Link Building Services for SEOs and Agencies w/ Adam Steele
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Link Building Services for SEOs and Agencies w/ Adam Steele

– Hey, this is Adam
Steele from and you are listening
to 100 Days of SEO. – What’s up, everybody? Welcome back to 100 Days of SEO.
My name is Brendan Hufford. I do SEO from everybody ranging from $90 million
venture-backed startups to local window washers. And today I have the
pleasure of sharing with you an interview that
I did with Adam Steele. Adam is very kind,
wonderfully Canadian and one of the most
badass link builders. He would never
describe himself that way but he is one of the
most badass link builders on the planet. If you look at who is
following Adam on Twitter, it’s not 10,000 people
or 100,000 people, but it is everybody smart in SEO when it comes to link building. They all follow Adam. So, I hope you
love this interview. You’ll definitely
learn something about advanced link building, huge mistakes that
beginners and advanced SEOs are making when it
comes to link building. Adam’s just a
wealth of knowledge. This is gonna
make you rethink a lot of what you’ve been taught and what you learned about SEO and that’s because
Adam has rethought a lot of what he’s
done for his agency Loganix in the past six months. So, I hope you enjoy. Let’s do it.
(whistles) Adam, thanks for
joining us for 100 Days of SEO. – Dude, thanks for having me.
It’s awesome. – Absolutely, man. So, I already did a brief intro and I guess I’m really curious, there’s so much in SEO. It can be so overwhelming for
somebody trying to learn it or trying to figure out, what’s my next step, what do I do first? And what I really
wanna kinda ask you about is how do you, what’s your framework
for thinking about SEO? If you wanted to help somebody, whether they have a new
website or an existing website, they wanna get more traffic
to their website from search. What do you prioritize? How do you think about SEO? – A lot of folks come to me,
to my team, Loganix, often times they’re agencies or they’re the
digital marketing manager at a brand of some sort, so they already have a
pretty good understanding of their onsite stuff. What they’re coming to me for is usually their offsite stuff, so be it link building
or citation building, GMB stuff, that kind of thing. So, the questions I typically
get revolve around that. I just try and look at the SERP and figure out
what is going on there and I’ll spend a bunch of time just looking at the
different competitors and seeing what is
it that they’re doing that we might be able to, to copy, essentially, which is, certainly,
nothing new. And on the local end I’ll just, kinda just look at
the top ranking GMBs. Are they surface
area businesses? Are they not? If they are
surface area businesses, are they hiding their address or are they choosing
not to hide their address? How many reviews do they have? I’ll look at the citation stuff even though it’s kinda a little
less important nowadays. And just kinda just go down
this list that doesn’t exist of different things
that might come to mind that might, we might be missing
or that we ought to, ought to do ourselves. And if it’s just a
purely organic issue, almost always I’ll
just start in Ahrefs. I’ll just punch the site,
their site in, I’ll punch say,
the top three, top five most likely competitors in and I’ll just kinda
try and figure out if, if we have any shot here and if we do, where, where best focus a budget? ‘Cause a lot of, when I get approached, almost
always there is a budget. There is a say, 2K or there is 5K or
10K a month or something. So, there is
sort of a set budget and I have to
take that and decide, do we have any chance here or should we walk
away from this fight and focus on a different SERP? I don’t know if
that answers your question but that’s sort
of how I approach it in sort of a very abstract way. – Yeah, well, I wanna move
on to something in a second but I did wanna pull,
I guess I’m just curious. Ahrefs was one of the first
sponsors of 100 Days of SEO. I’m an Ahrefs user.
Obviously, you are too. Where do you find the most, the tool can do a
lot of different things. Where do you find, what is the most valuable
part of that tool for you? Where do you find
a lot of value in it? – Yeah, I don’t
get too fancy with it. I’ve learned a
lot from other folks who’ve really
dug deep into Ahrefs but for me Site Explorer
is my bread and butter. So, I just I get in there and I’ll use every
little feature available to me to sort of dissect, usually, a competitor’s link profile and the type of links. So, was it, is it a comment link?
Is it a forum link? Is it a contextual link? So, what is sort
of the overall theme of the referring links? What is the theme of
the referring domains? Are they relevant?
Are they not relevant? Are they more general? So, I’m kind of looking
at that to get some sense of what do I have to do
to do as well as they are. Again, nothing particularly new. – Yeah, yeah. Good point.
I use it a lot too and I pullout
pretty much everything that’s along the left
sidebar I just play with endlessly and try to find. I like that they’re
starting to show internal links. They’re not
really always accurate but it’s cool too ’cause it’s such an
easy win for clients to be like, hey, we can get you these
links from other websites but you could also just link
to it from your own website ’cause we found these
three pieces of content that you’ve only
linked to in one place. So yeah, that’s super helpful. – ‘Cause it’s typically, it’s super old school. We’ve been doing
internal linking forever but I, it’s been my experience
among the websites I’ve seen, big and not big, internal linking is super,
super underutilized. – Yeah, especially if you have, what ends up
happening is people don’t, I think it’s really a
system of revising content. They never go
back and update stuff. So, imagine you’re this
huge venture backed startup and it’s just go, go, go,
go, go, fast, fast, speed, execute everything. You’re putting
out all this content and it’s all really good but you don’t go back to this killer article
you wrote awhile back and link to, you’re not going back
and linking to your new stuff from your old stuff and really having any
sort of thoughtfulness or at least what
I’ve experienced. For the most part
people just have an article. They link to the old stuff. Then they write a new article. I’m like off the camera. They write a new
article linked to the old stuff. Another new one
linked to the old stuff but it never goes
back the other way and I think it’s a
really big missed opportunity and it’s definitely a mistake
I see a lot of people make. When it comes to off-page SEO, we’ll focus on
that specifically, what are some of
the beginner mistakes that you see people making when it comes to
link building, guest posting, just all of the things
that make up off-page SEO. – I’ll touch on citations and I’ll touch on sort of more
traditional link building. Citation wise, I think
it was once upon a time drilled into our head that
it was super, super important to be 100% consistent. Have your name,
address, phone number 100% consistent
across all profiles. I think there’s a lot more
leeway than we know in that. You can do very, very well and
not be all that consistent. So, I think, I don’t know if
that’s a myth or what have you but I just think
there’s a lot more flexibility than we know there. As far as the
citations are concerned, it’s seems to me that, and when I say I
sorta seems to me it’s what I sorta
see in the wild looking at lots and lots
of these different SERPs, is that it’s not, citation building
is not something you need to obsess over. I usually tell my clients,
let’s get it done in month one, let’s get it over with and let’s pretty much
not return to it ever again. You just do it once
and if you do it right you really don’t
have to return to it. It doesn’t need to
be a monthly effort. You just don’t
need to obsess about it. And it seems
like there’s kind of, once you have say,
100, 125, 150 really, like anything beyond
that seems to have very small, small value, sort of diminishing
returns, if you will. So, it doesn’t just seem to be, aside from local based citations there doesn’t
seem to be that many sort of structured directory
style listings beyond that that are worthwhile. Ish, I would say. And the local citations, when
I talk about a local citation, I mean more of
a locally focused, you may be a
director based in Philadelphia that just does
Philadelphia based businesses. That would be a
structured local specific citation source or a place where you
can get your citation. Those are goldmines,
in my opinion. Those you could get a
little bit obsessive about but that’s also for
that referring link, as well, not just the citation itself. So, you can kind of
go down that rabbit hole and it’ll have much more value beyond just the citation itself. On the organic or
link building side of things, I think a common mistake, I come from the
link building world, so I have a somewhat
different view point, I suppose, ’cause it’s a lot of
what I do every single day, only what I do every single day. What I see is a lot of folks being very okay
with links from guest post sites or sites that accept guest
content or guest contributions that seem to have given
up on their own contributions and are now just
running this site for money generated from
taking these paid links. So, they may
post 10 times a month and of those 10 times,
eight of ’em are paid. And so, it’s like paid article,
paid article, paid article, their own article, paid article,
paid article, paid article. And it’s just looks to
me like such a fat footprint and it seems like
that could get people in a good bit of
hot soup down the road and yet it seems so
many are okay with that. So, I think that’s something
to watch out for down the road because it, I mean, if I
think it’s a footprint then goodness,
Google must know and see and be able to figure out that
this is an obvious footprint. So, I think that’s something
that kinda freaks me out a bit and I think maybe
should freak other people out just a bit more. – Yeah, I remember
when I started doing a lot of link building
a couple years ago for clients and even myself, we’re told to use the
search operators of like, do they have the
words “write for us” or “become a
contributor” or whatever and you find that
you get this big list and if you were like
me and you were broke you just used Gmail to reach out or if you have
more money you used, we’re fancy around here now, so we use Pitchbox. (Adam laughs) but you used
these tools or whatever. You reach out and I
think what you’re saying is also something I’ve seen, which is like, they look good. The metrics still look okay. If we look at secondary metrics, do they still have
good search traffic? Do they still, Ahrefs gives like
a traffic estimate, do they have a good close
trust flow and citation flow? Do they have a
good overall authority? And even if they
still have these things, you just can’t help but wonder,
how long’s that gonna last? They’re just, it’s just,–
– [Adam] You’re so spot on. – Yeah. And they
just degrade over time. How much does that link, it’s great that we
got it for a client or ourselves or
whatever we’re working on but if the only
place your guest posting is where everybody
is guest posting, those website
are gonna turn into, I remember, do you remember EzineArticles? – [Adam] Yeah.
– It’s kind of old school. I fell like
they’re gonna turn into EzineArticles real quick, where everybody in SEO found out you can just spam
the heck outta this thing and write 500 articles. It just turns into that.
It’s not really worth it. – You can’t stop at the metrics. That, I made that
mistake in previous years where I had a number of
different agencies come to me and say, I want
minimum of TF this, I want minimum of CF this, I want the TTF
to look like this, I want the DR to
be greater than this, et cetera, et cetera. and so, I basically,
took the list or many, many, many lists, we’re talking tens of thousands, well over 100,000 domains and basically, ran them through, basically, gathered
data via different APIs and scripts that
we built up over time and just sorted them and anything below
those metrics was cut off and then everything
else was good but it wasn’t good. This year we
started going through every single
one of those domains and this is super not scalable but super important, doing a manual review and looking at the
type of linking behavior that is going on on these sites, looking at the traffic growth or decline over
time as per Ahrefs and all those kinds of sort of things that are harder
to automate, I suppose. It’d be hard to automate,
I would think, to pull traffic growth or decline over time and then pull that
into a spreadsheet. I don’t know how the
hell you would do that. Or how many comments
on average these posts get or social activity
that these posts get or all those kinds of things. Are they linking out
to bad sort of sites, casino sites, loan sites,
all that kinda thing. How you automate
that is beyond me. So, we just
manually look at this stuff and it takes a
horribly long time but I think that’s
just being responsible, I would think. – Mhmmm. Tell me, what do
you think as far as, what about people
who know the game? So, people who
understand the value of links and understand, they have
a general understanding. This is something
I’m not dealing with but it’s a hurdle that I think
people will have to overcome that they have to actually
put themselves out there and build relationships. SEO is very much
about relationships and I think that’s
as it should be, right? There’s a human
behind every website and the more
that we want websites to be related to each other in the form of
links or whatever else, usually if you look
at somebody’s website and you look at
their back link profile, it’s most often if it’s a good,
honest website, not like a huge
company or anything but like a personal website, it’s just gonna be a list
of links to their friends, People they have
actual relationships with and in the SEO
For The Rest of Us, this course I launched
not that long ago, really teaching people of
like, you gotta email people. You gotta reach
out and make friends. And they’re like, really? And it like, yeah, it doesn’t
have to be some spammy, ugh, like terrible, you know. You get those emails
I’m sure all the time that are just requesting links or tryin’ to do whatever and it’s like,
nobody likes getting those but if you just reach out,
take your time and reach out like a
real genuine human, it works. It’s not super scalable but you do have to
form relationships. So, that’s kind of more on
the beginner side of things. What about advanced SEOs. Are there any mistakes? Obviously, people come to you to help them with this, even agencies and stuff. What are mistakes that
advanced people kind of make when they’re trying
to do it on their own? – With every
conference that I go to I kind of realize
how not advanced I am. – Yeah, I don’t
know anything anymore. – It’s frustrating how
little I actually know. I know just this little
tiny niche sliver of SEO. Fortunately, it’s kind of
a big thing, link building but still there’s just so much. I think if I had to
come up with something, which I do, and sort of taking
the theme that you were kind of riffing
about just a moment ago, I think more time could be spent offering value to these folks that
you’re reaching out to. So, an example, and I think I’m
stealing this from, shoot, I forget her name. She spoke at
Traffic Think Tank Live. I wanna say it’s
Nadia or something similar. – Mhmmm.
– She’s from Venngage. – Mhmmm. – So, if I’m
stealing this from her, please give her credit for it. But one of the things
we’ve started to do a lot is when we approach a
site we approach them with, hey, I did some, I recognize that your
business or your website is in this sort of niche, I did some keyword
research in the niche, I noticed that your competitors
tend to rank quite well for these particular terms, I think these terms have
a lot of commercial intent for the way that
you’re trying to monetize, I think I could write a
fantastic piece of content on this particular topic, here are the
keywords I would use, I would run it through something
like or whatever, do the TBI IDF and I would
really put some time into this and I think on the backend
of this you could earn say, 1,000, 1,500 more organic
visits every single month, should I be able to
do this right for you. So, coming from a place of value and having done
that research up front, the research
itself takes five minutes. It doesn’t
really take that long. Even just somebody who
knows their way around Ahrefs can be taught this. A virtual assistant
can be taught this, so it is scalable,
in my opinion. So, I think, yeah, coming from a place
of doing your homework and a place of this
may convert for you, I see how you’re monetizing, if we can bring this traffic in I think it might
mean money for you. That way, most times, you don’t
have to pay for those sites. You don’t have to
pay some contributor or you don’t have
to pay for somebody’s, their media kit fee
or what have you. – Yeah, absolutely. And I totally agree.
I think that the, it’s always about figuring
out what the industry is. ‘Cause I know that in
some industries I reached out and it was, we were doin’ a lot of outreach and things just
weren’t landing really well and I was like, I don’t
know what this is. And then we tried just
something real straight forward. It was in the digital marketing
online marketing space and we were like, hey, this is a link
request from a real person. And just put some
personality into it and we got a lot of response because people appreciated
that it was straightforward. It wasn’t some veiled, it was just, I would
like a link from you, here’s why I’m qualified,
you’ve probably heard of us kind of thing and that made
sense versus reaching out to construction websites
or something like that or even some
home improvement ones, where it’s like you
have to look at them and do like you said, a
couple seconds of research and be like, oh,
this is somebody who does have their
SEO game kind of on point. I can talk to
them about keywords versus another one where, you pitch one
website and you’re like, hey, here’s some keywords
and here’s this traffic and they’re like,
look I don’t really, are you sellin’ somethin’? And it gets confusing. It seems, you just have
oversold it, right? So, I don’t know but I do think
that there’s definitely, there’s definitely
something to that. Tell me when, with
the work that you’re doing with looking at
organics and stuff, tell me, I would love
to hear one of your, kind of as a last question, your biggest learning as
you went through your list and really audited it and not, pruned
isn’t the right word, but just you wanted to
really increase the quality of what you had there, what was some of your
big learnings from that? – I think pruned
isn’t the right word. I think it was
more like massacred. It went from
(Brendan laughs) it went from
something like 100,000 to I don’t know that
we’ve come up with 1,000 yet. I think we’re somewhere
in the 500 to 600, this is the same
list that everybody has. It’s the same list,
I won’t name names but you search
guest post service in, in Google right now, everybody on the first
page has the same list. They’re being
shopped to everybody. So, everybody has 50,000,
20,000, 100,000 sites. So, we just went
through that list and we decided
what we could automate and everything that was less than whatever
metrics was gone. So, now we had say, 10,000. And then we try to run a, create sort of a bot to
automate some of the stuff that we thought
would have to be manual. Got rid of a bunch more. I think I kind of spoke already to some of the
things that we noticed. It’s just how much
paid activity there was. Just an incredible
amount of buying links and no surprise. I mean,
everybody has these lists. These are the lists that are being
shopped around by brokers. I think one of the most, more interesting
things that I noticed is, and I suppose
it’s not a surprise or it wouldn’t
come as a surprise, is the more paid
activity that occurred, the more likely that when
I pulled them up in Ahrefs their traffic, their
organic traffic as per Ahrefs, which is an estimate at best, is going down, down, down, down,
down, down, down. It just seems the way it goes. Once they stop investing
in their own good content, they’re just getting SEO content or they’re just
getting inexpensive, $15.00 an article content and it does
nothing for their site. It just, I think it just waters
down their site overall because it’s not
written to rank for anything. It’s just some filler content that may make total sense. You read it, it’s like, oh,
yeah, that makes sense, but it doesn’t do
anything for the site. So again, sort of tying
back to my earlier point, bring value and not only will your next
link that you get from that site be more worthwhile but you’re more likely to get that second
link from that site because they
want to work with you. They say that you
delivered value last time. – [Brendan] Yeah, totally. This is something I’ve
been thinkin’ about lately. I’m wondering, I know I just keep
puttin’ it out there, is just this idea that, in the
past, when it came to links the idea was like, getting that
first link matters the most from a website and then everything
after that’s kind of like, diminishing returns. Like getting a
second, third, fourth link wasn’t really the priority,
so people would get a link and then they’d
go on to the next. And I think we’re, if we’re not
already in this day, I think we’re in the day soon where Google sees the importance
of two authority websites linking back and forth
to each other over time versus, oh, I got that
one link from whatever, insert authority website here, in 2013 and then they
never linked to me again. Google’s gonna be like, why haven’t they linked to you
in six years? That’s weird. If you guys were,
if they really had, if your websites
were really tied together with any sort of
sharing of authority, that should matter. And I think
what they’d wanna see is a link from my
website to Loganix and then you link to me and then we link to
each other in this month and then six months
later there’s another link. It just goes back
and forth over time and you see this like, you know like how
Facebook shows you this day in the
past kind of thing. You can see this
long relationship if we just look at the
back links back and forth. And I think it
becomes this point where we do want
that relationship, where I wanna link
from you or from anybody and then it’s like, but I also want that
second one and that third one and eventually you just
have a relationship with you. I know that sounds weird ’cause, I mean, I’ll speak for myself but I feel like we’re
all just a bunch of nerds and then you tell
people you gotta talk to people and everybody’s like, ah,
ew, I don’t know about that. So, you’re not a nerd. I’m a nerd. But it just, you know.
I don’t know. What do you think about that? Do you think
there’s anything there? – Yeah, I’m not sure, to
be totally honest with you. – Neither am I. (laughs) – [Adam] However, I think
if we were to look beyond just the SEO
value of that placement, if I had a bunch of
links coming from say, Mike Blumenthal’s website,, that would have more
than just an SEO value. People would be
following those links. So, potentially hearing
about me for the first time and potentially
buying some of my wares. As we’re looking, as you go down the rabbit hole
and get pickier and pickier about these websites,
what you find is these websites actually end up
sending you referral traffic and you didn’t
expect that because, for me, I come from a world where that really
didn’t matter too much. It was just about the ranking. Is it gonna help me rank? Because I’m concerned
about the traffic that’s gonna come from the SERP not the traffic that may
come from a referring domain. So, as you get pickier
you start seeing these, this referring traffic and in that case, yeah, relationships with these sites. Even, I told somebody
the other day, they said, they were asking
for some advice about building their own outreach team and they said, they wanted
supplement using you guys, and I said, well, what
you should do is as your, ’cause you’re an agency, as we’re doing this for you, as we’re supplementing and as
you’re building your own team, grab those domains
that I’m building for you or grab the domains
that I’m building for you, add those to your Rolodex and start reaching out to them and start building your
own relationship with them and eventually, you’ll
have your own contact there and then you can
use that same link for another client down the road should you have somebody who’s
also sort of a niche match. So yeah, I’m a big believer
in building that Rolodex. You never know when
it’s gonna come in handy and it’s worth a heck
of a lot, I would think. – Yeah, for sure. Adam, really
appreciate your time, man. Thanks for comin’
on 100 Days of SEO. – [Adam] It’s my pleasure.
It was a lot of fun. Thank you.
– Course.


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