Write-up of Nick Garner’s #BrightonSEO Link Building Presentation: Penguin

Date: 17th September 2012

Author: Hannah Stephen

On Friday the 14th of September, Tracey and I attended the BrightonSEO conference – you can get our full roundup here. In the afternoon, we actually found ourselves going to listen to Nick Garner’s talk in the Red Button Room rather than the main auditorium, as someone mentioned he was going to be speaking about link building post penguin.

Nick Garner

Nick Garner

Perhaps a slightly controversial talk as Tracey and I came out with differing opinions on his theories, but should we be surprised at the mixed reactions when Nick denied buying links, yet answered a question at the end – “how do you convince site owners to link to you” – with simply “offer money”?

In my opinion, whether we agree with his strategies or not, I think it was one of the most in depth and (almost) honest talks of the day and I’m glad we went to listen. He has posted his slides here.

Some key points made by Nick included:

  • “Think like a human” – target links from sites that humans and Google love
  • Plausible Deniability is an important concept – can you claim plausible deniability to a Googler?
  • Competitor research – “be like everyone else, but just a little bit better”

The last point on competitor research echoed keynote speaker Dave Trott’s story of the two men who came across a tiger. The first man stopped to put his Nike Air trainers on and the second guy said “what you doing? Trainers aren’t going to help you outrun a tiger!” To which the first man replied, “I don’t need to outrun the tiger, I just need to outrun you.”

Link building strategy

As for link building strategies, Nick uses 4 P’s to decide where to place links:

1.      Place

  • No bad noisy sites (sites with lots of bad links)
  • Decent indexed sites
  • High Majestic SEO AC Rank
  • Sites with decent traffic
  • Good social noise

2.      Placement

  • Take top 10 rankers, then take top 20 phrases and use these to vary anchor text
  • Natural distribution of anchor text
  • Use fresh content (if Google has already cached a page then they’ll know it’s new)
  • Placing more importance on links appearing higher on the page
  • Right link sources, not networks

3.      Pace

  • Benchmarking against other sites to decide rate of link acquisition
  • Analyse the sites that are closest competitors, generally smaller businesses rather than big brands
  • Not going out of the ‘norm’ for number of links being generated to avoid being flagged
  • Decide how many links you should target to compete

4.      Price

  • Working out whether you can afford to compete for a phrase
  • Analysing the competition to decide what you’ll need to compete and whether you have the budget for those keywords

Nick even showed us a calculation to work out the ROI of a project. As you can see it’s very straight forward…!

SEO Pricing Model

SEO Pricing Model


A lot of the points made by Nick made sense and I feel that he emphasized the fact that as SEOs, we need to be building more quality links in the right places. However, some people may agree or disagree with Nick’s views that, by using his strategies and basically “paying for links” (although not admitted by Nick as such!) – “this sh*t works”.

Did you attend Nick’s presentation? We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on it so please leave a comment below!

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Hannah Stephen

SEO Director
Hannah has been working in the online marketing industry for over 6 years and gets a kick out of making her clients money online through her favourite channels of SEO, PPC, email marketing and social media.

Comments (1)

  1. […] place for a conference like this and I’m looking forward being there to next year! PS. Thanks Helen for your detailed  write up. I know link buying is controversial, but unfortunately its a reality in some […]

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