People often come to us and say that they want linkbuilding. I assume that this is because many people are under the understanding that SEO = linkbuilding = rankings. While there have been posts written about why this is not true, this scenario plays out again and again.
I bet this happens to you as well, if you are an SEO consultant or work in an SEO agency. Sometimes it is quite difficult to know whether or not to take them on. On the one hand, the money is nice. On the other hand, we have to do what is right for the client and not always what is right for the office bank account or personal wallet.
The goal of this post is to provide you with a framework for success when deciding whether or not to take on a client for linkbuilding. I’ll walk you through what I check before I agree to take on a client for linkbuilding, which will hopefully help you to do the same.
Check for duplicate content
The first thing I do is a quick check for duplicate content to see how strong the basis is. Sometimes, if Google is not doing a good job of dealing with duplicate content, the linkbuilding you do is only going to be, at best, 25% effective as it could be.
The most common duplicate content issues are:
- Having both www and non-www indexed and available.
- Trailing slash and non-trailing slash.
Do a crawl of the site
What we’re looking for here is issues that are not uncovered by the duplicate content test above. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Keyword stuffed URLs;
- URLs that are too long;
- 302 redirects (caught by SEOmoz, but also by other crawl tools);
- Many 404s (some of these can be caught by Webmaster Tools also);
- Blocked user agents (ScreamingFrog can do this)
Get Analytics and GWT access
This is a tip that our sales guy, Ron, has been doing. Usually, if you ask, people are willing to give you access early so that you can really know what is going on with the site. My first line of defense is to pull out the Organic only traffic to the beginning of January and look for drops. You might find something like this:
You’ll never find that without prior Analytics access, and if you don’t catch it before, you can’t really know what people need.
Ask Good Questions
The worst possible scenario, in my mind, is getting into a contractual agreement and THEN defining the terms and KPIs (key performance indicators). You need to have these determined upfront. Every consultant or sales person should ask, at minimum, upfront:
- What terms they want to rank for. Then you need to go do some investigation and see if you think that’s feasible.
- Ask how you will measure success. If they say “rankings on X, Y, and Z” terms, that may be feasible, but I’d also get them to let you report on overall traffic or traffic to key areas of the site.
Get it in writing
Lastly, get your engagement in writing. Sometimes people can be sheisters and won’t want to pay you. The best defense you can have is making sure that your price is agreed upon and that the involved parties have their signatures on paper. Be sure to define at least the following:
- The length of the engagement;
- The wages that will be paid (whether that’s hourly or monthly);
- The KPIs.
Go Build Links!
So you’ve gotten through the duplicate content test, the self or Moz crawl test, the Analytics test, you’ve defined the KPIs, and you have a signed contract.
So go make it happen! And if you’re looking for a place to start, I highly recommend Jon Cooper’s linkbuilding strategies post.