I doubt anyoneone’s going to call me a “link building” guru anytime soon, at least on the level of Alliance Link’s Debra Mastaler (who I hear is a good songwriter too 😉 However, after reading a recent post she made on her blog called “Link Spiel,” I have to disagree on one point in particular.
For the most part, I agree with what she says in her post titled “What Do You Really Want From Your Link Builder?” It argues that you must take on link building with more than just a simple one or two dimensional manner and a) making important statements on the web that are worthy enough for others to link back to it or bookmark it for future reading and b) developing partnerships with those links. At the same time, she makes a statement in her post (a couple of times) that is a little inaccurate IMHO.
The 2 points are very solid and overall, I agree with her. In particular, beyond the obvious in the first goal of simply having “quality content” to link back to, the “developing partnerships” is very true. Link building is like a mini-version of what Business Development folks within Internet companies do on a larger scale (and getting paid MUCH more). You’re striking a relationship to hopefully swap value for value. It’s hard though when you don’t have value to provide someone who’s going to give you value in their link juice, but perhaps you’re good at selling yourself? Nevertheless, building partnerships & in particular “solid relationships” is key not only in link building, but also in business, in general.
However, my main contention with her thoughts about this are making the generalization (twice, from what I recall), “To ‘just’ want links means you don’t have an understanding of basic SEO nor an open mind about developing your business as a whole.” Really?
Frankly, I think you can “still know something about SEO” by trying to build links quick and fast. It’s not the ideal to be honest, but very few websites who come to SEO professionals have that: time. It’s one of the reasons why they would pay thousands of dollars to an SEO Consultant to literally help drive their site up to the top of the SERPs, but again, I wouldn’t make the blanket statement that we don’t know anything about SEO.
Recently, I did a link audit of many of my competitors in the business. It’s funny, but they are the “leaders” of SEO in our field (or at least in the SERPs), yet when you look at most of their links to their sites (at least in the few I’ll be generalizing from myself), they tend to come from blog post comments with high PR values. I’ll be continuing this and hopefully update my thoughts on this later, but at least according to the SERPs, they’re supposedly good at their craft, yet they do what Mastaler says would qualify you as somebody who doesn’t know basic SEO.
Of course ideally, you want to organically grow your links over time in a way that not only builds relationships, but truly builds links in a natural manner. However, it will take much longer and possibly too much time out of your business to build those links. If you hire someone to do it for you “naturally”, then aren’t you literally contradicting the whole thought about building “naturally” or trying to do it through building great content and building great partnerships? At the same time, where ranking high for a set of keywords that’s highly demanded, it’s a must for websites to be better at SEO & MUST do it artificially in some manner.
Well, building great content is not contradictory per se, but how are you going to get traffic and how long will it be before someone profiles you in some other website which will drive traffic to your site? It think it’s the good ole “what comes first dilemma? The chicken or the egg?”
Anyway, I think it’s more of a matter of lacking time that many do build it artificially and actually, Mastaler built a business around it initially, but now after being very credible which I think she said something like 9 years she’s been doing it, she has a better ability to say it’s about quality content and building partnerships.
I’d love if one day someone could craft up the wisdom of how to do this in a quick manner, but unfortunately, I don’t think they go hand in hand. (“this” being “building a business in a quick manner” through ideally organic methods, but realistically doing it in artificial methods like SEO along with other marketing)
**p.s. I have to thank Mastaler for actually disallowing (at least from what I could see today) commenting on the post about linking. If she didn’t, I probably wouldn’t have written this today and would of instead just quickly commented on the post. I think she pointed out she wanted to use brevity in the post meaning maybe she’s like me when we comment on things. Also, like I said above, I think she’s right for the most part, but just wanting to make sure we consider the fact that people “don’t know SEO” because they do something in particular. They just might be going against highly principled SEO at times.