I’ve recently heard from a number of people during the last couple of years that, as link builders, we need to just 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. We have 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 arises from a very good, authentic place.
Should you don’t wish to watch it, the overall gist of this is most of the links SEOs are link building packages “don’t a single thing for that client”, considering that these links do not drive conversions, assisted conversions, newsletter sign ups, etc. He’s one of the people with discussed links this way, and in no way am I attempting to / desire to single him out (he’s simply the most vocal / widespread of your bunch).
This concept sounds great in theory, and can get you pretty pumped up. A number of other similarly exhilarating mottos spring to mind after i hear it (heard throughout the community):
“Fire your clients! Should you don’t like them, then stop coping with them.”
“Build a website for users, not search engines!”
“Just create great content, and the links should come!”
However , we can easily sometimes swing too much in a direction, whether it’s all the way to the left (i.e. black hat SEO), or up to the proper (i.e. building a site purely for UX). That can cause 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 pursuing revenue driving links, and never any others, is a perfect example of swinging very far in a single direction.
1. Doing a thing that doesn’t directly lead to revenue
Let’s consider the logic on this argument and use it to other areas of SEO. Read this and tell me that, besides a few specifics (i.e. page speed improvements), that any of these improvements lead straight to increased revenue.
We also know that Google loves original content, and that you have many listing-type pages that SEOs create content for this we can easily safely assume few are going to read. Maybe those product description sweat shops are writing content that folks will make purchasing decisions based off from, but there’s a high probability hardly any individuals are.
So: it’s OK that each activity we’re doing as marketers doesn’t directly lead to driving revenue. That’s plenty of whatever we do as SEOs, anyway.
2. Links that may or not make an effect on rankings
Wil discussed the concern the links acquired in a campaign might not possess the impact that certain hopes to possess right after the campaign is over.
You might easily make your case that, for anything technical SEO-wise, it’s not just a sure thing that an individual fix will impact rankings. Sometimes you’re at nighttime in regards to what exactly is causing the situation. That’s why audits contain numerous things to address, because any individual item will not be what Google takes one of 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 searching for.
But exactly how does link-building compare with other marketing plan types that involve outreach / outbound elements (i.e. advertisements, PR, etc.)? Almost all of those, if not completely, don’t involve 100% confidence that you’ll have the result you’re hoping for, whether it’s branding, direct selling, or search rankings.
The expectation that a link building campaign must always lead to a clear surge in rankings, especially when confronted with an extremely complex, modern algorithm that could 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 look at example. Go ahead and take websites ranking for “San Diego Flowers”. The most effective ranking site in this city is AllensFlowers.com. They’ve got a bit of solid links that seem to be like they drive a few sales here & there. They have a few links which are a lot more controversial regarding the direct, non-SEO value they give:
They were given an award from your local event. I do believe it’s reliable advice few individuals have groomed their list of links in this article & made purchasing decisions based off some of them.
They were placed in a resource guide for organising a wedding. If it page got a good deal traffic from qualified potential prospects (people planning a wedding), then for certain, I could possibly see this link driving revenue. But in accordance with OSE, this site merely has 2 internal links, and so i didn’t find it ranking well for “san diego wedding resources”, so I doubt over a few people view the page every month, let alone click on that specific link to Allen’s Flowers.
They were cited as one example of making use of a certain technology. I feel 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 the link from your very aged, DA50 website.
Do a number of these link examples pass traffic/conversions? Maybe; there’s absolutely no way of knowing beyond doubt either way. But the idea 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 all those of their main keywords. And this end dexhpky71 will be worth venturing out of my way to make certain our link is included upon an awards page, or that the local magazine’s resource guide includes their service together with the others in the area.
4. My own, personal experiences
Through the clients we’ve had as well as the projects I’ve been part of, one of my personal favorite things to consider in analytics will be the referral traffic of the sites we’re link building to. I wish to determine if several of the links we have are sending any traffic, and in case they generally do, if it traffic converts.
An example that comes to mind can be a .gov link project we did for any real-estate site. Earlier in 2016, we built ~30 links over the course of 6-9 months (a good small campaign), and that we watched their organic traffic grow ~50% over this time period.
Taking a look at analytics, since the links were acquired, only 3 of the 30 have sent a lot more than 10 visits. A couple of 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 recall obtaining a blogroll link a couple of years back that sent some serious traffic (mid 4 figures on a monthly basis), which was awesome. But if I spent time only going after links that would send traffic & conversions, I would’ve built significantly less links, and drove considerably less rankings for my clients & my sites (which, coincidentally, contributes to less revenue).
So what’s the takeaway?
I totally realize why a whole lot people would like to communicate this message. The short answer is basically that you attract bigger & better clients if you say such things as this. As someone who writes more as being a practitioner, and fewer like 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 receive 50 small business owners unreasonably seeking to spend $200/month for excellent work).
With that in mind, I feel it’s essential to comprehend the meaning of the message, while still keeping things practical. Here’s the way we are capable of doing it.
1. Check referral sources for opportunities
Scan referral traffic within your analytics for patterns & clues to more visitors/revenue driving opportunities. This counts both for new links you’re building, but also for all past manually OR naturally acquired ones.
If you notice a few links which can be sending value, ask yourself “are there other link opportunities on the market the same as this?” For our own agency, we usually think of a tactic that, at its core, is actually a single way of getting a web link, but can be applied to 1000s of sites. You may have just stumbled into something where there are many other opportunities the same as it.
As an example – imagine an eCommerce niche electronics store finding a link from the local robotics club’s New Member Info page towards the store’s Arduino basic starter kit product page. You will find probably 100s of other local robotics club which may have website information for new members (and may very well have interest in that basic starter kit), so contacting each using a discount code for the product could scale properly, and drive plenty of revenue (make sure they mention the promo code on the next club meeting, too!).
2. If you find a revenue-generating link tactic, address it like the golden egg that it must be
Should you encounter one, invest in it to get it done right if this can turn out paying for itself.
Two general ones that pop into your head are press coverage & forum link building. If you’ve got an excellent product, paying a PR professional to obtain coverage could result in direct sales. If you’re in the niche that has active & passionate communities in forums, spend money on becoming part of them, and understand ways to post links in a way that’s allowed.