Link Alchemy: Creative Ways Of Conjuring SEO Gold

OK, here for the link building session, always one of the key sessions of the conference.

Moderator: Christine Churchill, President, KeyRelevance

Q&A Moderator: Martin Macdonald, Head of SEO, OMD UK


Patrick Altoft, Director of Search, Branded3
Rob Millard, SEO Consultant, Distilled
Kelvin Newman, Creative Director, Site Visibility
Pete Wailes, Lead Digital Strategist, Strategy Internet Marketing

Patrick Altoft leads if off.

When Google said they were starting to care about Twitter & Facebook we were glad because we were already doing that.

People used to talk about the digg effect, but you needed to really go hot at the right time. Twitter is a lot bigger than that, and you can get a lot more traffic and links from it.

All of our link building is social in nature. We try to incentivize people, without paying them, to give us links in some way.

Need to make the link appear 100% natural.

If you have rights to some images, approach bloggers and offer your images with a credited link back. Uses Gizmodo as an example.

Linkbuilding via widgets

Great thing about widgets is that you can change them. We keep updating ours. We build competitions around our widgets. Each widget includes a link for viewers to put the widget on their own site.

Linkbuilding ideas:

  • Awards for top bloggers in your sector. Also give them a prize.
  • Product giveaways
  • Press releases & arranging coverage
  • Offering content to affiliate sites & blogs
  • Infographics

Every type of link baiting has been done before. You just have to do it better. Incentivize better.

[His focus has been mostly on incentivizing links. Higher affiliate rates. Contests.]

Just call the blog and say “what can we do for you?”

We offer to write the news story for some of the sites. We send out a press release. Then we don’t just sit back. We’ll write a story for 30-40 sites. And they’ll print them.

More info on

Next up is distilled’s Rob Millard:

e-mail sucks for outreach.

Twitter rocks for outreach. People love getting contacted from Twitter [It’s true]. People can easily check you out on Twitter. Can copy and paste into Excel and really analyze it.

Flatter your targets. Retweet, add to public list, interact.

Stalk your prey, with private lists.

Use hashtags:#HARO (Help A Reporter Out), #journorequest, #journalistrequest,  #PRfail, “guest post” keyword, “guest blog” keyword.

Use LinkedIn. It’s the corporate directory you wish every company had and it’s public. Get an intro from somebody connected to both of you if you can.

Use the phone [I wanted to try that technique but I couldn’t find the URL.].

Go offline. Meetups, conferences. Eventbrite, Events made easy, lanyrd. Find out who’s going. Tweet them before and offer to go for drinks afterwards.

Q&A, forums. [Shows Rand Fishkin on Quora].

Blog commenting. Every time you spam, G-d kills a kitten. But leave a great tip and maybe they’ll get in touch with you. Don’t put the link back to your site, use your Twitter profile.


  • Know who you’re targeting
  • Find people using tools
  • Be creative with searching
  • Build relationships

And now Kelvin Newman (@kelvinnewman) from SiteVisibility.

[References Mad Men. But he thinks it’s from the 60s. That’s OK, I’m off by centuries on most issues of British history & culture.]

Who would I want on my SEO team? This exercise can help us understand what we need from SEO.

  • Psychologist.
    • 3 things influence link building efforts.
      • Navel-gazing [with a disturbing image].
      • Habit.
      • What Rand Fishkin tells us to do
    • We’ve ignored psychology. People pick up on subtle cues. Experiment took 3 groups of people to unscramble words. 1st group was nice words. Then argument type words. And then neutral words. Then they became rude to the test taker. What they found was the people working on polite words only 18% interrupted. 64% of the people working on argumentative words interrupted. The words you choose influence people. Whenever I ask somebody to do something I ask for a favor.
  • Behavioural economist [apparently it has a u in London. Go figure]:
    • Read these books:
      • Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics.
      • Nudge. Small changes have big impacts
      • Predictably Irrational. If you can’t buy the  book, see his Ted Talk. Emotion plays a much bigger role in our decisions than we realize.
    • PR Guru. The Metro paper was filled with survey info. Do the same online. Understand what’s worked in the past. What survey results would people write about? Toluna is a great service for this. They do the surveys for you. You can get a survey of 250 people for about 30 quid. [Which is apparently some form of money.] Also see Daryl Wilcox’s journo database.

See for more.

And finally, Pete Wailes from Strategy Internet Marketing.

Pete’s company does Creative & Compelling Content Creation. You need to do that to get links.

[This guy talks fast, and I don’t say that about a lot of people]

Client field brainstorm

Think broad. Then do data mining. What do people in these areas talk about that I can create content around. Start queries like “How do I ..” and see what Google Instant comes up with.

Conceptualization. Come up with some basic concepts. Video answers, surveys …


How do we scale content creation? Wrong question.

Attract passionate users. Give them something about which they’re passionate.

And be remarkable. That is, be worth remarking about.

Read Hacker News.

From SEOMoz data, Facebook shares correlate best with SEO success. Doesn’t mean one leads to the other.

[OK, we’re done with the presentations. Wow, that was intense. Great session.]

Now the Q&A:

[Kelvin just put his presentation up at: Breaking out of the link building echo chamber.]

Patrick: Going viral is great. But most people are better off focusing on who they need and giving things that are useful to them.

Kelvin: People overestimate how many links they need. Focus on a smaller group from whom to get links.

Q: Twitter is great for active internet users. How do you reach others?

Pete: Check the WhoIs info. You may get a contact from there. You can get a bit … I hate to use the word subversive … call the receptionist and say you want to talk to the person in charge of marketing, etc., get their name, the Google them and find where they hang out online.

Q: Have you ever taken these tactics too far?

Kelvin: There was one this morning on Twitter. Top female sex offenders? That’s too far.

Pete: One company tried to copy somebody else’s widget and change the URLs. Don’t do that. You’ll get caught and it will be bad.

[General consensus on Twitter is that this was the best session yet. Very entertaining and informative speakers.]

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