Anyone operating in the SEO sphere will know that links are the single most powerful ranking factor there is – and as far as supply and demand goes, there just aren’t enough wonderful, winnable links to go round.
What this means for the digital marketers of today is that incentivising potential linkers has become more important than ever – and we’re not talking about exchanging cash for links, unless that’s what you’re into. Instead, link hunters are coming to realise that the key to supersizing your link equity is to build authentic, advantageous relationships that are rewarding for all involved.
Put simply, perfect your process and link-building becomes the gift that keeps on giving.
1: Create a connection
Our approach to link-building is inherently relationship-based. No business exists in a vacuum and, to expand your link profile, you need to expand your circle – so establish who you should be speaking to and make contact in a genuine way. Link-building has much in common with the principles of dating, and your prospects won’t be interested in date #2 unless they feel the spark early on.
2: Make something special
Links don’t grow on trees, and high quality sites deserve a high quality offering. Having nurtured a promising relationship with an industry blogger or press representative, create something that’s exclusive to them and designed to engage their audience. The key is to see links not as every business owner’s entitlement but a reward for those willing to put in the time and effort.
3: Secure the link
Following on from the dating analogy, some site owners can be unpredictable and others easily distracted. You’ll be rewarded for your perseverance (within acceptable limits) – so stay on their radar and, most importantly of all, remain interesting if you’re in this relationship for the long haul.
4: Keep them close
Best practice link-building isn’t about exploitation – and the better you treat journalists and bloggers you’re in touch with, the more likely a current connection is to evolve into a lasting one. Any online relationships that fall by the wayside are options you can rule out in future. Maintain contact after you’ve gotten the goods to cement a positive impression and make sure they remember you in future.
5: Reap the benefits
Depending on which aspects of your online presence are a key focus, a link earned can offer a range of diverse and measurable benefits. No link-building project is worth undertaking unless you’re crystal clear on your objectives and the route to success is very much in your line of vision.
So the question is: what’s in a link?
At face value, the primary benefit any link offers – assuming it’s a trusted site in your space – is pure, unadulterated link equity. Great sites offering followed links (without a price tag) are few and far between, making them well worth the effort – but links like these give you the stepping stones to greater link equity, and this is Google’s favourite thing.
For many businesses, the name of the game is to evolve from an ambitious startup into a recognised brand – and link-building is just one way to spread the word about your business.
For example, let’s say you create a piece of unique content for an authoritative industry blog, which they publish. Assuming someone from the business is named as a guest author on the site, every person who reads that post absorbs the wisdom you impart and – even more importantly – registers your brand name. Better yet, if they got what they needed from your post, they’ll even come to associate your brand with a solution to their problems.
If one of your professional aspirations is to be seen as a reliable source of up-to-date industry info, content-based link-building can give you a platform to share your unique knowledge and insight. Identifying untapped audiences relevant to your product or service generates your little black link-building book for you, helping you to access a wider reader base and make a powerful impression during the first encounter.
Content marketing is an incredibly effective way of engaging prospective customers in the early stages of the buying cycle – and exposing online users to relevant, high quality resources you’ve created plants a seed that may well grow into a desire to purchase your product or service.
Followed links may be the holy grail of SEO loot, but that doesn’t mean there’s no value in a no-follow. Many sites, particularly more prestigious publications, swear by awarding featured bloggers no less or more than a no-follow backlink – and although that takes link equity off the table, it doesn’t rule out the possibility of referral traffic.
Choosing your link targets wisely – identifying sites that are authoritative, relevant and, most importantly, read by your audience – massively increases the likelihood that readers will not only absorb and enjoy your content but even click through to your site when they’re done. Prospect potential sites with one eye on audience overlap at all times and some level of referral traffic is a near certainty – making followed links less of a necessity than a welcome bonus.
In terms of long-term benefits, the most truly valuable thing to come out of link-building is the relationship you nurture to get the link. Link outreach can sometimes be disheartening and definitely involves some trial and error, but the blogosphere is full of reasonable people happy to swap quality content for a well-earned link – and those kinds of connections are worth holding on to.
There’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to a link-building project – and the key is to build your game plan around your goals. Get in touch today to speak to our outreach experts about levelling up your link equity.