Interview with Artem the LinksHero

Your link building journey?

I was about to graduate from M.A. I did in Berlin and it was time for me to decide what I am up to next.

I had 1 Amazon Affiliate site at the time which was making around $2100 per month without me doing any sort of link building…until it wasn’t anymore.

Given that I wanted to stay in Germany at the time (and the fact that Russki passport is the only passport I have), I had to either get a job OR…start my own gig.

Then I thought that if I do link building, then I can kill 2 rabbits with 1 stone – get a permit to stay in Deutschland and grow my business.

I started off at Upwork while slowly building my brand. 

Well…that was an idea.

I got a few gigs and actually started making some money (as I came to realize, my start was pretty solid) doing a really high standard job.

I actually did what I promise…suffering as a result as well.

A lot of self-inflicted suffering came from the lack of confidence at the time (kind of normal when you just start off), mismanaging expectations for clients (kind of normal when you just start off), working for pennies while providing top-level service (yes, you guessed right – kind of normal when you just start off).

A lot of suffering (i.e. making it harder than it has to be) also came when I established Linkshero but before I go there…

One day I received this message from Upwork.

email Artem

They banned me for trying to pay a freelancer $10 via PayPal as a bonus because the freelancer did an amazing job while getting paid very little (I know it’s against their TOS and shit).

Needless to say that I felt extra dumb, extra anxious and extra…motivated.

The Universe (a.k.a. God) clearly thought that I was ready to go “out there” so that’s what I did…while shitting my pants (I wasn’t really but it’s a nice story 😉 )

Luckily, Linkshero was already up and I had a few posts published as I was initially planning to transit to inbound marketing (Upwork-like sites are a race to the bottom anyway; so if you are a “top level marketer” on Upwork, you kinda suck imo).

After a myriad of iterations, changes and adjustments Linkshero is now on a mission to help Shopify store owners drive organic traffic and generally train business owners on how to do link building in-house.

Which (surprise-surprise) brings me to your next question!

What is the future link building?

What we are seeing right now is:

  • People know what links are and more people are asking for money
  • Some prices are ridiculously high (as there is demand)
  • Any form of mass outreach is less and less effective

Based on this, here is what I predict.

First, you want to become the source of news and original content that NO ONE is even looking for.

For example: Pornhub’s wankband campaign. No one was looking for that (i.e. there was no search volume for that before they came up with it) yet the page got more than 800 RDs when it was first launched in 2015. 

With links like Gizmodo, Engadget, Huffpost and A LOT of others coming their way (no way Pornhub would get these without that campaign).

Second, take your link building in-house.

Link building is resource-intensive but the actual cost per link can be fairly small (e.g. $50-60 and less).

Yet I would charge you $350-400+ for that link.

I really feel like this is huge but it will take some time for business owners to really understand (I hear this all the time – we had this and that suppliers but none of them are really good so we are looking for another one…well, why don’t you just do it yourself?).

Concerning the future of links in the eyes of Google…

The Lindy effect goes to show that we won’t be getting rid of the power of backlinks in the nearest future (unless G wants to be like Yandex with their behavioral factors which are, from what I hear, are more prone to bot manipulations).

However I’m curious to see what G is cooking – last year we had quite an exciting time with all the on-page changes.

Rumors are that there will be a big link-focused update coming up soon!

Your process of link building? 

I like to forget about search volume and come up with something that would get people talking, share and link to my work.

To do that, I try to solve the problems that my audience is not aware of yet.

For example, a previous client of ours works in CBD niche.

CBD was (and still is) a fairly grey area (grey hat, so to speak hehe).

So they would just go and buy that CBD oil believing all sorts of shit about how good it is etc while…it came from non-lab tested super dodgy Chinese supplier (no offence to Chinese but this happens).

We had a chat and came to an idea of creating an infographic that would list 10 things to know about before actually buying the CBD oil.

Here is what it ended up looking like.

Interview with Artem the LinksHero process

We got it featured on a few blogs and landed a really relevant health news type of blog with quite some traffic.

The referral traffic that came from that link translated into quite some sales – the entire campaign was paid off with that one link.

Here is my process now:

  • See what problems/complaints/questions people have (I use Quora and Reddit)
  • Create something that solves them
  • Profit

What needs to change in the industry of link building?

“Gurus” (i.e. anyone with DR50+) need to shut it about the way they should be approached for outreach.

“Check out what I was writing about, show that you care…”

Yeah, yeah…

I did all this and the best I ever got to was along these lines:

“This is the best email outreach letter I ever got. In fact, I never (I mean it) reply to outreach emails. Unfortunately, I won’t be including your link”.

I get upset every time these guys post some templated outreach from a guy that’s trying to make a living somewhere in the village and publicly make fun of their approach.

A link builder gets enough shit in email replies from buttheart people that, OMG, received an unsolicited email to their inbox…

People forget that it’s a monotonous, highly-repetitive, resource-intensive and hugely important process that requires a lot of continuous effort.

Tools of trade?

I use Ahrefs even though I dislike it for suddenly dropping out links that are still there and then miraculously bringing them back in a month or two.

We send emails via Gmail now.

Over the past year we used just about every outreach tool on the market (with a few exceptions) and I wasn’t happy with them for one or the other reason.

Conferences to go to?

I’d go to Diggity’s Chiang Mai SEO conference because this is where I met Milosz (he didn’t pay me for this line).

I’d also go to a journalist/PR conference to meet some journalists.

I’d go to a conference dedicated to paid ads because my services are mostly complementary to that.

And then I’d go to something like The Inbounder (by Gianluca Fiorelli) to meet corporate people.

Any upcoming webinars & conferences ?

You haven’t invited! 😀

But, to be honest, I am not a conference/webinar guy.

There are too many distractions these days and I just find myself following one guy that I know walks his talk – you can call it a mentor.

People to follow?

When you follow someone, you become a part of their plan (which is fine to a certain degree). There agenda becomes yours and you end up being in their universe.

I actively follow zero people on Instagram and 41 people on Twitter (which I have just logged into after God knows how many moons to find that out).

I use FB feed eradicator Chrome extension to not see anybody’s “important news” (like what they had for breakfast or some genius idea they had about expanding their agency).

Your biggest fail? 

The website that I mentioned at the start that was making ~$2000 per month.

At some stage I lost interest in it and stopped the active work.

Results followed and my rankings (with the help of G’s algo update) went down pretty quickly. 

I knew it had the potential but I didn’t do the work…which was a recipe for disaster. 

I should have sold the website the moment I stopped being into it and just move on.

Whatever you do – get off the fence. Do it!

If that doesn’t work, stop completely and move on.

Good luck!

Artem Klimkin

Artem is the founder of Linkshero, a white hat link building agency based on blogger outreach.

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