B2B marketers, it is unbelievable that we are already halfway through 2011. While I hope your SEO campaign thus far has yielded positive results, it is not uncommon to fall behind schedule, as unexpected initiatives arise. Link building is often the first SEO initiative that we see clients getting delayed on, or leave unattended in these situations.
If you are in a similar position (and maybe even if you are not), here are five recommendations for finding and acquiring inbound links through tools and reports likely to be already available, getting you back on track with B2B link building initiatives this year.
Google Display Network Reports
The best links drive traffic and leads, as well as boost SEO efforts. These links may not be as difficult to find as one might think. In some cases, they could be right under one’s nose. One of the first places to start researching sites for quality link building opportunities is through third party publisher sites (like the Google Display Network).
The screen capture below highlights an example of an automatic placement report in Google AdWords. By reviewing sites sending leads through platforms like the Google Display Network, it may be possible to reach out to these site owners directly to secure opportunities that combine advertising with SEO link building.
Third Party Referral Reports
Another potential source of inbound link targets can be found through the third party referral reports in website reporting tools. The screen capture below illustrates an example client report, showing referral sources with traffic volumes and corresponding conversion rates (shaded based on conversion rates).
It is important to realize that not all of these referrals come from search engine friendly sources. Some of them are nofollowed (such as blog comments) and other referrals are driven through advertising channels. Firefox extensions like Quirk’s Search Status and the SEO for Firefox extension help marketers to identify nofollow links and advertising channels can usually be quickly identified.
Similar to display advertising reports, B2B marketers can use third party referral reports to evaluate sites that might become quality link targets. By tying in existing conversion metrics, it is possible to prioritize the order of communication and make projections on overall business value.
Webmaster Tools Crawl Error Report
Google’s crawl error report in webmaster tools (found under “Diagnostics –> Crawl Errors”) provides an opportunity for B2B marketers to recapture links from third party sites. While this functionality has been present in webmaster tools for several years now, it may have easily be forgotten in the shuffle.
The (slightly dated) screen capture below, from a Google Webmaster blog post, illustrates an example of the crawl error report.
Site owners can click into each hyperlink in the “Linked From” column to find links pointing to broken pages of their website. These links should then be fixed internally (by way of a 301 redirect) or by contacting the site owner to ask if they will make the change themselves.
Twitter has become a must-have-tool for content publishers, bloggers, and journalists. If you are not already leveraging lists in Twitter (or using Twitter in general), the ability to find and reach out to potential link targets is another reason to get on the bandwagon.
We recommend creating Twitter lists that identify:
- Industry-related publishers and journalists
- Industry-related bloggers
- Strategic and prospective partners
Need help building these lists? Resources like Muck Rack, Journalist Tweets, and Journalists on Twitter may help. Don’t forget to review the Twitter lists of influential people in your industry on Twitter. Their lists can become a good starting point for finding relevant publishers and bloggers as well.
Event / Conference Participation
Event and conference participation such as speaking, sponsoring, and even just attending, is often a significant financial investment. Make sure to tie as much SEO value, in the form of inbound link acquisition, as possible. Basic examples of link opportunities through event and conference participation include:
- Obtaining links on sponsorship pages
- Obtaining links through speaker bios
- Getting listed (and adding an inbound link) in attendee directories or networking sites
Further investigation into the networking and community aspect of large conferences can lead to even better link building opportunities as well. For example, take note of the screen capture below, which highlights a potential link opportunity, found in this conference’s community section.
Important Note: The SEO link builder should be aware that spam and blatant misuse of these opportunities will not only cast a black cloud on the individual, but possibly the entire organization represented as well. In other words, leverage these link opportunities wisely and with as much common sense as possible.
For B2B marketers, it can be the most difficult to get invested in link building when it is a completely separate initiative. Hopefully these recommendations and tactics help make link building a more cohesive part of marketing initiatives already in place and brings more success to your B2B search engine optimization campaign throughout the rest of the year.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.