Link building could be the most daunting search engine optimization task. It requires almost equal amounts of research, creativity, and outreach resembling cold calls. It is also essential for important organic search rankings.
If your business is struggling to bond, focus on the steps or processes rather than an intimidating blob.
Having a clear goal is often overlooked. The key is knowing what your link building efforts need to do at a strategic level, beyond “we want more traffic” or “we want more sales”.
“We have a lot of [link-building] tactics, and it really depends on what the campaign is about, ”said James Wirth, senior director of strategy and growth marketing at Citation Labs, a leading link building agency.
For Wirth, link building goals often fall into two categories:
- Increase the domain authority score,
- Increase the authority score of the page.
The first – increasing the domain authority score – is a brand building goal. It’s like boiling “the ocean to try and heat an alpine lake to levels suitable for swimming.”
Increasing the authority of the page should increase traffic to a target URL. It’s like turning on “the electric kettle to heat the water and earn a nice cup of income in the afternoon”.
If you need to increase brand visibility for your business, it may make more sense to increase your site’s domain authority score. And that will likely lead your business to bonding tactics like media relations.
An ironic example of this goal and a media relations type tactic comes from Wirth himself. Wirth has twice participated in a live interview for the CommerceCo by Practical Ecommerce community.
In each case, I introduced Wirth to this community of trade professionals. Additionally, in each case, a recap article has appeared here, linking to Citation Labs.
For thematic relevance, site traffic, and conversions, Wirth suggests creating landing page authority scores. It is the act of linking to sales and campaign pages. Targeting these kinds of links will require a different set of tactics which Wirth says include:
- Guest publication,
- Practical articles,
- Commentary articles,
- Relevant content.
Thus, the goal defines the tactic. This makes bonding more achievable.
Once you have a goal, develop a link building research process. It demystifies the art of bonding, making it more achievable.
“Our internal process is all about connecting context,” said Wirth, sharing a slide showing the six steps of Citation Lab.
- The objectives set. Select your pages and identify the first one to three keywords for each.
- Develop research methods for the remainder of the analysis.
- Identify areas of research. This step is based on the research approach.
- Research objects. Explore contextual facets to develop a topic-based link plan – why a publisher would benefit from a guest post or link.
- Context of the news link. Know how you will approach publishers.
- Subjects and Editors. Armed with your research and plan, reach out to the editors.
Wirth’s approach extends link building for larger sites and tends to produce useful results, such as a list of editors to contact, a clear plan for contacting editors, an “angle.” to present them and specific topics for guest posts. or your own site. The connections your business gains with this approach are likely to be contextually relevant, useful to the publisher, valuable to the audience, justifiable, and natural. Everybody wins.
What seemed like the intimidating act of randomly calling editors to request links or submit guest posts has become a natural and repeatable process.
The process also informs content topics. “A content strategy that lacks this process is going to have link building challenges,” Wirth said. “But if we can build this [approach] in content development, the resulting page will be ready to gain links.