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The clients that dont pay for the initial research stage, to my way of thinking are working with an arm tied behind their back anyhow. I take much less interest or responsibility for the results their sites generate.
What I recommend is to take some time to explan how the internet works - show some detailed background on the way that the top listings for their target keyterms are embedded into the fabric of the internet .. including the influence of cross site links and incoming links, anchor text, directory listings etc - these are their competitors and thats usually enough to get people fired up and on side in my experience :-).
Then explain that you dont specialise in their specific field so they may come across linking opportunities that you will not know about. etc etc
It works well with some clients, others just wont get it .. a recent one was great and found himself a pr5 and a pr4 and others in the first week after the usual suspects for his sector - his site has been performing well since the start of its life - its great to have clients like that.
I suppose some in here may take the other view, why let them do something you could charge them for .. its a valid view also I have to say.
However the way you are thinking is no different imho from telling them to put the URL on all their stationary etc etc :-)
I would not charge extra for giving them that advice :-)
I think doing this has had some benefit - with some regularity I'll get a call saying, "The Widget Quality Association is offering to upgrade my listing on their site with a link for $___/year - what do you think?" My conclusion is that raising awareness is worth the effort, but in most cases won't lead to a ton of links.
If nothing else, though, you are educating your client. If you are striving for a long-term partnership, open and honest communication is the only way to go.
Suppliers/Vendors. The client will have more leverage with these firms than just about anyone else, and vendors often like to brag about their customers anyway.
Customers. These are a bit trickier, but sometimes there's a long-term relationship that would make a link or link exchange feasible.
Trade Associations. Just about every industry has one or more of these, and they almost always list their members online. Sometimes, though, they charge for a web listing (over and above the exorbitant dues). I look not just at PR and link method, but the friendliness to visitors. I've seen some directories that were abominable - if you didn't know the name of the company, you'd never find their listing. Others have geographic lists, keyword searches for products/services, etc.
Local Business Groups & Directories. These are often overlooked, but I've found there are almost always one or two local resources, and sometimes more. The Chamber of Commerce, the city web site, community sites, ad-supported local directories, etc. You may find some of these, but the client may know about others.
Golfing Buddies, etc. If you can sensitize your client to thinking about links, he may remember to ask other business owners or marketing types about linking when he encounters them informally. Not only might he pick up a link partner (as opposed to a links partner ;)), but the other owner/exec might be intrigued enough to become your client too.
Where have your clients found links?
Partly I do this because I'm too damned lazy to go out and get backlinks for clients - if they don't pay me to do it. If they do I don't mind - but it's expensive, so most tend to do it themselves.
I've tried to explain PR to clients with middling success, but with the current variability in toolbar PR, the presence of new pages with PR0, etc., I'm starting to thing that's a waste of time. Better to let 'em find links that make sense, and let PR take care of itself.
I dont usually leave it up to them completely as I might get some dissapointed customers and they would not recommend me or give me a good reference.
If you explain to clients from the get-go that you can either make link building part of the package or you can give them instructions on how to get links. Clients aren't uniformly stupid and they know that getting good links isn't easy. This is why you can charge a lot for link building - and ongoing link campaigns are a great source of regular income. :)
However I dont know what part of the webmastering role you enjoy the most but for me the type of work involved in "ongoing link campaigns" is not something I find very motivating :-)
I need an office junior who finds it pleasureable, then it would become of much more commercial interest to me :-)
Harking back to the first post of the thread from cgallent
"Any ideas on how to both motivate them to work on their backlinks"
Well how about somehow finding a way to make the actual work more interesting ... cause actually to be honest I find that part ver dull - if you agree with me on this then its not like we can sell it to clients on how exciting a task it is to do :-) perhaps the first time it may be but after that lets face it its routine and a bit humdrum no?
1. It will cost them nothing to do it themselves. If you do it for them it will cost them an arm and a leg.
2. If they do it themselves the emails for link requests will come from their email addresses (they are known in their industry and their email addresses will be firstname.lastname@example.org, not seo@yoursite doing work for someone else)
3. They may well be known and recognised in their industry - it is easier for them to get links than it is for you.
4. They know their industry better than you (hopefully!:)) and will be able to target sites more effectively.
5. When they get the PR8 link they'll wallow in their own glory for ages. :)
6. Explain the importance of building links (I can build links for you, but it will cost you, but I've given you the foundations, all you now need to do is build links)