More than one site owner has asked me how many links they should build each month, or how many links they can expect my team to build for them as a full service SEO
client. Since so much of SEO seems to follow "best practices" and "guidelines," with very few hard and fast rules (although they do exist and it's important you know what they are), many site owners are looking for a quantifiable way to measure and control their SEO campaign. Unfortunately, when it comes to link building it's hard to give an exact number of how many inbound links in a given time period is the "right" amount. Obviously 1,000 links overnight might catch the attention of the search engines, but what happens if a piece of content should go viral? You can't control how many people link to you and would you want to pull the plug on something that is doing a great job of building inbound links when it can be so hard sometimes to find great, new places for link building?
One of my new SEO clients recently asked me how many links they could expect to see in the link building reports I send out at the end of the month. I did my best to quantify it for them but realized there are too many variables to give an exact number. For instance, let's say that we wrote a press release on their behalf and included 4 links in the content. That press release might get published on a dozen sites (48 links) or it might only get picked up by 5 (20 links). But then again maybe it gets picked up by a major news source and gets a ton of online media attention resulting in dozens, if not hundreds, of links. I can't say for sure one way or the other what will happen. I might leave comments on 30 blogs on their behalf, but I can't control which ones get approved and actually go live. We might write a new blog post and promote it on social media, but I can't make people share/reTweet/post it. I can't control every aspect of a link building campaign, no matter how much I may try.
I like creating a link building strategy
when working with a new client so they have a good outline of the work we intend to complete for them over the coming months. However, that link building strategy is not set in stone; it's more of an overview. New link building opportunities like a guest blogging invitation or local event that we can leverage online might pop up at random. Should I not take advantage of those opportunities because they aren't in the strategy? Of course not! Link building is hard enough; there is no need to pass over great links when they come your way. In 6 months a client might launch a new product, which means there will be new content on the website, a press release, maybe a few paid blog reviews, a lot of social activity, promotional blog posts and much more--that could be a huge influx of links one month that doesn't happen normally.
The key to link building is to approach it naturally. It is not a formula, no matter how much we try to make it one. The search engines like to see a slow and diversified approach to link building--it doesn't have to be the same each month from now until the end of time. Link building activities come and go and vary in importance, which is why you never want to put all your eggs in one basket or pass up a good link opportunity when it comes your way.
July 13, 2012