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For years I’ve seen a free and flowing stream of information and advice about how to build links, and as the engines have improved detection of the junk, the better link builders continued to thrive while those who sold crappy services to crappy content ran for cover. At least three of the most dependable link building tactics started wobbling and in some cases failed completely in 2007: article marketing/syndication, directory submission, and paid links. It’s not that these tactics aren’t potentially still useful, but rather that the approach you will have to use for each will have to be modified, in some cases even abandoned.
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from searchcommander 2449 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I think it’s inappropriate to call out a customer service dispute here that’s likely caused by a spam filter, wiltonbiz. I’ll bet by now you likely have your refund and all your back issues, right?A couple of years ago after seing him at a Pubcon, I paid $500 for an hour on the phone with Eric, and he initiated email contact immediately, and over a couple of emails and two phone calls, he gave me nearly two. The education I got was worth several times what I got.I learned that good "link building" is really too damn hard, and only going to get harder, and that’s what’s hapened, and this article sums it up well.

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from dannysullivan 2449 Days ago #
Votes: 8

I’ve change the description to match what the story was about. The previous description below is from wiltonbiz and more a comment.I don’t much care whether you share your information or not, but I do object to you collecting money from people (in my case, $149) and then not delivering as promised. That is the action of a thief. About a year or so ago, I paid you $149 as a yearly subscription to The Ward Report, an insider newsletter about linkbuilding. I received precisely one issue before it stopped appearing. When I emailed you, I got no satisfactory answer about what had happened. I did hear that your next project was going to be a members-only website that might take the place of the newsletter. That never materialized either -- or if it did, I never heard about it. I’m not really sure why you seem to keep promoting yourself so much, with columns like this one in Search Engine Land, conferences, etc, when you don’t seem to be able to follow through on your commitments. If you don’t want to share information, then get off of your soapbox, go back to your office, and answer your phone. Most of all, stop charging people for stuff and then not following through. All I’d like from you, Mr. Ward, is a refund.

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from linkmoses 2449 Days ago #
Votes: -1

Geez wiltonbiz, I am sorry you are so pissed you felt you had to attack Danny’s site, rather than mine.  I’ve checked every google and paypal transaction going back 5 years and can’t find wiltonbiz, so I can’t send a refund until I know who and where.  I’ve had my share of unhappy clients over the years, and most certainly will have some in the future, but never once, I repeat NEVER ONCE have I been unwilling to give back every single penny of every fee I’ve charged to any client who is unhappy.  I’d rather sleep at night than make a few hundred bucks. In fact, in your case, I’ll send back twice the fees, or $300, plus leave your access to the archive of 20+ private columns live forever.  I’ll sleep even better that way.Eric Ward865 637 2438 and I’ll answer the phone for the next two hours :)

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from linkmoses 2449 Days ago #
Votes: -1

wiltonbiz - Bingo! Hi Neal. I just searched for other wiltonbiz profiles, and went through my saved mail archives and found your original subscription from 11/4/06. Why didn’t you just make a refund request at paypal? You would have had your refund years ago. Anyway, I then logged into paypal and sent a double refund to neil@smallbusinessonline.net. The transaction # is (ID #32T79759RA971383W).I hope by sending you double what you paid I will end the pain and suffering this caused you. Email me and I’ll give you a one hour consult pro bono to further salve the wound.You are correct that sometimes I take on more business than I should. Perhaps the point of this article should be for me to take my own advice, and go underground.Also, I stayed by my phone for three hours.  No call. Thank you again for questioning my integrity in public. Eric Ward

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from wiltonbiz 2449 Days ago #
Votes: -2

I notice that you didn’t make any comment about the substance of my complaint -- that you simply dropped the Ward Report and made no attempt to proactively reimburse people like myself who had only just subscribed. Don’t you think $149 was a little steep for one issue of a newsletter?Just because you can charge $500 an hour does not mean that $149 is not a lot of money to many of us. I sent you several emails about this issue in the last few months, and never heard a word back from you. Regrettably, it took "outing" your business practices to get a refund. Not my first choice, but I was interested to see if it would get through to you.As to your suggestion that I make a refund request at Paypal -- to tell you the truth, it never occurred to me. Is that how customer service works these days? I thought I did enough by emailing you, the vendor.I am not interested in a "a one hour consult pro bono to further salve the wound," nor am I interested in keeping a double refund. I didn’t ask for double, and don’t need it. I just wanted what was reasonably due to me. I’ll send you the $150 back, or you can suggest a charity I can send it to.One final point: perhaps you are so busy that you forget what you have written a few hours earlier. My comment about going back to your office and answering your phone was not a plea to pick up my call. I never said anything about calling. I was being sarcastic, Eric, because you had just stated in your article today: " I haven’t answered my phone in ten years.". Well, maybe you should. And maybe you should answer your email as well.

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from hugoguzman 2449 Days ago #
Votes: 4

The real link experts aren’t necessarily selling newsletters, premium content or clent programs. They’re busy running proprietary ventures and reaping the fruits of their link-building labor all to themselves.They’re all around us on the net, but they don’t necessarily hang out on SEO sites like this one.In essence, they’ve always been "underground".

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from chrisg 2448 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Eric, Hopefully you do not go underground. I’ve definitely learned something reading your articles in recent years, so for selfish reasons I hope you continue to share your insights. It’s understood (or should be, imo) you can’t give away ’secrets’, but higher level insight is still valuable. To be balanced, I should also say that I too have had trouble getting through to you via email a few times. However, I always eventually caught up with you, and in the end I was completely satisfied with your service. Overall, for me the tradeoff (articles vs. having to send a few extra emails) works. Hopefully it will continue to work for you too.

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from surftrip 2448 Days ago #
Votes: -1

wow - now that the pissy newsletter buyer has chilled - (who buys SEO newsletters anyway?)i think eric’s post was right on and i’m glad to finally see some people admit that they aren’t sharing their secret sauce. this industry is so transparant with the proverbial talking heads ...you know, the same seo wanna-be search icons, just regurgitating the same old cookie-cutter information in the form of top 10 lists and discussions about wikipedia. i dare the group to look back over your daily search roundups and notice how similar and trite all of the headlines are ...reason is: SEO is just basic, organized logic. it’s that simple. All the blabber is just  that - blabber designed to help the writer. SEO writers are just building reputation on your back. Nothing wrong with it - but recognize it and save yourself some monotonous, repetitive reading throughout the day....and in the arena of seo trickery, well --- no one in that game is gonna share.good post eric. nice to see some REAL people in this game. 

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from DVOLA 2448 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@   huqoquzman :   very well said !!  :) 

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from hugoguzman 2448 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Thanks for the props, DVOLA. I have a lot of respect for people like Danny Sullivan, Aaron Wall, Rand Fishkin, etc...but they will be the first to tell you that some of the great link-builders (and SEOs in general) don’t participate in the online SEO community.They’re busy raking in cash from their proprietary ventures.

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from iBrian 2448 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Link building is already underground and has been for years.Eric certainly isn’t giving any actual detailed information about anything, is he?

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from wiltonbiz 2448 Days ago #
Votes: -1

Hi, "pissy newsletter buyer" here! Well, surftrip, you ask "who buys SEO newsletters anyway?" I did for one -- or at least I tried to. Was I the only one dumb enough to cough up a subscription? How is this any different from paying $49 a month for SEOMoz premium membership? Or am I the only sucker in that game also? Let me see if I’ve got this straight, Surftrip. You’re saying that all this SEO media, which I imagine includes things like this very site we are on, and oh, stuff like Linkspiel, SEO Book, Tropical SEO, Sugarrae, all these blogs and sites, are largely just blabber; or as you put it: "blabber designed to help the writer. SEO writers are just building reputation on your back."Fascinating. Maybe I’ve been wasting my time on these sites after all. Yet I notice you single out Mr. Ward for being a "REAL" (your emphasis) person, presumably meaning he is above the tawdry fray. But where does that leave him? Are you saying that his "schtick," to borrow a phrase, is that "his blabber is not really blabber, but good stuff?" Or are you saying that his blabber is really "non-blabber," although his subject matter is about how blabber is nothing but blabber? It does get a bit confusing. I prefer to think things are not so black and white, and that many other writers are also real people. As a reader, you dig through their stuff, you find the nuggets. Then again, maybe I’m just blabbering. Time for a "reality" check.

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from NickWilsdon 2448 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Of course this isn’t all blabber. I’ve been doing this for 8 years and I still pick up new nuggets every week. I don’t think any of the pros can seriously claim to have nothing left to learn. Especially when the environment is constently changing. For example, Surftrip, you may want to read a few of those articles on reputation management. As someone who obviously thinks well of Eric, your techniques here aren’t doing him any favours.

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from linkmoses 2448 Days ago #
Votes: 3

I’m a big boy and can take the heat.  Sent the refund, done.  His claim that I never offered it was just stupid.  I still have the five different emails I sent to everyone, and anyone who knows me knows I will give back ten times what I charge if someone feels I am not helping them.  Plus the entire WARD REPORT archive was given to EVERYONE, even those who joined way later. However, his attack did bring out something that I need to address.  I agree that I am very hard to reach sometimes.  Sometimes I go dark for days and folks wonder where the hell I am, including my own clients. Ask TVguide.com or PBS.org for whom I’ve worked for years.  When I am deep into a link building campaign, I do not come up for air and I do not answer email or the phone.   I focus on the task at hand. The challenge I face every day is that I want to remain a one person business, but becasue of the demand for what I do, I am guilty of taking on too much sometimes.  This does in fact lead to me having to apologize and even send fees back for work I was not able to start by an agreed upon date.   The WARD REPORT was a casualty of a new baby ahead of schedule, and my poor planning for that eventuality, and I am happy to admit it.   I suck at business management, but I’m awesome at link building.  :)Perhaps most important, I have never taken a penny I was not willing to give right back, because in business, as in life, you cannot please everyone, and the net is a small place.  Admit failings, work to do better. Move on.  That’s life. Eric Ward

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from NickWilsdon 2448 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Sounds like you might need a virtual PA Eric - did you read this article by Tim Ferriss?http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2008/01/21/the-holy-grail-how-to-outsource-the-inbox-and-never-check-email-again/

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from Yoav 2447 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Hi Eric,I totally understand your situation. There are certain types of people (myself included) that when involved with a project, especially one that interests us, tend to ignore the real world. I find that this kind of behavior ussually bites me on the rear. On top of that, children make it worse, because lets be honest ...  your children are a hell of lot more important than everyone or everything. And after your ’kids time’ and the ’important project time’, your lucky if you have time to sleep much less answer the phone.Having said that, please, please get a virtual or a real assitant. I would really love to take one of your training sessions and get some ongoing advice from you about link building. But you not having a virtual assitant makes it impossible to arrange. I am also sure that the entire internet marketing community will benefit greatly from you hiring a virtual assistant. And whatever you do - Don’t go underground.@wiltonbiz - I had a similar experience with Eric. I paid for a service and Eric was too busy for us to even arrange a prelimanary call. However instead of holding a grudge for 2 years, I just sent a couple of more emails and eventually (after just 2 weeks not 2 years) Eric refunded the entire amount and apologized with grace. So I suggest that...a) Don’t hold a grudge for two years. That’s just not healthy.b) Understand that even gurus like Eric are still people.Yoav

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from ElbrusConsulting 2387 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Eric,    I understand your problem.  The word of mouth referrals I am getting are starting to overwhelm me. Since Stephan Spencer posted an entry on his blog about my company it’s gotten worse. I ignore my phone most of the time and only respond to an e-mail if it is a current client or a new client that fascinates me.    I believe in the underground approach.  I have no reason to share my knowledge for newbies to misue my tactics. May you always hide your best kept secrets in your mind.  Open a safety deposit box to hold those secrets and allow one person to see them if you pass away so your knowledge will not go to waste. A living will is good for this.David - Elbrus Consulting

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