Danny Sullivan Interview, Part 2

Watch the second part of our interview with Danny Sullivan, in which Danny and Adam talk about changes in link building including Google's new disavow tool and directory links. Part 3 of this interview will be up shortly, so be sure to check back. You can also subscribe to the blog and follow us on Twitter to guarantee you don't miss a thing.



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Adam Audette: OK, circle back now to 2012, 2013 coming, and link development has changed and changed again and evolved and then devolved and now we're disavowed, so ...

Danny Sullivan: Yeah. It's one of those things that's mind boggling that we've gone from a world where we wanted to get links from websites, and we also wanted to get the major directories that people were using to get links from those as well. To the world today, where you have directories charging you to get your links out of them, and Google giving us the opportunity to disavow links. It's one of those things you just never would have predicted. You wouldn't be sitting in 1997 thinking, “Someday, we'll be encouraged to get links off the web. Someday, I will budget money to take my links out of directories.” Who pictures that? That just shows you how much things have been turned on their head.

Adam: And now, a lot of our clients are afraid of link-building, period. Getting links is bad.

Danny: As they should be.

Adam: And if we have links, we should clean up the ones we have, because we probably paid for them or did something bad. Then, when we have those paid links that we want cleaned up, it takes resources to clean them up.

Danny: It's OK for them as long as there's some SEO company they can blame for it. If somebody wants to take the fall, then they're okay.

Adam: And with the disavow tool now, they don't really have to be too accountable, right?

Danny: I think it's really easy. All you have to do on the disavow tool is just disavow-star-dot-everything, and then you're pretty good, disavow-star-dot-star.

Adam: Clean slate.

Danny: Yeah. I mean you won't have any links left on the web, but then slowly accept them one-by-one. It's hard because you've had the crackdown on the paid links as well, and no one should have ever been doing paid links, and people still are successful with them in some cases. People certainly aren't successful with others. I suppose it does, at least, give you the ability to kind of clean that sort of record up. It would be much easier if Google should say, “Yeah, we know these are bad links, so we just won't count them.” That would be cleaner, and nobody would have to be trying to figure out and play any guesswork at all.

Adam: Instead of actively penalizing a site, for having those manipulative words.

Danny: I don't think people should be afraid of link-building. I think that the core is that you go back to thinking about why are you trying to get links in the first place. All these directories that are charged to get out of, most people should've never paid to get in them in the first place. They bought links in the directories because years and years ago, Google said, "Directory links are useful." When Google said directory links are useful, they meant Yahoo!, The Open Directory, maybe Snap, these big major directories that people used. Google thought that well, if these directories with human editors would have some criteria about what they're going to accept, is decided that they're going to accept you, then that is probably a sign to us that we should be counting you a little bit more. They didn't anticipate that 100 million directory links .com, get your directory links here, subdomain, would be then saying “Hey, get a link, because Google said directory links are good.” People got these directory links from places that only existed to give you links that were not being used by an actual audience. For me, it comes back to yeah, link-building is great. Any place you see an audience that you actually wanted the audience, that you think that are people there I want to be able to find my website directly from that source, if you can get a link, great. Just because the link itself is going to give you traffic. Who cares if Google likes it or not, if you think the source is going to give you good traffic, but if it's, “I want to get a link from this website, because I think that link is going to help me do better in Google”, red flag time.

Adam: It's probably the wrong way to think about it.

Danny:Right. Right.