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Link Building before Google?

Were there any Link builders before the days of Google?



3:24 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Instead of making a long post, I'll try to keep it ultra brief:

Were there full-time link builders before Google had the idea of using links for search engine rankings? Were there people who were making a living building links to websites for referral traffic?


11:40 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator anallawalla is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Brief answer: no


11:43 pm on Mar 27, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator anallawalla is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Longer answer: It took the PageRank paper to get SEOs to realise that Google was going to reward a site that had links pointing to it. In the olden days, it was all about on-page keyword stuffing, hidden text etc. I think full-time link builders arrived about 5 years ago in a noticeable quantity.


12:17 am on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

So Eric Ward was only an exception who could make a living that way, because he was/is *that* good at it?

(just curious, because I read he's been doing that since 94..I even landed at an old WebmasterWorld thread on this)

My guess is that the top-notch link builders/some of the best SEOs probably could make a decent living from only referral traffic, too (I mean the guys making 7 figures from their sites....if 90% of their traffic (all search traffic) ceased to exist, their sites would probably still earn them a nice living)


12:33 pm on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I was speaking to someone this week who was describing link building pre-google. It was absolutely being done - in fact it sounded like the primary source of marketing on the web back then.

He indicated that it was always exciting coming across people that had a similiar site because it was another source of potential traffic.


1:10 pm on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Interesting, wheel!

My guess was that if somebody made the effort to focus on it, it probably should have been possible...in particular, because links still flew freely. I mean, most webmasters were probably not thinking "Im giving away a link = Im giving away money", but simply linked to good content (but on the other hand there wasnt as much web-traffic around, yet, i guess)


7:32 pm on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Remember webrings?


5:44 pm on Mar 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Oh the dreaded webring! lol. But I do know that recips were what made the web tick, and being able to submit to infoseek and get same day serps was unreal. There's a few other good things I'd like to bring back from the pre-Google days, and not have to artificially build links is one of them.


9:24 am on Apr 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Answer. YES there was. Remember the Zeus Marketing Robot. Was i the only one that thought this was a great tool and got results from it!


8:01 pm on Apr 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Heard about this thread and wanted to participate. I wasn't the only person who built links for a living back before Google. There were several of us. Many are still in the biz. Many of the people who used to do it started other ventures, went to work for other firms, or simply got sick of it :)

I never considered myself a link builder, and I still don't. That's just what the industry decided to call it, especially after Google launched, and I went along for the ride. On my business card it says "content publicist".

Since my clients were ranking, I figured something about my approach appealed to whatever it was this new-fangled Google bot thingy was looking for. You have to remember that even after Google launched, it was still an AltaVista and Infoseek world for a long time. But, since links suddenly mattered for search rank, I studied and analyzed links more with whatever tools were available, and it became clearer to me what Google was looking for.

The key for me then was to

1) continue doing what I had been doing, because my merit based approach to link seeking created an inbound link profile that Google liked, and

2) be selective about what clients/content I accepted, because content has to earn the link based on quality, not negotiation.

If the links pointing at your site are nothing more than self-created links from name directories, article pushing software, or press releases, you are history. You always were. Those links aren't an indicator of quality. But this is nothing new. It was, and still is, about getting the right content introduced to the right people, in a highly subject specific manner, so that content will get the high trust links it deserves.

The tools have changed, but the goal has not. If the content is not linkworthy, it doesn't matter who the link builder or content publicist is.


[edited by: tedster at 2:21 am (utc) on April 10, 2009]


8:52 pm on Apr 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Link building was taken up as a tool for SEO by Google to measure the importance of a webpage on the web. Link building was not introduced by Google but used as ranking tool for Google search.


9:06 pm on Apr 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I remember the old FFA (Free For All) link networks back then. In those days you could get thousands of links overnight. :)

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