In just about any form of marketing, when something works it gets repeated to death until the strategy is no longer effective. Good product tag lines get over used (got milk?, got sand? got Jesus?), TV shows have to get more and more "cutting edge" (NYPD Blue, Family Guy, CSI), and movies have to be bigger and better than their predecessors (Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean). It's not long until yesterday's big thing is today's normal thing.

Online marketing, especially link building, is similar. While there is no replacing the concept of building a good site worthy of links and letting people know about it, there are actually numerous strategies available for attracting good links through solid marketing efforts. In any kind of marketing its good to have multiple strategies, or multiple paths, which one can travel to get to the goal. Putting aside the whole concept of persona marketing which understands that you need to reach different people via different means, it's a good idea not to put too put all of your time, money or effort into a single marketing approach. Again, this is especially true with link building.

Over the past few years we've seen the rise and fall of single-path link building practices: automated reciprocal links, link swapping, link buying, link spamming, etc. I'm not suggesting that all of these methods are dead or useless, but their use as a quick and easy solution is extremely limited. Many times, when one finds a link strategy that works, they drop all else and run with it. This tactic gets broadcast on the online forums, others jump on the bandwagon and soon enough, that strategy becomes moot to the overall process of search engine optimization. It's no longer effective, but out of habit (and ease) people continue to follow that single-path, until the next great path is discovered.

With online marketing there are many paths to the same goal. There may be well over 100 paths of link building alone but not all the paths lead to the goal for every client. You can't just find one that works and run with it, you need to find several that work for one client, and several others that work for each other client.

For example, paths A, D, F and G may be great for client X but not for client Y which needs paths H, L and P. Then you might have client Z that will best be suited for link building paths D, P, S and V. Client Z's link paths overlap with X and Y a bit but also has a couple paths unique to it as well.

That's why link building isn't so easy. Most people are comfortable working within their own boxes. They like to develop strategies and checklists that take them from point A to point B, but start to get confused when each client needs to take a slightly different path that hasn't yet been mapped by the marketer, a path unique for that particular client's needs. Well hey, that's just like real marketing.

This is why single-path link building just isn't very effective anymore. Each client can have a dozen link building paths that are unique to them alone. The job of the SEO is to determine which paths are right for which client. This can take some trial and error but ultimately each client should have a good handful of link building paths to choose from.

Be cautious of any new link building path you learn about. All paths may be legitimate, but not all paths are legitimate for every client. Each new path you learn, consider carefully whether its for you or not. Most of all, if you find a link building path that works, great. But don't put all your links in that one basket. Find the other link building paths that work for you because you never know when one or more paths will become obsolete from overuse or abuse. Multiple path link building helps you keep your linking efforts on solid footing achieving a variety of link types. Too much of a single type of link looks like obvious manipulation, something the search engines don't like and you should avoid.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

February 28, 2007

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.

Search Engine Guide > Stoney deGeyter > Multiple Path Link Building