It’s safe to say that SEO has been a major priority for many small businesses over the last few years, and all of the changes we saw in 2013 have only added fuel to the fire. One of the biggest and oldest SEO tactics in the book is link building, but 2013 showed us that Google isn’t playing around when it comes to poor links and poor content.
The search engine giant is moving toward other things to determine your rankings—reviews, quality content, contextual linking, Google+, etc.—but that doesn’t mean that link building is dead. This means we need to change the way we think about link building strategies and all that link building can offer. Try to forget SEO for a second and think about some of the other benefits of link building. A hint: A big one is generating traffic.
How to Make Sure You’re Generating Traffic from the Links You’re Building
A good way to shift your focus this year is to think of backlink building as a way to generate traffic not because of a Google ranking, but because of the actual links. Readers have always been the most important things to Google, and with that in mind, moving in this direction is surely going to help you in the future. However, you have to have this goal in mind if you want to build your links in the right way.
Below are a few ways you can start building links that also generate traffic:
Don’t be afraid of nofollow links.
This is definitely the easiest “fix” but many small businesses are still hesitant. Many very authoritative websites only allow nofollow links, or links that Google bots cannot crawl, from contributors as a way to keep their website spam-free. They want those posting on their site to be serious about helping their audience as opposed to their own SEO gain. Links you see in the comment sections of a blog as well as social media accounts are also typically nofollow.
Because it takes a while to write an article, companies oftentimes choose to only publish articles where a link is dofollow so that they can earn that PageRank. A good way to focus on generating traffic, then, is to get rid of this mentality. If you are getting links on relevant websites with good reputations, then you are being seen by a large audience. You’re building your visibility and readers can click a nofollow link the same way they would a dofollow link.
Go for quality over quantity of links.
It might sound obvious, but for a very long time the opinion was that you should build your links on as many sites as possible with a good variety (for many, this is still “the” thing to practice). While this is still a good way to go, in today’s world you want to have more of a balance. Try to have a good variety, but work to become a regular contributor on some major sites in your industry. Write two long and detailed articles instead of four quick articles.
Overlapping with the last point, it’s important to remember that there are many different ways you can build links, many of which actually work best if you’re thinking about generating direct traffic. Author bios on guest posts is probably the biggest, but local profiles, press releases, video and YouTube, and blog comments will all earn you some great links (even if they are nofollow). You can also earn links from online advertising, which are always nofollow.
Part of knowing which links are generating traffic and where you should continue to build links in the future is looking through your analytics. Keep a list of all of your links as you build them so you can make sure the link goes live, but also so you can track that link. Simply set the date range in analytics to the date that the link went live to today, and then you can see a “all visitor sources” list to get an idea of the traffic you’ve generated.
The Moral of the Story
A good thing to point out with this approach is the idea that the visitors you get from your link building seo efforts are likely very targeted visitors. Even if you find that you’re only getting a few visitors from one of your links, you have to remember that those visitors are coming from a relevant source are more likely to really engage with your brand. Google endorses this practice (highly), so it’s best to get ready for the future and ahead of your competition now as opposed to later.
What tips and tricks do you have for focusing on generating traffic through your link building efforts? Has anything not worked for you in the past? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.