CommerceCo Recap: An SEO Link Building Process
Link building might be the toughest search engine optimization task. It requires nearly equal parts research, creativity, and cold-calling-like outreach. It is also essential for top organic search rankings.
If your business is struggling to build connections, focus on steps or processes rather than an intimidating blob.
Having a clear goal is often overlooked. The key is knowing what your link building efforts should be doing on a strategic level, beyond “we want more traffic” or “we want more sales”.
“We have a lot of [link-building] tactics, and it really depends on the objective of the campaign,” said James Wirth, senior director of strategy and growth marketing at Citation Labs, a leading link building agency.
For Wirth, link building goals often fall into two categories:
- Increase Domain Authority Score,
- Increase the authority score of the page.
The first – increasing Domain Authority Score – is a brand building goal. It’s like boiling “the ocean to try to heat an alpine lake to swimmable levels.”
Increasing page authority should increase traffic to a target URL. It’s like turning on “the electric kettle to heat water for a nice cup of afternoon income”.
If you need to increase your company’s brand visibility, it may make more sense to increase your site’s Domain Authority score. And that will likely drive your business to adopt link building tactics like media relations.
An ironic example of this goal and a similar tactic in media relations comes from Wirth himself. Twice, Wirth participated in a live interview for the CommerceCo by Practical Ecommerce community.
In each case, I introduced Wirth to this community of trade professionals. Additionally, in each case, a summary article has appeared here, linking to Citation Labs.
For topic relevance, site traffic, and conversions, Wirth suggests creating landing page authority scores. It is the act of linking to sales and campaign pages. Targeting these types of links will require a different set of tactics which, according to Wirth, includes:
- guest posting,
- practical articles,
- Comment posts,
- Relevant content.
Thus, the goal defines the tactic. This makes link building more feasible.
Once you have a goal, develop a link building research process. It demystifies the art of link building, making it more achievable.
“Our internal process is all about connecting context,” Wirth said as he shared a slide showing Citation Lab’s six steps.
- The objectives set. Select your pages and identify the top one to three keywords for each.
- Develop research methods for the rest of the analysis.
- Identify research areas. This step is based on the research process.
- Research papers. Explore contextual facets to develop a topic-based linking plan – why an editor would benefit from a guest post or link.
- Context of the thematic link. Know how you will approach publishers.
- Themes and editors. Armed with your research and plan, contact the publishers.
Wirth’s approach allows link building to be scaled to larger sites and tends to produce useful results, such as a list of publishers to contact, a clear plan for contacting publishers, an “angle” for feature them and specific topics for guest posts. or your own site. The links your business earns with this approach are likely to be contextually relevant, helpful to the publisher, valuable to the audience, justifiable, and natural. Everyone wins.
What seemed like the daunting act of randomly cold calling editors to ask for links or offer guest posts has become a natural, repeatable process.
The process also informs content subjects. “A content strategy without this process is going to have some link building challenges,” Wirth said. “But if we can build this [approach] in content development, the resulting page will be ready to earn links.