Creating a link building strategy is not a simple process. For successful at link building, it is critical to understand a few subdued factors that effect the strategy, long-term.
We would not recommend link building for every business. More so, in the digital marketing space, even a marvellous link building strategy may not justify the spend on it.
Unlike most digital marketing components, a link building strategy is not really measurable. For example, if you have built 100 good (purported) links across the month and you get minuscule traffic from only 2 or 3 of those links, how do you justify the spend?
Of course, you may get more traffic from them in the coming months. Despite the forecast, is there a way to track a single user, coming from a particular link has converted?
For businesses that have thousands of users landing on their webpages, month on month, this is a significant challenge. Undeniably, links are important, only the link building strategy should be more dependable and organic than emailing and begging for (reciprocal or paid) links.
Link building is important. However, driving growth on one hand is tough, and there are many other, better opportunities out there than executing a link building strategy as a growth hack. A link building strategy can turn into a growth hack only when all related components are perfectly placed.
And that, my dear marketers is a great challenge. In this article, let us look at all those components that can sky-rocket your link building strategy to yield best results possible.
In this backdrop, let us explore the challenges and opportunities (blockers and enablers) of having a good link building strategy. We will take a digital marketing agency perspective on this.
Blockers to a link building strategy
Executing link building strategies is no simple task, and it is most undermined part of the search engine optimization process and mostly practiced due to certain myths. It has a lot of dependencies on other process and cutting through client red tape is an enormous challenge.
There are over 50 types of links you can build as a part of your link building strategy. Choosing from them will depend on your business, competition, and a few other factors.
Whatever your choices are, you will need permissions and approvals from various departments and people before you can proceed, not just your point of contact.
Or, the point of contact should take the responsibility for getting things done on time.
Any link building strategy will depend on content, for which you may take the campaign or a PR route, probably reaching out to people in the press. In the client space, the blockers are:
Technology – Client’s technology department can turn into a blocker when it comes to uploading your content (for the link), especially if it is a complicated process, unlike posting a blog post. You may not get it on time, hampering your success rate.
Content creation – The content creation team, including copywriters, UX and graphics teams, may not be working on the same schedule or speed that you need. They would also want to sign off on whatever is produced, and this is going to hamper your performance.
Communications – Client’s PR or communications team may have its own list of journalists or people who can help with your link building strategy. However, they may not want you to interact with people on that list. This hinders your ability effecting your success rate.
Legal – For businesses, especially in the health, medical, insurance and finance niches, producing any content will not help. Since 3rd parties regulate these niches, not everything can go on to the website. The content needs to be accurate and should not be misleading. If your client falls into one of these niches, it seriously impedes your opportunities to build links.
Outcomes of internal blockers
There could be more blockers than what we discussed above. Whichever may be the case, it is not impossible, and you can still go on with your link building strategies with minor adjustments. Let us see the outcomes when these blockers come into the picture, singularly or combined.
Delayed campaigns leading to lesser links than targeted, leading to wasted resources and lost opportunities. Let us not forget the frustration it brings.
Campaigns could get affected because of edited messaging, which could be tangentially different from what was intended.
Your targets may seem impossible at times because of lesser outreach and without your fault.
The above consequences are very real in the link building world. Blockers are the last thing you or your clients need. If we do not build links on scale and on time, there is no point in building them. If these blockers exist in your business, it is best not to waste money on a link building strategy.
Investment on link building should wait for a perfect time after these blockers are removed or you along with the client evolve a system to bypass them.
When you are speaking to a client who needs SEO services (inclusive of link building), the first thing you will need to understand and clarify is how they interpret link building success.
Yes, your point of contact will tell you a few things:
- Number of links
- Quality of links
This is a good place to understand that the client interprets success in terms of revenue and sales.
However, depending on how the client’s business is aligned, you will need to ask a few more probing question. It is important to clarify how they visualise link building as a part of their SEO process and how valuable they think it is.
You will need to see how they measure your efforts and who looks at your reports.
Only your point of contact or if it goes higher to the C level executives?
You can use some hints to understand this:
- Interviewing you about your process and how you measure KPIs.
- Getting involved in shaping the link building strategy.
- Setting up targets and objectives.
- Being involved in the pitch and onboarding.
- Budget allocation.
If any of the above happens, you can be rest assured that the C-Club is involved in the process and they take your performance seriously. If you don’t see any of these signs, it is probable that you are in for trouble soon.
A C-Club guy will look at allocating the budget and check the activities on which it is being spent. He or she will look at value for money and if it lacks, there is every chance that they will pull the rug from under your feet.
Lesson: Create value for the client.
Alternatively, if the client’s C-Club is not involved in your process, it means that it is not important for their business. In which case, work harder than normal to get things done.. Remember, internal blockers will be harder to manage.
Another aspect that you need to consider when the C-Club is not involved due to lack of knowledge about link building, they may not be interested in investing on it.
Lesson: Explain and prosper.
Your client’s website may not be technically good or is buggy. In which case, your best of link building strategies will not yield results. When the website is fixed, they may see a little up rise in rankings. However, medium and long-term goals will go for a toss.
Link building has changed over time and is effective only when the website has good technical SEO and on-page SEO, caters to core web vitals and has good, optimised content. If these parameters are not in place, link building will be a waste of resources.
No website is 100% perfect, but the above basic parameters need to be catered to. They are critical to any successful link building strategy.
If the website is not technically good, you will need to tell the client to prioritise that process before opting for link building services. And, if you offer web development services, this rings an opportunity bell for you.
Enablers for a link building strategy
Now that we are done with the blockers, let us see how to build a workable link building strategy using existing online assets.
Good links from top-notch websites are critical to rank well, again, depending on the competition. The number of links coming to a webpage that you want to rank is important.
But, links are not the only ranking factor. So, there is no ‘perfect’ number of links to rank well. Links will improve your search rankings, but capitalising on them for maximum impact is necessary to make the most out of them.
Let us look at a few link building enablers that can help you create a good impact.
Also known as user intent or query intent, search intent is the goal a searcher has while he types in the search query. If your aim is to attract relevant traffic that converts well, you need to align your links to match search intent.
Just having several links does not satisfy the user when he lands there, and therefore, your page will not rank well in the long term. If you looking at short-term result, probably you will succeed.
There is a simple way to check this. Look up the webpage in a tool like Ahrefs and if you see a strong domain rating along with links from too many root domains compared to the site ranking on the first page, you are not matching user intent properly.
Search intent optimization is a very important factor to rank well. I have written an article on search intent optimization, what it is and, how to measure it.
Apart from your link building strategy that built a good number of links, there are other factors like on page SEO or domain age that play a huge part. However, catering to search intent is primary for your link building process to be effective.
Without fixing the intent and content issues, solely relying on your link building strategy will be interpreted as gaming the search (by search engines) and Google will not take it lying down. And now it is time to optimise your web page content.
Search intent optimization will work wonders only when you optimise the content on your webpage. These factors go hand in hand to improve the bounce rate and rankings.
Link building is secondary to optimised content, and the entire effort of building links is wasted without user specific content that adds real value to the user. So, your link building strategy should focus on content optimization before deploying.
Promotional pages, low word counts and content specifically written for search engines will not cut the cake. The recent helpful content update from Google underlines the importance of content in simple terms. I have written an article on understanding helpful content update that can help you fix content on your webpages.
Now, let us focus on a high-quality link building strategy.
High quality link building strategy
Every back link you build to your webpage is unique. Some links can skyrocket your ranking, while some can bring them down alarmingly. So, all links are not created equal.
It is a general belief in the marketing community that more links will result in ‘better’ rankings. This is probably because high-ranking pages on SERPs have thousands of links.
The fact is that those thousands of links differ from each other and only a small percentage of them are high-quality links. They are the main reason for their ranking at the top.
Let us understand what a high-quality link is:
- Link comes from a source which links to other external sites.
- Link from a unique root domain.
- Linking domain has organic and relevant traffic.
- Link from a trusted, high DA site.
- Link is not a ‘no follow’ and has no sponsored attributes.
Your link building strategy depends on many other factors. All you need to do is to ensure that the link will create a high impact on your webpage.
Always focus your link building strategy and efforts on unique domains that are trustworthy, have good authority, and provide value in your niche.
Outcomes of enablers
Once you have optimised the content for search intent and create links that add value to your webpage, what can you do next?
Keep updating the content on the pages that you have quality links to! This adds value to both the linked pages.
For every mention or link, share the page on social media platform to get traffic and generate social signals. Ask the linking site to share it on their own social media platforms.
Share the page with your email list to generate more passive links.
Links are basically trust signals that Google understands and evaluates. If a high DA website is linking to your webpage, Google understands that your webpage is trustworthy.
Getting top tier links should be the focus of your link building strategy. Top tier links will lend authority to your website in the niche and slowly compound the effect over time.
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