As part of my SEO services for clients, I build links. Most SEOs agree that manually building and begging for links is tedious and even loathsome, but a necessary evil. Without links, you don't rank. It's that simple.
Like many link builders, I've discovered what I call "link equity wells:" prime link juice target sites that pass trust, equity and aren't impossible to acquire links on. Now, I'm not talking about low value article directories or forum signature links. These are solid, moderate value links that I tap for juice to client sites as needed. Downside is, revisiting the same link wells again and again is not only laborious, it's inefficient. Face it, link building on its own sucks, but having to repeat the exact same link activities on each new client site can be mind-numbing. It's like the movie Groundhog Day, but minus Bill Murray and minus the funny.
I knew there had to be a better way, some method I could use to scale my link building  efforts and reduce my time on the repeated tasks. Can I automate this, I wondered? Can I outsource it? Link building software is far too spammy "spray and pray" approach (these are targeted links), and outsourcing means I would need to disclose all my link intelligence to some faceless grunt on ODesk. Neither seemed like smart options. Then it dawned on me.
Create a My Own Link Equity Well
The solution became clear: create my own, private, link equity well. Rather than repeating the same link building efforts on each new client site, instead I could build these prime juice links once, to my own Web properties. That way, I could house a proprietary store of link juice to dispense to client sites as needed. I guess it's the same concept as creating a powerful link directory, but for client use only.
Think of the benefits:
- Total control: I govern the flow of link equity. I decide who gets juice and who doesn't. I can turn the equity on and off when I want, like a link juice spigot. In addition, I control all link characteristics--like anchor text--so if I decide to target a different keyword, I can easily change the anchor text to the client site or create additional links. This level of link control is nearly impossible once you've built permanent links on external sites.
- No more déjà vu: I build links from these prime juice sites only ONCE. I never need to revisit them again. They say the definition of insanity is "repeating the same action over and over expecting a different result." Well, before creating my own link wells, repeatedly tapping the same link sources was driving me crazy.
- Improved efficiency: Having my own link well lets me scale my link building efforts and be more productive.
- Mine, all mine: By building link equity wells, I'm creating valuable assets for myself that I can use again and again. Plus, if I need to acquire high value links for gratuities (not that I advocate that, but just saying...), I'd rather point those links to my own sites. That way, I can hoard the juice for myself and leak equity to client sites indirectly.
In addition, creating a private well of link juice gives my SEO services a level of competitive advantage. I have the potential to structure deals with clients where certain links to their sites (one's from my personal pools of link juice, of course) are temporary and conditional on them working with me exclusively, much like vendor links or paid links with recurring fees. So when the relationship ends, the link equity spigot gets turned off, which could lead to a drop in rankings and traffic. And in my opinion, the only thing worse than not getting links is getting good links that disappear from your profile. It's a credibility ding. In any case, this might make a client think twice about severing ties with me entirely.
So is a Link Well the Answer to All My Link Building Prayers?
If you're struggling with the same issues that I do (repeated link source tapping), and you're intrigued by the concept of building your own link wells, that doesn't mean that all your link building woes are behind you. Sorry. Even if you do create your own link wells, you may still have to build additional links to client sites for:
- Link diversity: New sites need links from a variety of sources to build a natural, diverse link profile . The ideal scenario for a link from your personal juice well would be for sites that already have diverse profiles, but need a shot in the ass.
- Power plays: In less competitive verticals, links from your equity well may be all it takes to be King of the SERPs; but in the hypercompetitive verticals, you'll need more ammo.
- Local flavor: To rank in local searchers, you need some local links from sources like geographic lists, local organizations, local portals, etc.
- More traffic: The link well concept is more a pool and dispenser of equity, not a traffic machine. So your link well probably won't drive much referred traffic.Great links not only transfer trust, they also drive traffic. But hey, two out of three ain't bad. Right, Meatloaf?
- Topical relevance: A link from your equity powerhouse domain may pass trust and authority, but probably not much in the way of topical or semantic relevancy. So you may still need to curry relevant links in some verticals. All depends on the competition.
All that being said, creating a link well has the potential to save you a tremendous amount of time because you can scale your link building efforts. What's more, you own the juice. I say, stop giving it all away to clients, who frankly don't appreciate or understand it anyway. It's time to keep some of that hard fought link juice for yourself. So I say, link builders, go out and create your own link equity wells, where you can house and control all the link juice yourself and build valuable, propriety assets for you, not them.