Link building is in many ways the bread and butter of SEO. We often say that valuable content is what matters most—it drives traffic, user engagement, conversions, and SEO. But links are what get people to your content in the first place. And they continue to contribute heavily to search ranking. So a link building campaign is the perfect way to support great new content as you roll it out.
The problem, as Casie Gillette explains in a terrific column, is that link building campaigns are unpredictable. Sometimes you think you have the best possible content for your audience, a pile of kindling just waiting for a spark. But then you launch your campaign and nothing happens. No response, no clicks, no links. What happened? Was the content bad? Or did you do something wrong?
Basics of Link Building
If your link building campaign fails, don’t be too quick to blame the content. As Casie explains, even with great content there are a lot of steps that can go wrong on the link building end itself. And those steps can, luckily, be fixed or at least improved for next time.
In order to understand how, it’s important to know the basics of how a link building campaign works. Essentially you need two things:
- Custom content aimed at a specific type of audience.
- A list of movers and shakers in that audience.
Then when your content goes live you reach out to the people on your list and get it in front of them, hoping that they will love it and share it widely. The result? Ideally, instant links.
Getting It Right
Casie identifies several places where the link building process can go wrong. Here are three of the biggest questions to ask yourself about your campaign, based on her advice:
- Do you have a relationship with these people? As with any industry, treating your list as “just a list” will alienate most of the people on it. This is particularly true in link building, where the people on your list are industry leaders and popular bloggers, all of whom are inundated with promotion requests. They’ll ignore you if all you do is hit them up with link requests. Instead, Casie emphasizes that you should create a relationship with these people well in advance of launching your content. Share their articles on your own social media, and interact with them outside of promotion requests. Friends share friends’ links; strangers do not.
- How are you contacting them? This is one that’s easy to overlook, and sometimes hard to live up to. Not everybody wants to be contacted the same way. Some will prefer a quick tweet while others ignore their Twitter and are easier to reach on LinkedIn. If you don’t know their preference, I would recommend the most personal medium available: email. If you already have a relationship with them and reach out by email, it’s harder to ignore than a tweet or Facebook post.
- Did you communicate a benefit? This is possible the most important point Casie makes, because it’s something we hear all too infrequently. Even with an existing rapport and over their preferred medium, you have to give them a reason to want to read—and share—you content. Saying, “Check out this article! [link]” gives them zero incentive to do so. Instead, try something like, “Do your readers ask this a lot, too? [link]”. Now there’s an implied benefit, helping them solve their readers’ problem (and sate their own curiosity).
Casie has many more ideas than this. In fact, I would call her article a must-read for anyone doing link building. Not will it help make your next campaign stronger, she also has ideas on what to do with the content to make it pay off, even if you didn’t get all the links you wanted.
At EverSpark Interactive, we view link building as an integral part of the SEO process. It drives immediate traffic as well as building search rank long-term. Both are essential to dominating the search results. Want to know more? Call us for your free consultation today.