I’ve recently heard from a number of people over the past year or two that, as link builders, we need to only be centering on links that drive traffic & revenue.
Earlier this week I watched a youtube video posted on Twitter from Wil Reynolds, which you’ll find below. I have huge respect for Wil (interviewed him in 2012; still worth a read), and in general, In my opinion that what he says in the neighborhood comes from a really good, authentic place.
When you don’t want to watch it, the typical gist from it is the majority of the links SEOs are quality link building “don’t do anything for your client”, provided that these links tend not to drive conversions, assisted conversions, newsletter sign ups, etc. He’s one of the people with described links by doing this, and in no way am I looking to / would like to single him out (he’s merely the most vocal / widespread of the bunch).
This idea sounds great in principle, and will get you pretty pumped up. Several other similarly exhilarating mottos come to mind as i hear it (heard through the entire community):
“Fire your clients! If you don’t like them, then stop coping with them.”
“Build a site for users, not search engines!”
“Just create great content, along with the links should come!”
The problem is that we can easily sometimes swing past the boundary in just one direction, whether it’s all the way to the left (i.e. black hat SEO), or up to the right (i.e. building a site purely for UX). That can result in extremes like getting penalties from search engines on one side, and building non-indexable sites on the other.
In this case, the notion of only pursuing revenue driving links, and not any others, is a perfect demonstration of swinging past the boundary in just one direction.
1. Doing a thing that doesn’t directly cause revenue
Let’s use the logic of this argument and apply it to other aspects of SEO. Browse through this and inform me that, besides a couple of specifics (i.e. page speed improvements), that these improvements lead straight to increased revenue.
We also realize that Google loves original content, and that we now have many listing-type pages that SEOs create content for this we are able to safely assume few will certainly read. Maybe those product description sweat shops are writing content that people is likely to make purchasing decisions based off from, but there’s a good chance only a few everyone is.
So: it’s OK that every activity we’re doing as marketers doesn’t directly cause driving revenue. That’s a great deal of whatever we do as SEOs, anyway.
2. Links which could or otherwise not make an effect on rankings
Wil discussed the concern that this links acquired inside a campaign might not exactly get the impact that one hopes to get after the campaign is finished.
You could potentially easily make your case that, for anything technical SEO-wise, it’s not a sure thing that an individual fix will impact rankings. Sometimes you’re in the dark in regards to what exactly causes the matter. That’s why audits contain several items to address, because any individual item might not be what Google takes one of the most issue with. So, for anything you’re doing on-site, it’s a danger on some level which it won’t have the impact you’re looking for.
But exactly how does link-building compare with other marketing plan types which involve outreach / outbound elements (i.e. advertisements, PR, etc.)? Nearly all of those, if not all, don’t involve 100% confidence that you’ll get the result you’re hoping for, whether it’s branding, direct selling, or search rankings.
The expectation that the building links campaign should result in a clear surge in rankings, especially while confronting a very complex, modern algorithm which could hinder a web site from ranking as a result of numerous other issues, is a bit unfair.
3. Existing well ranking websites & their link profiles
Now let’s have a look at example. Use the websites ranking for “San Diego Flowers”. The very best ranking site in this city is AllensFlowers.com. They’ve got a bit of solid links that seem to be like they drive a number of sales here & there. They likewise have several links that are considerably more controversial in terms of the direct, non-SEO value they supply:
These people were given an award coming from a local event. I believe it’s reliable advice very few people have groomed a list of links in this posting & made purchasing decisions based off any of them.
These were placed in a resource guide for planning a wedding. If the page got a lot traffic from qualified potential prospects (people arranging a wedding), then beyond doubt, I could check this out link driving revenue. But as outlined by OSE, this article just has 2 internal links, and I didn’t discover it ranking well for “san diego wedding resources”, thus i doubt over a handful of people view the page each month, much less simply click that specific connect to Allen’s Flowers.
They were cited as an example of employing a particular technology. I do believe 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 the link from your very aged, DA50 website.
Do a few of these link examples pass traffic/conversions? Maybe; there’s no way of knowing beyond doubt in any event. But the point is: these are typically 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 those of the main keywords. Which end dexhpky71 will be worth going out of my way to make sure our link is included upon an awards page, or that the local magazine’s resource guide includes their service using the others in the community.
4. My own experiences
Throughout the clients we’ve had as well as the projects I’ve been an element of, one of my personal favorite things to check out in analytics is the referral traffic of your sites we’re link building to. I want to determine if a few of the links we receive are sending any traffic, of course, if they actually do, in the event that traffic converts.
A good example that comes to mind is a .gov link project we did for the real-estate site. Earlier in 2016, we built ~30 links throughout 6-9 months (quite a small campaign), so we watched their organic traffic grow ~50% over this time period.
Looking at analytics, since the links were acquired, only 3 of the 30 have sent a lot more than 10 visits. A number of them did send traffic that met conversion goals! But that wasn’t will make or break why we did the campaign to begin with.
I remember getting a blogroll link a couple of years back that sent some serious traffic (mid 4 figures monthly), which had been awesome. However, if I spent time only going after links that would send traffic & conversions, I would’ve built considerably less links, and drove significantly less rankings for my clients & my own, personal sites (which, coincidentally, results in less revenue).
So what’s the takeaway?
I totally understand why a lot people desire to communicate this message. The short answer is basically that you attract bigger & better clients whenever you say such things as this. As somebody who writes more as a practitioner, and much less like a thought leader, it’s clear that what I’m doing isn’t the very best lead generation strategy for an agency (for everyone 1 big budget client that contacts us, we receive 50 small businesses proprietors unreasonably seeking to spend $200/month for great work).
With that said, I feel it’s vital that you understand the meaning of the message, while still keeping things practical. Here’s the way you are capable of doing it.
1. Check referral sources for opportunities
Scan referral traffic within your analytics for patterns & clues to more traffic/revenue driving opportunities. This counts for both new links you’re building, but in addition for all past manually OR naturally acquired ones.
When you see a couple of links which can be sending value, contemplate “are there other link opportunities around the same as this?” For our agency, we usually think of a tactic that, at its core, is actually a single way to get the link, but can be applied to 1000s of sites. You could have just stumbled into something where there are many other opportunities the same as it.
For example – imagine an eCommerce niche electronics store choosing a link from a local robotics club’s New Member Info page towards the store’s Arduino basic starter kit product page. There are probably 100s of other local robotics club which may have website information for first time members (and are likely to have curiosity about that basic starter kit), so contacting each having a promo code for this product could scale really well, and drive lots of revenue (make sure they mention the promo code at the next club meeting, too!).
2. If you do look for a revenue-generating link tactic, treat it such as the golden egg that it must be
Should you encounter one, put money into it to make it happen right when it can end up purchasing itself.
Two general ones that come to mind are press coverage & forum link building. If you’ve got an awesome product, paying a PR professional to help you coverage could result in direct sales. If you’re within a niche which has active & passionate communities in forums, put money into becoming an integral part of them, and understand how you can post links in many ways that’s allowed.