John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?  Competitive Web & SEO

Would you use a Link Building Tool owned by a Link Builder?

If a professional link builder created a tool for managing the process of researching, requesting, logging and managing links (paid, volunteered, incentivized, viral, or whatever), would you use it? That’s the question, and it is a question which cuts to the core issues of SEO land (trust) while highlighting uncertainties associated with the “software as a service” model (the security of competitive business information).

We already have a whole generation of people raised on web-based software as a service. Raised in a world where data is placed into allegedly-secure online databases, and accessed via the web (with little or no access accounting). Contrast that with the “old fashioned” way of doing business — keeping your own business data on your own computers, locked inside your own offices.

I used to laugh at the way people posted their private, competitive business data to third party websites. Then I stared in befuddlement as that became the norm. Nowadays I just walk around shaking my had, muttering not-very-savantish things at garbage cans while onlookers brand me a lunatic. Just kidding… but I am amazed that so few recognize the risks associated with sharing business information.

Now a well know link building service provider is offering a tool for managing link building. Part of the pitch is that only a professional link builder really knows how to build a good link building tool. I don’t disagree… but I do think the last person I want to share my link building activity data with is a professional link builder.

Just think of how valuable your link building activity data would be to someone in the link building business! That service will aggregate a vast database of places people get links from, people (webmasters) contacted for linking purposes, and perhaps even the costs of links negotiated. Wow… what a great resource for a professional link builder to data mine.

I didn’t mention the person nor company, and don’t mean to imply any lack of trust nor do I suggest that you be concerned about trusting that person. No, I suggest you be concerned about trusting anyone with your business information, especially link building activity data.

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11 Responses to “Would you use a Link Building Tool owned by a Link Builder?”

  1. Dan Says:

    There’s no way I would use a link building tool that stored my data anywhere other than my own secure system. I’ve seen a few of those tools that toted storing your data as a feature. One in particular had a feature to let you declare which links were paid and when they expired. I had to laugh. Who in their right mind, with Google campaigning for webmasters to snitch each other out, would tell anyone not involved in the transaction that a link is paid?

  2. Anna Green Says:

    I agree you should only ever link to sites that you know and trust if every body did that links would had a much more honest weight. But link building is almost an unstoppable force that you wither keep up with or loose sight of.

  3. SisterSledge Says:

    Totally agree…I’ve always been distrustful of sharing raw data with any company who I consider a competitor or someone who might influence a competitor. This started for me when Google became so pervasive. I get accused of tinfoil hatterism all the time.

  4. Stefan Juhl Says:

    I’m probably quite cynical in such matters, as I expect most such services – also outside of the SEO/link building scope – being build to gather data rather than providing a service. This isn’t pointed at any specific service, but I’d rather do a false-positive in this regard, than the other way around. And that shit does happen!

    I think the question one should ask themselves is why a service isn’t offered as a self-hosted solution – without any unnecessary call-backs.. In the link SEO/building scope they have got to have some crazy stuff going on for it not being possible, because in reality it’s just gathering and managing data, and that doesn’t need to happen on the developers servers…

  5. Patrick Altoft Says:

    We need a WordPress type system which you can buy and host yourself but still upgrade when a new version comes out.

  6. Chet Says:

    I agree mostly with what everyone believes. However, I think most link builders (especially new ones) will take any kind of risk as long as they get something in return. It doesn’t even occur to them that his/her private company data can be abused or used by these third parties. It’s sad, but I believe that the web is still in its infancy when it comes to the users putting blind trust on unreliable sources.

  7. James Svoboda Says:

    Hummm… allowing another link building company the ability to peek at the link building research that I, or others, have spent time working on. Does not sound like a solid idea.

    If and when Yahoo stops providing their backlink data to the public ( then where will most link builders turn? Participating in a service like this would probably provide too much information to a competing company.

  8. Gab Goldenberg Says:

    If those people aren’t still offering link building as their primary service, it’s fine. Also, you have to consider the nature of the web and reputation management. The second it gets out, the service and tool they created would die. It would be a very short term play. As to employees doing it without authorization, they’d get fired and you’d probably be able to come to an arrangement with the service owner.

  9. Gregor Says:

    I suppose it’s like many things in life – a bank’s job is to make money but you still trust them with your own money.

    If you choose a solid, reputable enough brand and their T&Cs are solid enough regarding privacy then you shouldn’t have too much to worry about.

    But I agree that you still need to use some common sense – if it’s a dodgy site that’s just appeared a few days ago and you store all of your best tools and info on the site then you’ll probably deserve everything that comes at you!

  10. scott gallagher Says:

    @aaron wall. Great opinion you provided. I’ve never thought about it that way, appearing to be one way tends to lead to greater profitability. I would tend to agree, unfortunately. Although, following one’s passion typically yields a monetary return before chasing the money. However, one must have a passion simply to profit and not provide a value added service, and in turn is merely only appearing to something they are not.

    Albeit naive, I hope and believe the Internet, companies like Google, are simply trying to make people better people, businesses better businesses. Hasn’t quite panned out yet.