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Frustrations of a Beginning Link Builder

The process of learning link development has begun. Earlier this year I started my glorious career at Pole Position Marketing as a part-time intern. After a little over a month, a full-time position presented itself. Without hesitation, I accepted! (If you got a chance to work with this team, you’d jump at the chance too!)

Link building is an exciting job but can often be frustrating. I spend a lot of time reading and learning from various pros in the industry and have quickly discovered what kind of links not to build. You know… the low blow, spammy, black hat links–the ones that can be built in mass quantities and have no value or relevance.

Where have all the good link strategies gone?

Learning the process of finding quality links has been difficult. The primary reason is that I have yet to find a link building manual that outlines a step-by-step process. With every article and blog post I read, I have to add that as another piece of a very large, complicated puzzle.

I initially thought I could just take the tactics that were considered “black hat,” tweak them a bit to make them more “white hat” and be well on my way to being a world-class link builder.

For example, if I could find blogs and forums that discuss my client’s topics, then I could join in the conversation. I’d write quality posts that add value to the conversations I was dropping links in. The good news: it works. The bad news: it takes more time than the link is worth.

Why?

1) There are a lot of crappy blogs and forums out there, and it takes a long time to sort the good from the bad. 2) Many of the good blogs and forums have mostly done away with allowing links in their comments. I understand; it was probably difficult keeping up with everyone who was leaving extraneous comments and links.

The same holds true of other link building methods; they have been abused and, thus, have been discredited. Most links are better if you can have a keyword anchor text, but good luck finding a forum or blog that allows that.

Most of my link-building career has been dedicated to education. That’s one of the requirements to working here. We are required to continue to learn. In my case, I’m looking for ways to link outside the box.

The Future is Now

So what I’m I doing going forward? In this Search Engine Journal interview, Julie Joyce offers three link building techniques that will be important in the future: Social Profile Links, Link Clean-up and Sharing Knowledge.

I’ve started looking at my clients’ links from different angles. What links are junk and have no value or negative value? What links are showing up with crawl errors that need reclamation?

What I’ve learned is that it’s all about content. Original content that is valuable to a certain niche = natural links. I’m working with my social media department to make sure our clients have established social media presence. If they don’t, that is a good place to start. It is important to use your social media outlet to engage people. A great way to catch people’s attention is to have unique content that sparks their interest. Social media and link building need to be intertwined; if they aren’t both working like charm, you are going to miss out on key opportunities.

The sharing of knowledge is the biggest challenge for me right now because many of the methods are new to me. So, my boss will be happy to hear me say, the only way to get better at sharing knowledge is by doing it. And as much as it pains me to admit this, a good way to share knowledge is through writing. I have to keep reminding myself that my writing will get better the more I write. The same is true for you. Just ask Garrison Keillor.

If you are a beginner link builder, I would love to hear about your challenges and successes. What’s working for you? What isn’t? How much time do you spend on education and wrestling those concepts into a post? For those of you who are link pros, am I heading in the right direction? What imperative pieces of the puzzle am I missing?

Annalisa Hilliard

Annalisa specializes in SEO at Pole Position Marketing. Annalisa enjoys cycling, running and most other participatory sports. She is also a craft beer and coffee zealot. She resides in North Canton, Ohio but Pittsburgh, PA will always be her home. Read Annalisa’s full bio.

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5 Responses to Frustrations of a Beginning Link Builder

  1. A rookie SEO myself, I know exactly how you feel. I love when I run into posts like this. Gives me hope that my efforts will pay off, even if they make me want to pull my hair out every once in a while. Thanks for the great tips too.

    I plan to stay tuned for any “experts” thoughts.

    -Robert

  2. Annalisa Hilliard
    Annalisa Hilliard says:

    Hey Robert,

    Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. I’m glad there are others who can relate! Your hard work will pay off, just keep digging in, and when you feel like pulling your hair out (I have quite a few days like that) just remember you aren’t alone in that frustration. But, the world needs link builders that will push through the challenges (cue superhero theme song)!

  3. Des Tucker says:

    Link building is incredibly time consuming and definitely a constant learning curve. Several times I’ve thought I was onto something great, only to discover that a particular technique is at best, ‘gray hat’. I really wish there were a walk-through manual for link-building. (hint-hint) I’m hoping that all this time I’m investing in learning about link-building will pay off and that the process will become easier over time. Thanks for this post! I’ll be subscribing to your blog and linking to this site for my clients as a valuable resource.

    Des

  4. Annalisa Hilliard
    Annalisa Hilliard says:

    Hey Des,

    Thanks for your comment! I appreciate the compliments! I hope you find a process that becomes easier over time, and if you do, PLEASE share. I’d love to be able to learn from what others are doing (especially if it saves time and frustration).

  5. J Noles says:

    I very much enjoyed this article! Not only was it well written, but it also shows the human side of link-building rather than just the technical, “how-to” side that many articles talk about.

    Thank you for letting us in on your progression and thought process through this learning experience, it helps us to relate and really connect with the article. 🙂

    – J