Link Loopy, Part 1: Why Link Building Sucks
Ian Lurie Apr 6 2009
This is part of a 5-part series I’m writing about link building. I’ve not written much about it up to now. This first article gets to the heart of why I hate link building, but do it anyway.
I hate building links. I mean I hate it. It’s either:
- Begging for a link.
- Begging for attention.
- Tricking people.
- Paying people absurd amounts of money for 3 words on a page.
- Engaging in a criminal enterprise (to Google, anyway).
Inevitably, after working hard on a link campaign for a day or two, I feel like I’ve been doing breaststroke in raw sewage with my mouth wide open.
And, there are almost no metrics. You can keep a list of links to show what you’ve added to your client’s portfolio. So what? Are those links really helping them move up? Did that article about cubic zirconium really attract any useful authority? Who knows?
The best part: There are rules. But no one will tell you what they are:
- Some purchased links are OK, if they’re called things like sponsorships. Other purchased links are anathema. In between are those that are a waste of money. Good luck figuring out which are which.
- The best links are from authoritative, relevant sites. OK. What the hell does that mean?! See “there are almost no metrics”, above.
- The guy with the most cash typically wins. Whether you’re buying links or writing great link-attracting stuff, you have to spend, spend, spend. There’s nothing controlling that race to the top/bottom.
So Why Bother?
Because links are important. You have to have them. Without a link strategy, your competitors will eventually pass you by in the rankings. Like it or not, links are votes in an internet-wide popularity contest.
Smug internet marketers like me will tell you ‘organic link growth’ through ‘compelling content’ is the best strategy. If I say that to you, I won’t resent it if you kick my teeth in.
The truth is, the best way to build links is to adopt a 4-part strategy:
- Research the competition.
- Find your opportunity gaps.
- Go get those links!
- Out-execute your competition.
There’s more, of course, like coming up with brilliantly creative ideas that compel thousands of people to link to you. Can’t say I know how to consistently do that. So I’ll leave that kind of advice to omniscient beings.
Read Part 2, tomorrow, for tools I use to do competitive research. Don’t worry, I won’t give away all the secrets.
Part 1: Why Link Building Sucks
Part 2: 3 Competitive Link Research Tools
Part 3: Finding the Opportunity Gap
Part 4: Get those links
Part 5: Out-execute the competition
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More