This is a guest post from Dan Petrovic at Dejan SEO.
Client: So if I give you $2000 per month, how many links can you make me?
SEO: Erm… Well it’s hard to say, anywhere from five to fifty. It’s not really about numbers you know.
Client: Really? I can make at least 500 links myself. I’m just busy, don’t have time.
SEO: If we make that many they can’t be all that great in quality.
Client: Look, let’s agree on 250 links for $2000 and call it a deal.
SEO: OK, I guess…
Next thing you know your team is in a panic mode, the quality gauge has dropped and you’re on Digital Point swapping links with third-world link farmers and forum spammers. The expected quantity of links counts for the first month too so you got to get busy, no need for research and gradual build-up of contacts and leads. Links must flow – and in great numbers, otherwise you’re losing the deal. Fast-forward six months and the client is getting penalised for their spammy backlink profile. You’re fired and they are out there telling everyone how bad you are.
It doesn’t have to be as bad as this, but it is not uncommon that clients will ask you for deliverables and it is important to be prepared to answer all their questions in order to have a healthy and long-lasting relationship with them. So what can be done?
Some people look for this:
Ask yourself; is this the right customer for you? Are you prepared to price match cheaper providers who automate and outsource their link building?
Think about how you are branded in the SEO world. Whether you are an SEO freelancer or a company you will need to ensure you’re getting the right type of customer to your site and have the right message on it. You can cut out a lot of unnecessary conversation if your website explains your link building process in enough detail. Avoid creating packages which promise X amount of this and Y amount of that type of link.
Client education starts in the pre-sales activities and continues throughout the sales process but it never ends. I find it best not to hide anything. People are smart about SEO these days and have most likely dealt with several other SEO companies before and may already be looking for somebody transparent and reliable for long-term work. Explain your process in detail and explain how link acquisition will progress over time.
Most importantly set realistic expectations. Go through Open Site Explorer or Majestic SEO, export links and make some nice graphs. Illustrate the competitive landscape visually and explain the main factors that may impact the rankings. Are certain competitors so far ahead they are not even to be considered true competitors? Is it worth going after Amazon for the keyword “books”?
The first month is critical in for many reasons. Firstly, this is the stage at which you are most likely to extract all the valuable information and goodies needed for the project and arm your link building team with the necessary ammunition to go into battle.
Second thing you want to ensure is regular touch-base, and this doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Just put yourself in the position of your client, you just paid some money or committed to a contract. How would you know if any work is being done if nobody tells you?
Finally, avoid selective hearing and ensure both parties are on the same page.
What you said:
“We may be able to make you up to 20 links.”
What client remembers:
“I promise you 20 links this month.”
By benchmarking your client’s link profile against their competition you will get a fairly good idea of how many links you need and of what quality. If there’s pressure on you then allocate one link builder to work on low hanging fruit and assign others to focus on proper outreach. If you don’t start this in the first month you will not score any decent links in the second month. You may not get a third month from the client if your links are of a poor quality.
A reasonable way to get lots of links would be through securing and reserving client’s brand name through profile registration. For this you can use service such as Knowem or do it yourself. This will not have a huge impact on the rankings as none of the newly created pages will be indexed at first nor will pass any PageRank. How you use them later on is up to you (e.g. YouTube account engagement).
As I mentioned earlier one of the most important things is to arm your link builders with goodies. I will go through a few key things I find to be of high importance when setting up a new link building campaign.
Take time to sit down and do a proper brief explaining how the business works. Go over business relationships, suppliers, providers, customers and write down as many notes as possible about how different groups and stakeholders interact. Explore potential memberships, events relevant to the industry or industry associations which would be valuable to join.
It’s easy to get a link for a page with great content. Ensure that you and your link builders are aware of all linkable assets on the website. A handy way to find out where they may be hiding is by observing Google Webmaster Tools data (most linked pages, top landing pages…etc) and don’t ignore media such as images, videos, PDF documents and spreadsheets. These can be turned into great linkbait material if done properly. Be creative, if there is a great PDF or a template people would appreciate and share why not embed a credit link on it and share it in relevant communities – even torrent.
Content is not just for advanced link building, linkbait and outreach. Too many times I see link builders submit to local directories and joining various organisations to score a profile link and using the same description over and over again. As a result the page does not get into Google’s index (why should it if it’s duplicated?) and you miss out on a link. This is the main problem with quantity-based link building styles. If you are already spending time registering somewhere why not do that extra step and write up a unique description each time?
Remember, if it’s not indexed it doesn’t count!