I’ve recently heard from a few people throughout the last couple of years that, as link builders, we should basically be focusing 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. I have got huge respect for Wil (interviewed him here in 2012; still worth a read), as well as in general, I really believe that what he says locally originates from a really good, authentic place.
Should you don’t wish to watch it, the overall gist of it is the fact that most of the links SEOs are link building packages “don’t do anything whatsoever to the client”, considering the fact that these links usually do not drive conversions, assisted conversions, newsletter sign ups, etc. He’s one of many people that have talked about links by doing this, and by no means am I trying to / would like to single him out (he’s simply the most vocal / widespread in the bunch).
This idea sounds great in principle, and will bring you pretty pumped up. Several other similarly exhilarating mottos pop into your head once i listen to it (heard through the entire community):
“Fire your clients! In the event you don’t like them, then stop coping with them.”
“Build an internet site for users, not search engines!”
“Just create great content, along with the links may come!”
The problem is that we are able to sometimes swing too far 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. creating a site purely for UX). That can bring about extremes like getting penalties from search engines on a single side, and building non-indexable sites on the other.
In this instance, the idea of only pursuing revenue driving links, instead of any others, is a perfect instance of swinging very far in a direction.
1. Doing an issue that doesn’t directly lead to revenue
Let’s go ahead and take logic of this argument and use it to other elements of SEO. Read through this and inform me that, aside from a few specifics (i.e. page speed improvements), that these improvements lead right to increased revenue.
We also realize that Google loves original content, and that you have many listing-type pages that SEOs create content for this we could safely assume few are going to read. Maybe those product description sweat shops are writing content that men and women is likely to make purchasing decisions based from, but there’s a high probability very few folks are.
So: it’s OK which 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 perhaps not make an effect on rankings
Wil mentioned the concern that this links acquired within a campaign may not hold the impact that one hopes to get after the campaign is finished.
You can easily have the case that, for anything technical SEO-wise, it’s not really a sure thing an individual fix will impact rankings. Sometimes you’re in the dark as to what exactly is causing the matter. That’s why audits contain several items to address, because any individual item is probably not what Google is to take by far the most problem with. So, for anything you’re doing on-site, it’s a danger on some level that it won’t hold the impact you’re searching for.
So how does backlink building can compare to other advertising campaign types that involve outreach / outbound elements (i.e. advertisements, PR, etc.)? The majority of those, if not completely, don’t involve 100% confidence that you’ll receive the result you’re dreaming about, whether it’s branding, direct sales, or search rankings.
The expectation a backlink building campaign should create a clear surge in rankings, especially when dealing with a really complex, modern algorithm that may hinder a web site from ranking because of numerous other issues, is a little unfair.
3. Existing well ranking websites & their link profiles
Now let’s examine example. Consider the websites ranking for “San Diego Flowers”. The very best ranking site because city is AllensFlowers.com. They’ve got a bit of solid links that appear like they drive a couple of sales here & there. They have a couple of links which can be far more controversial regarding the direct, non-SEO value they offer:
They were given an award from your local event. I feel it’s safe to say not many people have groomed a list of links in this article & made purchasing decisions based off any one of them.
These folks were listed in a resource guide for arranging a wedding. If it page got a great deal traffic from qualified potential prospects (people arranging a wedding), then for sure, I really could see this link driving revenue. But in accordance with OSE, this site merely has 2 internal links, and i also didn’t think it is ranking well for “san diego wedding resources”, therefore i doubt greater than a handful of people start to see the page each month, much less simply click that exact link to Allen’s Flowers.
These were cited for example of using a particular technology. I believe it’s reliable advice 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 your very aged, DA50 website.
Do a few of these link examples pass traffic/conversions? Maybe; there’s no way of knowing for certain in any event. But the idea is: they are links I’d want, and whether or not they passed conversions or traffic, they’re legitimate links that pass the eye test & help this flower shop dominate for all from the main keywords. And this end dexhpky71 will be worth going out of my way to make sure our link is included on an awards page, or that the local magazine’s resource guide includes their service together with the others in the region.
4. My own experiences
With the clients we’ve had and the projects I’ve been a part of, one among the best things to check out in analytics may be the referral traffic of your sites we’re building links to. I want to find out if some of the links we receive are sending any traffic, and when they are doing, in the event that traffic converts.
One example that comes to mind is actually a .gov link project we did for any property site. Earlier in 2016, we built ~30 links during the period of 6-9 months (quite a small campaign), therefore we watched their organic traffic grow ~50% over that point period.
Looking at analytics, ever since the links were acquired, only 3 of the 30 have sent over 10 visits. A couple of them did send traffic that met conversion goals! But that wasn’t going to make or break why we did the campaign in the first place.
I remember obtaining a blogroll link a few years back that sent some serious traffic (mid 4 figures on a monthly basis), that has been awesome. However if I spent time only pursuing links that would send traffic & conversions, I would’ve built significantly less links, and drove significantly less rankings for my clients & my own sites (which, coincidentally, contributes 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 you attract bigger & better clients if you say such things as this. As someone who writes more as a practitioner, and less as a thought leader, it’s clear that what I’m doing isn’t the ideal lead generation technique for an agency (for everyone 1 big budget client that contacts us, we have 50 many small business owners unreasonably looking to spend $200/month for excellent work).
With that said, I think it’s important to be aware of the meaning of the message, while still keeping things practical. Here’s how you can do 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 one or two links which are sending value, consider “are there other link opportunities available just like this?” For the agency, we usually come up with a tactic that, at its core, is 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 many other opportunities much like it.
For example – imagine an eCommerce niche electronics store finding a link from the local robotics club’s New Member Info page to the store’s Arduino starter kit product page. You can find probably 100s of other local robotics club that have website information for first time members (and may very well have interest in that basic starter kit), so reaching out to each with a discount code for the product could scale really well, and drive a great deal of revenue (ensure they mention the discount code on the next club meeting, too!).
2. Should you do locate a revenue-generating link tactic, address it much like the golden egg that it must be
Should you come across one, purchase it to make it happen right if it can wind up paying for itself.
Two general ones that come to mind are press coverage & forum link-building. If you’ve got a cool product, paying a PR professional to obtain coverage could result in direct sales. If you’re within a niche that has active & passionate communities in forums, spend money on becoming a part of them, and understand how you can post links in such a way that’s allowed.