The world of link building hasn’t just evolved over the last couple of years — it has been completely turned upside down. In essence, what in many ways was once a relatively easy business has become a formidable venture to maintain.
Just a few years ago, finding sources to build links in bulk was a highly profitable business model for SEOs. Clients were willing to pay premium prices for link building and the associated benefits to their businesses’ search results. Today, however, the growing challenge of Google penalties has reduced the effectiveness of old link building activities down to little more than a nice memory.
The Current Status Quo
The foremost challenge SEOs face today is that dedicating the amount of time required to research sites and build the “right” links is simply not feasible without charging clients a whole lot more money. While increasing the price may initially sound like the ideal solution, that idea quickly goes out the window.
In order to justify the price increase, you would need to explain how much harder the work is now and why. But doing this can have a rebound effect — some clients could be left feeling that they’ve been “had.”
The challenges here can be exacerbated if your clients have experienced a decline in their rankings as the new algorithms take hold.
Is There Any Hope?
If a rate increase is not palatable to your clients and the status quo is not palatable to your business, it’s time to start looking at things in a new way. Following are four tactics to help your SEO business model adjust to the new landscape in a profitable and vital way.
Eliminate Link Building
There are some who say that the best link building strategy today is to stop doing it altogether. Instead of focusing on building links, focus on publishing great content in the right places. Quality links will naturally spring from quality content.
Create A True Team Approach
Many agencies talk about becoming a valued team member of their clients’ companies. Now is the time for you to really do this. Have your clients be part of the solution, creating a greater sense of partnership with you and a better understanding on their part of all that goes into SEO.
Instruct them to provide you with lists of blogs that they, their family members or their employees regularly read. Have them collect information about special events they are involved with, including charity events in their local communities. Ask them for details about any groups or organizations that they sponsor, such as a little league team or school choir. By forming this team relationship with your clients, you gain access to tons of “quality” local content that will turn into the high quality links that search engines love.
Use Tools Wisely
Sure, there are tools out there that are designed to automate link building to a large degree. Backlink Builder and Citation Labs Link Prospector are just two examples. Although the true ability of these programs is limited, that does not mean you should throw them out the window.
These link building applications can help to get your creative juices flowing. Use them as part of your initial brainstorming and to broaden the scope of where you search for good content publishing opportunities.
Educate Your Clients
One of the criticisms commonly thrown out about SEOs is that they are all “smoke and mirrors.” These types of comments often result from a lack of knowledge and understanding about what an SEO really does. Instead of hiding information from your clients, educate and empower them.
When you show trust in your clients and are willing to help them learn, you will gain their loyalty and appreciation — critical ingredients in today’s marketplace. The benefit goes two ways—the more your clients understand your work, the better able they will be to help you by providing the level of information you need from them.
Taking a new approach to your SEO services can not only keep you in business but help your business thrive. There will no doubt be SEOs that stick to the tried and true, and for this you should be grateful — their clients today are likely to be yours tomorrow if you are willing to shift with the algorithms.
It’s Not Really Harder, Just Different
Today, content marketing is the heart and soul of SEO. Embrace this change and you will achieve the results your clients are expecting in a natural way—results that your clients will happily pay for.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.