I’ve recently heard from some people during the last couple of years that, as link builders, we should basically be working on links that drive traffic & revenue.
Earlier this week I watched a relevant video posted on Twitter from Wil Reynolds, which you’ll find below. I have got huge respect for Wil (interviewed him within 2012; still worth a read), and then in general, I really believe that what he says in the neighborhood originates from a really good, authentic place.
If you don’t would like to watch it, the general gist of this is the fact that most of the links SEOs are link building firm “don’t do anything whatsoever for the client”, provided that these links tend not to drive conversions, assisted conversions, newsletter sign ups, etc. He’s one of many people that have discussed links in this manner, and in no way am I attempting to / want to single him out (he’s only the most vocal / widespread of the bunch).
This idea sounds great in theory, and will bring you pretty pumped up. A couple of other similarly exhilarating mottos come to mind as i listen to it (heard through the community):
“Fire your customers! Should you don’t like them, then stop handling them.”
“Build a web site for users, not search engine listings!”
“Just create great content, along with the links may come!”
The problem is that we can sometimes swing too far in just one direction, whether it’s all the way to the left (i.e. black hat SEO), or all the way to the right (i.e. creating a site purely for UX). That can result in extremes like getting penalties from search engine listings in one side, and building non-indexable sites on the other.
In this case, the notion of only going after revenue driving links, and not any others, is a great illustration of swinging too far in one direction.
1. Doing something which doesn’t directly bring about revenue
Let’s use the logic of this argument and use it with other aspects of SEO. Go through this and tell me that, in addition to a couple of specifics (i.e. page speed improvements), that any one of these improvements lead directly to increased revenue.
We recognize that Google loves original content, and there are many listing-type pages that SEOs create content for your we can safely assume few will certainly read. Maybe those product description sweat shops are writing content that men and women is likely to make purchasing decisions based away from, but there’s a high probability only a few folks are.
So: it’s OK that every activity we’re doing as marketers doesn’t directly cause driving revenue. That’s lots of whatever we do as SEOs, anyway.
2. Links which may or otherwise not make an impact on rankings
Wil described the concern that this links acquired in a campaign may not get the impact that one hopes to obtain after the campaign has finished.
You could easily create the case that, for anything technical SEO-wise, it’s not much of a sure thing an individual fix will impact rankings. Sometimes you’re in the dark about what exactly is causing the problem. That’s why audits contain a number of things to address, because any person item will not be what Google is to take probably the most issue with. So, for anything you’re doing on-site, it’s a risk on some level which it won’t hold the impact you’re trying to find.
But exactly how does backlink building can compare to other marketing campaign types that entail outreach / outbound elements (i.e. advertisements, PR, etc.)? Nearly all of those, if not completely, don’t involve 100% confidence that you’ll receive the result you’re wishing for, whether it’s branding, direct sales, or search rankings.
The expectation a link-building campaign should result in a clear boost in rankings, especially when dealing with a really complex, modern algorithm which may hinder a website from ranking as a result of numerous other issues, is 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 most effective ranking site in that 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 couple of links that are much more controversial with regards to the direct, non-SEO value they give:
These were given an award from the local event. I do believe it’s safe to say few individuals have groomed this list of links in this article & made purchasing decisions based off any of them.
They were indexed in a resource guide for planning for a wedding. If it page got a lot traffic from qualified prospective customers (people organising a wedding), then for certain, I really could check this out link driving revenue. But as outlined by OSE, this article only has 2 internal links, and I didn’t find it ranking well for “san diego wedding resources”, and so i doubt more than a few people see the page every month, let alone simply click that particular connect to Allen’s Flowers.
They were cited as one example of employing a specific technology. I believe it’s safe to say that no sales were driven here (who shops for florists designed to use mSQL?), and although it’s not niche or location related, it’s still a web link from a very aged, DA50 website.
Do a number of these link examples pass traffic/conversions? Maybe; there’s no chance of knowing for certain in any event. But the idea 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. And this end dexhpky71 will be worth hanging out of my way to ensure our link is included by using an awards page, or a local magazine’s resource guide includes their service using the others in the region.
4. My own experiences
Through the clients we’ve had as well as the projects I’ve been part of, among my favorite things to check out in analytics may be the referral traffic in the sites we’re link building to. I would like to determine if several of the links we obtain are sending any traffic, and when they do, if it traffic converts.
One example you think of is actually a .gov link project we did for the property site. Earlier in 2016, we built ~30 links during the period of 6-9 months (a significant small campaign), and we watched their organic traffic grow ~50% over that time period.
Considering analytics, since the links were acquired, only 3 of the 30 have sent more than 10 visits. A few them did send traffic that met conversion goals! But that wasn’t going to make or break why we did the campaign to begin with.
I recall receiving a blogroll link many years back that sent some serious traffic (mid 4 figures a month), that was awesome. However, if I spent time only pursuing links that would send traffic & conversions, I would’ve built considerably less links, and drove considerably less rankings for my clients & my sites (which, coincidentally, results in less revenue).
So what’s the takeaway?
I totally realise why a good deal people want to communicate this message. The short answer is that you attract bigger & better clients if you say stuff like this. As somebody who writes more being a practitioner, and less being 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 obtain 50 small businesses proprietors unreasonably trying to spend $200/month for excellent work).
Having said that, I do believe it’s vital that you be aware of the meaning of the content, while still keeping things practical. Here’s the way you are capable of doing it.
1. Check referral sources for opportunities
Scan referral traffic in your analytics for patterns & clues to a boost in traffic/revenue driving opportunities. This counts for new links you’re building, but in addition for all past manually OR naturally acquired ones.
If you find a few links which are sending value, consider “are there other link opportunities around much like this?” For your agency, we usually develop a tactic that, at its core, is really a single method to get the link, but does apply to 1000s of sites. You might have just stumbled into something where there are lots of other opportunities exactly like it.
By way of example – imagine an eCommerce niche electronics store locating 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 that have website information for new members (and are likely to have curiosity about that basic starter kit), so contacting each by using a promo code for your product could scale very well, and drive plenty of revenue (ensure they mention the promo code in the next club meeting, too!).
2. Should you look for a revenue-generating link tactic, address it much like the golden egg that it must be
If you find one, put money into it to get it done right when it can wind up spending money on itself.
Two general ones that come to mind are press coverage & forum link-building. If you’ve got a very nice product, paying a PR professional to obtain coverage could cause direct sales. If you’re within a niche containing active & passionate communities in forums, invest in becoming part of them, and understand ways to post links in many ways that’s allowed.