Link Building Secrets That Will Rock Your Rankings with Brian Dean

Brian Dean Link Building SEO Expert

Backlinks, despite what the social media fan boys will have you believe, you can’t rank #1 in Google without them.

When it comes to building links that catapult you to the top of Google – Brian Dean is without a doubt the industry’s go to guy.

What’s The Key To High Search Rankings?

I invited Brian Dean, founder of, to share some of his top link building techniques that marketing agencies pay him big money to for and that he uses in his own business to rank #1 for some of the most competitive keywords on the planet.

“It’s all about links. It’s always been about links. And at least in the next 5, 6, 10 years it will be about links. Whoever has the best links will rank above those who don’t. The whole SEO game is getting those links.”

Marketing agencies pay Brian several hundred dollars per hour to
consult on link building. Thank Brian with a tweet here.
(Video Value = $600+)

In Brian’s first 2-years in the search engine optimization game he got “slapped” and lost rankings more times then he could count. Here are some highlights from the interview and 3 techniques he uses to build powerful links.

Forget Microsites – Build Authority Sites

Forget micro-sites (1-10 page website). Focus all your time, money and resources on building 1 authority site at a time.

Sure, life is good when you have 10 microsites ranking on top of Google but when when your rankings drop your problems are amplified 10X.

LESSON : It’s no more risky to have 1 big site than dozens of little sites. Plus, when your site gets authority status, ranking for your keywords becomes easier.

Ignore 95% of SEO Techniques on Forums

Online forums are full of free advice. But beware, because you get what you pay for.

In Brian’s experience you should ignore 95% of search engine optimization techniques your read on marketing forums (no matter how many people applaud it in the comment thread) for this one simple reason…it doesn’t work.

By the time someone has tested the tactic, gotten rankings, shared it with the world and then you read it…it’s dead.

This truism reminds me of a quote from a wise Wall Street executive in 1929 right before the stock market crash, “You know it’s time to sell when shoeshine boys give you stock tips. This bull market is over.”

LESSON : If you read an SEO technique on a public forum…the bull market is over.

The One Thing That Makes Link Building Easier?

How is your content going to stand out from billions of pages found online? It’s not creating good content. It’s creating awe inspiring content that’s dripping with value.

In our interview Brian reveals the successful online entrepreneur who goes so far as to routinely spends $50,000 to create a single web post so definitive, so undeniably impressive and awe inspiring that it sends shock waves of envy through his niche and attracts links like a tractor beam and shower him with web traffic.

LESSON : Go beyond good content – aim for breathtaking. (Check out the next tip – The Skyscraper Backlink Technique That Guarantees You’ll Get Quality Links)]

The Skyscraper Technique To Attract Quality Links

This technique virtually guarantees that you’ll attract the kind of backlinks you need to rank for any keyword you want.

Step 1: Find link-worthy content

Step 2: Create content that’s even better

Step 3: Contact the right sites in your niche.

Brian claims the success of this technique is basic human psychology.

Have you ever walked by a really tall building and said to yourself, “Wow, that’s amazing! I wonder how big the 8th tallest building in the world is.”

What you’re going to do is finding the tallest “skyscraper” in your space…and slapping 20 stories to the top of it. It’s human nature to be attracted to the best.

Watch the interview for more detail on the Skyscraper Technique.

LESSON : Find out what works and make it better – then hustle.

Social Signals – The Shocking Truth

Google has invested billions of dollars developing a search ranking algorithm based on the number of quality, relevant links going to a page.

Yes, Google is starting to factor social signals like Tweets, Facebook likes, pins, Google Plus into consideration. But if think they’re going to scrap billions in research and development to build a new algo based on data they don’t have 100% access to … well… that’s naive.

LESSON :  Stick with building links for now and the near future.

Linkerati – Who Are They & How Do They Help You Rank?

In every niche there is a group of people who’re most likely to put a link to your page on their site – they’re link happy – aka the linkerati.

Brian’s approach is to always start your link building campaign by finding your niche’s linkerati, figure out what they like to link to and go above and beyond to create content they can’t help but link to.

LESSON : Focus on the link power-brokers.

Build It And They Will Come is a Myth.

Many pseudo-experts mistakenly preach that if you create great content the traffic will come. It’s a fairytale.

Creating killer content is not even half the battle in the SEO game. Smart marketers like Derek Halpern of Social Triggers spend 20% of their time creating content and 80% hustling for links, guest posts and tapping into other people’s subscriber lists.

“Here’s the deal: When you run a blog that has a few readers, adding more content doesn’t help you get more readers. The math just doesn’t work. Let’s say you have 100 readers. What are the chances that one of those people will love your content so much that they tell ALL of their friends about it? 1%? 2%? If that?” – Derek Halpern

LESSON : Blog less – promote more. You don’t have to be a content creation maniac to rank well.

“If you had a gun to your head and needed to rank fast, what link tactic would you use?”

Brian’s response without hesitation was – Infographics. Here’s his approach:

1. Research the kind of content the linkerati or linking to by going to Google and searching your target keyword.

2. Ignore results from authority sites like CNN, WebMD, Huffington, etc.. because they have an unfair ranking advantage.

You want to focus on pages created by Joe Average bloggers because it’s the content the linkerati are linking to.

3. Look for the opportunity.

Is the page outdated, missing critical information, an incomplete list, could it use more detailed instructions, attractive graphic design?

LESSON : Infographics are powerful link magnets.

In our video interview Brian reveals the 1 sneaky trick he uses in his link attracking infographics that dramatically increases the odds of authority sites giving him a backlink.

Broken Link Building Technique

Broken links on other people’s sites can be a backlink goldmine.

1. Identify a site you want a link from.

2. Find broken links on the site

3. Email the site informing them of the broken link and forward a page on your site that would be a suitable replacement for the broken link.

LESSON : Sites that are already linking will link again.

The Most Underutilized Link Building Tool – Email

I get at least 1 email every day with someone asking me for a link and I ignore them unless they’re looking to sponsor the site.

So I thought I’d seen every email approach in the book until Brian shared his 3-step email formula that increases his odds of getting an authority site to link to him by 200%.

Remember, the previous lesson – spend 20% of your time creating content and 80% hustling links and promoting your content. Email is the tool you use in the hustle.

Watch the video to learn the exact 3-step email formula Brian uses to get authority sites linking to him.

LESSON : Emailing people and begging for a link has a low success ratio and is annoying. If you’re going to do it, do it right.

Anchor Text Optimization

When I’m in the trenches, grinding out an SEO campaign and find a relevant, authority site that I can get a link on I stress about the keywords I should include in the link – aka, the anchor text.

It was a weight off my mind when Brian told me that he no longer worries about anchor text because over optimization is a signal to Google that you’re gaming the system – which they countered with the 2012 Penguin update.

LESSON : Brian advises that no more than 5% of your anchor should be keyword targeted to what you want to rank for.


BAX : What link building technique have you seen results with? Or, do you think SEO is dead?




      • Phil Gregory says

        As excited as I am byt this article that part was crap! There will ALWAYS be some useful info on the forums, How is the content in a blog post any different from a post on a Forum? It depends on the quality of the forum and community using it.

        • says

          Good point, Phil.

          The point is that once an SEO tactic is public, easy to implement by the masses and being used by everyone – Google levels the playing field by changing it’s algorithm.

          But there are little tidbits of gold on a forum for sure.

          What’s your fav forum, Phil?

    • says

      Ah, you know his work already, Casey?

      Yes, he delivered golden nuggets of SEO value in this interview. I was glad to have him.

      Thanks for watching

  1. Ryan says

    I agree with the social signals for the most part. Tweets, Facebook, linked in and pinterest.

    However, I have seen that social shares on Google Plus or Plus +1′s have a little effect on your post rank. I’ve had several instances now where some of my content started to slip and I just passed it around Google + a few more times and the post starts to creep back up to its original position if not higher. Also, I noticed if you have some one in your circles and they have written something close to or answers a question you just asked on Google…the person in your circle’s post will show up in Google SERP’s higher than it would normally appear.

    • says

      That’s fascinating info about ranking bumps with a little Google + love, Ryan.

      Are these high, medium or low competition keywords you’re talking about?

      Anyone else seen this?

      • Ryan says

        Most I’ve experimented with are medium keywords where I can just dump some great content (better than whats there) share it around a few times and beat out the comp. This way I don’t have to spend to long link building. (going off moz rank I have beaten out sites with PA/DA’s in the mid 70′s on a site that was just launched and doesn’t have any authority.

        Not sure how effective this would be for the most competitive terms however, but maybe it could help get over the hump

  2. says

    I just recently heard of Brian via Neil Patel. I have spent a lot of time on his site and I look forward to his emails. This interview looks great and I am diving in now.

  3. says

    I am all for great content but 50k for a post?!?! I am all in favor of everyone telling people that linkbuilding is dead, that way by the time they figure out links are still boss, they are far behind.

    • says

      When did Brian say that “link building was dead”?, Rob.

      I think the point he was making is that if your niche is competitive, regular, run of the mill content isn’t going to help you attract links.

      But link building is still the key to high rankings.

  4. Marius Fermi says

    Uber post! Love the no – B.S. tactics. Love the imagery with the skyscrapers, I’m one of those people that remembers well when there’s a picture involved. :)

    • says

      Me too, Marius.

      Brian Dean also teaches us a subtle branding lesson…giving a tactic a name like “Skyscraper Method” is a mental hook people remember and talk about…and the credit goes back to him.

  5. says

    What are some examples of SEO techniques of forums to ignore?

    So if someone on a forum mentions guest posting or infographics building, do you recommend we ignore it? Then we’re left with nothing!

    I think I see your point, but would like some good examples.

    • says

      Good point, Joe.

      This was an interview on what works and not on what doesn’t work. I wish Brian and I had the time to make a list of what doesn’t work and what to ignore on the free forums.

      My advice:

      1. Find out who’s ranking for your money keywords.

      2. Look at their backlinks

      3. Find out the sites they’re getting their links from and visit the pages they have links on.

      Whoever or whatever is behind the reason that page ranks is the BEST teacher…

      …not what you read in a forum.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment, Joe.

      I just want to say that there are A LOT of fantastic strategies out there that have nothing to do with guest blogging or infographics. But they’re not usually talked about on forums.

      My point was this: you should be VERY weary about strategies that get too big.

      For example, a year or so ago (right before Penguin 1.0), these strategies were considered bulletproof:

      -Exact match domains
      -Exact match keyword anchor text
      -Blog network links
      -Homepage links
      -Tiered link building
      -Lots of links from unrelated sites (as long as they had authority)

      Needless to say, those tactics aren’t as effective anymore.

      But you make a great point: you shouldn’t reflexively ignore a piece of advice because it’s on a forum.

  6. says

    Thanks for the follow up, that makes more sense. So basically if a tactic is getting hyped up that seems to be a very SEO’d tactic (as opposed to just creating great content) then that’s what we’re talking about.

    It seems that guest posting and infographics can be heading in that direction IF they are used in a low-quality spammy way. The difference with those is that lots of people that are not SEO’s are guest posting just to grow their own name, and there are a good amount of businesses creating infographics not so much for the links but to get their brand name out there and get the infographic shared on social sites and such.

    • says

      I think it’s safe to say, anything that can be automated will eventually be discounted by Google. That’s not to say that it won’t work today and even continue to work in less competitive niches.

      Guest posting and getting loads of natural links from infographics is hard to automate.

    • says

      That’s exactly right: if it gets too hyped up and abused Google has no choice but to crack down on it.

      But what you said is 100% right on, Joe: it depends on how these strategies are executed. there’s a big difference it’s low-quality and spammy guest posting/infographics vs. posting great stuff on related sites.

  7. says

    A huge High Five from Denmark!! This article is by fare one of the most impressive ones, I’ve ever read. You give me so much useful information – straight to the point without showing of. (And I haven’t even seen the video yet). Can’t wait sharing it with others and of cause do some linking… Thanks! :o)

    • says

      I’m excited that you enjoyed it.

      I figured that some people would just like to read the highlights before committing to watch the video. And some people prefer to watch the video to get the deeper info and tips.

      More interviews coming up.


  8. says

    Hat’s off to Brian at Backlinko, he shared a sterling tip a few months ago about building links using icon galleries. Compelling interview, thanks for hosting Jason.

  9. says

    Hey Jason,

    Thanks for this information. I have been following Brian for some time and he’s definitely a powerhouse in the industry.

    Some great information here folks.


    Sanjay Modha.

  10. says

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Spending some time and
    actual effort to produce a really good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a lot and don’t manage to get anything done.

  11. says

    When you said to ignore 95% if SEO techniques, this is something that I want to identify with. When I try to build my site, I have always gotten too hung-up about these techniques that it takes away from my doing the things that are really important. Thanks for this tip. Also, great article.

  12. Plabon Hassan says

    Jason Bax i’m really grateful to you for your inspiritional post.And i also do agree with you that it’s not possible to get detailed innovative link building method secrets on a internet marketing forum.

    • says

      I consider myself a pretty generous guy, but if I had a way to get powerful links, I’m not sure it would be very smart to post it in a forum for the world to use.

  13. says

    Everywhere I read on the internet about increase your Google rankings refers back to posting great content. This has always puzzled me. Creating great content is one thing, but getting people to read it is another. In the article, you stated, “Many pseudo-experts mistakenly preach that if you create great content the traffic will come. It’s a fairytale.” I have never heard anyone say this before. I want to thank you for bringing up this point. What I have learned from this article is, if you want to get traffic, get away from you website as fast as you can, and go out and get the traffic.

    • says

      If content is published online and no one sees it – what’s the value. Zip!

      I’m glad you learned a big lesson here…you have to put in as much effort marketing your content as you do creating it.

      Appreciate your feedback, Charles.

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