Designing effective, sustainable link-building campaigns requires a keen understanding of your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Find how you can craft campaigns that tap into that knowledge.
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The following excerpt is from the Garrett French and Eric Ward’s book Ultimate Guide to Link Building, 2nd Edition. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
There are six broad factors we’ve discovered that impact a link-building campaign’s scope. Ideally, during the campaign design phase, your link builder will have a suitable amount of time to consider all these factors. In doing so, they’ll probably discover a few more factors unique to your organization’s situation. The more factors you can take into consideration and design for, the more unique and effective your campaign will be.
Factor 1: What’s Working Well for You Already?
We like to start client discussions with a question about what’s working well already— and not just in link building! For example, we may ask how our clients currently generate their leads. Recently, it turned out that one of our clients had an email list of 10,000 subscribers that they’d built up a great relationship with over the course of the past 10 to 15 years! They estimated that at least 10 percent of their list comprised active web content publishers, which made this list the perfect place to begin designing a campaign.
On the more link-oriented side, we ran through some questions with a prospect recently to discover their linkable assets. They didn’t have the time or resources to create content, which is our organization’s linkable asset strength. When we asked what had been working, they mentioned that they had products they could give away for nonprofits and bloggers to use as prizes in raffles and other types of contests. This understanding then informed the link opportunities we discovered for them in that we were able to systematically discover massive numbers of prequalified prospects.
We encourage you to think about what’s working well already and to keep that in mind when link building. Supporting and growing from what works can be far easier and more economical than trying to create something entirely new that doesn’t stem from currently existing strengths.
Factor 2: Your Business and Marketing Goals
Specific business and marketing goals are often missing in link-building campaign design, especially when a campaign is designed in a vacuum without input from other departments.
Because link building has the capacity to impact goals far beyond your search engine results page rankings, we highly recommend that your link-building campaign support your company’s specific business and marketing goals in the design phase. You might even uncover a solution that may be unique in the market.
Factor 3: Your Linkable Assets
What about your organization is linkable? This can include in-house “social media celebrities,” your organization’s brand, your organization’s story, your free tools or widgets, your unique and helpful content, your available creative talent, actual budget and more. Further, consider that your industry’s definition of “linkable” can and will differ from those of other industries. If all your competitors have free web tools, then this is no longer a strong differentiator and may not incite interest and links.
Factor 4: Link Opportunities in Your Space
The link opportunities that exist from market to market can be quite different. For example, if you’re targeting a consumer market, it could be that work-at-home dad bloggers are a key segment for you. But if you sell specialty bulldozer parts, then engaging the daddy bloggers might not make as much sense.
Your market—in particular, the publishers catering to your market that you want to earn links from—determines the scope and type of opportunities available to you. Remember to always look for list results. They’ll save you hours of searching. Further, the presence of lists indicates a robust publishing niche.
Factor 5: Departments Requiring Your Input and Influence within the Organization
As a link building agency, we find ourselves working primarily with the search engine optimization (SEO) department within an organization. Our methods typically involve content creation and industry expert engagement. This sometimes means we have to get approval from departments like PR, content strategy, social media, marketing, even the CEO before the campaign can really get rolling.
We typically try to identify the department that our contact is most embedded within, the department in which they have the most influence, and then we work to keep the campaign within their authority so we can have the fastest impact. The more departments requiring input, the more work the link builder will have to do in mediating cross-departmental concerns.
However, for sustainable, ongoing link-building campaigns (and often these may not be called link-building campaigns internally), you’ll need to work the political scene within your organization and be constantly on the lookout for ways to “link enhance” what others are already doing.
Factor 6: Your Available Resources
At the end of the day, your link-building campaign will come down to the amount of time and money you can put into it. Knowing how much time you can spend yourself, and how much work you can ask for or require of others, can help you to define the entire scope of the project. Often—and rightfully so—your available resources hinge on your abilities as a link builder, as well as your abilities in effectively communicating probable and actual returns on investment.
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