When they hear the term link building, many digital marketers think of tactics like blogger outreach and unlinked mention follow-up and immediately try to change the subject. Traditional link building can be time-consuming and focused on lower-hanging fruit, such as low Domain Authority blogs, so it can be difficult to justify the time spent building links based on the end results achieved.
At Go Fish Digital, our content team takes a different approach to link building in which we use tangential content and digital PR strategies to build highly authoritative links (think coverage and backlinks on sites like the New York Times, Real Simple, and Fast Company.)
And while most digital marketers are familiar with more traditional link-building measures, this content-based link-building approach is new for many.
To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most commonly-asked questions we encounter about our approach to link building, along with answers. Read on to learn more about how this link building works, and the value it provides to brands.
1. Why do I need to build links to my website?
There are many components to an effective SEO strategy, and backlinks are an important part of the search ranking algorithm. Each link pointing to a website acts as a trust signal to Google, so the more sites pointing to you and the higher quality those sites are, the better. These links act as votes of confidence, showing Google that you’re a trustworthy website.
2. How do you earn links from authoritative media sites?
The most effective way to earn links from authoritative media sites is to create great content that fits into the current news cycle and has a tie-in to a client’s brand. Your content creation strategy should be paired with a relationship-based outreach approach to connect with journalists. By creating thorough outreach lists and strategically pitching journalists, it’s possible to secure coverage and backlinks for the campaign on authoritative media sites.
To get a better idea of how this actually works, you can check out how we used data on the most popular Trader Joe’s products in every state to build links for a CRM software company.
3. Can the content focus on my brand or product?
No, usually not. It was estimated that U.S. advertisers would spend nearly $44 billion on native ads in 2019, showing that brands are willing to pay top dollar for placements on media sites. As a result, these same sites understandably aren’t willing to feature brands and highlight overtly branded content for free.
By creating content that naturally fits into the news cycle, has a tie-in to your brand, yet doesn’t feel overly self-promotional, you can organically earn the interest of journalists writing for top news sites.
Additionally, by focusing on topics tangential to your brand, the content is more likely to be relevant to a wider audience and range of sites. This wide relevance is key to an effective link-building strategy if your goal is to earn a large number of links, while a more traditional PR campaign is typically targeted at featuring your brand or product on a single website.
4. How long does a link-building campaign take?
The timeline can vary considerably depending on the format of the content (e.g. does it have an interactive element?), though on average it takes about three months to complete a link-building campaign. The content-creation process takes about six weeks, and involves ideation, research and analysis, graphic design and/or development, and copywriting. Next, the promotion of the content requires an additional four to six weeks. Coverage and backlinks will often continue to come in after the initial promotion period.
5. How is digital PR different from traditional PR?
The process used for outreach in digital PR has a lot of similarities to traditional PR. The main differences between the two are the end goals and initiatives. Increasing brand awareness across media outlets is typically the primary objective of a traditional PR campaign. Radio, TV, print coverage, and online coverage are common components of a traditional strategy.
In contrast, just as the name implies, digital PR is focused on generating brand mentions and backlinks online. While brands still get the benefit of increased brand awareness as a result of digital PR efforts, the main goal of backlinks is to help boost search rankings and overall online visibility.
6. Do syndicated links help?
While original links carry the most value in Google’s eyes, syndicated links also provide some value. Details, like whether the link has a canonical tag, will help determine just how much value.
Some of the large media conglomerate sites are also unique enough in other ways – maybe the title tag is different, different boilerplate copy on the page, etc. – that Google often indexes many of those pages separately rather than applying a default canonical tag and only indexing one.
Having multiple linking pages indexed provides a better chance of additional clicks, visibility, and traffic for the client. And while syndicated links may have different short-term SEO value than original links, the long-term value of increased brand awareness can help with branded queries and click-through rates when your site appears in other search results.
7. How many links do I need?
As with many other aspects of SEO and link building, it’s hard to say exactly how many backlinks you need – it really depends on the competitiveness of your market and your overall goals.
In general, it’s safe to say that you can prioritize quality over quantity in your backlink profile. For instance, it’s more beneficial to have a smaller number of links from reputable, high Domain Authority sites like The New York Times than hundreds of links from spammy, low Domain Authority blogs.
Another thing to consider is the likelihood that more recent links can be impactful in search rankings. An increase in links to a landing page can serve as a signal of relevance to search engines, so having newer links than your competitors could help you rank more competitively.
To help set a goal for the number of links you’d like to obtain, I recommend taking a look at the backlink profiles of top-ranking sites. In order to rank in line with or above the competition, you’ll want your backlink profile to be comparable, if not stronger than those profiles.
8. Can you guarantee a certain number of links for a campaign?
Since this is a white hat approach to link building, it’s not possible to guarantee the exact number of links a piece of content will generate. The success of a content piece is ultimately in the hands of the writers and publishers the content is pitched to and whether they decide to cover and link to it.
Based on past campaign performance, a typical campaign can result in anywhere from 7 to 100+ backlinks to a brand’s website.
There you have it – some of the most common questions about link building answered. Do you have more questions? Are you curious to learn more about the value link building can provide to your brand? Contact us and we’d be happy to help strategize the best ways to use content marketing to improve your online presence and visibility!