How to Hire a Niche Link Builder
You don’t need to be told about the importance of link building for search engine optimization. Links pointing from an external webpage to your site send a strong signal to Google that your content is quality and worthy of citation – a key part of establishing E-E-A-T.
Of course, it’s the building links that’s the tricky part – particularly if your website is targeting a very specific niche. If you have the budget for it, you should consider hiring a link-building specialist.
But not all link-builders are equal. Some talk a good game but deliver very little. Others may have done impressive work for mainstream sites, but how can you be sure they’ll be able to replicate that for you?
The Duties of a Link Builder
Before we dive into what you should look for in a link builder, let’s first discuss some of the typical tasks your new link builder will perform. These will vary from site to site, but generally will include:
- Competitor analysis within your niche
- Strategy development
- Finding and developing opportunities
- Creating and maintaining compelling outreach campaigns
- Social media management
- Campaign management
What to Look for in a Link Builder
Like most jobs, it’s okay if you can’t find someone who checks all the boxes. However, there are some traits that should be considered must-haves for anyone building links in a niche vertical. These include:
1. A Willingness to Learn
The more specialized your niche, the more unlikely it’s going to be that you find that perfect unicorn hire, who not only has the experience you need, but also understands your industry.
Instead of refusing to hire anyone until you find a proven link builder who also understands the nuances of late 19th century neoclassical painting, look for someone with experience and a general interest in art or a desire to learn more about it.
2. Superior Communication Skills
In the Wild West days of early SEO, any links were considered good links, including those from spam farms. But as Google has grown increasingly complex, automated links have become a negative, replaced by actual links from legitimate sites.
And building those actual links calls for human interaction, which in turn requires strong communication skills. Your potential hire needs to be able to clearly communicate with webmasters about why a link between your sites will be mutually beneficial, using persuasion and a touch of salesmanship.
Because a lot of this communication will be performed electronically, your link builder needs to be skilled at both verbal and written communications.
3. Experience that Will Translate
Generally speaking, there aren’t a lot of link experts out there. But there are a lot of people who have worked in the retail or service industries. While bartending or selling khakis may not seem to have a ton in common with link building on the service, there are actually a lot of overlapping skills.
For example, anyone who has held a public-facing job will understand how to build and maintain relationships – even if that relationship is just a series of back-and-forth emails. They’ll also be able to maintain a professional façade in the face of problems and they understand the importance of customer service.
Every link building campaign is unique. To maximize results, your link builder needs to be able to think outside the box and discover new strategies and opportunities your competition hasn’t seen.
Because of the human element involved with backlinks, he or she must have an agile mind and be willing and able to switch strategies on the fly.
5. Organizational Skills
Inbound linking campaigns are multi-faceted, which means there could be several processes ongoing at the same time. Your niche link builder needs to stay organized and detail-oriented, so they’re always aware of everything that’s going on.
6. An Understanding of Niche Link Building
While there’s overlap between traditional link building and that for niche sites, not everything that works for one will work for another. To gather an understanding of how well your potential hire understands niche building, ask them for a general strategy that could work for your market.
Some of the things mentioned might include:
- Guest posting
- Blog commenting and/or forum posting
- Submitting to web directories
- Social bookmarking (e.g., Reddit/Tumblr/etc.)
- Outreach to resource pages
- Social media
- Press releases
- Wikipedia link building
The above are all so-called “white hat” SEO tactics, meaning they’re in line with Google’s policies. There are also a number of “black hat” tactics, which violate Google Webmaster Guidelines, as well as “gray hat” techniques which combine the two.
One of the most common gray hat techniques is the use of Web 2.0 or Private Blog Networks. Black hat link building could involve any number of things including link farms, hidden text or misleading redirects.
Depending on who you ask, black and gray hat techniques are either not worth it due to the risk of being penalized, or legitimate tactics so long as you don’t get caught. The ethics of this is solely up to you.
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