Life, Death, and Links

Imagine for a moment that you need to find some information on the web, and it’s really important. You need to be able to trust what you find, and you need to have confidence that what you find is truly the best-of-class content you could find, or darn close. Let’s say the search term is “managing dementia in the elderly,” or “long term care for the elderly,” or, even more pertinent for me right now, “what to do after your dad has a stroke.” Do you really want this search result gamed by link spammers?

Given the money to be made in the health care industry, I suppose it isn’t surprising to find so many companies willing to do anything required to obtain the links that will, in turn, help them rank well. Big Pharma is notoriously willing to experiment with the darker linking arts, and there are link builders who are happy to take their money and head off on a link building assault without concern as to the collateral damage. In this case, the collateral damage is the truly useful content that may not make it to page one, because the most useful content often has no link building budget. That’s where content veracity and the hard work of librarians can pay off. Laugh if you want, but as a former marketing executive who got sick of the game and went to library school, I’ve got fifteen years of client linking results that guide my strategies.

But I digress, and people (other than Shari) hate it when I go all library on them. They don’t get it. I help them get it.

If you are wondering where I’m going with this, here’s where. As a professional content publicist and link builder, the core of your ethos should be to improve the findability of your client’s content, via search results and elsewhere. But there will be times when you are faced with difficult decisions. You may not feel the content you are working on behalf of is worthy of the very links you aggressively pursue. What do you do when you know beyond a doubt that you can help content rank highly, but that content might not deserve the high ranking you are about to obtain for it?

Each of us must ultimately decide what we are and aren’t willing to do for our clients and content. Links may not be life and death most of the time, but for some of the people, some of the time, they can feel that way. If I waste two hours looking for the best vacation deals site, it’s one thing. But when I search on second stroke prevention, so that maybe I can learn a little and help keep my old man around a while, I like knowing my engine of choice can’t be fooled by a link builder.

Eric Ward has been in the link building and content publicity game since 1994, providing services ranking from linking strategy and private customized link building training. The Link Week column appears on Tuesdays at Search Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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