The Need for HTML Knowledge In Link Building

When you think about the skills it takes to do link development your first thought probably isn’t “coding” is it? However, as we see more template-based sites and sites administered by people who don’t have much coding knowledge gain authority, you’ll potentially want to think about paying a bit of attention to at least basic HTML.

As you may have gathered, particularly if you’ve been link building and needed to approach a blog owner, not everyone has a site because he or she is adept with code. Now, you will find some blog owners who’ve chosen a blog package for various reasons, people who are quite fantastic coders but simply wanted to set something up quickly, have ease of maintenance, etc. What you will mostly find, at least according to my experience, is people whose knowledge of HTML isn’t all that fantastic, which isn’t at all surprising, considering the fact that these blog systems have been developed for ease of use, even for the least technical beginners. They are the great equalizer.

Here’s the issue with this sort of thing: blog owners can be your bread and butter, at times, depending upon your industry, and there are cases when you are going to be the only person on earth capable of explaining to this person about how to insert a link to your site. Sounds easy enough, right? It’s not, actually. I’ll start by detailing a conversation that one of my link builders had with a very, very sweet blog owner who obviously hadn’t a clue about how to do what we wanted.

A link builder made contact with this blog owner who has a truly spectacular blog, the kind of thing that, if it’s in any way motivated by anything other than the simple desire to write and spread ideas, is simply undetectable. This blog, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being obviously done just to get rankings and/or traffic and 10 being done for the joy of blogging, would be a 10. Well, a conversation was started with my link builder, who happens to excel in the art of communication, and a deal was struck, with the link going live. Thus, the problem began…

The link was made live, as I said, but it was without a doubt the most obvious and horribly placed link that I have had the privilege to see. It stuck out like a flashing banner, only with less panache. We discussed how to handle this and another link developer actually went to the trouble of using Photoshop and a spray-painted arrow to indicate to this lovely blog owner EXACTLY where we wanted our link, so as not to appear too obviously “obtained” for a client. It didn’t hit home. The blog owner, not understanding HTML, couldn’t figure out how to do what we wanted.

And why would she be able to, anyway? This is a woman who has a blog because she enjoys writing about certain issues, not because she’s a coding genius. If blog software wasn’t so easy to use, she may never have started a blog. She isn’t alone in this regard, and it’s these types that can generate the best content out there.

Even on the sites that aren’t template-based, you can’t assume that you’re off the hook and that the site owner is code-savvy, of course. In the end, if you want the link and you want it placed in a certain spot, you need to be prepared to do things such as dig into the site’s CSS and HTML and figure out how to make it happen. Coding a link seems so simple, doesn’t it? However, let me assure you that there really are a thousand ways to mess it up. Even if you take the time to send over the code exactly as you’d like it, you can’t be sure that it will come out the way you want. As a link builder, you become the project manager of each link and it’s your job to ensure that it goes up and meets the requirements, whatever that takes.

Thus, my argument for knowing just a tiny bit about how to code…as you can see, it sometimes takes a bit more than simply telling or showing someone where you want a link. Some of your best sites are going to be run by people who will need you to hold their hand for the entire process, and if you really want the link, you’ll need to do it.

Julie Joyce owns the link development firm Link Fish Media and is one of the founding members of the SEO Chicks blog. 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.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Week Column

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About The Author: owns the link development firm Link Fish Media and is one of the founding members of the SEO Chicks blog.

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