If Richard Branson & Henry Ford had a lovechild…
Let’s be honest, he wouldn’t be much of a looker but there is every chance he would have the maddest link building skillz on the planet.
- Meticulous attention to detail
- Winning personality and charm
- Great publicist
- A great systemiser
- Consistency, reliability
What can Branson-Ford teach us about link building?
We all know that good quality link building can be a real challenge to scale effectively.
But with a little help from the Branson-Ford lovechild there are a few clear things we can deploy in our day to day link building to improve both scale and effectiveness.
1) Depend on systems not people
For maximum efficiency and scale it is essential that you have a process in place for every kind of link you build, a written manual detailing step by step how each link is to be achieved. So as to say, how will you go from “I want to place guest posts” to actually having multiple guest posts published?
Henry Ford helped to pioneer large-scale mass automobile production, he did this by breaking down every task until his workers no longer needed to know how to build a car, they just needed to know how to tighten that particular bolt they were tasked with working on.
This can be applied to building almost any type of link; break the process right down into a series of smaller tasks e.g. finding the opportunity, evaluating the opportunity, researching the prospect, working up content ideas to pitch and so on.
You will increase your scale, improve your effectiveness (as people become super-specialised) and you reduce your dependence on the individual.
On a similar vein, The E Myth by Michael E. Gerber was written to help ‘entrepreneurs’ understand why most small businesses don’t work and leave the owner feeling run off their feet. It discusses the importance of systemization, standardization and becoming much less dependent on people. Instead, empowering people operate the system you’ve created. This book and the concepts it discusses can just as easily be applied to your link building practices and is well worth a read if you are interested in that sort of thing.
2) Adapt your system
Ford Model T’s were black because the paint dried quicker.
And that is just one example of the kind of practical problem solving which will constantly improve your link building efficiency.
Analyse every single failure and record why it didn’t work then work out what needs to change in your system.
For example, we were finding that it would take anything up to 3 initial outreach emails to get the ball rolling for a guest post placement but our system didn’t have an efficient mechanism for ensuring the outreach team knew to follow up with a prospect, that was before we integrated Boomerang for Gmail into our working practices and suddenly no prospect slipped through the net.
Richard Branson summed this up nicely also saying “If you foster a culture of waiting for someone else to solve problems, the company will suffer the consequences.”
3) Make friends
Richard Branson (although I have yet to meet him) has to be one of the most charismatic and seemingly charming entrepreneurs I’ve heard of. People gravitate towards this kind of individual.
Granted, you don’t need friends to get links BUT people are more inclined to link to people they have a relationship with and that they like.
Be charismatic, be an active and friendly member of your industry, help other people out.
If you’ve got friends, chances are you’re going to get links. People know you and stay in touch with what you are working on and will more than likely help promote your stuff by linking to it and sharing it. These people have friends too and their friends have friends and so forth.
That’s scalable link building right there…without the tedium of writing a process manual.
4) Capitalise on every promotional opportunity
The Ford Motor Company was a prolific promotional machine back in its day advertising not just the Ford Model T but automobiling as a whole in a time when there were fewer people who owned a car than there were people who did.
Richard Branson and his Virgin empire are always quick to seize every promotional opportunity whether that be playing up to the underdog title when British Airways and Virgin Atlantic were tussling back in the 80’s, attempting world records in hot air balloons or promising space tourism.
One rapid way to grow your link building capabilities is to seize every promotional opportunity that is presented to you internally or externally. Whether that be a client launching a new mobile app which gives you the scope to contact a new audience of bloggers and journalists who may be interested in reviewing this app, a colleague giving you advanced warning on some company news that you can capitalise on or a journalist wishing to interview you as an expert on topic X, Y or Z.
The important thing is to make sure you are consistently making the most of every opportunity that lands on your lap and seeking out the opportunities that don’t.
There can often by the chance of colossal link volume growth around big promotional opportunities so don’t miss out on them.
5) No detail is insignificant
Richard Branson carries a notebook with him everywhere he goes and notes down every single thing he likes and dislikes when he is using Virgin services, for example “Chicken should be cut in chunks” noting the impracticalities of the curry he was served on one of his Virgin Atlantic flights.
Link building is a precision exercise; the tiniest details and that extra bit of research which results in successful outreach or the comprehensive due diligence on each link opportunity to ensure you avoid inadvertently scoring a junk link.
Building a lean, mean link building team requires meticulous attention to detail.
Guest post by James Agate, I run Skyrocket SEO, we’re no good at photoshopping (as you will have noticed) but we do offer a guest posting service for agencies and direct clients where we’ll proactively earn placements on genuine, quality websites.