Wil Reynolds will be speaking about “Advanced Offsite SEO” at SearchFest 2012, which will be held February 24, 2012 at The Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon. For more information or to purchase tickets, please click here.

1) Please give us your background and tell us what you do for a living?

I got my first SEO job in 1999, I didn’t even know HTML (still dont know much). I went to school to be an economics teacher though. Today I an the founder of SEER Interactive. I spend my days working on how to develop better and better ideas on link building. I focused on link building even back in 99 because I knew that links were “votes”. A link from my site to yours was me vouching for you. I knew that was a better measure than just ranking websites based on who used the words motorcycle helmets on a page more than the next guy/gal. So I have always focused more on how to establish trust between sites than anything else.

2) What is the state of paid links in 2012 and where is it headed?

Paid links are here to stay. See while at Distilled’s last event I spoke about “special advertiser sections” in magazines and newspapers. In todays link building world that would be a bought link. I showed people at that presentation how sites from the New York Times to the Chicago Tribune, allowed advertisers to basically create advertorials that looks like articles yet are paid advertisements. At some point I think Google needs to understand that advertising your site on another site is advertising it is NOT always paid linking. Buying a link on a site that sells footer links is very different than using tactics that the NYT or Tribune has been doing for years which allows any of us with a big enough budget to do a special advertiser section

3) How much impact does social linking have on the SERPS and where is it headed?

This is HUGE. To me this will be the long term linchpin to search success. Why? Because sites linking to other sites is the first step, but people vouching for brands is a different ball game. Based on my research I still don’t think that by itself social signals drive rankings for anything remotely competitive for the long haul (It might give you a 1 week spike), I encourage your readers/attendees to think about how to use social to get the types of links search engines have valued since the early 2000’s. In that way when Google/Bing get social integrated into rankings, you are already good.

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