Last week, link building experts Justilien Gaspard  and  Roger Monti each wrote a piece on why it's a good idea to build links in-house.

Scott Boyd of FusedNation countered with an interesting and colorful point of view on why you should out-source. While I don't agree with some of his comments regarding link builders as professionals, I do get where he's coming from and agree that linking can be tedious.

I'm not sure there is a right or wrong answer with this issue but I do know this:

if you want to rank well, you need links. But if you want to succeed online, you need link marketing.

We tend to put blinders on when we talk about link building and look at it from a technical standpoint rather than a marketing or tactical viewpoint. Everything we do to get online is technically related. Web design, shopping carts, CSS, databases, stat programs, live chat, etc. All widgets/software used for instant interactive success.

But then... we hit the SEO/link building aspect and boom --not so instant, not so easy. It doesn't matter if you outsource or keep this part in-house, this is where it gets hard for everyone.

So why is that? Even Justilen, Roger and Scott all agreed on this point - link building is hard. Why is this necessary evil we call link building so difficult for so many?

I believe part of the answer lies in the approach. Link building requires a technical and creative outlook, it's the one aspect of online business you shouldn't automate and can't just upload for success. The techincal nature of your business needs to be put aside for good old fashioned sales and promotion skills. If your background isn't in marketing or you're not channeling PT Barnum, here's where it gets hard for you.

I recommend a two-tiered approach starting with foundational linking and then branching into the custom work which can use tactics such as link bait, incentive marketing, traditional advertising etc.

Every business is different and requires a custom link marketing program if you want to attract quality links. There's no cookie cutter approach here, everyone is unique from the smallest of online business to the big boys so your custom link programs need to be the same.

If you want to outsource, use these guidelines to get started.

If you want to keep it in-house, look for people who understand the difference between being a short order cook and being a chef.  Those are the folks you want to train to be your link marketers.

December 14, 2007

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


Thank you for your post Debra, and you're absolutely right - Link Building is hard, but then it is all the more rewarding when the one way link is approved or a piece of compelling content get picked up.

As the Link Executive at Leapfrogg, I wouldn't have link building any other way. Sure it's tough, but it gets the creative juices flowing and allows for personal contact of a wide range of people from a wide range of sectors.

If link building was just a case of writing a generic email, sending it out and getting a high rate of those links set up then both the power of those links (in terms of link building) would be diminished.

Come up against a challenge I think anyone would look for a solution, and I really see the USER benefiting as website evolve from standard "business pages" to sites that offer something back to the user, either entertaining, useful or informative and in doing so, they can naturally attract organic links.

Heres to 2008.... and another year of Link Building!

Merry Christmas Debra,

Best wishes,

Simon Dance

I hear you about the challenge Simon, when I get a promotion to come together it's almost better than chocolate. ;)

Wow... "Link Executive" is your job title? Impressive! (scurries off to change bio on website)

Merry Christmas.

"almost better than chocolate..." ha ha... good point!

As for Link Executive.. yeah, that's my title - but I think the best job title I've seen so far is that of James Byford (Spannerworks) - as the "Head of Innovation"... imagine having that on a business card!


Thanks for this post. I myself am wary about how professionals do the link building for you.

You never mentioned though, some strategies or approaches, for non-marketing people, to attack link-building on the web. I think there are far too many contests online already ... but I suppose everyone loves a contest :D

I totally agree that link building is hard. But hard is also to come up with a great layout, great content and great architecture for the website :)

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