Relationship Building vs Link Building?

by | Jul 5, 2011

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Link Building, the backbone of any good SEO strategy, yet still we constantly battle to succeed and win in this competitive circle. For many years the different approaches towards link building have grown and evolved, leading to many debates on which methods are more successful than others. In this article I will look at old link building strategies versus a new idea that was first brought to my attention back in May 2011 by Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz, which explores the concept of building solid online relationships in order to gain stronger more authentic links.

Firstly, let’s look at the old school method, the classical SEO approach.

  • Find relevant sites from which to gain links
  • Search for contact information
  • Contact webmaster and attempt to gain your link through whatever means possible.

Any SEO will tell you that this approach to link building is gruelling, disheartening, awkward and a lot of the time disappointing, as satisfaction goes, a lot of the time you feel you are chasing your own tail.

What if there was a more satisfying and more humane approach to link building?

In May 2011, Rand Fishkin posted a blog titled Head Smacking Tip #20: Don’t Ask Sites for Links. Find People and Connect. As a social media fanatic I found this approach to be inspiring and have started to implement it in my client’s link building campaigns with positive results.

It is as follows:

  • Find relevant people, bloggers, journalists, forum participants, members of online communities, active social networkers, people in media, PR, or simply the well-connected.
  • Follow and engage in their online contributions, blog comments, Twitter, Facebook, Q+A sites and forums. ASK FOR NOTHING.
  • Build and create something useful to them, an article, a blog post, advice. If you have taken the time to get to know them, you will have no problems identifying what they would appreciate and find valuable.
  • Let them know about it, again through email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comment or whatever media gets your message across.

The benefits of this approach are:

  • It’s a more sociable approach that may reach more people who influence, write for or control multiple properties resulting in a much higher ROI for each successful contact.
  • People can trust and empathize with other people, if you sound human and genuine you are more likely to be able to build that relationship.
  • This is a future proof approach. No matter how signal engines evolve or what forms of discovery become popular, your links will always carry value.
  • Finally the material you produce will promote better web content and that will always be more deserving of links and better rankings.

I feel that this approach will not only ease the awkwardness of link building it will also provide link builders with job satisfaction and a sense of achievement, not to mention reinstall a sense of humanity in their life. As an unashamed social media fanatic, I for one see the strengths and positive outcomes that this method can achieve. The old school methods will always be present and, for those looking for quick links, will always be a winner, but in the long term I feel link relationships built socially on trust and authenticity will result in stronger links and longer lasting link connections.

Article written by

Feli Betzl

Feli Betzl

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