John Andrews is a Competitive Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant in Seattle, Washington. This is John Andrews blog on issues of interest to the SEO community and competitive webmasters. Want to know more?

johnon.com  Competitive Web & SEO
November 27th, 2010 by john andrews

What is SEO Link Building?

At first it seems pretty obvious what “link building” is… it is the practice of building back links to your site. But in the SEO marketplace, it is NOT clear today what “link building” is. What, exactly are you getting when you hire and pay a link builder? What are reasonable expectations for paid link building?

Today more than any time in the past I can remember, the service of link building lacks clarity in the marketplace. I’ve been doing SEO professionally for 7 years, and SEO was part of my job for almost 6 years before that. I’ve always done link building, but not the way I do it today. So what do professional link builders do for you today?

6 Aspects of Modern Day SEO Link Building

There are 6 obvious aspects to modern SEO link building. Some are integral to SEO, as you will see below, so in effect there are more than 6 aspects but these 6 get us started:

Link Building Foundations

Your content must be “linkable”, which means it has to present itself as something unique on the web. It doesn’t need to be truly unique as in one-of-a-kind, but within its target audience, it must appear unique and thus link worthy. This also means your content must be identified with unique URLs, so linking is possible. The foundations of link building require that your site work properly, be reasonably navigable and recognizable, and be “able to be linked to”.

Link to It, and Build Sites/Pages for Linking

Once your content is “linkable”, link builders link to it. They may adjust your within-site linking, or make use of your existing sub domain published content, your other owned sites, or sites where you have influence, to get links in to your site. A link builder will identify which pages of your site should be supported with links, and what sort of links will bring the most benefit. Link builders may have existing sites that can link to your site, or they may build new sites (or publish content on other sites) to carry more links to your site. Article writers do this, as do social media managers who create profiles on other sites linking to your site.

Link builders may create new sites in order to use them for link building, or may build new sites as extensions of your site, to benefit link building. These methods can be valuable, but care must be taken to align the activities with SEO activities (to protect your brand and your site SEO status).

This is link building at its fundamental core, and surprisingly many site owners have not engaged in this most basic form of link building.

Extending the Foundation with Directories

Professional directories and “listing” sites present opportunities for additional link building. Anywhere your competitors appear, you should consider. Your link builder explores such opportunities, and recognizes the ones that might have the biggest impact. Your link builder should also create links to you, and will want to expense any editorial fees or perhaps management fees associated with such links.

Good link builders know the difference between meaningful, powerful directory links and low-quality, questionable directory links. Oh, and not every “directory” is called a “directory” and this is another area where professional link builders bring value for those who hire them.

Link Building Innovation

Good link builders innovate to cause the marketplace to link to your content. Innovation might be content-based (infographics, interesting and remarkable content) or technology-based (such as new systems that make it easy to “recommend” your content via links), or activity-based (activity on exiting sites such as forums prompts linking to your site from third party locations). There is no limit to innovation, but of course innovation requires creativity, skill, and perseverance.

The best link builders rely on innovation first, and build their strategies out from there to suit your particular site’s needs. The innovative SEO link builder is sort of the opposite of the link builder who has a secret network of sites on Topic X which he will link to your site for a monthly fee. Link building must match your site’s unique positioning and needs, and your link builder should consider everything in the toolbox when forming a link building strategy.

Copy-Cat Link Building

I call this sadly common tactic “copy cat link building” mostly because I get copied a lot and don’t enjoy it. A copy cat link builder simply does what you did to get links for herself, after you already did it.

If you find a webmaster willing to give a link, and convince her to do so, the copy cat follows up with a request for a link to her site, too, sometimes even pointing out your link as rationale for her link. If you publish a list of “10 Favorite Thanksgiving Dinner Table Jokes” that gets a lot of attention in the marketplace, you’ll probably see 4 or 5 copy cats publishing “5 Favorite Thanksgiving Jokes” and similar rip offs shortly after, since your efforts demonstrated such copy cats can be expected to similarly resonate well in the marketplace.

By copying your innovation, creativity, and research, the copy-cat link builder eliminated much of the costs of link building, instead stepping in to steal market share from your link building instead of growing the link building opportunity base. It becomes a race of social media seeding, instead of link building.

Fortunately, Mother Nature built in some natural controls for such cheats and scammers. First, they put competitive pressure on you (the innovator) to be even better than you are. As you get even better, the copy cats have more trouble keeping up. Second,  cheats and scammers generally cheat and scam in everything they do (not just link building). Copy-cats tend to earn poor reputations for themselves over time, which lead to less effective social media networking and this less ability to beat you on execution.

Still, copy cat link building can be effective for the short term, and can definitely piss you off.

Integrated Link Building / Competitive Web Strategy

This is where modern SEO link builders really shine. Working closely with the web strategist or lead SEO, a good innovative, experienced, and technically skilled link builder can propose a strategy with a high probability of success in a given marketplace. Using existing content (which may need re-positioning or adjusting), or by creating new, complimentary content, the SEO and link builder work together to draw quality inbound links to your site. Nothing gets published until it is “link worthy”. Nothing gets published without additional promotion designed to draw links. No link is built without consideration for how it impacts the site and its SEO status. In short, integrated link building is part of SEO.

A Few Tips for Working with Link Builders

As always, keep your goals and objectives in mind and be transparent about them with your link builder. Ask, “what is my current link profile” before they start. Ask them to qualify it… tell you in writing how it looks. The same qualification will be asked after some months of link building, and the link builder should be held accountable for progress. If you are told your existing links are low quality, as why. Ask which ones are low quality, and how do they know. Use this to judge the quality of new links built.

What about examples of prior work or an outline of what will be done before a contract is signed? This is tough, and if you read the above 6 aspects it might become clear why some link builders balk at such a request.

If they use a “secret network of owned sites” to link to you, they won’t reveal that network or they could put it at risk. You should consider your own risk of working with such a link builder.

If they rely on innovation and strategy, they won’t have the answers before work starts. They won’t know what works for your site and your market until they do the research and perhaps some testing. The link builder can propose broad categories of efforts like quizzes, infographics, surveys, and curated collections (of images, of links), but not specifics. When you pay a good link builder for more than just links from existing sites, you are paying them to answer that question for you.

As with any activity, there is art and science to link building, but no one has yet shown magic to be real in any context.¬† Don’t pay for magic… pay for performance, results, or link building, and set aside adequate detail in the beginning so you and your link builder can point at the outcomes of efforts and agree on how good or bad they are. And most importantly, remember that link building requires a certain degree of persuasion of the marketplace (those who make links). No link builder can guarantee third parties will freely build links to your site,¬† but you and your link builder can definitely agree on what represents honest effort, what constitutes a hit or a miss, and how your money will be spent during a link building engagement.

Update: We’re looking for link builders of all styles and capacities. Send email to info at this domain with your pitch or other details. Don’t be shy… if you’re up front with your style/approach/capabilities you are more likely to be considered. I also have a trusted directory of link builders you may want to be in, which I will consider.

★★ Click to Share!    Digg this     Create a del.icio.us Bookmark     Add to Newsvine
November 18th, 2010 by john andrews

Premium Domain Name, Lazy SEO

I wonder sometimes if it is a strategic business decision to hire/contract/deploy low quality, short sighted, and or downright lazy SEO on premium domains. I’d think that a premium domain would represent a golden opportunity, if not a mandate to execute the best SEO available.

Perhaps it depends on which premium domain. Perhaps premium domains which have been purchased for premium prices are more likely to enjoy seriously gifted/talented SEO. Contrasted of course with the “stepped in it” premium domain owner, who holds an astronomical¬† paper asset value yet fails in the commitment-to-development department. Perhaps.

Adding to the recipe… the bigger organization that raised the capital to buy the premium domain, or absorb the premium domain via a portfolio or a key partner integration is more likely to be slow, bureaucratic, and lazy than the nimble entrepreneurial venture more commonly associated with high value SEO efforts. Or perhaps, in it for the long term, those same premium domain holders have not yet visibly revealed their outstanding long term SEO activities.

But it sure seems like a lot of premium domains slated for “development” are following crappy SEO strategies.

★★ Click to Share!    Digg this     Create a del.icio.us Bookmark     Add to Newsvine

Competitive Webmaster

Wonder how to be more competitive at some aspect of the web? Submit your thoughts.

SEO Secret

Not Post Secret

Click HERE



about


John Andrews is a mobile web professional and competitive search engine optimzer (SEO). He's been quietly earning top rank for websites since 1997. About John

navigation

blogroll

categories

comments policy

archives

credits

Recent Posts: ★ Do you want to WIN, or just “Be the Winner”? ★ 503: GONE ★ Cloud Storage ★ Identity Poetry for Marketers ★ PR is where the Money Is ★ Google is an Addict ★ When there are no Jobs ★ Google Stifles Innovation, starts Strangling Itself ★ Flying the SEO Helicopter ★ Penguin 2.0 Forewarning Propaganda? ★ Dedicated Class “C” IP addresses for SEO ★ New Domain Extensions (gTLDs) Could Change Everything ★ Kapost Review ★ Aaron Von Frankenstein ★ 2013 is The Year of the Proxy ★ Preparing for the Google Apocalypse ★ Rank #1 in Google for Your Name (for a fee) ★ Pseudo-Random Thoughts on Search ★ Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or a Blog ★ The BlueGlass Conference Opportunity ★ Google Execs Take a Break from Marissa Mayer, Lend Her to Yahoo! ★ Google SEO Guidelines ★ Reasons your Post-Penguin Link Building Sucks ★ Painful Example of Google’s Capricious Do Not Care Attitude ★ Seeing the Trees, but Missing the Forest 

Subscribe

☆ about

John Andrews is a mobile web professional and competitive search engine optimzer (SEO). He's been quietly earning top rank for websites since 1997. About John

☆ navigation

  • John Andrews and Competitive Webmastering
  • E-mail Contact Form
  • What does Creativity have to do with SEO?
  • How to Kill Someone Else’s AdSense Account: 10 Steps
  • Invitation to Twitter Followers
  • …unrelated: another good movie “Clean” with Maggie Cheung
  • …unrelated: My Hundred Dollar Mouse
  • Competitive Thinking
  • Free SEO for NYPHP PHP Talk Members
  • Smart People
  • Disclosure Statement
  • Google Sponsored SPAM
  • Blog Post ideas
  • X-Cart SEO: How to SEO the X Cart Shopping Cart
  • IncrediBill.blogspot.com
  • the nastiest bloke in seo
  • Seattle Domainers Conference
  • Import large file into MySQL : use SOURCE command
  • Vanetine’s Day Gift Ideas: Chocolate Fragrance!
  • SEM Rush Keyword Research
  • ☆ blogroll

  • Bellingham SEO
  • Domain Name Consultant
  • Hans Cave Diving in Mexico
  • Healthcare Search Marketing
  • John Andrews
  • John Andrews SEO
  • SEMPDX Interview
  • SEO Quiz
  • SEO Trophy Phrases
  • SMX Search Marketing Expo
  • T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2007
  • TOR
  • ☆ categories

    Competition (39)
    Competitive Intelligence (15)
    Competitive Webmastering (546)
    Webmasters to Watch (4)
    domainers (63)
    Oprah (1)
    photography (3)
    Privacy (16)
    Public Relations (187)
    SEO (397)
    Client vs. SEO (2)
    Link Building (3)
    Search Engines vs. SEO (1)
    SEO SECRETS (11)
    SEO vs. SEO (1)
    ThreadWatch Watching (5)
    Silliness (24)
    Social Media (7)
    society (31)
    Uncategorized (23)

    ☆ archives

  • September 2014
  • December 2013
  • October 2013
  • September 2013
  • August 2013
  • May 2013
  • April 2013
  • March 2013
  • February 2013
  • January 2013
  • November 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • September 2011
  • July 2011
  • May 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • January 2011
  • December 2010
  • November 2010
  • October 2010
  • September 2010
  • August 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010
  • March 2010
  • February 2010
  • January 2010
  • December 2009
  • November 2009
  • October 2009
  • September 2009
  • August 2009
  • July 2009
  • June 2009
  • May 2009
  • April 2009
  • March 2009
  • February 2009
  • January 2009
  • December 2008
  • November 2008
  • October 2008
  • September 2008
  • August 2008
  • July 2008
  • June 2008
  • May 2008
  • April 2008
  • March 2008
  • February 2008
  • January 2008
  • December 2007
  • November 2007
  • October 2007
  • September 2007
  • August 2007
  • July 2007
  • June 2007
  • May 2007
  • April 2007
  • March 2007
  • February 2007
  • January 2007
  • December 2006
  • November 2006
  • October 2006
  • September 2006
  • August 2006
  • July 2006