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Time for Marketing

Jan 2020

#30 - Alexandra Tachalova - Smart Link Building how to stop following best practices and start getting links

January 5, 2020

Alexandra Tachalova (Linkedin or Twitter) is the organizer of the Digital Olympus conference and she does one thing in life. Generates backlinks. So if you want more backlinks, you should listen to what she has to say. This is her presentation from the DMSS 2019 in Bali, check out her presentation below.

Podcast transcript

Alexandra Tachalova: So when I was the very first time doing link building, I spent the first three or four months painting those features and well, I believe I did notice one or two links.

Peter: This is Time4Marketing, the marketing podcast that will tell you everything you've missed when you didn't attend the marketing conference.

Hello, and welcome to the Time4Marketing marketing podcast, the podcast that invites the best marketing conference speakers to come and sum up their presentations in five minutes. It's 2020 Happy New Year to everyone. My name is still Peter and I'll still be your host for this podcast episode. If you would like to know more what is going on on the podcast, you could visit the time4marketing.com website when you have forum where you could subscribe to our email newsletter or just subscribe to this podcast.

If you want to talk to me, you can find me on my web page, seos.si. Enough about me. I hope you're having a wonderful new year. With me today is Alexandra Tachalova. Alex, hello and welcome.

Alexandra: Hello, Peter. Thanks for having me. Such a pleasure and honor being here today.

Peter: Alex, I'm very glad that you are here with us. Where are you located?

Alexandra: I'm based in Saint Petersburg, which is not in Florida, but in Russia. Well, we are based on the same continent with you, not really far away from you.

Peter: True, true. But Russia sounds very cold. Is it unbelievably cold right now?

Alexandra: No, it's not unbelievably cold. We are going to have a Christmas and New Year without snow. Right now it’s +3 +4 five. Yes, just rainy.

Peter: Alex, you are the founder of the Digital Olympus Conference. Tell us a bit more about the conference and tell us a bit more what you do in your everyday job life.

Alexandra: Well, first of all, let's chat a little bit about the Digital Olympus Conference. That's going to happen on the sixth of April in Kraków, which is based in Poland. We have very, I think inspiring lineup. We have Aleyda Solis, Michal speakers, Lukasz Zelezny, Fernando Angulo, Leonardo Saroni from Booking, Judith 'deCabbit' and many, many other quite well-known experts. We are a very affordable conference because the cost, our POS is less than 100 that.

That's more or less about this Olympus Conference and hope to see you guys maybe-- by the way, you don't even need to go to our conference. You could also join us online because we do a free live stream. Even if you can't come personally, then you have an option to join us just online. When talking about what I do besides Digital Olympus, I do link building. I have a quite small agency and it's just under the same brand, under Digital Olympus. Well, actually we built links mostly for B2B clients. That's what I think I know very well and that's my areas of expertise.

That's the reason why I'm talking about link building quite a lot and write about link building covers intellectually. Did write a post for the MOZ Blog about the economics of link building. I highly recommend checking it out. Get tons of positive feedback. People were writing to me across different channels and they really love this stuff because not a lot of experts sharing it, the real cost of link building and why like different options cost different- costs differently. Yes, that's a good one, I think. Let me add one more thing about my personal life.

If you go to any of my social media channels, you'll find me and my horse. I'm really into horse-riding, in particular dressage. That may be my second fashion after digital marketing.

Peter: To go to your presentation, you spoke-- Well, you speak at a lot of different events. But I contacted you because you spoke at the DMSS in Bali in 2019 with--

Alexandra: That was my excuse to go to Bali.


Peter: That is a lot of people's excuse to go to Bali. It’s business. I can write it off on business expenses. Your presentation title was How to Stop Following the Best Practices and Start Getting Links. Alex, here are your five minutes for your presentation.

Alexandra: I was talking about how exactly we built links here at Digital Olympus, what we do. First of all, we don’t follow any best practices. If you go to, just you know, to Google on quite well-known digital marketing blog, you'll find tons of- they're sharing how to do link building like 66 best link building strategy that you need to do today or tomorrow. Don't do that because they are quite useless being honest. The reason behind it that they're overused. Also, well, I have something more to share here besides like, they are useless because we've already tried them and they don't work but besides me there are some data.

For instance, some time ago, Brian Dean teamed up with Pitchbox, which is an outreach tool and they analyzed thousands of email outreach pitches. Well, they found out that their average response rate is quite low, in fact, below 9%. That's the reason why I think doing link building by following those strategies is not the right way to go because, let's imagine if you sent 100 emails, you might get only one or two links because the response rates while any link builder know that response rate doesn't equal to getting a link. What I suggest doing-- First of all, what we don't do, definitely we don't send mass emails because they have a quite poor response rate.

Instead of these, I would recommend going to people that are already aware about your brands, so with whom you've already established a relationship. The reason behind it that they're much more responsive and eager to communicate with you, so your emails won’t be ignored. Plus they know you, they trust you so you could try to get a link from them.

But for sure it's not just because you are so good and your content is so good, you need to give them something back or visit it because people understand the value of links. My recommendations will be, well, if you want to work with though then do it like really do link building.

That's actually the most beneficial way of doing it because if you partner up with a company that doing link building on a scale, so they’re also investing in this process, then you could build much more links because they know more people, they write to more blogs. But you need to return them links back. That's where we are coming to an indirect link exchange. You need to contribute to other blogs but not to build links because it's very expensive. Well, for sure you could do this, but it's much more like, it makes much more sense to do it, to return things back to people that could also generate links, so you are doing indirect links exchange.

Well, for sure not only links can be cured as something available for people, someone or connection the rest of others with hype or like, for instance, your clients. If you are checking your circles. What you do, you check your clients, your social media followers, your partners as well. Anyone who basically knows your brand and their whereabouts, your existence. Well, if you talk about liners, they might want to, something like your specs, they might want to, so you send them your secs and get a link. Well, for sure don't do like the majority of people do like sending here is what like-- send an email, how does it look like?

For instance, I deliver this awesome blog post and I've been following you for ages and then the reason why you need to give me a link back, well, quite stupid. They don't owe you a thing so don't do that. Instead of these, what I would recommend doing, first of all, connect with them and do something valuable for them. For instance, like link back to them, sending soundtracks. Only after these, ask whether there is any chance to link back to your awesome, insightful blog posts. That's very much it. The last tip will be, if you want to find people that write across various blogs within your niche, most probably they're doing link building because that's the reason why they write to different blogs.

On a regular basis go to BuzzSumo experts, the list of contributors because at BuzzSumo allows you on the most popular blogs and then search via those author names inside BuzzSumo. Going back to BuzzSumo and see whether they write across different blogs or only write on this one article. Your goal is to find those that write across a quite big number of blogs like me. For instance, I write on different blogs like Moz, Search Engine Journal, co-marketing [unintelligible 00:10:50] excel, and et cetera. That's very much it.

Peter: Okay, excellent. Alex, how important do you feel are links still in SEO and even more, are they getting more important or less in the last years?

Alexandra: I think they're like, there should be one more guy here that-- there will be a very interesting conversation because I'm sure, yes, for sure I say links, the main reason why sites are ranking at the top of Google results and then we need an opponent here, someone who is really- truly believe that technical SEO on-site is so then the reason why sites are ranking. The thing here that I know how to build links and I see that when we build links to our clients' websites, the clients pager they grow. I see how it works. Then the reason why I believe that links are really important. However, I don't really do technical SEO so I don't see any correlations between technical SEO. I'm not observing them because I don't do that.

Each time I just meet people that do technical SEO they are like sharing, "No, you don't need links, you only need to just to nail your calls or whatever it is." There are one more very important thing that everyone should remember.

If you have a small website, I mean it's not a big e-commerce brand, you don't have tons of pages. I don't think nailing your technical off-site SEO would help you like really change your situation, especially if we are talking about highly competitive niches like IT, well, digital marketing or something like that. You could do whatever you want with your website. Make it very fast, make it very, very beautiful in terms of your course but unless you have links, it's not going to work.

Peter: Especially business to business websites are usually in such a way that it's small content.

Alexandra: Yes, just because your competitors are doing this. The problem with all those things that related to links, if people around you within your niche heavily invest in link building, then Google sees it and reacts on those additional forces that are impacting the SERPs. Then the problem is, well, imagine no one would be doing link building and then I could imagine that links won't be so important because Google will be looking at other factors. Since we have links and links are the core of Google [unintelligible 00:13:56] still because they are recommendations.

We are recommending something like in real life. When I recommend something and I'm a trustworthy source because, for instance, I recommend something because I really know I think the digital marketing, I am a trustworthy-- people believe me. That's the same with links. When you are a trustworthy website and do you say like, "Okay, I linked to this website," you basically say that the website that you're linking to is also trustworthy and that's how Google overlays things.

Peter: Probably links are going to be important for always. Another question--

Alexandra: I think so. yes.

Peter: If I'm a company and now what is the distinction, when should I decide to find someone from the outside to help me with my link building and when should I do it by myself inhouse? Is the size of the website, the criteria or-- When should I look for someone to help me with my link building?

Alexandra: When it comes to digital marketing, well, I'm a big believer that you need to try it on own. When I have a potential client that tell me, "Look we might hire you or might not because we are right now considering doing it on our own." I say like, "Look do it on your own because you see how it's hard, first of all then if you see how it's hard, then you might see a value in my services." You just try it, you see that it's very hard because it's very hard, you barely-- Even if you do guest blogging, it's very expensive so you would just spend the very few months just trying to pitch something to someone and receive a lot of no most probably.

The thing with link building or when I think you need to outsource these types of things, well first of all, when you want to do it faster. You hire an agency. Because the main reason why people hire an agency like us or agencies like another like other guys because they've already established those relationships so they want it just to capitalize on what we've already done. Starting from the very first month, we could build up to 30 links per client. We've already know people so we just simply sent emails and they said, "Okay, we'll do this." They need to do everything from scratch.

When I was the very first time during link building, I spend the first three or four-month painting those features. I believe I do notice one or two links so if you linked that was all I was very frustrated and I was like why? Because you need to spend around two, three years establishing those relationships and then everything is easy. The second situation when you need an agency when you need very specific links. You've already a well-known company-- well, you don't need average links, you need very specific links to very specific pages. For instance, category or it might be even commercial pages.

Then you could try to go to a link building agency and ask them whether they could help you. Because you have such clients from an enterprise sector, They are very well known company but they want to run better by some of their category pages because that's their commercial pages, that's where all the revenue stream is coming. Yes, in some cases, you could do this. The best thing about email, personalized email outreach is that you could even build links to those pages as well. Not for each and every company but if you are talking about well-known and if you know, people, you could do this. Actually, we have a few clients for whom we are building links to commercial pages.

Peter: Excellent. All right, I think that's it. Alex, if people would like to contact you or talk to you more about link building, where can people find you?

Alexandra: That might be LinkedIn but please, if you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, write down a short message. I have already 200 connections that are pending. I just want to be sure that I'm not going to skip your connection request. Just write down something like, "I heard you on podcast something like this and then the reason I'd love to connect, I just greatly appreciate it." Or you can just go straight to Twitter which allows you to connect with me directly by following me and asking me question there without sending any super tracklist to connect. [chuckles]

Peter: All right. Thank you for being on the podcast. I'll add all of the links about the stuff that-

Alexandra: Thank you,

Peter: -talked about in the show. I will also add your presentation into the show notes so if people want to go deeper into the content, they can-

Alexandra: Awesome.

Peter: -do that. One more thing, do you have future conferences lined up? Where can people find you if they want to see you speaking live?

Alex: I think the biggest one that I have in my calendar is BrightonSEO in April, so if you'll be around- If you plan to come to BrightonSEO hope to see you there and for sure I'll be speaking about link building, which is a quite hot topic right now. It's on the rise. If you are based closer to me in Eastern Europe then SEO zraz in Bratislava, right? I think so in Bratislava, will be in February and so well, our own conference. I won't be speaking there, but I'll be there and so well, I'll be just taking care of technical things at Digital Olympus and if you're based somewhere in Poland, hope to see you at our own event.

Peter: All right. There's a lot of opportunities. Okay. Alex, thank you very much for being on the podcast. It was great talking to you and hope to see you around.

Alex: Hope to see you, Peter. Thank you very much for having me. And have a lovely Christmas.