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I’ve recently heard from a few people throughout the last year or two that, as link builders, we need to simply be concentrating 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. I actually have huge respect for Wil (interviewed him in 2012; still worth a read), and in general, I think that what he says in the community comes from a really good, authentic place.

Should you don’t desire to watch it, the overall gist from it is the fact that the majority of the links SEOs are link building agency “don’t do anything whatsoever for your client”, considering the fact that these links do not drive conversions, assisted conversions, newsletter sign ups, etc. He’s one of many people with mentioned links in this way, and by no means am I attempting to / wish to single him out (he’s just the most vocal / widespread from the bunch).

This concept sounds great in principle, and will bring you pretty pumped up. A few other similarly exhilarating mottos come to mind once i hear it (heard through the entire community):

“Fire your customers! If you don’t like them, then stop working with them.”

“Build a site for users, not search engine listings!”

“Just create great content, and the links will come!”

However , we are able to sometimes swing very far in a single direction, whether it’s up to the left (i.e. black hat SEO), or all the way to the correct (i.e. building a site purely for UX). That can bring about extremes like getting penalties from search engines like google on one side, and building non-indexable sites about the other.

In such a case, the thought of only going after revenue driving links, and not any others, is a perfect instance of swinging too far in a single direction.

1. Doing an issue that doesn’t directly result in revenue

Let’s consider the logic of the argument and put it on with other elements of SEO. Go through this and tell me that, besides several specifics (i.e. page speed improvements), that any of these improvements lead directly to increased revenue.

We also understand that Google loves original content, and that there are many listing-type pages that SEOs create content for that we can safely assume few are going to read. Maybe those product description sweat shops are writing content that men and women can make purchasing decisions based off of, but there’s a high probability not many folks are.

So: it’s OK that every activity we’re doing as marketers doesn’t directly lead to driving revenue. That’s a great deal of everything we do as SEOs, anyway.

2. Links that could or otherwise make a positive change on rankings

Wil described the concern that this links acquired in a campaign may not have the impact that you hopes to possess after the campaign is finished.

You could easily make the case that, for anything technical SEO-wise, it’s not much of a sure thing that an individual fix will impact rankings. Sometimes you’re at nighttime to what exactly is causing the situation. That’s why audits contain a variety of items to address, because anyone item may not be what Google is taking probably the most trouble with. So, for anything you’re doing on-site, it’s a risk on some level that it won’t get the impact you’re looking for.

But just how does link building can compare to other advertising campaign types which entail outreach / outbound elements (i.e. advertisements, PR, etc.)? Most of those, if not completely, don’t involve 100% confidence that you’ll have the result you’re wishing for, whether it’s branding, direct sales, or search rankings.

The expectation a link-building campaign must always result in a clear rise in rankings, especially while confronting an incredibly complex, modern algorithm that may hinder an internet site from ranking as a result of numerous other issues, is a bit unfair.

3. Existing well ranking websites & their link profiles

Now let’s have a look at example. Take the websites ranking for “San Diego Flowers”. The best ranking site in that city is AllensFlowers.com. They’ve got a bit of solid links that look like they drive a couple of sales here & there. They have a number of links which are far more controversial in terms of the direct, non-SEO value they offer:

They were given an award coming from a local event. I believe it’s safe to say few individuals have groomed this list of links in this article & made purchasing decisions based off any of them.

These folks were indexed in a resource guide for planning a wedding. If the page got a great deal traffic from qualified potential clients (people planning for a wedding), then for sure, I was able to check this out link driving revenue. But according to OSE, this article has only 2 internal links, and i also didn’t discover it ranking well for “san diego wedding resources”, thus i doubt over a number of people start to see the page each month, let alone select that specific link to Allen’s Flowers.

These people were cited as one example of utilizing a particular technology. I think it’s reliable advice that no sales were driven here (who shops for florists which use mSQL?), and although it’s not niche or location related, it’s still a 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 beyond doubt in either case. 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 eye test & help this flower shop dominate for many from the main keywords. Which end dexhpky71 will be worth heading out of my way to make sure our link is included with an awards page, or a local magazine’s resource guide includes their service with the others in the community.

4. My experiences

Through the clients we’ve had along with the projects I’ve been a part of, one among the most popular things to check out in analytics may be the referral traffic of the sites we’re building links to. I want to see if a number of the links we receive are sending any traffic, and when they are doing, if that traffic converts.

One example you think of is a .gov link project we did to get a real estate site. Earlier in 2016, we built ~30 links over the course of 6-9 months (a good small campaign), therefore we watched their organic traffic grow ~50% over that point period.

Looking at analytics, because the links were acquired, only 3 in the 30 have sent a lot more than 10 visits. A number of them did send traffic that met conversion goals! But that wasn’t will make or break why we did the campaign to begin with.

I recall acquiring a blogroll link a couple of years back that sent some serious traffic (mid 4 figures monthly), which was awesome. But if I spent time only pursuing 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 understand why a whole lot people want to communicate this message. The short answer is that you simply attract bigger & better clients once you say things such as this. As someone who writes more like a practitioner, and much less as a thought leader, it’s clear that what I’m doing isn’t the most effective lead generation strategy for an agency (for everybody 1 big budget client that contacts us, we get 50 small businesses proprietors unreasonably seeking to spend $200/month for excellent work).

With that said, I think it’s vital that you know the meaning of the message, while still keeping things practical. Here’s the way you are capable of doing it.

1. Check referral sources for opportunities

Scan referral traffic with your analytics for patterns & clues to more traffic/revenue driving opportunities. This counts for both new links you’re building, but in addition for all past manually OR naturally acquired ones.

If you see a few links that happen to be sending value, consider “are there other link opportunities out there much like this?” For our agency, we usually think of a tactic that, at its core, is really a single method to get the link, but does apply to 1000s of sites. You could have just stumbled into something where there are several other opportunities exactly like it.

As an example – imagine an eCommerce niche electronics store choosing a link coming from a local robotics club’s New Member Info page for the store’s Arduino basic starter kit product page. You can find probably 100s of other local robotics club that have website information for first time members (and are likely to have desire for that basic starter kit), so contacting each having a promo code for this product could scale properly, and drive a great deal of revenue (be 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 do come across one, invest in it to get it done right whether it can end up paying for itself.

Two general ones that spring to mind are press coverage & forum link-building. If you’ve got an excellent product, paying a PR professional to obtain coverage could result in direct selling. If you’re inside a niche which has active & passionate communities in forums, invest in becoming an element of them, and understand how you can post links in ways that’s allowed.