The Changing Face of a Consumer Centric SEO Link Builder


Freia Muehlenbein

Technical SEO

Finding the best possible staff for your company is always crucial; not only for SEO companies, but for every company that requires a certain set of skills and areas of expertise. The SEO industry as a whole has experienced a lot of development over the last few years; updates and algorithm changes in the past and with those changes comes the need to change as a company. The shift to an ethical, customer centric, socially engaging and content based strategy led to the need of finding and employing people with a broader set of skills than let’s say a couple of years ago. The simple, yet complicated solution: Recruitment and training. Obviously, this is easier said than done. Those previously called ‘link builder’s are now ‘Off Page SEO Executives’, ‘Off Page Strategists’, ‘Search Specialists’ etc. The skills needed to do an effective and customer centered job in off-page SEO are ever changing and require a lot of training and investment on the part of the employer.

Let’s have a look at the exciting day of a link builder in the past:
Link Building - The Old Way of Working
So what have we got? Article syndication, directory listings, commenting and questionable strategies like the link wheel. In summary, no particular definable skills were needed to do the job.

Everyone who knows that link building is more than content syndication and the odd blog post also knows that people in off-page SEO need to be creative, organised, strategic, and know their way around the vastness of the internet. The list of potential skills seems to get longer every day and staff training becomes more comprehensive also.

An individual working in off-page today juggles a vast variety of tasks and doesn’t only have to understand SEO in general, but also the full range of online marketing, social, sales, copy writing, public relations, journalism, and strategic analysis of data:

New methods for ethical link building

As it can be hard to find people who have experience in every one of those areas, providing comprehensive training is essential. Off-pagers need to be equipped to write and improve press releases and create link bait campaigns on a more irregular basis. However, a couple of skills are absolute key and increase with experience. This is what some people in our team regard as being most important:

“Communication with clients and webmasters is essential to build long term relationships and achieve the best possible results. For me personally, the most important skill is creativity and idea generation. We need to think outside the box and move away from focusing too much on the keyword. Also, with me being German and working in multilingual SEO, I need to understand the local market and culture to get good results.”

Julia, German Off Page Executive

“Researching and finding link targets is important. Combined with creativity it makes a campaign unbeatable. There are a lot of research methods available online and every ‘Off Pager’ needs to find their own personal best way of finding link targets. It’s easier if you move away from the keyword and broaden your research horizon”.

Jack, Off Page SEO Executive

“Content writing. Unique quality content is the centre of every off page campaign. Relationships with influential bloggers can only be built if the content is relevant to the blog and provides new findings. In line with that, communication is key to convincing webmasters to host your content. As an on-going process and particularly in the initial stages, competitor and link analysis is important to identify strengths and weaknesses.”

James, Off Page Executive

“Definitely communication skills. You need to be able to communicate in the webmaster’s language to create trust and a personal relationship. It’s also important to be able to spot high quality content on a blog and differentiate it from spam. We don’t want clients to be associated with irrelevant low quality articles. Creativity is key to getting a campaign going and making the keyword topics interesting for a broad online community.”

Dane, Senior Off Page Executive

It’s hard to say which of the skills are most important but communication, creativity and content writing seem to be the central skills needed to successfully manage an off-page SEO campaign. In order to successfully train a new starter in customer centered off-page SEO, companies should provide a healthy mix of technical, analytical, and creative aspects.

Let’s see what the future brings – will we all meet up with bloggers in a virtual world rather than approaching them via e-mail perhaps?