Helping Win Hearts & Minds on
the Battlefields of Online Media

Link Building

    Pie Chart of Whitespark 2023 Local Search Ranking Factors--Links: 18.5% Overall

    Whitespark:   Local Pack/Finder (11%)   Organic (26%)
    We believe external links are still the single most important ranking factor for Local Search.

    In the Whitespark survey, the industry professionals rank it a close second overall (22 percent) to on-page factors (25 percent). Technically, the survey may be correct, at least in the way the data is presented. Practically, our perspective is that on-page is the price of entry. It's like completing a punch list. If you don't have it, you're not even in the game. In a competitive environment, the ranking winners are those can win on the factors that you can influence but not control.

    Yet it has become so difficult to acquire links that help you and not hurt you.

    Google has become sophisticated and harsh in identifying and knocking down all the short-cut schemes for acquiring links: link farms and their many variants, pay-to-play directories, blog submissions, article marketing, press releases, etc. In early 2012, Google launched a special algorithm update called Penguin to identify link spam and penalize the recipient sites. Webmasters have been scurrying around in a panic ever since, trying to remove the bad links.

    In sum, there's not a lot of low-hanging fruit to be had.

    We can identity your best opportunities and help you with all levels of link building.

    Link Building Through Content Marketing
    Because Google has (largely) nullified short-cut link schemes, today it's all about content marketing. You hear the mantra in the trade media all the time: you need to have compelling content, so that people will link to you. Easier said than done, especially for small businesses. A more productive strategy for high-quality links may be to get content on other sites—e.g., blogs, social media, trade media, association sites—that will link back to your site.

    Either way, we're talking about high-quality links. Link building on this level has really become a public relations discipline, because we're ferreting out relevant media outlets, and pitching stories (now called content) to them. We have to be creative in identifying the opportunities, and then have the editorial and selling skills to implement.

    As veteran public relations professionals, we are well suited to the task.

    Competitive Link Analysis
    We find it useful to research the back-links of your top competitors in the rankings to see what links they have that you don't. We'll research the links, and give you a topline report of what opportunities may be available, and a cost for pursuing those links, or other actions we might recommend.

    We may find some low-hanging fruit, where we can simply apply or submit your site. Or we may find some vehicles for content marketing, we you might submit an article or column.

    Keyword-targeted Anchor Text Links
    We developed and own a network of sites that is still effective in delivering external link value to local business sites. In 2004/2005 (Google trusts things that have been around a long time) we created a network of some 50 websites with original content, on topics ranging from business, health, sports, and home & garden, to specific demographics of women, children and seniors.

    These websites allow us to deliver links to any site or page on a site with keyword-rich anchor text. The links come from pages of relevant content, so they have high link reputation value.

    Importantly, our sites are designed to easily integrate new custom content to match a new client, because samples of every topic are on many websites in the network. For example, if a client is an interior designer, we can add content about interior design as sample pages on our sites. The links that we now send to the client's site, with interior design or interior designer in the link text, are coming from pages with relevant content. This is what makes them effective in boosting our client's rankings.

    Because the same topic can be found on all websites, we can deliver numerous links to a site without having run-of-site issues. We mix up the anchor text among the links to capture various combinations of the important keywords, e.g., interior designer chicago, commercial interior designer chicago, chicago interior design, etc.

    It's effective for boosting rankings for the most popular keywords. It's also a powerful tool for advancing our Own the SERP! strategy. In addition to a client's website, we can send links to any webpage we target, e.g., a Facebook page, the profile page of a popular review site, or perhaps an article that favorably features the client.

    Because the links are highly relevant, and implemented in a natural way, our clients have no problem with Google's algorithm, including its Penguin update. Over time, with every algorithic update, our clients usually advance in rankings over their competitors.

    This network of websites is also an effective tool for burying negative search results in a reputation management program. It's effective because we can send these links to the positive pages right below the negative result(s) in the SERP, and elevate the positive pages, thereby burying the negative—ideally off of page 1.