Thinking Beyond the Link Building “Campaign” [Case Study]

Posted by Paddy_Moogan

Over the years, I’ve often referred to our connect structure wield as “campaigns”, which isn’t wrong, but isn’t completely right, either. I is of the view that as an industry we need to alter our mindset to focus on what connection build should be: an ongoing, integrated, business-as-usual activity.

Link building process that work for brands now and that will continue to work in the future need to sit closer to the rest of the business. This intends tighter integrated in other punishes, or at the least, acknowledgment that connect construct isn’t a siloed activity or dark prowes like it used to be.

In this announce, I’d like to propose how we should think about link building and share some ways to make it more sustainable, efficient, and efficient.

The difficulty with safaruss

I want to start by being super clear on something, and I see no justifications for reiterating this throughout this post: Link building safaruss aren’t a bad thing. My core point is that they should be thought of as one piece of the question — not something we should focus all of our times and tending on.

“Campaign”, in the context of connection structure or digital PR, suggests a few cases things 😛 TAGEND It has a start and an end pointIt is a one-off activityIt is about a specific “thing”, whether that be a topic, product, or piece of content

There is nothing wrong with these as such, but tie build shouldn’t be thought about merely in these ways. If tie-up construct is seen as a series of one-off works, or about a specific thing and with a start and end point, it’s never going to be integrated into a business the nature it should be. It will ever sit around the edges of commerce work and not benefit the bottom line as much as it could.

Even if you are reading this thinking that you’re okay because you have lots of safaruss lined up — maybe one a week, one a few months, or one a part — the core problems still exist, but at a more zoomed-out level.

As digital purveyors, we want connect structure to be 😛 TAGEND Taken earnestly as a tactic which cures patronage SEO within a businessIntegrated with other areas to allow for efficiency and wider benefitsFit into the overarching digital strategy of a businessHave perceptible, consistent causes

Let me demo the last point with the following graph, which is the monthly execution of an Aira client on a 6-8 week expedition planned 😛 TAGEND

On the face of it, this looks pretty good. We improved over 200 relates in 12 months, and were ahead of target in terms of individual safarus objectives.

This graph is the reality of connection construct safarus executing. We were honest and up-front with buyers about the results, and those meridians and plunges are perfectly normal.

But it could( and should) be a lot better.

Let’s take a quick step back.

An unpleasant truth

The unpleasant truth for many connect developers is that a business shouldn’t truly need to worry about link building as an intentional, proactive act. Instead, associates should be a natural repercussion of a splendid make or service which is marketed and branded well.

However, business in this position are the exception rather than the rule, which meaning that as tie-up builders, we still have a job!

I’d argue that there are only a relatively small number of businesses that truly don’t need to worry about link building. Think of the likes of well-established and popular firebrands like Apple, McDonalds, Amazon and Coca-Cola. These companies indeed are the exception, rather than the rule.

Trying to be an exception and aiming to reach the nirvana of never actively am concerned about join structure should utterly be your goal. Putting efforts into areas such as product development, customer services, content policy, and brand house will all pay dividends when it comes to link building. But they all take time and you need to generate organic freight sooner rather than later in order to grow the business.

Link building, as part of your big integrated and robust digital programme can get you there quicker. I worry that businesses often leave coin on the table by just wait that nirvana to come. They may indeed got to get, but could they have gotten there sooner?

The question then becomes, how do they move quicker toward that ideology government, and what does relation constructing look like in the interim? Running expeditions can help for sure, but you’re not really building upward as quickly as you could be.

This is the crux of my annoy and problem with operating relate construct safaruss and allowing our strategies to lean on them too heavily 😛 TAGEND

When the campaigns stop, so will the links.

I know, I know — Aira launchings expeditions all the time.

Yes, we have propelled many, numerous connect building expeditions at Aira over the years and have been nominated for campaign-specific awardings for some of them. I’ve even written about them many times. Campaign-led link building has a very valuable part to play in the world of tie-in building, but we need to reframe our thinking and move away from campaigns as the primary space to generate links to a business.

Driving the liberty demeanors

It’s not just about reactions. It’s about driving the right behaviors within organizations, very.

Putting link building in the reces of a one-off project or campaign-led activity is not going to encourage habitual join house. It will drive demeanors and thinking which you don’t truly want, such as 😛 TAGEND Link building is a line part who are able to switched on and offInternal handles have to bend or break in order to accommodate link buildingThere is little longing or reason for wider squad members to learn about what connection builders doLink building is an isolated activity with no integrationLink building results aren’t consistent( you get those massive tops and immerses in performance, which can bring into question the marketing invest you’re being given)

Working under these pressures is not going to make your life easy , nor are you going to do the best job you perhaps can.

I worry that as an industry, we’ve become too focused on launching campaign after expedition and have gotten extremely far away from effecting change within organizations through our job.

As digital marketers, we are trying to influence behaviours. Eventually, it’s about the behaviors of purchasers, but before that target it’s about affecting stakeholders — whether you’re an bureau or in-house SEO, our first occupation is to get things done. In say to do that, relation constructing needs to be thought of as a business-as-usual( BAU) activity. Safaruss have a place, but are part of a much, much bigger picture. Link building needs to are going to the level where it’s not “special” to build links to a content section, it’s just done. If we can get there , is not simply will we accelerate the businesses we work with toward relation structure nirvana, but we will contributed much, much more value to them in the meantime.

Link building as a BAU activity

It is my firm belief that in order to mature as an industry, and specifically as project activities, association construct needs to be understood much more than it currently is. It still suffers from the issues that beset SEO for many years in the early days when it indeed was a dark art and we were figuring it out as we led along.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve come a long way, specially since April 2012( can you really believe it was over eight years ago ?!) when tie building began deriving into a content-led practice thanks in part to the Penguin update.

But we still have further to go.

We need to get out of the reces of “launching a campaign” and qualify our heads and clients to ask questions like, “How can attach structure help here? ” and “Is there a relation building possibility in this activity? ”.

A case study

The best direction I can explain this shift in foreseeing is to give you a real example of how we’ve done it at Aira. I can’t give you the exact client, but I can give you a comprehensive overview of the excursion we’ve been on with them, substantiating an SEO team that is relentlessly committed to getting things done — the excellent marriages for such an initiative.

I should also point out that this has never been easy. We are on this passage with a number of our clients, and some of them are just into it. The patterns here indicate what happens when you get it right — but it does take time, and the reality is that it may never happen for some organizations.

Where it started

One campaign. That was it. One photograph to get tie-ups and depict the client what we could do.

We failed.

This was back in 2016. We were lucky in that the client relied the process and understood why things had gone wrong on this instance. So, they gave us another chance and this time did a great job.

From there, the project ripened and flourished to the point where we were launching scaled expeditions like clockwork and coming connects routinely. All was well.

Then I was asked a question by a person who is on the client’s unit 😛 TAGEND

“What’s the evolution of our connect building? ”

Whilst link building is never far from my spirit, I didn’t have a mental pose to answer this straight away with any sentence — particularly given what I knew about this client and their industry. I took some time to think about it and consolidate a cluster of observations et rulings I’d actually had for years, but never really made concrete.

Side note: It’s often hard to take a step back from the day-to-day of what you’re doing and think about the bigger picture or the future. It’s even more difficult when you’re originating a business and generally doing good work. It can be hard to justify “rocking the boat” when things are going well, but I’ve learned that you need to find time for this reflection. For me at that point in time, it took a direct question from my client to pressure me into that mindset.

My answer

I confirmed that our existing sit of join build for them was something that was likely to continue working and supplementing importance, but that it should NOT be our sole focus in the coming years.

Then, I asked what I’ve talked about in this berth thus far.

I told them that our production wasn’t good enough, despite them being one of our happiest, most long-standing buyers. We were get the thousands of ties-in a few months, but we could do better.

Running campaign after campaign and getting links to each one would not be good enough in the future. Sure it acts now, but what about in two years? Five ?? Probably only partly.

We knew we needed to bridge the gap between different material natures 😛 TAGEND Content for ties-in( aka campaigns) Content for traffic( informational and transactional sheets) Content for construct expertise and trust

We’d merely been focusing on the first one, pretty much in isolation. We’d come up with some relevant topic opinions, construct them out and get connects. Job done.

This wouldn’t be good enough a few years down the road, because tie-in building would be taking place in a small pocket of a very large organization with limited integration.

It’s now been over a year since that dialogue and guess what? Our expeditions are still cultivating enormous, but we are evolving to do much better.

What happened

If you haven’t taken a look at what else your business is doing and where association house can add value, this is the first step towards better integration, and thus better relation build. By the time the conversation above happened, we’d previously recognized the need to integrate with other crews within the client’s organization, so we had a head start.

With the help of the client’s SEO team, we started to discover other activities within the organization which we could add value to or leveraging for greater prevails 😛 TAGEND The traditional market squad had been running campaigns for years on different industry topics. Some of these crossed over with the topics we’d started content for.The internal PR team had lots of activity going on and has tended to seen our coverage pop up on their trackers. As it turned out, they were just as keen to meet us and understand more about our processes.The brand team was starting to review all on-site assets to ensure conformity to brand guidelines. Working with them was going to be important moving forward for consistency’s sake.With our help, the customer were improving out more informational content related to their makes, with us curing brief their internal copywriters.

All of these opportunities disseminated the grains for a new focus on the evolution of link building, and pushed us to move quicker into a few cases things including 😛 TAGEND Operate brace projections with the internal PR team where we collaborate on new ideas and outreach that don’t only focus on data visualizationRunning ideation discussions around topics given to us by the SEO team, which are also focused on by their traditional marketing teamBuilding relationships with several subject matter experts within the organization who we are now working with and promoting online( more on this below) Testing the informational produce content for relation building after noticing that a few bits naturally lured linksWorking alongside the PR team to to be undertaken by brand-reclamation-style connection structure Where we are now

Just one year from that open and honest speech, we have been able to show our ethic beyond launching safarus after campaign whilst still improving links to the client’s content. This will impound value for years to come and mean that their trust on expeditions will be reduced more and more over occasion.

We’re making good progress toward taking our reliance off safaruss and obligating it one of the purposes of our approach — not all of it. Yes, campaigns still drive the majority of relations, but our programme now includes some key changes 😛 TAGEND All campaigns( with the strange objection) are evergreen in nature, can always be outreached, and have the ability to attract relations on their own.We are propelling long-form, report-style content pieces that demonstrate the authority and expertise the client has in their industry, and then building links to them.( They’re far slower in terms of getting tie-ups, but they are doing well .) We are fostering the profile of key spokespeople within the business by connecting them with the authors and columnists who can contact them immediately for mentions and notes in the future.We are doing prospecting and outreach for informational content, aiming to give them a nudge in higher-rankings which will be translated into more relates in the future( that we didn’t have to ask for ).

Link building isn’t quite a BAU activity just yet for this consumer, but it’s not far off from becoming one. The rehearsal is taken seriously , not just within the SEO unit, but also within the wider marketing team. There is more awareness than there has ever been.

Material approach fabric

I want to share the framework which we’ve used to support and envisage the transformation away from expeditions as our sole tie-in construct programme.

We’ve been aware for a while that we need to ensure any attach building undertaking we do is topically relevant. We’d knew ourselves defaulting to content which was campaign-led and focused on associates, as opposes it material that are in a position suffice other purposes.

Link builders need to take a long, hard look at the topics we want our clients and businesses to be acclaimed for, reliable to talk about, and that resonate with their public. Once you have these topics, you can start to plan your content executing. After that, you’ll start to see where relate structure fits in.

Contrast this with the approaching of “we need relations, let’s come up with some related material ideas to help do that.” This can work, but isn’t as effective.

To help patrons change their strategies, we put together the framework below. Here’s how it wields 😛 TAGEND

Let’s imagine we sell concoctions that help customers sleep better. We may come up with the following themes and topics 😛 TAGEND

Notice that “Campaigns” is only one format. We’re also acknowledging that topics and themes can not only lead to other forms of content( and connects ), but likewise that our KPIs may not always be just links.

If we put together a long-form content guide on the science of sleep, it may not get on the front page of the New York Times, but it may get a gradual, continuous torrent of associates and organic probe traffic. This transaction could include possible patrons for a sleep produce.

Once you have a specific topic in subconsciou, you can go deeper into that topic and start to be considered what material sections you can create to truly demonstrate expertise and authority. This will differ by client and by topic, but it could inspection something like this 😛 TAGEND

In this case, the blue circles represent a topic+ format which may be link-worthy. While the orange ones express a valuable execution that aren’t as link-worthy, we may still want to create this material for longer-term link and traffic contemporary.

To wrap up

Link building campaigns still remains to huge amounts of value. But if that’s all you’re doing for clients, you’re leaving openings behind. Think bigger and beyond campaigns to see what else can be done to move you and your business closer to link building nirvana.

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