I’ve recently heard from a few people over the last couple of years that, as link builders, we should simply be concentrating on links that drive traffic & revenue.
Earlier in the week I watched a youtube video posted on Twitter from Wil Reynolds, which you’ll find below. I actually have huge respect for Wil (interviewed him in 2012; still worth a read), as well as in general, I think that what he says in the community arises from an excellent, authentic place.
If you don’t would like to watch it, the overall gist from it is the fact that the majority of the links SEOs are seo link building service “don’t do anything whatsoever for your client”, provided that these links tend not to drive conversions, assisted conversions, newsletter sign ups, etc. He’s one of many people with discussed links this way, and by no means am I seeking to / would like to single him out (he’s only 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 spring to mind once i hear it (heard throughout the community):
“Fire your customers! In the event you don’t like them, then stop handling them.”
“Build a web site for users, not search engines like google!”
“Just create great content, along with the links may come!”
However , we can sometimes swing too much in a direction, whether it’s all the way to the left (i.e. black hat SEO), or all the way to the correct (i.e. constructing a site purely for UX). That can bring about extremes like getting penalties from search engines like yahoo on a single side, and building non-indexable sites on the other.
In this instance, the concept of only going after revenue driving links, and never any others, is an ideal illustration of swinging too far in one direction.
1. Doing an issue that doesn’t directly cause revenue
Let’s consider the logic on this argument and put it on to many other elements of SEO. Browse through this and tell me that, besides a number of specifics (i.e. page speed improvements), that these improvements lead right to increased revenue.
We also understand that Google loves original content, and that you have many listing-type pages that SEOs create content for that we can safely assume few will read. Maybe those product description sweat shops are writing content that people will make purchasing decisions based off from, but there’s a good chance only a few people are.
So: it’s OK that each activity we’re doing as marketers doesn’t directly result in driving revenue. That’s plenty of whatever we do as SEOs, anyway.
2. Links that could or otherwise not make a direct impact on rankings
Wil described the concern how the links acquired inside a campaign might not possess the impact that one hopes to have following the campaign is finished.
You could potentially easily make the case that, for anything technical SEO-wise, it’s not really a sure thing that this individual fix will impact rankings. Sometimes you’re at nighttime as to what exactly is causing the issue. That’s why audits contain numerous items to address, because any individual item will not be what Google takes probably the most trouble 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 searching for.
But how does link-building can compare to other marketing plan types which entail outreach / outbound elements (i.e. advertisements, PR, etc.)? The majority of those, if not all, don’t involve 100% confidence that you’ll get the result you’re dreaming about, whether it’s branding, direct sales, or search rankings.
The expectation which a backlink building campaign should always produce a clear boost in rankings, especially when dealing with an extremely complex, modern algorithm which could hinder a site from ranking as a result of numerous other issues, is a little unfair.
3. Existing well ranking websites & their link profiles
Now let’s take a look at example. Go ahead and take websites ranking for “San Diego Flowers”. The ideal ranking site because city is AllensFlowers.com. They’ve got some solid links that appear to be like they drive a couple of sales here & there. They have a number of links which can be much more controversial with regards to the direct, non-SEO value they offer:
These folks were given an award from a local event. I feel it’s reliable advice few people have groomed this list of links on this page & made purchasing decisions based off some of them.
These people were listed in a resource guide for planning for a wedding. If this page got a great deal traffic from qualified potential clients (people arranging a wedding), then for certain, I really could see this link driving revenue. But as outlined by OSE, this article just has 2 internal links, and i also didn’t find it ranking well for “san diego wedding resources”, thus i doubt over a handful of people start to see the page each month, let alone click that exact link to Allen’s Flowers.
These were cited for instance of using a certain technology. I feel it’s safe to say that no sales were driven here (who shops for florists which use mSQL?), and although it’s not niche or location related, it’s still a web link from the very aged, DA50 website.
Do many of these link examples pass traffic/conversions? Maybe; there’s absolutely no way of knowing without a doubt 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 all those from the main keywords. And that end dexhpky71 may be worth hanging out of my way to make sure our link is included on an awards page, or that a local magazine’s resource guide includes their service together with the others in the region.
4. My very own experiences
With the clients we’ve had along with the projects I’ve been an integral part of, one among my personal favorite things to check out in analytics is definitely the referral traffic of the sites we’re link building to. I wish to check if some of the links we obtain are sending any traffic, and when they generally do, if this traffic converts.
A good example that comes to mind is actually a .gov link project we did to get a real-estate site. Earlier in 2016, we built ~30 links over the course of 6-9 months (a good small campaign), so we watched their organic traffic grow ~50% over that time period.
Considering analytics, because the links were acquired, only 3 from the 30 have sent over 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 in the first place.
I recall receiving a blogroll link quite a while back that sent some serious traffic (mid 4 figures a month), that was awesome. However, if I spent time only going after links that might send traffic & conversions, I would’ve built significantly less links, and drove significantly less rankings for my clients & my sites (which, coincidentally, leads to less revenue).
So what’s the takeaway?
I totally realize why a good deal people want to communicate this message. The short answer is that you attract bigger & better clients if you say such things as this. As somebody who writes more like a practitioner, and fewer as being a thought leader, it’s clear that what I’m doing isn’t the best lead generation strategy for an agency (for anyone 1 big budget client that contacts us, we receive 50 small businesses proprietors unreasonably trying to spend $200/month for great work).
With that said, I do believe it’s important to understand the concept of the message, while still keeping things practical. Here’s the way we is capable of doing it.
1. Check referral sources for opportunities
Scan referral traffic inside your analytics for patterns & clues to more visitors/revenue driving opportunities. This counts for both new links you’re building, also for all past manually OR naturally acquired ones.
If you see a couple of links that are sending value, ask yourself “are there other link opportunities on the market just like this?” For our own agency, we usually think of a tactic that, at its core, can be a single way of getting a link, but can be applied to 1000s of sites. Maybe you have just stumbled into something where there are lots of other opportunities exactly like it.
As an example – imagine an eCommerce niche electronics store locating a link from the local robotics club’s New Member Info page to the store’s Arduino starter kit product page. There are probably 100s of other local robotics club that have website information for new members (and will likely have fascination with that basic starter kit), so contacting each with a promo code for your product could scale properly, and drive a lot of revenue (make sure they mention the promo code at the next club meeting, too!).
2. If you find a revenue-generating link tactic, address it like the golden egg that it must be
Should you do encounter one, put money into it to accomplish it right if this can wind up paying for itself.
Two general ones that pop into your head are press coverage & forum building links. If you’ve got a cool product, paying a PR professional to help you coverage could cause direct sales. If you’re in the niche which has active & passionate communities in forums, purchase becoming an integral part of them, and understand tips on how to post links in a way that’s allowed.