Why you F*%$ing Suck at Link Building

I wanted to write this blog post as a response to some posts from people on internet marketing blogs and forums who feel that the Penguin Update has ruined their easy link building efforts. Well guess what it has. The barrier to entry for link builders was lowered with the simplicity of cheap blog networks and automated tools such as Xrumer and Scrapebox which can build thousands of links per day with very little user interaction. IM Forums are littered with SEO’s crying that it’s just too hard to obtain editorial/contextual links from webmasters or bloggers and guess what I’m happy. A skill set I’ve worked at over the past few years to develop has just become even more in demand.

Well I’m going to tell you why YOU suck as a link builder.

It’s all about YOU YOU YOU – I’ve seen your outreach emails, I get them every day in my spam folder and the ones that slip through are pure narcissistic egotistical waffle. Nowhere in your outreach efforts do you offer any form of benefit to the webmaster to link to your site. It doesn’t have to be an exceptionally long piece of prose but a few bullet points to explain why a link to your site would be of interest to their community would probably increase your response rates 10 fold.

Pay it Forward – Your responsibility as a link builder grown adult is to establish some sort of relationship and invest in it before expecting someone you’ve never met to do you a favour? Come on, grow up and welcome to the real world. Subscribe to your prospects blog or Twitter Feed. Comment on their blog posts, share their stuff on your social media accounts and answer their questions on Quora. If you have anything about you the first email you send to them won’t be a begging letter for a link but actually offering them some feedback, advice or technical assistance. Just remember when you are link building you are dealing with a REAL person with REAL emotions and not a website.

Put the hours in – there was a reason you were paying a few dollars per link to BMR. You haven’t worked a single day in your life. The best link builders hard working, they get into the office early just to Skype with a blogger in a different time zone. Their mobile devices are buzzing day and night with emails to let them know their prospects are checking in nearby on Foursquare or have Tweeted a question. If you want to succeed at link building you need to work hard…

You have to pay to play – you don’t always have to pay or offer payment in kind for your site or product to be featured. Beyond the fact Google don’t like paid links, the FTC requires bloggers and celebrities to disclose of payments received for endorsing a product online. It’s very important as a link builder to understand the difference between editorial content & advertorials. My belief is that outreach is more about PR than paid media.

All Hail the Mommy Blogger – so many link builders and outreach professionals praise at the foot of the “mommy blogger” temple, but the thing is the “mommy blogger” is actually a mythical creature much like a Unicorn. Lots of people see “mommy bloggers” as a “link cash cow” as their lifestyle blogs often cover a wide variety of topics and categories from iPad apps to food to home furnishings and clothes. It’s quite common for “mommy bloggers” to want some form of payment for their work and I have found more success with bloggers who have a long tail lower ranked niche blog and have never been kissed by an agency.

 

What do you say to a failed Link Builder?

 

Y U NO Tenacity? – Wait a minute you just sent someone who probably receives hundreds of emails every day, one email? Do yourself a favour and if you haven’t received a reply in a few days send another. What you didn’t get a response the second time? Pick up the phone, dial in their telephone number and speak to them. A good link builder won’t fall at the first hurdle and if after all this effort they still don’t link to your infographic on kittehs, make sure you keep their information for future link opportunities.

You’re just playing a numbers game – you scrape a bunch of contact info from Google and then just blindly fire out emails. Guess what, you’ve probably got more chance of winning the lottery than getting a link from an authority website in your niche with that method. Research and find the right people by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How many social followers do they have?
  • Who are they connected to by checking with tools such as Mentionmapp or Klout?
  • Will they link to me? Have they linked to anything similar before?

If you follow the advice I give above you’ll start #winning at link building. We all reach points in our projects where we would rather blame a bunch of external factors than actually look at the things we can have an effect on.

Just like any marketing effort link building doesn’t just magically happen, we need to plan, measure, execute and refine our processes.