By now I think most of us recognize that the internet is a pretty big deal.
As marketers, it is no longer acceptable to ignore the significance of online marketing. While the need to market online is widely accepted, many marketers still seem to be neglecting a major portion of online marketing – link building.
Link building can seem daunting and overly technical to some marketers who would rather simply focus on something they are more comfortable with. Also, there is a lot of confusion surrounding link building within the marketing industry, which can deter people from pursuing these strategies. However, link building is an integral part of successful online marketing.
If you’re investing in any sort of online marketing, link building needs to be a concern - period.
Let’s look at some of the reasons that online marketing should include link building.
Links are Essential to Online Visibility
The chief reason link building must be part of your online marketing strategy is that links are essential to online visibility.
One of the main goals of online marketing is to increase your company/brand’s visibility online. If you’re not implementing any sort of link building initiative, you’re leaving link equity on the table – and in turn, opportunities to increase online visibility.
The reason links are so vital to online visibility, is that links are important to search engines. Links are what initially set Google apart from other search engines in terms of quality results, and links remain at the core of Google’s search algorithm today.
In fact, Google tried an algorithm that didn’t factor in links and it produced lower quality results. Google’s Head of Webspam - Matt Cutts referenced this in a recent Webmaster video:
“We don’t have a version like that that is exposed to the public, but we have run experiments like that internally, and the quality looks much, much worse. It turns out backlinks, even though there’s some noise and certainly a lot of spam, for the most part are still a really, really big win in terms of quality for search results.” – Matt Cutts
As the Head of Webspam, Cutts is in charge of policing spam that aims to manipulate Google’s search results. The majority of Cutts’ work involves combating link spam, which further validates the importance of links within Google’s algorithm.
Recently, during a Q&A session with Danny Sullivan at SMX Advanced West, Cutts spoke on the validity of links as well as link building:
Sullivan: “Is link building just dead? You keep saying a new tactic is dead, or must be nofollowed, is it really you just don’t want people to try to build links at all?”
Cutts: “No, link building is not dead. And a very small percentage of links on the web are nofollowed. There’s a lot of mileage left in links.”
Cutts isn’t the only Google employee to reinforce the importance of links either.
Recently, Google’s Head of Search – Amit Singhal had this to say about links during an interview at SMX West (again with Danny Sullivan):
“Links are clearly an important signal about the importance of your content – they are still really valuable. But at the end of the day we look at...your site, what type of content it has, and so on and so forth. Because you think of it from a user’s perspective.” – Amit Singhal
Again, this is a high-ranking Google official outright saying that links have a significant impact on search results.
It’s no secret that search engines - like Google - play a major role in helping people find sites/content online. Appearing in these search engines’ results for terms relevant to your company/brand is paramount to being found online. Due to their importance to search engines, links are essential to online visibility.
Link Building Improves Efficacy of Content Marketing Efforts
Another reason your online marketing plan must account for building links is that link building actually improves the efficacy of other marketing efforts.
Primarily, content marketing can become much more effective when done in conjunction with link building. Content marketing has become a popular online marketing technique as it provides a unique way to reach your target audience that can:
- Foster positive relationships
- Build trust
- Establish your brand as an authority/thought leader
- Target various personas in different sections of the marketing funnel
However, none of this is possible if nobody ever sees your content.
The success of content marketing is predicated on two things: high-quality content and the visibility of that content. As mentioned before, the latter – visibility – is dependent upon links.
By building links to your content you can increase the reach and amplification of that content, making it that much more powerful.
Link Building Serves Multiple Marketing Functions
Finally, link building should be part of your holistic online marketing strategy as it serves multiple marketing functions.
By increasing online visibility, link building also increases brand awareness as people start to see your brand popping up more and more around the web.
Link building can also help establish your company as an authority or thought leader within your niche. As your target audience continues to see your company’s name showing up again and again in various search results relevant to your industry, they begin to associate your company with those search terms and view your brand as an authority.
Through the process of building links you can also start to build meaningful and valuable relationships within your niche. Not only can you these relationships be leveraged for future marketing efforts, but they can also lead to testimonials and qualified leads for your business.
Lastly, link building can efficiently drive relevant referral traffic to your website. If you are building the right type of links, then the people following your links are clicking them because they are interested in your business and actually want to visit your site. This type of relevant traffic is the kind of traffic that can lead to increased conversions, and increasing conversions is really the ultimate goal of all online marketing.
As the internet continues to become more prominent in our lives, marketers have begun to embrace online marketing as a necessity. However, many marketers still overlook link building as part of their overall strategy. In order to be successful, you must include link building in your comprehensive online marketing initiative.