For a moon or two now, there has been this debate about whether link-builders are, in actual fact, SEO’s or whether they should sit in a different realm – sitting more closely with business development or PR. Much of what link-builders do, after all, is relationship focussed, prospecting and of course results driven – this to me sounds very much like a salesmanship. But it’s more than that – it’s the full plethora of what true SEO can deliver for a business.
Now, I think in many respects, competent link-builders are the most all-rounded SEO’s in the sector (not simply salesy folk at all), with skills to not only develop campaigns to build a website’s authority and trust through relationships and activity, but also to understand key marketing principles at the root of all SEO activity, or the potential a relationship with a site owner might be worth.
Now, a couple of guys in my team might laugh when they read that as they’ll remember a horrible acronym that I’ve used in training materials: RAMRAT. In my opinion, everything in SEO should consider ROI, Accessibility, Marketability, Relevancy, Authority and Trust. I also suggested another couple of acronyms too, but they didn’t sound so ridiculous so didn’t stick with the team…
The idea is that each of these items should be considered in light of what both robots and humans perceive. Let’s take how they might be perceived by humans and search engines:
- ROI: well if you do everything else in this list to full effect, then there certainly should be return on investment in that there is great authority, trust and relevancy attributed to the website you’re working on.
- Accessibility: a link should be crawlable by robots and findable and clickable by humans meandering through the web.
- Marketability: a link, and the content, widget or image that it’s with should make people want to naturally share it to their own networks, their blog or prompt another type of engagement. The rediscovery of these links through this sharing and aggregation of topics across social media can be great in building links naturally too (albeit with you being the catalyst). Relevancy: link-building requires an eye on targeting the content to the places that your target market loiter online – that way you can benefit from clicks as well as the perceived relevancy that is passed via the link.
- Authority: this links to the next point but it can be hugely helpful to build link-building campaigns that align themselves with pre-established authorities in the sector you are working in. And naturally, the authority of those links is going to be hugely helpful to pass on to the website you are link-building for.
- Trust: would the link pass a manual review? Does it look natural to a search engine and if your target audience was to see it, would it devalue the brand in any way through association or presentation?
…there are many examples to highlight these points, but if your link-builders can stand by their work in a way that drives ROI through each of these areas then they should indeed be regarded as fully fledged SEO’s. For this reason, the business of link-building is an area that I whole heartedly think needs to be seen as a true representation of what SEO is all about – not a sales role, not a back-office activity but leading the way in creatively understanding and applying a huge range of optimisations for the benefit of greater organic visibility. And, for this reason, I tip my hat to all you professional link-builders out there – good work! J
What do you think? Are link-builders SEOs or are they best described in another way?