Broken Link Building In Action: REAL Email Example Inside!

Garrett French has been digging deep into the reciprocity link building method written by Melanie Nathan (Check out my interview with Melanie here!).  Garrett has conducted several interviews about this link building technique which I was fortunate to be apart of one of them.  This post will not only discuss this link building technique but also show it in action.  This post will show you real examples of this technique being used to acquire many highly valuable and authoritative links.

 

The Concept Behind Broken Link Building:

The name says it all.  You’re looking for websites that have resources or links pages that include links that are broken (404) or are no longer pointing to the valuable information it once was. A good search operator for finding prospects involves doing a search for “NICHE + inurl:links“.  You now have a list of websites that likely are in your niche and have a links page.  Alternatively you can include resources in the search query.   Once you get your results start going through each site to determine which ones will be worth your time to contact the webmaster.

Determining Whether Or Not A Page Is A Good Link Prospect

Once you arrive at a page that includes a list of links (resources) it’s time to determine whether its a good link prospect.  The value of every page will be different.  You can look for PageRank, Mozrank or just the fact that its indexed in the search engines.  After determining value you want to look for signs of a way to get a hold of the webmaster.  Is there an e-mail address mentioned? How about a contact form?  If you can’t find a way to contact the webmaster then you shouldn’t waste any more of your time.

If you have an e-mail address then you can continue to step two: Determining if any of the links on the page are broken.  I like to use Xenu broken link checker as a quick snap shot of whether or not their are any broken links.  If the report comes up with broken links go and manually check them.  If the report comes back clean you  may want to manually click on each link within the list.  Why you ask?  Because Xenu does not always display a custom 404 error page or a redirected link as a broken link.  These are missed opportunities you can use to pull off this link building technique!  Once you jot down a list of broken links its time to contact the webmaster.

Emailing The Webmaster

You found your resource and listed out the links that are broken.  It’s now time to contact the webmaster.  It’s extremely important to make this e-mail PERSONALIZED.  Do not attempt to template it nor start the email off with “Dir Sir or Maddam”.  These are clear signals of web spam.   Find a name on the website that you can address.  If its a site that has a blog look for the author name. Most websites have an about us page or even include a name on their contact page.  Take the time to find a name it could make a big difference in your link acquisition results.

The subject line in my opinion should be short, clear, and concise.  Getting to the point you should use subject lines such as “Issue with your website” or “Found broken links”.  Melanie Nathan has stated that she believes using the word “found” could imply that you were looking for broken links which breaks down the trust you have with the webmaster.  You may want to consider avoiding this word.  Regardless, test everything.  You never know what will work.

The meat and potatoes of the e-mail is in the message you send to the webmaster.  You should also try to make this short and get to the point quickly.  People don’t like to read long emails let a lone emails from someone they don’t know.  Explain how you found their website, where the issue is within their website and what the ‘fix’ is.   You may at this point choose to give the webmaster a link to your resource as well.  I personally try to build trust first and send resources within a second e-mail later.  Remember that every niche is different so try different variations until you find one that works best for you.

Below is a real life example of an email exchange I did with a webmaster a couple years back that netted my client a very valuable link.  (click on the images for bigger and clearer images.)

 

A Real Life Broken Link Building Example

After determining that this website was a good link target. I manually checked the links on their resource page.  I jotted down some broken links and started with my email.  You will note that this technique was a little different then what I mentioned above.  Within this niche I had really good ROI with doing a series of e-mails and asking permission for reporting links and additional resource suggestions.

I got a RESPONSE! Remember that you will not receive a response from everyone you write an email too.

This webmaster just invited me to not only send over a list of broken links BUT IS NOW REQUESTING MY RESOURCE! This gets me very excited so I eagerly write an email back. Remember, your maintaining a ‘buddy-buddy’ relationship while getting to the point as well.

The ‘money’ email has now been sent.  At this point all I can do is cross my fingers and hope that the webmaster is impressed with my list and is equally impressed with my suggested resource.  One day later I opened up my inbox to see this email response.

SUCCESS!!!  The webmaster has just informed me that my link has been added to their resources page.  It sure didn’t take much time for me to pull up his website and see the active link and even the anchor text that was awarded to me.  I obviously can’t share the page or too much information but take a look at this screen shot of the PR and MOZrank associated with the page the link was acquired on.

SEO and link building theory is great but actually seeing it in action is something completely different.  Hopefully this successful link acquisition will motivate all of you to give it a shot.  Have you had success with the broken link building technique?  Please share with us in the comments any tips you may have.

*Edit*

Did you enjoy the debate going on in the comments? Your favorite Minneapolis based SEO just posted about White Hat SEO & Ethics

76 thoughts on “Broken Link Building In Action: REAL Email Example Inside!

      • or use something similar than ‘not found’..let your imagination work …

        When performing that search, get your seo for ff or semoz toolbar activated and check if the not found page has incoming links….if yes, prepare a hook to shoot an email to these linking people…

        PS: you should have a checkbox here to auto follow a discussion…just saying 😉

    • Mario thanks for dropping that tid bit. WHO is records is always a good spot to look for contact info. I forgot to add that when writing this up. Sounds like it could be a good idea for a future post. ‘Alternative ways to find webmasters contacts’. Thanks!

  • Hi Nick,

    There’s no doubt this strategy works very well. One of my favorites and I’m glad to see the methodology is the same when it comes to the emails. They look similar to mine :)

    Also, I’ve been playing around with sites like dropday.com, which list expiring(ed) domains. So you can email webmasters about links that are “soon to be” broken.

    Mark

    • Mark – thanks for adding yet another tid-bit to this post. I absolutely LOVE how many ways there are to carry on this technique and how its not limited to any one persons ‘rules’. I can’t wait to try out some of the things all you guys have shared.

  • Nick,

    Great post,it’s great seeing other people’s emails and compare them to my own. I have had some success just using the contact forms as well especially on small sites where I know that there is only one person behind the scenes.

  • Oh and why not, You have a broken link on your top nav for your LinkedIn profile, 404 style. Not sure if you are looking for awesome sites but you can always through some love to KonnectedInteractive.com 😉

    • Thanks for catching that Dustin. Switched over to a new host and my redirects have been a little wonky. It should be fixed now.

  • Nick, I didn’t know you had a son (as per the emails) requesting a link.

    If indeed you don’t, are you suggesting that people create a trust relationship to these webmasters by lying to them?

    • Hey Jill – I was waiting for someone to push the subject of ‘relationship’. One could argue that your being dishonest just by intentionally searching a website looking to gain something by simply pointing out something that needs improvements (broken links).

      I have no problem pushing the envelope to complete the ‘sell’. This website i built links for was geared towards children’s products. so naturally I can build a better relationship posing as a father who can relate to another potential parent.

      Also, many link builders swear by using a FEMALE role or name in link request type emails. Is that building trust based off a lie? Its kind of like the black hat / white hat line… its not clearly drawn and everyone has their own limitations.

  • What would be wrong with simply saying that you were looking for linking opportunities for your client, found their site, and noticed that they had some broken links, and then do the rest the same?

    While what you recommend is perhaps simply a small “white lie” IMO, it’s these sorts of lies that give marketers in general a bad name. Making stuff up in the name of marketing may work better, but many people prefer to live their lives being truthful.

    I think the website owner who can potentially provide the link would feel the same way. How would they feel now knowing that you totally duped them? Pretty silly, I imagine.

    • Hey Jill – its pretty clear we don’t see eye to eye on this topic lol.

      I look at it as value still being exchanged, in the end both sides get exactly what they want.

      White lies may not be ideal but its a heck of a lot better then hacking someones site and adding links to the clients site. I also have given the webmaster the 100% of control of awarding a link to me. It would be EASIER to offer them $50.00 for a link and leave it at that. I would be able to save myself significant time as well!

      What do you think of link builders who use $$$ to persuade webmasters to link? It may not be a “white lie” but it sure is a smack in the mouth of Googles TOS. Both techniques work, but I have an easier time sleeping at night with the first technique then the second.

  • What do you think of link builders who use $$$ to persuade webmasters to link? It may not be a “white lie” but it sure is a smack in the mouth of Googles TOS.

    No it’s not. Google can’t stop people from advertising on other people’s sites since that would be some sort of restraint of trade coming from an advertising company (Google).

    Why would you have a hard time sleeping if you paid someone to add your advertisement on their site? Nothing unethical about it at all. No lieing. Just a fair exchange going on.

    Nick, remember this conversation when your future son or daughter tell you a little white lie because it was more advantageous for them to do so rather than to tell you the truth.

    • Jill your bending my statement. I’m talking about paid links that transfer ranking value. Not standard ‘advertising’ which should be utilizing a no-follow tag or a javascript code which Google doesn’t render.

      As for “white lies” they can be used appropriately. It’s like tact, if I ran around spouting at the mouth and claiming im “just being honest” then I would have a lot of enemies. I get what your saying in theory but you have to admit that there are circumstances for every situation.

      In my experience it’s simply not the same telling a webmaster im actively building links to a clients website that makes money off of Google. If I was being honest I would also have to mention that I am running specific queries for webmasters that dont keep up with their websites and tell them that my sole purpose of telling them they have broken links is to achieve a link in return.

      • Jill is absolutely right. Shes seems to want to be around for awhile and having ethics is certainly a great start. I wouldn’t spend a dime with you knowing what you just said and your weak justification. Good luck.

        • I’m sorry you feel that way Kristy. I’ll admit, not every link building technique is appropriate for every client. And as also stated before everyone has their own line drawn in the sand in regards to link building ethics.

          I prefer to do what it takes to actually rank and convert traffic into $$$. Others can continue to plug away at their e-zine article submissions. :)

          I still appreciate you visiting the site Kristy. Even if you have no intentions of hiring me I hope you’ll drop by and share your comments again.

        • Wanting to Justify bad behavior doesn’t make bad behavior right.
          Jill Called you out and rightfully so!

          All consumers hate being misled to, and quite frankly, if you think this is Only a white lie, makes one question where do you draw the line? Where do you think that ethics become personal, or necessary in business..

          It appears as long as it suits you, all is good! Even if it is to the detriment of another?

          Calling You out too ..B.S is B.S.. and it is shoddy B.S too.

        • Patsy. In this example how am I hurting the webmaster? I still gave them value. I happen to fib a little to make it even more enticing.

          I sure hope that everyone here that is screaming “integrity” and “ethics” never gets into legal trouble. Sure would hate to see you guys pay good money for a defense lawyer who walks in the courtroom and simply said “she did it”. Remember that you can also spin something in a million different directions.

    • Ah Jill, ease up on Nick a bit. He is not a black hatter and you know it. I love the fact that you will always be the champion in white, even when you are the lone crusader. But there are times when being a marketer requires a PR spin, and that is my take on what Nick is suggesting. As well as any time a persona is used. Actors in commercials do not always use the products they are pitching. Politicians do not always live up to their persona’s. And lawyers do argue cases they believe to be untrue. There are times when you may have to ACT to get the desired results. Nick did provide value the the webmaster as well as his client.

      • James, you said it best. While I appreciate Jill’s desire to be truthful, there are just times when you can’t and sometimes you just can’t even to your own client.

        For ex: I had a client who sat on the opposite side of a political issue than I did. When we took on the project, we had no idea that there would be political issues – but there were. Part of what I had to do was tweet on her behalf, basically pretending with her, that I believed as she did. She was happy that I had such a full understanding of the issues and her position but did not know I didn’t fully agree with her. I spent weeks feeling very uncomfortable – not so much with her but with just posing as someone else and frequenting sites and gathering items to tweet about that to me were just full of, well lies.

        Like Nick says, we all have our line in the sand. I’ve discovered mine – I won’t again be the one who tweets on a client’s behalf with whom I don’t agree on important issues.

  • You guys have opened up a real can of worms.

    I know MANY of the link builders sitting on panels embrace – and encourage – little white lies. Two guys I greatly respect (and arguably two of today’s best link building minds) are Ross Hudgens and Justin Briggs. Both of them have adopted personas in the past in order to get a link.

    And I’ve got to say, I side with them – and in this case, Nick – but I completely also see Jill’s point. The whole “was looking for links for a client” approach makes your intentions immediately obvious and tarnishes any future relationship by making it purely transactional. To me, that means a reduced success rate – or at best, you’ll have to spend more $$$ giving these people an incentive to link to you.

    So it’s the age old question – integrity, or $$$? Who is getting hurt here? Can it backfire?

    Well sure it can – if your persona is ousted. If you build TOO close a relationship that someone becomes attached to your fake persona. That’s entirely possible and worth considering.

    But I guess it comes down to a personal choice. For myself, if I have to adopt a persona (and a fictional son) to get a great link for a client, I’d probably do it.

    • I would definitely be interested in seeing both Ross and Justin’s take on this. I don’t think its that out of the ‘norm’ to take on a persona when link building. As I mentioned earlier I just think each person has their limits.

      While this example displays myself as a ‘father figure’ I certainly wouldn’t attempt to play myself off as a cancer survivor or a widow. These just happen to be a few examples that I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable attempting.

  • Nick, this is a great strategy to use. I honestly believe that “links” pages are devalued by Google but there are many different ways one could use your tactics and mold them around their own beliefs.

    As far as saying you have kids, or making up a fib to get the link, that really boils down to preference. I guess some believe that you should approach each link opportunity the same way. Tell them that you are trying to manipulate Google a bit, and are trying to please a client or else you will need to supplement your income in other ways. Monitor the results with that approach…

    • Rick, this technique is definitely not limited to “links” pages. I just had a good example to share that came directly from a links page. As you mentioned, this technique can be used in multiple ways to obtain all sorts of links.

  • You might also want to check out the Chrome extension, Check My Links. That way you don’t have to crawl potentially thousands of pages with Xenu.

    Just a thought.

  • Not a big fan of *active* link building in general because it feels like it can be false indicator of relationships and therefore spammy. And if those relationships truly are false, it seems like a strategy that won’t sustain itself anyway. Links that describe content well and highlight real relationships are important to making the web a great place. They lose value in a sea of phony or even links that have no upfront value to the web (an offline relationship that is of no interest to anyone).

    I also think SEOs highlighting link strategies is a tough thing to do. I linked to Melanie’s article about reciprocity linking as well because I like her perspective that if you are *adding value* it makes sense. But too many people are just looking to get links rather than add value. Helping someone out with broken links? Is that a real relationship?

    Are you in the broken link cleanup business?

    I don’t mean that to sound harsh either, just raising the question. In some ways, if you are in SEO, you ARE in the link cleanup business. But that doesn’t seem to be part of the point of your post.

    • I think every SEO is naturally in the broken link building business. One thing to keep in consideration is that this is only ONE technique of many to obtain links. It’s definitely too tedious and time consuming to strictly use this technique to achieve links. I’m a huge proponent of building links naturally off of content as well but that’s not the point of this response.

      In this case I would argue that I am adding value to this webmasters web site. 1. I’m helping clean up the ‘link rot’ found on his website. 2. I’m suggesting a valuable resource that he or she adds at their own discretion. Maybe I fibbed a little about the little details but I don’t think it takes away from the value being added nor the value of the resource being suggested. If your resource is garbage it doesn’t matter how much you “Lie” it won’t get you jack squat. A little ‘white lie’ that helps individuals relate can help nurture a future relationship.

      With that said I get what Jill and others are talking about when they argue the value of white lies. Yes, im actively trying to obtain links with this method. I guess in some people’s eyes it makes me a sleazeball. Not every link has to be built off a true relationship where you exchange x-mas cards every season.

      Johny, please don’t take this response personally. I just wanted to touch a couple points off of what you originally brought up.

      • I don’t take it personally, I think it’s a good idea and enjoy the discussion.

        I think what I am more getting at though is the promotion of something that is secondary in nature. Let me explain what I mean by that.

        We could divide SEOs into two groups: SEOs who are only in it for the money and SEOs who are in it for the money but also want a great web. This isn’t necessary a white/black hat division. An SEO who is only in it for the money *might* realize that black hat techniques are not sustainable (not making that assertion, just coming up with a scenario). So they behave white hat but really are only thinking about gaming an algorithm without breaking any rules. Let’s call them Business SEOs.

        The other group recognize the value of the web and want to be a part of it (but also want to make a living of course). This group is fascinated by the possibilities of the web. Let’s call them Passion SEOs.

        What I fear is link building ideas by Passion SEOs just being used in rote fashion by the Business SEOs. These articles are like drugs for those types. Now we’ll maybe have an influx people spamming webmaster offering to fix their broken links. Maybe not, but I am trying to illustrate a point.

        Linking will be around for a while, but it’s really not the thing Passion SEOs are trying to do here (that being elevating value). Anybody whose interests are purely selfish (or not thinking of the bigger picture) will be chasing these secondary elements. In some ways, these articles feed that beast.

        Again, I am not trying to single you out. I did a similar article recently. For some reason your article got me thinking about this particular problem.

        • I agree with pretty much everything you said Johnny. Nothing is crystal clear and the white hat / black hat example is the best example of that.

          I can’t help but take your example and think your grouping myself in the “Business SEO”. I would argue wholeheartedly that I am a part of the “passionate SEOs”. As I stated multiple times, im cleaning up link rot and offering valuable resources as a replacement. I’m not cramming poker, pills, and porn e-mails to dog owner websites. It’s not just about the link. The end result is a link but your adding value at the same time.

          I agree 100% that some people will read this article and spam the crap out of webmasters. That is not my intention, I didn’t write the article for these “SEOs”. I want people to have access to another technique that can work if executed properly. It’s because of the spammer “SEOs” REAL examples of link building don’t get published often. I thought I would go against the grain and add value to the passionate SEO world.

        • No I don’t think you are Business SEO at all. Like I said, I just did a similar article on link building:
          http://seo.productiveedge.com/2011/08/16/morning-surf-link-building/

          What I mean is Passion SEOs might *accidentally* fuel the spam unintentionally when they focus on secondary signals. I only came to this realization reading your article.

          I have to think about it some more but I appreciate the back and forth. Now I have something to chew on and possibly post about.

  • Hmm, I personally think that this method is ethical (depends on how you approach the link prospect), though in my case, when I tried testing this technique, I used my real name in contacting the webmaster and I really had the intent of getting the link (and I’ve directly mentioned that I work for this certain site), but I guess it worked because of the honesty + the quality of the content that I’ve offered as a replacement for the dead link(s).

    • Hi Jason! There are definitely a lot of different ways to use this technique. I have used my real name with a work related email, a real name with a client supplied email and a completely anonymous email with a free email account. They all have their advantages and disadvantages.

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing your experiences with the broken link building technique.

  • As do I – I mean yup, use it and others too…my own script (have I mentioned this one before) is pretty bad….ie you almost cant’ ‘read’ my writing….so I get my wife to acutally hand write a personal letter to the webmaster, and her ‘script’ yes does look both read-able and feminine too…

    I ask for naught in same – but as you’ve reported here, use the same tactic to let that webmaster know what I’ve found on my last visit to their site – then and ONLY then – once I’ve given something to them, do I offer that if they’re ever updating their links to similar sites, that here are a couple of good examples to help their readers – and I ALWAYS offer up another well known channel leader and my own site.

    Works. Works just about every time (course, I do hope that most of the web will NOT visit this thread, eh Nick!) and we’ve gotten some outstanding links on .edus, .gov sites and yup the .coms and .cas ones too! Letters – hand written letters are NOT the norm….and they break thru the clutter of email like a red-not blade thru an orc!!!!! (/tolkein references)

    :-)

    Jim

    • Great points Jim. I don’t have any experience with hand written letters but I can see why they would work too!

      You don’t very often see concrete examples of techniques that work, only link building theory. I decided to change that up. I didn’t expect the debate on ethics in the comments but that’s just an added bonus!

  • I agree with Jill W. on this one Nick, what you call a little white lie breaks your credibility. If I were a potential client and came across this post, like Kristy, I wouldn’t hire you. If you will lie to a webmaster to get a link, then you will lie to me when it’s in your best advantage.

    I think you would have got the link without the lie. I really doubt the webmaster was so naive as to think you were just a site visitor who ran across his site, and took the time to not only submit a form telling him he had broken links, but then sending a list of broken links with the resulting errors. Then as an added bonus, you have a suggested link! Wow, your such a Good Samaritan!

    In the webmaster’s response, he seemed very pleased with what you had done, and I think he would have been glad to replace his broken links with your suggested relevant link as a way of saying thanks.

    As far as James S. comparison to actors in commercials that is totally irrelevant. Everyone knows people in commercials are actors and playing roles. Just because a man and boy appear in a commercial as father and son everyone knows they probably aren’t. To go on to compare to politicians and lawyers? LOL, that’s funny! Now there’s a high standard to live up too! (no offense to honest politicians or lawyers, but you do seem to be the minority!)

    I’m not going to totally bash you here Nick! On a good note, you gave some very helpful information,and gave me another tool for my SEO toolbox. I also appreciate the discussion you started and the added tips and insights. Thanks, have a great day!

    • Hey Tom – It’s too bad you see this as a credibility breaker. In reality, I’m about as transparent with my clients as you can be . My clients are actively involved with all stages of their SEO campaigns so their is no secrecy or white lies involved . It’s not worth my time or theirs to blow smoke up their butt. I’m about getting results. Some techniques may be ‘questionable’ but I would like for anyone to point out a 100% complete “White Hat” (Whatever that means these days) campaign. It’s very unlikely that you can find a campaign that would please everyone.

      Let’s be honest. Everyone has a different level of acceptableness. Some look at this technique as a brand new opportunity to acquire links. Some look at it as a horrible lying scumbag thing to do. As I’ve now mentioned several times It’s not for everyone nor is it a technique to solely rely on to acquire top rankings.

      Regardless, I do appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts Tom. Hope you’ll stop by again even if its just to read the blog 😉

      • It’s not too bad for me. Who is is too bad for Nick? Maybe it’s too bad for you, that some people who are like me, others in this thread, and some of your potential clients see this a breaking your credibility.

        You say that your clients are involved in all stages of their campaign, that you are transparent with them, so does that mean your clients are familiar with, and approve of your “little white lies are ok” mentality? You say don’t blow smoke up your client’s butts, because it’s “not worth your time”, so apparently you will blow smoke up someone’s butt if it’s worth your time?… basically translated to “I will lie if there’s money it.”?

        There’s nothing wrong with your technique of contacting webmasters about broken links, and asking them to take a look at your clients site or your own as an obviously better link. Don’t blur the issue here. My comment in this thread, as was Jill’s and Kristy’s, is that the lie is wrong, not the technique.

        Interesting that you started your second paragraph in your response above with “Let’s be honest.” Yes! Let’s Do! I think that says it all in a nutshell. In all matters of business and personal life.

        If you want to say that everyone has a “level of acceptableness”, sounds like your saying each person decides how much they compromise their honesty and integrity for personal gain, whether monetarily or otherwise.

        For me Nick, I have a zero “acceptableness” or tolerance for dishonesty. And your lie is not even a ‘gray’ area, it’s an outright blatant lie. And by gray I mean that I know there are times when a person that hates dishonesty, may say something that could be seen as dishonest, and it might cut them to the bone to lie, but they know the outcome is for the greater good in the situation(and I don’t mean their individual gain!).

        You are in the SEO business. But, are you trying to tell me you don’t know what “white hat” means these days? Basically it means the same as it has always meant. It’s totally above board, it’s by the rules, no trickery, and no lying, no deceit. It’s pretty simple even in it’s analogy, white hats are the good guys, black hats are the bad guys, and the gray hats are worthless individuals who straddle the fence and play both sides.

        There’s tons of SEO techniques that are all above board, and you know it.

        BTW, as far as totally relying on this technique for backlinks, no SEO would do that, if they have any real knowledge of what they are doing. This is a technique that might squeeze out a few little extra drops of link juice.

        Thanks for your invitation to drop back by Nick, but after this are you sure you want me too? :) … or was the invitation to stop back by just to read…but Tom, please don’t comment? 😉

    • Hey Tom. My invite for you to return was in all sincerity. I would appreciate you leaving comments in the future too. I’m not afraid of someone disagreeing with me. It does happen from time to time. So please don’t take my past remarks or anything in this reply as a sign of disrespect or an attempt to censor your responses. Re-reading the comments I do think its funny my use of “acceptableness” lol. That’s besides the point.

      I was chatting with a few folks about ethics and link building the other night. The general consensus was that being “white hat” these days is about turning your head, hiring a ‘link builder’, and not asking any questions. If you don’t know whats going on and your site now rank successfully it must all be done “white hat” right? A little bit of an extreme analogy but I could argue the same about the grey hat analogy you gave as well.

      On the same topic, this being “White hat” and ethics… Would you go to the extreme and argue that no “White Hat” SEO would consider offering search engine optimization (or any service for the fact) for publicly questionable or “unethical “businesses? Let’s be more specific. Porn, Poker, Pills. Many people would argue that these industries just in themselves are unethical. So even if you did everything 100% “by the book” the “White Hat” way – would the SEO consultant be in the wrong?

      Let’s also cover the “by the book” White Hat SEO that you brought up. “it’s by the rules, no trickery, and no lying, no deceit.” Last time I checked there were no guidelines to “Proper SEO”, nothing sanctioned by a regulated business or SEO commission. Just because Rand Fishkin white boards one topic or Matt Cutts talks about certain SEO-ish stuff through his videos im to take it as “the rules”. I DON’T THINK SO. I respect both individuals immensely but I refuse to take anybodies word as fact.

      The absolute best part of SEO is the competition in every niche. The fact that YOU may outperform me because you create better content, test theories, go out on a limb and even push the ethical boundaries is great. I use to vehemently argue that I was “white hat” SEO. As if that actually meant something these days. I think most people use “White Hat” as an excuse to not think outside the box, push the envelope and lastly justify why they can’t outrank their competition. If that’s true, im the exact opposite of “white hat”. Whether that be “Black Hat”, “Grey Hat”, or even “Purple Hat”. I’ll let others determine that for themselves. I’ll continue to let my results speak on my behalf.

      You have a point about this technique being valid and how I did take it to the next step. I did what I thought was necessary to acquire a link for a client. Could I have acquired it with out a white lie? Maybe, but I wasn’t willing to take the chance. It’s obvious that some people agree with the approach while others such as yourself, Jill or Kristy do not. I think its less of an argument then a personal limit everyone has to draw out for themselves.

  • I think there is far too much emphasis (in these comments) placed upon the content of the email rather than the technique itself. If the blog post was “Should you lie in an email to obtain a link?”, then fair enough – but it isn’t, it is about a specific type of technique that Nick has found useful.

    Decent post, but you always run the risk of the webmaster updating the links and then not adding your suggestion.

    You can extend the operators to include keywords within the title tag as well. I’ve used this one successfully in the past:

    intitle:”KEYWORD TERM” inurl:links

    • Andy I agree with you. I was taken back a little when the focus turned from the technique to the content of the email. However, I suppose that’s the risk when you give a real life example huh? You can’t please everyone. Hopefully I have sparked a couple ideas though for when people need to build just a couple extra links using a technique they haven’t thought of before.

    • Shoddy marketing is Shoddy Marketing

      Can’t seperate the B.S from the B.S.. No matter how much smoke is blown!
      that is why there are laws that protect consumers from shoddy marketing

      • Thanks for dropping a comment Patsy. I believe there is a fine line between a white lie to solidify a deal (within a larger campaign) and shoddy marketing as a whole. I don’t think this scenario is quite as black or white some people make it seem.

  • Hi Nick,

    Loved this article.

    I am surprised by the number of comments from people splitting hairs to call you out as unethical. In my experience, whenever one does anything noteworthy, some number of people will line up to try and prove you’re are at fault of doing something wrong.

    You’re awesome.

    • Thanks for the support Anthony. Sometimes the people who use the most questionable tactics are the one who scream “ethics” or “morals” the loudest. Let’s face it, the more people who use techniques that actually work the harder it is to actually rank.

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