Link Building, Self-Control and Marshmallows

As part of a series on self-improvement on the 99 Per­cent, Joce­lyn K. Glei recounted Wal­ter Mischel’s now iconic Marsh­mal­low Test, which analysed the abil­ity of four year olds to exhibit delayed gratification.

Each child was sat in a room with a marsh­mal­low or donut on the table. They were told by the sci­en­tists that they could eat the treat now or, if they waited 15 min­utes, have two treats.

All the chil­dren wanted to wait, but many sim­ply didn’t have the dis­ci­pline to and crum­bled. Some, how­ever, held out and received the extra treat.

Most inter­est­ingly, when sci­en­tist checked back on the chil­dren years later, those who had the self con­trol to hold out were bet­ter behaved, less prone to addic­tion and scored bet­ter in exams. read more about self controlling at https://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/ptn/2014/12/self-control

Self Improve­ment in Every­day Life

Glei dis­cusses how our day-to-day pro­duc­tiv­ity is often depen­dent on mak­ing the right trade-off decisions.

We are faced with hun­dreds of these ‘trade-off’ deci­sions every day.

In the office, these come in the form of e-mails, tweets and noti­fi­ca­tions. Stay­ing focused and pro­duc­tive requires real self con­trol and dis­ci­pline; it is so easy to veer off-course.

James Shel­ley con­tends that pro­duc­tiv­ity actu­ally boils down to being the dis­ci­plined abil­ity to choose to do one thing at the cost of not doing another (often more tempt­ing thing).

Link Build­ing

You can­not help but relate this to the process of build­ing links, where again, we’re often faced with daily trade-off decisions.

Should you develop a com­plex, long-term link build­ing strat­egy, or should you buy that blogroll link?

We know one will be more ben­e­fi­cial long-term, but it’s so, so tempt­ing to buy that direc­tory link and see it right there in front of you today (espe­cially when it’s not your own site you’re charged with get­ting results for).

See­ing instan­ta­neous links make you feel bet­ter about your­self; it jus­ti­fies why you got up and went to work that morning.

In the future, self-control and patience may well become major fac­tors in sep­a­rat­ing the more effec­tive SEO campaigns.

We’re told to resist the temp­ta­tion of con­ve­nient low-hanging link-fruit; that the rewards are greater if we have the dis­ci­pline, strat­egy and self-control to look at the big­ger picture.

At the moment, you can achieve the same or sim­i­lar ends with the quick-wins as you will with a cam­paign that requires more sweat and blood.

Every­body wants to imple­ment a com­plex, mulit-level cam­paign that’ll yield pre­mium links; but not every­one has the patience required to see through its execution.

The ques­tion is then, how and can you bal­ance the trade-off of short-term link grat­i­fi­ca­tion with your long term mar­ket­ing goals?

The chil­dren who resisted the temp­ta­tion of the marsh­mal­low used ‘strate­gic allo­ca­tion of attention’.

If you want to change the way you build links, you need to stop obsess­ing over sites that have employed this tech­nique and had suc­cess; oth­er­wise, you won’t be able to resist the temptation.

How to Land a Graduate Job in SEO

As the scram­ble for grad­u­ate jobs con­tin­ues, leavers with­out degrees spe­cific to a par­tic­u­lar indus­try are des­per­ately look­ing for a start­ing role that allows their career to flourish.

The dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and SEO indus­try has exploded over the past decade. Sub­se­quently, there are a host of entry-level jobs up for grabs for those will­ing to show a bit of gumption.

This guide should serve as sound advice to any grad­u­ate inter­ested in land­ing a role within search engine opti­mi­sa­tion (you’ve made the first step by find­ing this post).

Note: I’ve tried to tai­lor this more towards grad­u­ates using my expe­ri­ence. I’ve listed other resources I found use­ful at the bot­tom of the page.

Read this Book

As you’d expect, there are a host of good online and offline resources for those look­ing to form their understanding.

Before you can start mak­ing enquiries any­where you need to form a solid under­stand­ing of the prin­ci­ples of SEO and a broader under­stand­ing of dig­i­tal marketing.

Read­ing The Art of SEO cover-to-cover will firmly estab­lish these core prin­ci­ples inside of you.Ini­tially, it can be tempt­ing to cut costs and assume you can just use the end­less free resources avail­able online (you are apply­ing for a dig­i­tal role, right??) Not so.

You take in knowl­edge dif­fer­ently when it is medi­ated through a screen, as opposed to in book-form. You’re never more than a click away from being dis­tracted online and you’re never more than a click away from your favorite social network.

Most grads will already be well aware of this; try­ing to read a jour­nal on-screen is infi­nitely harder than print­ing it out and find­ing a quiet cor­ner where you can concentrate.

As well as this, you’ll be invest­ing some of own (prob­a­bly quite sparse) finances into the book.

Hav­ing an invested stake in the book can be a huge moti­vat­ing fac­tor. The money you’ve spent will be wasted if you don’t make the effort read and under­stand it.

Yes, this book is towards the higher end of the price-scale of what’s avail­able. But, it is writ­ten by real indus­try author­i­ties; names it’ll be good to drop at the interview.

Graduate Job in SEO

Regard­less of whether you’re cap­ti­vated by the sub­ject mat­ter, you should have enough aca­d­e­mic dis­ci­pline to read a book cover-to-cover. If not, you might as well stop read­ing here…

Immerse Your­self

What­ever degree pro­gram you have grad­u­ated in, you should be more than equipped with the skills to con­tinue your research and acqui­si­tion of knowledge.

SEO, more than most jobs, requires you to be on the absolute cusp of the indus­try. It is imper­a­tive you keep abreast of indus­try devel­op­ments, a tricky task when you’re not in and around it day-in day-out.

High­light a few indus­try blogs or web­sites and incor­po­rate them into your nor­mal net-surfing rou­tine. Add SEO­moz or Search Engine Watch to your ‘check e-mails, check BBC, check Face­book’ rou­tine and you’ll soon be up to speed.

If you have only just grad­u­ated and you are unem­ployed, there should be a gap­ing void in your life that was pre­vi­ously filled with your studies.

Those who find gain­ful employ­ment imme­di­ately fill this void with their new indus­try. The key here is to fill this gap with­out hav­ing already landed a job.

Work Expe­ri­ence

Read­ing books and blogs is great but, as with any-line of work, there is no sub­sti­tute for real-world experience.

There are two routes you can go down here; both involve offer­ing your time and new-found knowl­edge for free.

The eas­ier of the two paths is to get work expe­ri­ence in an exist­ing dig­i­tal agency. There are sev­eral advan­tages to this:

      • You’ll be around peo­ple who live and breathe SEO
      • You will be at the front of the queue for any roles that become avail­able at that organisation
      • They can point you in the right direc­tion as to your next move

The sec­ond, slightly trick­ier option is to iden­tify a local busi­ness who could use SEO but, are unaware of it or do not have the bud­get. The kind of tar­gets you might want to iden­tify are dri­ving instruc­tors, restau­rants or small trade businesses.

It can be dif­fi­cult to moti­vate your­self to work for free; how­ever, you will have to bite the bul­let. If you don’t, then you can guar­an­tee some­body else will.

Make enquiries

By this stage, you should have acquired enough knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence to demon­strate you are seri­ous about a career in SEO. Your degree, enthu­si­asm and work expe­ri­ence should make you an attrac­tive propo­si­tion to poten­tial employers.

Make a list of all com­pa­nies you could pos­si­bly work for, your rel­e­vant point of con­tact at that organ­i­sa­tion and their e-mail/phone num­ber. It’s impor­tant you get a name so you can con­tact the per­son directly.

The best way to organ­ise this is to put together a basic Excel sheet, for example:

Ide­ally, this would be the SEO Man­ager or Head of Dig­i­tal. For smaller com­pa­nies, you may be best placed to con­tact the Man­ag­ing Direc­tor.

If you can’t find a con­crete e-mail for the per­son you want to con­tact, they gen­er­ally fol­low this rule:

(first name initial).(last name)@(business’ website)

Dig up as much dirt as you can on the com­pany before you apply. Even the most arbitary of knowl­edge can prove use­ful. As a rule, try to find out:

      • When they were established
      • Their cur­rent client roster
      • Areas they spe­cialise in
      • Hob­bies and inter­ests of employees

Find­ing this infor­ma­tion may mean hav­ing to go beyond the company’s web­site. LinkedIn and other social media chan­nels are par­tic­uarly use­ful here.

If there is already a role adver­tised, great, you are in the per­fect posi­tion to apply. If not, it does no harm to make an enquiry and put your­self on their radar.

The Inter­view

Con­trary to pop­u­lar belief, you don’t ‘blag’ interviews.

If you lie on your CV you’ll  get found out in the inter­view (you’ll be grilled by peo­ple who know their onions, remember).

If for what­ever rea­son you don’t (highly unlikely), you will be found want­ing in the first week of the job and politely shown the door.

Fol­low each of these steps (or some­thing sim­i­lar) and you won’t need to ‘blag’ any inter­view. You can relax and talk freely about your expe­ri­ence and your knowledge.

Your enthu­si­asm for the role will shine through naturally.

Use­ful resources:

SEO­moz — How to get an SEO job

SEO Gad­get — How to get an SEO job

Tamar — How to Inter­view for an SEO job

3 Habits to Make Your Link Building More Productive

One of the hard­est things about link build­ing is man­ag­ing sev­eral spin­ning plates at the same time.

With so much going on, it’s easy to let oppor­tu­ni­ties slip off the radar. It might just be from not fol­low­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties up, not get­ting feed­back or spread­ing your­self too thinly.

The fact is, get­ting links live requires per­sis­tence. It needs the per­fect blend of being both proac­tive and reactive.

Here are three tech­niques I have found have helped me have a more pro­duc­tive day’s link building.

Tomorrow’s to-do list, today


This is actu­ally a sales tech­nique I stole from Cold Call­ing for Chick­ens, which is effec­tive for any­one who needs to get things done on a daily basis, not just sales­men and link builders.

It is impos­si­ble to get every­thing done you need to do everyday.Often, just by proxy of com­plet­ing one task, you imme­di­ately cre­ate at least one other.

Some peo­ple write their to-do lists first thing in the morn­ing; I guess it serves as a nice, gen­tle intro­duc­tion to the day.

I’ve found there is a prob­lem with this though: tomorrow’s most press­ing tasks look dif­fer­ent in the morning.

I hate start­ing each day with a blank can­vas. It’s eas­ier to get in, know what needs doing and get on with it.For good link building you need to understand search operators, they will make your life easier.

Writ­ing down tomorrow’s most impor­tant tasks serves as a com­mit­ment to putting them into action.

Each day then, I work off two to-do lists. The first one:

  • fea­tures the tasks I have iden­ti­fied as pri­or­i­ties from the pre­vi­ous day
  • is allo­cated to parts of my sched­ule to my sched­ule and worked through systematically

The sec­ond list is for the next day and:

  • is dynamic; I’m con­stantly adding to it as the day as a con­se­quence of my work that day
  • fea­tures tasks num­bered by their pri­or­ity and whether or not it has to be achieved the fol­low­ing day

Obvi­ously, it requires a bit a dis­ci­pline, but when you sit at your desk each morn­ing know­ing the bare min­i­mum of what you want to achieve, it makes it a lot harder to pro­cras­ti­nate daunt­ing phone calls, or what­ever else you’d rather put-off.

Work out value and do more of it


Most peo­ple will be aware of the Pareto prin­ci­ple; that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

Under­stand­ing this can help you be more effec­tive and work at the things that really make a dif­fer­ence to your results.

In the words of Bob Etherington:

There is a huge dif­fer­ence between being pro­duc­tive and being busy”

With link build­ing, the value comes in the con­tact; the back and forth of e-mails, phone calls, and the work that needs doing off the back of this.

As soon as you start to over­com­pli­cate things, you lose sight of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

Per­son­ally, I’ve found the idea of link build­ing being a num­bers game as a bit of a myth. It’s a qual­ity game. What mat­ters is the num­ber with which you have success.

Don’t delude your­self into think­ing you’re engag­ing in pro­duc­tive behav­iour, just because you are keep­ing your­self busy.

When you spend pre­cious time putting together clever Excel tables, or sat in meet­ings, or com­plet­ing other admin­is­tra­tive busy­work, then you are avoid­ing your most impor­tant func­tion: talk­ing to people.

Think about the work you do that actu­ally pro­vides value and moves the nee­dle. Focus on this.

Sep­a­rate proac­tive and reactive


I’ve already men­tioned the impor­tance of bal­anc­ing time spent being proac­tive and time being reactive.

If you under­stand the dif­fer­ence here, you can actu­ally sep­a­rate the two when plan­ning your daily or weekly schedule.

Proac­tiv­ity is defined as:

As opposed to reac­tiv­ity, which is defined as:

They’re both impor­tant. On one hand, you need to be con­stantly drumming

The dif­fer­ence between the two is that being reac­tive is the time spent deal­ing with the con­se­quences of being proactive.

The bet­ter you get at being proac­tive, the more time you will have to spend being reactive.

You can define time spent being proac­tive as:

  • Drum­ming up lists of poten­tial leads
  • Mak­ing fresh, cold con­tact with people
  • Work­ing old or inac­tive leads
Com­pare this to reac­tive activities:
  • Respond­ing to the con­se­quences of proactivity
  • Push­ing it through to the next stage — con­tent writer, design­ers, etc.
  • Deal­ing with required byt non-value adding tasks

The rea­son you need to sep­a­rate the two is that if you don’t there’s no focus to your approach; you’re not work­ing as effec­tively or as efficiently.

You’ll end up sat wait­ing for e-mails to come in, des­per­ately hit­ting F9, paus­ing what­ever you were doing to respond to every­thing as and when it happens.

Per­son­ally, I don’t like to slog it out for hours and hours.  I like to work in spurts; short, sharp, force­ful streams of energy.

The 3 Best Link Building Books

There is not yet a defin­i­tive book on link build­ing. There is a nice ebook by Gar­rett French and Eric Ward is set to pub­lish one in the near future, which you can bet will be good.

This does not mean there aren’t books out there, how­ever, that will indi­rectly help with your under­stand­ing and encour­age you to become a bet­ter link builder.

Here are  three books that I’ve per­son­ally found use­ful that aren’t strictly about link build­ing. I’d wel­come any other sug­ges­tions peo­ple want to make :)

Cold Call­ing for Chick­ens
by Bob Etherington


If I could only rec­om­mend one book for link builders who are new to the indus­try it would be this one by sales expert Bob Etherington.

Although cold call­ing is tra­di­tion­ally per­ceived to be almost exclu­sively the domain of out-and-out sales roles, the prin­ci­ples are directly related and apply per­fectly to link building.visit http://www.eatsleepsearch.com/finding-link-building-opportunities-with-competitive-link-research/ to read more about link building opportunities.

What Ether­ing­ton stresses in this book is that it is not just about that moment you pick up the phone and dial a num­ber, but more about being able to effec­tively and reg­u­larly make cold con­tact with peo­ple is a lifestyle and atti­tude choice.

It is about being able to cre­ate effec­tive habits and under­stand­ing how peo­ple make buy­ing (or ‘link­ing’) decisions.

Sell­ing is not telling

Per­haps the key point the book stressed and the best take-away for link builders is that sell­ing is not telling. You can rarely per­suade peo­ple to buy from you; peo­ple per­suade themselves.

Just think about what under­stand­ing this can do for your link build­ing. Mak­ing that first cold con­tact is the first step to the estab­lished order of flow in which you need to influ­ence their thinking.

No one is say­ing you have to like cold call­ing. What you have to under­stand though, is that 85% of the busi­ness out there is won by the 5% of the sales peo­ple able to make cold calls.

I would wager that there are sim­i­lar per­cent­ages for the best links that are won.

Trust Agents
by Chris Bro­gan and Julien Smith


I really was torn between includ­ing this or Seth Godin’s Per­mis­sion Mar­ket­ing. Both tackle the same idea, how­ever, Bro­gan and Smith’s book edged it onto this list because it is a bit more online centric.

Its cen­tral theme is about max­imis­ing human con­nec­tiv­ity and inter­ac­tion online. You need to be able to under­stand the inter­net as a tool and be able to think strate­gi­cally about build­ing your own pres­ence online.

Whilst a lot of the con­cepts intro­duced in the book will not nesses­sar­ily be ground break­ing to most online mar­keters who already ‘get it’, what it does do is per­fectly artic­u­late the econ­omy of build­ing trust online, which comes as a use­ful rein­force­ment even to peo­ple with vast experience.

This is an espe­cially good start­ing point for peo­ple com­pletely new to online mar­ket­ing and the book that, in an ideal world, all clients would read.

One thing that struck me from both this book and Godin’s Per­mis­sion Mar­ket­ing is that for a busi­ness to really thrive online, it requires a fun­da­men­tal shift in its culture.

If its tra­di­tional ways of oper­at­ing stay the same, throw­ing money at mar­ket­ing agen­cies becomes like try­ing to cram a square peg into a round hole.

Bounce: How Cham­pi­ons are Made
by Matthew Syed


My last choice is moti­vated by the fact I think it’s impor­tant to under­stand that peo­ple aren’t born nat­u­rally good at link build­ing, mar­ket­ing, or any other dis­ci­pline for that matter.

They may have been exposed to sit­u­a­tions that have cul­ti­vated the basic skills needed to excel quickly in the pro­fes­sion, but it is not a god given talent.

That’s why I have included Matthew Syed’s Bounce on this list. Sim­i­lar to Mal­colm Gladwell’s Out­liers in its theme, it looks at why and how peo­ple excel in cer­tain sub­jects and sports.

Ulti­mately, it dis­pels the myth that peo­ple are born tal­ented and reit­er­ates how impor­tant pos­i­tive prac­tice is.

I guess this is impor­tant to grasp because even if your work isn’t at the place you want it to be today, you can have faith that through cul­ti­vat­ing the right habits, you can get it there tomorrow.

That’s it then. As I say, I would love to hear other people’s sug­ges­tions. Other notable men­tions that nearly made their way onto my list were:

Sell­ing to Win by Richard Denney

Influ­ence: The Psy­chol­ogy of Per­sua­sion by Robert Cialadi

The Inner Game of Golf by Tim­o­thy Gallwey

If you are look­ing for other SEO-related books to sink your teeth into, check out Paul Rogers’ rec­om­mended dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and user expe­ri­ence books.

Rebranding Joey Barton

There is something slightly amiss with the shift in Joey Barton’s personality  in the eyes of both the media and the  general public.

Barton’s perception has gone from that of an irrational thug to, in the words of the twittersphere:

“An intelligent, thoughtful young man more than most footballers on here (Twitter).”

At this moment in time, comments of this ilk about Barton are not difficult to find. This seems odd, especially when you consider this brief overview of Barton’s disciplinary record and his once infamous bad boy image.

Some choice moments from Barton’s past have involved:

  • Stubbing a lit cigar out in a youth player’s eye at the MCFC Christmas party
  • Being sent home from a tour of Thailand for assaulting a 15 year old Everton supporter
  • Exposing his backside to Everton fans following an injury time equaliser
  • Being fined for assaulting teammate Ousmane Dabo during training
  • Serving 77 days in prison for assaulting a man outside McDonald’s at five in the morning

Now read two of Barton’s most recent tweets:

And this:

Without being flippant, Barton’s activity on Twitter and his previous reputation simply don’t add up. It is bizarre to imagine the person retweeting quotes from a 19th century German philosopher, is the same involved in this vicious attack on the streets of Liverpool.

Immediately then, it would appear fair to argue one of three things:

(1) For years, Joey Barton has being a misunderstood and somewhat tormented genius

(2) Barton has matured into a responsible, level-headed professional

(3) Joey Barton has enlisted professionals to help rebuild an almost ruined reputation

If we are to assume the latter, then it would be interesting to observe how they have pulled off this coup in shaping public opinion.

And, given this, it is interesting to speculate on how much autonomy they have over Barton in his rebranding.

It seems there have been three key points in the campaign; the growing of his moustasche, his sudden affinity with British popular music and his civility on the social media platform Twitter.

The Moustache

The earliest point public opinion on Barton began to shift was tash-gate, which he began sporting post-Newcastle’s exile from the Premier League.

The moustache cast Barton in a mischievous, scamp-like light; a far cry from the cigar-wielding hot-head of years gone bye. It demontrated Barton had matured and was perhaps was no longer prone to going loco on an opponent/a teammate/a member of the public at any given moment.

The tash could only go some way to rebranding Barton, who still courted controversy by punching Mortem Ganmst Petersen and allegedly directing homophobic remarks at Fernando Torres.

Music

The genius in the campaign may be the way Barton has aligned himself with icons of popular music. Barton, or the powers-that-be, have been all too aware of the way we project ourselves through popular culture and in particular, icons of popular music.

Prior to this year it is fair to say that many would not have had Barton down as a card-carrying Morrisey fan, nor a bastion of underground popular music.

His affinity for The Smiths itself seems a carefully selected choice. Morrissey has long been the poster-boy of those who perceive themselves to be alienated intellectuals. One could understand why Joseph may want to align himself with this image.

Twitter

All of Barton’s day-to-day Twitter activity is used to reinforce the repositioning of his image and contribute significantly to his overall rebranding.

From the use of his full name (Joseph Barton), to the quasi-patriotic Smiths lyric in place of his Bio.

More interesting than this though, is how throughout the current turmoil surrounding the Magpies, the once irrational thug has become a pillar of diplomacy, as well as oddly philosophical.

Forgive me then for being suspicious that there may being underhand tactics being employed in the Barton camp.

Everything about Barton at the minute is just a little bit too perfect.

Regardless of whether there are PR consultants pulling the strings, one has to acknowledge a shrewdness on Barton’s part to recognise his old self wasn’t making any friends and was detrimenting his career.

At best, his change in image could we attributed to him trying to engineer a move to a top four club. At worst it has gone some way to make him somewhat more palatable to the general public.

*Disclaimer* This post is essentially, merely speculation. In no way do I want to state as fact that Barton has had his reputation managed professionally, nor am I saying he does not have the right to.