Link building: Short term vs Long term strategies

I read an unusually philosophical post from Joost about not getting ahead of yourself in being too visionary. He started after Roy started talking about being visionary in the first place. Everyone on Joost’s blog seems to agree with Joost that you should do what works today in SEO, to do the best for your client.

Joost – Someone’s gotta disagree with you 🙂

I agree with Roy. But before I make my argument, paid links are still working. I was alarmed to see a significant but smaller competitor to a client of ours hit number 1 for a BIG “PPC” volume keyword (Porn-Pills-Casino for the uninitiated). In the last three months, the competitor’s backlinks from sites CONTAINING the target keyword increased… from hundreds… to 70,000.

Now that smells of paid links to me, and the number one slot has ensued. Certainly artificial links. But when we PROPERLY explain to a Brand savvy client how the competitor did it, the client doesn’t say “yum, I’ll have some of that”. They just don’t want to risk their brand reputation and to be frank, nor do we. In fact – the opposite.

Roy is right – big companies are so darn useless at understanding and implementing SEO recommendations, you cannot make recommendations that won’t outlast the latest fad. Link manipulation still works – but every link brings with it an association with the web page it is on. That can be a bad thing. We have a client asking legal questions about backlinks they didn’t ask for (and we didn’t provide them with).

Back in 2000 I was looking at Links (well before the Google reason) and found Shell Oil linking to Friends of the Earth on its corporate responsibility pages. Probably not in the FOE’s interests I would wager.

The same goes for “bigbrand*com” getting links and recommendations from “dodgysite*com”… unknown quantities that may one day come home to roost.

So it’s not so much about being visionary, as it is about building on principals that will be as long term as the brands we represent.

Gordon Brown was at a Google Zeitgeist forum yesterday. When asked about the industry he paraphrased someone else saying “the first 500 years of any institution are always the most difficult

 

 Dixon.