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How Has Link Building Changed Over The Years

An Interview with Aaron Haynes

In this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, Dawood Bukhari spoke with Aaron Haynes, CEO of Loganix. They talk about how link building has changed over time and introduce some of the most popular link building strategies now in use. Watch now to gain some profound insights.

The way that we will do link building is we’ll look at outreach to a number of different sites and publishers.

Aaron Haynes
CEO of Loganix
Hello everyone. Today we have with us Aaron Haynes, CEO at Loganix. Aaron, Thank you for making time today. I know you're not well, you're not 100%. But I really appreciate your time. Before you introduce yourselves, I would like to introduce myself as well. Aaron comes with tremendous SEO experience. He is not only an SEO but also a contributor to some really popular online publications. And like link building is their main skillset. But he has been responsible for the tremendous growth, Loganix has had over the past two or three years. So I am really excited to have you today. And, I'm looking forward to getting some nuggets out of you through the interview, which can help our audience. Welcome to the show, man.

Thank you very much. Happy to be here.

Well, before we start, like a little bit about yourself personally and a little bit about Loganix and Loganix 2.0. A lot of our viewers don't know that Loganix actually is an almost decade-old brand but a lot of us just know about Loganix 2.0 from the last two or three years, a little bit about Loganix history and yourself as well.

Sure. Well, we can probably talk the whole time about my history, so abbreviate that a bit. So I’ve been in digital marketing for about 12 years. This definitely started out in SEO and that came from a need and a desire to figure out how I could make money and basically live online. So like a lot of other SEOs and digital marketers, I’m self-taught and just basically initiative, research, practice, repeat, and growth. Now I did come from a bit of a business background, so I had a decent amount of experience, networking, kind of business dialog, infrastructure, managing, things like that, which kind of plays in the story later on. But long story short, I sort of pushed myself into being my own agency up through about 2019-2018, and each year just growing more team members outsource adding services. Core services were really around SEO and link building, which is somewhere I kind of met my partner and we went into building Loganix 2.0. So digital marketing SEO, which basically led me to look at Loganix so as far as look Loganix goes, the original version, which I think I was saying to you earlier, is basically a focus on local and organic SEO, organic search, and really was trying to fill a niche at the time that was not filled around, google my business, citations, local SEO. And so that would be from 2010, 2012, and 2014. If you actually go back and probably look in archive.org or just poke around some of the forums, you can actually see Adam Steele, my partner offering different services and citation building. And like a lot of those forum services, they had funny names but were very successful. He focused on a lot of high-quality work and through that time I think there were different offerings that he had. Adam can speak better than I could. But around 2015, and 2016, Adam and I had known each other to an extent, and we started partnering unofficially, where I basically provided more traditional link building, guest posting, that type of thing. And he started to be the front end at the marketplace for those things. So in a sense, we were partners, but I was almost the vendor for link building for the Loganix and that’s still Loganix 1.0. Well kicking around for two, or three years, we got more and more successful. That revenue basically doubled every year. I tried out different versions of it and we built the relationship and we kind of talked about we should partner legally, or officially at some point. And that point came in 2019, which is where we actually went from being Loganix 1.0, a Canadian Company to Loganix 2.0 i.e. current Loganix and in fact actually Loganix.net to now Loganix.com, which is a U.S. Corp.

Right. Well, it has been an amazing journey. Even your journey as well. You have been a marketer contributor to some really good publications, and an amazing post-professional journey, but who was Aaron as a child while growing up?

Well, I’d have to say that a lot of my sort of to tie it into work and actually to bring that back into again to an extent a lot of my maybe not uniqueness but characteristics that have gone from childhood through life and actually carry on now are both curiosity and confidence. Now, as a child and as an adult, you may have confidence that’s unwarranted and you don’t have the experience to back it up. But I’ll say that a lot of times that confidence can also be initiated and allow you to actually try things that you wouldn’t otherwise, or maybe that some other people wouldn’t otherwise. So I’d say there was always a sense of confidence and curiosity that led me to both in experiences, whether it was in family school, sort of out recreationally, whatever it might be. I’ll go take that risk, you know, I’ll jump off that rock into that river, not knowing what’s underneath the surface, that sort of thing. Now, as I said, I maybe would hit a rock. I didn’t. But you don’t always know. And so through time from childhood, older and older and then becoming an adult and into business, I think that’s there’s a refined piece of curiosity turning more into almost opportunity. What is the different ask? How can I grow as an individual and as a business? And then the confidence actually became more seasoned and to an extent turned into wisdom. Now I can give you maybe more highly personal anecdotes, but I think that’s a good description.

No, I mean, thank you for that. Thank you for explaining it so well. Now, you know, right now, you work with agencies as well as in-house teams. What is the difference between working with both? I'm sure it must be like a completely different experience altogether.

Yeah. So just to set up a base real quick, I’ll say that Loganix, when you come to the site or you have the experience with us, we can kind of divide ourselves into two. And there is a bit of a 60-40 split in terms of revenue and work effort. But let for the sake of simplicity, there are two buckets. One is we are in a sense, an online marketplace. There’s a dashboard. You can create an account. You go in there, you can order all different types of productized services, like you said, link building and other things like that. That’s a do-it-yourself model. The other bucket, the other side is more of a managed model where it’s still the same services and products, but we bring in our subject matter expertise. So you get a strategist and an account manager and that sort of thing. There are in-house teams and agencies, I’ll say, in both buckets that we work with. So from the do-it-yourself side, it’s a little bit harder to say because they’re self-serve, they’re doing it themselves. But I think one of the big differences that and this is maybe common to both sides is that the in-house teams tend to focus on one solution, and usually, it’s something that they’re unable to do, which might be like link building or something. Whereas the agencies generally have multiple clients, obviously because they’re not an in-house team, they’re not one indivisible business, and they want various things. In fact, some of them want, Hey, just handle my client, basically. So I think in some ways, the agency is slightly more synonymous with white label and more of a comprehensive white label, whereas the in-house team is kind of looking to add us for one solution that they actually need.

Right, and when it comes to account management. I mean, like our niche is so technical. So how is the team structured? Like is the account manager just somebody with client relationships trying sort of things or, then, you know, like be experts separate or would he be somebody who also is a strategist? Like what is the team structure look like?

Yeah, well, and I think some of this is a work in progress for us. We’ve tried out different things. I’ll say again, looking at those two different buckets on the do-it-yourself side. The account manager is more of our support arm, so they’re more generic across multiple different products. Just because we don’t have the size where it warrants dedicated specialists in support by-product, they can kind of cover all. So in that way, they’re Loganix experts and they may or may not be support experts, but we’re there to support the do-it-yourself kind of self-serve model. I think your question probably applies more to the management side. And the answer there is that we definitely use subject matter experts. And so this is where that kind of evolution in question has come. We’ve said, we need an account manager and we’ve worked with so many different agencies. And so we have a lot of experience with very talented account managers who are maybe strictly within web design or they don’t have the digital marketing expertise, but they are awesome account managers and I want that level of responsibility, some aspect of project management and that kind of client management piece. But when we’ve tried that or gone a little way down the road with that, the lack of knowledge with SEO just doesn’t back up sort of what we want to put forward as Loganix with the client. So really what we’ve done is said, let’s find that SEO, that link builder, that paid ad specialist who also has the gift for gab account management, sales support, etc., and kind of marry the two, which is a bit of a unicorn. You put out an advertisement for a new SEO slash account manager. It’s a little bit harder to get that.

Very difficult. I mean, I have this problem every day because this was one thing that I had changed, in our process where the account manager has to be knowledgeable enough to handle those line questions right there. At least nine out of ten. Do you know, what I mean, we don't expect them to be like proper SEO geniuses, but at least, be able to handle those nine or ten questions and we just don't have people like those there. I mean, you either have like amazing SEO experts with zero client management skills or you have these amazing client servicing guys with zero marketing knowledge. So I can totally understand that. And what is your favorite hiring model, like is it LinkedIn? LinkedIn ads? I mean, what is the hiring mantra you have?

Yeah, you know, we just in the last year have invested a decent amount in infrastructure in a number of different ways. And part of that is actually internally with H.R., which is there’s a number of caveats here, including the fact that the majority of our workers currently, including myself, are legally contractors and not employees. So there’s a line there that we need to be differentiating between the relationship. Now, I’m going to push that aside for a second and say, that said, we still need hiring, onboarding, onboarding, documents, and advertising to actually get those people. And so we’ve built a lot of the structure to support that internally, regardless of being contractor or employee. We will dabble in little bits and you can get quite an influx. Obviously, if you put out ads on LinkedIn, you can get hundreds of applicants in a short period of time and then spend maybe not hundreds of hours, but hundreds of minutes trying to go through them and maybe discovering that they aren’t necessarily the best fit. We’ve had a lot of our success with our peers and through different groups of basic experts and putting out the word and getting to a point where we can get a pretty tight pool of experienced, seasoned, and to an extent outgoing subject matter experts. So really it’s been through networking and kind of peer-to-peer advertising.

And it's done well. You know, your revenue has almost doubled in three years and you are scaling up and you know, congratulations on that. What is the plan from here? Like, what is the next step?

Yeah, well, thank you. It doubled year over year and we’ve pretty consistently had 60 to 70% growth, which we’ve been pretty pleased and in some ways surprised in some ways kind of shooting for the stars. We’d love to be further, but we’re definitely happy with where we are. Well, we’ve done a lot, there are lots of pieces I mentioned, the infrastructure part that we’ve been working and investing a lot in. So I think that a lot of our infrastructure piece is kind of outpacing our growth. That is to say, I think that the infrastructure is going to pay dividends when our growth continues to double or maybe increased by 60 or 70% per year. And so it’s kind of like solidifying what we’ve built and doubled down on the quality, the infrastructure, etc., so that we can handle that growth and not be thwarted as it comes along in a more exciting answer, interesting I should say. I think the next step for Loganix and what we’re investing in now is actually more education and content. We think that there’s value in depth of service and expertise, but also in variety. There are a number of businesses that want to be able to find a lot of solutions under one roof and not necessarily have to grab their partners from different places. And that’s been the case within services as long as they’re a quality service that we offer. But we also think that education and training potentially fall into that. So we’ve invested initially, I’ll say somewhat heavily in that. So the next phase for Loganix, I think really would be to add in that aspect the training, the education, content, etc.

So the education and training would be more of like just putting good quality content out there or formalizing it into maybe like a proper training course and maybe having an element.

Yeah, more the latter. The content marketing, what is Loganix doing for advertising and marketing? We do a number of things the heaviest thing is doing content marketing.

You're doing a lot of content marketing, spreading some really amazing guides out there so that's what I asked, know you already are doing that content marketing. So I think this is a proper training, training way of logging.

Yeah, definitely training. A lot of templates. Some of the services that we sell are productized in the sense that you can go and get keyword research, keyword gap analysis, and content strategies. And instead of it being kind of a heavy service where you have to go and spend thousands of dollars and agree and contracts and we’ve productized that where you can go and get your $249 deliverable, and yet it carries a wall up, gives you what you need, assuming you know how to use it. And so what we’ve done with some of the training and templates is basically how can those be done yourself. Instead of coming to organics repeatedly and spending $250, maybe I can go and spend $500, figure it out within a week and then replicate that as much as I need to, and so that I can create those content strategies or those keyword research documents or whatever it might be. So we’re aiming towards taking a lot of our services and products and things that we don’t even have productized yet and building kind of like almost like a productized a training around it so that people can use them themselves, learn how to do it and replicate that. I think eventually I’ll go into actual SEO training and be more focused on top to bottom A to Z, on-site, offsite analysis, etc.

Right, right. You started off with a link building, you know, because that was your skillset and then branched out towards offering like competing SEO even like now PPC and content. Right. But still no design I guess because the design is gone down on the website or are you offering that now?

We have in-house dev and design capabilities that we reserved for some of our managed clients. When I say capabilities, that does not mean we’ll go and build them websites. It means that we’re able to work within those elements for them on their sites. But no, web design is not a piece currently or in the future. It’ll be part of our roadmap.

Right, so what was the reason behind branching out into SEO and PPC?

Yeah. You know, when Adam and I envisioned this and I thought I was thinking about this a few different years ago, I thought it was so unique and we going to be somewhat ahead of the curve. And now I look around and there’s a number of agencies that actually like you were saying earlier, have multiple service offerings within it. So, hey, we’re going to have this, we’re gonna have that, nobody else has it. And we get there and you look around, there’s a number of people on both shoulders. Well, a very quick back story into that. When I had my business prior to Loganix 2.0, we did a lot of consulting at a Fortune 500 enterprise level and we’d get these bloated contracts where we’d be working with a large business. They didn’t have any subject matter expertise whatsoever. In fact, they were sitting on SEO gold as far as I was concerned, but their sites weren’t optimized so we could go in and modify title tags and a few other things and they would just make huge moves in the SERPs and gain lots of traffic and we would be gods. Now the contracts were bloated in the sense where, hey, let’s get a thousand-hour contract to modify titles and Metis descriptions across 5 billion pages. We have to do it algorithmically and we have to go through all kinds of red tape and months and months of their internal process, etc. Somewhere in there, as much as I enjoyed and learned, it felt like trudging through mud. And what the idea and sort of vision I had at that point were, this is ridiculously unnecessary and burdensome. Let’s come up with productized ways of doing a lot of these different things. And so even though we focused on link building with Loganix from 2016 to 2019 or so, there was always that idea back thereof, let’s cut to the chase, be able to offer products and services that are real, that will actually carry an impact. But you don’t have to get the whole deal. You can describe the piece you want and leave the other parts that you don’t. So it was sort of born from that idea to be able to provide productized to self-serve or in a managed capacity, give as little or as much as the client needed.

Right. And there's so much value in focusing on a particular product or niche, right? I mean, there is so much market out there even like you said, just building in itself or SEO in itself. But there are still a lot of successful agencies that are offering everything out there. But, you still have this question of these, young entrepreneurs trying to create agency out of trying to be the agency, whether we should focus on a niche on a service or actually just try to go out there and, you know, like reach out to like, you know, multiple clients for multiple services.

Yeah, 100%. And a lot of our client base are those agencies who are specializing within a particular vertical or obviously when we have direct clients, they’re in that specific vertical. That’s something that we’ve kicked around a number of times and some of our content marketing focuses on that. We have so much experience across a lot of different verticals that I would say has benefited us. When we go head to head with another agency that is specifically around a certain agency or vertical legal comes to mind just because of so many different attorney agencies like that. Yes, I think it’s really difficult, Loganix is somewhat unique in that we’re trying to be and our focus is on serving agencies and in-house teams. And so really, we’re working with we want to be that white label kind of mid to top shelf provider services you can count on as opposed to serving everyone. Ironically, though, because we’re working with SEO and other parts of digital marketing, there are a number of pieces within that. So our specialization really is within that client demographic and I think that area, but you’re right, it’s a complete challenge. I think it is kind of a personal decision. So easier to start small maybe, and then potentially branch out. That’s one thing I would say, as opposed to just busting it out and trying to target everybody at once. One last piece on that, I’d also say that my partner tempers me because I’m the one with the brain and the ideas where I envision a giant bulleted overview of all different types of services and offerings that we could do. And he kind of tempers me down and says one thing at a time.

Right. Right. Very good advice. One thing at a time. Talking about link building. How have you seen link building change? I know we can go on and on on this topic, but what's your take on the change?

Yeah. Well, you know, it’s funny because obviously, it has changed in huge amounts of ways and quality quantity offerings, and in a lot of other ways, it hasn’t changed at all. I think fundamentally the sort of the point in the efficacy of links and then you accumulate the more. One description I’ve used in sales calls before is sort of like links or pouring salt into the water. And at a certain point, you can’t really necessarily notice the accumulation of it, but at a certain point it crystallizes and you can actually see those that impact that salt in the water and then you really start to move the needle on that. I think the biggest impact has obviously been around quality and relevance. The question is, how do we measure that? And everyone still measures that a little bit differently. So there still are people going after links that were maybe trying to be built 5-10 years ago. But now they’re being done in a very relevant and qualitative way, where before it was sort of without and it was more like carpet bombing. There wasn’t a whole lot of focus or specificity in any of that. So if I had to generalize, I would say that the common denominator across link building really is that custom specificity. I need the metrics, I need the quality, I need the relevance. I need all these different criteria. That wasn’t the case before. It was more like, I just need this type of link, that type of link and I want a lot of them.

Right, since you are that one business or agency that kind of has productized link building also, I mean you can just go into your dashboard and let's say a guest post by let's say a link in, so what are the hottest link-building types right now?

I think the same thing. To be more specific, ideally, this is one of the challenges here is the scale and how you scale quality link building before again that wasn’t an issue scale. In fact, that was maybe the problem. Now scaling because the needle is moved on. What we’re actually looking for, scaling at quality is the challenge and that’s really what we’re trying to do. If I had to really narrow down, I’m not sure if there is one static perfect link, but what people consistently want are that quality and quantity piece. The quantity piece would be metric-wise, the quality piece probably be more relevant and depth of quality in the content. So in the guest post or whatever it might be. So to answer your question, if I can get a link on a high metric site that’s relevant to my topic that’s long-form content, and where the metrics are positive or going to be positive on that specific page, I think that’s really what we’re after. And the closer you get to that perfect link, the harder it is not only to get but, as I said earlier, to scale. We can potentially scale the metric sites. So let’s go after DR 70 plus sites and then we can scale the long-form content. We can create lots of that and those two things, and we can even scale the ability to successfully get those on other sites for the most part. But to be able to get that where we know each post is basically going to be a home run, i.e. the content, the organic traffic for that individual page is going to be great. No one knows, at least with a fresh guest post.

Right. So talking about metrics like DA versus DR, what are your thoughts on that?

Oh, well, five, six, seven years ago, before, there really was DR and everything was Mars, DA and then DR came. And I think for at least for a while, pushed at this for a lot of serious SEOs push DA out of the way. I know DE has made some strides back. I’ll say that day, and that’s probably still my bias. You know, I run a company now. I’m not on the front lines of SEOs or probably can’t speak to it the same way. So I put my foot in my mouth and don’t have any problem doing that. I’ll still say that it’s usually clients or less experienced SEOs who are going to use DA and it’s maybe boots on the ground front line, especially with linked metrics, SEOs who are going to use the DR and there’s probably just an Hrefs thing for the most part. They have they’re using the tool. They understand the tool. That’s a metric you’re going to go with. I’m going to stop short of saying it’s a more accurate metric because again, as I said, I’m not front lines personally, but I think, yeah, kind of clients versus seasoned SEOs.

I got my answer and I completely agree with you. What about reciprocal links? Like, do they still work?

Yeah. You know, what’s interesting about that is that’s one of those sorts of the evolution of SEO and link building where something that used to work and be done years ago is still around. It’s just in a different form. So I think exchange where you say, Hey, I’ll do this if you do that, which is kind of what you’re talking about. Not only is it against guidelines, but it’s frowned upon and less done now. There may be a client or again a less experienced SEO who would go after that tactic. But for the most part, it’s not going to be something that one of our link-building strategists uses in that capacity. There are exceptions, but I think the more modern version of that is more like a pool of exchanges where you have almost not a black book, but an index of opportunities that are available at any given time that you haven’t necessarily executed on and what I mean by that is, this is partly some of the ways that we will do link building is we’ll look at outreach to a number of different sites and publishers. And it may not be that we either have a post or a client or something that we want to fit into that potential publisher and what they’re looking for. Or they may not have, they may not want what we have, but we’ve built that relationship. And I don’t want to just move on to kick it. So we’ll add it to, in a sense, an index or a list of opportunities, noting what they’re looking for, niche specific metrics, etc. Now, as you build that list or index, you have myriad you have dozens, hundreds of different opportunities that you haven’t pulled the trigger on. And what you can do in a sense then is starting to kind of put the puzzle together and draw lines and say, okay, this opportunity makes sense now that I have this opportunity and this guy wants this over here. So instead of being reciprocal, it starts to be a multi-tiered, multifaceted exchange. So in that way, I think their reciprocity is less there’s just not a duality piece. It’s a multi-relationship.

I understand that. What are your thoughts on a foot in the door for SEO, like any favorites you have?

Well, I’d say that for us, where we have a process of analysis and strategy, where we want to from a managed capacity, we don’t want to jump to step three necessarily in our overall process. So we have sort of a standardized process whereby we’ll do discovery and an audit and understand where a client is at in order to best serve them because we’re on the hook for the results they’re going to get. If they’re the do-it-yourself model where they’re just kind of ordering whatever they want in the dashboard. Again, I think there are different marketing pieces built into automation where there’s, hey, you can become a member or get a discount here. And we have a ladder that leads to progressive opportunities for upsells and things like that. But on the management side, it really the fundamental piece really is about, if I can tell you both metrically and kind of qualitatively where you’re at and where your opportunities are in a fast, efficient, and cost-efficient way. It’s going to be not 100%, but it’s going to be very likely that I then can sell you or close you on the path to getting there. And that’s where we’ve really focused is, hey, let’s just do this quick discovery. It’s going to take us basically a week or two. We’re going to come back. Walk you through step by step. It’s going to be a data overload, but at the same time, not too much. We’re going to cover all the pieces we need to I’m going to leave all the other pieces aside for now. And then we’re going to tell you where you’re at and where you need to go and how to get there. So we’ve used that model and so far it’s been very successful.

Right? I'm personally like, What is your life goal? It doesn't have to be time-bound, doesn't have to be professional like it is something that you want to achieve in life.

Well, I think almost everything business-wise for me is an extension or relates back to my personal life. I don’t want to separate the two. I want to be excited and find challenges in all aspects of who I am and what I do. And that’s the case in this current job and business that we own. So I wouldn’t say that is so much for me about I have specific business goals or even necessarily specific personal goals. There are a lot of things I enjoy doing, but what I’m currently doing and they’re in that particular phase. So if I had to step back and give an answer and say, What are the goals? What do I want to be doing? Well, it’s in a sense, that I want to be having new challenges and new experiences. I think a lot of the fundamental success that I’ve experienced has come from learning through experience. And so what I’m actually after are new experiences, whether that’s in a kind of a fixed role or business personally, family, physically, any of those things. The more experience I can have, you know, whether it’s in a completely different role business-wise or another part of the world, I want to be both humbled but also excel. I think that it’s not so much that I want to achieve anything. It’s that I want to not set limits in my mind over who I am and what I need to do. I think experience really is where it’s at for me.

Right. Aaron, you know, in the end, I like play a quick rapid-fire round of 4-5 questions. Ready?

You bet.

What's your go-to pastime?

My go-to pastime. Yeah, I guess it depends on what pastime is, but exercise.

What is one of your nicknames? If you do have.

Well, my niece and nephews called me Onk or Bronk. I don’t know why.

If a movie was made on your life, what genre would it be?

Well is somewhat of a niche, but I would say something within not so much drama, but more like a philosophy, spiritual philosophy.

Favorite superhero?

I collected comics when I was a kid. And before all the Marvel movies and all that other kind of stuff. So I knew them pretty well. And you kind of, you know, you wanted to be this, you wanted to have that? I don’t know. I always liked being telekinetic. I thought that would be cool. So I think there’s a number of them, I think maybe Rogue or maybe Captain Marvel, I want to say.

Last one, how do you usually answer your telephone?

Depends on who it is, and in fact, I usually don’t. The only time I really ever answer my phone is if I know the person and obviously, then if I want to speak to them at that time and in that case, because I know who it is, I’ll usually say Hi “name”. So if it’s my mom, Hi mom. Other than that, I don’t answer my phone. In fact, on my message, it actually says, text me. I’m not going to answer my phone.

It has been fun talking to you. I wish we had more time, it has been fun. Thank you for a wonderful chat, I enjoyed it and I wish you and Lognix good luck.

Thank you. Appreciate the opportunity. Good chatting.

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