Link building isn’t something you try for a few months, put on autopilot, and forget about. There needs to be a consistent purpose in order to enjoy sustainable results. More specifically, scalability needs to become a primary focal point.
When you first launch a link building strategy for your website, it’s easy to see progress. Each step feels like you’re taking a giant leap towards something exciting and opportunistic. You go from zero backlinks to 10 backlinks – all the way up to 100! Your efforts are being rewarded and the data is there to support your expensive and time-consuming investment. Then, rather suddenly, it all slows down. It’s not that you’re moving in the wrong direction, but just that you aren’t making any significant gains.
At some point, every business finds itself in a link building rut where the underlying strategy becomes stale, repetitive, and low-returning. Nothing seems to work and the excitement of progress wears thin. The competition is surpassing you and all of those little techniques you were using so successfully six months ago no longer seem to provide much of a jolt.
Listen…we’ve all been there. Every business finds itself in a marketing rut from time to time. And if you’re truly invested in link building as a strategy, you’ll reach a point where you feel like you’re treading water. The first step is to recognize that this is where you are. The second step is to create scalable systems and structures that help you break out of the rut.
Scalable link building is a sexy term that rolls of the tongue and instantly makes you sound smart, but what does it mean?
Most people have an incorrect view of what scalable link building is. As digital marketing expert Geoff Kenyon explains, the majority of businesses and marketers try to find a way to transform link building into a process and scale the production of that product. But this almost always leads to something gimmicky and unsustainable – like automated directories, link networks, comment and forum spam, the purchase of sidebar links, and automated social bookmarking.
While there’s a time and place for trying new things, the truth is that the staples of link building have remained relatively consistent over the years and will continue to be predictable in the foreseeable future. If you’re failing at scaling different link building products, then perhaps you need to be scaling your link building processes.
A good goal would be to identify the biggest pain points in your current (manual) link building processes and to improve and streamline wherever possible. If nothing else, you should be on the lookout for opportunities to spend your time and creative energy more wisely. For some brands – perhaps yours included – this looks like:
Content is the foundation of any good link building campaign. This sounds rather elementary – and it is – but it’s amazing how many brands take shortcuts and invest in link building without first establishing an inventory of quality content.
In order to generate links, you need linkable assets. Every brand’s linkable assets will look different, but there are certain elements and characteristics that define this type of content:
- Content should be evergreen and timeless, so as to continue providing value long after publication.
- Content should be relevant to your target market.
- Linkable assets should be visually pleasing. Written content still works, but it should be formatted and supplemented in a way that appeals to visual thinkers.
The more sticky, linkable assets you have, the far greater your chances are of generating backlinks over time. Try as you might, there’s simply no replacement for quality content.
As Google’s Matt Cutts once said, “Link building is sweat plus creativity.”
When link building efforts go stale, it typically has something to do with the people running the campaign. Generally speaking, they lack the expertise to take the strategy to the next level and tire of doing the same old repetitive tasks with minimal understanding of the “why” behind them.
To scale up your efforts, you need a team of people who are highly skilled and trained at crafting content, finding and securing link building opportunities, monitoring progress, and doing technical SEO work. Some of these people may work directly for you. Others may need to be outsourced.
It’s good to be focused on your brand, but be wary of putting on blinders and ignoring the world around you. There’s tremendous value in doing market research and understanding what your competitors are doing with their link building efforts.
There are an array of tools and resources you can use to study the competition, track their backlinks, and build custom profiles on their progress, but Scrapebox is one of the best. Among its many other features, it lets you harvest thousands of URLs, perform extensive keyword research, and get a better idea of how you match up with the competition.
You aren’t prospecting enough. If your link building strategy is stale and you’re finding it challenging to scale up, you’re not doing enough outreach to potential link building partners.
Rigorous prospecting will help you find opportunities. You’ll miss way more than you hit, but that’s fine. Quality outreach with a large quantity of prospects will ultimately yield a return.
The IFTTT tool is perfect for streamlining some of the challenges that come with constant prospecting and outreach. For example, you can set it up to send you an email any time someone mentions your brand on social media. This reminds you to personally follow up. The options are endless.
So many marketers and SEO experts try to build a scalable link building service campaign in a silo. They try to game the system and figure out ways to squeeze in a link here or hack an opportunity there. And while there’s something to be said for hustling, nothing replaces relationships with other humans.
In order to truly establish a scalable link building campaign, you need to build powerful relationships with other bloggers, webmasters, marketers, business owners, and social media influencers. Even in the digital age, the need for professional networking is alive and well.
When you have a relationship with someone that goes beyond surface level, you’ll find that your requests for backlinks and brand mentions are a lot more effective. Relationships breed trust – so make sure you’re prioritizing them!
There’s nothing fun about being in a marketing rut. Link building takes time, energy, and money. To see it flatline before your eyes is nothing short of gut-wrenching. But you won’t be stuck forever. By focusing on the implementation of scalable link building processes, you can create a system that grows with your business over time.
At SEO.co, we’d love to come alongside you and assist in casting a strategic link building vision that elevates your brand. If you’re interested in learning more about our industry-leading white hat link building services, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!
Over the years he’s written for publications like Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, MarketingProfs and other highly respected online publications.