I’ve recently heard from a few people throughout the last year or two that, as link builders, we ought to just be working on links that drive traffic & revenue.
Earlier this week I watched a video posted on Twitter from Wil Reynolds, which you’ll find below. I have huge respect for Wil (interviewed him within 2012; still worth a read), as well as in general, In my opinion that what he says in the community comes from a really good, authentic place.
When you don’t want to watch it, the typical gist of this is that a lot of the links SEOs are quality link building “don’t do anything whatsoever for that client”, given that these links do not drive conversions, assisted conversions, newsletter sign ups, etc. He’s one of several people who have mentioned links this way, and by no means am I seeking to / would like to single him out (he’s only the most vocal / widespread of your bunch).
This concept sounds great in principle, and will bring you pretty pumped up. A few other similarly exhilarating mottos pop into your head as i hear it (heard throughout the community):
“Fire your clients! Should you don’t like them, then stop working with them.”
“Build a web site for users, not search engine listings!”
“Just create great content, as well as the links should come!”
The problem is that we could sometimes swing past the boundary in just one direction, whether it’s all the way to the left (i.e. black hat SEO), or up to the correct (i.e. developing a site purely for UX). That can cause extremes like getting penalties from search engines like google on a single side, and building non-indexable sites about the other.
In this case, the concept of only going after revenue driving links, instead of any others, is a perfect example of swinging very far in one direction.
1. Doing an issue that doesn’t directly cause revenue
Let’s go ahead and take logic of this argument and put it to use to other elements of SEO. Read this and say that, apart from a number of specifics (i.e. page speed improvements), that any of these improvements lead right to increased revenue.
We recognize that Google loves original content, and that there are many listing-type pages that SEOs create content for this we could safely assume few will certainly read. Maybe those product description sweat shops are writing content that individuals can certainly make purchasing decisions based from, but there’s a good chance hardly any folks 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 could or perhaps not make an effect on rankings
Wil talked about the concern that this links acquired within a campaign might not hold the impact that one hopes to possess right after the campaign is over.
You might easily have the case that, for anything technical SEO-wise, it’s not much of a sure thing that the individual fix will impact rankings. Sometimes you’re at night to what exactly is causing the situation. That’s why audits contain numerous things to address, because any person item may not be what Google is to take one of the most trouble with. So, for anything you’re doing on-site, it’s a risk on some level that this won’t hold the impact you’re trying to find.
But exactly how does link-building compare to other marketing strategy 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 receive the result you’re dreaming about, whether it’s branding, direct sales, or search rankings.
The expectation that the building links campaign would be wise to lead to a clear surge in rankings, especially when confronted with a really complex, modern algorithm which could hinder a website from ranking due to numerous other issues, is a little unfair.
3. Existing well ranking websites & their link profiles
Now let’s look at example. Consider the websites ranking for “San Diego Flowers”. The most effective ranking site for the reason that city is AllensFlowers.com. They’ve got some solid links that seem to be like they drive a few sales here & there. They also have a number of links that happen to be a lot more controversial with regards to the direct, non-SEO value they give:
These folks were given an award coming from a local event. I believe it’s safe to say few individuals have groomed the list of links in this posting & made purchasing decisions based off some of them.
These folks were placed in a resource guide for organising a wedding. If this type of page got a good deal traffic from qualified potential customers (people planning for a wedding), then for certain, I really could check this out link driving revenue. But based on OSE, this site just has 2 internal links, and I didn’t believe it is ranking well for “san diego wedding resources”, and so i doubt greater than a few people begin to see the page each month, not to mention click on that exact hyperlink to Allen’s Flowers.
These people were cited as an example of making use of a selected technology. I think it’s reliable advice 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 link from a very aged, DA50 website.
Do a few of these link examples pass traffic/conversions? Maybe; there’s not a way of knowing beyond doubt 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 those of the main keywords. Which end dexhpky71 is definitely worth venturing out of my way to make sure our link is included on an awards page, or which a local magazine’s resource guide includes their service together with the others in the region.
4. My experiences
Throughout the clients we’ve had and the projects I’ve been an integral part of, certainly one of my personal favorite things to look at in analytics will be the referral traffic in the sites we’re link building to. I want to determine if a number of the links we receive are sending any traffic, and in case they are doing, if that traffic converts.
A good example you think of can be a .gov link project we did for a property site. Earlier in 2016, we built ~30 links during the period of 6-9 months (a serious small campaign), and we watched their organic traffic grow ~50% over that time period.
Considering analytics, since the links were acquired, only 3 in the 30 have sent greater than 10 visits. A few them did send traffic that met conversion goals! But that wasn’t will make or break why we did the campaign to start with.
I recall acquiring 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 considerably less links, and drove considerably less rankings for my clients & my own 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 that you attract bigger & better clients whenever you say things such as this. As someone who writes more like a practitioner, and fewer like a thought leader, it’s clear that what I’m doing isn’t the ideal lead generation technique for an agency (for anyone 1 big budget client that contacts us, we get 50 small businesses unreasonably trying to spend $200/month for excellent work).
With that in mind, I feel it’s important to be aware of the concept 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 with 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 one or two links which can be sending value, consider “are there other link opportunities on the market exactly like this?” For our agency, we usually come up with a tactic that, at its core, is really a single method to get the link, but can be applied to 1000s of sites. Maybe you have just stumbled into something where there are several other opportunities exactly like it.
By way of 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 starter kit product page. There are probably 100s of other local robotics club who have website information for first time members (and are likely to have curiosity about that starter kit), so contacting each by using a promo code for the product could scale very well, and drive a great deal of revenue (ensure they mention the discount code on the next club meeting, too!).
2. If you do find a revenue-generating link tactic, address it like the golden egg that it is
If you find one, spend money on it to accomplish it right whether it can find yourself investing in itself.
Two general ones that pop into your head are press coverage & forum building links. If you’ve got a very nice product, paying a PR professional to get you coverage could cause direct selling. If you’re in the niche that has active & passionate communities in forums, put money into becoming an element of them, and understand tips on how to post links in ways that’s allowed.