Get Optimized 2 – Eight Industry Experts, Eight Sizzling Questions

By On September 2, 2013 • Link Building Comments (13)

Last year’s Get Optimized series tackled many of the hottest questions in the industry, from Panda, to Penguin and link disavowal. Today we are all blessed again to have eight of the best industry experts, answer the most sizzling topics of the industry today in Get Optimized, the 2nd Series.

These professionals have established themselves as authorities in the field of online marketing. The dynamic changes in online marketing have beckoned us to develop new ways to adapt to its transformation. We turn to these gurus for their expert opinion on matters that affect the processes of online marketing.

Here at SEOteky, we invited these aces and united them to achieve a common goal:

  • to have a round-table discussion and share their knowledge by answering a list of questions relevant to the current trends and innovations in Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, Branding, Digital Marketing, and Influencing;
  • to debunk myths about Search Engine Optimization, Link Building, Social, Influencing and Digital Marketing;
  • and to expand the knowledge of every reader by sharing their experiences and takes about certain topics that concern online marketing through this series.

get optimized 2

Let us all meet the experts joining us:

(From top to left, bottom to left)

Benj Arriola is the VP for SEO at Internet Marketing Inc., one of the fastest growing companies today according to Inc500, San Diego Business Journal & The Agency Post. He has been in SEO since 2004, and is a winner of multiple international SEO contest. Benj Arriola also speaks at several conferences in the US, Philippines and other countries. His personal blog is on SEO Religion. You can follow him on twitter @BenjArriola

Sheila Dela Peña is an experience Online Marketing professional, with more than 5 years focused on the hospitality industry. She is also a consultant Web Analyst to an ecommerce retailer of home décor and other consumer products based in Silicon Valley. Her experience also includes optimizing operations processes for Online Marketing and identifying key business insights for Business Intelligence. You can connect with her at Linkedin and follow her on twitter @kutitap

Jon Edward Santillan is currently working as an SEO Manager at Etihad Airways and founder of startup – An SEO Software that manages and organizes SEO campaign under single platform. Jon Santillan is also an active startup advisor and angel investor. You can follow him on Twitter @jonsantillan

Francis Gary Viray is the Co-Founder of Search Opt Media, an Inbound Marketing Company. He writes about Technical Marketing, SEO, User Experience (UX), Content Marketing and Link Acquisition Strategies on He is a self-confessed data cruncher day in day out and a Google Analytics Certified Individual. You can follow him on Twitter @garyshack and Google+.

Janette Toral has been promoting the growth of e-commerce in the Philippines since 1997. She uses her blogs to support her advocacies and teach e-commerce and digital marketing for free online. Touch base with her at Digital Influencers Marketing Summit Manila this September 21.

Jason Acidre is the Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive and the sole author of Kaiserthesage – an online marketing blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre

Sean Si is the head honcho, and editor-in-chief of SEO Hacker and God and You. Follow him on Google+ and Twitter @seo_hacker

Gary Andrew Lacanilao is working as an Online Marketing and Lead Acquisition Consultant in different SEO/PR/Marketing Agencies in USA, UK, and Canada. You can connect with him at Linkedin and follow him on Twitter @seoblacksmith

Let’s start shall we

We asked them (Question #1):

Share a creative / crazy / unexpected / expected / baits / ways that you were able to build a link without using content marketing.

The answers:

benj speaks

That is a very interesting question since most of my link baits revolve around content marketing. Putting together creative, crazy, unexpected sometimes are all in different categories for me and I think I have not experienced these all together as one. And with my crazy link baits, I am not 100% sure I want to publicly divulge them, since the crazier it gets, the closer it goes into the blackhat world.

But since this is somewhat of a historical type of question, these were things that I was involved with in the past, and I know many of these techniques really do not wok these days in a post-Panda and post-Penguin world.

Creative & Crazy – WordPress Themes

Anyone can make a WordPress theme, but how many people will actually install it? Just like a blog post, anyone can write a blog post, but how many people will actually link to it? So this is where I try to be as creative as possible. I was thinking of a feature that no other theme would have so others would install it. So I made one that has a color changer. You simply click on the spectrum of colors on the upper right corner and it updates the colors and cookies the visitor so it remembers the last setting. Why was it crazy? Well it had cloaked links by user-agent. Where the links were only visible by Googlebot. This attracted several people to install it and gained about 3,000+ backlinks within 2 months.

First is cloaking is not good at all. It can be for the right reasons, but cloaked links are the wrong reasons. - Benj

This worked then, but will not work today. First is cloaking is not good at all. It can be for the right reasons, but cloaked links are the wrong reasons. But in the past it was working. Now even if the links were not cloaked, links from themes and other templates do not work as well as they did in the past. Simply because site-wide links do not work as well as editorial links. And this even became more evident when the Penguin update came out.

Creative & Unexpected – LightboxJS photo gallery

LightboxJS was one of the first implementations of the image overlay with dimmed backgrounds using CSS controlled by JavaScript. But these are manually coded on each image, and during these days (around 2006) there was no major photo gallery using Lightbox yet. The popular photo gallery scripts were Coppermine, Gallery2, and 4images. So I made a script that will automatically create a gallery of images with the LightboxJS feature. I wanted it to be as simple as possible for web developers, so the instructions were simple. Place all images in the same folder. Open the config file and give the folder path of the images and set the thumbnail dimensions, and number of rows and columns. Then the script did all the rest. It was creative then and several people installed it and I got the “Powered by:” link. After several months, more and more better photo galleries came out with cool UI’s and I no longer maintained mine, so I discontinued its development. But I didn’t expect to get so many people install it with about a few new installs per month for about a year and a half even if better galleries have been coming out.

Crazy & Unexpected – Blogger to WordPress Importer

WordPress is one of the best blogging platforms if not the best one that exists today. WordPress can also import content from almost any blogging platform. In some point of Google’s Blogger ( blogging platform, it did a major upgrade. And when this upgrade came out, it broke WordPress’ Blogger importing capabilities. For sure WordPress would come up with an update soon that will make it work again. But on the exact day Blogger did their upgrade, I was in the process of migrating a Blogger site to WordPress and I needed to find a way to import it. So I made my own script that does the import. And when I made it work, I was thinking there are probably other people with the exact same problem. So I shared my script to the world. Now what is the crazy part? For every blog post imported from Blogger, two links were inserted below each blog post in a random order from a list of about 20 sites and they were all cloaked by CSS only. The unexpected part is I never thought anyone would install it. I found out several people did, and I didn’t expect it because the links were so easy to find. Just disable CSS styles or simply look into the source code, the links will be there. I guess many people just didn’t double check it, or simply didn’t know any better.

I just want to make it clear also that most crazy link building I have done in the past do not even work today. I’ve been in SEO for 9 years now and probably in the first 3 years, you experiment a lot of crazy stuff that I never even used for any client and used them only for my own website properties, most of which no longer rank well or are banned in search engines. These days it is all content marketing for me.

sheila speaks

When I was a part of a company which handles and manages “specialized Public Relations”, we were able to get people talking about our clients online by putting the clients in the news. A 10-second sound bite of our client is enough to get them trending and getting links to their websites.

jon santillan speaks

I still use the traditional method like identifying keywords to target and once they are identified I try to go out there and acquire the links. - Jon

I first of all undertake competitive analysis, look for any open link opportunities that I can find, and then I get all those links. I use tools to look for websites that our competitors get links from, collect those links and run another tool to check their value from the point of view of SEO and social factors. This filters out on how authoritative the sites are. After filtering the list, I look for an easy link acquisition, based on the factors that we have used and then build that link. This is a long process but the reason why we do these exercises is to make sure that we are not missing any opportunity to acquire links.

I still use the traditional method like identifying keywords to target and  once they are identified I try to go out there and acquire the links. Profile creation is another effective way I am still using to acquire links and secure the brand name because it is easy and straightforward, like picking off low hanging fruit,

Another example that I can share on building links without the need of any digital assets is by forming partnership and sponsorship. I have achieved this successfully with getting links from both Manchester City Football Club and Harlequins Rugby Club website.

gary viray speaks

Get into conference speaking gigs. You will get to see updates from event organizers and attendees when you are able to connect to them accordingly. We advise our clients to build networks with their industry peers to be more exposed; more often than not, it generates lots of mentions.

Another strategy we did was actually “QA-ing” our client’s product in the office and recommending some changes on functionality and usability. When it was finished, we pushed the updates to publishers interested in reviewing the product and got good reviews. We also targeted previous reviewers who initially gave us not-so-good ratings although this time around; we got their thumbs-up. Admittedly, the product still needs a lot of tweaking but it is a work in progress. It is crazy because we became product QA testers but still we were able to build links. Capitalizing on improving user experience and offering good products that answer needs and what people are searching for are ways to generate buzz and mentions.

janette toral speaks

I think in my case, I have a lot of opportunities to create links if I want to without using content marketing. This can include:

  • Accommodating student interviews who usually share their experience through social media.
  • Students who are required to post their research findings online and link to resources posted.
  • Write about primers, position on issues, industry situation on your site that naturally gets linked or shared by those interested in it.
  • Guesting on television and radio program where your site gets mentioned in the process.

My favorite though is sharing the content of a blog post that a Certified Blog and Social media Entrepreneur module 1 student of mine about Anne Curtis. I tweeted it and tagged her. To my surprise, she replied and retweeted it.

jason speaks

Actually, there are still many methods (for link acquisition) that don’t necessarily require content marketing, such as:

  • Sponsoring events or non-profit organizations.
  • Offering testimonials (to products or services your business utilize).
  • Connecting with other people in your industry and building relationships.

Though in my case, I don’t think that I can really share something that’s really creative or crazy (I’m more about efficiency anyway).

In getting links without the help of content, I think I’ve been more successful in leveraging relationships to acquire links.

For instance, I’ve managed to get a brand mention from the landing page of Jon Cooper’s link building course, since he asked if I could review his product and offer a testimonial.

PBS LB Course

Another sample would be getting a link from our very own Juanito “Cell” Jacela (it’s a reciprocal link actually). Meeting people and exchanging ideas with them has proven to be an effective way to get solid links too.

But I think becoming an authority through content marketing has still played a role to indirectly impact these relationships.

sean si speaks

This is a tough one. I got questionably crazy and unexpected ones before – coming from spam sites and porn sites. Someone was building negative links to SEO Hacker then albeit slowly so it really didn’t have any effect.

That’s about it.

I think I understood the question wrong. For you readers, please pardon my comprehension skills.

So let me give a more sensible answer with regards to how the question should be answered.
One crazy way we built links before is through an inner circle created by one of my blogger peers. We had a system wherein we will randomly link out to one another’s relevant blog posts. You could say it’s a link network but there’s no real public evidence that we’re doing it. Besides, there were more than 20 of us circulating links from each other so it worked – for a time.

Eventually I quit the circle (politely) because I felt that it would be questionable for my website if I stayed further. The links to my site were piling up and we were using exact match anchor texts. It was an experience for me. Didn’t get penalized for it because of the diversified links I was getting due to content marketing. You could say it was a ‘booster’ for my exact match link profile while it lasted.

gary l speaks

Think of a creative way on how you can attract people who doesn’t want to talk to you. Remember, in reality and in most cases, a perfect stranger will only respond or talk to you when they need something from you.

It’s been a long time since I built links for a client or for a company that I work for. That being said, I’ll just consider the “link” as an “opportunity”, in this case. One of the most unexpected / baits / crazy thing I did is through Linkedin Group Discussion. It was around March 2013 when I joined a group named “The Real Estate Networking Group”, most of the members obviously are agents, brokers, marketing representatives, and owners of real estate agencies around the world.

My original plan is to get few prospect clients for an online marketing and lead acquisition campaign that month. I knew from the start, that if I post something irrelevant in the discussion, I’ll be kicked out, fast! So, I give it a time and think of an idea that will give a buzz to the people who are very active in that group. After an hour, I decided to conduct a test and use bait and switch as a marketing strategy. It’s a bit risky on my end and I’m sure that it won’t last. As an explorer, I gave it a shot and the crazy thing starts with a simple post below.

Discussion Title:
I need a professional advice. (Sounds legit? Yes?)

I am Gary Andrew, a Lead Acquisition Specialist from the Philippines and I need an advice.

Last year, I was able to develop a system that is capable of extracting, filtering, and qualifying leads all over the net. I knew that it is going to be very profitable so I tried it out in to different industries. Please see the attached files to check the sample leads I was able to extract.

(I attached screenshots of leads that I gathered for a web hosting company, real estate agency, and IT service provider as a proof. All of them are warm leads, BTW.)

I was able to talk to two real estate brokers last week, I gave them leads on their target market, after that, they said that the leads are good and they already setup a meeting. The problem is, they cannot reward me even if they were able to close the deal. They said that I am not a real estate broker/agent. :( WTH! They just took my leads and left me with nothing.

So now, I decided to get a license and be a real estate agent/broker. Where should I start?


The first three replies gave me detailed instructions on what I have to do and I respond to them in a very appreciative way. However, I don’t really care about their answers, because I was waiting for something different. Leads! Yes, I was waiting for leads to come up! After few hours of waiting, I started receiving notifications that there are new comments on the thread and direct message coming from the people that belong in the same group. The test was successful, people are starting to give their numbers, e-mail addresses, website, and all of them are waiting to be contacted.

gary linkedin After a week, I knew that the admin might notice a switch in the thread, there’s a probability that he/she will delete the thread and will decline my membership. So what I did is I collected all the contact details of the people who are interested in the system. I also take a screenshot of the Linkedin notifications, for I knew this is going to be useful someday. I was right, taking a risk is good thing, capturing the notification is a good decision, and I was kicked out in the group.

Lesson: Bait and switch works for a limited time. Use it!

In my sample, I used ego to trigger my prospect leads. I asked for a professional advice to filter active/leading participants. I make it a point that my motive is unsuspicious by asking an advice, instead of directly offering my services.

Think of a creative way on how you can attract people who doesn’t want to talk to you. Remember, in reality and in most cases, a perfect stranger will only respond or talk to you when they need something from you. So, give free stuffs, show proofs, and use “tricks” when needed. Use it as an advantage to obtain your objectives in any possible way. SEO practitioners and Online Marketers should not focus on how to get/drop more links. SEO is just a medium for you to reach more audience. Creativity on the other hand, is more powerful than any built links or +1’d or liked and shared content. If you were able to do this, you don’t have to build links to obtain links/opportunity.

UP NEXT (Question #2):

Share a creative / crazy / unexpected / expected / baits / ways that you were able to use content marketing and deliver success to your client or to your website.

NO LINK? Enjoy first the answers for the question number one :)

I want to say thank you to the 8 collaborators of this work. Sir Benj Arriola, Ms. Janette Toral, Sheila Dela Pena, Jason Acidre, Sean Si, Gary Viray, Jon Edward Santillan and Gary Lacanilao.

For people who are reading this series, this is a month long work for these people so don’t forget to say thank you on the comment section if you feel that you have learned something new.


Jayson Bagio is the lead strategist of SEOteky. A digital marketing team from Manila, Ph who specializes in content marketing and link building. Get in touch with him using the contact form on the side or by visiting the about page. You can also follow him on twitter & google+.

join conversation

Related posts:

  1. Get Optimized – 8 SEO Experts from the Philippines Answer 8 of the Hottest Industry Questions Today
  2. 5 Reason to do blog commenting

13 Responses to Get Optimized 2 – Eight Industry Experts, Eight Sizzling Questions

  1. Rohit Palit says:

    First of all, really great post!

    I’ve built links through content (using outreach, SEO etc.) as well as relationships (where someone would think about linking to my post instead of a similar one by someone else because he/she knows me, or someone would just link to me from whatever page it is, like in Jason’s case). I believe, however, that for blogs that are just starting out, the best bet is creating awesome content with the help of content marketing. That simply works the best.

    Your website looks really great, by the way. ;)
    Rohit Palit recently posted..MDDHosting Review: Quietly Awesome

  2. Thank you Jayson for this opportunity. Look forward learning a lot from this series.

  3. MikSas says:

    Awesome, actionable insight
    but then again
    knowing is HALF the battle ;)

  4. Really great post Jayson. I remember one of Rand Fishkin’s advice on one of those Whiteboard Fridays, he said to offer help to webmasters even if you’re not needing anything in return that time. That’s ‘pogi points’ building.

    I really love your site’s new layout, by the way. Who did it?
    Arvin Buising recently posted..A Very Interesting Negative SEO Experiment

    • Jayson Bagio says:

      Hahah indeed! Relationship building works :) My website? Just a theme somewhere out there. I just customized it on my own…

  5. Benj Arriola says:

    There are tons more of crazy stuff I can think of that I’ve done in the past. (NOTE: IN THEPAST! LOL) Like getting links from .gov’s using the search box. Also getting links from competitors without the competitors knowing they are linking by baiting them into to some widget. I think if I think about this more… there will be more crazy stuff I will remember. LOL
    Benj Arriola recently posted..CMO Brent Gleeson Speaks at Etail East 2013 [VIDEO]

  6. tom says:

    Wouldn’t call them experts, have never heard of them

  7. Gary Andrew says:

    Of course Tom. :) Because we are probably the main reason why known online marketing companies are so successful. We work behind the scene, not in front of the camera.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge

« »