SEOlium: Jared, thank you for accepting to share your knowledge. Why Heroic Search? How did you come up with the name?
Thanks for including my opinions! It was my goal in creating Heroic Search
to provide a “safe haven” of sorts when it came to providing a reliable service to clients. The company was started in January of 2013, so this safe haven mentality was especially relevant then. The SEO world had just been rocked by Penguin and Panda (among other updates), and companies that had entrusted their marketing dollars – and in the case of small businesses, their company – to agencies who cut corners and did junk work. Unfortunately, many businesses were left holding the bag after those updates because of what they or their vendors did. In the cases of some businesses, even losing their livelihood
. I set out to do right by these types of companies by forming a company that would be willing to go toe-to-toe with the major players in their respective industries, as well as with our own competitors.
There were two main lines of thought as it related to deciding the name itself. One:
We needed to get the point across that we know how this industry (SEO in 2013) can be really spammy, and that we weren’t like that. So much so that we were able to be their “hero” in the digital space. Two:
It was important to make sure that the letters “ROI” were physically in the name. I wanted to make sure that there was a subtle reminder in the name that illustrated that we weren’t the type of company to bill by line items, but by actual tangible monetary results. To this day, if you look at our logo, you’ll see a very subtle lightning bolt through the ROI in “Heroi
Fast forward to today and we have a growing number of experts on the Heroic Search team. We have all had to work hard to understand the intricacies of remote work
, and how to make that function as best as possible for our company. So far, so good. :)
SEOlium: Link-building often is a painful topic. Why do you think that is?
Quite simply, because of the history that link building has. Because of its power to move the rankings, link building has been consistently abused in very unethical ways. Because of this long history, it’s easy to pair that mentality with the discipline itself. Quite honestly, I don’t mind that so much, because it allows companies like Heroic Search to set ourselves apart from the link builders who are spammers and don’t know what they’re doing. :)
SEOlium: In your opinion – what does a perfect backlink look like?
The short answer: In one sentence, a perfect backlink is one that passes link equity while also producing revenue.
The long answer: A perfect backlink is one that has relevance and quality. Relevance can further be broken down into
- domain relevance
- page relevance
- paragraph relevance
And quality can be broken down into:
- being on an authoritative site
- being on a safe site
- being on a site that has high engagement
- being on a relevant site (see above points)
If those ingredients are all there, you have the recipe for a perfect backlink.
SEOlium: What are some prerequisites to produce excellent links? What helps or breaks a deal?
Great question, and a loaded question! In my experience, the factors that make the biggest differences are the 1)
ability to negotiate exceptionally well, 2)
the quality of the content, 3)
the quality and care of the email/phone script, 4)
and the quality and temperament of the person you’re reaching out to. When all 4 are favorable, you’re likely to get something,
even if it isn’t a link.
SEOlium: What performance metrics do you use as a link-building company? How many links per employee do you produce monthly on average?
This can vary wildly. I’d say that on the lowest of the low end, we build around 15 links per employee, and 40 on the higher end. We have clients that order packages
of 5 links per order, and clients that want 40 (or unlimited in some enterprise cases) per order. It really just depends on their goals and budget.
As far as performance goes, one of the ways we measure this (other than revenue and rankings
) is by our own internal relevance tool. Relevance is widely considered the single biggest factor when measuring overall quality, so we developed a tool to be able to measure this. The more relevant the link, the more quality (not necessarily power) it has.
SEOlium: Jared, I bet nofollow links are much harder to sell. Do they work? What’s your perspective here?
Again, the perfect link could be a nofollow link if it produces an insane amount of sales. So I think there can be tremendous value in them. I personally know a B2B SaaS company that generates at least one sale per month from a nofollow link that is over a year old.
In practical terms though, no, they aren’t something that can be depended on for gains in the search engines. We don’t charge for them for our clients unless they are specifically wanted. After all, a quality nofollow link can take just as much energy to build.
SEOlium: Can you share a few paid and free tools that your company uses to produce links on behalf of your clients?
Sure! Ahrefs, Buzzstream, Respona, Scrapebox, HARO
(not a tool, but…), Google Sheets, and our own internal link relevancy tool.
Honorable mentions include: Snov.io, Hunter.io, and CrystalKnows for high value targets.
SEOlium: You know, there are people who say they can rank websites without building links. Honestly, is your business at risk?
Nope. I would argue that it’s impossible to maintain a long-term, traffic-generating position in Google without building links.
SEOlium: Imagine someone is just starting out. They don’t have a marketing budget and they cannot afford your services. What is your advice? How should they build links?
Learn how to do it yourself. I think this should be done even when there IS
a budget. Mostly because it allows you to understand how the process works, and the effort that goes into the discipline itself. Our most successful engagements are all from clients that actually understand how it works, and more importantly, how it all fits together in the larger digital marketing landscape.
There’s no big mystery here, start by emailing people by hand. Manual research, manual prospecting, manual outreach and negotiation. Again, this will help you understand the process, and what’s important in the long run.
SEOlium: Do you think negative SEO works? How can someone protect from a negative-SEO attack?
Not really, no. In the most extreme cases there could be some detrimental effects from a really bad attack, but it would be very short lived. Google has already come out and told us how they treat links like this – they just don’t count them. So whether you’re building them, or someone else is trying to “attack” you, it doesn’t really matter much.
SEOlium: Do you think links are here to stay? Will we ever see a world without links required for SEO results? And what do you think the future of SEO looks like?
I think it’s entirely possible to see a world without links, but it definitely isn’t now. The entire reason for links in the first place, is that it’s how Google originally understood how humans interacted with each other’s websites. That hasn’t changed. Until there is some other “connector” mechanism in place to perform the same function, links aren’t going anywhere.