the right link building approach. He's interested in links that are given
on merit, and those are the links that stand the test of time" -Matt Cutts, Google
"Eric Ward is THE authority on links" -Danny Sullivan, SearchEngineLand
(Now only available by subscription via LinkMoses Private)
Since 1994 I've offered link building strategy, services, analytics, consulting, and a little philosophy. So ignore it, because what would I know?
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|A Linking Campaign Primer
By Eric Ward
The climate surrounding linking between sites has changed remarkably over the past couple of years. While it's still possible to secure high-quality inbound links to your site at no cost, the task of overseeing an inbound link seeking campaign is far more complex and challenging than it used to be.
Believe it or not, the start-to-finish process of an inbound-linking campaign is much more administrative than you might think. For the sake of example, let's say you run an online Archery supply site, and you have identified 50 other sites you hope will link to your archery site. Some of your link seeking targets will be obvious, like this directory category, or this topical guide. Some may be more specific to certain regions, like this target site, and some may be industry specific or BtoB. Overall, you've come up with a nice mix of target sites.
But now comes the hard part: You need to begin asking these sites for links back to your site.
Starting off on the Right Foot: Managing the Link Building Process
I created my own set of link building process management tools, which are a mashup of Google docs and Excel, and a few perl scripts. The Google docs make it easy to share what needs to be shared with the client. The excel docs keep sensitive data private.
As you approach target sites to request links, here's a list of the most basic data you'll need to manage. Depending on your specific site, you may have many others.
name of the target site
So, at any given point in your inbound-link campaign, you have many things keep track of. And while there is a definate art to link building, there is a process that must be managed. And linking campaigns never really end; you should constantly be looking for opportunities.
the Best Expert: You
One problem is judging performance. If you pay someone only for the links he or she generates for you, then he or she will be more inclined to look for the sites that are most likely to grant a link, regardless of the site's quality. There are a million free-for-all-links pages out there; but I wouldn't pay a cent to be on any of them, because their quality is, well, lacking...
So, if you opt to pay based on numbers of links generated, set some quality-control standards right up front. And reserve the right of approval for any link deals.
Truth About Outsourcing
If this person contacts someone who says you'll be given a link in exchange for a link back to your site, do you want someone other than you making that kind of decision? And what if a site says that it will give you a link for $100 a month? Do you want your money spent this way?
All this before you even know if that link on their page will generate one single click and deliver someone to your page. The bottom line is that it will take weeks, possibly months, to coordinate and possibly negotiate with each site you've located. Without a tracking tool or spreadsheet, it's impossible to do an efficient job.
All this brings me back to the key point: You must take control of your inbound-linking efforts on your own, because nobody cares about your site as much as you do.
expert help along the way
For those who are already accomplished link builders, another viable approach is to use a third party to help with target-site discovery. It can take a long time to locate legitimate target sites. I'm getting more and more requests for Link Building Blueprints and Plans, where I do the research and discovery and provide my client with a vetted set of high value, high trust sites that make strategic sense for link seeking. My client then manages the link building process as they already do, or with my help along the way. The client saves time and money, we each use our individual strengths to full advantage.
Links related to this column
|About the Author|
Ward founded the Web's first services for announcing, linking, and
publicizing Web sites back
in 1994. Ward is best known as the person behind the linking campaigns
for Amazon.com Books, Weather.com, Rodney Dangerfield (Rodney.com), the
AMA, and PBS.org. His services won the 1995 Award for Internet
Marketing Excellence, and he was selected as one of the
Web's 100 most
influential people by Websight magazine. In 2009 Eric was one of 25 people
profiled in the book Online
Marketing Heroes. Eric has spoken at over 150 industry conferences
and now publishes LinkMoses
Private, a subscription based link opportunity and strategy service.
Eric has written linking strategy and advice columns for SearchEngineLand,
MarketingProfs, ClickZ, Search Marketing Standard, SearchEngineGuide, Web
Marketing Today, and Ad Age magazine. Learn more about Eric and his content
publicity and link building services at ericward.com
How to Reach Eric Ward