Building links takes a specific type of person.
Link building is hard work that takes no shortage of creativity, dedication, and sometimes even luck to be successful. I’ve found there are a particular set of skills and attributes are required to build links efficiently.
Typical duties of a link builder include:
Hiring the right people is crucial in all industries, and that’s certainly true with link building. As the CEO of a link building firm, I can tell you that there are some definite traits worth looking for when hiring a new link builder.
Here are some key traits you should be able to identify in any potential new hire:
Considering these traits during your hiring process will ensure you hire the best candidates.
Strong communication skills are beneficial in many lines of work, but are especially important in link building.
As the industry has evolved over the years, it has shifted from automated spam links to real and worthwhile links. Building links solely for Google’s web crawlers is no longer effective, and now there is a much stronger focus on building links for human users.
Links must be built manually, through human interaction with webmasters of legitimate sites; consequently, strong communication skills are imperative.
Online communication is unique, and typically limited to email or social media. The ability to convey your ideas clearly and succinctly through writing is paramount.
Many aspects of link building are parallel to aspects of sales, and a great deal of persuasion is required. Much of outreach is essentially explaining (selling) to a webmaster why adding a link to your site would benefit their audience. To be successful, you must be able to demonstrate this value in a simple and convincing manner.
Not only are strong communication skills essential, but they will also serve a link builder in developing positive online relationships. Fostering meaningful relationships is part of the job as these relationships often lead to more opportunities and links.
The ability to express oneself clearly and persuasively online is a vital trait for a link builder.
Link building is a creative endeavor.
No two link building campaigns are ever the same, and an agile mind is required to generate customized strategies to explore and find new opportunities.
While some aspects of building links are technical, creativity plays a major role. The ability to think outside of the box and approach a problem from multiple angles is crucial.
Due to the fact that link building involves human engagement and relying on another person, there are many factors you cannot control. Because of this, it’s important to constantly adapt and shift strategies to be successful.
Quite often the first, second, and even tertiary options to build a link won’t be fruitful. A link builder must be able to generate and implement a number of unique and customized strategies to overcome the challenges they face.
Not only must these people be able think creatively, but due to the amount of rejection that comes with link building, they must also be optimistic in order to not get discouraged.
An effective link builder will be able to see all sides of a problem and develop the appropriate solution.
The ability to work independently is a desirable trait.
Any person you hire should demonstrate the ability to be autonomous. Link builders must be able to manage their time wisely on their own and decide how best to allocate their resources to build links effectively.
As mentioned before, these people will encounter a number of unique challenges throughout the course of a campaign, and they must be able to solve problems independently in order to maintain efficiency.
Also, a good deal of diplomacy is needed. Sometimes, people can respond unfavorably (due to misconceptions regarding links) and link builders must be able to handle these situations delicately and professionally as they arise, with minimal oversight.
Link building is very time-consuming and requiring your employees to constantly report their actions will only decrease their efficiency – it also bogs you down, leaving less time for big-picture strategy development.
Strong organizational skills are imperative to link building.
Campaigns are multi-faceted and involve a number of different processes (niche analysis, site audits, link prospecting, and outreach). The ability to stay organized and keep track of everything going on in a campaign is vital. Look for detail-oriented people who can consistently account for a variety of factors. For example, on-going campaign factors include:
While creativity and ingenuity are important, a meticulous approach to campaign organization is equally important.
Link builders operate predominantly online and some level of internet savvy is necessary.
As mentioned before, these people will typically communicate via email and social media, and a strong level of familiarity and comfort with these media is needed.
Additionally, a basic understanding of how online content is produced and shared is important. High quality content can supercharge a link building campaign, and the person you hire needs to know how to leverage that.
While technical factors and specific techniques can be taught, it is worthwhile to consider candidates that already have a firm knowledge of how digital content is created and dispersed.
Of course, a strong understanding of SEO principles is compulsory. Again, some aspects can be learned, but knowledge of general SEO best practices should be a primary concern.
The ability to work in a team is essential within link building.
While the ability to work independently is important, it is just as crucial to find a person that is a team player. An interesting aspect of link building is the need to balance collaboration with independent assignments.
A large portion of responsibilities are best completed independently. However, there are also many tasks that can be accomplished more efficiently through teamwork. The ability to transition between both approaches seamlessly is a trait that should not be overlooked.
Collaboration helps a link builder be more successful in numerous ways. For example, even the most creative people can run into roadblocks throughout the course of a campaign.
In these situations it can be extremely valuable to simply get a new set of eyes on a particular problem, in order to attack it from a different angle or perspective. Some other ways teamwork can be beneficial include:
The ability to work autonomously is important in link building, but so is the ability to be a team player.
Link builders need to have certain character traits.
As Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts said, link building is “sweat, plus creativity,” and it takes a specific type of person to achieve success. Link building pulls elements from a number of other professions (sales, marketing, PR, etc.) which make it unique and a diverse skill set is required.
In order to ensure you hire the right person for the job, consider these attributes when hiring:
Considering factors such as rightness of fit is always a good idea too. However, not everyone can build links and it is important to account for specific traits that are conducive to effective link building.
While finding someone who excels in all of the above traits would be ideal, it’s not likely. Every trait is important, but sometimes you may need to place preference on a specific characteristic.
If it comes down to it, always hire the candidate with the strongest communication skills. Outreach is the backbone of a successful link building campaign, and without solid communication skills it’s impossible to craft compelling outreach. Exceptional link builders always have an ability to express themselves clearly and persuasively.