Link building is the backbone of Internet marketing and has been the main topic of thousands of SEO blogs. It takes a long time to really understand its core principles, and it may even require some personal experience. My personal experience came from Fatty … my cat.
Meet Fatty, A.K.A Hefty, Sir Fatness, or Count Fat-cula.
You get the point. Fatty hasn’t always shared a distinct likeness to a beached whale, but he has always been a pain in my ass. Anyone who has ever owned a cat knows what I’m talking about. My relationship with my cat has shown me how a relationship that relies on inter-dependency works – and how it doesn’t. My cat probably wouldn’t be able to survive without me, just like link builders can’t survive without bloggers and other potential websites that can provide backlinks. But, cultivating a real working relationship takes time and hustling, attributes that my cat has mastered. Most days he is the master to my grasshopper.
Every night as I’m about to drift off to sleep, Fatty will knock things off my dresser in hopes of annoying me just enough to get me out of bed, but not enough to throw a pillow in his direction*. After I do so, he stares at me in his sphinxlike way as if to say, “What are we doing in here?” That’s when it hits me. If I tried to do this exact thing while building links, then I would be the one getting a pillow in the face.
Don’t be a cat and expect that, just because you exist, you deserve anything for which you ask. People forgive cats their indiscretions because cats are cute and fluffy. Humans, on the other hand, lack these qualities. Don’t make the mistake of believing that someone is going to listen to you because you are meowing … er screaming in their face.
You need to go out of your way to show that you care about more than just getting a link when you are link building. That means using tools like Open Site Explorer, or my personal favorite Check My Links Chrome extension, to find broken links. Link builders need to participate and comment on articles or blogs, and ask writers for their opinions about new and interesting topics. Don’t be a Fatty and expect these websites to care about your problem when they have problems of their own.
How to Hustle: Persistence is Key
Positive persistence is key, that is. Fatty will paw at my door when he wants something, causing the door to move back and forth within its frame. It sounds like actual knocking. I can often hear it in my dreams. He does this for hours, and it is always effective. It is important to continue to build relationships in a particular niche when link building. People won’t forget you and you will come off as genuinely interested in their work. Don’t stop commenting and participating in conversations on a blog just because you already received the link.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Cats always try to force themselves into fitting into boxes that are too small for them. Link building often requires writing a guest post, which means you’ll have to link back to your client’s blog through anchor text. Some guest bloggers link back willy-nilly and don’t once stop to make sure that what they are writing about, and what they are linking to, are actually connected. The content you are writing must have a direct relationship to your client’s business. Readers are looking for a particular insight or information when they choose to read an article, so don’t spam them by promising something insightful and instead shoving a product down their throats. We can leave that to product placement.
Pursue the Most Influential
Link building really is about building relationships, and if builders don’t change their mindset about this, then they will starve. As my family’s local “cat whisperer,” I’m the only one who understands the crazy look in Fatty’s eyes when no one else seems to get the hint that he is on the brink of starving to death (even though he has been feed 5 times that day). He comes to me because he understands that he will receive the most attention and understanding from me.
How does this relate to link building? Hone and maintain your relationships, and after establishing yourself as a positive influencer in your client’s niche, then it is time to go after the big wigs. You can outreach to these influencers and tell them how great you are. If you are guest blogging let them know where your previous work is featured and how many people commented / liked / tweeted about it. For other content promotions like infographics, dangle that infographic in front of them like a mouse on a string. Make them think they will be missing out on something great if they say no.
*No cats were harmed in the making of this blog.