I’ve recently heard from a number of people throughout the last year or two that, as link builders, we need to basically be working on links that drive traffic & revenue.
Earlier in the 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 also in general, I believe that what he says in the neighborhood comes from a very good, authentic place.
Should you don’t wish to watch it, the overall gist of it is that most of the links SEOs are link building agency “don’t a single thing for your client”, given that these links usually do not drive conversions, assisted conversions, newsletter sign ups, etc. He’s one of the people who have talked about links this way, and in no way am I attempting to / wish to single him out (he’s simply the most vocal / widespread in the bunch).
This concept sounds great in principle, and will get you pretty pumped up. Several other similarly exhilarating mottos pop into your head when I hear it (heard through the community):
“Fire your clients! If you don’t like them, then stop coping with them.”
“Build a website for users, not search engines like yahoo!”
“Just create great content, and the links can come!”
However , we can sometimes swing very 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 lead to extremes like getting penalties from search engines in one side, and building non-indexable sites on the other.
In cases like this, the concept of only going after revenue driving links, and not any others, is an ideal instance of swinging very far in one direction.
1. Doing a thing that doesn’t directly bring about revenue
Let’s consider the logic of this argument and apply it with other aspects of SEO. Go through this and tell me that, in addition to a number of specifics (i.e. page speed improvements), that any of these improvements lead instantly to increased revenue.
We recognize that Google loves original content, and there are many listing-type pages that SEOs create content for the we can easily safely assume few will read. Maybe those product description sweat shops are writing content that individuals can certainly make purchasing decisions based away from, but there’s a good chance only a few people are.
So: it’s OK that each and every activity we’re doing as marketers doesn’t directly bring about driving revenue. That’s lots of what we should do as SEOs, anyway.
2. Links that may or otherwise make a positive change on rankings
Wil talked about the concern that this links acquired in a campaign may not have the impact that you hopes to possess following the campaign has finished.
You can easily have the case that, for anything technical SEO-wise, it’s not much of a sure thing that an individual fix will impact rankings. Sometimes you’re in the dark as to what exactly is causing the issue. That’s why audits contain a variety of things to address, because any individual item might not be what Google is taking probably the most problem with. So, for anything you’re doing on-site, it’s a danger on some level it won’t get the impact you’re looking for.
But just how does link building can compare to other advertising campaign types that entail outreach / outbound elements (i.e. advertisements, PR, etc.)? Most of those, if not completely, don’t involve 100% confidence that you’ll get the result you’re hoping for, whether it’s branding, direct sales, or search rankings.
The expectation that the building links campaign would be wise to lead to a clear boost in rankings, especially facing a really complex, modern algorithm which could hinder a site from ranking due to numerous other issues, is a little unfair.
3. Existing well ranking websites & their link profiles
Now let’s have a look at example. Go ahead and take websites ranking for “San Diego Flowers”. The ideal ranking site for the reason that city is AllensFlowers.com. They’ve got some solid links that seem to be like they drive several sales here & there. They likewise have a few links which can be much more controversial with regards to the direct, non-SEO value they supply:
These folks were given an award from the local event. I feel it’s reliable advice few individuals have groomed their list of links on this page & made purchasing decisions based off any kind of them.
These people were listed in a resource guide for arranging a wedding. If the page got a good deal traffic from qualified potential customers (people planning a wedding), then for sure, I was able to check this out link driving revenue. But according to OSE, this page merely has 2 internal links, and so i didn’t think it is ranking well for “san diego wedding resources”, thus i doubt greater than a handful of people see the page every month, let alone simply click that exact link to Allen’s Flowers.
These folks were cited for example of making use of a specific technology. I 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 link from a very aged, DA50 website.
Do some of these link examples pass traffic/conversions? Maybe; there’s no chance of knowing for sure in either case. But the thing is: they 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 many from the main keywords. Which end dexhpky71 may be worth heading out of my way to ensure our link is included by using an awards page, or that the local magazine’s resource guide includes their service using the others in the area.
4. My own, personal experiences
Throughout the clients we’ve had and the projects I’ve been an element of, one among the best things to consider in analytics is the referral traffic of the sites we’re link building to. I would like to find out if a number of the links we receive are sending any traffic, and in case they generally do, if it traffic converts.
One example that comes to mind is actually a .gov link project we did for a property site. Earlier in 2016, we built ~30 links throughout 6-9 months (a serious small campaign), and that 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 a lot more than 10 visits. Several 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 a few years back that sent some serious traffic (mid 4 figures per month), which had been 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 discover why a whole lot people want to communicate this message. The short answer is basically that you attract bigger & better clients once you say stuff like this. As somebody who writes more like a practitioner, and much less being a thought leader, it’s clear that what I’m doing isn’t the very best lead generation technique for an agency (for everybody 1 big budget client that contacts us, we have 50 small business owners unreasonably seeking to spend $200/month for great work).
With that said, I feel it’s important to understand the meaning of the content, while still keeping things practical. Here’s how you can perform 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 both new links you’re building, but also for all past manually OR naturally acquired ones.
When you see one or two links that happen to be sending value, ask yourself “are there other link opportunities available the same as this?” For our own agency, we usually come up with a tactic that, at its core, is actually a single way of getting a hyperlink, but does apply to 1000s of sites. You may have just stumbled into something where there are many other opportunities much like it.
By way of example – imagine an eCommerce niche electronics store finding a link from a local robotics club’s New Member Info page towards the store’s Arduino starter kit product page. There are actually probably 100s of other local robotics club who have website information for new members (and may very well have interest in that basic starter kit), so reaching out to each with a promo code for the product could scale really well, and drive lots of revenue (make certain they mention the promo code on the next club meeting, too!).
2. If you locate a revenue-generating link tactic, treat it much like the golden egg that it is
If you do encounter one, invest in it to do it right if this can wind up paying for itself.
Two general ones that spring to mind are press coverage & forum backlink building. If you’ve got an awesome product, paying a PR professional to help you coverage could result in direct sales. If you’re in a niche which has active & passionate communities in forums, invest in becoming a part of them, and understand ways to post links in a way that’s allowed.