The Truth About Link Building Is That It’s Usually Hard Work

I’ve been reading quite a few posts about link building recently. The chatter on Twitter from people I respect in the SEO industry seems to reflect that topic over the past few days.

From link building techniques to preventing link spam to the pros and cons of competitive link analysis, SEO professionals have a lot to say about link building.

Link building, of course, is one of the factors that goes into most SEO campaigns. The right types of links may help to improve a website’s visibility in organic search engine results. My experience has been that once an initial set of content is “optimized”, link building strategy is one of the ways to build organic search engine visibility long-term.

There are a lot of techniques people (SEO professionals or otherwise) use to build links. Sometimes the techniques are short sighted. Sometimes the tactics employed to leverage these techniques are short sighted. If you are a site owner trying to make sense of it all, consider this:

Successful link building usually takes hard work.

Are we talking “landscaping as a summer job hard work”? Not necessarily. But if you are not building links regularly (and very few are), you will have to exercise your brain a little bit to be successful. Just like competitive athletics, without regular practice, even fundamentals can be challenging to the inexperienced participant.

A simple copy/paste of the techniques read from some article providing “link building tips” will rarely work. Even if that article is well intended or written by a respectable source.

Here are five ways I built links this past month, for myself and for clients.

I’m sure I based some of my initiatives on link building articles I had read in the past. In all cases, I combined learned information with past experience to achieve success.

  1. I asked a few site owners (after building online and offline relationships beforehand) for the opportunity to write guest posts on their blogs.
  2. I wrote a blog post that got picked up on a popular search industry feed.
  3. I had lunch with the marketing manager of a website that I was interested in getting links from and pitched a content idea they ended up liking and accepting.
  4. We researched and wrote a piece of material for a client that was well received across social news and bookmarking websites, and industry forums.
  5. We conducted a client brainstorming session for creating a quarterly content plan to provide quality, link-friendly information we could/can pitch to industry publications and their network.

If you ask an everyday business owner to do the things above, I suspect many would believe it would be “hard work”. Writing articles and blog posts takes time. Thinking up link friendly content strategies requires a bit of creativity. Building relationships does not always lead to tangible rewards.

Could you build links with less energy expended? Most likely yes.

However the days of email link requests or relying on directory submissions as the sole methods for acquiring links are no longer realistic if you expect to build a competitive SEO presence.

Site owners with established domains understand at least a perceived value to the links they give out. They do not come cheaply and everyone is skeptical of the unsolicited email link inquiry.

A couple of the posts I link to at the beginning (of this post) reference blog commenting as a strategy for gaining links (or being a spammer). I’ve personally collected a few good links by making intelligent comments on blogs. It also takes some time to read someone’s blog post and contribute in a manner that enables them to approve your comment with its link intact.

There is work involved in crafting intelligent comments (though one might argue writing a good blog comment is a lot easier than writing an article. Good thing links in tweets don’t count… or… er… nevermind)

Blog comment spam is a problem almost any moderately successful blogger has to deal with. Is sacrificing your brand in the name of the quick comment link worth it? I suppose the answer is different for everyone.

One final thought
Building links is a lot like building your business. If you don’t cut corners growing your organization, and SEO is an important component of your marketing strategy, you’ll realize link building takes a little bit more work to be successful as well.

Agree or disagree? Your comments and opinions certainly matter.


3 Responses to “The Truth About Link Building Is That It’s Usually Hard Work”

  1. Tweets that mention Link Building Truths | Cape Cod SEO -- on January 24th, 2011 11:17 am

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  2. 65 New Link Building Resources « Uncategorized « SMO & SEO Services on January 31st, 2011 4:25 am

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  3. SEO Tampa on March 27th, 2011 11:24 pm

    I can not agree with you more on all of your statements and especially on “Successful link building usually takes hard work.”