Designers have it easy.
So do developers, writers, composers or editors.
In fact, they are all extremely lucky. They have something to show for their work – a portfolio.
A set of designs. Or a working app, a bunch of articles, a news jingle.
But what about us? What do we have to show for our efforts?
A website? Any client will either like it or not but not exactly for our work. They will see the design not how well optimized the code or content are.
Data? We have none. Or actually, we have loads but we can’t reveal anything. Sure, we can give some percentage values but the smarter of us know very well that they are worth nothing. After all, some might say that a difference between one and two clicks is 100%.
What about a promise? Sure, we make many but it takes exceptional selling skills to convince someone to hire you on a sheer promise. And that’s especially in an industry plagued with poor craftsmanship, bad press and overall uncertainty.
The situation gets even worse if you work in-house. Not only you have no data you can show – you also have only one site to present. If you’ve ever worked in-house, you know you can hardly call it something to show.
Web people constantly modify your work. You often have little control over what content goes there and who changes it after you optimize what you can out of it.
To a trained eye, the site you spent 3 years working on may still look like as if an amateur did it.
But here is the catch, at one point or another you are going to start looking for new work, it’s only natural. And your potential employes will want you to prove to them if you are as good as you claim.
What are your options then?
Yes, links. The most obvious, yet commonly ignored thing you can show.
Links you have built directly correspond to your skills.
In fact, you probably don’t have to show anything, your potential employees will check them anyway. I know if I had someone applying for SEO position with me, I’d run his site through Ahrefs to see what’s there.
And sure, there might be some legacy links but that can be checked too. You can check only links discovered in the last 30 days or so. It can be done. And it should be enough to tell your potential new employer what SEO you are.
Well, that plus a few other things:
1. Your Skills
Your links will reveal how much you know about SEO and link building techniques. They can straight away tell how much attention you pay to a link building method, do you have any preferred one or even if you focus on using just one in particular.
Checking your websites link profile a clever researcher can quickly deduce what you know and how much of this knowledge you use in your work.
Your links can also tell a lot about your creativity. Are you using only known and tested strategies or try to constantly come up with new, creative ways to get links? Are you just guest posting or try to solicit links by creating competitions or PR stunts, apps or other initiatives?
3. Attention to detail
The devil is in the detail, they say. Your links can reveal how much attention you pay to those tiny details that can make or break your image.
Are you building mass guest posts with a poorly optimized link and low-quality author bio? Or do you take time to optimize each post, making sure it offers value?
4. How much you care
Motivation isn’t the most common factor employers look at. It is also a controversial one (should your lack of motivation be blamed on the company you work for or your attitude?). Still, it is worth to look at links from this perspective, although I agree – this shouldn’t be used as a deciding factor of course.
What does all that mean to you
Naturally, there are external circumstances that can affect the quality of your work as a link builder. Lack of budget is one (in one of my jobs I had a zero budget which naturally had an effect on my work). No cooperation from other departments can be another. For those reasons alone link will never replace a traditional portfolio. However, they can be as close as we can get to having one, without having to reveal confidential data.
Do you consider links as your portfolio? Do you wonder what anyone might think of you when they research your link profile?