Improving Value and Volume in Link Building

by Jason Acidre on August 7, 2012 · 27 comments · Content, Search


Quality vs. Quantity is one of the perennial questions that have been frequently asked in the link building game. Most of us already know that focusing all our efforts on quality will always win, though some of us are still hesitant, puzzled and anxious of some sort. Why?

Because, providing value, as a marketing objective has been very difficult to scale, particularly on agency and enterprise level. Given that value/quality can’t easily be replicated, won’t ever be generic, and most of all – it can’t be done in speed.

The landscape of search has been changing a lot, and it’s definitely the time for us link builders/marketers to also adapt and change our ways on how we provide our services to clients.

Don’t get me wrong, link building is still a number’s game, but a lot are counting and looking on the wrong spot.

PS: This is actually a follow up post, so you may also want to read my post on conversion-oriented link building in case you haven’t read it yet.

Value Defeats Results to Volume

Like what Ian Lurie shared on his recent presentation on MozCon, link building is an outcome, not an initiative. This basically means the higher value people see in your brand/content, the higher volume of links you’ll get naturally or almost effortlessly.

However, there’s more to than just that, as volume can also be reflected through other aspects to justify the value of your own efforts for your clients.

If you are serving volume to your clients, you are probably looking on the wrong metrics. Instead of basing the volume of your campaigns through the amount of links you are getting, why not measure it through the multiple end-results driven from the links you have acquired?

Most of us focus on the methods, and not on the end-results.

Why do we do or offer link building in the first place? For rankings, traffic, branding and/or to increase revenue? Then why not measure those instead of giving full emphasis on the amount of links we or our clients want for each month.

Those are the things that bring better impact to their businesses, and certainly the reasons why they have invested in link building.

Let value generate volume. Track the things beyond the surface to demonstrate and present both the value and the volume of impact of your methods, because that will keep you and your clients in business.

I know that some of you reading this will be a little bewildered on how to present that kind of data to your clients, so here are few samples of link building methods and how to measure their efficiency based on their value in business perspectives:

Sample 1: Guest blogging

Guest blogging is a method where businesses can “share their expertise” by using other high-traffic channels (authority blogs, content hubs, etc…) to draw more potential customers to their business. That’s the whole point of the method, not just to help your site improve its rankings!

So bank on that concept and start measuring the things that are getting you immediate results!

For instance, I submitted a guest post on SEOmoz early this year about linkable asset ideas. Did that help my site’s rankings? Maybe yes or maybe no. But the thing is that action empowered my personal brand as an industry expert.

And with that, there are so many areas that you can then measure to see the true weight and impact of the method, such as:

  • Brand impression and interactions based on the amount of social shares, natural links and comments it received
  • Number of traffic that the link was able to send over to your site as well as the percentage of traffic that resulted to conversions/transactions.

  • If the post is ranking for relevant keywords

By providing value to their community, you can then easily come up with the volume of link opportunities, as you get to scale your process by making your brand more known and be able to build rapport with the people who have shared, liked and interacted with you through the content.

Relationships drive search engines crazy, and that is an aspect that will certainly shape your domain/brand authority and eventually boost your search rankings.

The volume will also reside on the results driven by the method. Include these insights in your report, because I believe that amount of data will surpass the 100+ of links type of report. This will compel them, particularly if they can see that your efforts are directly resulting to more revenue for them.

Sample 2: Content Marketing/Link Baiting

Another highly-effective method in building links is through hosting great content within your site that will not just attract links, but also potential customers to your business. The business value of this method can extremely be quantified in so many ways.

Here’s an example, one of my popular posts on this blog about link prospecting has helped my business in terms of traffic, links, branding and especially in acquiring new clients:

So if you’re helping your clients do this type of content generation and link development, you can definitely upsize the volume of results that you’ll get with minimal work. Measure these areas to determine efficiency:

  • Number of natural links and editorial mentions to the content. Make this work by implementing targeted outreach and social promotions.
  • Number of social shares from various social networks as well as comments/interactions generated by the content.
  • Rankings for relevant keyword(s).
  • Amount of traffic generated and conversions/transactions initiated by the content to the site.

Sample 3: Free Ebook

Giving away Ebooks has certainly been an effective link and lead generation strategy for years, especially if it’s offering high-value information in it.

You can easily acquire links if you offer a high quality free ebook to bloggers in your niche as a freebie for their audience who’re specifically seeking for what the information that your ebook is containing. Submitting the ebook to various ebook directories can also help get you some links.

Just look at iAcquire’s free link building guide ebook, it has generated some really solid links to it, and I’m quite certain that they have gained a lot from it in terms of lead acquisition and social branding (seeing that they’ve used pay with a tweet to amplify social promotion). 

Another great story using the same strategy is with David Cohen’s intern who has generated $30,000+ in just a month of work and hustle (creating an ebook, reaching out to bloggers, and acquiring leads along the process).

Invest on this kind of marketing approach/content asset and measure as well as present more than just the links to your clients:

  • Social shares.
  • Links acquired to the ebook’s download page or site/brand mentions instigated by the free giveaway.
  • Amount of leads/sales generated.
  • Relationships built along the process of promoting.
  • Traffic and search rankings of the Ebook’s download page.

Sample 4: Comment and Forum Seeding

Marketing your brand through participating on high-traffic online communities, such as blogs and forums in your industry, can both help you become an authority in your industry and send potential clients/customers to your site.

Add value to discussions, and target pages that have high chances of ranking for keywords that may be used by your target audience. This will allow you to continuously absorb traffic from pages where you have contributed your expertise/knowledge to.

For instance, I recently tested comment marketing to mainly measure how much traffic and/or conversions I can get from it on a post on SEOmoz.

The added value I got from a single comment that I did for just a minute or two resulted to:

  • Brand exposure to (probably) hundreds of people who have seen the comment
  • Built rapport with the people who have found the post/link useful and shared it on Twitter
  • Traffic: 132 visits

Another one is from a forum post from last year that’s still sending traffic and possible clients to my blog.

I’m not really that active on Warrior Forum anymore, but this post surely did add great value to me as a business owner.

Take your link building campaigns to the next level and start measuring things beyond rankings, because that is where you’ll find significant quantity/volume. Test what’s really working from your campaigns that are bringing in business value and continuously enhance those methods.

Don’t just show your clients a big list of links. Make them understand that link building is not just about improving rankings anymore, as this small fraction of online marketing can be a big part of how your efforts will influence their traffic, brand and conversions. It’s our job to ensure that their investment in link building is really helping their businesses grow.

Final thought to continuously make ourselves a better SEO:

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and you can also follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre.

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristel Cuenta August 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm

As per usual, great post boss Jason!

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Armon Gatus August 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Another piece of information. Thanks Jason!

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Thomas August 8, 2012 at 2:56 am

Hi Jason,

thanks for the insightful post – i always love reading your posts. I have a lot of blogs in my rss feed about online marketing related topics and im always happy to see something new from you :)

I really like, that your showing “real” examples – you always describe your idea, show what you did and come up with the outcome in the end. So there is always room for interpretation!

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Sean@SEO Philippines August 8, 2012 at 3:34 am

Love the story about David Cohen’s intern. Inspired to do it for my own product (SEO Hacker School). Hope it also hauls in a lot of bucks in a monthly basis!
Kaw Jason kamusta yung own product mo? Meron na ba?

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Shalu Sharma August 8, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Brilliant information on how to increase link volume. In the past I never bothered with guest posting but recently I submitted a few guest blog posts on similar sites and there was as surge in traffic, it does work.

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Derek Maak @ Text Your Ex Back PDF August 9, 2012 at 9:21 am

Hey Jason,

There’s no doubt that quality always trumps quantity in link building…at least in this new era of SEO. Maybe that wasn’t the case years ago.

I think it can be hard for people to grasp the concept that a few quality links gained via the methods you mentioned above can do way more for your business than thousands of subpar links. When they aren’t building hundreds of links, it just feels like they aren’t doing enough.

That’s why I think you need to find some deeper metrics to measure rather than just looking at number of links. That way you’ll see that your quality link building efforts are actually paying off, even though it may not seem like it on the surface.

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Dev @ Free WordPress Themes August 10, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Another awesome and useful post, Jason.

Guest posting and writing high quality articles is the best way to build backlinks. I know it’s long process and takes a lot of time but the results would be huge.

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Dan Norris August 12, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Nice post, I agree quality is the way to go but as you rightly point out it’s very difficult to scale. While brand impressions (number of tweets etc) can be measured it’s really hard to work out the value of it. I’m a fan of dedicating a similar amount of time to a bunch of strategies and use custom segments in Analytics so you can get some good reports on all of them to get an idea of which ones are converting better than others. Then you can double down on the ones that are really bringing in results. It’s hard because some things are long term strategies like your forum example but I still think it’s better to have some hard numbers on the time and money you are putting in. I’ve found an astonishing difference in conversion rates across different strategies – and the highest ones aren’t necessarily the ones I expected.

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Pavel August 14, 2012 at 11:01 am

Great post as always Jason! I think content marketing/link baiting is the best way for me to get more links. Guest blogging is great too but I you need to be a very accomplished writer and be an expert in your niche to be successful at it. Also, if you are in a very small niche, finding blogs in that niche that will allow you to guest post. With content marketing it’s all about offering attractive and interesting content that you know your target audience will find appealing. Whether it’s photos, videos, articles or a combination of all of these, if you do it right your content will start working wonder for you by a way of perpetual link generation that is self sufficient and effective.

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Suzanne August 14, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Quality content whether in the form of e-books, articles, or blog posts can be the success catalyst in most businesses. Some of my best traffic comes from a content giveaway on my site. I am continuously seeking to create new content for link building. This post has such wonderful visuals – thank you for all the effort you put into it! Suzanne

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Dave August 15, 2012 at 7:10 am

Posting great content is really the best way to get you natural organic links. If you put enough time into developing high quality content it will then continue to work for you in perpetuity and continue to give you fresh links for years without much subsequent effort on your part. Love the post Jason, great work as always

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Rajkumar Jonnala August 18, 2012 at 11:22 am

Hi,

Quality vs Quantity, is a debatable issue. My focus is on quality always but at the same time I never keep a track of the length of my article. I see to it that I cover all the points relevant to the subject. I am obsessed with writing to the best of my capacity and that is my strength. I see to it that the content is free from grammatical and spelling errors. These are basic things. I like sample 4 (Comment and Forum Seeding). This one is great.

Regards,
Rajkumar

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Arwin August 19, 2012 at 9:13 am

I like your final thoughts. At the end of the day what was important is the output that you created after all the strategies, analysis and experiments.

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Elena Anne August 19, 2012 at 12:09 pm

One of the most complex and thorough articles i have read on increasing traffic. Well put together too with the visual inclusions. Good job. Very useful.

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Louie Sison @ Make Money Online Philippines August 20, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Jason,

I almost always cry everytime I read your blog posts. I’m wishing – when can I write the way you write? I not sure if you’re half human-half search engine or what? All I can say is, I want your brain. LOL :)

On a serious note…

I like your closing thought – “Something to think about every now and then as an SEO: Are we really helping our clients? Are we bringing value to their business?”

We should realy live to serve our clients/customer, then they will take care of our business.
One of your number one fan!
Louie Sison

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Robert Koenig August 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Well thought out post, you hit the topic from every angle. Of course, the debate will continue on until the end of time. Quality versus quantity is the dilemma we face across every business. It’s nice to see a general consensus of value, where quality and quantity meet.

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Nick Stamoulis August 21, 2012 at 7:20 am

The key is to build links on sites that target audience members are actually visiting. Guest blogging is great because it provides an opportunity to build links that can generate traffic to your site and gets your brand noticed. Stay on the lookout for guest blogging opportunities in your niche.

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Rob August 21, 2012 at 8:30 am

Fantastic post as usual and spot on content- as would be expected. Would certainly work for someone marketing content that has a large following. The downside is for businesses like mine, working in a very niche market that the average reader really doesn’t care about. Makes for very difficult “viral” or otherwise marketing, particularly when ahrefs show that competitors are buying in their links. However, linkbaiting has worked to some extent and got me some very nice natural links for other sites of mine- so you’re on the money here!

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Lee January 16, 2013 at 4:31 am

I enjoyed reading this post again I came back to it really to reassure myself that the strategies I am using are heading me in the right direction. Doubts were creeping in as things weren’t going as quickly as I had hoped think it was me just being impatient
Great post thanks lee

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Iain @marketing your farm April 6, 2013 at 2:32 am

You said. “Don’t just show your clients a big list of links. Make them understand that link building is not just about improving rankings anymore,”

And I thought that is really valuable. I think the problem might be that it will be very difficult to convince some people of it.

However, there are definitely going to be other people who understand it.

Personally, I understand the benefit. I just need to work on execution of the information.

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Robert April 22, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Jason, great post.
I was just about to head to sleep when I came across your amazing post.
Do you think an infographic as a guest post and for Facebook advertising will be beneficial to gain links?

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