The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective Link Builders

After attending the recent Search Engine Strategies conference and listening to a number of panels discuss the relationship between content and links, I couldn’t help but notice similarities between what was being said and the principles highlighted in Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey’s work suggests people can be successful in business and life when they’re effective at doing things that bring about desired results. He wrote the book long before the internet became part of our daily life, but the principles are timeless and certainly apply to people developing links.

We all know there are various types of link building tactics available. They have names like “directory submissions,” “link bait” or “article writing” and follow a fairly cookie-cutter process that does little to lay a foundation for building a business reputation. Used independently, these tactics can certainly produce results, but if you want to get incremental, quality business to come to you instead of having to spend time and money drumming it up, consider turbocharging your link tactics with these seven “habits” of effective link builders.

1. Create an early warning system by finding and listening to key bloggers in your niche. Bloggers spot trends and often react in advance of mainstream media. Be sure to give them a heads up with your news before making it public and offer to write/provide link embedded content to lighten their “load.”

2. Be patient when you’re building links. It’s hard work and doesn’t always go according to plan. Henry Ford once said “nothing is hard if you divide it into small jobs.” Obviously he wasn’t thinking about the tedious task of link building but he did know a thing or two about the assembly process so it’s sage advice. It’s easy to be tempted by the 500 links for $39.95 promotions, but resist!

3. Leverage cross-channel marketing. This may be last year’s buzzword but it’s no passing fad. Do the intuitively obvious and take full advantage of opportunities to cross-promote through all of your channels, even those offline. Add a “link to us” tag in all confirmation emails, in your catalog and autoresponders. Develop a highly visible presence in a space hosting your demographic such as this local barber with 2030 friends on MySpace. This guy also has a five star review on CitySearch.

4. Make content, not war. The easy part of link building is knowing that you need them. The hard part is influencing the right people to give them to you without making it look like you asked. Good content attracts links on it own. Here’s some ideas on components you can develop:

  • Don’t send your content away to an article directory, build a library on your site and stock it with your articles.
  • Develop a blog and update it at least 3x a week. Invite some of those key bloggers you’re meeting to participate as well and be sure to link to them from the new blog.
  • Create a glossary for your industry, promote it with the media when it’s complete
  • Design a widget or put together a free promotion using one of your products.
  • Take a picture of every item you own and create a photo library on your site to hold them. Allow anyone to use the photo provided they leave the embedded link intact. Look into submitting photos with Creative Commons.

5. Become a high profile editor, not just an editor. If you knew a million people visited a website every day and that website was actively looking for an editor in a category you were expert on, would you be interested? With 99% of journalists using the web to research and verify information, being an editor on a popular news site greatly increases your website’s chances of exposure, links and being asked for an interview.

6. Extend your reach beyond Digg and look for high traffic niche specific sites to host your link bait and press releases. Translate your articles into different languages and submit to the “Digg” clones in other countries. For example in France it’s In Germany,, and Brazil,

7. Use all your assets. If your business hires people on a continual basis, consider developing an on site employment center. Once it’s built, contact the career placement offices at area colleges and Universities and broadcast the resource. Issue a press release and encourage your industry Association, Chamber of Commerce and local employment commission to link to it as a resource. Remember, every component of your business has potential to be content and used accordingly.

It’s common to fall back on what you know or be tempted by easy tactics but the reality is, doing the same thing over and over doesn’t move you forward. Get into the habit of looking at everything as a new opportunity and you’ll become a highly effective link builder!

Debra Mastaler offers link training and custom link building campaigns through her Williamsburg Virginia based firm Alliance-Link. She is also the author of the link building blog The Link Spiel. The Link Week column appears on Mondays 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


About The Author: of and Alliance-Link is based in Fairfax Station Virginia and offers link marketing consultations and content partner services.

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  • John Ellis
  • Marcelo Antelo

    In fact the correct URL for the Brazilian service Linkk is ( bring us to the frontdoor of a MFA website!)

  • debra mastaler

    John Ellis said:
    “Wow! This theme seems really familiar:”

    I guess we can both thank Mr. Covey for coming up with the original idea. Great link drop btw…:)

  • mvandemar

    Wow! This theme seems really familiar:

    Actually, John, one big difference between the two is that Debra gave credit to Stephen Covey, as would be expected. You seemed to have just ripped him off as if the idea was your own. I mean, true, many people would know where it came from, but many might not. It is only polite to mention the original author.

    Nice post btw Debra! Thanks. :)

  • dc1576

    Great post. I couldn’t agree more with not using article directories. I have wasted probably over a 100 or so 500 word articles of unique content. I don’t even want to think about the man hours completely thrown away..


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