This post has been updated!

>>Click Here To Read The March 5 @ 10:30AM update or scroll down.

To see the results of this experiment click here.

In this experiment we will find out if SEO expert’s theories of building links with flattery really works and exactly how effective it is.

I have been doing link building with sites for years without the use of link baiting. Now, I have studied and studied theories of brilliant people like Aaron Wall of SEO Book, Jim Boykin from and others. I had an awesome opportunity to chat with Aaron today about some things… Thanks, Aaron!

So anyway… I have a photography blog where I post some personal pictures of my family as well as some photo work that I do from time to time. It is only a hobby site and I have no intention of making money with it. Therefore… let’s do some experimenting!

As of today if you do a search for back links to that site, you’ll notice that there are an embarrassing 36… keep in mind I have done NOTHING for this site at all yet. Most of the links are from blog comments I made and a site that I submitted some images to.

I was reading a nice article tonight from Nick Wilson called “The Art of Link Baiting“. I noticed it on Jim Westergren’s link baiting page. In the article, Nick states that if you link out to blogs in your niche, that links will come back… “he promises”.

I’m sure that Nick is correct in his assumption - and he probably is writing from experience… but we’re going to see if it works on a site with almost ZERO traffic, my photography site.

I created an article called “The 10 Best Photography Blogs On The Planet” and did an in depth analysis of 10 photography blogs that I actually subscribe to. I gave them ratings for “design”, which was my own opinion, “search-ability” (I used to find how many meaningful top 20 rankings they had) and “links” where I used yahoo to find the total number of links coming in from outside domains. They got points for each category and I rated them accordingly.

These blogs all have a small to large following in the photography circle, and if I was really trying to get ranking for my site, they are definitely the places that I would go to try to get links.

Oh… for future comparison… I spent about 6 hours putting the post together on So we’ll see how many links I can get “per hour” that are from relevant sources with this method.

The next step I will take if I don’t get links automatically by the evening of Wednesday, March 5, 2008 is to have a bunch of my employees click on the links in the blog post to try and get the attention of the blog owners. I will then send emails to the blog owners. As a last resort, I will create a press release about the top 10 list and submit it with hopes that they will them link.

So… stay tuned… we’ll see what happens. Do you think will get links from my bait? What could I have done better or different? Submit a comment telling me what to do next.

SEO Flattery Experiment UPDATE 1 - 3/5/2008 @ 10:28 EST

So it’s 10am and Google has indexed the post where my top 10 photography blogs appear. I figured I’d wait to measure results until after it was indexed to ensure that any of these photographers who receive daily google updates about their names appearing in SERPs would have seen them by now. Of course, it’s only 7am for you west coaster’s, so there may not have been updates sent to everyone just yet.

One interesting observation that Ashley made in the comments for the post was that people who are not “tech savvy” may not have any idea who is linking to their blogs. Many of these photographers seem to use a company by the name of Infinet Design, a photography site and blog design company. I have no idea if they have the same type of tracking that other bloggers use to track incoming links, or if they’re using analytics software.

So, I’m debating on doing one of two things. I’m either going to email each of the photographers that made the list and congratulate them on winning the “award”, comment on their blogs congratulating them (this would show that I was on their site and they would probably have to approve the comment), or have some people click away at the links to get their attention with increased referral traffic from my domain name. Wow! That’s so spammy 8 )…

What are your opinions? What would you do next if you were trying to get these links for

To see the results of this experiment click here.

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13 Responses to “Are SEO Experts Right About Building Links via Flattery?”

  1. aaron wall 04. Mar, 2008 at 6:52 am #

    The first rule of linkbait is… ;)

    Generally people do not like feeling like they are being examined or influenced by marketing. For that reason I tend not to talk about “lets see how it goes” until after the fact, and rarely then too.


  2. Dave Conklin 04. Mar, 2008 at 7:16 am #

    So… what you’re saying is that this post is a bit “off from the norm” and could possibly gather a little attention? 8 )

    The sites mentioned in the ConklinImages article have no idea that this post exists… that is unless they find it. So my intent is to see their reaction without any influence. And of course provide a bit of curiosity from readers here.

    Thanks for the comment, Aaron.


  3. Ashley 04. Mar, 2008 at 9:39 am #

    I was wondering about the whole ‘clicking on the link’ to get their attention idea.

    Sadly, I guess I don’t have much faith in non-tech related niche websites. My first thought was “do those photographers even know enough to set up some site analytics to track their traffic and all” - but I guess they probably have a webmaster for that, huh?

    I’m definitely be interested to see where this goes…


  4. Dave Conklin 05. Mar, 2008 at 10:38 am #

    That’s a great point… like in the building of links for this blog, we are trying to put out useful content for the seo community, because they are the ones that understand it.

    You may be correct in assuming that “non-tech” people don’t even know who is linking to their sites.


  5. abarger 06. Mar, 2008 at 12:41 pm #

    If they don’t have a webmaster…. tell them to contact me. I am $150/hour. I’ll setup their analytics, no prob!


  6. chadrocks 07. Mar, 2008 at 10:37 am #

    As far as what to do next… I often see “badges” on people’s sites from various other sites within the same niche. Perhaps creating a small graphic or badge that folks can stick onto their page to show: 1)the award or prestige of having a “top site” and 2)a nice little link on the page that people could jump to in order to find out more about said contest (and maybe even try to get into the next round of judging)…

    *diabolical laugh*


  7. Joel Wiebner 10. Mar, 2008 at 10:45 am #

    I’m not sure how I feel about this… Don’t expect a link though :)

    I don’t think the rats are supposed to know they are in a maze.


  8. laura novak 10. Mar, 2008 at 11:08 am #

    the thing about linkbait is that intelligent business people know how to check their webstats :)

    careful with these things, you tend to get back what you put out into the world. and karma is a real b***h.

    Laura Novak
    One of the ten ‘top wedding photography blogs’


  9. Ashley 10. Mar, 2008 at 2:23 pm #

    Haha, Dave’s a jerk. Ok, that’s a JOKE, don’t fire me Dave!

    No, but to Laura and Joel:

    1st - SORRY. I’m not sure any of us considered how you all might feel about this. Shame on us! But hey, now we know, if you’re wanting links, accidentally insulting the people you want them from PROBABLY isn’t the best way to go about it…

    2nd - I can’t speak for Dave (I’m sure he’ll address this himself) but it definitely wasn’t our intention to offend! I know that he sincerely does love your blogs, simply because he talks about them all the frickin’ time! :-)

    3rd - Um, don’t want want to sound like an ass, but I gotta know from a scientific standpoint - how DID you wind up finding this blog post? Did it turn up in your site analytics somehow?


  10. Dave Conklin 10. Mar, 2008 at 11:20 pm #

    I think it’s awesome that you guys (Laura and Joel) came across this post.

    As a side note, I received a not-so-friendly email from Becker also stating that he was going to link to the post until he found out that I was “blowing smoke” up his a**. The sad thing is that there’s no smoke… I created a legitimate post that I was sincere about.

    I guess the “offense” comes because they didn’t feel it was legit???

    As an FYI… there were some posts made to some forums (I had nothing to do with two of them) that referred to my post and I received about 450 click-throughs for it and added to my subscriber base.

    I will update the site tomorrow with details of the Becker email and more.


  11. laura novak 11. Mar, 2008 at 10:36 pm #

    The offense is asking us to spend time out of our very busy days on something that isn’t real, and taking the time to respond (along with many other ‘what do I do with this?’ emails we get in a day) back with a considerate response.

    I just think you are completely underestimating how many difficult situations we are put in as high visibility profssional photographers, particularly when it comes to internet ethics. Between finding our images on other photographers’ sites, finding our names in other website’s metatags without authorization, getting anonymous comments we have to moderate from envious competitors, and then being part of an SEO experiment … the amount of time I spend on unethical internet situations is discouraging to me.

    I’m not going to visit this site again, or give this any more attention. But I would suggest that you read a book before doing anything like this again - it’s called the Power of Nice by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval. The reason why I have gotten to where I am in my career is because… yes, I know how to work a camera and yes, I understand marketing. But it’s mostly because of the way I treat people with respect no matter who they are, even if I am not sure how they could ever help me in the future. That core value seems to come back to me time and time again in the form of future business and relationship marketing.

    Something to consider.



  12. Dave Conklin 19. Mar, 2008 at 8:29 pm #

    Wow! I never thought ANYONE would EVER get offended by this… but what are you gonna do.

    If my post was fake and I didn’t really give a rip it would be different, but I truly admire all of the work from all of the photographers mentioned here.

    As of this comment, the page is coming up on page one for terms like:

    10 greatest photographers
    grazier photography
    greates photographers
    infinet blogs
    infinet design
    infinet design blogs
    infinet design photography
    jesh de rox
    joel wiebner
    list of the greatest photographers
    some of the greatest photographers
    wiebner photography

    So, especially to Brock and Dave, who I think are frustrated by the experiment as well… you’re welcome for placing your work on the post.


  13. deborah 21. Mar, 2008 at 11:24 am #

    What is that saying? People don’t want to be marketed to but they do want to buy?

    It’s similar here. They want you to list them in the top 10, but they don’t want to be part of an experiment. They feel used, especially when people make comments about rats in mazes. The rat comment is not going to help.

    You’d be surprised how many ‘normal’ people are into SEO. I work with people in varied businesses and a lot of can read web stats and understand basic SEO principles.

    Great blog though. I’ll stop by again.


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