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Why After 14 Years I Still Love Link Building
In looking over my past few columns, I worried my commentary had drifted perhaps a bit too much to the negative side of the link building milieu (always wanted to write a sentence with the word milieu in it). So, as a Yin to that Yang, here are several reasons why, after fourteen years, I still love link building.
First, I love link building for a very selfish reason. It pays the bills. To not admit that would be a lie. Second, I love link building because the web continues to be an ever growing mass of fantastic content created by some very bright people, and that content deserves to be found. I’ve been lucky in that I started link building so long ago, I had to seek out links from sites that were the most likely to be visited by people with an interest in the subject matter of the site.
I couldn’t pursue links based on what some search engine thought, because, well, there were no search engines. So I focused on library sites, school sites, local and federal government sites, etc. Lo and behold, the types of links I had to seek out ended up being some of the very links the engines grew to trust as the years went by.
Thus, I love link building because, when done right, you can take a site with great content about very vertical topics, like StormwaterAuthority.org, and even though the site is fairly new, I can still use what I know about link building to help it rank #1 for its most important terms quickly, and do it in a way that is 100% white hat and ethical so I can sleep at night. Third, I love link building because as the years have gone by, I’ve gotten to offer pro-bono link building services and strategies to sites that deserve it. Some very worthy causes have great sites but no money, and any link builder who really gets it can relate to what I’m saying. My guess is all the top link builders are or have helped worthy causes at one time or another. Fourth, I love link building because it isn’t as boring as people think it is.
In fact, the planning and research of a well thought out link building campaign gives me a rush. The execution is fun too, because this is when the links actually start to appear, but the execution is really just the residue of the process, just like a diamond is. I must still love it or why the heck would I still be doing it? While I’m not rich by any means, I could certainly do something else, but I don’t. I love that link building gives you the opportunity to perform a truly unique and useful service that few people are willing to take the time to learn, and which adds to what makes the web a great place.
One other thing I love about link building is that even though we get to work with a lot of huge corporations, we still also work by choice with very small businesses, because that’s what my wife and I started out as, and it’s what we remain. It’s just more rewarding helping a site where every penny matters than a site with money to waste. We all knew Big Media would find and, after spending a few million dollars, figure out the web. But those sites rarely have any passion, and they always seem to end up with the same look and feel, like grocery stores do.
I love that small sites are still being launched with not one single so-called web 2.0 feature, and are still wonderfully plain. And useful. And helpful. And those are the sites that make link building worth it every day. My guess is fourteen years from now I will still be at it. After all, I’ll have two kids in college then, and maybe they will Major in link building. Maybe I can hand this little link stand over to them…
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 Mondays at Search Engine Land.
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