Link building techniques, tactics, theories and practices dominate the minds of content creators in our industry… in less than three weeks I logged over 160 link building how-to resources (here and here). While link building techniques are important for marketers to follow, I find that the nuts and bolts of link building campaign design and execution – especially at the agency level – gets short shrift.
To start some dialogue I recently invited agency-side link builders to share how they design link building campaigns, manage clients, their favorite tools and how they design and price their services. Here are answers from Arnie Kuenn and Michael Schwartz of Vertical Measures… Enjoy!
Arnie Kuenn and Michael Schwartz of Vertical Measures Link Building Company
Q: How long has your agency offered link building services?
A: Almost 6 years now.
Q: What does your agency do to build links ie: what’s the range of your agency’s link building offerings?
A: We offer a number of different services. Our most popular offering is targeted link requests whereby we seek out link opportunities and request them from webmasters. We also offer competitive link research, content development and promotion for links, link reclamation, guest blog posting and a directory submission service.
Q: How have your link building services changed since you began offering them? Since Panda?
A: The core services have not changed very much over the years. No matter the debate, trend or latest algo changes, there are only some many ways to get links. However, our company has added additional services to support our link building efforts which include content development and marketing, on-page SEO and social media marketing.
Q: Do you offer link building as a stand alone service? Why/why not?
A: We do, but this makes up a small part of what we do these days. This largely comes from agencies that outsource their link building as a part of their own, bigger package. Many of our direct clients contact us for link building, but after evaluating their specific situation, link building just becomes a part of the overall solution.
Link Building Campaign Design + Execution
Q: How do you determine what link building techniques/efforts/campaigns to use for a given client?
A: We largely base it on our evaluation of the client site compared to its competition. If we’re dealing with an e-commerce site without much content or any real compelling reason to link to it on its own merit we will go about things differently than say an educational site that might have loads of great “linkworthy” content. It all comes down to having something to leverage. If you don’t have anything people might want to link to, that needs to be your first step – create compelling content. If the site has something to leverage then we will build a campaign utilizing that.
Q: How do you find link prospects (sites/pages you engage with) for your clients? How does this change from client to client?
A: It is certainly different from client to client and we are not able to share any proprietary information, but in general we first find the top sites ranking for a certain keyword or in a certain niche. We then use specific tools to find the sites linking to their competitors and try to build relationships with those webmasters. We also use a variety of link operators to find additional opportunities. This changes from client to client in that we have developed relationships with particular sites in different niches, making it easier to obtain links for new clients in that niche.
Effective Client Management
Q: What are your actual, tangible link building deliverables? How have these changed since you began offering services?
A: Our tangible link building deliverables involve the links that we acquired that particular month as well as a summary of the kind of research we did, the requests we made and any future opportunities that may be out there for future months as well as descriptions of the links acquired.
Link Building Tools
Q: What tools does your organization use the most for link building (project management, discovery, etc…)?
A: Open Site Explorer, SEOMoz Labs and Raven Tools.
Q: What link building tools – or tool features – don’t exist yet, that should?
A: Thinking ideal world here, I would love a tool that discovers and evaluates link prospects in more depth than anything we currently have. I’d like to know if this webmaster is open to linking, some background information on the webmaster so I can formulate my personalized request and as well as a real distilled history of the site so I can determine whether this is the kind of site I would want a link from. In essence this tool would make it easier to find and evaluate link prospects as well as ultimately close the deal by allowing me to create a connection with this webmaster with ease. You said it didn’t exist yet right?
Q: If you were advising a new agency on developing a link building offering, what questions would you ask them? What advice would you give them?
A: The first question is how does this provide value to the client? How will this make things more efficient and scalable and effective? I would also ask them how to ensure this stays on the white hat side of the ledger.
I would advise them to think outside of the box. You always need to be one step ahead in this industry, and if you can think of something creative or innovative that your competitors likely aren’t doing then you can develop an excellent new offering.
Q: How do you learn/find/discover new link building techniques?
A: The biggest way is just by staying on top of the industry by reading the latest articles on the topic of link building. I also think that new techniques are best found by the process of guess and check. I might have an inkling that a technique will be effective so I experiment with it and if I have success I might find it to be something that’s repeatable for other clients. So much changes so often in link building that I feel like playing off your hunches and taking meticulous care to understand what you are doing is the best way to find new ways to discover great links.
More Answers from Agency Link Builders
MorePro’s 16 SEO Agency Link Building Survey Responses
A LOOK INTO LINK BUILDING AT THUNDER SEO from Gary Magnone
Link Building Agency Interview: Arnie Kuenn and Michael Schwartz of Vertical Measures
Link Building Agency Interview: Julie Joyce of Link Fish Media
Link Building Agency Interview: Jason Walker of Performics
Link Building Agency Interview: Joe Davies of TekNet
Link Building Agency Interview: Peter Attia