We’ve all seen those one-and-done link building campaigns. Maybe even some of us have had clients push for them. They never work.
It’s like Matthew McConaughey’s abs. Do you really believe that he only goes to the gym for a two-month stint to maintain those perfect pectorals?
Why do people think that SEO, and in particular link building, is the same way?
Let Me Tell You A Story
We knew a guy. This guy had a company, a company where 3/10th of their new business comes in during January. Needless to say, January is an important month.
For years, this company was doing all the right stuff. Content was flowing, tweets were tweeting, posts were posting, links were linking: You get the picture.
Then, things changed.
They stopped posting to their blog. They post to Facebook, but never with links back to their website. Tweets became automatically syndicated from the non-updated blog. They stopped their (highly successfully) email marketing campaign. They quit making videos. They stopped getting links.
That’s when this happened.
It won’t be abrupt. Your organic traffic may just coast for a few months, but sure enough, that crossover will happen.
(Thanks to Brian Russell for sharing the story and the stats.)
So, What Do We Do About It?
First, resist the urge to say “I told you so.”
Second, spot the signs of what makes a long-term SEO and link building strategy and what makes a dry Christmas tree fire link building strategy.
Third, remember your 5 W’s.
Who Do You Want To Target?
It baffles me that people start link building without really knowing who they’re link building for. We’re not link building for directories, non-relevant resource lists or syndicated articles. We’re not even building links for search engines.
We’re building links for users.
So, it’s high time you learned a thing or two about who those users are as the first step in your link building campaign.
Yes, it’s good to know the basic demographics of your target audience, but this goes further. What do they like? Where do they already hang out online? What types of content do they like? What are their pain points?
What Resources Do I Have?
You know that good link building is hard. Well, at least you should. And the hard things take a lot of time and effort but can bring you some of the best rewards — links, traffic, customers, oh my! — you’ve ever seen.
But only if you have the resources to do it right.
Before you get started, know what you’re going to need from the big three:
- People: Developers, writers, strategizers, promoters, etc
- Time : When does this need to launch?
- Money: How much is this going to cost me?
Where Do I Want This To Go?
There are tons of great, successful strategies built around the “I want a link from XXX” concept. I’ve done them before, but I feel more comfortable when I have a handful of possible targets in my arsenal.
Do this by thinking about the types of sources who may be interested in your idea. Pull a list together. Reach out to them to bounce your idea off of them. People are much more likely to respond when they’re asked for their expert opinion rather than a like, share or tweet.
This also helps validate that you’ll have interested people to help you promote before you start executing.
When Do I Want To Attract People?
There are four stages to any conversion:
With any campaign, you have to know where is your target audience in the conversion process. It’s not going to help if your campaign is directing people to “buy now” pages when they’re still trying to figure out who the hell you are, what it is you do, and why they should pick you over other options.
Why Am I Doing This?
This is the least-asked question in our industry. That needs to change immediately.
A client asked us to build them a Wikipedia page. OK, we can do it, but why? Why do you want it? This simple question allows you to dig into the purpose and helps you establish some credibility with your clients. It tells them you’re not just going to be their order taker.
And if the answer is…
- For the link
- For the link juice
- For the anchor text
- Because everyone else is doing it
… then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
And you will die.
No, I’m kidding, but that’s how you’ll be feeling when the next algorithm update comes out.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.