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I have created a web interface that allows entry of the URL where our link should appear and an email of the webmaster responsible for that page. Also, it includes several dozen different keywords that allow us to request links from appropriate link pages to a part of our site that deals with that keyword. Then I have a script that will send out one email at a time tailored to the specific URL and to the keyword and the part of our site that deals with that.
I wrote pages of description on strategies on how best to search Google for appropriate linking partners in this particular case. And I included an extensive description of when not to request links. I tested them myself and I know they are successful in my particular case. For example, do a search on Google for "KEYWORD links" etc.
And I sought to find someone overseas I could outsource this too. I required a high-speed connection and a good computer.
Through a Polish connection, I found a recent college graduate in Krakow who was willing to do it for a decent price. After a week of "work", I got only a couple of dozen URLs from him and not ONE of them was to a links page.
Then I hired a graduate from one of the top universities in the Philippines who had once been the boss of one of my employees. She had been an IT manager and an HR manager so she was an experienced person, but she needed something where she could work from home so this was perfect. After hours of IM chats clarifying what links were appropriate and just a few days of her effort, I got a message back saying that she had exhausted all avenues that I had suggested. Since I gave her a broad range of strategies on dozens of diverse topics, it was IMPOSSIBLE to exhaust the potential link partners in weeks, much less days.
Then I looked at her work and found to my horror that she had thought that her alma mater's home page was an appropriate place for a link to appear. She also thought the Flash home page to a multi-billion corporation would be another appropriate spot. And on and on. I got just about three dozen such suggestions, 3/4 of which were crap. I fired her too. If there was a 1/4 crap ratio, that would be bad enough but 3/4 is not even fixable and I'm not going to spend weeks and weeks on training.
How hard is this? I mean, really, am I expecting too much? It's not like I didn't have references for these folks.
I run a respectable company and do not want to spam other web sites randomly asking for a link when there is no chance. So what have others done to find low-cost offshore "link monkeys" - except not "monkeys" but people who actually will apply some appropriate judgment?
I understand how frustrated you are with your outsourcing campaigns.
To answer your root question: "How hard is this? I mean, really, am I expecting too much?" and " It's not like I didn't have references for these folks."
I want to share my experience being in the other end of the rope. My firm works with US and UK based SEO companies and some of them are really reputed. From my working experience I can say that most of them are just after PR game.
You said that "I wrote pages of description on strategies on how best to search Google for appropriate linking partners in this particular case. And I included an extensive description of when not to request links. I tested them myself and I know they are successful in my particular case. For example, do a search on Google for "KEYWORD links" etc. "
WE RARELY get clients who are interested in ANY linking strategy and research. They come for PR, PR and PR. And it is as cheap as you can get. I read a post here, a senior member commenting, you can't get quality @ $5 or so.
But many in India are working for US clients quoting ridiculous price. Giving QUALITY WORK requires a MINDSET i think.
So we have to focus on quantity and not quality. Thus there is no time and chance for concentrating on quality. This, I think proving bad for the link hunters.
One of my friends offers pay per link service @$2. Now when you concentrate only on the fact that ok, they are offshore link monkeys , I am hiring them for some ibls and I only need to get some PR4 links the strategy goes haywire.
Now when one works only for this type of clients, they really don't think about the quality. They are not used to it. I have seen people using some sites that maintain database of other sites iterested in link building for fast conversion. They don't do R&D, don't experiment and possibly can't afford to becoz another client is knocking for links @$1...
J U S T sharing my experience........
Thanks for the thoughtful response. I guess I should have pointed out, as you guessed it, that I am trying to avoid the PR, PR, PR and $x-per-link approach. Instead, I am looking for long-term results from a thoughtful and honest person/company is interested in quality. Yes, speed is critical, but quality is even more important.
The points you raise are reasons why I have steered clear of going to SEO firms, since they have learned that to get business, they have to play these ridiculous games to please clients. And they have developed all kinds of link schemes and games that are risky and don't focus on long-term results.
Reading the posts above shows how developed some areas are in seeking links.
By way of example: despite me being the webmaster for at least 15 sites including loads of Google top 5 and #1 matches I have only ever received one link request!
The point of this post is that no matter how much training and documentation you supply, the work is still proving to be too nuanced to be handled well.
I have found that because the cost of living in the midwest is so low (and housing property values in many of those places actually go down when adjusted for inflation, not up), that outsourcing some things there proves a good value.
But for the link building, ugh. I think the average educated American will prove just as unsuitable for the task as an educated person from any other country.
I have been training a recent college grad for the last couple of months and I don't think that he's completely grasped enough of it to go it alone without some hand holding.
You depress me but then again no more than my experience already depressed me.
I used college-educated people and paid them well by their country's standards. I was offering long-term job stability if they wanted. While I recognize that "cheap" labor can imply poor-quality to some, I would say that an IIT graduate would be cheap by American standards but I would hire one in an instant (not that they would want this link-building job).
I really don't understand what's so difficult about telling the difference between a multi-billion-dollar corporate giant's home page and a page of outbound links relating to a particular subject. If the average schmoe can't figure that out with a 15-minute tutorial, then I'm a little worried about humanity. Maybe I expect too much.
Two significant issues I run into (aside from all these issues):
1) I like to show them a bunch of great resources like this forum category, etc, etc... but then they read how links are 99% of SEO, blah blah and start thinking they are vital to our business,(higher wage...)and I don't like them thinking that. Internet marketing takes a lot more than links.
2) The ones that are good enough to do it well get bored really quickly. It's mind-numbing.
I usually try to find some other talent of theirs that applies to the web and use that sporadically in order to save them from mind-rot induced by 160hr/month of link exchanges. In fact, I found out that one blog poster/link exchanger we hired is actually a very talented computer programmer. He's become a much better asset to us in that department and is poised to make a whole helluva lot more money with us now. Figures why he was so damn good at the link exchanging and actually "got" the concept of it.
In order to contribute to this thread i'll make a few suggestions. I would recommend when hiring people to print a few good link development articles and hand them to the applicants that pass the initial interview. Then tell them you'll email them a little questionnaire after the interview in order to see if they understand the concepts.
I would have it ask them things like do you understand why links are important to us now? I have a site on widgets, please paste 3 urls of link directory pages that might include a link to us if we asked them for an exchange. Etc.
Of course you can't get too specific because they mostly all will need training. But cover some basics to see if they're catching on or if they're totally lost.
<I run a respectable company and do not want to spam other web sites randomly asking for a link when there is no chance>
We send a mail (NOT from an automated system like Zeus)to the webmasters of related field websites(with an option to receive no further communication from us) and i have not yet had a problem with this.I am in business ,the letter is businesslike and frankly B2B we do not consider this to be anything other than reasonable business practice(Do not want to get off topic here though)
Disclaimer--I am not as experienced as you folks at this so this is my experience to date.
She never does link hunting for more than 25 hours/week to prevent boredom from kicking in.
I'm sure I could find a less expensive solution, but this works well. There are no issues with not giving away too many secrets.
The machine used for link hunting sits next to my main one, so I can take a peek at her screen once in a while. That was a must at first, but now it's not really needed anymore.
In short, if you have a spouse of child who can do this, it has some benefits, but you'll likely end up paying higher wages.
If you need links in huge amounts then get some good software to add them quickly. Then automate the way you collect data for link partners. This way the link monkeys do not need to go and look for emails all day. They come to work in the morning and have 500 emails to get through and do not have the tedious task of surfing for contact pages all day.
If the links are reciprocal we can add hundreds in a day. Our record was one guy added 1400.
Basically we have built our own tools now, so only blog spammers can keep do more links than we do. Anyway before you hire your next link monkey, go out and look at some of the automated tools availableout there.