boy and girl in tire swing

Link Building – Keep the Process Human

avatar Accelerate Media | Staff Piece

Whether you realized it or not, you learned link building a long time ago. Most of us started link building back on the playground in grade school. Of course, back then we didn’t always call them links; we called them friends, and they weren’t digital. They were real life, as in person-to-person.

Although our connections have become digital and our interactions don’t involve swing sets and kickball, there are still people behind those connections. And link building is still a relationship – we do well to remember that.

When we forget that simple fact, link building turns into “campaigns” and mass link requests. Not only is this impersonal, but it’s also ineffective.

So, the trick to good link building is to keep it human.

Here are a few simple human things to do that can improve your link building:

Be a good communicator

Links are like relationships, and all relationships need good communication. Content is communication. To be a good communicator you have to produce great content!

With link building, you have two options:

  1. Spend countless hours sending hundreds of emails trying to convince people to link to your site
  2. Publish content that people actually want to link to (what a novel idea!)

Seems like a no-brainer. To get high-quality links, you need high-quality content. But what exactly is good content? Great content is:

  • Informative
    Let’s face it, no matter what your website is about, there are most likely many more sites out there on the same subject. The internet is saturated with articles on just about every imaginable subject matter – yes, even the fine art of butter sculpting as well as chicken rental services. Why, in a world inundated with content on your subject, should someone link to you?

    A fresh perspective, a new insight, a clever idea…. whatever it is, be sure to give your readers something new.
  • Easy to Read
    There’s nothing like sitting down to read a good book, like say the Encyclopedia Britannica….so relaxing! Not really. Although it’s informative, it’s not designed to be read and enjoyed. Most of us would rather sit down with a copy of Harry Potter or GOT. So, when it comes to content, there’s a balance to be had. Yes, you want it to be informative, but it should also be easy and enjoyable to read.

    Besides, “content” is such a business word. What does it even mean? Make content that doesn’t read like “content”. Make it easy and enjoyable to read.
  • Unbranded
    Yes, we know you have a business. Yes, we know your business is amazing. Yes, we know your business has a name. Yes, we know … we know … we know…please stop mentioning it over and over again.

    The more heavily branded a piece of content on your site is, the less likely someone will share it or link to it. Especially someone in the same field as you. That would be like asking your competitors to advertise for you.

    The goal is to get links to your site. Let your marketing do marketing. Let your advertising do advertising. Let your blog content inform, instruct, and entertain your readers.

Give, don’t just take

Nobody likes the “Gimme” monster. Yet, unfortunately, that’s what a lot of link building has become. Endless requests for links without ever being willing to link out.

Author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.”

So, you want to receive links? That’s what everyone else wants too. If that’s what you want then don’t be afraid to give links. Now I know what you’re thinking – “Wait, that’s crazy!! I can’t link out!”

Don’t worry! When done properly linking out does not hurt your SEO, in fact, it may help it. Linking out also has several other benefits:

  • It adds credibility to your content
    Opinions are a dime a dozen. Why should someone swallow your opinion “hook line and sinker”? They shouldn’t. So, give weight to your words. When you link to the facts that your information is based upon, it gives more weight and credibility to your words.
  • You may get more links as a result
    When you link to another site, you’re making a friend. And who doesn’t want a few more friends? By linking out, your new friend may give you a link in return.

    This isn’t a “link exchange”. And if you ask for a link from a site you linked to don’t make your request sound like a link exchange. Let them know you’ve posted the article and that the article uses their site as a reference. Ask them to check it out. They may want to link to the article right away. But if not, down the road, let them know about other content you have published and see if they are willing to link to that.

Stay in touch

You’ve got connections. Everyone does. But you have connections that no one else does. By staying in touch with those connections, you open doors to link building.

So who are your connections? Here are a few connections you might have:

  • Your old school
    Remember where you came from! Many colleges have pages where they do alumni spotlights or articles written by alumni that discuss the field they are now in. These are great opportunities to obtain the highly coveted .edu links.
  • Clients
    Do you have happy customers? I’m sure you do! They might be willing to mention you in a blog post or some other means.

    For example, suppose you install solar panels and you just did a big job at a local doctor’s office. Maybe they would be interested in doing a quick write up in their blog about their new green initiatives and mention your company.
  • Those in your local business community
    Think local! Although many businesses in your community may not have a website, obtaining links from those that do is a valuable form of link building.

    You have friends and business connections all over your local community. Establish a relationship with them. They may be willing to link to your site.
  • Your employees’ connections
    Many of your employees’ connections are also your business’ connections. Are your employees involved in non-profits? Do they volunteer in the community? Do they run marathons or 5Ks? Do they play on a local sports team? Where appropriate, you may be able to obtain a link to your site when your employee is mentioned.

    If your employee has a profile page on your site or if you are willing to sponsor their team/race etc. it will increase your opportunities. Link building may have changed since you were a kid on the playground, but it’s good to remember there are still people behind those digital connections you are making.

Even in the digital realm of link building, remember your human connections and then treat them as such! By being an effective communicator, giving out links, and fostering new human connections, you will quickly and easily enhance your link building.