The Royal Guide to Google Safe Link Building

Originally presented Thursday October 9th, 2014 at Pubcon Las Vegas

Slide #2 – KC Royals wallpaper image. (note I found this image here: )
At this point I began telling a story about the Kansas City Royals and what it was like being a KC Royals fan since birth. In short (you can read the history on Wikipedia here) The Royals and Kansas City baseball have a strange history. At point they were basically a pro level farm team for the Yankees. Then the owner of that team (called the Kansas City Athletics) got permission from the MLB to move them to Oakland where they are known as the Oakland Athletics to this day. This should explain the next two slides as well.

Slide #3 – Anchorman meme that basically says the Yankees suck.

Slide #4 – Oakland A’s Suck

Slide #5 – At this point in the presentation I concluded the reason why I covered the Royals history. You see, the Royals, until Ewing Kaufman may he rest in peace, were never intended to be a baseball team. They were just used by Yankees and rich people to further their baseball ambitions clear until the 1970s. And just like the Royals there are a lot of SEOs out there that are not actually interested in helping your small business rank better with link building, but rather more concerned about themselves making revenue.

This is where this slide comes in. What you are viewing is a real screenshot from my phone of emails that from Google Webmaster tools saying that sites are unreachable. There are far more sites, but these are all that I could fit in the presentation. This email address is from an agency that specializes in medical website development and SEO for small doctors offices around the country. They sell a “unique” template and website content to each doctor and then do “seo” which includes buying back links from link networks via the blackhat world forums. When a client takes a hit to their traffic and complains or simply wants to cancel their contract what they dont often realize is that this company then deletes their entire website and takes down the domain. Some of these doctors had gotten into blogging on their sites, but contractually that content then belonged to the agency so they took it down. They also kept the domain name, KEPT IT. That means if you were this agencies client for a few years but decided to go in a different direction, you would have to start from scratch. AND THIS IS COMMON PRACTICE in our industry. MANY agencies do very similar models.

The point of this slide was to be aware of what you’re getting into as a client and to beg / please agencies to be more upfront. Clients of this agency in question NEVER knew they were buying links and violating Google’s guidelines, they just got nailed one day and lost a ton of business.

Slide #6 – When Pierre Farr heard about my presentation he asked me to insert this slide as a sort of inside joke. This is, in reality, Google’s actual position right now. They want you to get links from natural efforts. The techniques I’ll outline in this deck are ways to take those natural efforts and amplify them to induce link building.

How To Do Link building Portion

Scholarship Link building

Slide #7 – Screenshot of Scholarship Management Services website
Scholarship Management is a division of Scholarship America, a nonprofit focused on expanding scholarship opportunities. This group is awesome. They will setup your scholarship, run it, reach out to their member universities, and get you applicants. Fees have been adjusting lately be you should anticipate about a $800 setup fee, $1,000 management fee, and whatever size of scholarship you want to offer per main semester (Fall and Spring). Their site is here:

Slide #8 – A screenshot of search showing the number of pages that might have listings of scholarships in Google. (hint it’s a lot). This search is a good way to find pages to target for links for your scholarship program: “external scholarships” inurl:edu

Slide #9 – An example of the MLB’s College Scholarship Program which helps many of the young players brought from overseas or out of high school get an education while they are in the minor leagues or are not highly paid. This was tossed in to complete the “Royals” theme of the presentation, and yes I get that it’s a bit of a stretch but it’s related ok!

Slide #10 – A cat that graduated (it was supposed to get laughs, it did not… sad face)

Slide #11 – How to do Scholarship Link Building
1. Setup the Scholarship via Scholarship Management (website here: )
2. Create a page on your website describing the scholarship
3. Find targets on EDU sites (or any sites that discuss Scholarships or student finances)
4. Get listed in scholarship directories and search engines (not on EDU domains)
5. Use scholarship related content to drive new links (i.e. have your applicants write an essay, pick a winner, publish the essay, make a big deal out of it. maybe have a website with all of the selected essays published) yes this will take work! Link Building should take work!

p.s. yes it is possible to start a scholarship, get links to our page, then shut it down after only a year. But those pages will get reported by upset students, they will come down over time and you’ll lose all of that value. – also I dont know you, but you might be a terrible person for thinking of that.

Interview Linkbuidling

A great way to build links is to interview experts in your field or a related field on your blog or to do interviews. This works like: You interview expert on your blog -> You send them the link to the interview -> They tweet out said link / post it to their facebook / et al… -> You use their name and expertise to drive links.

Slide #12 – Ned Yoast (manager of the KC Royals) doing a post game interview

Slide #13 – A screenshot of Open Site Explorer showing links to a page where someone interviewed an expert on something.

Slide #14 – This slide tells you to go to this an email list full of experts waiting to get interviewed and sign up, find experts, and do interviews. Awesome resource if I don’t say so myself*

Slide #15 – Screenshot of

Slide #16 – Screenshot of MyBlogU’s Group Interview feature

Slide #17 – Eric Hosmer doing an interview (I tried to make a joke on the slide and it failed, oy)

Slide #18 – How to do Interview Link Building
1. Join
2. Seek out an expert to interview either by requesting one or by scanning the email for experts
3. Write up some ideas on for questions you’ll want to talk about and let the person you’re interviewing know your rough idea of how the interview will go so they know what to expect.
4. Once you’re done with the interview publish it, then ask them to post it to their social media
5. Use that interview to highlight that you are a go to for this sort of information

Photo Credit Link Building

This is a link building strategy where you use your own original photos and images to drive links to your site. Proper citation for usage of a photo always includes a link back to the page where the photo was found displayed and many journalists will provide proper citation without being prompted and most will do so when it is requested of them. In this section I give an overview of how to identify what images to make and how to get links to them.

Slide #19 – A photo of the Kansas City Royals baseball team taken just after they won the Wildcard game against the Oakland A’s. Note the photo credit in the lower left hand corner. It is indeed text overlayed on the image, but does not link to anything. A great target for John Sleezer or the KC Star to get a link.

Slide #20 – A screenshot of Google Images showing the search suggest waterfall of image search results for “Kansas City Royals”. This is one way to see types of images to create that are related to your target keyword.

Slide #21 – Another way to find targets for your image creation is to use This site scrapes Google suggest and allows you to query it. Since Google’s suggest is based largely on what people are actually searching for this is a good place to start. Make sure you type in only the base query (in this example Kansas City Royals) and then select “Images” from the drop down. Once you’ve gotten your list click on “Select All Keywords”. Then take that list of keywords and go to Google Adwords Keyword tool and select “Get search volume for a list of keywords and group them into ad groups”. Paste the keywords here and run the report

Slide #22 – Screenshot of Google Adwords Keyword tool after keywords are pasted.

Slide #23 – It’s not just Google image search. If you play your cards right your image might show up in normal Google search. Like this search that shows images for Desktop backgrounds.

Slide #24 – A funny image of the KC Royals mascot holding up a sign for a dog visiting Kaufman Stadium.

Slide #25 – A funny image used as content on Facebook. This time using the Texas Rangers (a different baseball team)

Slide #26 – How to do Photo Credit Link Buidling
1. Use set to “Images” and type in the base query.
2. Take the list of all applicable keywords and put them in Google Adwords Keyword Planner under “get search volume for a list of keywords or group them into ad groups”
3. Sort by search volume and find image keywords that match content you’re creating such as blog posts, articles, product pages, etc..
4. Find image queries that currently don’t have a lot of good results
5. Make the images and publish them on your site with Alt and Title tags.
6. Do reverse image searches at least once per month to find new websites that have used your image and ask for a “photo credit” with a link to the original article.

Creative Laboratory Link Building

A creative laboratory is where you mix technology, programming, graphics, and videos to create fantasies that gain attention. A lot like car manufacturers are constantly unveiling cutting edge vehicles that often never enter production.

Slide #27 – Picture of Eric Hosmer and quote about what he dreamt of as a kid

Slide #28 – A picture of the meth lab on Breaking Bad

Slide #29 – The purpose of the Creative Lab is to find neat things you can do that would get people’s attention and gain links. One such thing in recent memory was using Drones for delivery. Amazon did it, but they weren’t the first. Dominos beat Amazon to the punch on June 4th, 2013. Both got great mileage out of their programs, and all they did was build a drone and say “hey we WANT to deliver with these things”. And oh boy did they get links too.

Official Website: 0 Root Domains (no page)
Official YouTube Video: 102 Root Domains
Google News: 750 articles
Top News Site 1: 89 Root Domains (CNN Money)
Top News Site 2: 12 Root Domains (US News)

Amazon Air
Official Website: 1,759 Root Domains
Official YouTube Video: 442 Root Domains
Google News: 13,300 articles
Top News Site 1: 470 Root Domains (CBS News)
Top News Site 2: 88 Root Domains (Mashable)

Slide #30 – A screenshot of links to Amazon’s Drone Delivery page

Slide #31 – A screenshot of drones for sale on Google shopping. This slide is to reiterate how cost effective a creative lab can be. A small business could have thought of Drone Delivery, then made a video showing how they “MIGHT” do it for as little as a few hundred bucks for a drone, some stickers, and someone to edit the video you shot on your smartphone.

Slide #32 – A screenshot of Trulia’s Google Glass App. This was just a concept before Trulia actually released the app as a teaser for it.

Slide #33 – A screenshot showing how many mentions Trulia’s app has in Google

Slide #34 – You can keep track of what’s hot in new technology over on Kickstarter’s Technology page. In this example we see hoverboards, Internet of Things in-home tech, and a music device for old school cassette tapes.

Slide #35 – How To Do Creative Laboratory Link Building
1. Scan technology sites like Kickstarter and to se what people are talking about.
2. Come up with ways you can align your brand with the new technology.
3. Create concept videos and artist interpretation images that are done in nice quality.
4. Publish the content on it’s own page and write a blog post about it.
5. Spread via social media and a press release.
6. Scan internet for mentions of creative concept project and make sure those articles are linking to the page about it (most will naturally) or to your home page (which is a good plus).

Reddit Link Building

Slide #36 – Reddit’s logo

Slide #37 – Screenshot of a news article announcing Google has decided to include Reddit as news sources.

Slide #38 – Reddit shakes up their ‘default’ list of ‘sub-reddits’ every year. However, this year they didn’t just drop one or two and add a few new ones, they expanded the set of default sub-reddits by doubling from 25 to 50. This expansion brought a lot of new types of content into the default front page including; graphs and charts (/r/dataisbeautiful), pictures of landscapes (/r/earthporn), single purpose websites / web tools / unique services (/r/internetisbeautiful), futuristic projections (/r/futurology).

There are lots of ways to find how your brand, product, or service can related to these types of content. For example, if you’re in the shipping industry you might write something up about how your company is preparing for drone deliveries and submit it to /r/futurology or maybe publish a pie chart that shows what percentage of packages shipped could likely be carried by a small drone instead of a big truck and submit it to /r/dataisbeautiful.

Slide #39 – How To Do Reddit Link Building
1. Look at the types of content shared on any of hte new default sub-reddits
2. Create content that matches that sub-reddit and target reddit users to share the content on your behalf. (or self-submit if allowed)
3. One your content is shared, joing in the conversation about the content.
4. Encourage upvotes on your content by sharing it in other social media.
5. Consider using Reddit ads to target a sub-reddit with thank you’s, special discounts, etc.. for sharing and liking your content.


Here I discussed the recent SEO code of ethics talks and how those pertain to link building. Recapping my earlier story about link buying

Slide #40 – This is a black slide to represent black hats

Slide #41 – This is a white slide to represent white hats

Slide #42 – Instead I asked by fellow SEOs to be H.A.T. Honest, Authentic, and Transparent

Slide #43 – And that folks is how you #TakeTheCrown like the Kansas City Royals when it comes to link building

Slide #44 – My link building guideliness
– Be Unique
– Be Helpful
– Be Authoritative
– Be Brave
– Be Creative
– Be Patient
– Be HAT
– and lastly… BE ROYAL

Slide #45 – a picture of musician Lorde holding up a sign George Brett jersey

Slide #46 – LETS GO ROYALS!

Slide #47 – Recources list:

Scholarship Management – –
MyBlogU –
UberSuggest – –
Keyword Finder –
Reddit’s new default sub-reddit announcement for 2014 –

Slide #48 – ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!? (The End)