SOME link juice, but again, links are NOT the be-all-to-end-all despite 99% of “SEO” saying they are.

    Your so called proof “that creating a good quality relevant site does not mean that people will link to you” is seriously flawed and based on some pretty self serving circumstantial evidence (for want of a better word).

    I just looked at your site and can see immediantly a 100 things that require changing.

  75. Really interested in this idea of recycling blog posts – and this one was certainly a good one. It seems to suggest that it’s time to think about extending the idea of a blog. I run several and they are filled with the usual mix of considered pieces and top of the head reactions to other sites and strange things I have noticed.

    I run one education blog and that one in particular needs a heavy amount of repurposing as each new group of students comes on board. This poses particular issues as I want to use commenting to get current students to interact and if there is lots of stuff from last year then they are less inclined to get involved (strangely).

    Do we all need a clean out and repurpose strategy?

  76. Matt

    This is nice source, specially the blog, I have some blogs to promote our company service.


  77. @ Dave

    “I just looked at your site and can see immediantly a 100 things that require changing.”

    I’m always up for constructive critisizm, if you feel like sharing hit me up at 100 things might take a while but I’m up for it.

    You’re right though, I can only hope to be as good as chat-avenue or usachatnow since they are such awsome sites compared to mine. They deserve the top 2 spots for “free chat rooms” and I deserve page 5. I can see why someone looking for free chat rooms would rather go there with all of the awsome features they have and their incredible profile system that they use, I mean their chat applets are cutting edge technology and they work so well it’s amazing.

    Now that I think about it, maybe I’ll just scrap my site as it’s such a piece of crap compared to them. I mean really, who in their right mind would want profiles, photo galleries, videos, blogs, private messaging, webcams, and voice chat that work in an online chat community anyway? And the whole idea of adding buddies and connections with others is so overdone. I mean personally I would opt for the site that just has a 2 bit java text chat with only a few general rooms that actually work. Who wouldn’t rather just have one of 2 avatars instead of a profile with photos? It’s way more simple and less confusing.

    Dave, did you actually compare my site to these others? Are you frickin kidding me? These sites are a joke plain and simple yet they have the top 2 results and you’re going to tell me that these sites are better quality and more relevant than mine? Where’s the content for these sites? Where’s the features for these sites? Half of the chat rooms don’t even work at chat-avenue yet they’re number 1. Do you own one of these sites or something? That’s the only way I can imagine anyone thinking that those sites are anything close to quality compared to mine. Is my site perfect? No. Is it better than those sites? Give me a break!

  78. I’ll take it a step further, has obviously bought many of their back links from sites with titles such as “buy good backlinks”. These guys rank number 2 for our main key phrase so how do I compete legitimately the “correct” way with the competition using these tactics that are supposed to be against the rules?

    Again, so much for “build a quality relevant site”. It’s a pipedream.

  79. Dave (original)

    LOL! Ok, Spencer, your site is THE best their is and Google is “broken” 🙂

    I’m always up for constructive critisizm,..

    Trust me, you aren’t and have your mind-set 🙂

  80. Dave… Dude, use his email. Or are you just stroking it for the rest of us by continuing to reply to him here?

  81. not my algorithm

    meant not “as” competitive. either way, you get the idea.

    maybe your forum should sell ads like

    joking… partially.

  82. Or you can create a web SEO comic about a mythical SEO Company – Ranked Hard.

  83. LOL Ammon !!

    Google policy on paid links is simple, but hard to understand for many webmasters.

    Buy and sell all the text links you want, just place “no follow” tags on them to avoid being penalized, but many can’t grasp this simple logic.

    The problem is, that SEO’s want to create fake blogs filled with anchor text links that are followed thinking Google will never catch them following tactics that are years old now, not many want to change with the times and still consider spam sound SEO.

  84. Matt:
    I have tried many of these ideas before and for one reason or another have a tough time getting even found after my initial idea.

    Here are my steps:
    1. Be the first come up with this really cool idea.
    2. Work on it like a madman for a few months.
    3. Try to find some links, find only places that want to charge me an arm and a leg.
    4. Write some ezine articles on this subject.
    5. Month 6 get totally frustrated and move to next idea.


  85. Matt, I have read this article several times. However, the last time I read it, I said, “hey I saw a cool email obfuscation technique on twitters contact page, let me make a WordPress plugin that does this” I did (its here: and I have gotten like 10 backlinks from WordPress plugin sites already! You are a genius 😛 Thanks!

  86. Hi Matt,

    I like your ideas, however link baiting is a strange concept as you still need to get people to your site in the first place, which is what the challenge is.

  87. Dear Spencer,

    Welcome to the real world. Many top SEO experts continue to tell us that if you build a quality site with great content, people will just naturally find it, love it, and link to it. Of course these visitors also just happen to have relevant high PR sites and want to give you one-way links using your keywords in the anchor text. Come on, give me a break.

    Having a really, really great site without backlinks is like having a really, really great 1-800 number. Nobody is going to accidently type in these digits and say “Oh my God, this is exactly what I was looking for, I’m going to start giving this number free advertising because it’s so awesome.”

    If you want links, you are goint to have to work at it. And by checking your backlinks in Yahoo, it seems you have been working hard on acquiring relevant backlinks. Keep up the good work. My site UstillUp is now PR4 with about 450 quality backlinks. I’m aiming for a PR of 5 for the next update. I’m also hoping to be on page 5 for “free chat rooms” one day, so don’t you complain.

  88. Thanks Spencer, I think we could learn a lot from each other. You are right in everything you have said. It is impossible to have links magically appear from the ether unless you are facebook or google.. Link building is also hard work. There is no quick and easy way.!!

  89. Getting links is like feeding your pet.
    if you make spam, your pet throws up on you 😛

  90. i coulnt leave the post i wanted to on the form (i dont knwo why it wasnt working) so
    click here to see my comment

  91. Hey Matt. You hit the nail right on the head man! I really appreciate your blog. You’ve got some great content…

    Thanks –
    Charlotte Realtor Chris

  92. Great post Matt, Link baiting is the best way to get links, and always has been. When you think about it, people only link to you if they want to! Therefore it makes sense that the best linkbuilding method is to MAKE people want to link to you. (you save yourself hours of time and aggro in the process too)

  93. Well its a no brainer that quality content is the king but your title says ‘Getting links’ which is the next thing to do. U haven’t told us how to get links but instread told us to get links through blogs. Now my question is create our own blogs in our website that we want promoted or write articles in public blogs about our website/products/services?

  94. Thanks Spencer, I think we could learn a lot from each other. You are right in everything you have said.

  95. Might be a new learning curve for us all… I just talk to someone from a company who had a rather large and very old site pulled from the Google index based on an old java script that did hide some links on some pages. Another words, these pages were not built for the user experience as its sole purpose. Anyway… within an hour it was completely repaired, in conformance with Google´s Guidlines and the reinstatement email was sent. The question is this, since everything seems to be based 100% on the “user experience” being the absolute bottom line, should they stop their multi million dollar Google PPC campaign until Google approves of the repairs and re-indexes the site?, (Some of the PPC campaign points to some of these not perfect pages). And from what I am reading, the Google indexing reinstatement could take 3 days, or 3 months if at all.


  96. Matt, I am totally agree with your idea that quality websites deserve to rank highers in SERP. However, I don’t see the connection between “getting links” and the examples you provided. (anyway, good ones though) More clarify please?

  97. I’m currently reading a lot about link-building and I agree with some of what you say, but isnt the concept of chasing links for links sake a bit outdated? Maybe I’m wrong. Discuss. lol

  98. Matt / All,
    I know and understand why Google places such value on links as being votes for your business etc. But come on guys & girls – in the real world does this happen – especially on a local level.

    Imagine for a moment my mum who runs a business goes and buys a car for her business. Does anyone really honestly think she would then go to the bother of starting a blog post about her car purchase, or that she would put a link on her business website to say – ‘Look at the car I just got from Bob’s Autos’ etc.

    I dont believe in the real world this happens on a local level. It may just happen on a social networking level, but even then let’s say my mum Tweets or updates her FB wall to say “I’ve bought a car” I doubt she’ll then have the time or inclination to add in the url.

  99. Hey Matt,

    I was just wondering if link exchange between two bloggers is also considered wrong? Blogroll is actually meant to link to the sites that you like, rather than the ones that are considered to be authoritative in the eyes of search engines, isn’t it?

  100. Thanks Matt I’ve found new interesting ideas about this SEO advice to get more links.. I will probably make and share some article that will explain more about this ideas. This will enable my student and other stuff to understand and be reminded about what to do when it comes to building your back links.