In Link Building, the Rich Get Richer – But Are You Getting Poorer?

January 21, 2009 - Written by Gyutae Park  

money toilet paper“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” I’m sure you’ve heard this cliche a number of times before, and it rings true in Western society. The more money you have, the easier it is to make even more money. On the flip side, the poor are oppressed by society with rules and norms stacked against them. It takes an extraordinary amount of hard work, dedication, and luck for a poor person to rise above the ranks and “get rich”.

Let me illustrate with a few examples.

homeless signThose who are well off and already have money can buy things and invest in assets that will make them even more money. They can buy a suit to go into a job interview, enroll in classes to earn a degree, invest money into stocks and real estate, and use extra cash to start a business.

On the other hand, those who are poor have nothing to spend other than their blood, sweat, and tears. If they want to be successful and make money, they have to earn enough with low-paying jobs to cover their expenses and save each penny to invest in other money-making assets. As you can probably guess, it’s not easy to make money if you’re starting with nothing.

How does this relate to Internet marketing?

So you’re probably wondering how this is relevant to Internet marketing and the online world. There are actually quite a few parallels.

Links represent the currency of the web. Links drive traffic, exposure, and branding power – which ultimately means money. Much like money for affluent people in the offline investing world, the more links you have to your site, the more links you’re able to attain. In essence, sites rich with links get richer, and the poor sites are cast away into oblivion.

How exactly does this work?

The 3 Multiplying Effects of Links

Let me explain to you the 3 powerful effects of a link to your website. Just 1 link can easily result in 2 or 3 more. Here’s how.

1. Links drive direct traffic back to your site.

This is obvious. If someone links to your site, a percentage of their visitors will click through and check out what you have to offer. If they like what they see, they’ll probably visit often and maybe even link to your site themselves. More traffic means more potential link opportunities from bloggers and webmasters. 1 link can turn into 2, 3, 4, or more over time.

2. Links signify trusted relationships – which increase brand recognition and word of mouth marketing.

Contrary to what you may think, a link isn’t just a blue hyperlink that takes you to another document on the Internet. It’s a relationship and a signal of trust that comes with a lot of value. For example, if CNN links to my site, I don’t just get a link and some traffic. I get a powerful recommendation from an authority that does wonders for my brand and reputation. This then could trigger a word of mouth marketing campaign that spreads virally through social media and results in thousands of additional links. A front page link on Digg, for example, usually means hundreds of links from other sites that pick it up as a result. As I mentioned, the rich get richer.

3. Links improve your search engine rankings.

Furthermore, inbound links don’t just bring your site traffic, they help with search engine rankings as well. The big search engines, Google, Yahoo & MSN, place a significant amount of weight on links in their ranking algorithms. All other factors held constant, the more quality links that you have to your site, the better your rankings will be for targeted keywords. What does this mean? High rankings for relevant keywords mean greater brand recognition and trust, which in turn means more links to your site. Imagine that you rank #1 in Google for the keyword “seo consultant”. How great would that be for business?

Just the other day, I needed an article about a study that I was researching so I could link to it. I didn’t have any in mind so I simply did a search on Google and linked to the first article that came up. Lesson? More links mean better search rankings, which ironically means more links. The top sites further pull away from the competition simply because they’re #1.

What does this mean for your business?

david goliathAs I’ve clearly illustrated in this post, sites with links now have a tremendous advantage because they can leverage their assets to further build their businesses and gain a huge lead over their competition. How do you think huge corporations like Walmart and Microsoft were built? Would you want to compete with them?

The good news is that the Internet is still very young and it’s a relatively level playing field for everyone to compete. But it won’t last forever. The Internet will soon mature and begin to resemble the economy that we’re used to in the offline world. A small few will dominate and the others will never be able to catch up.

Start building links and marketing your sites like crazy now before the window of opportunity closes. Work hard to build links and have a system in place to take advantage of the ones you have. Keep churning out value, stay up to date, and add to the fire every day no matter how far ahead you think you are. Each of your actions have potentially huge implications. Strive to be rich and you’ll be richer. Slack off and you’ll be poor forever.

It’s do or die time, guys. Who’s in? What can you do to take action and prepare for the future growth and domination of your online business?

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47 Responses to “In Link Building, the Rich Get Richer – But Are You Getting Poorer?”

Leo on January 21st, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Good points…social proof and links are very powerful and can be the “tipping point” when it comes to things going viral. I actually mused over going viral a week back and what it takes for a relative unknown to get to this point.

Personally, I can’t think of anything more powerful than someone recommending a link (and I am not talking about a thing like “friday’s free links where someone inundates the visitor with a bevy of links to check out) that already has a connection with his/her audience.

When it happens, it is absolutely beautiful. Links beget more links which bring in more links…

Gyutae Park on January 22nd, 2009

Hey Leo,
Thanks for your comments. You’re absolutely right – social proof is a big factor when it comes to links. For example, last month both Shoemoney and Neil Patel mentioned a post I did and linked to it with a recommendation. Needless to say, it’s probably the best post I’ve done in terms of traffic and has resulted in a ton of new links and social media mentions.

Donny Gamble on January 21st, 2009

Link building can become very frustrated for beginners because it takes a lot of time to get authority links to your site. This takes a lot of patience and dedication to reap the rewards

Gyutae Park on January 22nd, 2009

The Internet marketing “gurus” make it look easy because to them, it is. They have a solid foundation of links and a strong brand to work with – which leads to more links and exposure.

Beginners have a much harder time because they need to create something from nothing. It’s a tough battle for sure but it’s not out of reach. The rich get richer but the poor can become rich.

Cheap Mobile Calls on January 22nd, 2009

Thanks for the advice behind link building. It is extremely difficult for some beginners to start off. Can we see some examples of the “poor” becoming “rich”?

Gyutae Park on January 22nd, 2009

Examples are everywhere on the web. Many of the top bloggers (e.g. Darren Rowse, Michael Arrington, John Chow, etc) started off with a simple WordPress blog and no audience whatsoever. They were “poor” so to speak. As you know now, they have huge audiences and easily garner hundreds of links every time they write a new article.

How did they get there? A lot of good content and hard work in promotion. Making the jump from poor to rich is extremely difficult, but once you’re there the rich only get richer.

Cheap Mobile Calls on January 26th, 2009

Thank you for these examples. I see what you mean more clearly now. I’m going to start off a blog shortly and this is why I am looking around on commenting on many sites, gathering information. It’s nice to see an example of this information in real terms, which you have provided for me.

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ray on January 22nd, 2009

Yeah thats what im doing right now..
But the real question is,how long my blog can be seen by others if i just updating the ads and link..??
Thanks for your time..

Gyutae Park on January 22nd, 2009

Not sure what you mean here. Which ads and links are you updating?

Tom Lindstrom on January 22nd, 2009

It all comes down to the content, the better articles you write the better you will do on social sites as well.Building links to your site and writing good articles is a good recipe for riches online.

Gyutae Park on January 22nd, 2009

Right on. And it doesn’t just have to be about writing content. There are so many ways to create value on the web. You can create videos, aggregate news and info, create a new tool, etc. Work at what you do best and leverage it to create something useful to your visitors. That’s the way to get links and attention online.

Proven Online Business on January 22nd, 2009

Great post and you are right LINKS are very important in Internet Marketing. Just to elaborate on your general analogy, gaining a link from a reputable person is like getting a reference for a job. If a highly regarded ex-employer gives you a good reference then you are more likely to get the job!

In business they say its not what you know, but WHO you know!!! Ring any bells people?

Gyutae Park on January 22nd, 2009

Great points. Links are the “references” of the web as you put it. Someone is more willing to take a look at a site that’s linked to from one they trust. Building connections, even online, are crucial to gaining success that compounds over time.

Will Lowrey on January 22nd, 2009

It is true that it is easier to get links when you already have them. However, I love the fact that, if I work hard AND smart – I too can build links and create my own currency. It isn’t easy – but it is doable, which is hopeful.

Gyutae Park on January 22nd, 2009

You’re right. You need to know what to do and then take action and get it done. Once you do that you’ll have a solid foundation of links that will get you even more.

Jared O'Toole on January 22nd, 2009

Really interesting post. I completely agree but have never thought of it this way before.

It’s true that the big guns are getting more and more links everyday while smaller sites have to fight for every link. But just like everything else there is a tipping point. It may take awhile but as long as you stay the path your site will reach that tipping point and your links will begin to pile up.

Gyutae Park on January 22nd, 2009

Thanks Jared. Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is a great book that everyone involved in marketing should read. It pretty much applies to everything Internet marketing.

Smaller sites need to fight for every link but they need to take action now and get going before it’s too late. Otherwise the “big guns” will have too big of a lead to catch up. on January 22nd, 2009

Great post Gyutae. I’m glad I have you on my RSS reader or I might have missed it. Now to get back to link building…lol


Gyutae Park on January 22nd, 2009

Thanks for adding WTW to your RSS reader, I appreciate that. Good luck with your link building efforts, Ray!

Gennaro on January 22nd, 2009

Blogging, as is true of life, is about relationships and networking. The bigger fish that links you the more traffic you’ll get. Another avenue is to befriend a lot of small to medium-size fish. Those add up after awhile then the bigger fish tends to notice and want you to link them.

Gyutae Park on January 22nd, 2009

Haha, nice analogy with the fish. I usually aim for the big fish – then all the smaller fish notice and link/blog it too. I think it’s a much better strategy because there’s more trust involved.

ZK@Internet Maketing Blog on January 22nd, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

I ve been on a link building spree for a while and it does help in getting an increase in PR and SERPs alongwith traffic…the best way to get traffic is to use the power of social media

Gyutae Park on January 22nd, 2009

All of the traffic generation strategies work together to build more links. The more exposure you get, the more connections you build – which in turn means links.

Ben on January 23rd, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

I am one of the beginners with the frustrations of getting started. Any advise there?

Gyutae Park on February 3rd, 2009

Hey Ben,
My advice would be to pick a niche and stick with it for the long haul. Keep putting out good content and build links whenever possible. It’ll take a lot of hard work but once you get the ball rolling it’ll become increasingly easier. Any other specific questions that you had?

Mark Marshall on January 23rd, 2009

It seems like it might already be too late.

Doesn’t Google check the domain registration date, and how long the site has been online? A site that is five years old is always going to have this advantage over a new site, regardless of the quality of the new site’s content.

Also, doesn’t a slow and steady five year growth of links count more that a quick growth of links for the new site?


Gyutae Park on February 3rd, 2009

Hey Mark,
Thanks for the feedback. In response to your questions, it really depends. A site isn’t going to rank solely based on age. If a new site has great stuff and get tons of links it can still rank higher than an old site. 5 years is not that old.

A slow and steady growth of links is optimal because it’s natural – that’s what you want. However, a huge influx of links is also natural and search engines are able to account for it – as long as links continue to flow in after the influx.

Ari Lestariono on January 24th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Hi Park, what you elaborate is very true, to get quality links needs extra hardwork, one way is making blog comments and put quality comments, do forums promotions and the real thing is getting real connected to your readers and understand what they want.

Gyutae Park on February 3rd, 2009

Hey Ari,
Those are great suggestions. Connecting with individual visitors probably isn’t feasible for larger sites, but for people just getting started it’s crucial in getting new readers – one at a time.

Jen on January 25th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Getting from richer from links also helps in the way of subscribers. When people click on a link to read the post attached to it if they like what they see they may subscribe to your blog- resulting in future visits and maybe a future link. It definitely is a snowball effect.

Gyutae Park on February 3rd, 2009

Yep, that’s very true. Links aren’t just beneficial for SEO rankings. They drive traffic and brand awareness. As I mentioned in the post, a single link can drive 2 or 3 more – which is absolutely huge.

Jacques @ SEO Tools South Africa on January 25th, 2009

Well Gyutae, I haven’t quite seen this analogy being used before, but you present an articulate and compelling argument. The point you are raising about the current window of opportunity is extremely pertinent, and I for one am glad for the heads up, as I really didn’t see it like this. Having worked hard all my life, having started off with a job as an apprentice, it really resonates with me.

Gyutae Park on February 3rd, 2009

Hey Jacques,
I’m really glad I could resonate with you. Every day is a new opportunity and we should really take advantage of it. I’d love to hear your story starting off as an apprentice. Are you the master now? 😛

Nick Stamoulis on January 26th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

It is important in the beginning to do as much as possible for free to build up your links if you are on a budget. Overtime as your business grows those links will expand to much more powerful links but you have to be patient.

Gyutae Park on February 3rd, 2009

I agree with you Nick. In the beginning it’s all about guerilla marketing and hard work. There are tons of ways to build exposure for yourself on a tight budget. It just takes a lot of time and effort. Once you have the solid foundation though you can invest money back into marketing and have others do it for you.

Classifieds on January 29th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

I never thought of link building like that, but its true, if you have a big site with lots of links, you just keep getting more. Its really hard work but once you get there, its worth it.

Gyutae Park on February 3rd, 2009

It’s definitely worth it. Once you’re “rich” with links, not only is link building extremely easy but you have a huge competitive advantage and make it difficult for others to break into your niche.

Budi Waluyo@surabaya property on February 5th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Thank you for the valuable examination and the warning about the importance of building link. Stepping to high rank website really needs hard struggling. Especially, link building is the most difficult and painful one. It needs deeply patience, dedication and hard working. The hope is that internet world is still new, especially, amongst our society, Indonesian. It’s easier to go up the top rank, since the competition is not tough enough. It’s has taken six month for my site to appear in #1 page with targeting keywords when I am reaching 1500 links. But it’s still under the stronger site that has 32000 inbound links. So far I emphasize 2 strategies on developing my site. Enriching content regularly and looking for inbound link as much and frequently as possible.

Ari Lestariono on February 5th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

@Budi, to get inboundlinks.Do blog comments from blog that has PR 3 and above, do the quality comments for 2 weeks, the result will be ok to start of your blog especially when it’s new.Check your status using site to know the strength of your blog.Good luck.

Cheap Phone Calls on February 10th, 2009

All links count, not just blogs. It’s nice to show these blogs that you are an active reader and participator. I just think it’s polite to continue commenting on these blogs!

Jhangora on February 8th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

U have made some great posts on link building. I will take print outs of these posts and read them later on. Plz post more stuff on link building.

How can we get backlinks from really high PR sites like CNN and BBC?

Ari Lestariono on February 8th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

@Jhangora, good question, I am keen also to know how to hook up with those 2 CNN and BBC links.Any one in this forums please share with us?thanks in advance

Arnold on February 17th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

thanks for the information i will apply that.

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