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Why Backlinks Are The Secret to Search Marketing

May 30, 2018
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Why Backlinks Are The Secret to Search Marketing

Search marketing is SEO with a focus on content. While there are many in the inbound and digital marketing community that places a large emphasis on content, the reason they don’t see the organic results is that they don't do enough to generate and obtain links. In this post, my goal is to show the power of link building and why it’s essential to generate organic results for your business.


Link building has been often seen as a mysterious tactic that can only be done by the SEO wizards. The reality is, link building is all about building relationships and looking for opportunities within certain industries to grow domain authority and trust. Over the past few years, we have invested heavily in link building and the results speak for themselves. While we may not be the most popular site on the net, we consistently drive targeted traffic that generates high-quality leads.

As many of you know, Google makes a number of changes in their algorithm each and every year. The reason they do this is to maintain the credibility of the results and ensure that the results are as organic as possible. Remember, their goal is to ensure that users get the best results in the fewest amount of searches. This means their focus is on user intent, not keyword or topic.

When executing link strategy there are a number of things you want to consider. First, you want to be sure that the links you are pursuing make sense contextually. For instance, if you run a local hotel, obtaining a link from a local restaurant makes sense. But getting a link from a software directory does not.

Second, make sure that you build links not just for the sake of ranking. Google frowns upon this and if that is your only goal, you’ll end up compromising on links. Look for links that can also drive relevant referral traffic to your site. While this is harder, it well worth the effort.

There is a Direct Correlation Between Links and Organic Traffic

There is a popular belief that all you need to do is publish “good” content and your site will generate organic traffic. I am sorry to inform you, but that is simply not true. There are a number of really great sites that people have never heard of because they lack the trust and authority that backlinks provide.

One area that I focused on over the past year was link acquisition. I knew that we had good content on our site, but I felt that we stalled in traffic growth. I targeted a number of sites in our industry that offered a variety of links including guest blogs opportunities, resources pages, and directories. Below is a chart of the results.

 

 

As you can see, as we obtained links, our organic traffic rose as well. While the correlation is not a perfect correlation, it’s pretty noticeable even to someone without a background in data analysis.

Link Diversity Is Key

As I mentioned in the section above, we didn’t only rely on natural links nor did we just focus on one type of link. We looked at a number of different sites from blogs to directories to grow our link profile. Again, this takes more time and effort, but as you can see above, the work is worth your time.

There are a few tools I use to help us in this process:

  • Link Prospector: This tool allows you to pull lists of sites that offer a number of different linking opportunities from Guest Posts to Link Pages.
  • WhiteSpark: This tool is focused on local site and directories that help boost local visibility.
  • SerpStat: This tool helps me uncover competitor links that I can pursue.

While these tools are great, my favorite tactic is to use advanced search operators to look for opportunities. You can learn more about these in this post.

Anchor Text Still Matters

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about anchor text in the SEO. For those of you who are wondering what that is, anchor text is the text that is used in a link. While you don’t want to overdo it, using keywords in your anchor text can increase your site rankings.

One thing to note here. Just because you have a keyword in the anchor text, does not mean you will rank for that specific term. What the anchor text does is provides context to the link. This is why you want to diversify anchor text. As you'll see below, we have a number of different anchor texts. Some are keyword focused, others branded, others are random. If you're not sure how to choose anchor text, this tool is very helpful. 

Take a look at the anchor text we use in our linking strategies. 

Now, let’s take a look at the terms we are ranking for in the top 10 SERP results.

 

While not all of the terms we have in our anchor text are ranking in the top 10, you can see how the terms in our anchor text are related to the terms we are ranking for in search. Here is what I mean:

SEO Linking Strategies

  • Local SEO Agency
  • Local SEO Service Orlando
  • SEO Agency

All of these terms are related to SEO. Links are a core part of SEO, so these links help Google get a better grasp of what we do and why we deserve visibility.

Inbound Marketing Strategy

  • Inbound Marketing Company
  • Inbound Marketing Firms
  • Top Inbound Marketing Companies

Again we have a related term that is helping our visibility in a core area. Having keyword rich anchor text on links pointing to our services page is paying off.

If we take a look at the pages where we are ranking and the terms that are driving the most traffic, you’ll again see how our linking efforts are paying off. Our blog is generating a lot of visits, but what is most interesting is that of our top pages, all of them have a very healthy backlink profile.

Conclusion 

When it comes to ranking and driving traffic that takes action, you can’t rely on content alone. If you want to generate organic results, you need to build links to your content. Links that make sense contextually and also will drive relevant referral traffic. Additionally, you need to make sure that you have solid anchor text and link to pages that deliver a lot of value. Link building is all about building connections with others in your field or a related field. A great link is just an email away. Invest and links and watch your organic traffic grow.

SEO

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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