Those of you familiar with my work may know that one of the techniques I use to keep up with the deluge of news, rumors, and baloney related to link building is to scan a few hundred feeds, discussion lists, forums, newsletters, etc. using Track Engine, Google Alerts, and even the good old fashioned email inbox. I also run three monitors, one of which is a 24 inch beauty where I keep my Google reader quite busy. At this moment it’s showing 1,313 new posts across 200+ feeds. Of those posts, 23 have the word “recession” in the title/headline. Much time is being devoted to the discussion of how the recession of 2008 will affect the SEM industry.
I won’t call what I’m reading a panic, but when you couple a looming recession with improved algorithmic detection of the useless links you have been mistakenly rewarded for, you have to a double whammy. In 2007, half your links stopped helping you and in 2008, half your budget has likely been whacked. Now what do you do?
Specific to link building, what I’m seeing in client requests is a renewed and aggressive interest in in-house expertise and best practices. I don’t mean general SEO training and education, which anyone can get from any number of vendors, and which is frankly of marginal value for many types of content. I mean very specific and targeted training that’s applicable only to specific content, subjects, and niches. I have several long term clients who are choosing to have me train their in-house SEM staff on very specific aspects of the link building process. I’m talking really targeted organic link seeking here, and to do this I have to create and present a private training workshop, 100% specific to their content. In more simpler terms, the stuff I used to do for them is what they finally want to learn how to do for themselves. This THRILLS me.
(To see what a link building training session can look like, here’s a session I recently put together for a client. Note that at their request I have removed anything overly sensitive)
I’m on record as saying you have to take ownership of as much of your link building activities as possible, because no third party can ever care about your site as much as you will. This will be even more true in 2008. The recession will not stop the pursuit of links; it will, however–and hopefully–redirect and redeploy how that pursuit takes place. Those of you who are willing to learn the subtleties and nuance of subject specific content publicity and link building will be the big winners in 2008.
I can’t predict if, when, or how many SEM shops will go under in 2008, but I can predict that if the one that goes under is the one that handles link building for your site, and you have no in-house link building plan in place, you will not be happy. Take steps now to avoid that scenario, and get some expertise to help teach you to become less dependent on others.
Eric Ward has been in the link building and content publicity game since 1994, providing services ranking from linking strategy and link building training. The Link Week column appears on Tuesdays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.