66. David Farkas The Upper Ranks, Essential Link Building Strategies for Your Law Firm

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David Farkas is the founder and CEO of The Upper Ranks. Specializing in link building, David and his company have been helping clients rank higher and level up their SEO game for over ten years through custom link building strategies.

In this episode, David tells us how he went from SEO enthusiast to link building expert, and he shares with us some of the best link building tips, tricks and insights hes picked up along the way. He also details why link building is an essential part of your SEO strategy, what you should look out for in a good backlink, and why you shouldnt trust unsolicited emails from SEO experts about the quality of your links.

Transcript

Chris Dreyer

Many lawyers start out in one area of the law and somewhere down the road, they find something else that catches their attention, that they simply can’t help, but niche into. And even though my guest today, isn’t a lawyer that experience of stumbling into a specialty that ends up becoming the focus of your work is something he can definitely relate to.

David Farkas

When we initially started, we were offering more of a general SEO services, and, um, you know, doing different aspects of onsite as well as link-building. And then over the past eight years, we really narrowed our focus and, you know, have really honed into link-building. It was the part that I personally really enjoyed and appreciated. Um, and it was something that I was able to connect with and the creativity and everything that goes into that aspect. And, uh, yeah, haven’t turned back since.

Chris Dreyer

My guest today is David Farkas, founder and CEO of The Upper Ranks. For nearly 10 years, David and his company have worked with clients of every size, from huge brands to small in-house SEO teams to help them increase their presence and climb rankings through savvy link building strategies. Join us as David gives us a masterclass in link-building techniques and reveals why a great website on its own isn’t enough, how you can handle toxic links, and what the role of directories and PBNs are in the world of modern SEO. That’s coming up on The Rankings Podcast, the show where founders, entrepreneurs, and elite personal injury attorneys share their inspiring stories about what they did to get to the top and what keeps them there. I’m Chris Dreyer, stay with us. Back in the early days of Google, links were a cornerstone in how results were categorized and ranked. I wanted to ask David, why in the modern world of SEO is link building still an important part of your strategy?

David Farkas

That has always more or less been one of the primary signals that Google relies on as sort of giving a site, um, credibility. Um, they look for links. It’s kind of like a vote and it’s the way how, you know, different parts of the internet from different parts of the world could connect and that could all come together and, um, it’s, you know, always been such an important factor and a major, major ranking factor. The game has changed more recently. Um, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of links and how it’s a core, uh, ranking necessity for anyone that really wants to be relevant in a competitive niche.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, and I, I couldn’t agree more. You know, Google wants you to write content and they think that people are going to just visit your site and kind of Field of Dreams style – if you build it, they will come. But the reality is that’s just not true, particularly in the legal vertical, you have to be very intentional about link building.

David Farkas

Yeah, a hundred percent. And you know, that attitude where you just have a great website and, you know, just watch the leads come in. Um, you know, every correlation study has proven that that’s not really going to get you very far. And the more that you put your name out there, and the more that people are talking about you, and like what you’re saying, the more you create great content on your site, which is necessary as well. So, you know, those are the signals that you’re really going to need if you want to be a player in a competitive niche, like you said, like the legal niche. Maybe you could get by, like in some local, small industry and you could get by with very few links. Uh, but when you’re dealing with anything, which has some level of competitiveness, you’re definitely going to have to bring a lot more to the table than just a great website.

Chris Dreyer

A hundred percent agree. So let’s, let’s toss the softball out here because if I asked this question to 99 SEO specialists, you’re going to get a bunch of different answers. What makes a great link? You know, is it organic traffic? Is it relevancy? What in your eyes makes a great backlink?

David Farkas

I’d say that there are a number of different factors, um, when you’re trying to evaluate the quality of a link. Number one is, like the website that’s linking to you. So that website, is that a credible website, um, does that website have traffic? That’s something which is pretty basic, you know, you want to make sure that the website has a pulse. Um, and then I’d also look around that website. Does that website have any sort of editorial standards? And of course you want high editorial standards. Or do they just let any sort of content on their site, even low quality? And then of course, relevance is a major factor as well. So that’s the first thing that I’d say is looking at the linking website that’s linking to you. But I feel like these days, Google has gotten more advanced than that, and that’s not enough. Um, and they’re looking at other things as well. So besides for the website that’s linking to, what are they linking to on your website? Are they linking to a great piece of content or are they just linking to like your services page or your money page or, or things of that nature? Because I feel that Google has come a long way and they’re much more advanced. And a lot better at recognizing what sort of content is actually link-worthy and merits having someone link to it from their site. And that’s why, when you think about link building these days, you also really have to take into account like your onsite strategy and how you’re going to provide for your users, meaningful content. So basically what I’m trying to say is that it’s not just good enough to just look at it from an external point of view. You also have to look where the links are pointing on your site. So when the site that’s linking to you is linking to, a quality piece of content, then those two things like compliment each other. And then that link has a lot more effectiveness. And the third thing that I’d probably look at when I’m thinking about what makes a link, good is also looking at it from the perspective of the user. So if they’re on the site and they’re linking on that link, that links to your site – are they going to be pleased when they end up on the other end of that link? And on the other side, on your site, are you actually, again, are you providing something valuable or are you just trying to have some sort of sales pitch and you were able to crank in a link and stuff went into this site? So those were more or less the three things that I’d look at the most obvious is the linking website then perhaps maybe less obvious is where are they linking to on your site. And then also, you know, from the user standpoint, you definitely don’t want to let them down. You want to come through if you’re, you know, if they trusted you and they’re clicking on the link, you know, you, you don’t want to fail them and send them to someone’s money page where you’re trying to sell them a service. So those are a few things that I take into consideration.

Chris Dreyer

Well, I think that’s great. And I think that’s different than what many individuals have been told or have heard, because, you know, we did a study recently where we looked at 113,000 personal injury sites and we looked at the top directories, like FindLaw and what was interesting is it aligns completely with what you’re saying. FindLaw itself has a whole bunch of links to the root domain and to their law pages and pages that have been sourced by the media, but the actual directories themselves, those sales pages, don’t have hardly any links at all, but yet they still rank really well. So it aligns with what you’re saying in terms of relevancy.

David Farkas

And Google is able to look at that website and they’re able to categorize the site itself and they understand site structure much better, and they own the understand what money pages are and what sort of content you’re creating as a means to provide meaningful and helpful and educational information. So they could take care of that on their own. You have to focus in on having a solid site and then building links to the pieces of content that actually merit having links, as opposed to just trying to shoehorn your links and get them to pages that really don’t make any sense that someone would really want to link to. So definitely I see that Google is taking sort of the external SEO and the internal SEO, and they’re kind of bridging the gap and they’re trying to see how these things could connect even in a more essential way and where these two pieces of content are actually talking to each other and complimenting each other, as opposed to, you know, it’s just the one-sided thing and external link is just pointing to a few, but really it doesn’t add up.

Chris Dreyer

I love all that and completely agree. They’re becoming more advanced and they’re looking at multiple factors and as we all know that UX and the core vitals and the importance there and… Uh, let me ask you a question and this has been, and this is more for an awareness type of thing. You know, back in the day, you could write a 500 word article and it might rank there wasn’t a ton of competition. It would get crawled and the competition has really increased the requirements for word count on, on ranking content – you’re looking at these long form pieces of content for, you know, um, pages that have, you know, short phrases and then long-tail phrases can still be shorter content. But, as it pertains to link building, let’s say a site that has high authority that everyone knows like a DR80 or DA80, something high, but the content on that site is maybe 300 words. Is that still going to pass equity and authority back to the other site? Or is it just not going to get crawled and it doesn’t even matter?

David Farkas

So I think that if you’re having a link from a site, which is a high DA or a high authority site, I think that it’s possible that that goes a long way. But again, that’s just looking at it in a very black and white type of a, um, approach. But if let’s say the link is coming from a high authority site, but it’s on a very weak piece of content or the content is not relevant, Google’s going to take everything into account. Then they don’t just look at authority, blindly. But they take the whole picture and they want to take in the topical relevance as well. So if you’re going to have a link from a higher authority site, but nothing else makes sense and nothing else adds up – so that’s certainly going to diminish your returns. And I don’t see that having as good of an effect as something on a lower authority site. But, you know, the article is rich and it’s a strong article and it relates very well to your site. So you really have to kind of take everything into account, but yeah, if you’re just trying to get away, like, the easy, cheap way, and somehow you figured out how to get a link on a DR80 plus, but once you got that link, you just decided to write a 300 weak article, so you, you kind of lost out over there. You know, you lost the great opportunity and that’s a, you know, very weak on the content side. So just a few things to keep in mind.

Chris Dreyer

I love all that. And I think that’s a great piece of advice when you get those opportunities to really take hold of them. And, and maximize those opportunities. You know, one of the things that drives me absolutely insane is, is for every attorney listening – I’m sure you’ve been bombarded by emails that they start out and say, “Hey, you have a hundred toxic links. You need to remove these toxic links before you can rank.” And then I look at the, the prospect site and they’ve got 200 links total, you know, they don’t have hardly any links. So kind of, what’s your, what’s your thoughts on toxic links? The disavow file. What’s your just overall thought on, on that?

David Farkas

So, first of all, my overall thought is, is that any unsolicited email from some SEO company usually is a red flag, so exercise caution because, um, you know, for the most part, people that are offering services like you, um, will find you in a natural way because of the great information that you provide. So as far as the disavow file and like toxic links – this has kind of gone through a metamorphosis about over the past few years, Google has definitely moved in the direction where they say, and they claim that if they’re bad links, for the most part, they’re going to ignore them. And they, they basically the value them. I was once in a webinar, I think it was an SEO web. And I think it was with the John Mueller. Um, and there was a guy that was actually discussing how he deals with his disavow file. And his sole job for this company was updating their disavow file and he had to update it a few times a day. Then I was just like blown away that, um, that there could be someone that’s devoted his entire, you know, 40 hours a week towards, you know, just feeling toxic links that, that kind of blew me away. But the thing is like I was saying that these days, Google actually, um, you know, they say that they devalue it. So for the most part, you could completely ignore it. But with that said, I believe that it’s not always a hundred percent black and white and it’s not clear cut. And, um, you know, of course we like to think that they’re, that they’re ignoring bad links, but I’m sure there are exceptions. And I think that what you have to do is take the overall picture into account when it comes to these things. Um, so like one exception is obviously if you’re dealing with some sort of a penalty, you know, you’re going to want to look at everything and then if you have bad links, you know, you’ll probably just want to take care of it just to make sure, like you’re doing everything that you could, um, to help your site. But even if you’re not dealing with the penalty, I guess the only time that I’d be concerned. Is in a case where there was like tremendously high percentage of bad links. And, you know, the type of links that when I look at they give off the strong impression that someone is trying to gain the system or be money manipulative – then that’s something that maybe I would want to look at. And like I said, it’s not a decision I’d make on my own. I’d consult an expert and then maybe I’d sort of maybe think about the disavow as sort of a preventative measure, just to preempt any sort of future penalty. But in general, like what you said, the normal case, the guy has 200 links and you know, he’s got a few, um, links that look a little fishy or they’re not the highest quality, for the most part in general, Google’s ignoring those. And it’s something that I would completely ignore. I wouldn’t worry at all. And I’d focus all my attention on a very forward-thinking attitude and just try to think how I can build great links going forward. And wouldn’t worry about the, about the rotten apples.

Chris Dreyer

I think that’s a mini lesson in itself right there on the disavow file. And I completely agree with all of that, even to the extent that, where you said, and I completely agree where they’re devaluing and kind of ignoring these bad links where, I think it’s almost, just from my mindset, a scarcity versus abundance mindset. Okay. So you’re not ranking. So you’re going to remove your only links you have. That’s the wrong mindset. Okay. Just go get good links. Do the tactics to obtain good links. And, and then, then your overall percentage of quality links will be higher. Google will recognize that you’re a good site doing the right thing. And so I think that when I see that and I hear occasionally, our clients will say, Hey, I’ve got these, I’m hitting, getting hit with negative SEO. I’m like, well, are you? And how do I even know? Or how does anyone know other than Google, if even those links are bad?

David Farkas

A hundred percent then if it’s not broken, don’t fix them. You mess with the disavow file and you can end up really shooting yourself in the foot because you don’t know what’s helping you and you don’t know what’s considered natural and what’s normal part of the backlink profile. And there, there are just some links that everyone’s going to have, you know, that like 20% of links that, you know, You you, you don’t really care about, but they don’t provide any value. And for the most part, I completely ignore those and wouldn’t pay any attention. You really have to take the whole picture into account. So, you know, if someone is looking at their backlink profile and they have like 90% using, you know, the same anchor text of, uh, you know, local, a lawyer. So something like that, like would maybe concern me because that maybe gives off sort of the impression that you’re trying to game the system, but those low quality links, they may not even be indexing Google. Like I would say, show me one bad link and I just take that link and pop it into Google. And for the most part, Google doesn’t even index those pages. They’re so low value.

Chris Dreyer

Right? A hundred percent agree. Let’s let’s transition over to let’s let’s kind of do rapid fire. Just overview of specific link building tactics that are available to attorneys because every everyone listening is probably like, yeah, we understand this is great. You need to have links, but how do we obtain them? So first let’s talk about directories. You know, what’s, what’s their level of importance. Are they important? What’s your overall thought about directories?

David Farkas

For the most part, um, any, you know, back when profile is going to have foundational links. And what I mean by that is like just, just the basics. Um, just the normal, um, um, you know, and they’re within that natural backlink profile, you don’t even have nofollow links, which I think are also important. So that’s just a normal, healthy background profile. Um, And as far as like SEO benefit, although it may not be driving that, in a direct way, rankings. Um, I think that they do play an important role. And I definitely think that it’s something that you should take seriously and that you should do. And, um, you know, if, if let’s say just, you know, you, you ignore that completely and you just ignore the basic, you know, yellow pages, Yelp, and all those lists things on citations. I think that probably the website that didn’t ignore that and that. You know, was, was, you know, taking care of their citations and had those all in order, I think would be ahead of everything else. So that’s certainly something that I take care of and that’s more from like a foundational point point of view. So that’s for sure my, my basic approach. Now, one kind of a tip that I like to recommend when we’re talking about citations is that most SEOs are focused on like the basic citations when you’re dealing with the national names, you know, the big players, the names that everyone’s heard of, the type of citations that, you know, you could get when you use a service like Yext and things like of that nature. And that’s, that’s sort of the, the regular approach that SEOs take. And I don’t think anyone should overlook those and you should definitely have those. But if, when you’re talking about competitive niches, um, such as like the legal niche and local things, I think that there’s a lot more you could do on the citation front and, um, things that you could think out of the box that you could really kind of distinguish yourself from your competitors. And what I mean by that is, is that instead of just thinking about the national players, which you should do, but think outside of the national players and try to think, um, even more relevant and maybe more aggressive where it’s like, think about niche directories. What about your local city? What about your local town? That’s something that probably your competitors never thought of and that never considered. And I believe that those would send super strong signals to Google. And you know, about your location. Um, The other thing that I’d recommend. And this is like, if you really want to go for the gold and really like create distance between you and your competitors is, I take the whole citations, directories things to a whole new level and look around for associations for business associations. So every area is going to have it, whether you’re in Chicago, Illinois, whether you’re in Lakewood, New Jersey, you could do simple Google searches and you could do associations, business associations or professional service associations. And this is like a totally new way of thinking of things or a different way than most people think when they think citations. When you become a part of an association, it’s not just simply a listing, which is good, but it’s much more than that. You actually becoming a member and you’re joining a community of local vendors. Um, and a lot of these associations are going to have fees associated with it. Um, but you know, you’re not paying for a link. That’s not what you’re paying for it. They probably don’t even know what link-building is. Um, you’re paying to be a part of a group of local vendors and the community sharing sources and things like that. And the link is just happens to be the icing on the cake, these type of local signals that you get from, from these sort of associations and niche directories and things like that will send super strong levels of credibility and just further and higher degrees of authority to your company and your website and, you know, things that your competitors aren’t even talking about. Things that, you know, probably we wouldn’t even be talking about, uh, on a normal basis in a normal podcast. So it’s just an awesome opportunity and it’s simple and it will help your rankings like crazy. And, um, it will give you a lot of distance between you and your competitors and, you know, this will really give you the win in my opinion.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. And one of the first things that I do are the chamber of commerce for cities. I think it’s a huge advantage. And I think that particularly in the personal injury, vertical, doing your foundational directory sets – you have to do that. If you don’t get that, you’re losing out. And I think what you’re talking about is creating like a gap of, of other of other directories that are a little bit harder to obtain. They take just a little bit more effort. You got to, you got to look at a niche level, you know, for those legal specific sites, or you got to look at a geographic level for those associations or chambers. And I think those little additional 1% efforts into these types of links are what really helps an individual stand out in the local three pack.

David Farkas

A hundred percent. I mean, I totally agree with that. If you really want to distinguish yourself in the local pack, that’s, that’s a good place to start.

Chris Dreyer

Since 2012, Google’s penguin algorithm really clamped down on a lot of bad practices and black hat techniques in the world of SEO. Things like PBNs and just guest posting for guest postings sake werr once staple techniques. But now they’ve been pushed in the region of gray hat or maybe even black hat. And in some cases, those techniques can even get you penalized. So I had to ask the SEO expert. What he thought about these techniques, particularly starting with guest posting and blogger outreach.

David Farkas

So, um, I’ve heard distinctions, nitty-gritty distinctions over the years between those terms. Um, for the most part, I think they’re all very, very similar concepts where you have a contextual, you know, link within a relevant piece of content. Um, and whether you’re referring to it as one or the other, um, I’d venture to say that it’s 99% semantics and 1% splitting hairs. So not sure if that’s something that SEO companies are using now as part of like their sales pitch. But I honestly don’t believe that because one link is called a guest post versus being called a blogger outreach or, um, you know, versus being called, um, content link-building – somehow it’s going to be more effective and like, you know, you’re going to get better results. I don’t I definitely don’t believe in anything to that effect because at the end of the day, the sole thing that’s going to define the effectiveness of a link is going to be a hundred percent decided based on the quality of the website and some of the things like we, we discussed earlier, those different factors that make up a good link and the relevancy, and it’s going to have a hundred percent to do with that and absolutely nothing to do with the terminology is to describe it.

Chris Dreyer

A hundred percent agree. Okay. So I’ve got to follow up on that. Where would you place PBNs in that context? And I’ll kind of, I’ll lead out of the gates here. For those listening, you know, a private blog network, everyone shudders when they’re hear that term. But what if the private blog network, the actual site that was created, is actually super high quality and has great content? Is, is that something different or is it still just taboo and you should avoid it at all costs?

David Farkas

Right. So I think the way that you’re describing the PBN, where it has great content and everything’s good about it. Um, I think that a lot of times when people use the terminology PBN. Um, they kind of think of like a network of sites that are all working together and, um, and where, you know, if one will get penalized, the other one could, and like, you know, Google’s busted like these networks and things of that nature. And basically all of the sites were created solely for the purpose of propping up SEO effort. So when you’re talking in PBMs and those terms, um, it’s certainly not worth it to risk if you have any sort of website that you care about and that you want to wake up tomorrow morning and not have to think that your site’s going to be off of the face of the earth. So it’s certainly not worth it. But if you have someone that, you know, he, he calls it a PBN, I mean, I don’t know if he has a few different sites and really these two sites have nothing to do with each other, and everything about the site, you know, he has quality, um, um, guidelines and standards and, um, you know, everything else meets up. So the fact that he calls it a PBN, I’m not really sure what, what, what would, um, what would make that a PBN if everything else is good. But I think for the most part, when people think PBNs, they think simply, someone created a bunch of fake sites with no real purpose other than to prop up your SEO. And, um, if you’re looking to get engaged in that, you know, you better think twice it’s seems totally not worth it. To have to try to start from scratch with a new URL. You know, you’re probably better off just doing nothing.

Chris Dreyer

I completely a hundred percent agree with both examples you gave there: one being the complete network you want to avoid that. And then the other could be, it could be a good site and maybe they’re the nomenclature’s off there. And I think that the nomenclature in itself is an interesting conversation that we could go down a rabbit hole where when SEOs, when they’re doing negative based selling, they’ll say, Hey, that firms using PBNs. It’s kind of a pet peeve. It’s it’s just semantics. It’s is the site good? And does it provide value? Is it relevant or not?

David Farkas

A hundred percent. And you know what they say, that when you put your finger at someone they’re four fingers pointing back at you. So if someone’s just looking at everyone else, and for the most part, I’ve seen that it’s very easy to try to be critical and call other people’s work by names and stuff like that. But at the end of the day, anyone could say that about anyone else. Uh, when you’re deciding the quality of a link, it, again, it all boils down to, you know, the quality of the website. You have to look around, you have to look at all the factors that we discussed earlier, and it’s all going to boil down to that and, um, and nothing to do with how you call it or the terminology. I mean, that’s just complete snake oil sales.

Chris Dreyer

Totally, totally. Uh, so I got to, I got a few more tactics here just to kind of briefly cover. So let’s… your thoughts on HARO, help a reporter out.

David Farkas

So I think that there, there is some potential there. Um, but I think for the most part, it’s, it’s going to be hard to really connect with the journalists and the, in a way that, um, would give you the coverage that you’re hoping. Um, so it’s something that we’ve dabbled with in the past. And I have some, um, other, you know, SEO people that I’m in touch with that also have agencies, and it’s something that we’ve discussed over the years as well. And they’ve also tried it and honestly, they haven’t had much success. Um, the concept makes a lot of sense, you know, if you could do something newsworthy, um, and you could do something to gain attention and you could connect with the journalists, so that’s awesome. But for the most part, you know, if you want to go that route, you’re probably better served, um, you know, finding a journalist on your own that covers your niche. So if you find, if you’re in a niche and you have a piece of content, that seems like it did well, you know, you could check those back links. You could see who covered that. And, you know, you’d probably get a lot further and save yourself a lot of time by kind of reverse engineering, someone else who had success and, you know, going in now that we’re just, you know, you try to meet random journalists and pitch different things, or they pitched you different things.

Chris Dreyer

I completely agree there. And I got to give a plug to a previous interview with Cameron Harold, where his book Free PR really talks about this strategy, where it’s essentially creating your own list of, of media that you build a relationship with. And it’s going to be easier to convert those, um, those situations. And you’re going to stand out versus just kind of spray and pray, hoping one of your quotes land with Help A Reporter Out, or even using like a distribution service, like a PR web decision, a Newswire, but those have their different purposes.

David Farkas

Yeah. That’s a great point. I mean, if you could actually, you know, build relationships with journalists, so if you’re in a certain niche and industry, if you’re building something that’s really meaningful, as opposed to just like, you know, pitching random stuff.

Chris Dreyer

Yep. All right, so let’s do the next one. That’s kind of controversial, but particularly in the legal vertical. Scholarship EDU campaigns. Um, so essentially where a law firm will create a scholarship. They’ll offer some small monetary reward of a thousand to $10,000 and for an essay contest or a video contest. And then that’s where the firm will then reach out to universities to obtain a listing on their financial aid pages. What’s your thoughts on those?

David Farkas

So I think that those are something that a few SEO lives ago. Um, was very helpful and, you know, people had success with it. But in SEO, um, you know, the, the lives change very quickly. Um, so the thing is, is that, is that really, for the most part, those were very super easy links to get, and they weren’t very complicated and Google eventually recognized that those really aren’t, you know, earned links that are based on merit. And I don’t believe they provide any value. I’ve even heard that people have gotten penalized from doing that. So that’s something that I’d be careful with, uh, that shouldn’t be like your link-building approach and the be like, you know, you plan on like having 90% of your links from scholarship pages. Um, I think there is room to do a scholarship within, you know, a normal backlink profile. So if you wanted to do like a real legit scholarship and really, you know, help out people and students that, you know, you feel like you could help out in a meaningful way. I think that that’s totally fine and you make you get links and they may provide a little value as well. But definitely like, you know, when you’re talking about like link building and SEO strategies, it’s not something that I’d have in my arsenal these days, or that I’d rely on.

Chris Dreyer

You know, I wrote an article on Moz back in 2015 about how to do the scholarship campaigns. And back then, there wasn’t a lot of people that would do them and you would get listed on a financial aid page, and there’d be just a handful of other sites. But now when you do it, there might be 200 to a thousand different listings on the page.

David Farkas

You know, we actually used to do it back in the day as well, but probably like we haven’t been doing it since around 2015, 2016. Um, that’s when Google kind of started clamping down and, you know, there were rumors, there was chatter of people, um, you know, dealing with, with penalties from that. But yeah, like the game’s changed. So it’s like what you’re saying, you know, when it was unique and when there was something special about it. So then, you know, it provided value, but like as Google got smarter and everyone started doing it, so it definitely lost its luster.

Chris Dreyer

Link building can be a tricky business. It isn’t enough to just link to any page or article. You need to think like the search engines and make sure the connections you’re making won’t be seen as manipulations of their systems. They have to be relevant and targeted. I asked David about his thoughts on the effectiveness of link-building and got him to give us some pointers on what we need to consider when building those links.

Chris Dreyer

So now I’m going to read a quote. I know for a fact that you’ve heard this quote. But I want to let you respond to this and just kind of give me your overall thoughts. Um, here’s the quote, it’s from John Mueller. “I love some of the things I see from digital PR. It’s a shame. It often gets bucketed with the spammy kind of link building. It’s just as critical as technical SEO, probably more so in many cases.”

David Farkas

So I think that that was actually a pretty sweet plug for link building, which you normally don’t hear from the Google seniors. So that’s what I take out of that and I think that what John Mueller is saying is, is an important fact in that I think like with guest posting and that sort of tactic, um, there is kind of a misconception that somehow this method of building links will be effective on its own two feet on the sort of like, let’s just rely on a guest post nor blogger outreach to, you know, to prop up your wink rankings. So, you know, in theory, the old school way of thinking of things is you have a 10 page website, it isn’t providing any sort of value with engaging content or resources, and then somehow you could just build links, whether, whether it be guest posts or something else. Um, and those are just going to be your silver bullet and you could basically just guest posts your way to success. Um, and that’s kind of old school and outdated, and I think that’s what John was kind of, uh, hinting too, because when you just link to some sort of promotional page or sales page or monies page, those types of links really add absolutely no value whatsoever to your guests posts. So when you think of having a link and a guest post and your LinkedIn to something – is your link actually adding value to this article, like imagine with that link, you would take a piece of that article and you will place it in this guest posts so you basically take a piece of the page that you’re linking to, and you will put it in parentheses or in a footnote on this guest post. So imagine that you’re doing that. And you know, you’re reading a guest post and reading an article and you’re linking to some guy’s sales page or some guy’s money page. So essentially the way that the article reads is like it’s giving us content, that’s going to it’s content. And then there’s like a giant billboard, right in the middle of this article as basically a sales pitch. It doesn’t really add any value whatsoever. And what Google is really looking for when determining quality and effectiveness of links – I think what John was alluding to are links that actually provide value on live, uh, live up to the external patience is actually adding value so that when you, you know, linked to it from a guest post, these two pieces of content are actually complimenting each other versus, you know, I think what he means by sense, spamming is just like links that you’re simply stuffing into content for the sole purpose of SEO to, you know, just, you know, boost the rankings. Because although on the outside it may look like, you know, it’s helping you, it’s coming from a guest post, it’s a great site or the content is relevant, but, and it’s a do follow link, right? But nevertheless, for the most part, in my opinion, you’re shooting blanks if you’re, you know, you’re just linking to some money page. So you really, SEOs really have to get this through their mind. And I know it’s really hard to do that since it was so effective and you used to be able to do that, and it helped so much. But they really have trouble, you know, changing their mentality. You have no SEO future if you’re still living in the past. So you really have to start thinking of SEO in terms of providing resources, content on your site that is actually, um, um, linkable.

Chris Dreyer

That was a very powerful David. And I think that it’s absolutely true. You can’t live in the past. And I learned my lesson really hard back in the day. I’m holding up and you see the articles mug. Yeah. Back in 2011, I got smacked around pretty hard because, you know, I was taking the lowest barrier to obtain a back link. The content on the site wasn’t great. But back in 2008, 2011, that worked. And until that first penguin algorithm. So now the game has changed, you’ve got to provide quality all around on the, on the site, on the external site, the internal site, the UX has to be there. It’s harder, but, um, the game has changed and you just have to evolve. I Got two final questions here, David. So first one, David, why do personal injury attorneys need to focus on link acquisition strategies?

David Farkas

So, um, with personal injury attorneys as with any super competitive niche, you’re not going to be able to get by, by just doing the basics and just relying on those foundational links. Maybe the local mechanic could, but when you’re dealing with very high value, um, clients and leads and such a highly competitive niche, you’re in a much more competitive state of SEO and, you know. You’re really not going to get very far, just like every correlation study has, has always proved that SEO requires links as you know, in order to be successful. Uh, you know, all you have to do is look at the number one result and see their, their backlink profile. You’ll understand very quickly that Google clearly relies on these signals to create a sense of credibility for you and for your site, and in turn will help you rank them in the organic results and also the local pack as well.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. And if the personal injury attorneys listening want an example, go look at forthepeople.com and look at their link profile. And that’ll be a real eye-opener of why they’re generating so much organic traffic- it’s because they have a very robust link building link profile. And then David final question here. It’s been, it’s been so great speaking with you. I love the SEO, uh, dive in deep here. We really hit some great things, but uh, where can people go to learn more about you?

David Farkas

So, um, theupperranks.com and we have a blog. I write about link building. I’ve been a little slower lately, but, um, you could kind of see all the philosophy that we spoke about, um, the long version if you will. And, uh, theupperranks.com

Chris Dreyer

There were so many nuggets here. And I’m really glad that we were able to drill down on link-building and explore it in such great detail to give you some hugely important insights and how to use it. And I think David’s point on having to go the extra mile when you operate in such a competitive niche is super important. So find those local associations and specialist directories and get involved because those will be the things that distinguish you from your rivals. You’ve been listening The Rankings Podcast. I’m Chris Dreyer. A huge thank you to today’s guest David Farkas for joining us. And you can find all of the links from today’s conversation in the show notes. And we want to hear from you. Do you use link building to help boost your site? Drop us a review and share your thoughts. Thanks for joining us. We’ll see you next time.

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