My Link Building Philosophy and Overview of Services

I’m Eric Ward, creator of the web content publicity services NetPOST (1994), and URLwire (1995).  If you’re so inclined, you can read my full bio.

I’m a content publicist, though most people call what I do link building or link building campaigns. Link building is a vague term that really doesn’t do justice to the process.  From my start back in the early nineties I’ve preached that link building is, at the highest levels, a mix of public relations, marketing, branding, and advertising. I’ve been building links since before Google existed.

When Google appeared, I was the beneficiary by accident. Google validated what I’d been doing already, recognizing the role merit based links and citations play in identifying high caliber content. Soon, other engines followed, and the linking gold rush began. Everyone wants more links. But link chasers miss the most fundamental truth about links, which is that the most valuable links will be earned due to deserving content. What I’ve sometimes called etiologic linking, cause and effect, links and citations earned based on merit.

My expertise is in the planning, strategy, and execution of site announcement and natural linking campaigns for meritorious content.  Specifically, I make sure your web content is known, cited, and linked to in the right way, by the right people.  I created and executed the very first linking campaign for Amazon.com Books, back when nobody had any idea what it would become.  I’ve worked with hundreds of sites since then. I currently write for Link Week at SearchEngineland.com, and speak at conferences. I’ve written web marketing columns for Ad Age BtoB Magazine, ClickZ, MarketingProfs, Web Marketing Today, and print magazine Search Marketing Standard.

I’ve watched the link building industry explode and implode with detached curiosity.  I was building links long before Google existed, but thanks to Google’s purchase of DejaNews, you can see evidence of my work as far back as early 1995.

“The easier any link was to get, the less value that link will have. Any link that can be had without a mediary scrutinizing the content for quality and relevance is unlikely to be trusted by any search engine.
— From my SMX East conference session

My goal is to help the content and the online audience it was intended for learn about one another.  It’s that simple.  The methods I use to do this are where link building becomes an art.  I identify and contact online venues that in my estimation would be inclined to care about the new content enough to  write about it and/or link to it.  An online venue could be anything from a blog to an e-newsletter to a topical web guide to a directory, links page or even an RSS feed or discussion list or wikipedia entry.

For any new content, there are venues, nooks, and crannies in the online world that will care about it. The key is to understand who and where they are, be respectful of the owner of each venue, interact in an appropriate way for each venue, and never, repeat NEVER, automate this process.

“My services are not what brings traffic to your Web site. You must be producing content that someone wants to see, or no amount effort on my part will help. The ultimate success of your site depends on the value and usefulness of the content  you deliver. The surfer sees through hype in a minute. It’s about content, not hype. Your site either has it or it doesn’t.
— From InteractivePR News interview

I have an experienced and practiced understanding of how Web sites and their intended audiences find each other. Quality rather than quantity is the only way I operate.  I focus on one-way link building campaigns, and rarely engage in reciprocal linking campaigns because they are, in most cases, a waste of time.  If your site is appropriate for one, I’ll tell you how to do it.

I take on limited clients, and you don’t see my banners slapped all over the Internet in search of business, because I have plenty. Rather than attracting everyone to me, I prefer to attract people to my clients and their sites. I will candidly tell you right up front that there are no silver bullets for Web site promotion. Every site has different needs.

Let me state for the record that while everyone claims to be a Web site promoter, I started the whole mess back in 1994, when I was the very first person to create a service that provided publicity building for Web sites. My service was the first of its kind on the net, before Yahoo even had a category for it, and my clients and references among the most respected and well known in the industry.

My approach to linking is based on content merit. I don’t have some mysterious “team of experts” or account executives I’ll hand your account over to. There is me.  Since I come from the marketing and advertising industry (Time, Inc., Whittle Communications), and have been online since dial-up, I bring an unusual blend of skills to my clients. I am online every week, year-round, doing campaigns and studying linking relationships. It’s the only way to truly know this medium.

Awards and media coverage…
I was honored to receive the 1995 Tenagra Award for Internet Marketing Excellence, along with current and past winners like Yahoo, Netscape, FedEx and a handful of others. I also served as the Technical Editor for Macmillan Publishing’s Strategic Internet Marketing, by Tom Vassos. In the late nineties I was named one of the web’s 100 most influential people by Websight magazine (the print pub that died the next year).

Over the years my company and services have been written about and recommended in many online, print, and broadcast publications and outlets, such as Inc. Magazine, THE WALL STREEET JOURNAL ONLINE, Internet World magazine, WDFM, CNet Radio, ZDNet and others.  I am one of the 25 people profiled in the recently published book Online Marketing Heroes, from Wiley and Sons. See more here.

If you would like to talk by phone, I sometimes answer this line (850) 231-7938 (CST), but don’t be discouraged when you get my voice-mail. You are likely to get a quicker response via my contact form, so that route may be preferred.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.