Link building is an SEO practice that most SEO experts avoid and hate doing.
Most of SEO is highly technical and quantitative (data driven), whereas link building is based on people and you have to be able to build relationships with journalists, bloggers and those who run the websites you want to earn links from - which is why PR is perfect for driving your link building strategy.
The real question is how do you combine these two strategies into one holistic effort to transform your SEO link building strategy and significantly increase ROI for both?
The importance of link building in an SEO & lead generation project
There have been many debates and speculations when it comes to what contributes to a site's ability to rank high in Google and drive organic traffic. Google itself claims there are 200 different ranking signals - but, helpfully, won’t disclose what they are.
Links, on the other hand, are at the top of the list for climbing search engines, something Google’s Andrey Lipattsev finally confirmed in 2016.
Moreover, there seems to be an upward trend in the importance of links, claimed in this yearly link study by ‘Stone Temple’.
The challenges of link building
Producing well-written and high-quality content
However much you might want them to, journalists are not going to hand out links in a story just because you've asked them nicely - and nor should they if the link adds no other value.
Earning a link in a news story is not easy - if anything it's getting harder - but producing content that journalists want to link to, or that adds extra information to a reader will greatly increase your chances of success.
A journalist is far more likely to link to an informative eBook or interesting market research report on your website than a 'contact us' form or product page.
Securing high quality links on regular basis
Historically there has always been ways to get a high number of links. Buying links on sites like Fiverr, building up links with tools like GSA or Private Blog Networks (PBS), but it is not 2010 anymore and Google is a lot smarter now.
Paying for links or using these tools will only mean that new links have no added value to your users, and if you want to get penalised, this is a sure way to do it.
The challenge here is having an ability to secure high quality and high domain authority links, which goes back to building those journalist and publisher relationships and using PR tactics to build your SEO strategy.
To keep improving your rankings and link profile, you will need to be constantly increasing the quality of links and the number of the links you get. Which is doable at first in a low competition industry and a low starting position, but becomes incrementally more difficult with time.
How PR and content can improve link building campaigns
PR professionals make their living creating a wide range of content - news articles, features, research reports, whitepapers - so considering that much of successful link building is creating content that can earn links, it makes sense that PRs should be able to achieve good results.
While much of SEO is still moving towards a Paid Media model, link building and PR still depends heavily on having relationships with journalists and publications. Developing these relationships takes time and effort - which SEO professionals don't have when it comes to media relations - but PRs talk to journalists everyday so know what they want and what they are more likely to link to.
While PR is a valuable asset to SEO, SEO has become an increasingly vital part of PR - especially when it comes to reporting and proving value and ROI. Many SEO agencies do not have the relationships and content skills to do link building, but as PR becomes more digital and agencies get to grips with the need for SEO, PR is going to become a big part of successful link building campaigns.
Top tips to link building
Chasing the 'right' links
Link building is a game you cannot win with quantity. Quality of links matter significantly when it comes to the value that they will provide to your company. There are many things to consider when choosing between publications, websites and influencers:
- Domain and page authority – make sure that the link will actually bring SEO value to your site, because low DA and spammy links may do the opposite.
- Link type – ensure that links are not ‘non-follow’ links, which Google basically ignores and bring little or no value compared to ‘follow’ links.
- Relevancy of the site – this part will not impact SEO value as much as domain authority and follow links, but it will improve the quality of traffic you will get from the referring site. The goal is not to just get more traffic, but to increase the total revenue generated from the SEO value, so relevancy is certainly an important part of the puzzle.
- Link position on the page and anchor text – ensuring that your link appears in the beginning of the article and not somewhere at the bottom tells Google that this is a valuable piece of information to the reader. The same goes with anchor text. Just placing your URL is not enough in most cases. Anchor text helps search engines understand what the website is about and when to show your site on searches.
Have tracking in place
Tracking is one of the most fundamental parts of any digital activity.
Having analytics, conversion and keyword rankings tracking set-up lets you test, improve and concentrate on strategies and tactics that bring the most return on investment.
Link building done right has a huge impact on your brand and your website’s ability to generate leads. You should definitely avoid link building packages, promises of guaranteed rankings or unnatural links, and focus on creating quality content to get high value mentions.