Linkbuilding still lies at the core of any successful SEO campaign. Indeed, campaigns at the very top end in the most competitive verticals are all about the effectiveness of their linkbuilding strategy.
When you look at delivering significant returns across a range of countries, this truism is even more pronounced: despite all the advances in SEO strategy over the years, without a killer linkbuilding strategy you won’t compete at the very top level.
Achieve Lasting Link Value
The guts of a solid strategy, for me, revolve around achieving excellence in two areas of your linkbuilding strategy:
- Capturing links from as diverse a range of relevant domains as possible.
- Ensuring your links will persist over time.
Especially in light of the latest announcement of new refinements to Google Panda from Matt Cutts, it’s crucial to deliver uniqueness and organic patterns to your linkbuilding strategy.
This means getting links from domains which aren’t part of the regular channels of linkbuilding like globally recognised PR hubs, but instead from niche areas tightly aligned to your target market and from each individual country you operate in.
So the challenge when working to these criteria is systematising an approach that can be scaled out to your local Web teams that doesn’t show up on Google’s radar as ‘systematic’ (otherwise: here be dragons!).
My advice here is always to take a leaf out of classical marketing’s book and look to your competition. More specifically: double down on competitive gap analysis.
In traditional marketing, after analysing your audience and marketplace you deliver a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) report on each competitor as part of a process feeding ultimately into a grand strategy to leverage weaknessess, copy (and improve upon) relevant strengths, and position yourself generally to pose as much of a threat and capture as much upside as is humanly possible from each competitor.
As a marketing exercise, it’s hugely valuable and can crystallise a businessess competitive edge brilliantly. As a method of approaching linkbuilding for SEO it’s undoubtedly more powerful than any other approach in play today.
Applied to multinational campaigns, in particular, it is devastatingly effective in driving SEO performance, quickly.
Multinational Gap Analysis For Linkbuilding
Here’s how the process breaks down:
- Develop you customer profiles to define a list of key searcher types and their associated search parameters and behaviours (by country). Assign a value to each and use this as a seed to develop a prioritised master keyphrase set representative of your target market in each operating country.
- Use a SERP (Search Engine Result Page) scraping tool localised to each country (must search from IPs within each country to handle Google Venice localisation [and term-based localisation]) to grab search results for, say, the top 100 results for each target term, in each country.
- Calculate a score for each result, taking into account search engine marketshare (if tracking beyond just Google, as I’d strongly recommend), competitiveness (number of competing results [easy], plus relevant associated bid frequency in paid listings [harder], backlink profiles of each performing URL [harder again, but all perfectly automatable]), ranking position, type (text, video, image, news, etc: basically each Google Universal type).
- Calculate a domain score for each domain uncovered for keyphrase sets by country. At this stage you may want to weight your ranking based on the type of ranking achieved (i.e. you may have captured a #1 position for a news listing which will be gone next week so you should factor down for that).
- Rank the domains by performance, and grab the domain backlink info from Open Site Explorer, Majestic or similar (I prefer OSE for what it’s worth).
- Sort the backlinking domains by their backlink profile, applying a filter for known poor, penalised, or low quality domains (or just trust the inbuilt metric from your linkscape tool).
- Dedupe against your own domain’s backlink profile.
- The first time round: hand review your prioritised hit list of target domains linking to the top performing domains in each country, categorising to different domain ‘types’ as you go.
That’s the research phase over. Pat yourself on the back, and go grab a cool drink. Next up is the hard work.
You now have a current & unique list of the most valuable, relevant, domains for a unique keyphrase set, in each target country, ordered by value for search visibility.
You now need to set about gathering links, working down in order of value, from each domain.
Implement Your Plan Of Attack
The actual action you take will be unique each time, although there will be an element of categorisation according to the ‘type’ of domain (news sites, industry resources, prominent local social media profiles, recognised forums, second-tier / local PR hubs, independent bloggers, industry bodies, etc, etc, etc).
Once you’ve been through the hand review process a few times you’ll have a defined set of ‘types’ which will broadly indicate the action to take to gain a similar backlink in future and allow you to budget your team’s time effectively (it takes much less time to pull together a response to a comment in a forum than it does to build out a blogger outreach pack giving unique assets and insider access to encourage coverage from preferred blog authors).
You also have a systematic approach to multinational linkbuilding that can be handled within a common architecture of the global team pulling together the research phase, then distributing to each country team with highlighted opportunities to be chased up each week/fortnight/month.
This style of ‘Command and Control’ linkbuilding structure is precisely suited for larger brands and businesses with a lot of hierarchy to cut through to get backlinks generated that will be of value, unique, relevant, and long-lasting.
And yet, superbly, this also delivers an organic (diverse, growing) backlink profile on the right side of search engine guidelines which protects your team from the vaguaries of Panda, or any other algorithmic update in future.
Why? Because there is no consistent pattern to the process output, and the input will always be governed by what’s being favoured by the search engines over the long term.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.