Life is all about the lessons; the things we figure out through trial and error along the way. At its core link building is a simple concept; get people to link to a web site. But the actual task of making that happen can be somewhat epic. In my years of doing this work, I’ve learned things that apply not only to the business of getting links but to the business of trying to live a decent life.
If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten
The quote is attributed to Tony Robins, one of the world’s most well-known motivational speakers. He uses it to inspire people to change their thoughts and behaviors so they can break out of a mediocre existence. In life we often find ourselves in holding patterns, living with a complacency that resembles happiness just enough to suffice. But to live the lives we truly want, we not only have to embrace change as it comes, but initiate it on our own. Even when it seems like changing is the hardest thing in the world to do. This applies in link building to help explain why a website is not attracting links on its own and needs to change direction.
If you think you have everything you need for your website to get links, consider this: how many natural links have you picked up this month? Natural. Links you didn’t have to ask for, or look for or even think about, links that were like a happy Christmas morning surprise. If that number is low or non-existent, then the sad truth is that you don’t have everything you need. Something has to change. You need a new strategy, a new approach. Re-inventing the wheel may not be practical if you work in tire manufacturing. But in order to succeed online, you not only need to come up with a new wheel, you need to re-discover fire, re-create tools, and re-define yourself. If you’re not evolving and if you only do what you’ve always done, well…you know.
Dream big, but live in reality
Kind of along the same lines, it’s really easy to delude ourselves into believing something is true, when all the hard evidence says it’s not. We spend a lot of our lives in denial about the way things are, using expressions like “it’s just a phase” or “it’s not as bad as it seems”. Well, technically everything in life is “just a phase” and nothing is ever as bad as it seems. But when we use these cliché’s to protect ourselves from the truth it’s no longer a coping mechanism, it’s unhealthy. And it’s just as unhealthy for a link building campaign.
We need to accept the reality of our online situations. That means acknowledging when certain methods or approaches aren’t working. It means facing your market honestly and using consumer behaviors to drive your actions rather than stubbornly insisting that you know what people want.
We delude ourselves into believing all kinds of things that fit neatly into our version of reality. Deciding social media is unnecessary when there is clearly a conversation about your business going on, is short sighted. Insisting on targeting the keywords you want people to use to find you and ignoring the words they actually are searching, shows total disregard for the facts. Building links that don’t work or refusing to do what it takes to get the ones that do is just unfortunate. In all of these cases it’s a simple matter of facing reality and dealing with the circumstances you have instead of the ones you want.
We have to remain adaptable and be willing to face failure. It’s ok to admit something doesn’t work, but it’s not okay to do nothing about it. We need to be in a constant state of evaluation where our eyes are open to what’s really going on. It’s important to always stay passionate and never lose sight of our dreams and aspirations. But we’re never going to get to where we want to be if we can’t get past how we think the world should be and work with it the way that it is.
You get what you put in
Life is only as good as we make it. If we are bored tired and uninspired only we can climb out of our self-made ruts. The same is true of link building. If we take short cuts, and look for the easiest answer or the band-aid fix for a growing disease then we’ll eventually have to pay for choosing the path of least resistance. Only when we are willing to put forth the requisite amount of effort can we benefit from our work. That means forming relationships, putting in the manual hours of link building, and taking the time to create content worth linking to. It also means doing research, choosing smart targets, trying different methods, hiring quality link builders, testing new theories and the having patience to wait for results to build. If you’re willing to lay the foundation for long-term success, you’ll build a much sounder structure over all.
There’s a lot more that I’ve learned in my years of link building. I’ve learned that we should always keep good people around. None of us are ever a strong alone as we are by incorporating the perspective of others into our process. It’s just as important to surround ourselves with good, quality, hard earned links. I’ve learned that communication is vital to every relationship.
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about friends and loved ones, or SEO’s and clients or link builders and their link targets. Without effective communication, every relationship is bound to fail. But most importantly, I’ve learned that we need to love what we do. That means everyone, from link builder to business owner. When the love is there it shows in all of our work and it makes us willing to take risks for what we love. And above all, love makes the hard times easier to endure. From a linking dry spell to a full-on, whole-life, crash and burn, as long as your heart is intent on moving forward, the future holds nothing but potential.