I’ve recently heard from some people during the last year or so that, as link builders, we should basically be focusing 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 then in general, I really believe that what he says in the neighborhood arises from a very good, authentic place.
If you don’t desire to watch it, the typical gist of it is the fact that most of the links SEOs are link building firm “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 several people that have described links in this manner, and in no way am I seeking to / would like to single him out (he’s just the most vocal / widespread in the bunch).
This concept sounds great in principle, and will get you pretty pumped up. A few other similarly exhilarating mottos spring to mind after i hear it (heard throughout the community):
“Fire your customers! Should you don’t like them, then stop coping with them.”
“Build a website for users, not search engine listings!”
“Just create great content, and the links may come!”
However , we could sometimes swing too far in a direction, whether it’s all the way to the left (i.e. black hat SEO), or up to the best (i.e. constructing a site purely for UX). That can lead to extremes like getting penalties from search engines like google in one side, and building non-indexable sites about the other.
In such a case, the thought of only going after revenue driving links, rather than any others, is an ideal example of swinging past the boundary in just one direction.
1. Doing something which doesn’t directly cause revenue
Let’s go ahead and take logic with this argument and apply it with other parts of SEO. Go through this and tell me that, aside from a few specifics (i.e. page speed improvements), that some of these improvements lead directly to increased revenue.
We also recognize that Google loves original content, and that there are 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 individuals is likely to make purchasing decisions based away from, but there’s a good chance not many people are.
So: it’s OK that each activity we’re doing as marketers doesn’t directly cause driving revenue. That’s a great deal of what we should do as SEOs, anyway.
2. Links which may or otherwise make a positive change on rankings
Wil discussed the concern that the links acquired inside a campaign might not exactly possess the impact that certain hopes to have following the campaign is over.
You could easily create the case that, for anything technical SEO-wise, it’s not a sure thing an individual fix will impact rankings. Sometimes you’re in the dark about what exactly causes the problem. That’s why audits contain a number of items to address, because any person item will not be what Google takes by far the most trouble with. So, for anything you’re doing on-site, it’s a danger on some level it won’t hold the impact you’re seeking.
But how does link building can compare to other advertising campaign types that involve outreach / outbound elements (i.e. advertisements, PR, etc.)? Most of those, if not all, don’t involve 100% confidence that you’ll have the result you’re wishing for, whether it’s branding, direct sales, or search rankings.
The expectation that a link building campaign should create a clear increase in rankings, especially when dealing with an extremely complex, modern algorithm which could hinder a site from ranking as a consequence of numerous other issues, is a little unfair.
3. Existing well ranking websites & their link profiles
Now let’s look at example. Go ahead and take websites ranking for “San Diego Flowers”. The very best ranking site in this city is AllensFlowers.com. They’ve got some solid links that look like they drive a number of sales here & there. They likewise have a number of links that happen to be far more controversial regarding the direct, non-SEO value they supply:
These were given an award from your local event. I feel it’s reliable advice few individuals have groomed their list of links on this page & made purchasing decisions based off some of them.
These folks were indexed in a resource guide for arranging a wedding. If this page got a lot traffic from qualified potential prospects (people organising a wedding), then for sure, I really could see this link driving revenue. But according to OSE, this article just has 2 internal links, and that i didn’t find it ranking well for “san diego wedding resources”, and so i doubt greater than a couple of people view the page every month, let alone click on that particular hyperlink to Allen’s Flowers.
They were cited as one example of using a certain 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 a hyperlink from a very aged, DA50 website.
Do a number of these link examples pass traffic/conversions? Maybe; there’s absolutely no way of knowing for sure in either case. But the point is: these are links I’d want, and whether they passed conversions or traffic, they’re legitimate links that pass the eye test & help this flower shop dominate for many of the main keywords. And this end dexhpky71 is definitely worth hanging out of my way to ensure our link is included with an awards page, or that the local magazine’s resource guide includes their service with all the others in your community.
4. My very own experiences
From the clients we’ve had along with the projects I’ve been an element of, one among the most popular things to look at in analytics is definitely the referral traffic from the sites we’re building links to. I would like to see if a number of the links we receive are sending any traffic, and in case they are doing, if it traffic converts.
A good example you think of is actually a .gov link project we did for the real estate site. Earlier in 2016, we built ~30 links over the course of 6-9 months (a serious small campaign), and we watched their organic traffic grow ~50% over that time period.
Considering analytics, considering that the links were acquired, only 3 from the 30 have sent greater than 10 visits. A few them did send traffic that met conversion goals! But that wasn’t intending to make or break why we did the campaign to begin with.
I remember receiving a blogroll link a few years back that sent some serious traffic (mid 4 figures a month), that has been awesome. But when I spent time only pursuing links that will send traffic & conversions, I would’ve built significantly less links, and drove considerably less rankings for my clients & my sites (which, coincidentally, brings about less revenue).
So what’s the takeaway?
I totally understand why a whole lot people desire to communicate this message. The short answer is basically that you attract bigger & better clients once you say things like this. As somebody who writes more like a practitioner, and much less as being a thought leader, it’s clear that what I’m doing isn’t the ideal lead generation strategy for an agency (for anyone 1 big budget client that contacts us, we receive 50 small businesses proprietors unreasonably looking to spend $200/month for excellent work).
Having said that, I believe it’s important to comprehend the concept of the message, while still keeping things practical. Here’s how we 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, but in addition for all past manually OR naturally acquired ones.
When you see a few links which can be sending value, ask yourself “are there other link opportunities available the same as this?” For our own agency, we usually develop a tactic that, at its core, is really a single way of getting the link, but can be applied to 1000s of sites. You could have just stumbled into something where there are lots of other opportunities the same as it.
For example – imagine an eCommerce niche electronics store locating a link coming from a 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 which have website information for first time members (and will likely have fascination with that basic starter kit), so contacting each having a discount code for that product could scale properly, and drive a great deal of revenue (make sure they mention the promo code at the next club meeting, too!).
2. Should you find a revenue-generating link tactic, address it like the golden egg that it is
Should you do find one, spend money on it to get it done right if it can end up investing in itself.
Two general ones that come to mind are press coverage & forum building links. If you’ve got an excellent product, paying a PR professional to obtain coverage could cause direct sales. If you’re inside a niche which includes active & passionate communities in forums, spend money on becoming an integral part of them, and understand ways to post links in a way that’s allowed.