At last week's SMB Unleashed Conference in Houston someone asked what was the hardest part of my job as a link builder. Was it the:

Massive amount of time involved in competitive research? Or -

The massive amount of time involved in negotiating space? Or -

Developing new and creative content that continually attracts links?

Nope, no and no again.

IMO, the hardest part of my job is telling someone you won't be able to secure the authority links they need because their site is a boring forgettable mess. That doesn't mean I would muster up low quality links either, I just wouldn't work for them period unless they were willing to make some changes.

No matter how I spin it, when I tellsomeone "Dude, your site is boring and lacks credibility as a result. No one will link to it unless you make some changes..."that doesn't go over well with most people. It's easier when you have something tangible to point to like poor design, poor usability, outdated content, broken links, over-use of Adsense and no About Us page. But you're not always that lucky and it's never that easy, sometimes it's just a case of dull and boring.

It's easier to define credibility than "dull" since "dull" is somewhat subjective. Boring content is unemotional, unattached and one dimensional, so it stands to reason you're not going to find motivated people creatingcaptivatingpages that elicit credibility. Take dull and now add lack of trust and you have one dud site to try and secure links for.

To me, David Hasselhof is boring.

Vin Diesel is not.

Hamburgers are boring. Kobe beef is not.

Birkenstocks are boring (and ugly). Jimmy Choo's are not.

Canned sales verbiage is boring and lacks credibility. Product reviews and testimonials are not.

You can say "boring" is a matter of taste much like beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but really... when it comes to selling yourself and establishing credibility online, would you attract more confidence and links by:

Hosting information on David Hasselhof eating burgers in Birkenstocks Or --

Vin Diesel noshing on Kobe beef with a date in Jimmy Choos?
I'm betting the latter - unless of course you're Amish or somehow challenged. Vin Diesel is HOT, Kobe beef is all the rage and Jimmy Choo's... well do I really need to say more?

OK so the example is a little extreme, but you get the point. Your link building and content generation campaigns shouldn't be where you scrimp on costs or creative energy,they're key to your overall online marketing success. You can't afford to have a dull site or one lacking credibility if you want to attract links, build brand and drive targeted traffic. If you don't have content to use as a hook or the site lacks certain credibility elements then you need to spend the money and havethem created otherwise no one will link to you.

Old and stale beget no links and sales . Don't skimp on paying for content.
April 30, 2008

Based in Williamsburg Virginia, Debra Mastaler is President of Alliance-Link, an interactive marketing company focused on providing custom link building campaigns and link training and is the author of the link building blog Link Spiel


Well said Debra! One of the hardest things in the world is having to tell a client that his/her site sucks. So many times they flat out don't get it though. But all is well when you can point to things that you'd like to change to give it a nice sprucing!

Debra - well said! This should be read by every editorial director - corporate marketing person - and, well, just about everyone. It astounds me how complacent people can be about their bad - dull - boring web content.

If you think hamburgers are boring, you need to try IN-N-OUT BURGER (California and Nevada only).

What is dull and boring to one person, is not necessarily so for someone else. What is needed is knowing your customers and proper targeting of content. When you talk about Vin Diesel, Kobe beef and Jimmy Choo's by eyes roll back and I'm ready for a nap. But talk about six sigma and lean in HSSE and you've got my attention. It's all about proper targeting.

Steve's on the money here. My site may be dull and boring design-wise, but the content is spot-on for my audience, or so they tell me.

Steve's right. Targeting in content is key, not bells and whistles. I couldn't care less about flashy stuff--it's the info I'm looking for, and I think most web users are too.

BTW, doesn't Search Engine Guide use beige in its redesign?

Nobody ever wants to hear that their site is boring. Sometimes it is very difficult to have standards and stick to them, and it is even harder to impose those standards on someone else when they've put all their energy into a site and think it is good when it isn't.


I agree with some of the posters that what is boring to some people is not to others.

Also, good for you that you are in a position to turn people down like that. Since I have owned my own companies & been on both sides, I understand its better not to work with a company that has alot of problems & will suck the life out of you.

One thing to remember is that just because you turn someone down because they may be cheap, boring, or have a messed up site in your opinion, you may never get them back. I think you need to be careful on how you do it. Here is what I mean.

As you know, marketers move. They go from company to company, job to job. Most marketers (including myself) I know would love to spend money if they have it and are able to. And because I have been on both sides of the fence in terms of marketing services companies, I really try to be fair to my vendor s in terms of rates and I have always paid them on time and paid the job in full, even when its been botched up. (I just don't use them again)

You can bet your last dollar that if you turned me down at XYZ company, I am never ever going to go back to you when I do have a budget and I am in a position to pay for help. I understand you run a business and you need to get paid. I understand you are a specialist and good at what you do and its better for you if you have a natural affinity because your jazzed about it.

While I appreciate that your article and its title is spin -- there may be a lot of good reasons why the prospective client is where they are.

Finally, you told me once that you could not take the company I work for on because you had too much work. With your latest post, now I really doubt your honesty and integrity. To your credit, you did give me someone else to call and email who was in a position to take work but I am just left wondering ....

So when I move on, and have a bigger budget, I may attend the class you teach at search engine strategies & read your articles...but if I need help and have a bigger budget and am ready to spend to outsource link building and maybe I at a company you perceive is cool-- I won't ever ask your firm again, and I won't hand you out as a reference when someone asks me for a firm to recommend. And in fact, ever since, I have recommended other firms for link building, but not yours.

@JackZ You wrote: "Targeting in content is key, not bells and whistles. I couldn't care less about flashy stuff--it's the info I'm looking for, and I think most web users are too."

My post isn't about and didn't mention design elements, it's all having the right content. So I think we agree after all.

@Gloria: You wrote: "Finally, you told me once that you could not take the company I work for on because you had too much work. With your latest post, now I really doubt your honesty and integrity"

After reading your entire comment and thinking about how my post could have sounded given your circumstance, I understand where you are coming from.

Please know if I told you I was busy then I was busy. I wouldn't refer you to my competitors otherwise, while I like them all, they are competitors.

I appreciate everyone's comments, you've reinforced to me that blogging is just as much about tone as it is about content.

I agree, it is certainly more difficult to promote "boring" businesses. I especially run into this problem with clients that want a Facebook presence. Facebook marketing can work wonders, however if you are trying to promote industrial saws, etc. it is pointless.

"What is dull and boring to one person, is not necessarily so for someone else." ..i agree width steven!but when people stay jaust one seond on a website it's sure thet something is not wright!

It's not so much about dull and boring, I think it's more about value. The local weather forecast is probably considered dull and boring, but it is also often considered valuable and people will link to it.

The internet should not be all about shock value, celebrity, humor, sex, and entertainment. If you have content of value for even boring topics like ironing, accounting standards or train time tables people will link to you.

Thanks for a though-provoking post. It has value :)

Basically, you check out the links of your top competitors and then try to build the same links.Knowing who your competitors are and what kind of time and monetary investment they are making into their online marketing.

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Search Engine Guide > Debra Mastaler > Dull, Boring And Cheap Means No Links For You