Link Campaign Planning 101

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In the last post in my series on creating a link campaign to increase a web site’s authority and improve visibility, I decided to describe a link campaign as one might do when planning for a long trip. Now, I am not a ‘bad planner’ per se, however, when I get excited or impatient about doing something, like the opportunity to get away on a trip, I have a tendency to romance the illusion of the trip and forget about the details which might have made that trip a more enjoyable reality. You with me there? So, to make the illusion of a successful link campaign a reality, I am going to reference some advice from the journals of link campaign masters.

Travel Lite – Be a Lazy SEO

One thing I’ve learned on my path to “SEO” – programmer – developer nirvana, is that being a ‘lazy programmer‘ is much better than being a busy programmer. That basically just means that I am going to plan to get the most out of the resources that I have. Transferring this mentality over to link building, I am going to use the experience of veteran link builders, as a “Lazy SEO” guide. So, I have a few link builders that I tend to have quite a bit of respect for. First and foremost is the “Link Moses“, Eric Ward. I really like the way that Eric approaches etiological link building. (That sounds rather confusing to me) I think it just means good content attracts good links – Go figure.

Follow the Stars

Another one of the linkerati that I like to follow is Eric Enge. So, now we have Eric squared (Eric √). One of my favorite link building articles is from Eric Enge’s “√” interview with Eric Ward back in April 07′. Another Enge article that I reference quite closely is: “Linking is the Key “, that is a really good overview of the importance of inbound links. There too, are some others that need mentioning here; “101 Link Building Tips to Market Your Website” from Aaron Wall, “evil blogger” and Andy Hagans, is also a very good resource to reference. I created the title of this series, with the incredibly played out yet extremely effective, “{insert anything} 101”, from the first suggestion in their 101 list.

There are many, many, excellent link builders out there to follow for your own personal mentoring as well. Some of the others that you might get some clues from are:

Make Your Own Path – To Thine Own Self Be True

So, on with the details. The most important I consider when planning for a link campaign is what I shall do to make a good impression upon those that I want to link to me. The craziest thing I see is when I receive an obviously automated link request asking to please link to whogivesashit .com, without so much as a reason as to why I would want to do so – Useless. In order for me to link to a site, I would need to have three very important questions answered …

Credibility – If I don’t have respect for the individual that is requesting that I link to them, I don’t want to link to them. That simple. If however, I respect the content, value and purpose of a site, and I find that the site is relevant based on the quality of the content, or as a resource, then I ‘may’ be compelled to provide a link to it. Without establishing credibility first, I don’t have any respect for that site. Why would I want to link to that site? On the other hand, if I have respect for a site or blogger, then I will freely link to it on my own. The sites that I am compelled to link to, are typically from those that would not ask me for a link – Any link request that I receive, better be pretty good.

Curiosity – I don’t want to link to a site or content that is not interesting. I don’t think that any webmaster, blogger, copywriter or casual internet surfer would either. In order for me to be curious enough to open up Dreamweaver, find or write a page to put the link in, and place it on my site for all my visitors to see, I am going to have to have quite a bit of curiosity at the onset of the link request dialogue to go through changing the look and feel of my masterpiece website to compensate for the needs of another. Even if the link is a benefit to me, the simple fact that I was “solicited” a link request, is enough to put me on the defensive. Call me a hard ass, but that’s just how I am.

Benefits – Something else that I feel is vitally important to a link request is the benefits. I rarely see link requests that address this extremely effective measure. If I want something important from someone, I am not going to tell them why it is I want “blue widgets” from them without first letting them know what the benefits are for them. Why? Because, most people don’t really give a damned about what I want. They want to know “what’s in it for me”? Asking for something empty handed is never an easy proposition. Couple that with a request to a total stranger, and the likely hood of failure or rejection has just multiplied exponentially. However, if the request is delivered as a description of the benefits to the other, then we have taken on a whole new paradigm. If I started seeing link requests in the form of, “Our site provides … {Benefit A, B, C …}”, I might see that there is a need for this link from my site, and credibility ‘may’ then be established in my mind.

Where Do We Go Now?

At this point I think I have opened up the “path to link building enlightenment”, enough to determine that it is important to establish a position of credibility to the person that is receiving a link request, and that without credibility and curiosity, the best of intentions are sure to end up just that, intentions. Establishing quality links is done through having quality relationships with other sites. Websites are run by people. People have relationships with other people. Next time, we’re going to discuss just how to build our link relationships. Link » Building Relationships » 101.

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Edward J. Beckett is a passionate software engineer, web developer, server administrator and polyglot programmer with nearly a decade experience building desktop and web applications ranging from simple personal web sites to enterprise level applications on many technology stacks including Java, Java EE, Spring, Spring MVC, Spring Data, Hibernate, SQL, JPA, JMS, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, ColdFusion, PHP, Node.js and more...