How to Get Links Without Trying

Home/Blogging, Website Marketing/How to Get Links Without Trying

How to Get Links Without Trying

“How to Get Links without Trying” or Organic Link Building

LinkbaitingLinkbaiting is a hot topic right now. However, one of the funniest definitions of creating linkbait was to “forget linkbait, think about the user first, and develop content for them.” Sounds noble enough, yet I find it extremely humorous. Mainly because of the language involved.

The word “linkbait” implies that someone would not have linked to you unless they were tricked into doing so. But in recommending that people develop content for users, without thought to the link benefit, the definition does not fit the word. Here is my concept of Organic Link Building:

Yes, good old fashioned face-to-face networking. Casual ConversationDeveloping those connections and contacts that you already have is the best source of both business and links. You can’t beat it for effectiveness, and it is what most business owners tend to do naturally. Unfortunately, this lost ability can also be one of the greatest assets to link building. The concept of networking was to build relationships in markets, similar and different, and also to find people that you like and trust enough to do business.

After a good networking event, you typically come away with a handful of business cards, a few names and faces in your memory, but you also have a few specific people that you know that you need to call and follow-up. This is where blogging has been such a boon to the networking and linking practices. Summarizing your experiences in networking is link building. It may be making a link in the personal sense, but it can be easily translated into website links.

I would suspect that many SEO professionals who preach linkbaiting can look at their incoming links increase after they speak at an event or even talk with people in a bar. I see this as well, most of the links that I receive after an event that I attended are based on conversations that I had with people. They recount those events and conversations in their blogs. I usually watch this with a little bit of smugness, as the links were results of our conversations, and not any sort of baiting. Conversation is an interesting and natural thing . . .and highly underrated.

Joining the Conversation
The guys at ClearSaleing understand this. New to the blogging world, they have posted some great content about PPC strategies. They’ve jumped into the conversation with both feet. In commenting on link building strategies, they focused on networking (online and offline), joining the conversation, and developing your own network through blogging and press releases. Especially interesting was the comment that the best link opportunities are usually from existing contacts. “These contacts will normally be the people who know you the best.” Sounds simple enough, but it does imply that one is out networking in the industry, making contacts and developing a network. Links don’t come to you if you aren’t active in the conversation.

Unless people know who you are and what you bring to the party, they won’t talk about you, ergo = no links. Bringing new data, a twist in something that is previously accepted, or a new perspective will go far in getting attention and engaging your peers in conversation.

Especially in the web marketing industry, the best conversations to get involved in are not in the boardroom. Most times, they aren’t even official. They usally take place in the hotel bars of conferences, impromptu (or barely formal) get-togethers, via IM or email, or coordinating travel schedules. Casual, relaxed conversations can be the greatest source of information, content and making contacts.
Philly SEO get-together
A great example of this was making a road trip to Philadelphia a few months ago (I happened to be in town while working with a client) and a great meeting of SEO’s took place. I got to meet new people and reconnect with old friends. The conversations that took place were more stimulating than most panel presentations at a conference.

The second concept is content.
Yes, I know, everyone preaches content in linkbaiting. However, content is organic – it grows when it connects with the right audience.

People always stress the “good” in content, as content is generic, but good content takes creative and skilled work to present. Good content is what makes people listen or read and stay attentive. However, good content can still be good, but not meet the needs of the audience. If the audience finds no need for the content at that time, or no personal benefit, then the content has little value.

This is where adding to the conversation can get you noticed. People notice good content, they pay attention to it because it is a new perspective, new data, or something interesting. When real, quality content is brought to the market, people take notice.

The value of content is in the relevance and context of presentation to the reader. The site visitor determines if the content is relevant to them. The visitor’s perception of value is based on the expectations they have coming to the website. If your site satisfies their expectations, you have engaged that visitor, hopefully to a level of action, such as a conversion or a link. Most times, however, you have a visitor that is satisfied with the answer to their question or makes them think.

The Best Link Building?
This part is purely my opinion based on my own data:
In reviewing my site analytics, I have found that the best visitors have come from contacts that I have made face-to-face, and resulted in an online link to my site. Sure, I have links that send a lot of visitors, but the most effective links have been from people that I met either as a result of networking or joining a conversation.

Dinner during NYC SES 07

However, more than just links, I’ve developed some very good friendships that started out as an email exchange which then developed into a very reliable and fulfilling friendship. I didn’t intend to get a link, but when people know that you are more interested in them rather than the link, they tend to be much more responsive.

Related Posts:
The Three C’s of Marketing: Revisited – Content, Context, Community
The Lost Art of Sales
10 Ways that Website Marketing is like Sales

About the Author:

Matt has taught Google employees how to understand and use Google Analytics, consulted with Experian on how to present data, developed online marketing training for both Proctor and Gamble and Johnson & Johnson and presented analytics methodologies to Disney, ABC & ESPN. As founder of SiteLogic, Matt teaches marketers how to create measurable and profitable strategic marketing plans.


  1. Pamela Slim April 25, 2007 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Great post Matt!

    I get so frustrated sometimes with the “I’ll link to you if you link to me” requests I get. I feel like a jerk if someone asks me to link to them and I don’t, but I am kind of picky about what I put on my blog, just to make sure that it really fits with my core message, and will be of real value to my readers.

    Your suggestions are right on, and point out that online relationship building is not that different than offline. I don’t imagine you would go up to someone you had never met at a party and ask them if they would promote your business … you would introduce yourself, get to know them, and, if the vibe felt right, want to continue the conversation later.

    Keep up the good work!

    And … thanks for the link! 😉


  2. April 26, 2007 at 4:41 am - Reply

    the best part is not trying hard but to try smart – and that knowing where to post and the context of the post.

    google sees them all and trust those who are natural and relevant to the topic an d the links that we make in and out.

  3. Baby Cachet April 26, 2007 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    Hey Matt – received your blog through Searchwatch newsletter. Good to
    see you again. Let’s see what I can recall from your Search & Analytic

    4 things to be a better analyst:
    1. time and attention
    2. pad and paper
    3. curiosity
    4. dual monitors

    Does that also apply to being a better link developer? I would add 5.
    open-mindedness, 6. network, network, network, and 7. passion. Passion
    to learn from others. And of course, never hurt to have dual monitors

    BTW, saw the chopsticks in your hand. I never did get the hang of
    using them with sushi, geez, I never get the hang of Wasabi!

    Looking forward to reading more of your articles.

  4. Dan Schawbel April 27, 2007 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    I’m convinced that it is all about networking in person and then referring them to your site.

    Good advice here though, much appreciated!

  5. Atlanta Fence Company June 1, 2008 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    Great advice. I am in a networking group in Georgia and it works well for me.

  6. Symptoms Of Pregnancy June 16, 2008 at 7:32 am - Reply

    Matt– Great advise.. Could expand by talking about how to find networking groups and also how about article marketing. You mentioned press releases but is article marketing just as effective?

  7. Atlanta Fence June 24, 2008 at 7:55 am - Reply

    Networking is indeed one of the best ways to build links. I am part of a network of over 100 fence contractors and that certainly has it’s advantages.

  8. Mike Tuttle July 2, 2008 at 11:48 pm - Reply

    Hey Matt,

    Thanks so much for the info. I do a lot of blogging in hopes to gain organic links in the near future and am always looking for some different techniques. I’ve been doing this now 4 months and until i took the time to read your content it never occurred to me that linking to others is that effective. I will be actively pursuing all my contacts and connections to link to me, my site, and all my blogs. TY

  9. Philadelphia Mattress Store March 19, 2009 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    Good advice, of all the many ways to obtain links and valuable visitors, I too have found that meeting people in person and actually talking about your website and what you do is much more effective. In marketing they always teach that word of mouth is the best form of advertisement. The same is true online.

  10. Raleigh Fence April 8, 2009 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    Just a comment on “linkbaiting”:

    I discovered linkbaiting by accident. When I first started blogging about the fence industry, it was hard to find other sites in my niche to read and engage in the conversations. So, I broadened my scope of reading into contractors in general and found some great sites to read and comment on.

    I decided one day while I was having a block of things to write about for fencing that I would write about other sites I like.

    I wrote the article, linking to specific articles. This is what I call linkbaiting and think of it as a more positive spin on the term.

    A couple of the bloggers I wrote about took notice of my site, I got a couple of “blogroll” links and have had return articles written mentioning my site.

    I wouldn’t call it a trick (I didn’t even know I was “linkbaiting”) but I built new relationships.

    Anyway, just thought I would throw that out there on the term linkbaiting.


  11. I agree that face to face networking is a requirement to build a great presence on-line. A lot of my contacts tell me they like my site, or agree with something that I wrote about. At least I know someone is reading this stuff!

  12. Atlanta Travel City Guide May 26, 2009 at 12:21 am - Reply

    I do a lot of blogging in hopes to gain organic links in the near future and am always looking for some different techniques. Your suggestions are right on, and point out that online relationship building is not that different than offline.

  13. save my marriage today June 24, 2009 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    You are so right about the networking part of link building, since the quality of the links you receive from a friend is so much more powerful than a self generated link and if a site owner have a readership and he sends you a link in the sidebar or in a post it will increase the chances tremendously that the readers do visit your site as appose to a link from a comment or forum etc. thanks for sharing.

  14. VPN Accounts July 10, 2009 at 2:04 am - Reply

    There is no doubt that link score is one of the most important factors the major search engines consider when determining where websites are ranked… The reasoning is simple: if you have many links pointing to your site from other sites, your content must contain quality, important information….

  15. Bedsides July 15, 2009 at 11:45 am - Reply

    Really nice post.. Thank you for explained about networking..Ya of course I agree with you people do business face to face its may old fashioned. But it only the secure way of doing the business In my point of view without contacting directly and contacting through only websites or through mobile and phones are not good..

  16. Bookcases July 17, 2009 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Giving useful information to readers is probably the best way to obtain fast and natural organic links… If it’s useful or cool enough, people will link to it… Link exchanges can be frustrating and very time consuming because you need to find the right sites to exchange links with plus the response may be little or nothing…

  17. cristian December 8, 2009 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Relationships must stand at the base of any link building campaign and the impact you make upon your community is directly proportional with the value you bring to the table, namely content.

    But isolated content doesn’t do no one any good. That’s why you must stand out and get involved. There isn’t really no coveted secret for building a quality back link portfolio.

    The simple act of staying active in your niche market is enough to dominate through both SEO and Viral Marketing.

    This is the reason why the post is absolutely valid.

    Regardless of your automation logistics, you simply can’t beat old face-to-face interaction.

    Here are some of my personal beliefs related to web connection:

    – make my link request emails personal;
    – never contact a potential link partner without a deep knowledge of his website you plan on getting a link on;
    – talk about the benefits your potential partner will enjoy from your future partnership.

    On the other hand, business calls for pragmatism and that’s the reason I tried, back on my blog, to formulate a profit oriented guide to building backlink partnerships. Take a look and see if this post contributes to your off page campaign in any way.

    Talk soon!

  18. Julie Holland December 12, 2009 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    My business model does not work for in-person link building, but content still draws them in like a magnet.

  19. Little Twig October 10, 2010 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    This is so true. Often it just takes the initial phone call to close the deal! Thanks for the great tips!

  20. Jonathan Dowell February 23, 2011 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the articles and all the comments. I am a newcomer to the internet marketing business and you guys are giving me all the good tips how to do it right.

Leave A Comment

five × one =

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons