The Web is full of information about the ways that enterprises can build links and, ultimately, bring visitors to their corporate websites and blogs.
A lot of the available link-building guidance, however, is useless (if not completely misguided). Popular advice treats every situation the same, but each company has unique challenges.
The whole point of a link-building initiative is to obtain a sufficient number of high-quality, Web-based citations that, on their own, can drive visitors to a website by their mere presence, earning the company and its website some genuine credibility and authority with Google and Bing as an ancillary result.
Yesterday's Approach to Link Building
Web marketers have attempted various tactics to acquire links, including offering guest posts to industry blogs, listing their sites in online directories, creating and distributing infographics, using social networking sites to raise awareness with key groups and more. Occasionally, some marketers even turn to email and comment spamming in an attempt to get the links they think they need to rank on the search engines.
These somewhat traditional and generally accepted linkbuilding methods are not nearly as effective as they once were, and it's still difficult to acquire links through these methods when the aim is to create a truly competitive link profile, particularly for major enterprises.
"The real challenge is implementing these link-building strategies at a massive scale," said Mitul Gandhi, the cofounder and chief architect of the enterprise SEO platform seoClarity. "If [an enterprise has] a blog, their content strategy drives link building for them, but they can't do 500 things like a small company can, sending out press releases and email and using social media, so they have to choose a strategy to employ and then do it at scale."
The Cost of Quality
The one tried and true way for SEOs to accelerate growth is by providing content that other websites need and want to share with their visitors. It's essentially basic supply and demand; there is no shortage of low-quality (virtually useless) content on the Web, but as Internet professionals become savvier there will be less demand, because it doesn't provide enough value.
What does this mean for the SEO-minded digital marketers? If they're willing to spend more time and effort creating high-quality content (which there is greater demand for), they'll find themselves garnering better links, and ultimately, getting more out of their link-building initiatives than if they'd just tried to acquire as many links as possible. But how do SEOs know if they're pushing mediocre content?
"The easiest way to determine low-quality content is when it says a lot of things without really saying anything," explains Gandhi. "High-quality content for an enterprise will help the end-user get to the objective that they started reading the article for; it will answer a question and provide resources for additional information."
To ensure content offers actionable information, marketers should ask themselves to name 2-3 article takeaways. If they can't, it's time to rework the piece. On a daily basis, corporate bloggers and marketers should also assess the types of content their readers/customers are interested in. A company like The Home Depot, for example, should keep its virtual thumb firmly planted on the pulse of the many niches it serves (e.g. gardening, construction, household maintenance, etc.).
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Regularly checking high-profile websites in different industries will also alert marketers to emerging trends and popular topics, and paying close attention to the comments sections can help them better understand what kind of information readers are looking for, which they can then use to create content for their own blog or website. Part of this daily SEO routine should include looking for up-and-coming blogs within each niche, as well. These publishers are typically eager to give links to large organizations that show interest in them (to build their own credibility), making it a mutually beneficial practice.
Demand in the "content market" will ultimately determine which websites earn (e.g. supply) those high-quality links, because they'll be the ones offering the highest quality content.
Segmentation and Customized Content
It's a corporation's audience that ultimately determines what high- or low-quality content is, which is why a link to a corporate blog from a popular site is so important. Their audience has deemed that site high quality through repeat visits. To figure out what these sites are, it's best to segment various audiences by niche, and then identify those websites or blogs that specific audiences visit most frequently.
There are platforms that can help enterprises identify influencers and segments that they should be targeting, including seoClarity, Klout and Little Bird, to name a few. Once content marketers know which blogs to go after, they should send tailored pitches with content that is specific to what they cover, because it's considered somewhat taboo (if not annoying) to blast outlets with pitches that are not relevant to their coverage area.
For example, consider if a soda company started to sell a flavored water product and found lifestyle blogs about healthy living and dieting that have authority in that niche. Whenever the soda company writes a new blog post about the health benefits of water, or how zero-calorie flavored water is an easy substitute for popular high-calorie drinks, they can pitch that content to other lifestyle sites.
In turn, assuming the post is well-written and provides valuable information, the soda company should receive a link, additional site visits and more awareness overall.
Help is Out There
There are a number of enterprise SEO platforms that can help corporations identify important industry segments to tailor content and distribution to in order to increase traffic and gain credibility and favor with. But the important thing to remember is that search engines and people will evaluate each organization on the quality and value of the content provided to end-users.