Link Building Examples in the Real World

Cara Bowles    By under Link Building.

Link Building Examples in the Real World 1

SEO blogs are a great source of material and advice, but sometimes you need to put all of that aside and start looking at real world examples. For today's post, I thought I'd do something a little different.

I'm not going to tell you what I think works. I'm not going to make predictions about the future of Google, or theorize about the quirks of the almighty algorithm. Instead, I'm going to peek behind the curtain and find out what top sites are doing to rank.

Keyword: Loans

Is there a harder keyword out there? I thought I'd take a look at the site that ranks for the mother of all keywords and see what's going on behind the scenes. The site is, and here's what Open Site Explorer had to say about it.

  • Top Link - It's from an infographic on Guy Kawasaki's site. The artists from Credit Loan helped him produce the infographic, and he returned the favor with a link.
  • Link #2 - Once again, it's a link in exchange for an infographic, this time for Yoast.
  • Link #3 - You guessed it, an infographic, this time on Mashable, as part of a series of what they considered the best social media infographics on the web.
  • Link #4 - Are you seeing a pattern yet? It's an infographic for ProBlogger, questioning whether or not Twitter is a waste of time.

The Takeaway - Help others by offering services that they don't have, and they will return the favor. Also, infographics.

Keyword: Lawyer

Yes, Wikipedia and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics take the top spots here, but I'm going to ignore them, because of course they're going to take the top spots. Instead, we'll take a look at

  • Top Link - This one comes from Believe it or not, it's a footer link, and it's included because both sites belong to the LexisNexis Digital Network. Yes, gets its strongest link from a network. The key here is that it's not a private network, and there's nothing to hide. It's your call whether or not Google is counting this link, but it obviously hasn't hurt them.
  • Link #2 - The link comes from the front page of a link directory called refdesk. It's a fairly popular one, with an Alexa rank of under 22,000 (don't get me started on Alexa), and all the links appear to be to very authoritative sites.
  • Link #3 - Another link from MartinDale.
  • Link #4 - A link from their YouTube page, which currently has 207 subscribers and 115,000 video views.
  • Link #5 - Ignoring yet another MartinDale link, the next link came from a blog editor profile on

The Takeaway - Less cutting edge link building techniques can still work if the links come from authoritative domains. Exact match domains still matter, and authority breeds authority.

Keyword: How to Lose Weight Fast

I checked the Google Ads Keyword Tool to see what the most popular exact match keyword related to "diet" was, and this was it. It's also a highly competitive keyword. A page on Fitness Tips For Life took the spot. It's an extensive list of 101 ways to lose weight and appears very informative. The page itself had almost no external links, and tons of internal links, so I checked out the links to the highest ranked page, which was the home page.

  • Top Link - A blogroll link from the Orlando Sentinal, a newspaper.
  • Link #2 - EzineArticles, no kidding. But it's not a typical EzineArticles throwaway link. It's from his author page, which has been viewed a whopping 418,000 times. A quick browsing through the articles revealed that they were far better than average.
  • Link #3 - A link from, a site that allows you to add a link to your blog and collect stats.
  • Link #4 - This one comes from AllTop. AllTop is a site that users can use to personalize an article queue from authoritative sources and filter out noise. It's essentially a high quality, genuinely useful link directory. Submitted sites go through a fairly intense screening process.

The Takeaway - Despite all the claims of big brand favoritism, low brand sites can still compete. Links from content farms can sometimes work if you're producing quality content. Non-editorial links can still work if they come from authoritative sources and don't appear to be bought.


Sometimes we can get trapped in a prison of our own hype. For the same reason that white hat SEOs need black hat SEOs, we also need to keep our eyes on real world examples and see what's working. While it's important to stay ahead of the game and future-proof yourself more than the competition, it's also important to stay grounded.

What other examples of real world SEO can you point to? Are SEO blogs losing touch with reality?

Image credit: Brett Jordan