While most marketing teams understand the importance of link building in coordination with a search engine optimization strategy, few place link building as an ongoing priority. Link building often gets placed on the back burner and before we know it, the holidays and end of year planning are in full effect.
Fortunately, there is still time to get a link building plan in place; it just takes some focus and organization. As the last days of summer are ticking by here are six steps to putting together a link building plan that supports your SEO strategy for 2010.
- Know Your Objectives
It is easy to take a “shotgun” approach to a link building strategy, going after as many opportunities as discovered. While you might cover ground, you may also never get started because of the enormity of the situation. Revisit your link building objectives to find the right place to start.
Questions to ask: Are you building links to improve visibility for a particular keyword? Does the company need to improve the overall website’s number of quality links in comparison to the competition? Understanding the answers or priority of answers to these types of questions will help streamline the focus of link building strategies moving forward.
- Know The Competition
You need to know what type of links the competition has acquired, particularly if an objective is better visibility for a specific set of keywords, but important for all strategies. The simplest way to find out is to run competitive websites through Yahoo Site Explorer but commercial programs such as SEOmoz Linkscape, RavenTools, and Majestic SEO are also available for uncovering the inbound links of competitors. With this information in hand, building the strategy may take a much different light, since you’ll have a better understanding of the types of sites and reasons your competition is acquiring links.
- Understand Your Assets
While not every organization will have “viral” link building content, it is unlikely the business archive is completely devoid of material. Take inventory of all of the business marketing assets and making determinations on what could be used or could be created with them and used for link acquisition. Perhaps white papers can be re-purposed as blog posts or presentations can be leveraged in SlideShare. Assets do not necessarily need to be traditional “content” either; think about the strength of the brand, partnerships, and intellectual property as well.
- Revisit The Traditional Marketing Plan
What conferences and trade shows is the organization attending? Are there webinars or presentations in the works? Can the direct mail campaign be used to highlight website content in addition to planned communication? There may be opportunities untapped through all of these channels that just need an SEO perspective attached. The point is to find creative ways to build links through all of the company’s traditional marketing channels and end of year plans.
- Brainstorm and Filter
Once assets and marketing plans are understood, brainstorm all and as many ideas as possible for acquiring links using them. List them out. The first phase of this step is getting all of the ideas on the table. The second step is filtering and prioritizing. Outline ideas, figure out needed steps, and prioritize the schedule for implementation of your link building campaign(s). Put plans in place for content generation or re-purposing, and targeting communication to third party site owners and internal team members who might be able to assist in the effort.
- Execute, Report, and Evaluate
Finally, when getting the link building plan off the ground, make sure to have measurable benchmarks in place. Among other things, link reporting should include basic site/link information, and dates links are requested and confirmed. However the real key to evaluation success (or failure) falls back to the first step; understanding if the objectives defined have been met with the link building program.
If only these steps worked as easily to implement as they are to write down! but writing them down and putting steps in place may actually end up becoming the first real steps to success. Good luck getting your link building plans in place and building for the strong finish of 2010.