Can Your Clients Handle The Real Truths of Link Building

Whilst I was reading another excellent post from Wiep.Net on link exchange request, it got me thinking on the difficulties of educating clients as to why link building is necessary at all.  Most clients would like to live by the “Build it and they will come” motto. I remember a guy telling me this  after he had invested so much cash into developing a site, he didn’t have anything left over to market it. He grasped onto that concept that people would find the site because it filled a gap in the market. It was a good site, but no one came.

Educating clients has always been a large part of SEO. Preparing lots of reports to show how much  traffic is available for target keywords is one of the best methods to acquiring clients. But link building can often be a hard sell. You have already sold in the concept of taking apart the site your client has just paid big bucks for and redoing it to be more “search engine friendly”. Now you need to sell in the fact this alone will not bring in any real traffic, they also need your all singing and dancing link building services. Is your client prepared for that, can they handle the real truth of how competitive the online space is ??

On Site SEO is the Building Blocks to Success

When it comes to On-Site SEO it’s really about building the foundation of success. Without a proper on-site strategy and initial keyword research to find high converting keywords your link building campaign will not perform as well, in some cases, it will not perform at all. For a lot of markets this is an honest assessment of what the on-site strategy will deliver. If you are working with a client in travel, insurance, home based business or any competitive market, the on-site strategy should be sold in as the building blocks, not the whole solution. If you tell me it’s possible to rank 1st page of Google with this alone (or have told the client this), I would call you a liar. If you show me evidence, I would ask to buy your book 😉

The Truth Needs To Be Told

When it comes to explaining the benefits of link building to a client you may want to:

1. Estimate the value of clients keywords:

This is not 100% accurate but it’s possible to make a rough estimate by :

– Looking at the monthly traffic for the select keyword
– Estimate how much traffic the client can expect from a number 1 listing on Google (change to match target position based on budget)
– Estimate how much value each visit is worth to a site. If the client has goals set up in Google Analytics, this should be straight forward enough. If not, I would look at what you would pay for that keyword on Google Adwords (top price). The thinking behind this is you wouldn’t pay for the click unless you were at least making the cost back.

2. Show True Competition for Keyword

This to me is one of the most important parts. Simply telling the client your number 1 competitor has 1000 links and you have 10 is pretty rubbish data. Look at competitors who rank where the client wants and show how many “good links” they have. Also give information on how clients have obtained links. Give these in bullet points if necessary. For example insurance may be:

– Paid Links
– Editorial Links
– Partnership Links

This is where you show the client the reality of the situation, link building in competitive markets is expensive. They may realize competitors are spending thousands of pounds a month to rank for those keywords, whilst your client has hundreds to target the same keywords. It ensures you are on the same page with the client and can have a more sensible conversation :). Great tools for this are MajesticSEO, (LinkResearchTools), OpenSiteExplorer, LinkScape, SEOSpyGlass.

** I will be doing a blog post on the new tools from this month.

3. There is Hope in the Long Tail

Once your client has gotten back to their feet, you can give them hope. You don’t always need to rank for the most competitive keyword in the market. Clients focus on keywords with the most volume. Once the see how much it will cost to put a proper strategy together for that keyword. You can stir them towards keywords with less volume but also less competition. Ranking top 3 for these keywords can be a lot more beneficial than ranking 10th for a really competitive keyword. The top 3 positions are increasingly getting more and more of the traffic.

4. Last But Not Least – Link Building is Marketing

Link building is marketing at the end of the day. It can be blended into everything a company does from PR, Offline Promotion, Content Creation etc etc. It takes real knowledge to do this well and is the reason why people like Eric Ward or WeBuildPages or are so renowned. Client’s need to understand it’s not just someone sitting at a desk link exchanging. If they don’t. I would question weather you want that client.

For a great post on Link Building strategies in 2010 check out this post

About Kieran Flanagan

Online Marketer who implements both inbound and paid strategies to help companies grow internationally. Lover of content marketing, SEO, analytics, CRO and strategy. A highly motivated marketing geek high on data crack.