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What is Your Biggest Frustration with Link Building? The Experts Tell All

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What is Your Biggest Frustration with Link Building? The Experts Tell All

Lauren Scarpa
What is Your Biggest Frustration with Link Building? The Experts Tell All

Developing a link building strategy and then executing it can be complicated, tedious, and at times disappointing. However, when all that hard work pays off, and you achieve success, you can learn from those struggles and redevelop a more effective strategy. We asked the experts about frustrations they face with link building and the methods they use to overcome them; eleven industry pros chimed in. 

Link Building Frustrations

Frustration 1: Oversimplification

“People seem to think they can rely on a single metric, like domain authority (DA), to determine the quality of a link. You must also account for relevancy, traffic potential, and the overall landscape of links to that site within the marketplace and industry that the site resides in. Over simplification of the link building process is one of the most dangerous tactics a link builder can employ.” -- Scott Polk, CEO and Founder, Marketing Nomads

Frustration 2: Misinformation About Penalties 

“By far the absolute worst thing when trying to build links is a webmaster saying it's illegal or that Google will penalize them for linking out to other sites. The misinformation in believing that Google will penalize you for linking out just shortchanges your audience by not giving them the opportunities to get more information.” -- Julie Joyce, Owner and Director of Operations, Link Fish Media, Inc. and co-founder of SEO Chicks

Frustration 3: Time Involved

“My biggest frustration is the time it takes to get quality links. My best solution is to use a good tool to semi-automate the tedious tasks of finding high authority and high-value links. And tools that evaluate sites that will respond and actually give you a link, like Link Research Tools and Pitch box.” -- Todd Malicoat, Head of SEO, Contender Boats

Frustration 4: Accurate Measuring

“My biggest frustration is clients who measure links based on some third party score when all third party scores suck. The solution is to look for patterns and use your head, and don't trust third party scores.” -- Jim Boykin, CEO, Founder, & Blogger at Internet Marketing Ninjas 

Frustration 5: Getting a YES

“In order to get links that truly move the needle, you need to be able to find ways to actually get people to want to link to you without any incentive.  Site owners are bombarded daily with requests for links. Even getting them to open a link outreach email can be tricky. I find that the best link building tool that I have is the phone. While it's so much easier to write a quick email than to contact someone by phone, I find that reaching out to businesses in person, rather than email tends to be more effective.” -- Marie Haynes, Search Engine Marketing Consultant 

Frustration 6: Methodology & Outreach

“I have two large frustrations when it comes to linking. The first one is, unfortunately, a constant in SEO; it's the scorched earth result when agencies use the slash and burn method with a client - over promise and under deliver, which leads to an inherent reluctance by some companies to select a premium and long-term provider.

The second is the approach to outreach in general. I get inundated with emails where the marketer wants a link and follows up incessantly, assuming that one out of 1,000 emails sent may garner a yes, or get them a link.

I prefer the relationship building approach, where the research is done to identify the right influencers who will be interested in the material I am introducing to them. The time spent building a relationship, helping publishers craft content, helping publishers share that material once they have covered it, and even sending thank you letters ... all pays off in dividends at the end of the day.”  Loren Baker, Founder, Search Engine Journal

Frustration 7: Cold Outreach Emails

“The hardest part of link building is, without a doubt, the cold outreach email. Even when you have something awesomely generous to share with your target, it can often feel like you're the new person without friends at a party.

There's no solving the potential awkwardness, but you can minimize it and come out on top by keeping the right perspective:

  • Offer something truly generous. To paraphrase my former colleague Russ Jones, the best link building emails should feel like you are doing someone a favor.

  • Don't lie or pander.

  • Communicate from a place of respect, both for your target and yourself.

Keep it professional, above board, and generous - and you'll come out on top.” -- Cyrus Shepard, Founder of Fazillion Media

Frustration 8: Not Researching Link Builders

“Those who do any kind of link building know it could possibly get a client banned or penalized. I get that we need to test things and push the limit, but we need to do that with our own "burner" sites, and not a clients, because when we get a client site after they have been 'burned' by another agency it makes it that much harder.

Research the company that you are going to use.  Ask for references, look at their client list and reach out to those clients and see if they can offer any insights into the practices.  Also, never just let them "do the work" without knowing exactly what it is they will be doing, and how they will be acquiring the links.  A little bit of research can save a world of pain.” -- Matt Siltala, President, Avalaunch Media

Frustration 9: One Size Fits All

"The 'one size fits all' advice being offered is definitely a frustration factor. Instead of another article on 'relevance vs. authority' or skyscraper techniques, we need to be talking about marketing segments, demographic filtering, and personalization tactics. There is so much content out there, most of it falls by the wayside and is never linked to. In linking building, as in life, it is not what you know, it is who. Figure out how to develop personalization tactics and you will be successful in link building." -- Debra Mastaler, President, Alliance Link. See Debra discussing Link Building in our Webinar.

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Frustration 10: Buying Links

“My biggest frustration comes more from people wanting to buy links on one of my projects and wanting to write the content themselves. Thanks, but no thanks. No outsider knows my target group and tone as well as I do. Especially when the guest post shouldn't be tagged as such, it quickly becomes evident that it's not written by me. So in the long-term, I'd harm myself more than I'd win with the little money I get from selling a backlink.” -- Kevin Indig, SEO Ninja, Atlassian

Frustration 11: Being Ignored

“Frustration #1 in link building: Being ignored  You’ve spent time prospecting for the perfect opportunities, crafting a flawless outreach email and sending it at the exact time and date you think it’s most likely to be opened. Now you wait…and wait…and wait. For a link builder, it can be pretty discouraging to locate that perfect opportunity, only to never hear back from the webmaster, editor or writer - why aren’t they responding?! It was the perfect email pitch!

To generate the highest response rates during your link building outreach, I recommend the following 3 tips to make sure that you stop getting ignored, and start building links:

1. Use personalized subject lines - avoid passive writing and go actionable!

2. Follow up with your prospects - be persistent.  

3. Use personalized emails with a direct value proposition

  • Start a conversation, and when you do, explain how the resource you want them to feature on their website will provide a lot of value to their site’s visitors for years to come.”  -- Billy Adams, SEO Link Development Manager, Vertical Measures

Do you struggle with the same frustrations or have some not included in above? How do you overcome them? 

Lauren Scarpa is the PR Manager, US for SEMrush working with experts & influencers in the digital marketing world.
Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter. You can find Lauren at many of the US Digital Marketing Conferences (and local coffee shops), feel free to say hi!
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Aline Rossi
Fully contemplated.
PS: Joe's gif is awesome! That's exactly how I feel when outreaching for links hahahhaha
George
There are some seriously amazing and well-respected SEOs in this post. Nice to see comments from some of the best in the industry.
Lauren Scarpa
George
So glad you enjoyed it, George!
Nice one
Good read.
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