Seven Ways to Become a Better Link Builder

18 Sep

Over a decade ago, I was introduced to the intriguing game of link building for the first time. My very first task was to create a few dozen splogs on freehost domains and to link them all together with exact match anchor texts, so it’s suffice to say that a lot has changed during the past ten years. Most of those freehosts have disappeared… :)

During this time, I think I have learned quite a bit about link building, SEO and marketing in general. Most of this can be boiled down to just seven key learnings, which all are pretty much ‘basics’.

1. Always be honest

To everyone! To your clients. To link targets. To Google. To yourself.

There’s nothing wrong with crossing Google’s lines every now and then, as long as you’re being honest about it. To your clients, that you’re putting their sites at risk. To yourself, that you’re really giving your clients value for money. To Google, that when you’re filing a reinclusion request, you accept the consequences of your grey hat tactics, instead of denying that those advertorial links had been purposely un-nofollowed.

Also be honest in your link requests. Stating that “you’re an avid reader of website X” is somewhat hard to believe after you’ve just misspelled their name (happens regularly). And while we’re at it: things like “if you use this anchor text, we will both benefit of the relevance”, “I will provide you with free, high quality, relevant content because I like your site” or “no, me paying you to link to my page isn’t against Google’s guidelines” are not principles of persuasion – that’s lying. Stop doing that.

2. Place yourself in the other person’s shoes

The amount of link requests, PR-pitches and other link-solliciting emails I receive every day is rediculous, and I’m not even a journalist! However, the vast majority of these emails is about as relevant as a portable cassette player in 2013. Not even a little bit.

I don’t think that it’s an exaggeration to state that, if the sender would have placed him or herself in the shoes of the recipient for just two seconds before hitting ‘send’, over 90% of all link request emails would never have been sent.

What would you do if you received the email? Would you delete it straight away? Then don’t send it.

3. Get rid of your toolbars

Metrics like PR, TF, MR or WHTEVR can definitely help you to determine the value of a page or site, but should never be leading. The amount of comments, the quality of the content of the website or the thematical relevance cannot be measured by a toolbar (AFAIK), but are – in most cases – more important than any abbreviated scale from 0 to 10.

Try finding potential link targets without looking at the Alexa ranking, Domain Authority or anything similar every now and then. You’ll be surprised to see what sites you’d normally have discarded straight away, but now turn out to be decent targets.

4. Never assume

You can learn a lot from following smart folks on Twitter, reading SEO blogs or even attending Google Webmaster Hangouts, but don’t take these tips and advice as the truth. Question things that are seemingly common sense, or unknowable.

There are many excellent studies and tutorials out there, but always try to take it with a grain of your own salt. Things might work out to be different for you – online marketing does not work in an IFTTT-format, unfortunately.

5. Say ‘thank you’

Has someone linked to you or mentioned your client in a positive way, regardless of whether you’ve asked them to do so? Make sure to thank them. Send them a short email, give them a call to say thanks, or maybe even send a gift as a token of your appreciation.

It’s polite to say ‘thank you’ when someone has done something nice for you, but it’s also a great way to create goodwill and to build a solid network.

6. Think ahead

There’s one ground rule in link building: no matter how effective a link building tactic is, there’s always (ALWAYS!) a dumbass who will ruin it for everyone.

Infographic link building, guest posting, broken link building and (for some) even getting advertorial links have been very effective link building tactics, but have become drastically less efficient due to overuse.

Now that guest posting has become main stream, lots of blogs now have rate cards for publishing guest posts and infographics, making them the ideal target for lazy link builders of low quality websites. That’s not a good development for those who have just put all their eggs in the guest posting basket.

When you find a link building tactic that works, you shouldn’t be thinking “Awesome! How can I exploit this tactic in the most easy and most profitable way?”, but “Good to know that this works. Now let’s find another tactic that works!”.

Think ahead, and always look for new techniques, new tools, new approaches or other ways to distinguish yourself from your (or your client’s) competitors.

7. Take some time off

Spending 10+ hours a day staring at a monitor isn’t good for you nor for your clients. Get away from your desk every now and then. Some of the best ideas occur when you’re not doing any real business – when you’re doing groceries, taking the dog for a walk or just talking to someone else about ‘offline things’.

18 Responses to “Seven Ways to Become a Better Link Builder”

  1. Linki September 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    I an avid reader of your blog :-D Well said!

  2. David September 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    Yup, everything that works ends up getting over-used and – this is the killer – automated. Whenever something becomes scalable, its effectiveness plummets. In some cases, really high quality still works, but in other cases, it all goes down the drain. I tend to think that guest posting will remain valuable for the long term when done with very high quality blogs. That’s where you need the metrics – or you really need to know the territory.

  3. Scott September 18, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    Love this. It’s amazing how powerful transparency can be in business, especially in an industry like ours where so many clients have been burned in the past by shady SEOs.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Gene September 19, 2013 at 1:18 am #

    The biggest turn off for me is when other SEOs contact me trying to link bait or be dishonest about their efforts. Hey, guess what, I know what you are after and believe it or not I’m after the same exact thing, don’t give me your BS about how great my work is or how your content is going to be useful to my readers. Just be honest and tell it like it is. You have a client, they need links… great.. let’s see what we can do together, legit that will actually benefit both of us.

  5. Metz September 19, 2013 at 3:53 am #

    Well, we know that link building is very helpful to keep your site alive and productive. It is nice to know how different websites work hand in hand, unity I must say.

    And these 7 tips here to become a better link builder are no doubt effective. I know link builders are waiting for this!

    For me, the very first number is VERY VERY IMPORTANT! Honestly is the best policy. And Place yourself in others shoes, self-explanatory.:)

    I found this post shared on, the Internet marketing social site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

  6. Amal Rafeeq September 19, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    I wonder why I didn’t came to know about this awesome blog any earlier!
    I was getting bored out of all those Link Building techniques out there which kinda looked alike and this one solves.
    You really know how to write for HUMANS. Way to go!

    Thanks and Cheers! :)

  7. Anne - New York September 21, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    Hi Wiep,

    I love to read your blog.
    These are simple, yet effective ways to become a “better link builder”.

    As we are standing behind a computer screen, is is easy to forget that we are dealing with individuals and not machines.

  8. Nick September 24, 2013 at 7:40 am #

    Yo yo yo, this website is da bomb! I’m a long time reader of your blog and find this information about {random keyword extremely interesting. Dead set you should totes link a brother up! hahahaha

  9. Dublin House September 27, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    link building is double edged sword especially after the panda/penguin updates,it could be very rewarding if done properly or very damaging if the 7 points mentioned in this article are not followed .

  10. Charles Arthur September 30, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    I love to read your blog. These are easy, however effective ways that to become a “better link builder”. As we have a tendency to square measure standing behind a computer display, is straightforward to forget that we have a tendency to square measure handling people and not machines.

  11. maggie alison October 22, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    I simply want to say that I am just very new to weblog and definitely liked this web page. Almost certainly I’m likely to bookmark your blog . You definitely have very good articles.

  12. sduggal October 23, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    Very nice blog who really care for their visitors. Link building is technique to increase the ranking of our site by techniques like article submission, blog post etc. but yes when practising these link building techniques we should always keep thse points in mind as how will you view the site and react if you were a visitor and then start practising these techniques.

  13. Jan Willem October 23, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    I reached your site by PointBlankSeo and Search Engine Weekly posts. Never really thought about the ‘overuse’ part, however I tend to do always try to do new stuff when it doesn’t work I go screaming back to old decent pr/linkbuilding habits.

  14. Karine October 25, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    If you desire to grow your experience only keep visiting this website and be updated with the most recent gossip posted here.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

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