In-House Link Building Survey


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I’m lucky, I get to chat with one of the best link builders in the world pretty regularly. Garrett French is one of the founders of Ontolo, which has become an industry leader in competitive link building. He sent me a link the other day to participate in a In-House SEO survey about link building. There’s 14 questions, here’s my answers from time as the in-house SEO at Sinclair Institute.

First was the Day-to-Day Link Building Questions

Q. As an inhouse SEO, what are your top 5 most important link building tasks and responsibilities?

Because the Sinclair Institute’s flagship site is perceived as right on the edge of adult content, links were hard to come by. Since getting a link from was out of the question we had to aim differently. We tried to build relationships with top bloggers in our niche, and that usually worked well. We also tried to get links from our suppliers, which was hit and miss. Leaving comments on widely read industry blogs that linked back to us was time consuming, but often worked well. Also commenting at our top competition’s site.

Q. What, if any, link building tasks would you be comfortable outsourcing?

Personally? All of them. Link building is difficult and time-consuming, but we all do it because it’s worth it.

Q. How much of your time is spent on link building related tasks on a day to day basis?

Not enough. Probably about an hour a week.

Next was the Link Building Tool Questions

Q. What are your top 5 most important link building tools?

I’ve always loved the tools offered by seomoz. I have used open site explorer, the competitive link finder and the Juicy Link Finder. I have not yet tried the Link Acquisition Assistant from them. I also use Yahoo Site Explorer to see what links my competitors have.

Q. What are the most valuable tasks or functions of existing link building tools that you couldn’t live without?

I love the automation in the new & improved PRO Dashboard. It allows me to just check in when I need to. It keeps working in the background.

Q. What are the biggest let-downs of link building tools you have used or currently use?

It still comes down to a manual process of building links.

Part 3 is Inhouse Link Building Campaign Design Questions

Q. If a fellow inhouse SEO asked for help in developing a link building campaign, what questions would you ask them?

What are the key terms you want to be associated with your site? Who is the industry leader for those terms. Can you long-tail any of those terms? What is your budget?

Q. What link building tactics work better for inhouse SEOs than agency link builders? Why?

I think working in-house gives you the advantage of living within your niche. Because your entire company is always immersed in it, you have a deeper understanding of the nuances. With that said, sometimes that understanding can make you attempt things because you assume it’s not possible.

Q. As an inhouse SEO, what link building techniques have you found that scale (if any…)?

Link building that scales? Is that actually possible?

Finally is Internal Credibility and Influence Questions

Q. Can you describe techniques or tactics you’ve used to grow your internal trust and credibility with colleagues?

Maybe I’m lucky but I didn’t have to win anyone over. My old boss did all the heavy lifting for the past 5 years.

Q. How do you get colleagues to perform tasks related to link building?

I show them results. Once someone gets a taste of success, they’re happy to continue.

Q. How have you grown your colleagues’ ability to identify and act on link opportunities?

A constant update of where we are, what phrases we need to work on, and asking their advice about where else we can look. I learned long ago that asking someone for help really works.

Q. What metrics do you use to convey link building success to upper management?

Great question. The only metric they generally understand is conversion and revenue. I work with charts to show how better ranking means more clicks, more conversions and finally more revenue. A graph that shows things getting better will always get more buy in.


  1. Appreciate the insights Phil, thanks for sharing.

  2. Great info, Phil. As always, you bring great value to the table. Thanks.

  3. Thanks Jeff – doing in-house SEO was a challenge on a lot of levels, but I’m glad to have had free reign while I was there.


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