This isn't the link building article you – or anyone, really – was probably hoping for. It's not a step-by-step guide to getting the best backlinks, it's not a list of hot tips or new opportunities, and it's not the announcement of a great tool. What it is is outrageously a window into the brutal slog that relies on outreach-based link building.

What can you expect


2. Some tips and tricks.

3. Crying and grinding teeth

Slap people in the face over the internetIf youIf youWith the kind permission of some ecards

Joking aside, one of the few aphorisms I believe in is that sharing how we do things as SEOs is almost never a problem, as 99% of people don't have the necessary follow-up and resources to make it happen . I would like to be proven wrong by the readers on Moz.

My goal here is to provide a realistic understanding of the monotonous slog that relies on white hat outreach-based link building. I happen to think that link building is a perfect counter-example to the "Pareto principle". Contrary to the Pareto Principle, which says that 80% of the effect comes from 20% of the cause, if you don't invest 60-80% of the effort, you won't see more than 20% of the potential effect. Payouts are made if you outperform your competitors and I promise you they will bring in over 20%.

Pareto principleWith kind permission of Quotiss

The goal of it "Webslog"is to document the weeks and months that go into a link building campaign, at least as far as I'm running the process.

Courtesy Aaron Burden
Also check out this gorgeous fountain pen. I love fountain pens.

I will try to update this document every week or so with progress reports, my motivation, the tips and tricks I have used over the past few days, the headaches, gains and losses. By the end, I hope to have achieved something like a link building journal. It won't be a blueprint for link building success, but hopefully on the map of your link building journey it will highlight the things to avoid, the best way to overcome certain traffic jams, and if you just have to be too tough, get it out .

Journal entry day one

The first day is almost always the best day. It's a preparation day. It's the day you buy gym membership, buy a ton of whey protein and protein shaker bottles, weigh yourself – in reality you are getting nowhere but feeling like you've done so much. Day one is important because it can add momentum and pave the way to success, but it also highlights the problem of motivation, which is incredibly disproportionate to success. Chances are, your first day is the most conflicting in terms of motivation and results.

Rand does a great job explaining the relationship between ROI and effort:

However, I think the third component here is motivation. I think there are some notable differences, the first of which is that even though you haven't got any results, your motivation will be high for the first few days. Your motivation will likely drop very quickly and run parallel to the rest of the "effort" line on the graph, but you get the point.

motivationIf youIf you
Courtesy of Drew Beamer

It is important that you keep your motivation as you go through the "slog". The trick is to separate your motivation from your ROI and instead tie them to achievable goals that lead to an ROI. It's a terribly difficult thing.

All right, prepare for the first day.

Project description

For this project, I'll be using a unique form of broken link building (part 2). If you've seen any of my link building presentations in the past 2-3 years, you may have had a look at some of the techniques in this process. Even so, the link building method really isn't important to this project. All that is important for our discussion in the method is:

  1. Outreach Based (requires contacting other webmasters).
  2. Neutral in terms of black and white hat (it could be done either way).
  3. Requires prospecting.
  4. Ultimately, it brings the return on investment either through advertising or through an exit.

Also, I won't be using aliases in this project. For once, I build something that is so respectable that I don't mind if my name is associated with it. I still have to be careful (avoiding negative SEO, for example) as this is a YMYL industry (health related). The page already exists, but with almost no links.

So what is the ROI (or expense) that I will and most importantly will not pursue?

Return on investment
Courtesy of

1. Emails sent to links related to:

  • Subject
  • Pitch email
  • Target broken link

2. Contact forms for links:

  • Subject
  • Pitch email
  • Target broken link

3. Anchor text that is used in placed links

4. Do not track:

  • Deliverability
  • Opening rate
  • Response rate
  • Domain authority of the source

I know # 4 is going to sound like a major sin to many of the professional link builders reading this, but I'm really not interested in harassing a recipient who wants to overlook the email. I am sure that the speed of the emails sent does not affect deliverability. So the other stats seem to keep ringing on someone until they're forced to answer. Sure, it could work, but it could also cause you to be reported.


Every time I start a project like this, I take a few steps.

1. Set up an email, of course. I usually set up russ @, info @, contact @, media @ and a catch all. I don't use google. It just seems wrong. I've had success with Zoho before, although honestly all I need is the email so I often go with a CPANEL host and then add the MX records to Cloudflare.

2. Set up a phone number for voicemail. I personally like Grasshopper. This is not to improve the ranking (although I published it on the website), but to improve the conversion rates. Email messages with a real phone number and email address from a real person, promoting the same domain as the domain in the email, only seem to work better if your project is really overboard is.

3. Set up SPF and DKIM records for better deliverability.

4. Set up a number of Google Docs that will help you find and send email.

5. Set up my e-mail. I know this is vague, but one of the things I'm trying to do is Create stumbling blocks to fraud. There are some great tools out there like Pitchbox, BuzzStream, LinkProspector, and more, but I find each very tempting to use shortcuts. I want to make sure I personally pull the shutter on every email that goes out. Efficient, no. Effectively, not really. Sure, yes.

In all honesty, that's about as much as I can do in a day. I look forward to updating this regularly. Follow @moz or @rjonesx on Twitter to be notified when we update this journal.


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