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Today, link building is nothing more to most business and website owners than a strategy designed to generate increased traffic volume to their websites. It is a sterile endeavor, with strict rules that must be followed and certain things that should be done to create the desired result: more quality visitors, and therefore more revenue, exposure, and search engine ranking. No longer is this strategy about real connection, creating real links between people, businesses, and website owners; it is now just an impersonal way to get the job done. The result? It is seen as a chore, something to farm out to another company or get your unpaid interns to slave away at in dark cubicles.
How has such a personal facet of the internet become so robotic? So unemotional? So unexciting? A few years ago, there was no way you could build links without being personal and without making a connection. To get added to someones blog roll, you needed to engage in dialogue that showed you were of the same mind and values, or at least could provide something meaningful and valuable. In order for someone to place a link to you on their site, they needed to be convinced of your quality because their reputation was on the line recommending you to their readers. Now, you see people who have never connected or even read each others sites sending curt emails to the effect of if you place a link to my site on your blog roll I will do the same.
No wonder so many people and organizations see getting links a chore!
Here is a radical thought: perhaps if we take the sterile element out of creating links and make them personal again it will not be such an arduous task.
When the internet really gained popularity in the early two thousands, one of the things it was heralded for was the chance to connect people around the globe and bring them together in a completely honest and personal way. You could AIM chat with someone in Moscow, video conference with people in China, and share music with your online pen pals in Chile. There was an excitement and a sparkle to the possibility of the internet, but somewhere along the line that sparkle has dulled as a business mentality of get what I need fast and no questions asked has taken root. All you have to do is look at the universal Twitter feed to see that this site alone is not more than sixty percent promotional, impersonal chatter.
Of course, when you need to build links on a massive scale, not all of your connections can be a personally crafted relationship. Online directories, submissions to search engines, and other contact with non-human interfaces cannot ever be something personal. However, the act of leaving comments on the blog post of another site, engaging in conversations in social media, and even asking for the archaic reciprocal blog roll link can and should be personal again. Forget the generic comment of Thanks for this post, it was great just to get your link out there take the time to read the post and contribute a thoughtful comment. Try to strike a balance in your social media outlets of equal parts listening and contributing. And when contacting another site owner for a reciprocal link, take a minute to figure out what their site is all about and explain why you would like to mutually support each other.
If you are not doing these tasks yourself, be sure to instruct your interns or any link building service you work with to behave and represent you this way. In an age of impersonal interaction, people still respond positively and enthusiastically to those who interact with them in a humane and human way. Computers, with their efficient and cold nature, have infiltrated every element of our lives. We are surrounded by them, interact with them on a daily basis, and are becoming more and more reliant on them. And as our dependence keeps growing, it is vital that we ensure we keep a clear line between what is human and what is machine what is warm, inviting, and personal and what is mechanical and impersonal. As you continue to navigate your online presence and business, remember in all elements to make it genuine and be open to connections, especially when link building. The benefits, in terms of traffic, revenue, and loyalty to your brand, will speak for themselves.