The Loneliness of the Long Distance Link Builder


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Sadly, link building has become synonymous with search engine optimization (SEO) in many quarters. While link building augments SEO, in and of itself, it does not constitute SEO, which is the ability to create a Web page (or document) so that search engine robots can crawl and decipher the content on the page. The purpose of SEO is to get a given Web page served up in the search engine results page (SERPs), preferably within the first three positions. That’s it.

I think link building and SEO became inextricably, well, linked because links are the currency of the Web. It’s through links that we find content and, in the early days of the commercial Web, Webmasters discovered that they could influence search results through acquiring links.

Of course, there’s a big difference between influencing search results and manipulating search results. It’s with the latter where the hot dog, cowboy, shooter-type SEOs have made their mark. Today, a quality link builder is a rarity.

I know from experience that finding, vetting and acquiring quality links is time consuming and tedious. It’s not sexy or exciting. And, since most link builders won’t reveal their sources, we don’t receive accolades for our genius because we rarely can show proof. Unless, you’re Eric Ward, who provides a monthly linking opportunities alert to a select group of serious-minded link builders.

But, I can provide a few tips.

Too much has been made about only accepting links from on-topic hubs. While a stationary store would love a link from Hallmark, doesn’t it make sense to get links from compatible websites? Search a topic phrase plus “submit link” and see what the search results show. Since eco-friendly products are all the rage, and your store has a large recycled gift cards section, why not search “sustainability?” Here’s a snapshot of 700,000+ possibilities! I surprised even myself.

When I took a deeper dive into these results, I discovered several linking opportunities including a .gov and .edu websites. You’re only limited by time and your own creativity when seeking link partners.


Researching Link Prospects

Now comes the hard part…researching each linking prospect. It helps to have Aaron Wall’s Firefox SEO toolbar downloaded. Then, with a click of a mouse, you can gather a lot of information quickly. You’ll still need to look at the website for quality and content and check their own back link profile before you move it into the plus column on your link building spreadsheet.

Eighty percent of my time is spent rejecting potential linking partners. And for every 10 requests I send out, I may receive two acceptances. But, it’s a lonely existence because I’m often operating in a vacuum. I don’t always know when those links impact my rankings or whether they’ll be accepted or rejected three, six or twelve months from now. A client may want faster results, and link building simply cannot be forced or rushed.

This is the type of link building that separates the women from the girls. Honestly, I can only perform this task for two hours at a time before I start getting r-e-a-l-l-y crabby. The work is mind numbing, to be blunt, but it has to be done.

Contacting Your Link Prospect

Even if a website doesn’t specify that they accept links, I often send a request anyway, especially if the website I’m promoting contains a section that can be perceived as being a consumer or business resource and the link prospect has a “Resources” page.

My approach is straightforward and short. Address the recipient by name. (It’s worth taking the time to uncover the contact.) I explain that I discovered their site while conducting online research for websites that share compatible interests. State on whose behalf you’re working and why you think their visitors would benefit from your link. Provide the Page Title and destination URL. Thank them for their time, and that’s it. I’ve created template emails for different destination URLs, but the outline stays the same. This takes about three minutes to accomplish.

Since it’s nearly impossible to ask for and receive keywords in your anchor text, crafting a keyword-rich and relevant page title becomes even more important. The webmaster may use it without being asked!

Proof That You’re Not a Spammer

Before I begin a link building campaign, I ask my client to set up a dedicated email address on their server. e.g. [email protected]. This is a personal preference. My feeling is that if you’re going to go the distance, create link building longevity and continue to be a valued partner to your client, then a personal email helps solidify that intention.

I know others are comfortable using their own business email or even Gmail, but I think this lends credibility to your request. It’s also something most spammers don’t do.

When you take the time to research and analyze potential link partners, you communicate that you are a professional and, most importantly, that you provide value to their visitors.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Nicolette Beard
As a former publisher and editor, I'm passionate about the written word. I craft content to help drive the autonomous customer experience (CX) revolution. My goal is to show call center leaders how to reduce the increasing complexity of the customer journey.


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