Interview with Link Building Expert Mike Essex

by Jon Cooper

Mike EssexMike Essex, the online marketing manager at Koozai, was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few link building questions. Mike has a very unique perspective of link building, but I don’t want to ruin it, so check out some of these awesome answers Mike provided.

1. How did you get into SEO?

It was good timing on two accounts. I’d started a personal website and wanted to try and get more visitors to the site, so I began researching methods of getting more views, and this led me to various SEO blogs. At the same time, the company I worked for wanted to investigate SEO as a new service for clients who had started hearing about it.

Over time, I started to see that SEO was just like one big video game with inputs and outputs that could be played to win and everyone wanted the highest score. So it become fun to learn more about this new industry and put the riskier things in to practice on my own site, whilst taking what worked and applying it to clients. I then moved to Koozai and progressed to Online Marketing Manager, so I now get to focus on SEO and PR for the Koozai brand.

2. Tell us a bit about your book “Free Stuff Everyday” and how you’ve utilized free giveaways to build links.

The personal blog I talked about in the first question was a blog that offered to honestly review any product and give a link to the website of that product if they gave it to me for free. It led to over 500 free products, got picked up by BBC News, USA Today and ABC News (plus other sites without three letter acronyms) and taught me a lot about how to get free products, and how giving a product away can lead to positive press.

Free Stuff Everyday was the logical extension of what I’d learnt in these four years. How people can get free stuff (not just by blogging, but through a lot of other simple ideas that cost no money), and how businesses can benefit by giving stuff away. As a result of working for a digital agency and running my own blog I get to see both sides to this argument, so the book has a unique insight into what is a very underused marketing method.

3. Could you give us an example of a highly successful giveaway that netted you some serious links?

Within Koozai we created an iPhone app that lets people analyse websites. The app was given away for free and has had over 20,000 downloads. This netted us links from Apple’s website, niche mobile review sites and reviews of the app from SEO blogs, but that isn’t the best bit. It has improved brand awareness of Koozai, so when we approach sites for links or PR opportunities we have more chance of being featured than without the app. If they haven’t heard of the app then we can mention it to show that we offer something different and are worthy of a link.

4. Outside of giveaways, what other link building strategies have you had success with?

I’m a big believer in fighting for people’s rights. If you spot an industry issue that you feel is wrong, you need to grab your soapbox and speak out against it. Every industry has legislation issues, pricing concerns, competitor debates, and other issues that can be spoken about. This worked best for us when we took a stance against eBook spam which led to links from The Guardian, TIME, CBS, and over 160 more (you can see some of the PR appearances we are most proud of on our media page),  a lot of which were gained by fighting for the Internet and SEO communities.

5. How do you think link building will change in the next few years?

Our big thing at Koozai has always been to focus on the brand above all else. Teach clients how to fight battles in their industry and to make a name for themselves and they will attract links. This is even more important now we have Search+ as every site needs something “fun” that can be shared socially.

6. What’s your best advice for link builders in boring niches?

No niche is boring. Ten years ago people would have said car insurance was boring. Now we have Compare the Meerkat, the Go Compare man, singing ads from Confused.com and more. Even Iggy Pop is trying to shift policies. It’s because these brands found a fun way to represent their products. None of the above have any real relevancy when it comes to car insurance, but they work as fun brand extensions. They also draw a ton of links and video views. So do the same for your industry, create a viral video, produce Infographics, or write thought provoking content.

I have a client who sells fibre lasers, a very technical product. We don’t write content about high tech lasers for them because a) we simply couldn’t write something with the technical experience needed in their niche and b) it wouldn’t attract many links. Instead we wrote a fun post with the “Top 10 laser scenes in movies”. We found that fun!

Look at any product in the simplest way possible. If you sell a really boring product, think of a way to make it fun and appeal to the masses. That’s where the links are.

7. Where can we find you on the Web?

You can find me at the Koozai Digital Marketing Agency, catch my video guides on YouTube or visit my personal site for more about my “free stuff” projects. I’m happy to chat with anyone and am looking for speaking and guest blogging opportunities this year so get in touch with me if you’d like to discuss anything via @Koozai_mike.


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.

Relax - I send out free emails full of
cutting edge link building tips.
  1. Great interview. I’m going to Google that “Top 10 laser scenes in movies” article! Great idea for writing interesting content in an uninteresting industry. Sometimes it is indeed the case of taking one step away and thinking beyond the product/service itself.

Interview with Link Building Expert Mike Essex - Point Blank SEO