Over the years, I have worked with more than 150 clients and close to 200 unique link campaigns.
Not one of them has been the same as any of the others.
Sure, they all have similarities.
Everyone wants relevant links that will improve their rankings, send traffic, and give them conversions.
No one is starting from the exact same point.
1. Traffic vs. Rankings vs. Conversions
All clients want to increase traffic, improve rankings, and up their conversions by 1,000000%.
Not all of them really consider all three when it comes to wanting links though.
That’s why it’s critical to define your objectives before you build links.
Some clients are fine with getting a link on a site that has a high DA or DR (or whatever metric they are using) even if that site only gets 10 visitors a month because they think that will improve their rankings.
I’ve had a few clients who think that any site they get a link on should have roughly the same amount of traffic as their site because they think that increases their chances to get their links clicked on and hopefully convert.
Some clients want to be found where their competitors are. Some don’t. Some like to track everything their competitors do and replicate it.
We’ve had clients who specifically want to have their links placed in articles that mention their competitors, as long as they have a link that’s higher up on the page.
I’ve had many clients who have sent me sites where they’d like a link because they saw their competition on those sites even though the sites were not ones I’d ever reach out to because they were so spammy.
Thinking about competitors can blind people at times.
3. Industry Competitiveness
If you have five brand new sites that have zero links and they’re in five different industries, each one will require a different amount and quality of links (among other things) in order to start ranking well.
One might not get into the top 100 with a year of link building while one might slide into the top 10 in a month.
If you’re going to try to break into an industry like finance, it’s going to be a lot harder than if you’re trying to rank well in the Rockingham County pet sitting space.
4. Keeping up Appearances
Yes, some clients really come to us because they have heard that their competitors are building links and they want to know too, even if they don’t know why it’s important.
We probably get one or two of these every few months.
They’ve noticed a competitor shooting up in the rankings and someone’s told them it’s due to them building links.
Naturally, they want them too!
5. Control Issues
This one really dictates a lot of what happens during a collaboration.
Since I am a link builder, a lot of clients don’t want to discuss anything else with me even if I find glaring SEO problems on their websites, ones that can impact my work (like bad internal linking or keyword cannibalization.)
When clients and/or internal teams (and heck even other outside teams) don’t want to listen to anyone else, results aren’t as good as they could be.
6. Tools & Metrics
We use a couple of different toolsets at my company so all of our clients agree to use the metrics that we have access to, but even so, only a few have the same requirements.
Some of them want to look at Ahrefs DR and UR. Some just want the DR.
A few don’t care as long as the site is relevant. A couple of them want a certain topical trust flow in Majestic.
As I mentioned earlier, some want a specific amount of traffic, and most of them want the site to have traffic from a relevant region although one doesn’t care as long as the DR is high!
7. Past Offenses
This is a big one.
When we work with clients who have had a manual action or been algorithmically penalized in the past, we are even more cautious, even if the client isn’t.
Whereas I might have been comfortable aiming for 10 links a month for a client, if they have had a manual action involving links, I’d clean things up, wait, and then slowly start ramping up.
Those campaigns tend to move much slower than usual due to caution so results can take longer to show.
8. Risk Tolerance
Like it or not, some brands and sites do seem to be more immune to more risky tactics.
Some sites naturally generate so many organic links a month on their own merit that even if they bought 50 links a month it might not hurt them.
Some sites are new and/or have a very small link profile so they can’t handle much risk.
9. Lack of Balance
When we get new clients and look at their link profiles.
A few are great. Many are average. Some are awful.
When a site relies on one major type of links (many times, it’s guest posts) then the profile looks a lot more unnatural.
Note: here are a few good articles on creating some variety in your link profile.
10. Poor SEO
Badly done or nonexistent optimization is one of the most common problems that I face when trying to improve a site’s link profile.
If a client wants me to build links with anchors that use keywords that aren’t even mentioned on the target pages, well that’s a really bad thing.
Some clients don’t want to invest the time in the basics so they may not even have unique title tags or alt attributes.
A lot of sites take ages to load, some don’t have good navigation, and some just randomly delete or move pages around.
Poor SEO impacts everything.
11. Internal Linking
Internal linking is so overlooked that it blows my mind at times.
If I’m building links to a page that can only be found by searching your site, after asking myself why I’m even bothering, I ask the client why that page is important enough for link building but not important enough to be easily found in the navigation.
It’s usually easier to rank subpages that aren’t five clicks from the homepage.
We’ve seen some great fast improvements simply by changing internal links.
12. Budget Constraints
Sometimes results just come down to budget. You can be the most creative person ever but you might still not be able to compete with a client that has more money.
Yes, we can easily identify some basics to start out a link campaign, but we should remember that we have to look at the past in order to best move forward.
We also need to keep an open mind and not think that what we did for the last client is exactly what we should do for the next client.
Link development isn’t something that can handle a cookie-cutter approach.