The Link Building Book: A Must-Read for Newbie & Experienced SEOs [Review]

The Link Building Book287 pages, all about link building…be still my heart!

Paddy Moogan is a well-known link builder who works for Distilled. He’s written an incredibly comprehensive link building e-book that’s nicely priced at $37.

If you’re new to link building, want to learn more, or just need to brush up (it is hard keeping up, you know) then this book is perfect for you.

One Link Building Book to Rule Them All?

Moogan begins his book with his reason for writing it, one that I definitely identify with: there’s a lot of information out there about link building, but it’s all very conflicting.

His book thus exists “to be the one single resource that all SEOs will need to learn about link building.” With such a fluid process like link building, how can this be done?

Link Building Basics

He starts with the basics, which is nice. From my perspective, a lot of people (SEOs and non-SEOs) dive into link building without taking the time to learn these.

Link building isn’t a difficult concept honestly, but it requires a ton of hard work. He doesn’t pretend otherwise and I like that he’s making this point clear early on.

He also points out that some of the techniques Google has recently battled do still work but advises against them. Smart move. I hate it when people say that certain tactics no longer work. We may not want to use them, but it’s disingenuous to say they don’t work when they do.

Google Panda and Penguin

As SEOs (and that’s who the book is targeted at apparently) we should all be quite familiar with Google’s two major updates, Panda and Penguin, but speaking personally? I can never keep all of it straight. I need references for update dates if I’m looking at Google Analytics for a client, for example.

Some SEOs new to link building might also not be as familiar with the major updates if they weren’t affected by them, so it’s a good inclusion.


Next we get to PageRank, which is such a misunderstood concept. I’m happy to see him ask that we not use Toolbar PageRank as a reliable metric, only as a potential indicator of quality that needs to be examined in conjunction with other metrics.

Actually there’s a lot of information here about PageRank, which is good since we don’t see a load of articles that talk about this currently. People mention it but not usually in such depth.

Anchor Text

The section on basics continues with anchor text, which wins my vote for most worrisome part of link building currently. From abuse of money terms to becoming obsessed with percentages, anchor text is a very, um, fluid thing for a lot of SEOs.

We think plan A is the right one so we end up over-optimizing something and backing off of it, then we get to wait for the next problem. I’m a bit cynical there but his explanations of all this are excellent.

What Makes a Good and Bad Link?

Ah, this section looks juicy to me, especially since I think most SEOs have their idea about the ideal link. I’m glad that he starts this by saying that not all links are created equal. That’s a fact.

It seems that even today, there are SEO professionals who think that any link is a good link. That’s just absolutely not true. Many links can get you penalized, and having a collection of really crappy links pointing to your site can cause your rankings to tank just like having a collection of amazing ones can make it skyrocket.

Moogan explains trust, diversity, and relevance and how those three factors matter for a link. If you can get a link that fits all three of these categories, it’s probably a great link. If you get one that ticks none of those boxes, I doubt it’s a link you want.

He then goes on to talk about the elements of a page and how that can affect your link, which is something that more people should understand, so I’m thrilled he’s included that. The section on links from a PDF is also very timely for me (just arguing this point with a client.)

Factors affecting the quality of a link are very well described, and again, I’ve argued some of these points with clients. Moogan does a good job of citing sources to back up what he says, which is all too rare these days.

How to Plan and Execute a Link Building Campaign

This nice section is done in a very actionable manner. I could easily see a novice reading and understanding this.

He starts out with one of the toughest parts of a link campaign: selling it! So many people want me to tell them how many links they need to reach a certain SERP position, and I never ever do it.

My favorite quote in this whole book is “…link building isn’t always predictable, and it isn’t always that tangible.” I hope anyone reading this book really takes that to heart.

There’s a good section on questions to ask your client, which I like because sometimes we’re all guilty of just doing what a client wants without really digging in. That’s the model of some link builders but I think asking questions can greatly improve what we do.

This whole section treats link building something to be done in a clear, professional, and mapped-out manner. After seeing the results of campaigns where links were haphazardly built with no real plan in mind, this is very refreshing.

Any business owner who is thinking of engaging someone for link services should concentrate on this section and make sure that their link company is capable of all of this.

Link Analysis

There’s a really good section on analysis, using the various major tools (even tips on pivot tables.) He tells you how to identify your nofollowed or sitewide links, for example, and explains why that’s critical and the whole concept behind each as a potential problem.  


This section is nice and gave me some tips that I hadn’t heard of before, so I’ll definitely be trying those.

My only point of contention with this section is where he discusses paid links. I am personally not someone who has a problem buying links, and I think that some good nofollowed paid links can be amazing for traffic.

I do see the point of saying that they’re ill-advised, but that doesn’t get away from the fact that some people will use them, and I think they could use some tips about how to buy them better.

Scaling Link Building

This is also something that I struggle with, and I can tell you that in many cases, it’s really, really hard to do well. Moogan’s section on this is awesome and is short and to the point…a win-win for me.

Right after that we see the section on penalties. Quick scaling can lead to penalties so it’s important to understand what a penalty actually is, as I see way too many people incorrectly attributing a falling ranking to a penalty.

If you don’t understand what a penalty is and you misidentify it you may never find the cause of a falling ranking and be able to fix it. He gives a nice nine-step penalty identification and correction section, which is something anyone doing link building should read several times.

There’s good info about the disavow tool and reconsideration requests, which are again two topics that are greatly argued about and potentially misunderstood.

Building a Link Building Team

This section is one that I wish had been written before I started to build a team. If you’re a one-person operation considering an expansion, you absolutely need to read this and understand how difficult this can be.

I’ve experienced it firsthand over the past few years and it’s a huge commitment. I do love my team and prefer having them in-house to having them somewhere else where I can’t walk over and talk to them, but I realize this isn’t feasible for everyone.

Some of you will need or want to outsource, and his next section is about just that. I’m not at all a fan of outsourcing for many reasons that don’t matter to this piece, so I’ll just suggest that you take his advice and manage an outsourced team as importantly as you’d manage an in-house one.

Social Signals

The section on social signals is very topical and does a nice job of explaining how social signals affect rankings. The AuthorRank stuff is fascinating and even though I didn’t believe in its importance at first, I definitely do these days. More clients are asking about social and I think it can be a great way to build links and interact, without a big budget.

Link Building Techniques & Tools

There’s a huge section on link building techniques, which nicely explains all the major ways we build links, in alphabetical order. This is a great resource that should be bookmarked and kept.

Right after this is a “quick fire” tips section that gives you a few fast ways to link build, then it’s followed by a section on tools.

Case Studies & More Resources

I wish we’d see more case studies, but I know many link builders (myself included) have strict nondisclosure agreements with clients, so that limits our ability to show examples of our work.

After this, we get more resources for link building, whether it’s blogs to follow or other case studies to read or conferences to attend. Again, it’s nice real-world stuff.

Bottom Line

Overall, I’d highly recommend that anyone new to link building read this book. I’d recommend that anyone who has less than 10 years of experience in link building read this book, too, though, because it solidifies some new topics (AuthorRank) and gives so many great resources that aren’t all listed in any one place other than here.

I read it and kept thinking “that’s awesome that he’s talking about that” and never once thought “wow that’s b.s.” It’s written by someone who is obviously a damn fine link builder with real world experience, and that’s the kind of thing we all need more of.

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