I love link building.
I’ll admit that’s not something I’d have ever imagined saying just three years ago – because frankly I didn’t know what link building was.
I went to college to study advertising with visions of winding up in the creative department of an ad agency. However, as fate would have it I ended up at Page One Power and I haven’t looked back since.
While I didn’t go to school to study link building, I have quickly become fascinated with the industry as a whole. Now that I have a couple of years in the industry under my belt, I can honestly say I love building links.
It’s actually quite comparable to ad work in that it requires no shortage of creativity and follows a number of marketing principles. However, it also differs in ways that I enjoy such as the ability to work autonomously.
A couple of years may not seem like a long time to be involved in an industry, but that is a testament to why link building is so special. It took only a short time for me to become passionate and excited about SEO and especially links.
I love the work because of the unique challenges and opportunities it presents. Specifically, I enjoy it because link building:
- Evolves constantly
- Centers on human engagement
- Is hyper-competitive
- Provides the ability to help businesses succeed
It's an exciting field that keeps me hungry and constantly interested. Let me explain why I love the niche I work in.
Link building is a continuously evolving industry.
Due to the fact that Google is always updating and changing their guidelines regarding links, the industry is constantly shifting as well. Best practices today may not always be best practices tomorrow.
In order to be successful you must be flexible and open to new ideas. The ability to adapt to new challenges and complications is imperative. Remaining static in your strategies and tactics means lost link opportunities and lost link equity.
Due to its ever-changing nature, working to build links provides a creative outlet.
Every campaign is different and requires customization. In order to be successful you must create personalized and tailored strategies to solve the specific problems that arise during a campaign.
Building links allows you the flexibility to continuously try new things and cultivate your own unique set of tactics. Link building constantly pushes you to approach obstacles from different angles and perspectives, engaging your creative thought process. My colleague Jesse Stoler has joked about link building being an art form, and while that may be a stretch there is indeed a bit of creativity involved in building links.
Online marketing is a developing industry itself, and link building is one of the many new frontiers within the space. Links matter online for a number of reasons:
- Links signal authority and trust to search engines
- Links connect websites and provide navigation for users
- Links are editorial votes and endorsements
- Links provide citation and attribute credit
All of these various reasons contribute to one thing – links are valuable. Links are essentially a form of online currency and other websites won’t link to yours without good reason, which makes link building very difficult. Constantly varying rules and shifting best practices only add to that difficulty.
Centers on human engagement
Building links is all about human connection.
Human interaction is requisite to build real and worthwhile links, because real links come from real people with useful websites. As we say at Page One Power – “websites don’t link to websites, people link to people”.
Link building is as much about building meaningful relationships as it is about building links. Developing these relationships will help a campaign both in the immediate future and down the line. Fostering positive relationships takes strong communication skills and personality, and it is part of the human element of link building that I love.
Another side of that human interaction in link building involves link outreach. Efficient outreach is important because no campaign can be successful without it. The outreach process is particularly interesting to me as I can draw a number of parallels to advertising and it gives me the chance to leverage my advertising background.
Outreach is very similar to advertising as it involves a great deal of persuasion and promotion. An effective outreach message will communicate clearly to a webmaster why adding your link would benefit their audience, similar to how an effective ad clearly communicates why a product will provide value.
Outreach, like advertising, is most successful when approached from an audience (webmaster) focused perspective.I learned during my time studying advertising that in order to communicate persuasively you must familiarize yourself with your audience to craft messaging that they connect with. These principles can be applied to link building outreach as well.
To outreach effectively, you must have reasonable understanding of the website, the webmaster, and their audience. Focusing on the person you are reaching out to will allow you to communicate in a way they relate to and understand easily. Also, it is much easier to express why a link to your site would benefit their audience if you actually understand what their audience values.
Infusing these advertising principles into my outreach not only allows me to apply skills I honed during college, but also leads to compelling outreach that webmasters respond to favorably.
Link building is a hyper-competitive niche.
One of my absolute favorite aspects of the industry is how competitive it is. There’s no secret sauce, anyone can do it – that is why it’s so competitive. However, it takes experience and skill to be both efficient and proficient.
Finding new and creative ways to outsmart, outwork, and outmaneuver the competition is what makes the niche so exciting. There are a few ways experience and skill can be utilized:
- Finding and vetting link prospects
- Quickly identifying existing link opportunities
- Outreaching proficiently and diligently
- Maintaining an organized campaign
- Remaining dedicated and vigilant of new opportunities
- Building specific links to achieve specific goals
I grew up with an older brother and we competed in all sorts of things – sports, video games, board games, etc. My brother beat me enough times that I quickly learned I did not like the feeling of losing. Growing up in this environment shaped me into the competitive person I am today.
Finding ways to constantly improve my link building skills to outpace the competition is exhilarating. Link building is essentially a competition to get the best rankings in search, and I relish this aspect.
With continued updates (such as Penguin) Google has in some ways leveled the playing field in terms of link building. Mass automation no longer works, and all that’s left are real strategies and techniques that take time and dedication to implement. As Google’s Head of Webspam Matt Cutts aptly stated, “Link building is sweat, plus creativity”.
Effective link builders today earn their success through manual effort (sweat) and tailored strategies (creativity). The extremely competitive nature of the industry keeps me hungry and striving to become better each day.
Help real businesses succeed
Ranking highly in Google for relevant search terms can have a significant impact on a business. Building useful links will increase a business’ ranking in Google.
One of the greatest parts of the job is the satisfying feeling that comes with helping a client succeed. Building the right links can directly influence a company’s bottom line. You can personally impact a client’s online visibility and reputation. Because your efforts affect your client’s online reputation, it is always important to remember you are representing their brand.
There is a unique feeling that comes with successfully securing a link for a client. It is hard to explain, but there is something special about seeing a link that exists purely as a product of your hard work. That link represents a vote of confidence for your client as well as a bit of promotion, and there is a real sense of achievement that comes with that.
While the responsibility of representing a business online can be stressful at times, the sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing your hard work led to increased revenue for a client is very rewarding.
It may have been a bit of happenstance that I came to work at a link building firm and now contribute regularly to a link building blog, but I certainly have no complaints with my position - I love link building.
The constantly shifting landscape and ultra-competitive environment keep me excited to come to work every day and test new strategies and techniques. Online marketing – and link building specifically – is continuing to develop and evolve, and I am happy to be along for the ride!
While I have my reasons for being enthusiastic about link building, I would love to hear from the community as well. Please feel free to let me know why you’re involved or interested in the link building industry in the comments!