What Cicero the Roman Knew About Link Building

Author: Gab Goldenberg

This is a guest post by Mark Ius, on behalf of Red Fly Marketing, a digital marketing agency in Ireland, which includes both a web design company, and an SEO company.

It’s well known that most SEOs hate link building with a passion. Why? Two reasons.

1. The best quality links in terms of SEO value are tedious to obtain and involve the traditional research-and-request model. Aka link begging.

2. Even if you do everything right, you might still not get a response for a multitude of reasons, going from stale contact information to derelict sites so old they’re grown over with ivy.

As a link builder, I can tell you that I feel the same way about it. But when push comes to shove, I remember these classic lines that Cicero wrote.

Section 1.10.33 of “de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum”, written by Cicero in 45 BC

“At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint occaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga. Et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. Nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio cumque nihil impedit quo minus id quod maxime placeat facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae. Itaque earum rerum hic tenetur a sapiente delectus, ut aut reiciendis voluptatibus maiores alias consequatur aut perferendis doloribus asperiores repellat.”
1914 translation by H. Rackham

“On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammelled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.”

Bottom line? Stop procrastinating, because you’ll be grateful tomorrow for the links you obtained today. Suck it up!


Sidebar Story


  1. Well, I think procrastination definitely is a big issue but a bigger issue is that despite knowing what works and what doesn;t you still go for the later since it is easy. I've been a culprit of similar offenses by trying to do link building via directory submissions and reciprocal link exchange cause they were tad easier than relationship building or convincing. At the end of six month period, I'd scratch my head, go back and read Aaron's SEO Book and get ready with the real stuf once again.

    Comment by Ashish - December 14, 2009 @ 3:32am
  2. Lol I think we all feel that way at times, Ashish. The trick is to realize that you don't need to do a huge volume when you have quality, so you can pursue those good links gradually over time and show positive results that way.

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - December 14, 2009 @ 3:20pm
  3. There is no question that link building is a lot of HARD work. However, at the end of the day he with the most quality links wins.

    Comment by Seattle SEO - December 24, 2009 @ 5:03pm

Leave a Reply