By Andrew Dennis
11 Jun 2014

Link Building Campaigns: Why Customization Matters

Link Building     SEO Strategy

Why Customization Matters

Link building, and SEO as a whole, is constantly shifting and evolving as the major search engines update and make changes to their algorithms. Strategies and tactics that were effective even just a few years ago may not work the same way today. Things change quickly in the world of link building and the ability to adapt and adjust to every new situation is crucial to success.

Also, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy in link building – every project is different. To be an effective link builder you must constantly reinvent yourself and create custom tailored strategies for every campaign you launch.

Customization is important because:

  • Each campaign involves a different client
  • Each campaign involves a different type of business/site
  • Each campaign involves a different vertical/niche

At Page One Power we pride ourselves on custom, manual link building. This is because we feel that every individual link we build requires a unique and fresh approach. The same philosophy applies to entire link building campaigns as there are a multitude of variables that make every project unique, and customization paramount.

Automation Can Get You into Trouble

First off, automation can get you into trouble with the search engines. Not only is scaling one tactic across multiple link building campaigns typically ineffective, but it can be viewed as manipulative which can lead to penalties.

The old days, when it was still effective to build thousands of links with bots, are gone. Search engines have gotten better at identifying manipulative link building tactics and are now punishing them. Diversity is important in today’s link building, as putting all of your eggs in one basket (tactic) is asking for trouble.

There is now a greater emphasis on relevance, quality, and overall usefulness to users – things that bots and automated tools can’t take into account. It’s no longer effective to take a strategy that was fruitful in one campaign and apply it at scale to all your other campaigns.

To be successful today it takes real, thoughtful human beings utilizing custom-made and personalized strategies. After all, people link to people and links are an editorial vote from one person/site to another.

In order to build links effectively, you must approach each individual campaign differently and develop a custom plan for each.

Each Campaign Involves a Different Client

First, you must develop a custom strategy for every campaign you launch because each campaign involves a different client.

Different clients have different goals and expectations. As a link builder you must create a custom strategy that employs select tactics that focus specifically on a given client’s unique goals. Different goals require different strategies. For example, if your client’s goals were to build .EDU links – you might pursue a scholarship strategy to acquire links like this:

Western Tech Scholarships Image with Arrow

The arrow in the picture points to a link that PicMonkey was able to obtain using a scholarship strategy. You must customize your link building campaign to best fit the goals and expectations of your client in order to meet those goals/expectations.

Another aspect of having different clients that impacts how you shape your link building campaign is the client themselves. What type of personality does this person have – are they patient and in it for the long haul or are they looking for quick results now? What is their perception or familiarity with SEO and link building? Will you have to dedicate time to discuss which approach to take or do they have a firm idea of what they want to accomplish?

Not only does the client’s personality affect your campaign, but also their position at the company you are building links for. Does this person have control over the budget or do they need to justify ROI to someone above them? Do they have control over campaign length? Can the person you are in contact with approve major strategies/tactics or do they have go through appropriate channels first?

These are all different factors that impact an individual link building project – simply from a client perspective.

Each Campaign Involves a Different Type of Business/Site

Another reason for customizing each link building campaign you launch is that many of your projects will be for different types of businesses/sites.

Some of the reasons you must customize your campaign include:

  • Type of site (Ecommerce, blog, lead generation, etc.)
  • Size of company/brand recognition
  • Age of site/domain
  • Past experiences with SEO
  • Linkable assets

Depending on the type of site (ecommerce, blog, lead generation, etc.), certain link building techniques will be more effective than others. As mentioned before, different clients will have different goals and the type of site you’re building links to will typically play a large role in determining those goals.

Another factor to consider is the size of the company or brand you are building links for. This can impact your campaign as a strategy could be very effective for one client, but not nearly as fruitful for another.

For example, say you were considering implementing a fresh mentions strategy. Let’s compare how this would work for a big brand like Search Engine Watch versus our budding blog here at Linkarati using the Fresh Web Explorer mentions tool:

FWE SEW vs Rati Capture

The blue line represents SEW, while the black line denotes Linkarati. Obviously the fresh mention strategy would be much more effective for an established and well-known brand like SEW rather than a newer site like Linkarati.

Along with size, you should also consider the age of the site you’re building links to. One aspect age will have an effect on is the number of links currently pointing at that site.

Again, let’s compare the backlinks of an established domain (SEW) with our newer site (Linkarati) using MajesticSEO:

SEW and Rati Majesti Joined Zoom

Again, as you would expect, SEW has a much larger number of backlinks and referring domains. This impacts strategy as these two sites are in different situations and would likely pursue different goals in their link building.

Another consideration regarding the age of the site is their past experiences with SEO. Unfortunately, many older sites could have had dealings with less-than-savory SEO firms in the past and you might find that the first thing you need to do in your campaign is a link cleanup.

However, the main factor that will have the biggest influence on your link building project is that different types of sites will have different types of linkable assets.

Perhaps the site has a blog, resource, or case study that can efficiently draw links – or maybe the site currently has no real linkable assets and you must find a way to create one. These various linkable assets (or lack thereof) will require a custom link building initiative to maximize results.

Each Campaign Involves a Different Vertical/Niche

Finally, you must also customize every link building project because each campaign will involve different verticals and niches.

Even if two clients operate within similar niches, all of the factors listed before dictate that you must develop a customized plan for each.

As far as clients within completely different verticals, here are some more elements that provide grounds for customization:

  • Different linking environments – many links vs. very few links
  • Different levels of competition
  • Most popular social channels often differ
  • Distinct audiences

Different verticals have different linking environments associated with them. In some verticals links may flow a little more freely as sites within that vertical are more willing to link out, whereas linking in another vertical may be much scarcer.

There are also different levels of competition (in terms of link building) within every niche. As with all other aspects of marketing, competition will also have an effect on your link building.

Preferred social channels differ as well from niche to niche. Twitter may be the social channel of choice in one niche, while Google+ is the most popular/used in another. Social media should play a role in your link building and you need to focus on the most prominent social channel within your vertical.

Finally, each vertical has a distinct audience with unique interests and sentiments. The audience within a legal niche will differ from the audience within a medical niche and you need to customize your approach to be best suited to reach these specific audiences.

Every niche is going to be different and if you want to be effective you must create unique strategies for each.


To recap, here are the major reasons why customization is essential for link building campaigns:

  • Every campaign involves a different client – different goals, personalities, perceptions of link building, and levels of control over campaign
  • Every campaign involves a different type of business/site – different business models, sizes, ages, past SEO experiences, and linkable assets
  • Every campaign involves a different vertical/nice – different linking environments, competition levels, popular social channels, and audiences

No two link building campaigns are the same. There are a host of factors and variables that make each project unique. Customization matters in link building because in order to be successful you must be able to creatively and thoughtfully craft a plan that can satisfy the unique needs of every individual client.


Andrew Dennis

Andrew Dennis is a Content Marketing Manager at Shopify. Andrew is an alumnus of the University of Idaho and consequently a lifelong Vandals fan. You can connect with Andrew on Twitter or LinkedIn.