Teaching Link Building

In the web venturing class that I’m co-teaching we recently covered SEO for their newly launched WordPress-driven websites. Like every topic in the class, we’re trying to cram ten classes worth of information in to one or two classes so that we can move on to the next topic and give them exposure to all aspects of web venturing throughout the class. Over the course of two periods we covered the basics of on-site SEO, the importance of incoming links, and how to utilize Google Webmaster Tools. We covered most of the important stuff from my SEO & Web Venturing For New Web Ventures essay.

Given that it’s a short semester, a long-term link building plan isn’t really feasible. I decided to offer anyone in the class a link in one of my posts. They were to do some quick keyword research to select the anchor text that they wanted for their link and then post it to our Facebook group. While this isn’t going to help them rank #1 or anything like that, it will pass them a little traffic that they can review in Analytics, show them what an incoming link looks like in Webmaster Tools, and maybe help them get indexed if they aren’t already. Here are the students who took me up on the offer:

6 comments on Teaching Link Building

  1. Adnan says:

    Great idea Adam – I sure wish there was someone who taught me about SEO whilst I was in school! I’ve sent them all a bit of traffic.

  2. Darrin says:

    Link building is the hardest part of the whole internet business thing. Its tedious, boring, and the rules are always changing on what you can or should try to get away with.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Very true Darrin. The best way to get a lot of good links has always been to get your site covered in the media and on popular blogs, but that’s way easier said than done. It’s something we’ve always struggled with, save for a few exceptions. The somewhat good news is that you pick up a lot of quality organic links over time by just having a good site and acquiring new users…of course those two things are hard too πŸ™‚ Over the years we’ve definitely focused more on marketing and less on straight link building efforts so that our primary focus is driving traffic/users/sales and the secondary focus is the link. An example might be when we did the group-buy deal on Road & Track and Car & Driver . The link was a byproduct of the marketing effort (which, by the way, was a bit of a disappointment, although we did sell some and get the link so it wasn’t a total waste).

    • Rob says:

      I’ve decided that link building is basically impossible. The majority links we’ve got are from meeting people face to face and are reciprocal links, which I know aren’t ideal. The only other realistic ways I can see of getting links are guest blogging, paying/providing review samples to bloggers or article marketing, but I think the panda update dropped a lot of article type website way down the ranks.

      I think the time is far better spent trying to create and spread real value and quality content than losing sleep over how many PR5 and .edu backlinks you can get. So many visitors come through social means now anyway I wonder about the return of investing time in social media marketing vs seo/sem.

      Most of the sites linked above seem to be down now unfortunately.

      • Adam McFarland says:

        Yea unfortunately a lot of the students had a 3-month hosting package and did not renew.

        I agree with you completely about link building. My main philosophy is to make the site as SEO friendly as possible on-site, and then go about the best marketing means necessary (starting a blog, sponsoring sites, SEM, social media, etc etc). If you have a good site and product, and you execute your marketing well, you’ll eventually rank high (or, more specifically, you’ll rank where you deserve to rank).

        For this class we didn’t have them do any link building, it was mostly about understanding the importance of links in search results and how search engines work in general.

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