The Custard Blog

Words of wisdom from our team of online marketing experts

Why Is Good Link Building So Hard To Do?

Last week I wrote about why Google took so long to announce a link disavow tool to aid webmasters in cleaning up their back link profiles.  I concluded saying that online marketing campaigns, specifically link building campaigns, need to be future-proof in order to avoid getting caught up in Google politics and penalties.

This week I am going to advance on that conclusion and go into a little bit more detail firstly about what I, and my fellow colleagues at Custard Media, believe to be “future proof” and secondly, why this style of Internet marketing is so hard to accomplish for many businesses and many SEO agencies.

Link Building: It’s The Future!

With all the various updates that have been occurring this year, the one thing that is clear is that we are still experiencing a link-based algorithm.  Yes, social signals are showing positive signs in search engine rankings, such as social media marketing, in particular Twitter and of course Google+, but neither of these have substituted the effects of link building in SERPs.  The types of link building techniques have changed, the quality of link building has improved and it all just got a bit harder and more expensive!

So what is “future-proofing”? The answer: placing well written pieces of content (articles, blog posts, guides, tutorials) on good quality, well looked after, related websites that you don’t think twice about when looking at them. “As easy as that?” you ask? Unfortunately not, but it’s a good start.

Here are a number of reasons why good link building is so hard to do:

1. The Cost

Quite simply, it’s not cheap! Writing good quality, unique content, whether you are outsourcing it or employing someone to write all your articles, is now more expensive and the content needs to be of high quality.  Webmasters will not accept anything less and if they are prepared to, then you’re in the wrong neighbourhood!

The majority of webmasters will know why you are contacting them, so don’t be surprised if they ask for a financial incentive in order to place your article. However, as paid links is against Google’s webmaster guidelines, one alternative would be to offer a discount voucher or a free sample of your client’s product.

If you are working in house as part of an SEO team, then you are in the prime position to arrange give away offers that would encourage webmasters to either accept your content or to write on your behalf.

Finally, not forgetting those people who are doing the work; employees, colleagues or an SEO agency all need paying!

2. The Time

Researching, analysing, liaising with webmasters, agreeing on a deal, writing content, liaising again to get the written article placed, checking the article is posted correctly… it’s a long process and it takes time!  It is very rare that all this happens in one day and to get one confirmed article live can take days, even weeks, depending on the webmasters you are dealing with and the resources for writing the content.

Your time, whether you are part of an SEO agency or in house team, is invaluable.  Agencies should distribute their time proportionally across all clients and in house teams should proportion their time in relation to their company’s online marketing objectives.

3. The Expertise

You need to know what you are looking for when you are researching for content placement opportunities.  It is not a case of, “Any site will do!” you need to be strict, you need to be “future-proof”!

Knowing how to research competitor back links and how to research new opportunities from a number of resources are required skills and using the appropriate tools to ensure your valuable article is going in the right place.

For both, agencies and in house marketeers,  here are a few questions you should be asking yourself:

  • What is the other content like on this website?
  • What is the Domain Authority?
  • Is this website trusted?
  • Is this website in a network?

4. The Expectations

The expectations of your clients or your superiors (if you work in house) is the final factor that can make link building difficult and should be set prior to starting a campaign.

The one thing that hasn’t changed about SEO is that it is a long process.  It takes time to produce results and doesn’t happen overnight, so it is important that you set expectations accordingly.  Teach them to understand what is involved, that way, when you come to reporting at the end of a month, they will see the time, effort and expertise that have gone into producing those links.

What Should You Do?

It might just be a case of altering your processes to adapt to recent algorithimic changes or it might be a case of investing in building a future proof online strategy, either way link building just got a lot more difficult, but the results are worth the extra effort.

There has to be some thought into what you are doing, there needs to be a purpose to placing links.  If you ask yourself every time you are looking to place content, “If Google was a human, would it like this website?” If the answer is a confident, “Definitely!” then you are half way to a future-proofed back link profile!

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