For me, SEO is about asset creation. Whenever we work with a client site, we treat it like an asset. In short, the site is never treated as an item that we could potentially throw away. Once you start thinking this way, you become risk averse.
But that is not the only thing that happens. You begin thinking about who the leaders are in your space, and how you can become one of them. Of course, your goal maybe to become THE leader, but if you are just starting out, becoming one of the leaders is a start.
This is a mental shift from what I see with many people who publish web sites. Some of them may feel like it is difficult to become a leader in their space. Perhaps they don’t have the time or energy to invest in it, or they don’t believe in themselves enough.
Of course, there are several different ways to slice the pie. Seth Godin details these in his recent post The Long Tail and the Dip. For example, you can try to become the #1 player. Very difficult to do, as there can only be one who achieves this status.
You can become a niche player, and still be a leader. Definitely more achievable, as most spaces have many niches. Finally, the third segment detailed by Seth is the long tail. This Seth defines as making a small margin on a huge range of products.
Regardless of the scenario you choose to pursue though, you need to somehow attract attention to what you are doing. In any of these scenarios, that still requires establishing yourself as one of the leaders.
So how do you establish leadership? The devil is in the details of your space, but it will always involve recognizing ways that you can excel, and ways that you can make that visible to people. In the SEO game this relates to your link building strategy. Regardless of whether you are chasing the head, the vertical niche, or the long tail, invest in content, tools, unique concepts, or whatever it takes to make that link building strategy a piece of cake.
Otherwise your position is tenuous at best, and not likely to last.