A DA 40 link for $400. Sounds great on the surface, until you realize that what you’re getting is a tactical link building technique.
Tactical link building techniques by nature are easy to copy, more likely to be devalued, and almost never generate value outside of the link itself.
In today’s video, I break down why we should think strategically in our approach instead in order to generate the most sustainable results.
Hi, I’m Ross Hudgens, founder of Siege Media. Today, I want to talk to you about the differences between strategic and tactical link building, and why I much prefer the former.
So first, I should define what tactical link building is.
To me, tactical link building is something that you, or any vendor does, and they only do that specific thing. You hear about them and you’ve heard that they do great guest posts. Guest posting is a tactical link acquisition technique, and if no matter what, it’s a one-size-fit-all thing. That, to me, is tactical.
It could be a scholarship link building, or any other technique that this vendor does, or even that you’ve read or Googled and that’s just the thing they do. It’s more likely to be tactical because they’re just doing it to generate links and they’re not matching that to your market.
On the other hand, strategic link building to me is the reverse of that. They are specifically matching it to your market and finding a link strategy that fits your business and your need. Overall for that reason, to me, is a lot more beneficial.
Examples of this in action would be looking at an industry and seeing how are people generating links or what is specific about that business that we can tie to a link acquisition strategy to overall scale that technique. One example of this in action would be Airbnb.
So Airbnb gets a lot of brand mentions on the web. A lot of these aren’t linked. You could go to these people, reach out to them say, “Link back to Airbnb. We’re glad you had a great experience, but we’d much appreciate if you can link back to X or Y page in doing so.”
That’s specific to Airbnb. No other business can really replicate that in their market just because they are such a great brand. That is obviously a strategic link building technique that makes sense for them.
Another example would be CreditCards.com. If you’re in the credit industry, they’re not Airbnb, but specific to them, there’s a semantic content strategy fit that also makes sense for link acquisition.
If you actually look on their backlink profile, they do this perfectly. They have a lot of high-end new sites linking back to them because they are doing a lot of surveys, and doing them successfully.
If you’re in credit cards, you can’t do fun fluffy infographics or photography or anything like that, it’s a serious subject matter. Therefore, you need to tie to serious subject sites which would really be high-end news. So they do a great job of generating surveys that are linkable and doing this over, and over, and over again. This is their strategic link building alignment that makes sense for their business.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you’re business is like Zola, which is a wedding registry, for them, they should be generating top- and middle- funnel content that is brand awareness stage for someone before they get to the stage where they want to sign up for a wedding registry.
So you could build a lot of content in wedding. Maybe it’s a wedding-planning timeline or other fun content prior to the stage where someone would get their registry or right around that stage, that’s pitchable that can rank for top-funnel search volume and be valuable overall for that business. You can see how this is very strategic and unique to them. Credit cards doesn’t have much top- or middle-funnel volume just because of the basis of their business or fit.
But all three of these sites have unique needs and things that make sense for them. So for Airbnb, I would never recommend that they generate infographics for link acquisition purposes. They’re such a big brand. They don’t need to do that. They can literally generate 40 if not 50 links per month simply by doing link reclamation.
On the same side, CreditCards.com is too serious of a site to do infographics or things like that.
And yes, all these sites technically could have done scholarships. They could have done guest posts. But the specific strategic thing that’s a fit for them allows them to create a strategic advantage that no one else can have and makes it so it’s hard to copy what they’re doing. That is really the weakness of what tactical link building is. And not just that, I think it’s also that kind of technique is more likely to get devalued.
So if you’re just doing one thing, you only have one link acquisition angle that some vendor is doing that maybe they’re talking about, is widespread, this is more likely to actually get hit down the line. Also it doesn’t really drive real brand value. Do you see someone organically talking about Airbnb or talking about a wedding registry or a wedding-planning timeline, top of the funnel, both of those things actually drive brand value.
CreditCards.com, even though they might not get many direct sales from these surveys, at least they are generating some brand awareness through this, some connections with this high-end press, and overall, driving value while the guest post or the scholarship link building drives nothing. No one is going to get a sale or care about CreditCards.com through those methods.
Also I think one thing that is off about tactical versus strategic, there is one major mistake people make, is they look at tactical link building and oftentimes the cost per link is actually lower than strategic because strategic is hard. You might have to pay a lot for surveys.
Obviously, Airbnb had to generate a ton of brand recognition in order to get there. And then on the Zola side, building high-quality content that ranks is not going to be straightforward to do and standout in that market.
But, their content won’t be copyable. If you’re in tactical link building and you have a guest post, any competitor could go to that guest post site and say, “Hey, could I write a guest post for you?”
Suddenly, that low-cost per link is a lot higher because it was very easy to copy. It’s not just the link itself, it’s also the competitive marketplace that you’re considering.
Also I think guest posts and sites like scholarship link building, etc., there’s high churn, these aren’t quality sites, they’re not overall something you want to be associating with yourself on the web because of that. And also, as I mentioned, they don’t really drive any brand value as opposed to the strategic side of things.
Finally, going back to the value of strategic building, I overall like this process because of that holistic thing. Yes, it’s hard to copy but it’s the sunk cost differentiator that puts you ahead of your competitors and gives you an advantage in the marketplace. So you should be thinking about this and how to go about doing that.
Just look at your competitors. I suggest seeing if any of them are generating specific things that make you linkable in some way. Also look at adjacent publishers. So I like seeing if you’re in the wedding space, it would have been easy to be Zola and say, “We’re just wedding registry,” but no one really is doing top- or middle-funnel content. But you’re aware of that need to establish that, you can look and see if there are other people in the market doing that.
And it’s very much the case for wedding. You could be The Knot, you could be some other business, and there are a lot of top- and middle- funnel opportunities that you can see actually can generate a lot of links.
So in that case, you figure that out, you see The Knot is generating a lot of that content, you can now decide, “Hey, maybe we need a photographer who can do these shoots. Maybe we need a videographer. We need to invest in that sunk cost differentiator which will allow us to generate links.” And again, we’ll make it hard to replicate what we’re doing because it’s going to give us a strategic advantage in the marketplace.
So overall, hopefully this got you outside of the bubble of “Let’s just generate some links” and instead think, “How can we generate strategic opportunities that give us a differentiation in the marketplace that is hard to catch.”
So hopefully, you found this valuable. We would love to hear your feedback in the comments, and please give us a thumbs up and subscribe. Thanks for watching!