The Art Of Link Building For Established Brands
Building links for a well known brand site that already has 100,000+ links (or even one million plus links) is an interesting challenge. If your site has that many links, chances are that your competitors have a lot as well. When your link building challenge is this big, you need to think about the problem a bit differently. Today I will review some of the things you need to consider in this type of environment for your link building to have an impact.
Very high value links
As with any link building strategy, you will want to include targeting very high value links. For well known brands, this usually means highly significant sites, such as the New York Times and other major media, or other very authoritative sites. These types of sites have predictably high standards, so the approach to them must be well thought out. I find that the best approach combines two major elements.
First, a direct, honest approach—no room to BS here, so you need to be straightforward and factual. It’s also what is best for your brand image anyway. Second, you need to understand the target web site’s audience, and their objectives in serving that audience, and then provide them with something that helps them do just that. In other words, help them do their jobs by making it easy for them to bring some new unique value to their audience. This can be via great content on your site, or something that you provide them to place on their site.
The good news is that you have the brand and reputation of your company behind you. This often makes it much easier to make contact and initiate a dialogue. Just be prepared to invest some time and energy in the process before you get results. Oftentimes these types of relationships need to be worked on for months or even longer before they bear fruit. Nonetheless, killer links are worth the effort. Having a few of these relationships in place can also play a big role for you when you try to create a viral campaign.
High volume links
When you think about high volume, it is important to realize that we are not looking to add 1,000 links, as this will not move the needle. What can you do to obtain tens of thousands of links?
It helps to think like a traditional marketer. Are you already using traditional media, such as PR, print, radio, TV, etc? I am not advising that you start these types of campaigns solely for link building campaigns, but if you are already doing them, you can leverage them to help drive large volumes of links. For example, if you have a TV commercial, make sure the URL for your web site is displayed at key points. If you launch a big new promotion, create a landing page on your main domain (not a subdomain or microsite) for the campaign. This page will be the target destination page for links. Then, use your traditional marketing methods to let people know about the promotion.
This is a good start, but now you need to consider social media as well. Facebook has 500 million users. That is a large audience! There is a whole set of mechanics to using Facebook effectively, but done properly you can reach a decent size audience. Produce something viral, and it can have a nice effect. Twitter is not as big as Facebook, but nonetheless can provide some nice viral activity as well. I strongly recommend implementing strategies for your brand on both of these sites.
With these types of media you are looking to reach large audiences. Only a small percentage of them are potential linkers. However, they all represent channels for getting the word out. A big key to success is designing these campaigns to spread. This is what enables you to get fresh links in volume. Traditional media can be very expensive, but social media can be pursued relatively inexpensively. The best of all worlds is to have a strategy that uses all of your available channels simultaneously.
Leverage your brand
This is the key advantage you have over smaller businesses. You have a brand that people recognize. Here are some of the ways that this helps you:
- It can help you in building a good following on social media sites. People do like to interact with major brands and tell them what they think. This is a good thing.
- You probably have access to interesting market data. Information about the changing buying patterns of your customers is something that the media would love to have. You usually don’t have to give away trade secrets here—just the data that helps illustrate market trends.
- Do you sign lots of contracts during the course of a year? Make a link back to your site a standard business term in the contract. This enables your salesforce to obtain links for you without any effort on your part.
- Because it is well recognized, your brand can help you gain access to the media, and this is something that the PR departments of most major brands already know how to do.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to create a company culture where people realize the importance of the web site to the business, and the importance of links to the site. Is you agency creating a TV commercial? Make inclusion of your site URL a critical requirement. Launching a new campaign? Create a landing page that is specific to your campaign to act as a target for links. Give it a simple, memorable, vanity URL so it is easy for people to remember and find later. Include that URL in all related promotions.
In the ordinary course of business, many other opportunities will emerge, and you can’t expect to watching over everybody’s shoulder. You need the people of the organization to proactively look for these types of opportunities to build links at the quality and scale needed to grow web site traffic. Creative energy plays a big role in how successful you can be, but the first step is to get a company-wide commitment to pursue link building in all ways possible.