Interview with Link Building Expert Nick LeRoy

by Jon Cooper

This week I got the chance to interview Nick LeRoy, a Minneapolis link builder I’ve gotten to know over the past couple months. Nick’s one of the outside-of-the-box link builders everyone in the link building community should be paying attention to. 

1) How did you get into SEO?

Like many other SEOs, I fell into the industry.  I was a Management Information Systems graduate fresh out of college trying to find my first “real job” in the beginning of what ended up being a downfall in our economy.  Through networking I was able to land an interview with DKS Systems a small web design and development firm. The owner of the company saw a need for a search marketer as he was sick of sending off finished projects (and potential $$$) to other companies to perform SEO. Nobody at DKS knew much about SEO but saw the potential which opened up a job opportunity.

It was a mutual agreement that this would be a self taught position and I would be leading the entire SEO strategy for not only the DKS website but their clients as well.  You can imagine this was a little intimidating given that I only had a 30 minute class on internet marketing and thought “Black Hat” SEO was exclusively associated with porn.  I must have made an initial impression though asI was hired… on a 6 month contract to begin with.

Within these 6 months I read every single SEO article, “how to” book, and online training course.  I eventually was given reigns to the DKS website which we immediately transformed from a full Flash website to a static .asp site.  At the time this was a big change and it took a lot of lobbying from the “new guy” to get buy in on “SEO”.  Because the site was static pages I was forced to learn some coding.  I had always played with Angelfire websites in high school but never really got into the coding side, just enough to change the background color, text and of course the super awesome scrolling marquee!   When I finally figured out that “content is king” I was forced to learn enough html to properly layout static “blog posts”.  As big of a pain in the ass as this was its something that today i’m thankful for.  I thoroughly harassed the developers for tips on using <divs> and style tags which I believe made me a much more well rounded SEO.  In my opinion SEOs & Link builders who have knowledge of programing and website backends are at a HUGE advantage in this industry!

Performance of the DKS website sky rocketed and for the first time the company was getting new projects outside of referrals. I had also built a reputation for being the ‘go-to’ guy for anything SEO.  I was able to persuade developers who shunned SEO that it can be valuable and conveyed changes in a way that worked with existing site infrastructure. Shortly after the initial 6 months I was hired full time and stayed their for a little over 2 years before moving on to another opportunity.

2) What link building strategy have you used most on a consistent basis?

Contrary to what I may elude to in my blog posts my most frequent link building strategy is content based.  Whether this be on site blogging, guest blog posting, or creating authority (linkable) resources.  While one-off link building has its value content based link is in my opinion the best way to not only acquire many links at once but they tend to last the “test of time”.  I have also been a big advocate for broken link building.

3) Do you take into account PageRank when analyzing prospects? Explain.

Absolutely. Nothing drives me more insane then when SEOs preach “Forget PR” or “I haven’t had the toolbar activated since 1993”.  Now would I base my decision on pursuing a link strictly off PR? No way!  Regardless what people say it is a great snap shot to the value of a page and combining the use of the SEOmoz toolbar metrics it can quickly tell you whether a page is worth targeting.

In addition to PageRank its important to keep in consideration other factors such as domain authority, site age, site health, relevance and even the type of links the page/domain is acquiring.

4) Should link builders know code? Explain.

I do not believe link builders or SEOs in general have to be coding experts but I think its a huge advantage to be efficient in it.  If it wasn’t for being forced to code at DKS Systems I don’t believe I would be nearly as successful in my SEO endeavors today.  I shudder remembering some of my first articles just sitting in a queue for a developer to code.  At the very minimum all link builders need to know about the <a href tag as its the technical aspect to what they are seeking… LINKS!

5) Do you think Google will ever win the battle of paid links?

No. I wrote a blog post about how to buy links and get away with it and the point behind the entire post is that SMART link buyers will make it look “natural”.  Just like this blog post it’s only natural that you will have several outbound links in any given piece of content.  How can Google tell which ones are naturally given or paid for?  You can’t.  STUPID link buyers buy highly optimized anchor text links in footers, blogrolls and from non niche related sites.  Contrary to many beliefs buying links isn’t easy – you have to do just as much research into your opportunities as you do “naturally” building links.  As long as links play a roll in ranking then Google can’t win the battle.

6) What are your favorite link building tools, and why?

SEOmoz Open Site Explorer is by far my favorite tool.  Especially with Yahoo Site Explorer deceased its a tool that I overly rely on.  I also consider tools like Archive.org, Excel spreadsheets, and Screaming Frog extremely valuable.

7) Where can we find you on the Web?

If you want to read more about my SEO thoughts, theories and ramblings you can find me on my blog at NickLeRoy.com.  Otherwise i’m often tweeting about something SEO related on Twitter @NickLeRoy.


This post was written by...

Jon Cooper – who has written 129 posts on Point Blank SEO.

Jon Cooper is a link builder based out of Gainesville, FL. For more information on him and Point Blank SEO, visit the about page. Follow him on Twitter @PointBlankSEO.

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  1. Kane Jamison says:

    Good stuff Nick – my personal qualm with PR is that it’s so out of date, you could be looking at new content that’s actually got quite a good Pagerank. I’ve trained myself to refer to PA/DA first in those situations.

    • Nick LeRoy says:

      Kane, I absolutely agree. I just think PR has to be kept in consideration within the larger picture. As I mentioned I would NEVER make a acquisition or link target decision strictly off this information.

  2. Martin Oddy says:

    Strangely similar stores, you and I, both in terms of how we got started, right through to the tools we use today.

Interview with Link Building Expert Nick LeRoy - Point Blank SEO