Pubcon Presentation: Proactive Link Building Tactics

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In the session at Pubcon Las Vegas 2012, I spoke about link building, essentially revealing what works and what does not in a post-penguin world. So, what is all the “Penguin” talk anyway? What does it mean? Is it a name given to a Google algorithm update that affected low-quality links?

Here is Wikipedia’s definition of the word:

Google Penguin is a code name for a Google algorithm update that was first announced on April 24, 2012. The update is aimed at decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using black-hat SEO techniques, such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, participating in link schemes, deliberate creation of duplicate content, and others.

Or in layman’s terms … It’s Another Google Assault on SEOs!

What No Longer Works

  • Paid Links
  • Sponsored Blog Reviews
  • Article Marketing
  • Directories
  • Comments (did they ever work at all)

Disclaimer: Paid Links & Sponsored Blog Reviews may still be somewhat effective but PROCEED WITH CAUTION!

What Does Work?

  • Social Media
  • Content Marketing

Now you might ask, “Is that all? Are we really down to just two tactics?” Not really! There are still a variety of ways to “earn” links. Note that I used the word “earn.” In fact the article, 101 Ways To Link Build in 2012, is a great resource on multiple ways to acquire links. However, keep in mind that most all effective post-penguin link building strategies center around these two tactics—social media and content marketing.

Links With Social Media

One effective strategy to create natural links is to utilize social media profiles to build links. Here are some tips with regards to this strategy:

  • Set up as many social media profiles as you can.
  • Fill in all information (i.e. real name, URL, location, bio, etc.).
  • Upload an avatar.
  • Post/publish content where applicable.
  • Get profile URLs indexed.

Check out The Ultimate Social Media Profile Chart for a concise list of social media properties that will allow you to set up profiles. The chart includes detailed information about each property such as the amount of links that can be created, whether they are followed or not followed and more. Also, if you tend to be lazy (such as myself), use a service like Knowem who will register multiple profiles for you. You may have to go back in to each one and build them out but the service does save a lot of work in setting them up.

Types of Content Marketing

There are many types of content that one can generate and publish. Here are some of the most effective:

  • Resourceful Posts (Top 10s, How-Tos, etc.)
  • Guest Posts
  • Memes (Ego Bait)
  • White Papers
  • Video
  • Infographics!!!

Infographic Marketing 101

Here are some essential tips on promoting infographics, one of the very effective types of content.

  • Share on Facebook. Consider utilizing Facebook Ads or Promote option under post.
  • Share on Twitter. Consider utilizing Sponsored Tweets.
  • Submit good content to StumbleUpon. Use Paid Discovery to draw more attention.
  • Post to your Pinterest, Tumblr, and accounts. Link back to original.
  • Send an optimized press release via online PR sites, such as MarketWire & PRWeb.
  • Utilize dozens of bookmarking sites including infographic archives.
  • Reach out to “like-minded” bloggers to see if they will re-post your infographic.
  • Utilize “guest blogger” opportunities to re-post your infographics on prominent sites.
  • Having a large network of followers (influential status) will help promotion efforts.
  • If you lack influence, it might be wise to hire someone who does to share content.
  • Include an “Embed This Code!” (

In summary, keep in mind that flying for Penguins is not easy, neither is link building—at least effective, proactive link building in a post-penguin age.

There you have it! If you would like to see the actual slides used during the presentation, please visit and look for the title “Proactive Link Building Tactics” or look below.

David Wallace
David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been... Read Full Bio
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  • Nick Stamoulis

    While having a bunch of links from social profiles is a start, I would argue there is a lot more value to be had if you actually invest time/effort into that social network. You don’t have to create a profile on every social site you can find just because it’s there. What networks are your audience actually using?

  • Matt Peskett

    It’s interesting that Google is forcing SEO even more down this social route – because for a lot of small clients a social footprint cannot be resourced in-house or afforded externally. For others social media is NOT something that even works in their industry (yes really Social Media is an enormous bubble of make believe once you get beyond breaking news and TV commentary), What should these people do? Social Spam. I had my first email today from India ‘please like my Google Plus page and I will like yours 10 times’, I guess that’s the new link building future – low quality tweets and likes from networks of social profiles that don’t really like each other at all.

  • Patrick Sauriol

    Thanks for the tips on promoting infographics David. There were a couple in there that I haven’t tried yet and will do, but I’d like to share my recent experience in trying to promote an infographic my company made last week.

    My team and I came up with an infographic stating some interesting facts about Facebook crossing 1 billion active users. We put a lot of time outside of our daily tasks to research, design and then try to promote the infographic. I feel that it has great value for both regular public users as well as business owners trying to make sense of how to use Facebook for their business.

    But here’s the problem: I emailed several dozen blogs, infographic resource sites and online/social media blogs to let them know of our infographic. To date none have linked to our infographic. We’ve also included an embed code at the bottom of the infographic and I haven’t seen it picked up and spread anywhere.

    I don’t mean to sound too negative but in my experience the problem isn’t in generating interesting content; the trouble lies with grabbing the attention of people and convincing them to take the time to help share your content. People are more educated about content promotion techniques and I can’t help but think that the reason why our infographic wasn’t shared by these marketing and social media blogs is because they are inundated daily with requests from people like me with their own content they want to spread and share.

    What I guess that I’m trying to say is that it’s hard out there right now to get results from content promotion. Even when you place your heart into the creation of quality content, there’s no guarantee that people will care to share it.

    If you have a few moments I’d love for you to take a look at our Facebook infographic and let me know your thoughts:

    Thanks, and like I said I’ll give those other ideas a try.

    • David Wallace

      It is true that “they won’t come just because you build it.” Having said that, part of the strategy of seeing an infographic get a lot of links and social shares is the subject and design of the infographic itself. The rest is being able to have a successful social seeding. In other words, being able to submit via social media profiles that have influence.

      If your social media profiles lack such influence (i.e. followers, likes, shares, etc.), you might think about hiring a company that specializes in doing social pushes for infographics. My company offers this but there are also many others that do so as well.

      Finally, submit it to (that’s our site) as well as a myraid of other free infographic archives that currently exist.

  • Louie Diaz

    This is indeed the new way to go. Our website has been utilizing these ways to further promote our business. Some of these tips are still a hit or miss for most people since it is quite hard to establish an engagement from audiences in the B2B niche. We are however hopeful that some innovations that we are doing in correlation to these tricks would help us.

  • Michelle

    I’m so confused right now. After everything I’ve read up about the Penguin update that sent my site crashing from page one and lost traffic of 75%, I find, last night, a site holding the coveted number one position, is so bad it makes my bad site look good. Not only that, but from 390 incoming links, 350 of them are from the same site, a blog site where the link is included in the side menu on every page.

    Not only that, but all the links with the exception of maybe a dozen, use targeted link text with maybe only 3 variations on the same keyword phrase.

    All of the above completely flies in the face of the penguin over optimisation update and whilst I can’t get on page 1 this site is at number one doing everything wrong.

    How are we supposed to know what’s right when this crap gets to the top?

  • George

    Are you sure that directory links don’t work anymore? I have used vertical directories with great success. Sure, general directories that don’t send any visitors are dead, but I’d still go for a link from a highly regarded, niche-related, traffic-sending directory anytime.

    • David Wallace

      Niche directories can still be effective if as you say, they send actual traffic. Some of the main directories such as BOTW, Business,com, GoGuides, JoeAnt, Skaffe, etc., can be good for getting new sites indexed and gaining traction.

      • George

        You are right, some of the big directories have kept most of their ranking power, while others aren’t that effective anymore (Yahoo’s directory being one of them).

  • Neil

    I would completely agree that content marketing is a major part of what I call “clean” link building which is essential in the post penguin era. That being said though, I have seen, and continue to see paid links rank sites. Of course each case is different, meaning that more creativity is needed to be successful.

  • Lyuben Georgiev

    These are some very useful strategies for post-Penguin link building. For me the only thing that changed with the lastest GOogle updates is that I am looking to provide more qualityt in my content ,while decreasing the overall volume ofbacklinks. If you focus on quality rather than quantity, you can survive any update released by Google or any other search engine.