While most marketing teams understand the importance of link building in coordination with a search engine optimization strategy, few are able to prioritize it on an ongoing basis.
As we covered earlier this month, even though link building is the third most effective tactic when it comes to meeting SEO objectives, marketers also indicated link building was by far the most challenging.
We often see B2B marketers place SEO link building on the back burner, in favor of other tactics and priorities, and sometimes it gets totally forgotten once the holidays come around.
Fortunately, it just takes a bit of focus and organization to get an ongoing link building program in place.
As the last days of the year fast approach, here are six steps to putting together a link building plan that supports your SEO strategy for 2018 and beyond.
1. Know Your Objectives
It is easy to take a “shotgun” approach to a link building campaign and start researching as many opportunities as possible. While you might cover a lot of ground with your research, you may also never get started because of the enormity of the situation.
Revisit your link building objectives to find the right place to start.
Potential questions to ask:
- Does your organization need to improve the overall website’s number of quality links in comparison to the competition?
- Are you building links to improve visibility for a particular keyword theme or product offering?
- What type of content appears to gain links from the competition?
Understanding the answers – or priority of answers – to these types of questions will help streamline the focus of link building strategies moving forward.
2. Know The Competition
As you may suspect from the questions above, it is imperative to know what type of links the competition has acquired. This is important for all strategies, regardless of keyword focus or content marketing emphasis.
A cost effective way to find an initial list of links is to run competitive websites through free / trial resources hosted by commercial programs such as SEMRush, Afrefs, and Majestic. These resources and others like Open Site Explorer, BuzzSumo, and SimilarWeb also offer paid options for uncovering a more comprehensive range of inbound links from competitors.
With this information in hand, building the strategy may take a much different light, since you’ll have a better understanding of the types of sites and reasons your competition is acquiring links.
3. Understand Your Content Assets
While not every organization will have “viral” link building content, it is unlikely the business archive is completely devoid of material. Even “boring” B2B organizations can find opportunities to create more engaging content designed to acquire inbound links organically.
Take inventory of business marketing assets and make determinations on what could be used or could be created with them and used for link acquisition.
Sometimes a first step is simply to create digital landing pages and variations of material used in sales presentations or designed to influence the B2B buyer decision process.
4. Revisit The Traditional Marketing Plan
Beyond content marketing assets already in place or scheduled for production, determine if there link building opportunities that can be realized through traditional (i.e. offline) marketing endeavors.
- What conferences and trade shows is the organization attending?
- Are there webinars or presentations in the works?
- Can the direct mail campaign be used to highlight website content in addition to planned messaging?
There may be untapped opportunities through all of these channels that just need an SEO perspective attached. The point is to find creative ways to build links through all of the company’s traditional marketing channels and planning for the new year.
5. Brainstorm and Filter
Once assets and marketing plans are understood, it is then time to brainstorm ideas for communication and link acquisition.
The first phase of this step is getting all of the ideas on the table. The second step is filtering and prioritizing. Outline ideas, figure out needed steps, and prioritize the schedule for implementation of your link building campaign(s).
Put plans in place for content generation or re-purposing, as well as targeted outreach to third-party site owners. Identify internal team members who might be able to assist in the different phases of this effort.
6. Execute, Report, and Evaluate
Finally, when getting the link building plan off the ground, make sure to have measurable benchmarks in place.
Among other things, link reporting should include basic site/link information, and the dates links are requested and confirmed.
However, the real key to evaluation success (or failure) falls back to the first step: understanding if the objectives defined have been met with the link building program.
If only these steps worked as easily to implement as they are to write down! 🙂 But writing them down and putting a documented plan in place may actually end up becoming the key step to success.
Best wishes in getting your link building plans in place for a fast start in 2018 and beyond!