Content and links: It really does take a village

Columnist Julie Joyce explains how clients’ and other stakeholders’ involvement can greatly improve the success of your link-building campaign.


I’m one of those people who thinks I can usually handle things by myself — I don’t need or want anyone’s help. It’s been tough for me to let go of that attitude when it comes to link building, but I’ve been doing much better lately after realizing that it really is beneficial to have more involvement from various people.

Sometimes that extra involvement has been kind of forced on me. Sometimes I’ve had to beg for it. But all in all, I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that the best links we get these days come from working together with the client, their own internal teams and webmasters.

The who and the why

First of all, let’s think about who should be involved in a link campaign and why.

  • PR: They’re (hopefully) naturally good at getting the word out about the business, but they also can teach you a lot about how to pitch an idea to someone. I’ve also found that in many cases, PR people can find some great opportunities that I’ve missed because we just go about things in a different way. I’m of the mindset of, “Would I click on a link here?,” whereas they are of the mindset of getting coverage. There’s a happy medium, I think.
  • SEOs: While any good link builder can analyze a link profile and keep the link momentum going, SEOs are needed to do all sorts of things (to overgeneralize). They’re needed to do redirects for old pages, to make sure there are no major technical issues, to figure out how to deal with duplicate content and more. I started out as an SEO generalist and did technical SEO for a bit before getting so involved with link building, and I can tell you something: it takes a lot of time and effort to build links, and there is no time left for doing much else. I’m happiest when my clients have a great SEO or SEO team, as I can trust them to let me know how things are going.
  • Outreach specialists: Link builders, in other words, but this sounds less controversial. Finding a great place for a link is only the very beginning of the link process. Outreach specialists are a lot like PR people in that they know how to pitch, they know how to connect with webmasters, and they know how to build relationships that lead to links. We’ve had dozens of outreach specialists over the past few years, and it was obvious when one was really, really good. You’re not going to get a positive response unless your outreach specialist is awesome.


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