Future Proof SEO: Real Life Link Building

Futuristic space ship illustration: the ship is landing on platform, two moons are behind it, one huge, one small*

Over the years I have repeatedly expressed my belief in “people SEO”.

It means that the only future proof SEO approach in a social media world is to forge relationships.

I have never elaborated on it in a single post here on SEO 2 as far as I can remember.

My only post that directly dealt with relationship building was “Think Relationships not Technology“.

This is a post explaining how real life link building can work

Why? So that people are linked to you – not just websites!

Welcome Back to the Future!

One day I was engaged in a debate whether insider terms like cryptic acronyms like SEO do make sense.

We also debated what possibly a future proof SEO strategy could be.

You know nowadays the tools of the trade are changing each year.

Don’t follow the hypes

The hypes come and go but one thing stays, your relationships, unless you rely too much on tools and lose your contacts in the worst case once a social site goes defunct.

Your social relations on the Web have to be tool-independent.

That doesn’t only mean that you have to backup your contacts from Gmail, X-Twitter, Google+ (RIP!) or whatever medium.

You need to remember the people you are engaging with ideally without having to use a tool like Twitter at all.

Meet the people on social media

You have to make sure that when a site you usually use goes down you can email a person instead.

Ideally you can also call someone who knows you from social media, because they know who you are.

I remember in the early days, when everybody was still using nicknames. Yes it was before Facebook and LinkedIn.

People would literally gasp in surprise when I called them up after “meeting” them on the Internet. I’ve done that a few times. I wasn’t stalking people.

I was just contacting people by phone after having engaged with them for years on social media

of that era, like mailing lists or forums. For me it was a logical or rather even overdue next step in our relationship.

For many people the virtual and the real life have been two very separate things back then it seems. That has changed.

In the SEO industry people are meeting in real life all the time at conferences.

I rarely take part in conferences for many reasons I don’t want to explain here.

When I do it’s like meeting a bunch of old friends. There is familiarity.

I feel close even when meeting people I have never met before. Why?

It’s our online past where they have linked to me or supported me in other ways I remember.

Ilook up to other people based on their writing on the Web.

Sometimes it’s both of the reasons to feel at ease with people you have never seen before.

Become a recognizable entity

How come these people recognize me? They only know my nickname, my avatar or even less – they only remember an article of mine. That’s sometimes enough to build a real life link.

An article that has changed their approach to SEO might be powerful enough to be remembered ten years from now. Sometimes a little gesture may suffice.

Beginners are often shy and consider industry icons to be untouchable.

When such a person who is well known replies to a comment by someone who is new to SEO they will remember it for the next decade.

It doesn’t take a lot of time and effort to form a relationship. You do not have to be friends in real life and meet every week in the pub. It may be fun but you don’t have to.

Some of my best friends have never seen my face.

Not that my face is particularly ugly or that I would hide or something. It’s just economic reality of the Internet times.

You don’t meet everybody you know online unless you socialize only with real life connections from the start.

I have repeatedly explained how you can make people remember you. Giving before receiving is still the best thing you can do.

  • link out to peers on your blog
  • write about those who inspire you
  • approach people you admire on social media
  • converse with those who speak about the same topics online
  • stay in touch using different tools.

People link not websites

While link building as in collecting hyperlinks is often tedious and overtly technical the real linking happens between people.

A hyperlink may break quite quickly but a relationship may get renewed on each new platform seamlessly.

Ideally the people you exchanged links with years ago have befriended you

on Facebook or maybe even on Pinterest. Whatever the ranking signals today are they may provide you with them.

Thus from now focus on real life link building via relationships with people not just the short-lived technical aspects of SEO.

Let me summarize by citing myself from an online debate with a virtual friend of mine.

I added some text formatting:

How is SEO 2 future proof? It’s about the people not the tools.

I don’t care whether it’s

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

– The people remember me. When Google decides to ditch social media altogether.

Then the people will still know me and I will resort to swapping links with them haha.

Building links vs building relationships

I don’t build links! I build relationships with those who link.

No matter how they do it and independently of the tools and acronyms they use.

They can call it LOL instead of SEO and I still will get the support.

Every tool and technique that aims to influence solely the current Google algo is just tactical.

A long term SEO strategy has to venture beyond that.

More relevant articles on long term relationships from other authors:

*Image copyright of Mac Rebisz: Out of Milk by Voyager212.