Linkbuilding can be a high value activity for your digital marketing strategy — if your website is ready.
High quality links from other trusted websites to your own website continue to be important for SEO. First, they’re one of the top factors in Google’s algorithm. Second, they drive traffic to your website — people who are interested enough in the subject to go to the trouble of clicking through, which means that they are already inclined to be receptive to what you have to say.
Poor quality links, including links from poor quality websites, links that are not relevant to your content, and links that show an intention to cheat and game the system, will do your website more harm than good. Much more harm than good.
But building top quality links can be time consuming, and when you’re carefully allocating limited resources, you have to choose among all the possible steps you could take to improve your website’s performance.
Certainly, you should make sure that your website is listed in all the local business directories you have access to, as well as important national or international directories within your industry. You should be sure that you’re included in websites like Yelp or HealthGrades, the websites your customers will go to when they want to find out about businesses like yours. And you must make sure that you’re represented in Google Business and social media platforms where your customers are likely to go.
Once you have that foundation laid, you can consider more linkbuilding, or other options.
When is linkbuilding the best use of your marketing resources?
In short, when you have great stuff to link to, and good places to get links from. How can you tell?
First, check your referral traffic. We recently saw a website that got strong traffic from travel sites such as Trip Advisor. There are many, many sites of this kind. But only a handful were sending traffic to this website. That tells us that the site we were checking had the opportunity to get traffic from links at similar websites… if they had links at more websites of the same kind.
If you get good referral traffic from a few websites of one kind, that’s evidence that your website is a good candidate for a focused linkbuilding campaign directed at that kind of website. Do some research to identify other trusted websites of the same type and reach out to them. Point out that you have resources at your website that would be super useful and interesting to their readers, and ask for a link.
If you’re not seeing strong referral traffic in your analytics, but you still believe that you have some valuable resources at your website, you may still be a good candidate for linkbuilding. Your website may be one of those overlooked treasures — especially if you have useful information which is not optimized for search.
Identify high quality websites that are already linking to resources similar to yours and reach out to the webmasters, drawing their attention to your resource, which you can point out is similar to some they already mention. “I notice that your page [URL] links to several lists of traditional herbal remedies,” you can say, “and I think your readers would like our extensive list at [URL].”
What if linkbuilding isn’t the obvious top choice for your website?
If you’re not already receiving strong referral traffic from high quality websites and you don’t have good content to link to, you might think about guest articles or blog comments to gain links to your website. But you’d be better off strengthening the content at your website first.
If you create content for other websites, you will still want to link to your website. Your results will be better if you have compelling content at your website — content that brings people into your sales funnel, tells your story, and leads to the actions you want to see among your readers.
Great content that informs and entertains will be more likely to gain natural links, too. This will usually give you referral traffic, which means not just valuable traffic to your website, but data you can use to strategize: which kinds of websites are most likely to send converting traffic if you work to gain links with them.
So your first step should be to build strong content at your website.
This probably won’t bring instant gratification. It will bring organic search traffic over the long run, so it’s a great investment in your future, but it might not bring the visitors you’re itching to have. Drive traffic to your web site with paid search and social media while you work on developing the kind of content that gets links.
Then get going on linkbuilding.