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Enterprise Link Building Challenges (And Solutions)
Big companies often find it difficult to implement large-scale, sustainable link building efforts, but columnist Andrew Dennis has some tips to make it easier.
Large enterprise businesses are in a peculiar situation when it comes to links.
Most of these companies are aware of the importance of search engine optimization (SEO), but they continue to neglect the key role links play within SEO.
As major brands within their respective industries, these companies will naturally attract links simply from the prominence of their names. However, without a strategic plan and concerted effort toward link acquisition, big brands are leaving value on the table.
Enterprise Companies Need Link Building
Even Fortune 500 companies need link building. While major corporations have established brands and market position that will garner links without any manual promotion, these companies will miss valuable marketing opportunities if they forego strategic link acquisition.
First off, link building is an important part of a greater digital marketing cycle. Holistic digital marketing requires continuous link acquisition, because fresh links help a business stay relevant to both search engines and human audiences alike.
Also, link building offers a plethora of benefits for big businesses beyond search. Links are integral to search visibility, but link development can also help enterprise companies:
- Cultivate authority and reputation
- Establish industry connections and partnerships
- Amplify online marketing initiatives
- Discover new audiences
Large brands are already investing in large-scale online marketing strategies, and because these strategies naturally generate link opportunities, it would be foolish for an enterprise business to disregard links.
While major brands have the most to gain from link building, they also face unique challenges, the primary ones being scalability, integration and brand assimilation.
Due to the size of enterprise markets, scalability is always a primary concern in an enterprise link campaign.
Enterprise brands operate in hyper-competitive markets. Because the competition is so fierce and other companies are acquiring links at a high rate, large businesses need large-scale link building to move the needle.
While a handful of quality, relevant links could help a small website in a low-competition niche improve search rankings, it could take hundreds of the same quality links to achieve the same within an enterprise-level competitive landscape. Of course, this would require a long-term, sustained link acquisition campaign: generating hundreds of links overnight often results in spam and is unsustainable.
Securing real links — links that are legitimate votes of confidence from another website — takes manual human effort. The goal should be to build meaningful connections and relationships, and this doesn’t happen without strategic marketing.
While there are ways to help secure links efficiently, much of your output still relies on human ingenuity and creativity.
The solution for enterprise brands lies in scaling human effort. Real, effective link building takes manual effort, so the only way for big businesses to succeed is to dedicate enough people to the project.
The key is to start small, and then scale a dedicated link-building team as the project grows and proves successful. By starting small, you can build familiarity and momentum for the campaign, so that as you add more people, the team is already operating at maximum efficiency.
The only way to address scalability issues is by scaling human effort. If you’re not ready to scale human effort, you won’t be successful.
Another challenge major corporations face in earning links is integrating link acquisition into existing marketing practices.
Large international brands will naturally have a multitude of departments and service providers involved in their marketing efforts.
Because various marketing tasks are segmented throughout large businesses, it is very hard to integrate link strategy into a company’s existing marketing. Not only is it difficult to find opportunities and ways to collaborate with other departments or vendors, but it can be even harder to obtain buy-in from them.
Additionally, enterprise brands will have a corporate hierarchy that can delay important decisions and bog down a link campaign. Link building projects must be agile and able to adapt to ever-changing search environments. If a campaign becomes mired in corporate bureaucracy, it will not be effective.
Jumping through bureaucratic hoops and dealing with red tape are some of the biggest challenges in enterprise link acquisition, and without proper integration, valuable link opportunities will be missed.
Communication is the key to successful integration.
Link acquisition is part of a holistic digital marketing campaign and can actually be more effective when involved in collaborative marketing with other strategies. In order to build collaboration, there needs to be an incentive to work together.
By clearly demonstrating how integration will not only help the company as a whole, but also how it will make their social media marketing department look good, it’s much easier to encourage collaboration. For example, explaining to the Social Media Manager how link building and social can support one another will encourage cooperation, making integration possible.
Integrating link building into other marketing activities will not only improve link building efficacy, but the tasks and practices associated with link acquisition can inform other strategies, as well.
Persistence is also critical. Don’t allow a project to lose steam due to issues with corporate hierarchy; clear communication and dedication to collaboration helps overcome this hurdle. Stay on top of requests, and make sure any issues are addressed and move up the chain swiftly and appropriately.
Enterprise businesses have established, well-known brands, and their brand equity comes before any marketing campaign.
A large company’s brand is an invaluable asset. It symbolizes the company’s strong position in the marketplace. Because the brand is so valuable, enterprise corporations need to be sure anyone marketing their company is capable of accurately representing their brand. Big companies are going to be hyper-aware of anything that could potentially damage their brand and reputation.
Due to link building’s unsavory past and the technical elements involved, big businesses might be skeptical of allowing SEOs to represent their brand online. This skepticism can make link acquisition difficult.
Research and communication are crucial to gaining the trust of an enterprise company.
By exhaustively researching a company’s business, brand, industry, audience and market position, it’s possible to demonstrate the knowledge necessary to represent that company on the Web. To accurately represent an enterprise business, you’ll need to be familiar with the company’s:
- Brand voice
- USP (unique selling proposition)
- Core messaging
- Industry influencers
- Customer personas
- And more
Demonstrating a deep understanding of the business’ unique brand will instill confidence that you can carry that brand’s voice online.
Transparency and communication also will go a long way. By showing an enterprise company exactly how you will represent them online, you can help ease any concerns regarding brand assimilation.
Typically, an enterprise business will be very protective of its brand name, and effective brand assimilation is essential to earning valuable links.
Enterprise-level companies have huge opportunities in link acquisition. They already have market position, and they will benefit from links in a variety of ways, but they also face some unique challenges.
Enterprise businesses operate in ultra-competitive environments where any effective marketing initiative must be able to scale to levels that will deliver meaningful results.
Also, because these companies are so massive, with so many moving parts, it takes a deliberate effort toward collaboration to integrate link building successfully with other strategies.
Finally, enterprise-level corporations value brand equity above all else. You will need to demonstrate a deep understanding of all facets of their business before they’ll trust you to represent their brand accurately.
Enterprise link acquisition presents interesting challenges, but the payoff can be spectacular.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.