What If A Client Doesn’t Like Link Building?

What if you have a client who wants SEO but simply does not want you to do any link building even though, over and over and over, you’ve told this sweet client that link building is a key component of doing well online? I’m not talking about the outright purchasing of links here either. I’m talking about any effort at building links. Yes, these clients exist, and I know because I’ve dealt with them.

There are many reasons why some clients feel that link building is a scary proposition. Most notable is the belief that any sort of link building will get you banned by Google, but there are also worries about the lack of control over who links to a site and fear of having their name on sites with which they do not wish to be associated. Then you have your clients who believe that there’s no way to build links without purchasing them. Whatever the rationale, the fact remains that links are very, very important. Therefore, what options do you have when faced with this type of situation? Let’s talk about three big ones that will hopefully make sense to even the most reluctant clients.

Good, Relevant Content

Even though people get tired of hearing it, content really is the only thing that matters on your site when it comes right down to it. You can build links like mad, you can throw loads of cash at paid ads, but if your content isn’t good, no one’s going to stay on your site/come back again/link to it. Unless they think it’s bad enough that they’d like to show the rest of the world what not to do when they’re in a particularly funny mood. Having good content does not mean that you should repeat your keywords every few sentences, nor does it mean that you need to channel Tolstoy. Good content does contain your keywords, but in a way that actually makes sense to your users. If you have good content, you’re going to get links, period.

Better Internal Linking

I’m not talking about the use of nofollow for PageRank sculpting, I’m talking about simply changing the way your site links to its pages. The benefit of better internal linking is that it helps you determine which are your most important pages, which is good for users and good for search engines. Controlling internal links is simply a good usability practice, as wildly tossing out internal links can easily confuse your users. Confused users might not be so quick to find your site link-worthy, as you can imagine.

Even the most skittish client shouldn’t object to enhancing the user experience, right? There is usually no need to have each page on a site link to 100 other internal pages. Sitemaps were created for a reason, so use them.

Use of Social Media

Go ahead and post a link on Twitter, Digg and Reddit a story, Stumble it, etc. Your goal here is get people to read the site’s content and, if they so choose, they can link to it all on their own. If the content is good, and it should be if you’re throwing it out there for everyone, then you can expect that links will, indeed, fall into place. Social media is not as easy to conquer as it seems, though, so keep that in mind, as you cannot simply expect to post a link to a site on Facebook and have the world rushing to link to it. This takes a lot of patience, and it’s easy to overdo, so be cautious but still make use of your networks.

It’s our job to educate our clients, of course, but it’s also our job to figure out the right approach in doing so. Some people are visual learners, others can just hear you say it and they understand it. Some people have had bad experiences that color how they view current marketing practices. It’s very important to understand this when you’re making your case, as you can’t expect to simply tell a client that he or she needs links and have your opinion accepted. If you take the time to investigate alternative methods of improving visibility (and usability) and you’re willing to be flexible, however, you probably won’t hear too many complaints when your clients start getting results.

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

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  • http://javaunmoradi.com/ javaun

    Good grief, I didn’t realize that SEO consultants still had clients that were in the dark like this. First they had no information, now they have wrong information. I’m not sure which is the worse obstacle.

    I don’t know if I’ll ever have the courage to go back to the agency side.

  • http://www.shoppingengineguide.com shoppingengineguide

    Wow! I would do my best to explain to them how important links are and then if they still didn’t want people to link to them I would tell them to force users to login to view their content. Then I would explian how this would likely not be beneficial to them.

  • http://www.ericward.com Eric Ward

    You wrote…

    “It’s our job to educate our clients, of course, but it’s also our job to figure out the right approach in doing so.”

    Amen. It is shocking to me that clients who seem quite sophisticated do not have a clue about many aspects of the link building process. I get no pleasure from having to tell them what they’ve been doing was useless and may have even hurt them, especially when they have spent tens of thousands of dollars chasing the wrong tactics. So much of this could be avoided if companies would slow down, take a breath, and seek out advice from multiple experts. A link building strategy second and third opinion, so to speak :)


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