Search engine optimization (SEO) is used by practically every online business today. Organic search campaigns are cost-effective and can help websites increase their brand exposure over search engines, gather inbound leads for their business and increase their website visitor traffic. Consider that 93% of all of online experiences begin with a search engine.
Most businesses eventually join the SEO bandwagon, but still feel uncertain how a link building campaign will truly develop their website’s authority and rank. Link metrics, the quantity and quality of backlinks pointing toward your site, represent the second most important organic rank factor to search engines, after content.
Link building and content marketing go together like peanut butter and jelly, if you’re into that sort of thing. I personally prefer pineapples and jalapeños, but that’s neither here nor there; it’s a pizza friday and I’ve got toppings on the mind. Anyway, link building helps drive exposure to a website’s most important content while increasing domain authority and quality content drives backlinks and trust back to a website. This brings us to the topic at hand and an interesting question: can a website survive organically without backlinks and what types of websites don’t need link building?
Examples Where Link Building May Not Be Necessary
For a website undergoing a site change or rebranding campaign, it could be ideal to assess their existing linking structure before actively seeking out new backlinks to prevent broken links from occurring. Simple link building and a small budget SEO campaign could be useful to drive inbound leads and exposure for a website, but they should not always be the first line of action. For example, websites that recently transferred domains or underwent a redesign are notorious for drastic decreases in keyword rankings and inbound traffic for a time, so it can be more pragmatic to begin with a PPC campaign that drives high volume visitor traffic and conversions to a website for a few weeks.
Websites in developing niches might struggle to acquire backlinks, especially in niches with low keyword volumes. It’s ideal to build links across verticals where relevant audience members lie. In developing niches, the focus should lie around building authority for their website where relevant links are difficult to acquire. Ultimately, it’s ideal to begin building a backlink portfolio to sustain organic rank as that niche scales.
On the other hand, established brands that market horizontally don’t need to contract industry link builders nor actively seek backlinks. These links are naturally acquired, which is one of link building’s greatest gifts.
Along these same lines, a domain that already contains high authority links will not find it necessary to actively build links to fresh content and subdomains. The link juice already being passed around this domain will already position fresh content to rank highly in a search engine without actively promoting or marketing it, which can bring in more fresh links. The age of a link is often considered an important factor, so the causal nexus of naturally gaining links by having content rank due to the positioning granted by older links can sometimes just take care of itself without conscious effort towards the SEO side of content.
Here are some further examples of websites that have limited current utility for a link building campaign:
- Businesses that drive sales through social media accounts
- Websites currently suffering a Penguin penalty
- Businesses with technical issues, such as slow page speed, should focus on fixing the issues first
An interesting discussion of local search optimization centers on the importance of link building. What need does a local bakery that only hosts an online menu and a “contact us” page need backlinks for. Most likely, hyperlocal brick-and-mortar stores should register on review sites to drive conversions, such as the Better Business Bureau, Facebook, and Yelp before building backlinks.
Along these same lines, businesses with multiple franchises really hold no purpose to build links to each individual franchise if the chain has enough established recognition. For most of these businesses, word-of-mouth advertising and online reviews will play a much bigger role in their revenue stream than organic search rankings.
Of course, local search can infinitely increase your offline conversion rate. About 50% of local searches are conducted to obtain business information. Links placed in local citations, directories and social media account pages will provide inbound leads for a website and position these webpages to rank highly in a local search.
Even if a business is hyperlocal, acquiring backlinks from a community forum, eco-centric websites or websites with community sponsorships will increase their brand value to the community. Afterall, it’s not just brand searches that matter, but being #1 when somebody searches “bakery nearby”.
Remember the core principles of a local link building campaign. Here are some quick tips for effective local link building:
- Submit guest posts to local blogs or publications
- Create a press release for your local audience or make the local news
- Hosts contests over social media
- Create a jobs page and submit it to job finder websites
- Host local scholarships
Every business can benefit from link building, whether it’s a startup or hyperlocal. Essentially, the only businesses that don’t benefit from link building are businesses without a native website.
Create a Website and Gather Inbound Leads
In today’s highly competitive landscape, eschewing an SEO campaign reduces a business’s profit margin in the long-run. Link building presents an incredibly high and sustainable return-on-investment (ROI). This will be measured by three huge key performance indicators:
- Converting traffic arriving to a website
- Inbound leads generated for a business
- The organic rank of a website for a targeted keyword search
Ideally, good content should naturally rank, but backlinks serve as a third party endorsement of content quality and deliver trust to that domain. While not every business may need to put as much effort into linkbuilding, it is still a key part of SEO and needs to be taken into consideration.