A client recently asked me:
"With all of the activities we handle related to search - PPC, copy, competitive analysis etc, how can we quantify the choice to incorporate 'link building' into our overall search marketing campaign?"
Outside of the actual link that creates a sale, it can be difficult to justify (financially) the time and commitment required for effective link building - but search marketers know that link building is a key element to any successful SEO/SEM campaign. The fact of the matter is that not so long ago, most links for SEO had little to do with the actual user-based traffic that actually was related to them. As search algorithms have matured and improved, good search marketers know that effective links are created to build quality traffic, increase the amount of appropriate users, and ultimately, generate prospective customers.
Here are some real answers to how you can quantify your link building campaign, as it relates to your complete search marketing efforts (outside of the direct sale).
- Link Duration
Quality inbound links give your website a greater presence online for the long-term. In comparison to an investment in PPC, your website and company message get the benefit of long-term visibility, rather than just through the query of a search term. More importantly, as these links stay alive, the benefit of age increases their own value as they get older.
- Trust Factor
Your website presence on respected sources brings the benefit of relevance and trust to your own company. Without inbound links, you rely solely on Internet advertising and website copy for establishing recognition in your products and services. Being seen in the online communities and properties that make up your industry base and potential customer base is important.
- Strategic Brand Awareness
Creating inbound links allows you to better understand the patterns of your prospects and potential customers. Having quality links that generate traffic and (potentially) sales gives you an opportunity to better spend your marketing dollars for brand building and marketing communication. Your inbound links help identify what types of websites will bring you the best traffic for your money.
Inbound link building is critical to achieving keyword rankings in search engines, but actually justifying the time and cost associated with building links can be hard in comparison to other methods of traffic building which incorporate more direct statistics for tracking ROI. While the end game is always a measure of how much more your website makes in terms of overall leads and sales, hopefully the answers here provide additional insight into what makes link building more beneficial as a function of your overall search marketing strategy.