Reassessing the Objectives of Link Generation
The end of 2009 is upon us, and as I begin to reflect I realise I want my first article of 2010 to mirror the symbolism of the New Year. I want it to have a fresh perspective and a new outlook.
So... I want to discuss how link building should be seen and discuss alternative opportunities that link generation can provide. Now, I understand some of the concepts in the article will not be completely focused on SEO but if we restrict ourselves how are we going to progress and push forward?
Ever since I began my career in search, link building has always had negative connotations; it can be monotonous, tiresome and unrewarding. The success of a link builder was always measured in the quantity (originally) of links and specifically the Page Rank of the linking page but most recently the quality and the relevance of each link has taken precedence. Either way, success revolved around links and was measured on what impact they had on boosting a brands ranking position for targeted keywords in search engines. I think it is about time we stop getting links for the sake of links, stop thinking in a pre-historic and outdated way and start focusing on the real value of a link.
We are always told how links can also provide a good source of referring traffic but I continuously find that this is merely said and not acted upon, mainly due to the preconceptions that the success of a link building campaign is based purely around links. This is not our fault or the clients fault as we originally imposed these measurements upon ourselves, but we should look at how we can shift the goalposts slightly and also begin to focus on how we can use link building to develop strong, long term partnerships with brands and generating a constant converting source of traffic.
These links may take longer to obtain and manage, with discussions including more than a simple link request and a response stating “Yes I can give you a link”. You will need to liaise with the clients marketing team and act as an intermediary for the initial stages of the potential partnership. Is this what our job entails? Well if you consider the most common agreed targets of; boosting the quantity of traffic, increasing brand awareness and improving the quality of traffic then yes this is exactly what we should be doing. Why should there be boundaries to how far we can help a client?
We need to begin to see the wider picture when link building. I strongly believe when you conduct link generation, time should be spent talking to a client about their prior and current offline marketing activities. I feel there is a need to immerse yourself within your client’s team and act as an extension to the marketing department. Similar to Dixon Jones idea about link reclamation, (view this link building post for more information) these discussions can help identify partnerships with organisations and allow you to establish links that you have a right to have. Having knowledge of the offline communication can provide you with a good contact for future use and act as a powerful platform to negotiate links. We have often found this to be very rewarding as by knowing a contact and background history your link request has a lot more credibility and the chances of success are a lot higher. However, more importantly it provides you with information about similar sites in which you can begin to source future partnerships. The internet now is all about relationships, so embracing this in link building can be very effective.
By breaking down your clients market, you can look further into related products or services. If your client is a hotel chain, research the online environment for local attractions whose visitors might be looking to stay in the area afterwards. Take advantage of online users behaviour, heuristic search relies on navigation through hyperlinks and is common amongst online users which intend to research a product or service. 93.2% of customers use the Internet to research a product or service so by establishing ties (and not merely a link) with similar services you can position your brand at the right point of time when a user is actively thinking of your service.
For example, if they intend to book a wedding, the following services are all related; hotels, caterers, florists, local venues. By analysing where your client’s product or service sits you can determine where you can position your brand or partner your clients brand and benefit from that secondary traffic.
We know obtaining links to a website is an essential part of search but what separates success from failure can often lay in looking at areas which are not essential and thinking outside of the box. A client might not expect you to propose potential partnerships but if it can help you from a search perspective and help generate revenue and exposure of a brand then this should be essential. In the long term, developing partnerships with relevant sites will often lead to valuable links anyway as the partnerships tend to be with reputable organisations so consider this next time you carry out some link building.
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