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The State of Link Building with Nicholas Chimonas

By Site Strategics
June 6, 2016

Nicholas Chimonas knows a thing or two about link building. As Page One Power’s Head of Product Development, part of Chimonas’ job is to develop link building strategies for clients on a daily basis, and he was the featured guest on a recent #edgetalk podcast.

In April, Chimonas released “The 2016 State of Link Building Survey – Results & Analysis” in partnership with MOZ and Credo. He wanted to bring more clarity and transparency to a ‘complicated pillar’ of SEO. During the interview, he discussed how link building has generated a lot of negativity over the years – primarily as the place where “Black Hat” SEO lived.

“Let’s be frank: link building has had a volatile history filled with spam, tricks, and get-rich-quick schemes,” he said.

Now “White Hat” SEO focuses on expert keyword analysis, site structure optimization, and optimized content creation. Internal and external link building is part of an overall strategy.

Partly because there was no link building report in 2015, Chimonas felt compelled to do a survey this year, but also because link building is constantly evolving.

“The questions in this year’s survey were designed to reflect link building’s evolution into a more legitimate and integrated marketing channel,” said Chimonas.

The Methodology
This year’s survey had 435 responses and that was due in large part to a number of people that supported and promoted this project.

“Rand (Fishkin) tweeted out the survey and made mention of it on his personal Twitter as well as the Moz handle,” said Chimonas. “John Doherty, the founder of Credo, co-authored & aided in the promotion.”

The Respondents
180 of the 435 survey respondents (41%) were from agencies, which was an increase from 2014. Per Chimonas, “Link building is still typically an agency offering, despite predictions of link building moving in-house or to PR teams.”

The Responses
As far as the average client’s budget that is allocated to link building per month, 152 respondents (35%) responded “Under $1,000.” This is interesting because this was not the case in 2014.

“In 2016, our audience reported much lower costs for link building compared to the 2014 survey,” said Chimonas. “This could be due to a different audience reached, or less focus on link building itself.”

In regards to what percentage of the overall SEO budget is dedicated to link building, 230 respondents (53%) reported “0-25%.” As a follow-up, survey takers were then asked what percentage of their SEO work/campaigns is focused on link acquisition.

Although 230 responses fell in the 0-25% of budget range, only 156 responses were in the 0-25% range of time spent. Beyond suggesting that link building services aren’t being budgeted properly, Chimonas further explained why this might be: “People don’t put ‘budget’ towards link building in a traditional way, but do spend significant time in it.”

As far as what link building tactics to use, 391 respondents (91%) selected “Content Publication/Promotion or Guest Posting.”

Chimonas touts content creation as the means by which to acquire links:

The creation of content is a value proposition with the strongest chance of leading to an acquired link. Building links by creating content is simply used more than any of the other tactics.

Even though Chimonas places heavy emphasis on content creation in his own link building strategies, he also states it’s about building relationships.

“Build relationships because you know these people are going to be able to provide you with links and content,” he said. “It’s not a ‘numbers’ game anymore when trying to obtain links.” He suggested reaching out to webmasters and having a conversation with them.

Finally, Chimonas sees link building as evolving more into link earning.

Take a moment to listen to our link building discussion with Chimonas here. Also, we encourage you to read his article on the MOZ blog that delves in deeper into his findings.