What If It Isn’t Linkworthy?

Some client scenarios can be uncomfortable. Among them is when the client has worked especially hard to create a content area that they feel is linkworthy, and thus should attract links, but you, as the person who has to go get those links, aren’t quite as enthusiastic about the potential for success.

The Scenario: A client comes to you with content they are certain is worthy of links from certain class of web sites. Let’s say the client has specifically asked for a quote for a link building project to target and obtain 25+ new inbound links from qualified and logical target .edu’s to their new content which they designed specifically to be of value to college students.

As I looked at their new content, I agreed it was extremely well done. I agreed it was of absolute high value to college age students. I agreed that universities would certainly be logical targets for link seeking.

However, I did not agree that they would succeed in attracting new links, because even with great and targeted new content, the hoped-for university inbounds will be granted by sites based on many factors other than great and targeted content. As a fictitious example and to make my point, just because Trojan creates the College Student’s Guide to Responsible Sex, doesn’t mean university based health clinic web sites are going to link to that content, no matter how badly Trojan thinks they should.

Here’s how I handle this scenario.

I explain to the client that the content they created is fantastic. Always do this.

I explain the specific link building process arc for this project, as follows.

Step One: identify potential .edu link targets Step Two: identify the proper decision maker at sites identified as potential link targets Step Three: contact those decision makers and introduce them to your new content, with a gentle request for mention/links

I further explain that while I could do all the above steps, the challenge is there’s no way to know if the targets identified will link to your content, and the success or failure of that process has nothing to do with the person who executes the project, i.e, me. All I can do is ask for a link, the result is up to others, not me. It’s never ever me who gets a link. It’s the content that earns the link if -and only if- there is a person reached who is willing to link to that specific content.

Since time must be spent to do all the above steps regardless of the outcome, which could, potentially, be zero links obtained, I cannot in good faith recommend having me do anything beyond steps one and two. Those steps are where my greatest value is, because steps one and two are the hardest steps. The actual contacting of the sites and followup could be done by anyone after minimal coaching.

Lastly, as I charge $X, if I spend a full day identifying target sites for you (7 hours), that would mean you have spent $X to have me find target sites. What if I only find 40 appropriate target sites? I can’t predict what I will or wont find, but in the past there have been times when I have found 500, or only 10. Then, once the sites have been identified, someone must contact them, and followup. Then, the outcome could still be zero new links.

So, I hope you can see my reservations. I don’t have these reservations with all content I work with, but my instinct and experience is telling me your content might not have that same success. This means you could spend $X for no new links.

I wont go so far as to say the project does not makes sense to pursue, but I feel I must be candid regarding the expectations and realities in this case, so as to be sure you understand and accept the upside and the downside outlined above.

I’d welcome your comments on my approach. How do you handle these scenarios?

Eric Ward has been in the link building and content publicity game since 1994, providing services ranking from linking strategy to a monthly private newsletters on linking for subscribers. 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


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.

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