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I’ve recently heard from a number of people during the last couple of years that, as link builders, we need to only be concentrating on links that drive traffic & revenue.

Earlier in the week I watched a video posted on Twitter from Wil Reynolds, which you’ll find below. We have huge respect for Wil (interviewed him here in 2012; still worth a read), as well as in general, I really believe that what he says in the community originates from an excellent, authentic place.

In the event you don’t wish to watch it, the normal gist of this is the fact most of the links SEOs are link building company “don’t do just about anything for that client”, considering that these links tend not to drive conversions, assisted conversions, newsletter sign ups, etc. He’s one of many people that have described links in this way, and by no means am I looking to / would like to single him out (he’s only the most vocal / widespread in the bunch).

This idea sounds great theoretically, and will bring you pretty pumped up. A number of other similarly exhilarating mottos spring to mind when I listen to it (heard during the entire community):

“Fire your clients! If you don’t like them, then stop working with them.”

“Build a website for users, not search engine listings!”

“Just create great content, along with the links may come!”

The problem is that we are able to sometimes swing past the boundary in a direction, whether it’s up to the left (i.e. black hat SEO), or all the way to the best (i.e. building a site purely for UX). That can cause extremes like getting penalties from search engines like google on one side, and building non-indexable sites in the other.

In this instance, the notion of only pursuing revenue driving links, instead of any others, is a perfect illustration of swinging past the boundary in one direction.

1. Doing something that doesn’t directly lead to revenue

Let’s take the logic of this argument and apply it to other areas of SEO. Go through this and let me know that, apart from a couple of specifics (i.e. page speed improvements), that some of these improvements lead straight to increased revenue.

We also recognize that Google loves original content, and there are many listing-type pages that SEOs create content for your we are able to safely assume few are likely to read. Maybe those product description sweat shops are writing content that people can certainly make purchasing decisions based away from, but there’s a high probability very few individuals are.

So: it’s OK that each and every activity we’re doing as marketers doesn’t directly cause driving revenue. That’s lots of what we do as SEOs, anyway.

2. Links which could or otherwise not make an impact on rankings

Wil mentioned the concern that this links acquired inside a campaign may well not hold the impact that certain hopes to have following the campaign is finished.

You can easily make the case that, for anything technical SEO-wise, it’s not a sure thing an individual fix will impact rankings. Sometimes you’re in the dark in regards to what exactly is bringing about the problem. That’s why audits contain a variety of things to address, because any individual item might not be what Google is taking the most trouble with. So, for anything you’re doing on-site, it’s a danger on some level that it won’t possess the impact you’re seeking.

So how does building links compare to other advertising campaign types which involve outreach / outbound elements (i.e. advertisements, PR, etc.)? The majority of those, if not all, don’t involve 100% confidence that you’ll receive the result you’re wishing for, whether it’s branding, direct selling, or search rankings.

The expectation that the link-building campaign should always create a clear surge in rankings, especially facing a really complex, modern algorithm that could hinder a site from ranking as a consequence of numerous other issues, is a bit unfair.

3. Existing well ranking websites & their link profiles

Now let’s examine example. Use the websites ranking for “San Diego Flowers”. The most effective ranking site for the reason that city is They’ve got some solid links that appear to be like they drive several sales here & there. They also have a number of links which can be much more controversial regarding the direct, non-SEO value they supply:

These people were given an award from a local event. I feel it’s safe to say few people have groomed a list of links in this posting & made purchasing decisions based off any one of them.

These were indexed in a resource guide for organising a wedding. If this page got a whole lot traffic from qualified potential customers (people organising a wedding), then beyond doubt, I could possibly check this out link driving revenue. But in accordance with OSE, this article merely has 2 internal links, and i also didn’t find it ranking well for “san diego wedding resources”, so I doubt more than a number of people start to see the page monthly, not to mention simply click that particular link to Allen’s Flowers.

These people were cited as an example of using a certain technology. I feel it’s reliable advice that no sales were driven here (who shops for florists that use mSQL?), and although it’s not niche or location related, it’s still a link coming from a very aged, DA50 website.

Do a number of these link examples pass traffic/conversions? Maybe; there’s no chance of knowing for certain in any case. But the idea is: these are links I’d want, and whether they passed conversions or traffic, they’re legitimate links that pass the attention test & help this flower shop dominate for those from the main keywords. Which end dexhpky71 is worth hanging out of my way to ensure our link is included with an awards page, or that a local magazine’s resource guide includes their service using the others in the area.

4. My own, personal experiences

Throughout the clients we’ve had as well as the projects I’ve been an element of, certainly one of the best things to look at in analytics is the referral traffic from the sites we’re building links to. I want to check if a number of the links we get are sending any traffic, and if they do, if it traffic converts.

One example that comes to mind can be a .gov link project we did for the real-estate site. Earlier in 2016, we built ~30 links during the period of 6-9 months (quite a small campaign), and we watched their organic traffic grow ~50% over that point period.

Taking a look at analytics, considering that the links were acquired, only 3 in the 30 have sent greater than 10 visits. A number of them did send traffic that met conversion goals! But that wasn’t will make or break why we did the campaign to start with.

I remember obtaining a blogroll link a few years back that sent some serious traffic (mid 4 figures on a monthly basis), that was awesome. However, if I spent time only going after links that will send traffic & conversions, I would’ve built considerably less links, and drove considerably less rankings for my clients & my own sites (which, coincidentally, brings about less revenue).

So what’s the takeaway?

I totally realise why a lot people desire to communicate this message. The short answer is basically that you attract bigger & better clients whenever you say such things as this. As somebody who writes more being a practitioner, and less like a thought leader, it’s clear that what I’m doing isn’t the most effective lead generation technique for an agency (for everybody 1 big budget client that contacts us, we obtain 50 small businesses unreasonably looking to spend $200/month for great work).

With that in mind, I do believe it’s essential to understand the concept of the message, while still keeping things practical. Here’s how you can do it.

1. Check referral sources for opportunities

Scan referral traffic within your analytics for patterns & clues to more traffic/revenue driving opportunities. This counts for new links you’re building, but also for all past manually OR naturally acquired ones.

If you see a couple of links that happen to be sending value, think about “are there other link opportunities out there exactly like this?” For our own agency, we usually develop a tactic that, at its core, is actually a single way to get the link, but can be applied to 1000s of sites. Maybe you have just stumbled into something where there are numerous other opportunities the same as it.

For example – imagine an eCommerce niche electronics store finding a link coming from a local robotics club’s New Member Info page to the store’s Arduino basic starter kit product page. You will find probably 100s of other local robotics club who have website information for new members (and may very well have fascination with that basic starter kit), so contacting each with a promo code for your product could scale really well, and drive a lot of revenue (be sure they mention the discount code in the next club meeting, too!).

2. If you find a revenue-generating link tactic, treat it just like the golden egg that it must be

Should you encounter one, invest in it to do it right whether it can turn out paying for itself.

Two general ones that pop into your head are press coverage & forum link-building. If you’ve got an awesome product, paying a PR professional to help you coverage could cause direct selling. If you’re in a niche containing active & passionate communities in forums, spend money on becoming an element of them, and understand tips on how to post links in such a way that’s allowed.