Interview with Link Building Expert Wil Reynolds

by Jon Cooper

Wil Reynolds, the founder of SEER Interactive, was kind enough to join me in this week’s interview. I could talk all day about how great Wil is at what he does, but I’ll let his answers speak for themselves. If you haven’t, make sure you subscribe to the SEER blog and follow him on Twitter



1. You recently wrote a post titled “How Google Makes Liars Out of the Good Guys in SEO”. Do you think some of the issues you brought up will be fixed in the short term, or do we still have a long way to go? Explain.

I think Google has started on this for sure, and I for one am extremely glad.  I never want to make it seem like Google can just snap a finger and “fix it” – but it’s great to see it’s a focus, you know?  I do still think Google is going to have a LONG way to go though.  Remember cleaning up a few MAJOR link networks just gets rid of some of the BIG crap that ranks well still.  That doesn’t mean connecting with people on social and writing good content is still entirely the way to win, but at least the easy “buy links in a well known network” stuff is in focus first.

2. Do you think social signals will ever have the impact links have? Why?

Not the same impact in the next 3-4 years, but after that it might be possible.  Look at the Authorship Project for instance, Google is working on that and its great. The issue is with adoption, they need more people to adopt that.  Ask someone who is not in SEO but is in marketing what rel=author is and they’ll likely look at you with 3 heads.  So we can’t forget that we’re in the bubble a bit, but when most publications get on board, watch out.  Social signals are the next logical progression IMHO.  11 years ago I shared everything I knew about SEO in forums, then 5 years ago blogs, and today most is shared on social channels.  If Google doesn’t figure out social signals someone else will, in the same way that Altavista, Lycos, etc never seemed to get the “links as votes” thing, and lo and behold Google does and BOOM, Google’s the king and Altavista and Lycos are dust.  Google knows it’s a threat because sharing patterns are changing.  I think this is where Google+ Ripples helps all of us to understand which circles have influence and which ones don’t.

3. Which link building strategy do you think is the most overlooked or under utilized?

Hmmmm, Good question!  Mining clients existing connections.  I know it sounds basic, but so often we spend so much time coming up with new ideas, and not enough time saying to clients… “Can I have your LinkedIn account for 1 day” or “Can you export your LinkedIn followers?”.  I have found that we even miss that at SEER all the time.  Simply asking a client … hey, who do you know that could do you a favor if you asked for it, often shows a LOT of opportunity?  This is also why I have been trumpeting time and time again exporting followers via followerwonk, looking at who is already interested in you / your company and scanning their bios is hands down one of the most overlooked opportunities.

4. What’s the biggest challenge you have to overcome when working with clients?

Usually it’s getting them more on board and more invested in our ideas.  It rarely happens because I think we do a great job of making sure we pick the right kind of clients.  I do know though that sometimes they wish that we could just do some magic and get the rankings, and when we start asking a lot of questions and heavily involving them sometimes clients push back on the amount of time we are asking of them, but they get why.

5. What tools do you use to manage your link building projects?

I’ve been using Raven for a long time.  Mostly for rank checking these days.  I am planning on re-evaluating buzzstream for link tracking, really wish they had an API, ya know, but it does look like they are making a lot of improvements lately.  I am also planning on taking a real look at sixtrix and ahrefs – after my trip to Europe several SEO friends recommended both, so I think its high time I take another look.  I think we at SEER need a better way to evaluate the sites we are getting links from and how Google has valued them over time, you know?

We’re also big basecamp users as I just can’t imagine what I would do without that tool. It really keeps everyone on the same page.

6. What’s the most creative thing you’ve done in your career to build links?

It wasn’t me alone, actually it was Adam Melson’s (http://www.seerinteractive.com/team/adam) idea, I just helped with it.  He decided to create a “national day” for one of our clients – hands down one of the most successful ideas I’ve ever seen come out of the SEER-plex.  He’s also the brainchild behind our scholarship link building that so many people have heard me speak about on the road. So while I was a part of them he conceptualized that.


I just want to give Wil a HUGE thanks for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions. Make sure you check out his blog & follow him on Twitter if you already haven’t.

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. Anthony Pensabene says:

    Good questions and answers. It was a great suggestion to go back and mine existing connections as an ‘overlooked’ building endeavor. I also dig Wil’s answer to the last question, celebrating his employee.

    • Yes, it seems that SEER is awesome at that. And they’re all so active on the various social media channels. It’s just impressive, and I love their bi-weekly Googe Plus chats. Thanks for contributing, Wil.

  2. Ken Howard says:

    The people you already know is a great tip. It’s one that I give to clients all the time. Another is the employees’ social profiles need to be up-to-date and active.

  3. Another splendid interview Jon!

    Also, a quick thanks to Wil Reynolds for taking the time and sharing his opinion with you.

    I have to agree with Ken, mining a clients existing connections is an EXCELLENT tactic to use to your advantage. This is something I have employed for quite sometime when looking for new avenues to utilize in link building or even marketing content.

    I would also strongly agree that the social profiles of employee’s must be up-to-date and active as much as possible. This is one aspect I struggle with as an in-house SEO. Very frustrating at times when trying to explain how important it is for them to be contributing in our social presence. Especially when trying to market new content.

  4. Hey Wil. You are right on point with #3. There are so many linking opportunities that we overlook. Your the second SEO expert that I’ve heard mention “followerwonk.” We will start using it. But did you ever use Twitter Karma: http://dossy.org/twitter/karma/

  5. Jason Acidre says:

    Loved the answer to Q6 😀

  6. Courtney Cox says:

    Great interview. I’ve never heard of followerwonk until now. Definitely going to check it out today.

  7. Utilizing existing contacts is always one of the best ways to go. Speaking with any suppliers,vendors, complimentary competitors etc.

    All of these can result in potentially good link opportunities.
    It can definitely take some hand holding to help clients understand why you can’t just magically make ranking happen, and that digging into their network is important.

  8. Thanks for the interview. I really enjoyed Wil’s talk at the Link Love 2011 conference. And I must have been under a rock because followerwonk is new to me!

  9. AnneMo says:

    I agree with Wil Reynolds that Google made the right thing in cleaning the whole network. Lots of websites are still ranking high even if their content and services are poor because they merely avail paid links services like BMR.

  10. Lorenzo says:

    Hey Wil, great interview, thank you for sharing your ideas and knowledge. I would like to know more about the “national day” idea, have you published any post about it?

    Thanks Jon for putting this interview together.

  11. jamie says:

    Great stuff! I especially liked the insight around mining the relationships you currently have – and as an extension of that, building on the top trafficked profiles your client currently have as identified in Google Analytics (or whatever analytics package you’re using).

  12. Neil Ferree says:

    Interesting dialogue Jon (but) my crystal ball says “social signals” will have a major impact well before 3-4 years from now. I agree Google Ripples has the potential to “reveal” which circles are more impactful to ones social sphere and sure most people (users) draw a blank when we bring up rel=author issues, but still, when a user sees a buddy’s image on a SPYW search, this will have an immediate impact on CTR and consequently SERP results.

Interview with Link Building Expert Wil Reynolds - Point Blank SEO