A Tale of Two Links

I recently had the opportunity to get two great links. The outcomes were very different. I got one and I lost one. This is the story of how that all transpired and how you can benefit from my success and failure.

First the good news. I got a link from CNET! I was totally psyched about it.

I wish I could say I achieved this link through my awesome, masterful powers of link prowess. However, I got the link due to sheer luck. I was in the right place at the right time.

I was standing around my trade show booth at SES San Jose, minding my own business. You know: chatting up the passersby, staring too long at the pretty booth models. Certain that the last lead was my ticket to massive fortunes.

Then it happened.

A CNET editor quickly came to my booth asking what I knew about the black hat vs. white hat SEO debate. He was putting together a story about what is and isn’t acceptable from a search engine standpoint.

But he was running late and wasn’t really sure he could talk to me. I knew this was my chance for a touch of notoriety. So I wanted to give him something interesting. I wanted to give him something quick. I wanted to give him something print-worthy.

There’s a quote I often recall: The harder I work, the luckier I get. That quote is the essence of what happened in this moment.

I’ve spent years studying the search marketing industry. I’ve been running a Web marketing company since 1999. I’ve spent years writing about this industry in white papers, blogs, Web sites, and a variety of discussion forums. And I’ve spent years honing my presentation capabilities.

I’ve been a member of Toastmasters to help develop my public speaking skills. I publish a slew of videos primarily on Web marketing but also on a variety of other topics that interest me. And I take virtually every speaking engagement offered me. This helps keep my name in the general business community. And it helps me stay sharp in giving presentations.

After all those years of work understanding our industry and being able to communicate in interesting, effective ways, I was able to be ready for two minutes of an interview that resulted in some really prime recognition.

Years of work for two minutes.

That’s often how life works. The harder I work, the luckier I get. I work and work and work, and then I get a break. A small window opens for a brief moment and I get a chance to slip through.

Getting links from reporters and editors is usually like this. You have to train endlessly so you’re ready for the window.

So, the actual getting of this link was total, complete luck. I was just in the right place at the right time. I’d be overstating my position if I said it was anything different. I was just some random guy this editor happened across.

But I had been studying for that meeting for the last decade.

Be ready. Links come to you in many ways.

Now for the bad news. Not long after this article got posted I got a voicemail from a major law publication. The person on the voicemail wanted to get my opinion with what was happening with FindLaw and Google. FindLaw is having some disputes with Google about allegedly selling links. This editor wanted my opinion on this situation.

I got the voicemail not long after she left it. But when I heard it, it was late in the day. I was tired. I decided to call her the next day.

As things happen, there were things going on in the morning at the office. I didn’t get a chance to call her until mid-afternoon. I thought this was OK because she was on the West Coast and would just be starting her day.

When I called, she answered her phone straight away. She was extremely nice as she told me she had all the information she needed for her article.

I missed my window. I waited too long and didn’t give her the proper attention she needed.

Deadlines wait for no person. No preparation in the world will give you a grace period for taking your sweet time getting back to a busy editor.

The moral of this story: be ready. A great link can come to you at a moment’s notice. If you don’t pounce on it, you very likely will see it slip through your fingers.

Join us for SES Search Engine Marketing Training Day, September 26 at the Fairmont Dallas.

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