Feb 162012

Content Is How You Scale Link Building: RKG's Philosophy & Approach

Link Development RKG Style

Today I have the privilege of sharing with you how RKG approaches link development, how we see it in the context of SEO strategy overall, and if you’re lucky, a bit about where we see our efforts going in the future. I’d love to hear your thoughts on our philosophy as well - let me know on twitter (@forefront1) or drop a comment below.

Philosophy Point #1: Link development will not save your skin. We’re approached with an unfortunately high-level of frequency by businesses that believe link development is the SEO version of the Golden Gun. Now, I’m going to be the first in your ear preaching the value of it, the necessity of it, and the flat-out power of it, BUT I’m only going to do that if you’ve fixed the holes in your boat first.

Clearly, if your boat has a fundamental problem, it doesn’t matter how sweet your sail is, the thing is going to sink. It’s an obvious truth for boats, and the same principal is true with your website (or half a million other things). If your site has technical problems of some kind, it’s likely that no amount of link development is going to produce the results you’re after. It’s pretty hard to rank a page that can’t even be indexed by a search engine. In fact, that’s a challenge. I’ll mail you $20 if you can do it.

Fix your site first, optimize your architecture, and then think about link dev. Oh, and we can help with all of that ☺.

Philosophy Point #2: Link Development should be customized. If you believe one type of link solves all problems, give me a call and let’s talk. I want to back you off the ledge before you jump. Link development is about understanding your industry, your market, and what makes your little world go ‘round on the Internet. There are ways to quickly gain an understanding of your market and where you fit in (I like to think we have a pretty efficient process here at RKG), but to believe that .edu links, .gov links, or whatever other flavor of link you’re after is always going to be right is just plain wrong.

If you’re looking for someone to help you with link development, ask them about how they build link strategies, what tactics they often use and what they feel is important when evaluating a link. Warning: A good answer might be “It depends”. They should be able to back that answer with sound reasoning.

At RKG we have an approach that allows us to efficiently understand your link situation and identify a course of action for building your site’s Domain Authority, or if you’ve already got what you need capitalizing on it. While our tactics are similar across strategies, the approach and focus is different based on the situation.

Philosophy Point #3: Link development is not scalable as you know it. Link development has long been a manual process. Yes, there are exceptions and ways of garnering large amounts of links at one time other than going to India, but be ready to really invest to make these options work well. Developing large quantities of links can be very worth the investment, but when engaging in content development, promotions, etc., we believe there is more value to be had than just the links. In fact, the biggest value may not even come from the links themselves. Shocking I know. Content is how you scale link building.

Philosophy Point #4: Link development isn’t about quantity. Now that I’ve told you that quantity is attainable, I’m going to tell you that it really does not matter 99% of the time – at least not in a silo. It’s true that sometimes the 10-ton backlink gorilla is simply too much to handle, but most of the time, quality links from quality sources that have other important factors going for them will provide much more value than sheer quantity, especially when directed to deep pages.

I don’t believe Google is perfect here, and there are plenty of instances where quantity, and frankly crappy quantity, is still winning the day, but you have to focus on the future, or you’ll always be chasing the past. So cheesy I could barely write it…

Philosophy Point #5: Link development isn’t really about link development, it’s about marketing. In it’s best form, link development is an after shock of other things you, your business, and the people that make up that business are doing well. To reach SEO nirvana you should be focusing on providing your customer and those interested in what you’re selling with something of value.

Too often link building is seen as something akin to getting beaten up: a painful, long, disappointing, and frustrating process. The truth is, people like linking. They like talking about stuff, they like sharing with their friends, they like showing off what they know, and they like being in the know. Being the “thing” that is being discussed is fun! Who doesn’t like some attention?

Do a good job at what you do and give someone a reason to actually WANT to talk about you and you’ll be dead before your competition ever catches up. That’s 95% of the battle. If you’re fortunate enough to be in that situation, feel free to leave the other 5% to us. If you’re not, we can help you get there before the previously over-exaggerated death event takes place.

Again, let me know your thoughts, especially the bad ones. What tenants make up your link philosophy?


6 Responses to "Content Is How You Scale Link Building: RKG's Philosophy & Approach"
Hans says:
If link development should allways be customized, how should link marketers deal with clients who have a small budget? Customization often is more expensive and takes more time.
Hi Hans, Thanks for the comment. Budget can be a tough issue when working through customization, but in this case the customization refers mostly to crafting a strategy for earning links that is actually based upon the competitive landscape and goals of the client. With the right process, this doesn't have to take very much time/require a ton of monetary resources. Actually building the types of links you decide you need on a very tight budget can be more of a challenge. If it turns out that to build the types of links you believe are needed based upon your analysis is just going to be too expensive, then falling back and thinking like more of a typical marketer and less of an SEO is often the way to go. Good products/services with appropriate (even if basic) marketing can lead to links, leads, brand development, and many other benefits. This can happen without spending 1,000's of dollars, depending on how competitive the market is. Remember, scale link building through content. Investing in one great piece of content and proper promotion of that content can earn you a lot of link equity. The trick then becomes how to manage that equity once you have it.
Scott says:
Great post! I disagree with one of your points that links will not save a site if on site seo is rubbish. I have one client where we have to go through a 3rd party for any changes to their CMS. We have 0 access to the site except for titles and meta data. I compensated for this inability to do on site work by doubling the links that we usually provide for clients. The rankings then started to come in, traffic tripled, and sales went through the roof. Yes, you shouldn't use links as a crutch, but they still make up 70% of Google's algorithm in my opinion and thus, can provide some amazing results.
Hey Scott, Thanks for the reply. I completely appreciate your point, and while I agree that link building can over come a lot, I believe firmly that: 1) Building links is rarely the most efficient way of overcoming certain on-site issues. 2) Building links probably won't hold up over time. In my opinion, they are more like SEO "patches" to your site when they are being used to cover other problems. Longer term if the industry/niche/etc. is profitable enough, someone will come along with a well constructed site and dialed on page optimization AND good links. I also personally believe the value of links will continue to change (for lack of a better word) over time, and whatever patchwork you were able to do may not hold up. All that being said, short-term runs can be made and some problems overcome with great links. Sometimes that's they only play you have. Thanks again for the read and for sharing your thoughts!


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