What are your link building plans for 2010?

Me? I’ll be making some significant changes to my business model for the first time in fourteen years. I’ll be training more clients to become their own link builders. I’ve earned 100% of my living by providing link building tactics, strategies and services since 1994. While the methods I use have changed, the core principals that drive my strategy selections are the same as they were when I started. Here are my top tips for successful link building in 2010.

Respect for people

The “Interweb” is not a bunch of tubes and wires created for selling cheap crap. The Internet is people, each with a reason for being online, some casual, some serious, some young, some old. Through a plethora of algorithm changes over the course of 14 years, there is a reason why my site, and for that matter many of my clients, rank so highly. My approach to links is not based on loopholes, trickery or deception. My approach is based on merit. Merit of content, and merit of curator.

Curation is a new concept to many of you, but it’s simple really. There are thousands of professionals around the world looking for great sites to write about and link to. I’m not talking about paid bloggers or some other loophole strategy.  I’m talking about a Geologist in Nebraska or a knitting expert in Georgia. A historical librarian in Michigan or a water quality expert in Colorado.

Laugh all you want, but the Web allows, enables and inspires people with a passion for a subject to organize and classify it. It’s beautiful really; but many SEOs miss the true beauty of highly curated topical guides as they spend there time on tactics that don’t take as much effort and time. It’s much easier to throw money at a few paid links than actually seek a permanent merit based link that signals true quality to Google.

I have curator contact databases going back for years. Many of those people are gone, but many are still at it today, and they often link to the sites I tell them about. Many have become friends. Remember during the dot-com bust when About.com had to shut down several guide sites? I helped many of those folks in my own small way to get reestablished again. That’s what the Web is about. People. Passion. The motivations and pathways between them. What I’ve described before as Etiologic Content Linking.

Invest in you

This past year, I experienced the greatest shift in my business since I began link building. More people requested link building training services than in any year before. This tells me some things.

  1. It shows people are getting smarter about what will and will not work. You can only beat your head against a wall for so long.
  2. People are unhappy with their current vendors.
  3. People are realizing that they need to better understand the technical and tactical aspects of link building, in order to make better choices in the future. You can waste thousands of dollars very quickly with the wrong link building approach. Why not invest some time and money to understand the many types and styles of link building? You’ll save money in the long run, and you’ll save precious time that could have been spent on useful tactics instead of smoke and mirrors.

Tarnished gold

I’ll close this column and the year with a brief explanation of what prompted this column. There is a website I know of, devoted to a very popular hobby. This site has been live since 1997. That’s twelve years. If I mentioned the company behind the site you’d probably know it. This site enjoyed very high rankings for many years, largely due to having such an early presence on the Web, which meant it also had a significant and healthy link profile. Their links were all natural, and they had never engaged in any sort of link building activities at all. A classic case of an older site with a perfect link pedigree.

A while back, they noticed that some of their rankings were slipping. Sites that were much newer, and not as robust, were outranking them. It’s a fairly common thing that many older sites experience. Because they never had to seek links in order to rank well, they didn’t spend much time on it. But the newer sites, knowing what they were up against, were actively seeking links, hiring link builders, doing all the SEO/SEM things that new sites do to fight an established brand site.

The older site responded but made a tactical mistake. They panicked. They hired link builders who used the type of tactics anyone reading this column would cringe at. The older site didn’t do this on purpose. They just didn’t know any better, because they were content experts, not search engine marketers or link builders. Not only did their rankings not improve, they worsened.

Nothing bothers me more than when an old site with a perfect linking pedigree and outstanding content ends up tarnished due to a simple lack of information about link building. While the damage can be undone, it never should have happened in the first place.

In 2010, I urge all of you to take more control of your link building efforts. There are many ways you can do this, some incredibly easy, some quite complex. Stop believing you can outsource all link building problems away. Some you can, some you can’t. Learn what you need to learn, get a few hours of training, seek advice on your strategies from an independent third party, and a year from now, I promise you will be glad you did.

Wishing you a prosperous, link filled New Year!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | How To: Links | Link Week Column

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About The Author: has been creating linking strategies for clients since 1994. Eric publishes the strategic linking advice newsletter LinkMoses Private, and provides linking services, training and consulting via EricWard.com.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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