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Ever meet someone who doesn’t believe in links? On the same wavelength, have you ever met someone who believes the Earth is flat?

Believe it or not, both of these people exist. I can’t explain the Earth is flat thought process, but I do think I can explain why someone people might think links don’t work for them. I discuss the when and why in our newest video.

Audio Version

Video Transcription

Hi, I’m Ross Hudgens, founder of Siege Media. And today I want to give you my feedback on something I hear occasionally and kind of most of the time disagree with, is that links don’t work. “Links haven’t worked for me. Not sure why links aren’t making any impact.”

It’s kind of a frustrating thing for a content marketing agency that often focuses on links to hear these things, and I think a lot of times (perhaps biasedly) that that idea is actually misguided.

It does happen that links don’t work, but it doesn’t mean they don’t work, just more they don’t work for you because of the other things your company may be doing wrong around them to not make them work. And I’ll explain that through four main factors that can cause that in this video.

1. Your Bottom-Funnel Pages Can’t Compete

The first is that bottom-funnel pages just can’t compete on your site or in general your site is broken from a on-page perspective. We had a client we were generating a ton of links for every month, but they had millions of pages, duplicate content, thin out of the wazoo, just not valuable at all, and they were just stuck in Panda throughout the entire campaign.

And if I could go back in time, we would’ve never engaged that client because they just weren’t ready to get value out of link building. And if you’re betting on them fixing their their on-page problem to get value from links, you’re in a bad spot already, and that’s no guarantee because what got them in that place already might be fundamentally embedded in that business overall.

And so it’s not just that, also the pages themselves might have problems that you might not think about. Maybe specifically, the pages aren’t optimized well, they’re over optimized, they don’t have enough content that they specifically need to rank from a bottom-funnel perspective.

All of these things can have an impact to whether or not the links that you point into, those pages or the domain as a whole actually move those up.

So if you’re thinking about your site and you’re not 100% positive your bottom-funnel pages are dialed in and ready to go to get value out of those links, think about those, get an audit, get that on-page thing dialed in, and then think about links after that to make sure you’re getting ROI from the link side of the equation.

2. Links Are Seen as A Tactic, Not a Strategy

Second is links are seen as a one-off rather than a campaign. Occasionally some of our clients would just do one big campaign, essentially wanting to get a burst of links one time. And generally if you’re in any kind of competitive market, you need an ongoing instance of link building and link generation, in order to get value from links overall.

And the reasons for that is there’s attrition of links on the web, links fall off the link graph. So the 20 links you had yesterday could become five tomorrow. So even if you generated 10 today, you’re actually still behind from a count of five, making you think those 10 links you just generated had no value, but in reality you just lost fifteen links to create that perception.

So if you’re overall building and gaining against that loss and overall outpacing your loss, there’s a much higher chance you’re going to actually improve rankings and perceive links to be valuable.

And you can look at things like Ahrefs and SEMRush to determine that and get more value out of your link generation campaigns and make sure you’re catching competitors/outpacing your link losses. Those kinds of things will make you think about link generation as more than a one-off but rather a campaign in order to better get value out of the links that you generate.

3. Internal Linking is Not Optimally Utilized

I see big linkbait assets frequently, and one thing I see that they often do wrong is that they’re frequently orphaned for the main site. One, I’d think about how Google would value those pages overall, either semantically or aesthetically given they’re completely disconnected from the core site.

That’s strange to me. Is this really the same business? It seems like something that an algorithm could rather easily pick up.

Secondarily, there’s just not any good links into the most important pages on the site. Sometimes I don’t see any links on that orphaned page, even though it generates a lot of links. That’s really a mistake.

Other times the links are in the footer, other times there’s hundreds of links on a page to external resources, and then one link back to that site is buried in the footer, which means Google is not likely getting any signals that that page is worth valuing.

Those are all ways that links are going to pass less value back to your core important pages. So what you want to do is host assets in your architecture generally. Ideally you have your navigation placed there, your important pages, hopefully there’s 20+. At very least have your home page linked above the fold.

Have these important pages on the post you’re getting links to, above the fold, in a spot where the Reasonable Surfer model, the patent that Google had passed, shows that is more likely to pass value, where someone’s actually going to click it, not below the fold, below that asset, hidden. All of those things can have an impact.

And to me it makes sense for why those kind of assets leave businesses wondering, “Hey, links don’t work. They don’t pass value.” Well maybe you should put the links in a place that actually are capable of passing strong value at the end of the day.

4. You Aren’t Generating Bottom-Funnel Links

We have situations where people come to us and say, “Hey, we don’t want blog content links, so what can you do for us?”, and that’s a true concern. The blog is not going to be as valuable from a domain or a money generating perspective as those bottom-funnel pages. But you can get value from that content if deliver efforts are made to do that. We do that as an agency by doing follow-ups on top of the content.

So if it’s semantically related, say, we build a snowboard sizing guide. It’s a natural ask to link to that snowboard page as well because it’s semantically connected. You can get that link naturally in the post. You can also control some text sometimes when pitching and you help the blogger post by writing content for them.

Additionally, home page links are great, too. You can ask for a home page if that’s more natural of an ask, and that should be something almost every content is linked to at least 50% of the time. And if they’re not, follow-up, say, “Could you link to our home page?” And at least you have that proximity at that most important page on your website, which almost most certainly is going to be a home page every single time.

So those are the four core reasons I think sites just generally don’t get value out of link building. It is a two-pieced equation, the on-page and the off-page. And on-page is a huge piece of that, so that’s why I think of us as that off-page component, and you always need a strong on-page where they’ll see insight that analyzed in-house or the agency that supports that, and knows what they’re talking about or they’ll never get value from the on-page perspective.

So make sure your on-page is there and you’re working in concert to get the most value to make sure that your links do work in the future. So hopefully this was of value to you. And if you like it, give us a thumbs up, subscribe, and let me know what you think in the comments. Thanks for watching.

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