In the first post in this Link Building Mindset Series I discussed thinking in terms of growing relationships with the sites you are acquiring a link from. With this second post in the series I address the topic of growing relationships with the people who are clicking those links and visiting our sites to convert. This should translate into a better way of acquiring links.
Do you think those are links you are building?
Perception is our ability to see, hear and otherwise experience reality. But a funny thing about perception is that it gets filtered by the mind. Bits are left out and sometimes added in later, often erroneously. What we think we are seeing is not always what is actually being seen. What we think we understand may not always be true, especially about traffic. Not all traffic is the same. Much of it is garbage and only some of it is money. That’s what we mean when we talk about conversion rates. Those links you are building may or may not actually increase conversions. Let’s dig into the reasons why.
A curious case of misperception
I took my daughter to the local pet store to buy a holiday costume for our cat that she saw in a pet store in another city. We found the costume but she swore that the beard on the costume was different from the beard on the costume she saw at the original store located in a city farther away. So we drove about twenty minutes to the store where she originally saw the costume and it was exactly the same as the costume at the first store. What happened? Her mind had discarded details of the costume and when the memory of the costume was called up her mind filled in the gaps in detail with invented details causing her to perceive the costume in a manner that did not coincide with reality. It was real to her, but it was not actually real. A similar thing happens in the link building process relative to traffic.
Traffic that converts
Whether it’s sales, affiliate conversions, phone calls, form submissions, or adsense clicks, traffic doesn’t always translate into the actions we desire. That’s why we talk about conversion rates, eCPM, etc. When conceiving of traffic that converts, I like to think of it as a path. When a visitor hits your site they are on a path. How deep the visitor will go into your site, bookmark it, recommend it, convert or whether or not she/he will become bored depends on the reasons that the visitor ended up on your site to begin with. This is a common issue of perception that happens when we think about traffic. We get so hung up about increasing traffic that we chase after trophy keyword phrases and trophy links without considering the issue of whether the traffic or the link is useful. This is an issue that Google has been wrestling with and refining from the very beginning when they conceived of the original random surfer all the way to the present with the Reasonable Surfer model. Some might think, what does all this Google algo stuff have to do with how I build links? It’s a good question and the answer is that if you are interested in building links that rank well and convert, then wrap your head around the following considerations:
1. Think about the reasons why people visit your site, what those visitors desire to accomplish, and what is in it for them that they are seeking to find on your site. Make a list.
2. Develop a profile of who those people are, including social, education, lifestyle, political, business role, decision making role, religious and family demographics. Make a list.
Once you’ve made your lists, extrapolate your insights to considering where those people are consuming related information online. Where do they tend to hang out? Someone mentioned to me that their highest rates of conversions come from Facebook. The question to ask is why? One driver of conversions is the pre-qualification of the visitor. There are certain circumstances that predispose a visitor to convert. In some cases it’s because the person is new to a hobby, business, or activity and they are in need of a product to solve a problem. Another prequalification is that the site visitor is actively researching a product to make a short list. That is one step behind on the buy portion of the buying cycle but an important step to be on. Make no mistake, if your site is informational, sales, action oriented, these considerations are critical.
Returning to the example of the Facebook visitor converting at a higher rate, the question must be asked… why? Is it a recommendation from one user to another that is sending pre-qualified conversions to the site? If so, who is doing the recommending and why? How can you find more of these people? How did those people happen to purchase the product prior to making the recommedation? The answer might run to something like, well they’re a hiker and I’m selling hiking shoes. They hang out on X Hiking Forum, they read X Hiking blog, they belong to X Hiking Facebook group and saw an ad, etc. Find out where they hang out and then consider ways to obtain a link from those places. This circles back to the Reasonable Surfer model which in my experience means that the link you obtain from these sources, because they correspond closely to satisfying a site visitor, will have a high likelihood of helping your site rank better. The relevance factors, position of the link, the surrounding text, the meaning of the content all work together to create a conversion and not coincidentally creates a great link- regardless of PageRank.
So what the heck are you talking about martinibuster?
What I’ve done for clients that has translated into sales is focusing on who the demographic is that drives sales then finding out where they hang out on the web. Once I figure out where they are on the web we create articles, resource listings, interviews etc, putting the company/website name in front of the demographic, building word of mouth, goodwill and awareness. Andof course traffic and sales from those sites. A lot of times, for b2b, the keyword traffic is low, but focusing on demographics can push the sales figures exponentially. For some business models, ranking for keyword phrases is not as important as being there for those who need your product, service, or information. A byproduct of all that link acquisition activity focused on who and where has been an increase in ranking, without even targeting the anchor text. Without even targeting the anchor text.