When you’re new to link building it’s easy to get discouraged. Getting links can be challenging work, fraught with failure, rejection, mistakes, and sometimes character assassinations. Just like politics. Someone can learn how to speak in public, fund raise and debate. But you cannot teach charisma, tenacity and integrity. Those qualities are simply instinctive. Well, we may have fewer babies and grandmas to kiss, but there are certain instinctual qualities that help with learning to build links. And over time those skills can be cultivated and honed. Sure, not every link builder will turn out to be a Superstar, but with the right training most people can learn to get quality links on a consistent basis. Here’s how.
It’s important to establish some ground rules for link builders. Make sure they know what kind of link building they are doing, and what kind of links they should be getting. Not because the link builder is stupid or a slippery character, but because certain things are just dangerous and a new link builder won’t know any better. You don’t want a new link builder to accidentally email http://www.mattcutts.com offering money or talking about Page Rank and getting links for rankings. Most people who are new to link building just don’t understand the mine field they are walking into and could easily set off a series of explosions which could rattle your entire business. Set boundaries; teach them to pay attention to details and instruct them as to where the really dangerous traps are, BEFORE they fall into one.
The best course of action is probably to provide a full scale education on the ins and outs of SEO and the function and risks of link building as a whole. But if that’s not possible, a specific set of rules is essential. And a little fear of God for breaking them never hurts either.
Set specific goals
Along those lines, link builders also need goals. Clearly the purpose of any link builder’s day is to get links. But what kind of links? What level of quality? I can go out and score 50 directory links a day or 1,000 links across one site or a network of sites. But are those really the links we want? Beware of a goals structure which is purely numbers based. Emphasizing the ends without any attention to the means can (and often will) result in cheating, corner cutting and flat out bad decision making. Define good and bad links, and use measurements which reflect those characteristics.
Teaching link builders to understand links as a part of the “big picture” can help them become more invested in the process. Obtaining a specific number of links is somewhat gratifying, but seeing the positive effect links can have on a web site can be truly exciting. A link builder will find more satisfaction when the emphasis is placed on the larger goal as opposed to the micro-chasm of simply getting a certain number of links. There will be a greater sense of fulfillment and a stronger tendency to make the right choices.
Create a system
If you let a bunch of link builders loose on a stylistic free for all you will get erratic results at best. But by creating a system for getting links, you have a process to follow. And in using a process, you can gauge strengths and weaknesses, both within the system itself and the link builders. Each step of the system should be simple and easy to replicate. It’s also helpful if each part of the process can be examined on its own and tailored to suit each link builder’s individual style.
Templates in general are good, but humanized spam is bad. If your link builder is simply a human version of a robot, then it might be cheaper just to create an automated system to serve the same function. Auto-bots don’t require health care, lunch breaks or whine when the bathroom is out of paper towels. But they inevitably lack the judgment and insight that a humans bring to the process. And everyone who’s ever gotten an automated email knows that SPAM reads like SPAM no matter how may smiley emoticons you put in the message.
The other benefit to using human link builders is that they are unique, and will excel in different areas. By watching how a link builder meets their goals and performs various functions of a link building system you can begin to see where their talents lie. Whether the strength is in identifying what will get links, who will give links or even just exceptional hand to keyboard speed, recognizing each link builder’s talents can be a crucial part of the training process. When link builders are allowed to focus on their fortes and use some creativity, managers will usually discover a host of new ideas, new techniques and, of course, their future trainers.
Over time most people can develop a talent for link building. Most link builders will inevitably grow the gut reaction to just know when something is right or wrong, possible or impossible, a good idea or a bad one. Yes, those instincts themselves may be difficult to “train” in someone. But with rules, goals, a system and a focus on utilizing strengths where they naturally occur, you will create a staff that is eager to learn, produce, and excel at the art of getting links.