This week has seen the release of the long anticipated link building book by Paddy Moogan. I have been lucky enough to pin Paddy down in a hectic week of book sales and blog posts to answer a few questions about himself, the book and link building. Feel free to ask him any further questions in the comments.
Daniel: For those that don’t know, can you give us an introduction, and how you got into SEO?
Paddy: Sure, I’m an SEO Consultant working for Distilled in their London office. Although I’m currently based in New Zealand as I’m on a sabbatical. I got into SEO during University when I was studying for a Law degree, I wanted to make some extra cash so I setup a bunch of websites to make money from Google Adsense. Naturally I wanted to learn how to make these rank higher so I started to learn more about SEO and eventually got a job working for a web design and development company near Birmingham.
Daniel: Since joining Distilled you become known as someone that is an excellent SEO, specifically link building. What is it that you like about Link Building and how did you get into it?
Paddy:I didn’t really mean to become known for link building to be honest, it just kind of happened after a few popular blog posts! I got into it at my previous job because for a long time I was the only SEO so I had no choice but to dive into it myself and get it done. I have to admit I didn’t particularly enjoy it at first but when it started to have a positive effect on client results, it become much more satisfying and I was far more motivated.
Daniel: Before writing the book, how did you learn what link building methods worked?
Paddy: Mainly by testing. In the early days when I was still learning, I’d test random theories on my own websites (and occasionally on others!) to see what worked and what didn’t. I didn’t always get it right but eventually I started to see what I needed to do in order to help clients. If I’m honest, it wasn’t until late in my previous job and joining Distilled that I started to think more about link building in the long term and what types of links would stand the test of time. I’ve learned a lot at Distilled because there are a lot of creative people there (far better than me) and you can’t help but learn with each project you work on.
Daniel: Who has been your biggest influence on your SEO career?
Paddy: It is hard to pick a single one! My old boss Steve at Pin Digital was a big influence and inspiration for me because he had a way of cutting through the noise and making me think how Google may think. Since joining Distilled, Will and Tom Critchlow influenced me massively and really made me step up in the way I think about SEO.
About the Book:
Daniel: What was the reason for writing the book?
Paddy: I’d always wanted to write a book of some sort, just to see if I could do it really because I sometimes struggle with seeing personal projects through to completion. I’d originally planned on it being a print book but that didn’t work out for a few reasons so I decided on the eBook format. It actually started off as a big blog post but then grew much bigger and eventually I decided I may as well do it justice and make it as good as I possible could. I had a lot of encouragement along the way and this certainly helped me get it done, lots of people also pointed out that no one had really written anything on this scale before which was just for link building.
Daniel: Did you read any link building books prior to writing your version? If so, which ones, and what was your views on them?
Paddy: There was actually a quite visible lack of books focused just on link building as mentioned above. I’d read a few SEO books like the one from Danny Dover and The Art of SEO and whilst I enjoyed them, link building was only a small part of them which encouraged me to pursue my own.
Daniel: What goals have you set for the book?
Paddy: I haven’t if I’m honest. I did put some money into the book for things like design, proofing etc so I did want to at least make sure I got that back! But apart from that, I didn’t really have any hard goals. All I really want is for people to enjoy it and take at least one thing from it which they can action and use to help their websites. If I get feedback that says people have done this, I’ll be happy because with link building, just one idea can lead to many links which makes the book investment worthwhile.
Daniel: Would you like the book to be the “Go to” resource for link building?
Paddy: That would certainly be nice and if readers feel it is deserving of that, I’d be very flattered. I wanted to write something that would be great reference material too, so being known as a go-to resource would show that I’ve achieved that.
Daniel: The book is targeted at both Beginners and Advanced SEOs. How difficult was it to write for both audiences?
Paddy: Very! After writing about a third of the book, I sent out a survey to SEOs asking them for feedback on what they’d like to see included in it. One of the questions was along the lines of “What would you like to be covered in an advanced section?”. The diversity of responses was amazing, it really showed me how subjective “advanced” is and from that point, I knew that I was going to have a challenge to cover all levels to make everyone happy. I’ve done the best I can to cover as much as I can on all levels and as mentioned above, if everyone who reads it takes at least something away which they can use, I don’t think it matters whether they consider it advanced or not.
Daniel: With the constant updates to the algorithm, will you be regularly updating the book?
Paddy: Yes. This was key for me because one of the concerns I heard from people was that a book on SEO / link building is out of date soon after publishing, so I’ll definitely be updating it. I’d like to do a big update every 3-4 months if I can and of course this will be free to readers.
Daniel: Call me old fashioned (I am only 28), but I like a good hardback or paper version. Is there plans for a printed version of the Link Building book?
Paddy: Until I got my Kindle and started travelling, I was the same! I have someone working on a design for a print copy right now. So if it works and I can make it work in terms of the costs, I’ll certainly make print copies available.
Daniel: What’s next for the Link Building book?
Paddy: A break from writing for me for sure ? I want to step back a bit and take some time to take in the feedback I get and start looking at how to make the next update better for everyone. I don’t want to push out small updates to the book, I want each update to be significant and worthy of the readers time.
Link Building Questions:
Daniel: I saw a presentation by Paul Madden at SearchLove about outsourcing part of the SEO process, and I have since had several conversations with people about the same process that you described in the Link Building book.
a. How far would you go with the outsourcing process, and would you outsource the prospecting for all of your clients, or just those in a competitive industry.
Paddy: I saw the same talk on video and loved it, I’d been fortunate to know a little about Paul’s process whilst writing the book so I was able to do my own testing with it. I’d certainly outsource for my own projects (I have done that) but it would need a lot more consideration if I were to do this for a client. I’d be comfortable outsourcing lots of research and data gathering, but I’d probably always play it safe and not hand over outreach that is on behalf of a client. That’s just me though, I know a few people who do this and are successful with it.
Daniel: When conducting outreach, what have you found to have the best success rate. Web-based email (Gmail, Hotmail) accounts or business email address?
Paddy: The best success rate I’ve had was 15 links from 16 emails, that was from my Distilled email account. I can honestly say that all my outreach for Distilled clients has been from my Distilled account. If I’m doing freelance work, it will be from my personal Gmail account using my real name. I will occasionally use a persona but that is the exception rather than the rule and usually means that I will hand it over to the client at some point so they can keep it going if they wish.
I think it is a good test of what you’re outreaching too. If you’re not keen on using your agency email address, should you really be doing the outreach in the first place?
Daniel: Do you believe in using personas for blogger outreach, or would you recommend the honest approach?
Paddy: I’ve touched upon this above and from experience, I’ve used the honest approach and used my own name. Occasionally I’ve actually got links because people know me from my SEO work and were happy to help! I’ve recently used a persona because I like to test approaches and I like to know that I can hand this over to the client if I stop working with them.
Daniel: If you only had one link building method to choose, which one would you use, and why?
Paddy: Good question! In the current climate, content based link building is top of my list. I know this probably isn’t what people want to hear but it sure is nice to build links that you know aren’t going to be devalued by the next iteration of Penguin!
Daniel: With the changes to the algorithm, do you still believe link building will be a tactic used going forward?
Paddy: Definitely. On the whole, it works as a strong signal in the algorithm and is what allowed Google to steam ahead of competitors in the early days. Even with the increase in social signals, I can’t see it overtaking links as a signal anytime soon. I do however think that the types of tactics we use will change based on Google updates.
Daniel: Thanks for your time.
Reading the book has justified my decisions for a large number of link building tactics that we use daily, but has also made me think about a few other angles. I personally think that this is a must read for any SEO and Link builder no matter what level you are currently operating at. You can buy it here – www.linkbuildingbook.com. If you are still not sure, then see what others think of it below.