As I make my way through business every day, I continually ask myself "why." Why do we grow? Why do we want more money? Why do we bother? Societies have tried to answer that question with various economic systems and constructs.
Capitalism is exhausting. It's an ever-consuming mouth with an insatiable appetite for anything it can digest into money. Communism probably seemed like a more advanced social structure because it answered the "why" better than capitalism. The concept of communism was equality. If we all work together, we'll all be better for it. Now we know that individual self-interest and self-preservation makes that concept impossible.
In a similar way, the interdependencies of the online world can be examined from the same point of view. As humans, it's ingrained in our nature to look at something and ask, "what's in it for me?" Of course, this applies to the processes involved in linking campaigns as well.
Why do we want more links? Why should someone link to us? Why does anyone care about our site? These are the questions that must be answered if one wishes to drive the link economy.
The underlying reason for all of this is that if enough people link to me, I'll rise in the search engine rankings. Once I rise in the rankings, more people will come to my site. With more people coming to my site, it's more likely they'll buy what I'm selling. The more I sell, the richer I become. The richer I become, the more sites I can find on the search engines so I can buy more stuff.
Do you see the whirling little circle that keeps spinning and spinning for no reason other than to buy and sell stuff?
There's an unspoken undercurrent that this Sisyphean gerbil wheel has happiness at the end of it, much like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I'm not convinced the quality of life for the original Americans who lived here has proportionately increased with the wealth the U.S. has amassed to date.
You may say, "Thank you for your philosophical pontification of the American condition, Sage. But am I not reading Search Engine Watch to learn how to get more links?"
I'm so glad you asked, dear reader. Understanding this condition is the key to why you aren't getting links now, and why you will be able to get links in the future.
You see, every time you ask for a link, the same thought process goes on in the head of the person who's considering giving you a link. "This person wants my link so he can get rich." But the anonymous person at the other end of the link request doesn't care one bit about your getting rich. He has his own self-centered, egotistical ambitions to worry about.
There is good news, however. You can get off that gerbil wheel. The first step is to realize you're on it. Second, you need to muster up enough energy to try something else. Here are two ways you can get off and stop this insane spinning:
1. Care About Something Greater than Yourself
Create a cause. Find a passion. Make a difference. If you're like most corporate-types in America, your career consumes you. We're the hardest-working country in the world. That's a nice trophy, but it doesn't really have any worth outside of itself, that I can see.
However, if you find a cause and report about it on your Web site, you'll be rewarded in many ways. Most importantly, for the purpose of our discussion, is that you'll have a place where you can ask people to support what you're doing by linking to you.
2. Care About the Person You Want a Link From
Don't forget that the people on the other end of the link requests are completely self-absorbed and centered on their own desires and goals. It's not anything negative, it's just life. As humans, our view of the world only comes from how we perceive and relate to it. We have no other way of looking at things.
So, think about how you can connect with that person. Write an article on their business or site. Review something they've done. I assure you, they'll notice. Everyone Googles themselves.
You may not even have to ask for the link. They might just link back to your article naturally. If they don't link back, consider sending them a simple e-mail suggesting they reference the review on their blog or someplace along those lines.
When you stop thinking solely about the money, and start thinking about something bigger, you won't need me anymore. You will have solved the link building riddle...and discovered one of the secrets of life.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!