How Enterprises Should Approach Link Building
Contributor Bill Hunt recaps a session from SMX East in which Joe Oliver and Cody Cahill from Page One Power explain the different strategies required for success in enterprise-level link building.
The differences between regular websites and enterprise websites are notable right away in terms of size, scope and focus areas. In addition to having a different structure and different content, enterprise-level websites must also take a different approach to link building.
While smaller sites are often trying to generate links to their home pages, enterprise sites like Caterpillar, McDonald’s and Intuit have no shortage of links to the home page. But they need deep links into key product verticals and solutions that help spur prospects through the sales cycle.
In this column, I’ll recap the Enterprise Link Building session from SMX East this week, in which the presenters discussed the special needs of these large sites. (Though the panel was sponsored and programmed by Page One Power, the session offered a perspective worth sharing.)
What Are The Key Common Factors Of Enterprise Sites?
Beyond being large, multi-section entities, enterprise websites typically come with significant built-in opportunities, including:
- Brand equity and longevity.
- Plenty of content.
- Positive reputations.
- An international presence.
- Integration between multiple marketing funnels.
- Strong relationships with partners (which can be leveraged for marketing initiatives).
What Is Different In Enterprise Link Building?
While there are many differences between the enterprise and smaller entities, a major one lies in how link building campaigns are structured for each. Speakers Joe Oliver and Cody Cahill presented four key factors that will result in the highest success rate for enterprise-level link building initiatives.
Success Factor #1: Scalable Strategy
First and foremost, enterprise link building requires a scalable solution that will stand the test of time and become part of a long-term, ongoing strategy — not a quick “get me some links and call it a day” approach.
The presenters strongly emphasized the need to start small, with specific focus, and scale over time.
They suggested starting with a team of two to three link builders, allowing them get to know the brand and organization, then letting them build on that foundation.
Once you have the strategy and team in place, it is time to work on content creation and reallocation. They suggested a few areas of focus to create off-site content that will advance the program.
A key tip they offered is to engage in relevant article writing and adaptation using writers with relationships built out on the Web. They noted that traditional PR involves paying a professional to encourage a journalist to talk about you, but they recommended identifying and reaching out to journalists yourself who can develop content that results in deeper engagement with your brand.
In addition to off-site content, they suggested you do a deep dive into existing content to identify assets worthy of promotion. Once you have a master list of assets, you need to evaluate potential target audiences, considering not only the “who to reach” but also the “why they would be interested” in this content. They emphasized quality, relevant content that meets the needs of the target audience, as well as of the influencer.
Success Factor #2: Wide & Deep Integration
A critical part of the overall strategy, approach and potential for success is broad and deep integration of SEO and link building across the organization.
The link acquisition team must be sitting at the table with the content teams, PR teams and social teams. During all phases of planning and execution. By participating early on, they are able to better understand the full scope, leverage their research to identify influencers for outreach by other teams and identify gaps and opportunities to be an authority.
As a link builder, you have to ensure that those you work with view you as a partner and not a threat to their position or responsibility. Through early collaboration and frequent communication, you can demonstrate your value and reduce the friction with other teams.
Success Factor #3: Quality & Relevance Over Quantity
As noted, enterprise organizations often have a lot of loyalty and brand equity. As such, they are often risk-averse to any activity that can result in negative mentions. Many have read about the aggressive link-building programs that have hurt large brands in the past and are often nervous about the outreach vendors will do.
To obtain buy-in from key decision-makers, you have to ensure that they will be confident that your approach has minimal risk. To do this, you need to have a process that is tested and only seeks out the most relevant and quality links. They identified a number of factors to consider when looking for quality links:
- The links must be authoritative, especially within the vertical(s) being targeted.
- Links must be diverse, yet relevant.
- Vertical news sites and high-authority blogs are some of the easiest opportunities.
- Large companies often have better success with .gov and .edu, but you need to ensure relevance.
- Ensure there is solid page and domain authority from the links.
- Most of all, the content you offer to the partner must add value to the end user.
Success Factor #4: Relevant KPIs
The presenters closed the session by noting that you need to develop relevant and action-oriented KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for the program.
They suggested that when you are determining ROI from your link building efforts, you must have the big picture in mind — but you should also create KPIs along the way to measure both incremental as well as overall success.
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