One widely accepted and unques­tioned ‘truth’ in SEO seems to be that being pas­sion­ate about the sub­ject of link build­ing makes you a good link builder.

Know­ing a lot about link build­ing doesn’t make you an effec­tive link builder. It helps, but it only takes you so far.

In fact, I’d say that, iron­i­cally, being pas­sion­ate about link build­ing really only makes you great at link build­ing in the SEO industry.

What it really takes

Surely, the essence of link build­ing is know­ing  a lot about ‘link building’?

I guess, but, it takes a cer­tain type of arro­gance to claim­ing to be an expert in link build­ing, given what a sub­jec­tive task it is.

It’s impos­si­ble to be ‘good’ at link build­ing for 5, 10, 20 dif­fer­ent clients, try­ing to hit van­ity tar­gets at the end of each month. How can you under­stand each of them top-to-bottom, inside-out?

Being well knowl­edged and pas­sion­ate about your sub­ject is what allows you to truly build valu­able links effectively.

To actu­ally pro­vide a valu­able ser­vice to a client, you need to become a mouth­piece for their prod­uct, their com­pany, their culture.

You need to be able to hold an intel­li­gent con­ver­sa­tion with some­one in their indus­try, about its past, its present, its future.

A ques­tion I’d pose is that out of these two peo­ple, who would you rather employ:

  • Some­one with an expert knowl­edge of your indus­try, but with very basic
    link build­ing skills
  • An ‘expert’ link builder, with a very basic knowl­edge of the indus­try
    they’re build­ing links in
The answer, I think, I hope, is obvious.

Get out of the building

I know this post might be per­ceived as quite pes­simistic, but that’s really not its inten­tion. The sooner we wake up to the sub­jec­tiv­ity of link build­ing the sooner we can make real strides in improv­ing the link build­ing prod­uct offered by agencies.

David Ogilivy’s advice to young account exec­u­tives was for them to set them­selves on becom­ing the best-informed man in the agency on the account to which they are assigned.

If it is a gaso­line account, read text books on the chem­istry, geol­ogy and dis­tri­b­u­tion of petro­leum prod­ucts. Read all the trade jour­nals in the field. Read all the research reports and mar­ket­ing plans that your agency has ever writ­ten on the product.

He goes further:

Spend Sat­ur­day morn­ings in ser­vice sta­tions, pump­ing gaso­line and talk­ing to motorists. Visit your client’s refiner­ies and research lab­o­ra­to­ries. Most young men in agen­cies are too lazy to do this kind of home­work. They remain per­ma­nently superficial.

I appre­ci­ate this falls well out of the prag­mat­ics of how most agen­cies oper­ate today and absurd given the bud­gets com­pa­nies allo­cate to link build­ing and inter­net mar­ket­ing in general.

But surely the way for­ward is to fuse advanced link build­ing and mar­ket­ing tech­niques with the exper­tise of the client’s industry.

The only way of doing this is to get inside the belly of the indus­try you’re work­ing in.

John Doherty’s wrote a post recently about the ben­e­fits of work­ing on-site for his client, which is part of what inspired this post and, I’d rec­om­mend head­ing there now.


Post By Michael Smith (31 Posts)

Michael works at 9xb Dig­i­tal Agency in Har­ro­gate, Mon­day to Fri­day. Click here to fol­low him on Twit­ter or have a look a his Google+ pro­file.

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