I’ve recently heard from a few people over the last year or so that, as link builders, we must basically be centering on links that drive traffic & revenue.
Earlier in the week I watched a video posted on Twitter from Wil Reynolds, which you’ll find below. We have huge respect for Wil (interviewed him in 2012; still worth a read), and then in general, I believe that what he says in the neighborhood originates from a very good, authentic place.
In the event you don’t wish to watch it, the overall gist than it is the fact that many of the links SEOs are link building packages “don’t a single thing for that client”, considering the fact that these links usually do not drive conversions, assisted conversions, newsletter sign ups, etc. He’s one of the people who have discussed links in this way, and by no means am I attempting to / wish to single him out (he’s only the most vocal / widespread from the bunch).
This idea sounds great in theory, and can get you pretty pumped up. A few other similarly exhilarating mottos spring to mind once i listen to it (heard during the entire community):
“Fire your clients! Should you don’t like them, then stop working with them.”
“Build a site for users, not search engines!”
“Just create great content, and also the links will come!”
However , we can sometimes swing too far in a direction, whether it’s up to the left (i.e. black hat SEO), or up to the best (i.e. creating a site purely for UX). That can result in extremes like getting penalties from search engine listings using one side, and building non-indexable sites in the other.
In such a case, the idea of only pursuing revenue driving links, and not any others, is a perfect example of swinging too far in one direction.
1. Doing a thing that doesn’t directly cause revenue
Let’s take the logic of the argument and put it to use to many other elements of SEO. Read this and let me know that, aside from a number of specifics (i.e. page speed improvements), that these improvements lead straight to increased revenue.
We also understand that Google loves original content, and that there are many listing-type pages that SEOs create content for that we can easily safely assume few will read. Maybe those product description sweat shops are writing content that individuals can make purchasing decisions based off of, but there’s a good chance not many individuals are.
So: it’s OK that every activity we’re doing as marketers doesn’t directly bring about driving revenue. That’s lots of what we do as SEOs, anyway.
2. Links which may or otherwise not make a direct impact on rankings
Wil discussed the concern that this links acquired in a campaign might not possess the impact that you hopes to obtain once the campaign is over.
You could potentially easily have the case that, for anything technical SEO-wise, it’s not just a sure thing that an individual fix will impact rankings. Sometimes you’re in the dark in regards to what exactly is causing the situation. That’s why audits contain a number of things to address, because any individual item might not be what Google has taken probably the most trouble with. So, for anything you’re doing on-site, it’s a danger on some level that it won’t have the impact you’re seeking.
So how does link-building compare with other marketing campaign types which involve outreach / outbound elements (i.e. advertisements, PR, etc.)? Almost all of those, if not all, don’t involve 100% confidence that you’ll have the result you’re dreaming about, whether it’s branding, direct sales, or search rankings.
The expectation which a link-building campaign must always result in a clear rise in rankings, especially when confronted with a very complex, modern algorithm that may hinder a web site from ranking as a consequence of numerous other issues, is a bit unfair.
3. Existing well ranking websites & their link profiles
Now let’s look at example. Take the websites ranking for “San Diego Flowers”. The most effective ranking site for the reason that city is AllensFlowers.com. They’ve got a bit of solid links that seem to be like they drive a couple of sales here & there. They have a couple of links which are far more controversial in terms of the direct, non-SEO value they give:
These folks were given an award from the local event. I do believe it’s safe to say few people have groomed the list of links in this article & made purchasing decisions based off some of them.
These folks were indexed in a resource guide for organising a wedding. If this page got a great deal traffic from qualified prospective customers (people planning a wedding), then beyond doubt, I really could see this link driving revenue. But according to OSE, this site only has 2 internal links, and so i didn’t find it ranking well for “san diego wedding resources”, therefore i doubt more than a few people start to see the page monthly, not to mention select that specific link to Allen’s Flowers.
These were cited as an example of utilizing a certain technology. I think it’s safe to say that no sales were driven here (who shops for florists that use mSQL?), and although it’s not niche or location related, it’s still a link from your very aged, DA50 website.
Do many of these link examples pass traffic/conversions? Maybe; there’s no way of knowing for certain in either case. But the thing is: these are links I’d want, and whether they passed conversions or traffic, they’re legitimate links that pass the attention test & help this flower shop dominate for many of its main keywords. And therefore end dexhpky71 is worth heading out of my way to ensure our link is included with an awards page, or that a local magazine’s resource guide includes their service with the others in the area.
4. My very own experiences
Through the clients we’ve had and also the projects I’ve been part of, certainly one of the best things to think about in analytics is the referral traffic of your sites we’re link building to. I want to determine if several of the links we have are sending any traffic, of course, if they actually do, if that traffic converts.
One example that comes to mind can be a .gov link project we did for a real-estate site. Earlier in 2016, we built ~30 links over the course of 6-9 months (a good small campaign), therefore we watched their organic traffic grow ~50% over that period period.
Taking a look at analytics, because the links were acquired, only 3 from the 30 have sent a lot more than 10 visits. A few them did send traffic that met conversion goals! But that wasn’t intending to make or break why we did the campaign to start with.
I recall obtaining a blogroll link a few years back that sent some serious traffic (mid 4 figures per month), that was awesome. However, if I spent time only going after links that will send traffic & conversions, I would’ve built considerably less links, and drove significantly less rankings for my clients & my very own sites (which, coincidentally, leads to less revenue).
So what’s the takeaway?
I totally understand why a whole lot people desire to communicate this message. The short answer is that you simply attract bigger & better clients when you say things such as this. As someone who writes more like a practitioner, and much less being a thought leader, it’s clear that what I’m doing isn’t the ideal lead generation technique for an agency (for anyone 1 big budget client that contacts us, we get 50 small businesses unreasonably looking to spend $200/month for great work).
With that said, I feel it’s important to be aware of the meaning of the content, while still keeping things practical. Here’s how we can perform it.
1. Check referral sources for opportunities
Scan referral traffic with your analytics for patterns & clues to increased traffic/revenue driving opportunities. This counts for both new links you’re building, also for all past manually OR naturally acquired ones.
If you find 1 or 2 links that happen to be sending value, consider “are there other link opportunities out there much like this?” For your agency, we usually develop a tactic that, at its core, can be a single way of getting a link, but can be applied to 1000s of sites. You might have just stumbled into something where there are several other opportunities exactly like it.
For instance – imagine an eCommerce niche electronics store getting a link from a local robotics club’s New Member Info page for the store’s Arduino basic starter kit product page. There are actually probably 100s of other local robotics club which may have website information for new members (and are likely to have fascination with that basic starter kit), so contacting each having a discount code for your product could scale very well, and drive a lot of revenue (make sure they mention the discount code on the next club meeting, too!).
2. If you do locate a revenue-generating link tactic, treat it much like the golden egg that it must be
If you find one, spend money on it to do it right whether it can find yourself spending money on itself.
Two general ones that come to mind are press coverage & forum building links. If you’ve got a cool product, paying a PR professional to obtain coverage could cause direct selling. If you’re in a niche containing active & passionate communities in forums, spend money on becoming part of them, and understand the best way to post links in many ways that’s allowed.