Link building is not something B2B marketers think about regularly. While most marketers realize the importance of links for search engine optimization, experience has shown that link building does not often stay top of mind with everything else that commands attention in a B2B marketing program.
Here are nine places in traditional marketing campaigns where we tend to find B2B marketers forgetting to either add or emphasize inbound links for their websites. With a little more attention, links built in these locations can add significant incremental value to an SEO campaign over time.
1. Organizational Business Listings
As I referenced in a recent post on dominating brand-based search engine results, third party sites such as business directories, software review sites, social media communities, and even hiring sites all can appear prominently for organizational searches.
Not only should B2B marketers contribute comprehensive and accurate business information, but they should look for opportunities to incorporate inbound links to the organization’s website and key content marketing assets where appropriate.
2. Contributed Community Activity
There are dozens of niche community sites and forums that offer opportunities for B2B companies to contribute expertise and reference applicable content marketing assets.
Broader Q&A communities like Quora provide discussions on a range of topics, many requiring expertise specific to B2B markets (organic and paid). But don’t forget industry-specific communities where target markets may visit to discuss relevant technologies and business needs as well.
A scan in Google Analytics’ third party website referral report may uncover opportunities to further contribute quality content and secure inbound links on an ongoing basis.
3. Articles & Bylines
While not every publisher will allow the link within main copy, make sure to ask and/or integrate your website and hyperlink in the author bio that usually accompanies contributed content.
If your organization works with PR and marketing communications professionals to facilitate third-party byline development, make sure to communicate the value of inbound link acquisition, and provide instructions on how to obtain links in defined third-party publications.
4. Conferences & Tradeshows
In addition to inbound links that can be requested through sponsorships or speaker bios, search for conference community sections, blog posts, and other online collateral where it might be possible to add links through event profiles or online networking opportunities.
Another tactic is to develop a blog post recap of the conference or event, which may drive organic links from others, or even the conference / organization responsible, in reference.
5. Community Events & Sponsorships
If the organization’s description can be added to a profile or announcement about a community event or sponsorship being undertaken, look for an opportunity to add a website reference as well. This might be as simple as an inbound link in a company logo or, a bit more work, such as a contributed blog post or testimonial.
6. Strategic Partnerships
Leverage the ability to gain inbound links on the websites of your strategic partners, making every attempt to customize link destinations through content marketing campaigns geared towards strategic (but applicable) marketing objectives.
Partner pages are an obvious first step in acquiring inbound links but also consider guest blog posts, collaborative lead nurturing campaigns, and independent research projects, as examples.
7. Distributors & Channel Partners
In similar fashion, content marketing collaboration can play a key part in acquiring links from high value distributors and channel partners. It’s quite likely these organizations are looking for ways to bolster their online marketing as well and collaborating on content can be a good opportunity to do so.
One important distinction is that these organizations are even more motivated to sell your solutions. With this in mind, there could be a more viable opportunities to acquire inbound links to sales-oriented content assets and solutions pages.
8. Mergers & Acquisitions
Particularly in the highly competitive technology and software space, it’s common for organizations to acquire other companies. For B2B marketers focused in SEO, make sure to evaluate the types of inbound links the acquired organization has earned over time, and identify if there are valuable third-party relationships to consider.
SEO tools such as Moz Link Explorer and and competitive link research tools from SEMRush and Buzzsumo can aid in this effort.
Better yet, make sure to register the acquired website with Google Search Console (or obtain the necessary credentials) to get information from Google’s inbound link report as well.
9. Owned Digital Marketing Assets
Lastly, if your website is part of a larger organization or network of related web properties, look for places within the network’s portfolio of website properties to find places to obtain links and references. This can be incredibly beneficial for obtaining greater keyword relevance by cross-linking related content.
Frequently Asked Questions on Link Building
What About NoFollow?
“Nofollow” is an instruction, written in the HTML of the link, which tells search engines not to influence the link target’s ranking by way of instructing the search engine not to follow (the link). Many social media sites in particular, automatically include a “nofollow” when a link is generated. This is in part to discourage spam and short-sighted link building tactics.
Even though a website institutes the nofollow function it does not necessarily mean marketers should ignore link building opportunities. Beyond SEO, links to an organization’s website may be beneficial for conversion opportunities and to help visitors find more relevant, and related, information.
What About Link Schemes?
According to Google, “any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”
Marketers may get nervous that their link building efforts could raise questions with Google guidelines. That said, if the objective in linking is to provide broader business rationale beyond SEO, there is a good reason to link, particularly when it benefits user experience.
The point is to focus on adding value to the buyer journey for broader marketing purposes; not just SEO impact.
Taking a little extra time to consider link opportunities, while working on traditional marketing initiatives, can go a long way to building your SEO presence over the long run.
Where has your organization found success in finding new link building opportunities in traditional marketing campaigns and activities? We welcome additional thoughts and considerations through comments below or connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn to continue the conversation.