Link Building Case Study – InLinks Dixon Jones served as Marketing Director for Majestic from 2009 – 2018 before his retirement and transition into Global Brand Ambassador for Majestic. As a lifelong entrepreneur, it surprised very few in the industry when he became CEO of InLinks, a platform which aims to turbo charge your onsite SEO with the power of entities, enhancing the navigability of content to humans and search engines alike. In this post, Dixon uses Majestic data to illustrate his story of “Alliance Linking”. Read on to discover how he capitalised on real world connections to enhance the visibility of InLinks, and get a behind the scenes look at the legwork even an experienced and influential marketer goes to in the launch of a new product.
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A few months ago, I wrote an honest link building case study on how Inlinks.net had developed links in its first 18 months of trading. Since then, Inlinks has enjoyed a few more successes, including winning the 2021 Global Search Tool of the year (which also generates a link). So as promised, I am returning to explain how more of the links came about.
Understanding how a website organically generates links is key to understanding the inextricable connection between link building and brand building. Links DO get created organically, even though many, if not most SEOs, suggest that a market in trading links is essential for organic rankings. Buying links is not necessary or even desirable for the long term stability and viability of your search engine optimization.
A website does not need to have high investments to create enough links and signals of quality for Google to start ranking your content. Inlinks was formed by two people and low five-figure investment. I hope these examples and stories, together with the previous article, helps to inspire you to a more noble link building strategy.
I have continued with links selected from the original methodology rather than picking and choosing links to fit the narrative.
Link Story 11: A Born Global Company has extra opportunities
If you are not afraid to “Go Global”, you will be rewarded with a larger pool of link opportunities. SEOX looks to be doing an excellent job of reviewing SEO Tools in French. Looking at the site’s home page Majestic stats (using the ideal Majestic Browser extensions), I feel in good company.
More importantly, the site has its own audience, distinct from anyone I could reach out to personally. It is, therefore, a genuine and effective way to amplify our message. The site itself takes pride in its content, and this makes me happy that my mantra is maintained – which, despite the repetition, is:
“Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”
Link Story 12: Your audience can amplify your message
Ann Smarty has been a long time friend of Majestic and was even a keynote speaker when we ran an event around social media influencers in New York back in 2017. She is a prolific blogger, and as such, she can speak to content marketers with more authority than I can. I was therefore delighted to see this post on the Content Marketing Institute website. I did take the time to show Ann the product, but then we offer this 1 to 1 demonstration and onboarding to anybody. That’s just a good marketing strategy: Show, don’t sell. Ann and I also go back a long way, running Link Training at several Pubcons together, for example. A long association does not get me a link, of course, but may well have given Ann the confidence to look at Inlinks and mention it in her article as an exciting technology for that audience to consider.
Link Story 13: There are Links in Iceland
Mikkel lives in Denmark and has ruled that SEO scene for as long as an SEO scene existed. I cannot remember the first time I met Mikkel, but I remember his very bright suits at conferences, combined with a highly technical understanding of SEO. His technical skills far outweighed mine back in the day. We became much closer as friends when we found ourselves at a conference in Reykjavik, Iceland. This conference, run by Kristjan Mar Hauksson, was around 2009, as I recall. It is an excellent example of why you should not directly consider the immediate “sales opportunity” of speaking at a conference. This particular conference was aimed totally at the Icelandic market, so it was clear from the start that Kristjan’s business would scoop up most of the leads available from the attendees. I also recall that it was a month before I was allowed to say that I was to be the Marketing Director at Majestic, so I could not explain to Rand Fishkin and Geraldine (who were also there) why I had to decline the invitation to their wedding.
The moral of the story here is that you should not be worried about sharing your knowledge, even when there is no immediately apparent return for doing so. A good communicator will get noticed, and knowledge owners tend to gather in clusters to discuss our art with others passionate about the same things. Those friendships last. This link also came from me, giving Mikkel a reference for his own website and business. I assure you the endorsement is genuine. The link is a pleasant bonus.
Link Story 14: Good Content CAN get Organic Links!
The link from Digitaleer came from a proactive client of Inlinks. He regularly runs a webinar and looks out for interesting new ideas in SEO. About 12 minutes into his regular show, he picked up on a post I had written about using Inlinks to create a gap analysis between the knowledge graphs of two websites. I know, pretty niche, huh? But a niche is good. It lets you be an expert in a small pond, rather than an also-ran in a big pond. It’s as good for the soul as it is for SEO.
Link Story 15: Beware Bait-and-switch
Bait-and-switch is an SEO technique where content is generated, which is designed to create some interest and hopefully links. Then, when the moment has passed for the content, the URL gets redirected to another location. Here, the content was taken down, and the URL was turned to the SEOs’ home page. Emmanuelle is not an SEO that I know, but I certainly do not blame her for her strategy. It can work great when you do it to someone else, but what happens when someone does it to you? Well, links that get taken down still leave a legacy. It is like history. The fact that it is the past does not mean it didn’t happen. Search tools know this. Majestic knows this, and so does Google. The way crawlers work, there is a kind of “link memory” after effect. This memory happens all the time, and you do not have to go further than the news to realize how powerful this effect can be. One rogue researcher, decades ago, connected the MMR vaccine (incorrectly) to autism. The doctor involved was eventually stripped of his medical license but remains the route of the anti-vax movement in the west today. So even though this link no longer exists, it seems it reached its intended audience at the time, delivering the message. To lose the connection when nobody is interested anymore is still preferable to never getting the link at all.
Link Story 16: Everyone has to start somewhere
This link precedes my involvement in Inlinks and perhaps shows the importance of having a developed network of friends in an industry. The link is a comment from Inlinks’ co-founder and CEO, Fred Laurent. The post listed 131 SEO tools, and Inlinks was not one of them. (So how amazing that in just a few years, we have won best Search Tool at the Global Search Awards!) Naturally, a technically brilliant but not so well connected Fred was naturally keen to stake his claim. But the comments after a list of 131 tools will only really alert the author, not the whole audience. You can see 191 external links from this page according to the Majestic screenshot. So even though the page is strong, our No followed link buried in the comments is unlikely to make much of a dent. This sort of minor impact is probably one of the reasons Fred tracked me down – to fill in the missing piece of his SEO Technology. It was another example of links through alliances. Fred and I had to trust each other. I am glad we did, and I hope I am making the needle move for him as we develop the business further.
Link Story 17: Real Experts will find each other
This was not so much the result of an alliance, but I hope it is more the start of one. This is an incredibly intelligently written article by a really clever SEO from Turkey. We were totally honoured when he said this:
This kind of praise is what makes me wake up in the morning and want to carry on. Koray was not someone I knew before Inlinks, but it is clear that we have the same passion for semantic SEO. We have since reached out to Koray. Not as someone who can get us more links… but rather as someone who can help us build a better product. I hope Covid lets us meet in real life sooner rather than later,
Link story 18: Getting your whole team involved only goes so far
This is the second example of our founding CTO reaching out before I became involved and is another NoFollow link in a long list of comments in an article about free tools. It is dated 28th May 2019. I went to look up when Fred first contacted me, and I kid you not, it was the VERY same day:
I guess Fred had finally decided that he could not build the product and market the product simultaneously. He needed help! Fortunately, I was not only able to help but invest in the project.
Link Story 19: Being in the right space, right time
Bill Hartzer is another long-time friend of Majestic and their US Ambassador. Bill is also well renowned and respected both by me and by the industry as a whole. This link came about when a valuable keyword research data source closed down due mainly to GDPR legislation in Europe making data collection difficult. The data source was being used in multiple SEO tools to estimate search volumes for given keywords. Without it, there was a shortage of data sources. Inlinks is not even a genuine contender for keyword volume. (Majestic probably is better. Have you tried their Search Explorer?) Even so, we made Bill’s list of alternative data sources because we track interest in entities rather than keywords. Bill knew this as a client of Inlinks. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time and the right space (market segmentally speaking).
Link Story 20: The Old Link Building Strategies that make sense
If you stick with the cream of the crop, it does not mean that you keep entirely out of the mud. This article lists 350 search tools, and it is not surprising in an article with so many tools, we get a mention. It’s not a prominent mention, buried in at position 54, but at least it has some unique text describing the tool:
With 395 outbound external links, according to Majestic, the value from this page can really not be much. It is not a site I knew before starting this research and indeed not a website that I approached for a link. That said, it makes sense that inlinks is on that page. So are Majestic and SEMRush, and even GoDaddy. Being linked from pages like this are unlikely to get you penalized because Google really can’t go around penalizing you and your 349 competitors at the same time! Much more likely is that Google may or may not have determined whether the page content reaches a quality threshold. As they move towards passage indexing, Google may well even decide that part of the page has quality content whilst the rest does not. Who knows? Anyway, it’s the last on my list. Sorry not to end on a doozy.
The Real Story
I hope, by going through the links that Inlinks has developed and telling you a little about the stories behind the links, you can see how links naturally develop as a result of alliances and networking. They are not “bought” or “got”… they develop because of the very personal relationships that I am my colleagues have developed over a 20 year period.
The stories combined demonstrate that you cannot realistically take a university leaver and expect them to compete straight away in your marketplace (unless the marketplace is the local student’s union and the graduate was the SU President). It shows, if nothing else, that a “heavyweight” in your marketing department’s arsenal is most likely well worth their weight in gold. But if you do not have such a person, all is not lost. Every day that you produce an intelligent, well thought through narrative, which is helpful to someone, you are building up your authority and – with luck – some respect amongst your peers. If you are not the marketing “type”, though, then you desperately need to ally with someone who is. You may need to give up some of your business or pay through the nose, but there’s an old adage:
“It’s better to have a small part of a large pie than all of a small pie.”
I hope this case study, including part 1, has demonstrated this.