If you’re like the majority of businesses in competitive niches, you have a link building campaign resting as the backbone of your strategy. You know that getting high-authority, contextually relevant links is the only surefire way to increase your domain authority consistently, and you might even be seeing a positive return on your efforts.
However, it’s also likely that your link building campaign isn’t getting nearly as much traction as it could. In all likelihood, the ROI you’re seeing pales in comparison to the ROI you could be seeing. Why is this the case?
Usually it’s due to one or more of the following reasons:
- You assume the links will come naturally. Google’s Penguin update fights spam by penalizing any links that were built with the deliberate intention of manipulating rank. Basically, if you build a link designed purely to benefit your site, you’ll get penalized rather than rewarded. Accordingly, many search engine optimizers have tried to combat this by producing stellar onsite content that “naturally” attracts links on its own. While this isn’t necessarily a bad strategy, it calls to mind a tree falling in the forest—if nobody hears it, does it make a sound? Not only does your content have to be top-notch quality to earn the benefits of this strategy, you also have to go out of your way to promote it. Contrary to what viral marketing norms may have you believe, the links aren’t going to come all by themselves.
- You’re focusing on quantity. This is a limiting belief I see in most newcomers. To some extent, the quantity of links you have does matter; earning 20 links is strictly better than earning 1 link in the vast majority of cases, regardless of the nature of those links. However, spending all your time focusing on numbers will detract you from more significant goals. For example, earning just one link on a source with an authority of 90 or higher will probably be worth several links on mid-level authority sources—and cost you less time, cumulatively. In the end, quantity matters—but it shouldn’t be your top priority.
- Your campaign isn’t targeted. This can be a killer if you’re not careful. Everyone knows the most important variable to look for in a link source is its authority—but what about the other factors? What about the nature of the publisher? What about the potential referral traffic you could receive? How will this opportunity lead to future opportunities? There are many potential values to your link sources, and failing to consider them can leave your efforts spent inefficiently. You don’t need to exhaustively chart out every variable in your campaign, but you should at least have some framework that allows you to pinpoint primary, secondary, and tertiary goals—especially over the long-term.
- You’ve lost focus on content. In the mad race to get more links and earn space on bigger publishers, it’s easy to lose focus on the most important part of your campaign; the quality of your content. Whipping a post together quickly can help ensure you meet a deadline and get a link on the web sooner, but it prevents you from seeing the benefits of a truly high-quality post in action. Better content writing means your brand will earn a better reputation naturally, you’ll see higher levels of referral traffic, and you may even get your post to circulate virally.
- You aren’t scaling effectively. Improving your link building campaign’s ROI is all about finding a way to scale efficiently, which is especially important for new domains. Early on, you won’t have access to many potential publishers—you’ll be relegated to somewhat low-authority and local sources. From there, you’ll climb up to mid-level sources, and eventually the high-level “trophy” sources that can propel your domain authority to ridiculous heights. But if you scale too quickly, you’ll face rejection after rejection from publishers, and if you scale too slowly, you’ll miss out on some enormous potential. Find the balance if you want to maximize your ROI.
- You aren’t leveraging personal brands. Personal brands are incredibly valuable for link building campaigns. For starters, it’s easier for personal brands to secure guest posting opportunities and author accounts with major publishers. Since they’ll each have their own social media profiles to work with, you’ll also instantly multiply the potential reach of your social media syndication strategy—and you’ll also earn higher levels of engagement. Plus, if you’re using multiple personal brands, you can cultivate different areas of specialty or hedge your bets with different sources. There’s no reason to leave this potential untapped.
- You see link building as an isolated channel. Link building is often treated as a distinct strategy within the realm of SEO—even this article loosely implies that. But in reality, link building is a multifaceted strategy that affects many other areas of brand development, from brand awareness building to lead generation and everything in between. If you start treating your link building tactics as integral to some of those other strategies (such as email marketing, personal branding, content marketing, etc.), you’ll be able to earn more value out of every link you build.
- You’ve become complacent. Finally, we have a psychological affliction that takes hold in many marketers, especially after the first few months of a new campaign: you’ve become complacent. Most marketers, once they reach a positive ROI or target ROI, will consider their jobs done, and will no longer strive to reach for higher goals. Instead, they’ll rely on the same tactics that got them to that level. In some ways, this is a wise strategy; you know this set of tactics works for your brand, so you might as well keep reaping the rewards of using them. However, it also limits your potential. If you never try to experiment with new things or improve the tactics you’re currently working with, you’ll never know what ROI you could be seeing (and, spoiler alert, it’s usually higher).
Fortunately, none of these motivating factors is unpreventable, or untreatable. Once you realize what factors are holding your strategy back, you can take proactive measures to fight against them. Link building isn’t a strategy that can be “solved” or “beaten,” like fitting pieces into a puzzle; instead, it’s a strategy that should continue to evolve over time, especially as new tools become available, new search engine updates roll out, and your own domain authority starts to grow. No link building strategy is perfect, which means there’s always room to be just a little bit better.