The Link Building Approach Triangle: Create, Align & Optimize
On Saturday I had the great opportunity to speak at Congreso Web (one of the top Spanish online marketing conferences), where I presented about link building, more specifically how to build “Penguin free” links (if you speak Spanish you can take a look at the slides here).
In slide #96 of my presentation I shared a graphic showing how to establish an effective link building action plan for any site it was important to first, make the most out of already existing assets and then according to that and the initial optimization, link and ranking status, along with the competition level, there was going to be a mix of the following:
- Optimizing links, citations, referrals and mentions that the site already has achieved spontaneously (or by previous campaigns that hasn’t been well optimized). For example: adding a mix of brand name and relevant keywords to links that are not featuring an anchor text at the moment, making important editorial link from authoritative sources dofollow, asking for links where you’re only mentioned, etc.
- Aligning assets and current activities that the site is already running (or frequently developing), like current campaigns or scheduled seasonal promotions targeting to your site audience, in order to make the most out of them for link building purposes. For example, making the assets to be easily shareable by adding embed codes or optimizing the landing pages for the campaigns to make sure they pass their link value, etc.
- Creating assets that your site still doesn’t have and will allow to earn links from its audience by fulfilling their needs (education, entertainment, opinion, etc.), solving their problems, getting their endorsements with links, shares, etc.
Nonetheless, the success of this “optimize, align and create” link building approach relies on finding the right “mix” of each of these type of activities according not only the initial ranking, popularity and competition status of the site, but also the flexibility and the resources of each organization, frequently related to the size and also, online age of the business.
Big companies: It’s more about optimizing and aligning, less about creating
The challenge with big companies is quite commonly the flexibility. There’s far less flexibility to create any type of asset: they have policies, guidelines, departments with already many assets and campaigns under development, besides of course, their Web platform that is usually huge and complex to make changes to.
Because of this restriction and since these type of companies also already have a well developed marketing and communication departments, our focus will be more to optimize the links they already have and align our link building strategies along with their already ongoing campaigns (by earning the trust and coordinating with the relevant departments, which is also a non-trivial activity) and far less to create a link building action from scratch for them (it would be too time consuming to pass through all of their internal approval and development process and we can also hurt the susceptibilities of their marketing or communications team, since our actions might be overlapped with their work already).
Additionally, based on the online presence age of the company the mix of activities might also change to be more about optimizing at the beginning (if their domains are very old and highly authoritative, with a lot of already existing links) along with aligning, as it can be seen in the following graphic:
On the other hand, if the company is big, has a known brand but hasn’t been online for a long time, there will be less to optimize and more to align:
This doesn’t mean that the “create” type of activities won’t exist: They will, but for those “rare” situations where there’s already nothing planned or already established, where you will be able to recommend and coordinate the development with their in-house team of a totally new asset or campaign, that will also usually take longer to execute, so planning and a good project management here is a must.
Small companies: More about creating and less about optimizing and aligning
The challenge for small companies are quite frequently the resources. They have less money to invest building assets, not a fully developed marketing on communications team, so they’re more flexible -since there’s far less already established- and these projects will be more about us creating from scratch new assets for them, instead of aligning (there’s not necessarily much more going on to align) and optimizing.
Again, in dependence of how old is the online presence of the smaller companies there can be more to optimize, if they have been online for some time already:
Or almost nothing to optimize, if they have just launched a few months ago:
In these type of scenarios the creation process is also faster to develop since you will only need the approval of a couple of people (instead of many different departments and usually less complex Web platform to make the required changes) which will also compensate the fact that you will have less to optimize and align.
So as you can see, there’s no big or small link building: But big or small companies with different necessities and restrictions. There are always pros and cons in the different type of scenarios we might face -I still need to get to know the big company, with an established brand, a lot of resources and online authority that is also quite flexible as a small company is- but what it is truly important is that all of these situations can be well addressed with an effectively mixed link building approach.
Happy link building!