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How to convince someone that links are important?

I can't believe I am asking this

1:54 am on Feb 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator anallawalla is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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I don't need to be convinced but how do you convince others (clients, management) that it is worth spending money on link generating activities. From talking to other in-house SEOs over time I found that they had a similar challenge, so let's talk generally.

  • "I need pictures" - Are there any pictures that show the benefit of links? There is no need to link to such pictures - just describe what they might contain.

  • "I need words" - Patents, academic papers, articles (not self-promotional pieces) in respected publications.

  • "OK How much do I need to spend?" - How long is a piece of string is not a valid answer. Answers would include various linking strategies and how little/how much each could cost. Articles about % of marketing spend for SEO, esp linking. etc

So there's the challenge.
7:15 am on Feb 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Maybe turn this around. How did you become convinced links were important. Being a sceptic often turns someone around into being a strong advocate for it. This could put you on the same page as this " someone " and create an empathetic communication which could be very good .

When you have your own story told , qualify it with authoratitve referral material , including Google's own sources . Then offer to engage independent inputs to qualify and support this.

You may want to run some test cases , then provide a model for demonstrating scaling.

If this fails to impress send them on a reputable SEO course. If this fails .... hmmm
12:50 pm on Feb 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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show them a graph of the top 10 results for a phrase and the links to each that will demonstrate link power.
2:11 pm on Feb 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I agree with "restless." Pick a phrase or two and do a backlink check on the top 10 sites to show how many backlinks they have.

But then make sure you do your own website and show how many backlinks you have. Also pick another competitor who has a similiar ranking to yours...maybe a few slots behind you.

Lastly, find a good article about the importance of backlinks and incorporate it into your report.

So you hand them over a nicely formatted MS Word document that has a summary of your research, shows a graph of your site vs the competition, a copy of the aforementioned article, and a conclusion that discusses your strategy for link building.

Now all of this is contingent on how important SEO is to your client/management. In other words, these people have to be able to put a value to appearing at the top in SERPs and you need them to quantify this value. For example, a local pizza shop probably doesn't feel like spending $2,500 in SEO is worth landing new customers who spend and average of $15 per sale. However, a real estate developer may profit $50,000 on the sale of a new home, so landing one customer via the web is worth "x" dollars.
4:54 am on Feb 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

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2 ways. By showing references for past work where cited link building has shown a very positive impact on rankings, and on bottom line. Case studies work wonders.

By thoroughly examining their business model, and then breaking down ROI, using general numbers where needed to fill in the blanks.

For example:

Spending x on links monthly will bring an estimated y traffic after per day after x months. Judging by Conversion rates at the current landing page of x on a medium range of transactional phrases, estimated sales would increase by y.

The simplest way to show someone the reason to spend money, is to show them how they will make money from it.