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In many ways, link building is both an art and a science. While it might seem fairly straightforward and technical, there’s a surprising amount of creative skill that goes into identifying and soliciting potential link building opportunities as part of an overall digital marketing strategy.
With these things in mind, it’s obvious that not everyone working in the world of SEO today is suited to link building. Whether you’re trying to hire a link builder to join your team or you’re outsourcing the process to a professional link builder, look for someone who meets the following criteria.
A good link builder is:
- Curious – In the world of SEO, there are no “sure thing” techniques that guarantee good search performance. As a result, link builders need to be curious enough to explore what’s working (and what isn’t) – instead of taking standard best practices at face value.
- Organized – At the same time, the tremendous amount of data that link building involved means that link builders must be organized enough to keep track of things like links built, link requests and any follow up that’s necessary to bring about good results.
- Persistent – Prospective link partners aren’t always in rush to create these valuable connections, meaning that link builders must be persistent (without burning bridges at the same time). Following up at appropriate intervals is one factor in the link building process.
- Attentive to details – When determining whether or not a link prospect is a good fit for your company’s marketing aims, there are a number of different variables that must be considered – from the linking site’s PageRank to its traffic to the number of existing links on the same page. As a result, link builders who aren’t attentive to details may waste time pursuing links that a more thorough evaluation of the data would have disqualified.
- Self-motivated – Because the process of building links can be monotonous at times, a good link builder knows how to motivate himself to get his work done – even if his actions don’t immediately result in measurable SERPs gains.
- Skilled with HTML – Because links are, essentially, pieces of code that connect two websites, a working knowledge of HTML is vital for link builders. Though in many cases, it’s the referring website that will host the link, link builders may be called on to assess the value of previously placed links by identifying no-follow tags and other coded elements.
- Knowledgeable about SEO – Obviously, as link buildingis an SEO function, it’s important that link builders understand how their work fits into an overall strategy. Ongoing SEO education is a must for these technicians, as this knowledge will empower them to become more active participants in tactical SEO planning.
- Eager to learn – Although ongoing education is important for link builders – and although there are plenty of resources available online for pursuing this information – these staff members must have an innate desire to learn and improve their skills.
- Persuasive – Frequently, building linksrequires that SEO team members persuade sources to add referral links to their sites. For this reason, the understanding of negotiation practices and persuasion is a “must have” for any professional link builder.
- Analytical – Though there’s definitely a level of creativity involved, link building requires analytical skills as well. Link builders must be able to measure the impact of their efforts, as well as draw conclusions regarding the efficacy of overall SEO strategies in order to improve web performance.
- OCD – The process of link building often requires steps that must be completed in an accurate and orderly fashion – regardless of the type of link being built or the type of website being promoted. Because of this, a slightly neurotic approach to evaluating and soliciting inbound links can be a boon to many digital marketing projects.
- Fascinated with the internet – Good link builders don’t see link creation as a chore. Instead, the best workers in this field are so fascinated by the internet that they derive a tremendous amount of satisfaction from this particular type of website promotion as a way to learn more about the web’s inner workings.
- Flexible – Since there’s no “one size fits all” approach to link building, the employees or consultants filling this role for your organization must be flexible in order to adjust course as needed in the face of algorithm updates.
- Geeky – Really, the web is a geek’s paradise. If you want to be successful when it comes to building backlinks, you’ve got to walk the walk and talk the talk. While your link builder doesn’t need to be a cloned version of Dr. Sheldon Cooper, an understanding of the web’s geek culture helps these team members to effectively identify up-and-coming internet memes – as well as the link building opportunities they present.
- Creative – Some of the best links are generated through connections that never would have made it on the radar of traditional, “paint by numbers” style link builders. These SEO workers need to be able to think outside of the box in order to identify and seize the opportunities that occur to procure the backlinks that will benefit your organization the most.
- Sociable – Links don’t just occur between websites – they often occur between people. So if your link builder hides in an office all day, avoiding contact with the real world, you’re missing out on some great link building opportunities that will instead go to the SEO workers who are willing to get out and connect with others.
- Confident – A link builder can’t afford to doubt whether or not each of the backlinks he’s building are worthwhile. If he did, he’d seriously delay project progress, given the sheer number of links that must be created in order to increase the odds of web success. Instead, link builders must be confident that they understand what constitutes a good link and willing to pull the trigger when needed in order to keep a project moving forward.
- A team player – Though link building itself may be a solitary pursuit, keep in mind that overall SEO strategy should be something that’s decided on by a team of professionals. Link builders must work closely with SEO analysts, content creators and others in order for a digital marketing campaign to meet its stated objectives.
- Willing to hustle – Because the number and quality of inbound backlinks pointing at a website can play such a powerful role in its success, it’s smart to invest significant resources in acquiring as many of these high value connections, as quickly as possible. As such, you need a link builder who’s willing to hustle in order to bring about good results for your organization.
- Passionate – At the end of the day, a good link builder must be passionate. Passionate about SEO, passionate about link building and passionate about the process of digital marketing in general. It is this spark of enthusiasm that will keep the link builder going – and, consequently, your SEO campaigns on track – when these day-to-day activities begin to seem monotonous.
All of these characteristics taken together form the perfect link builder – even though a single person meeting all of these criteria couldn’t possibly exist in the real world. Hopefully, though, by understanding how each of these descriptors plays a role in creating an optimal link builder, you’ll be able to identify particular strengths in your employee or consultant candidates that will ultimately lead to both team and company success online.