In 2011, when I first began to research and learn about link building and SEO, I came across the teachings of Eric Ward (aka Link Moses). I’m not sure where or when I first came across Eric’s famous “golden rule”, but it really stuck with me, and I believe it is the single most important phrase for link builders and SEO’s to remember…

That phrase: “Would I want this link if Google did not exist?”

If the answer is “no”, chances are, you should pass on the opportunity. If the answer is “yes”, you likely have the green light!

Golden Rule Twitter Convo Pic

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of articles written each month about the latest changes with the algorithm, what tactics are changing, what Matt Cutts is saying, and our industry seems to be in a near constant frenzy. Instead of worrying about all of that, we should be focused on Eric Ward’s golden rule.


If you are overly concerned about Google’s algorithm updates, Matt Cutts latest views on guest posting and what tactics are safe and acceptable, you NEED TO CHANGE YOUR MINDSET! Traditionally, SEO was a lot about link building (.edu, .gov, blog comment spam, mass directories etc.) that was performed with the primary purpose of moving the needle on search rankings. If you are still building links with that focus, you need to get your head out of the gutter!

Content Publicity (a increasingly popular term for quality link building) is the process of getting your site/brand/message/content/resource etc. in front of the people who can have a positive impact your business. Sometimes that is directly in front of your target customers; sometimes it is in front of those who can influence your target customers’ buying decisions. Regardless, I think that Content Publicity is a great alternative to traditional link building and I expect more “link builders” will transition their titles accordingly. Build quality content assets, work on making your product or service link-worthy, and get to work “building” links the right way!

Would you want that link if Google didn’t exist? Does it benefit your business credibility (PR features, quality directories, accreditation sites etc.)? Does it help drive targeted web traffic? Does it increase brand awareness? If the answer is “yes” to any of these, you probably have a solid, safe, beneficial link opportunity on your hands. I’ve heard Eric say that (although he ranks #1 on Google for many of his primary keyword targets) 90% of his web traffic comes outside of search.

Not only does doing so ensure a diversified source of traffic (much like a plan you would pursue with financial investments) that can safeguard your online marketing efforts, but it also means that you are likely building links that will end up having the greatest impact on your search rankings. In addition, they will stand the test of time.


  • Focus a good portion of your time building relationships with influential authors, bloggers, journalists, industry leaders etc. Building these types of connections should be the #1 priority of your 2014 SEO campaign in my opinion and they will provide you with the avenues you need to utilize to get your content in front of the right eyes!
  • Use social media to connect and stay in touch
  • Give them a reason to connect with you . Always think “whats in it for them”. We’ve even given some free SEO advice to authors with sites we really wanted to connect with!
  • Develop quality content assets that are unique, valuable, useful and interesting. This is CRUCIAL!
  • Don’t disregard offline opportunities. These are also hard for your competitors to find and replicate. For example, an air conditioning contractor having a link for a discount on services included on the new-resident HOA welcome email.
  • Use competitive link mining to find ideas, not specific links! As an example, when doing research on a company with a solid link profile outside of our client’s state, we found that they had a link from a local university. The university had a page that listed discounts extended from local businesses to university employees. We ended up finding a local university that does the same! Now, we have a link that can potentially drive business directly to our client and secondarily serves as a quality link for improving search rankings.

What are your “golden rule” approved content publicity strategies? Share below!
By Ricky Shockley