Time to Dump the term “Link Building”

Link Building is dead “Hello…. I am calling from…. Would you like to give backlink?”

“Say what? “

“Backlink Backlink”

I don’t know who taught these sales rep the art of link building, but he sure is no time waster; straight to the request after the customary “hello.” 

The direct question takes a much familiar format in an email request. 

“I am an SEO Manager for Company X. Your website converges with our brand Y. Would you like to link to our “product name” page from page Y?” - a link-building ninja probably working from Thailand, India, or the Philippines. 

The word “Converges” ticked me off. The only time I used that word in a recent conversation, I felt like an imbecile.

Another variation to the Email request is an introduction followed by praise of our product/service, followed by a request to link to the page for monetary benefit – $1000 one-time credit or 500 mentions in Twitter or 1000 likes in Facebook in return. I like the inventiveness of the link builder but the strategy is so 2009. What is link building?

Link Building = Partnership

In a post-penguin, post-panda and post-“whatever algorithm that will eat your lunch” world, tweaking the message in phone calls or emails has limited the return on investment. The risk of getting link from shady sites means you have to spend twice the time asking the shady webmaster to remove the link - to avoid “Negative SEO.” From all the features that Google has screwed up, the “disavow” feature is the most irresponsible one. 

“Our algorithm can’t figure out whether the links are naturally built or some deals had happened in the background or some competition is screwing you by linking from Shady Malware infected domains, so all you “Free” webmasters, spend your precious time, disallowing 1000s of back links. Good Luck!”

What makes a backlink request worthy of consideration?

Context

Content Marketing is not the same as “Google Webmaster” Administration, even if both functions can be broadly classified under “Internet Marketing.” If you have a series of article about content marketing, getting link from a page about “Content Marketing” makes sense, not from a high-ranking page about “Google Webmaster Administration” that fetch 100s of visits. Even if the content marketing page has moderate visits, if your topic series can offer in-depth study on content marketing, the webmaster will be more than happy to link to the series, provided you connect with the webmaster.

Value 

To differentiate from the hundreds of products/services that are trying to spread the word with link building, only a few has understood the psyche of the webmaster. Webmasters don’t want to promote products/service that they have not experienced it. Offer the webmaster a free 30-day trial. Let them play around with the features, and see if the product is valuable. Don’t talk about value – demonstrate it. Even if the product/service is out of context for the webmaster, the experience of a free trial will create a positive association with your product/service. When the webmaster starts a relevant domain in your chosen field, guess whom he will ask for expertise?

Partnership vs. Offer

The problem with direct offers without getting to know the webmaster is like any other cold calling conversation. There is no trust. You can use the technique of “What is there for the webmaster” question  and guess what webmaster values the most - money, social currency or link back, but most link builders miss the obvious reason behind link backs – reputation. The valued brand that you are trying to get a backlink has risen to this position by consistent performance and dogged determination to maintain quality standards. They are not willing to risk it all for some unknown brands or rehashed content.  They are looking for partners to link back not one-time spammers who mask themselves as legitimate outreach team.

Invest for the long-term

Building backlinks is a long-term strategy. Whenever we get a request for a backlink, without triggering intellectual stimulation from the other side - either in the form of expertise in a topic or free trial on an interesting platform/product/service, the question becomes “What is the outreach all about - to get a link back without any real work? Your research on which page in our site ranks best won’t impress us; hundreds of free and paid SEO tools in the market reveal this information. We are looking for that brand evangelist, the industry expert, or the CEO, who is eager to see what we say about their product/service, not the outsourced fake outreach team who tweaks mail 1000 times hoping to convert one of the emails to a backlink.

Link building in its traditional form is dead. “Partnerships” makes more sense.