Over the years I've found that's it easy enough to explain to someone what they should do with their link building campaign--the types of links they're looking for, how to build a 12 month strategy, how to evaluate the quality of a link and so forth--but where a lot of site owners and marketing managers get hung up isn't with the actual building of links, it's usually because of the attitude and mindset they have when they start their link building campaign. Getting into the right mindset before you even build you first link is critical. Here are four things you need to not only keep in mind when going about your link building, but adopt as your link building mantra:
1. Finding quality links takes time.
Once you've exhausted all the easy win link building opportunities (updating old author or social profiles, adding more cross links between your company blog and website, etc) it's time to focus on finding the new, hard-to-get links that are going to provide real value to your link profile and help you connect with your target audience. My advice has always been to look for at least one quality link every day so your link building campaign doesn't get pushed to the back burner. Sometimes a great link will just fall into your lap (provided you recognize it as such) and other days you'll spend several hours combing the Internet for a great link. There's no way around it really--finding quality links is a mostly manual process and that takes time. It's better to just accept the fact and stick to one link a day (although if you find two or three then run with it!) so you aren't overwhelmed and don't get frustrated with the slow moving process.
2. Link building is forever.
Some site owners think that once they hit the top of the SERPs or a pre-determined organic visitor growth goal that their SEO is done and over with and that they can rest on what link building they've already done. Unfortunately, the moment you stop building quality links is the moment you start to slip backwards. Will your SEO campaign come crashing down around your ears the first day you pause your link building? Probably not. You might not even notice anything is amiss for several months. But every day you aren't thinking about link building your competition is. There could be hundreds, maybe even thousands of websites all vying for ten spots in Google and just because you're at the top today that doesn't mean you have your position locked in forever. If you don't continue to invest in the value of your website and focus on building and attracting more quality links over time sooner or later the competition is going to catch up and surpass you.
3. Think of each link as an entryway into your website.
If Google vanished off the face of the earth tomorrow how would potential customers find your site? Think of every link you build as a potential doorway into your site for your visitors. The more doorways pointing to your site the better chance you have of connecting with your target audience. But it isn't just about building as many doorways as possible; link building should be about building the right kind of doorways. Look for sites that your target audience actually visits; blogs, community sites, forums, industry sites and publications, and so forth. Referral links like these can actually send valuable traffic to your site AND add real SEO value to your link profile. While more links is good, more quality links on sites that cater to your target audience is better. Building links that are designed to send targeted traffic your way (even if it's just 2-3 visitors a month) and not just make your link profile larger is also a good way to ensure that you aren't building the kind of links that can get you into hot water with the search engines.
4. Don't let the competition dictate your link building strategy.
A lot of site owners think that if they can just find the "secret" to their competition's link building they can reverse engineer similar success. Here's the thing--doing a competitive link audit before beginning your own link building strategy is a great idea because it gives you a good baseline; how does your website measure up against the competition? If you've only got 10 links and the top competitor has 10,000 you know you've got a long road ahead of you. But keep in mind that every website is different and what works for the competition might not work for you. And just because the competition has a link from a certain website that doesn't mean you have to build a link from the same site. What if 9,000 of the competitor's links came from low-quality directories or spam blogs? That's not the kind of link portfolio you want to build.
Look for link building opportunities within your competitors' link profiles that you can take advantage of but don't turn into an SEO copycat. Remember, you want to be better than your competition! Doing what they have already done still leaves you two steps behind.
In my experience, I've found that site owners with the right mindset and attitude about link building tend to get the most value out of their efforts. They have the right expectations going in, they understand what is expected of them and their link profile, and they truly "get it." Link building isn't just about growing your backlink profile; it's about marketing your business.
Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing, one of the premier full service SEO firms in the United States. With over 12 years of experience Nick Stamoulis has worked with hundreds of companies small, large and every size in between. Through his vast and diverse SEO, search engine marketing and internet marketing experience Nick Stamoulis has successfully increased the online visibility and sales of clients in all industries.
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