Katie Wiese is an adventurer, writer, world traveler, and link builder. If you’re hearing the old Sesame Street song, “One of those things is not like the others, one of these things doesn’t belong,” you’re not alone. I found myself intrigued by the two seemingly different worlds Katie lives in, and wondered how her personal experiences have helped shape her career in link building.
Recently, I sat down with Katie to discuss her thoughts, challenges, and successes with link building. What I found was that although Katie’s personal and professional lives might seem quite different, it may be that very difference that makes her such a skilled link builder.
Katie is a content link builder at Page One Power. She was hired just a little over a year ago and works to build links for customers at Page One Power. I asked her what link building is and loved her response.
What exactly do you do?
Katie Wiese: On a day-to-day basis, I write emails to people who run sites that I would like to see my face on. I do some site-finding, and then I send emails to the editors and tell them my ideas — things that I want to write for them, topics that they haven’t covered already.
Or I look at their site, and I think, "Oh, you guys exist for SEO — and that's evident! [laughter] And you need something better, because the content on your site could be better for your visitors. If you actually want a readership, you need good content." I figure out a way to politely tell them that.
When they respond and say, "Yes, of course, we want you to write for us," I write an article, send it off to them, work through any edits, and then do a little happy dance when it goes live. [laughter]
What is link building to you?
K.W.: I think of the internet as this big, flat plateau. It's our job to put up little stakes in the ground and then connect those so that people have a path.
At its heart, link building is finding an interesting, engaging way to get people to a client's website through subtle context. The thoughtful words in a good article naturally point the reader to the authoritative sources it cites — in this case, our client's awesome website. It's all a very organic process.
What about your talents and skills makes you a successful link builder?
K.W.: I had this teacher in high school, freshman year, who told me that the best use of intelligence is when you can draw connections where no one else sees them. Apparently, I took that to heart because that's one of my favorite things to do — to relate things together, which works really well for link building.
Katie has a gift for making connections and it definitely shows in her work, but I also found that Katie sees the world with a much bigger lense than most. Maybe that’s why she can so easily make connections when link building.
You recently traveled to another country. What was that like?
K.W.: My partner and I went to Norway. We chose Norway because we like mountains. We also chose Norway because we're both at a point in our lives where we have a little bit of extra money. Norway is crazy expensive to visit.
We climbed a lot of mountains. We went up to the Lofoten Islands, way up in the Arctic Circle, and climbed. We did more hiking on this trip than — well, we did steeper hiking than I've ever done before.
Do you do a lot of hiking?
K.W.: A decent amount, just because here in Idaho we're so close to really nice places.
When I was a little kid, my dad took me out a lot. He's kind of one of those mountain men who basically lives in the woods. Through college I always wanted to do more of it; so, when I got back here, I was like "Oh, wow, I can! I can go play, because the foothills are in my backyard.”
Do you spend a lot of time in the mountains?
K.W.: It's funny you ask, because I just bought skis. [laughter] Because hiking in the snow gets pretty rough. We've tried a little bit, and I like to think I'm tough, but I'm not that tough. So skate skiing is the next big endeavor. I might even ski to work!
From the mountains to link building — how's that transition?
K.W.: At first, it was really hard on my back, sitting all day. I was like, "What is this?" [laughter]
But what I found is they relate really well. I like the creative space and the challenge. I can engage my mind by taking two or three separate entities and whipping them up into one idea that makes coherent sense and satisfies all of these different requirements. And then make it interesting enough for people to want to read.
Do you have a bucket list of places where you want to travel and go mountain climbing?
K.W.: I don't really have a bucket list. I like to just go with the flow.
What do you wish clients knew when you're out there trying to work on their website, building links for their website?
K.W.: That link building isn't advertising, and that their advertorial content just doesn't work for link building. If the quality of the content that link builders are given is really advertorial, then I think link building is just going to go down a black hole.
I like it when there is a lot of good content to work with, and when there aren't restrictions put on my creative process, because it's a wild process. There's really no defining how someone creates a piece of content. When I have a lot of good content to choose from, I can make people something that they wouldn't expect.
If someone has the idea that link building is advertising, they think they can just pay money for links. Not only does that go against Google’s guidelines, it just doesn’t work in the long run. The only way to succeed is by linking valuable content across the web in meaningful ways.
What makes a website link worthy?
K.W.: Every website should offer something meaningful. When you surf the web, you assess the value of each page you discover. You ask yourself: is this website relevant to what I’m looking for? Is it authoritative, with research or statistics backing up claims? Is it easy to navigate — and at least somewhat aesthetically pleasing?
When you’re building links from one page to another, a webmaster is going to look for those same things before determining whether or not to link to a piece of content. Successful link building is the result of successfully managing relationships with webmasters; so, you need to offer them something that makes sense for their site, and also accomplishes your own objectives.
What challenges do you see with link building in the future?
K.W.: Figuring out how to bridge the gap between what clients are doing for their advertising versus what they’re doing with their link building.
I first started thinking about this a few months ago when a coworker and I were out for drinks. She said, "Yeah, bad link building is kind of like when you watch a movie from the '60s, and you see someone drinking a Coca-Cola. And they have the label facing the camera and they're like, 'Mmm, Coke!' It’s so transparent. That's bad link building."
Our job is to represent our clients in the work we do for them without that being the focus of what you're doing, because overly advertorial work can be off-putting. Today, people are sensitive to being sold to, and justifiably so.
I’m curious, what’s your next adventure?
K.W.: Colombia, 2018. There's a meditation retreat there. I have some friends who live in an ecovillage, so I'm going to go spend a week with them.
Katie loves what she does. She is passionate about making connections, and that’s what link building is at its core: the ability to make connections on the web for the benefit of everyone.
Link building is a creative process, one that is best suited for those who are able to see connections across the internet that haven’t yet been made. If more link building was done the way Katie does it, it would lead to a better web experience for everyone.
You can learn more about Page One Power’s link building process at www.pageonepower.com.