I’ve recently heard from a few people over the last couple of years that, as link builders, we should only 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 got huge respect for Wil (interviewed him within 2012; still worth a read), and in general, I believe that what he says in the community comes from a really good, authentic place.
When you don’t want to watch it, the overall gist than it is the fact that the majority of the links SEOs are link building company “don’t do anything for the client”, considering that these links do not drive conversions, assisted conversions, newsletter sign ups, etc. He’s one of the people that have talked about links in this way, and by no means am I looking to / want to single him out (he’s just the most vocal / widespread from the bunch).
This idea sounds great theoretically, and will get you pretty pumped up. A couple of other similarly exhilarating mottos spring to mind once i listen to it (heard through the community):
“Fire your clients! If you don’t like them, then stop handling them.”
“Build a site for users, not search engines like yahoo!”
“Just create great content, and the links will come!”
However , we are able to sometimes swing very far in 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 bring about 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, and never any others, is a great demonstration of swinging past the boundary in one direction.
1. Doing something that doesn’t directly lead to revenue
Let’s use the logic on this argument and use it for some other elements of SEO. Go through this and say that, besides several specifics (i.e. page speed improvements), that these improvements lead directly to increased revenue.
We also recognize that Google loves original content, and that we now have many listing-type pages that SEOs create content for that we can easily safely assume few will certainly read. Maybe those product description sweat shops are writing content that men and women can make purchasing decisions based from, but there’s a high probability not many everyone is.
So: it’s OK that every activity we’re doing as marketers doesn’t directly cause driving revenue. That’s lots of whatever we do as SEOs, anyway.
2. Links which may or otherwise make a direct impact on rankings
Wil talked about the concern the links acquired inside a campaign might not exactly possess the impact that one hopes to have following the campaign has finished.
You could potentially easily make the case that, for anything technical SEO-wise, it’s not 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 several things to address, because any individual item will not be what Google is to take by far 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 searching for.
But how does backlink building compare to other marketing campaign types that entail outreach / outbound elements (i.e. advertisements, PR, etc.)? Almost all of those, if not completely, don’t involve 100% confidence that you’ll obtain the result you’re dreaming about, whether it’s branding, direct sales, or search rankings.
The expectation which a link-building campaign should always produce a clear boost in rankings, especially when dealing with an extremely complex, modern algorithm that may hinder a site from ranking due to numerous other issues, is unfair.
3. Existing well ranking websites & their link profiles
Now let’s look at example. Consider the websites ranking for “San Diego Flowers”. The very best ranking site for the reason that city is AllensFlowers.com. They’ve got a bit of solid links that appear like they drive a number of sales here & there. They also have a number of links which are a lot more controversial with regards to the direct, non-SEO value they supply:
These people were given an award from the local event. I think it’s safe to say not many people have groomed their list of links in this article & made purchasing decisions based off any one of them.
These people were placed in a resource guide for planning a wedding. If this page got a whole lot traffic from qualified prospective customers (people planning for a wedding), then beyond doubt, I could see this link driving revenue. But as outlined by OSE, this web site just has 2 internal links, and so i didn’t find it ranking well for “san diego wedding resources”, therefore i doubt over a handful of people view the page each month, not to mention simply click that exact backlink to Allen’s Flowers.
These folks were cited as one example of utilizing 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 a web link coming from a very aged, DA50 website.
Do a few of these link examples pass traffic/conversions? Maybe; there’s no chance of knowing for certain either way. But the idea is: these are links I’d want, and whether or not they passed conversions or traffic, they’re legitimate links that pass the attention test & help this flower shop dominate for all of their main keywords. Which end dexhpky71 is worth heading out of my way to be certain our link is included by using an awards page, or which a local magazine’s resource guide includes their service with the others in the area.
4. My own experiences
From the clients we’ve had along with the projects I’ve been a part of, certainly one of the most popular things to check out in analytics is definitely the referral traffic in the sites we’re building links to. I would like to determine if some of the links we have are sending any traffic, and when they are doing, if it traffic converts.
One example you think of can be a .gov link project we did for a real-estate site. Earlier in 2016, we built ~30 links during the period of 6-9 months (a serious small campaign), therefore we watched their organic traffic grow ~50% over this time period.
Taking a look at analytics, ever since the links were acquired, only 3 from 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 will make or break why we did the campaign in the first place.
I remember obtaining a blogroll link many years back that sent some serious traffic (mid 4 figures on a monthly basis), that has been awesome. But if I spent time only going after links that will send traffic & conversions, I would’ve built considerably less links, and drove significantly less rankings for my clients & my own, personal sites (which, coincidentally, leads to less revenue).
So what’s the takeaway?
I totally realise why a lot people wish to communicate this message. The short answer is that you attract bigger & better clients if you say things such as this. As someone who writes more as being a practitioner, and fewer as being a thought leader, it’s clear that what I’m doing isn’t the most effective lead generation strategy for an agency (for all 1 big budget client that contacts us, we receive 50 many small business owners unreasonably trying to spend $200/month for excellent work).
With that said, I believe it’s vital that you be aware of the meaning of the content, while still keeping things practical. Here’s the way we can do 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 both for new links you’re building, but in addition for all past manually OR naturally acquired ones.
If you notice one or two links which are sending value, think about “are there other link opportunities on the market much like this?” For our agency, we usually make a tactic that, at its core, is actually a single method to get a hyperlink, but can be applied to 1000s of sites. You could have just stumbled into something where there are many other opportunities just like it.
For instance – imagine an eCommerce niche electronics store locating a link from the local robotics club’s New Member Info page to the store’s Arduino basic starter kit product page. There are actually probably 100s of other local robotics club who have website information for brand new members (and may very well have desire for that starter kit), so contacting each having a promo code for your product could scale properly, and drive a lot of revenue (be sure they mention the discount code in the next club meeting, too!).
2. Should you do locate a revenue-generating link tactic, address it such as the golden egg that it is
Should you do find one, put money into it to do it right if it can wind up spending money on itself.
Two general ones that pop into your head are press coverage & forum building links. If you’ve got an awesome product, paying a PR professional to help you 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.