I love strategy. I’ve loved it since I was a kid and spent hours playing chess on Yahoo! Chess – not to mention late-night online AOE battles. This love of strategy is one of the things that attracted me to business, and more specifically, marketing. I’ve also always been a bit of a computer geek and learned the basics of programming, hardware, and web development in high school. One of my first jobs was an IT support role at my high school. I know, I’m pretty cool… Imagine how excited I was when I first saw Google Analytics and had someone talk to me about SEO, PPC, and digital marketing in general about 6 years ago. The light bulbs went on and I was hooked. It quickly became clear these disciplines were perfect for those who love strategy, marketing, and have a technical bent as well. About a year ago when I moved into my current role as the Director of Link Strategy I decided I needed wanted (ok, yes, needed) to master the art of link strategy development. Fortunately, I was encouraged to pursue this interest even though it didn’t immediately provide a ton of value. The product however has become a staple of how we've handled link development as an agency for the past year. I’m really excited to get to share some deep insight into the approach and hear feedback from those who love strategy, links, marketing, SEO, and all those other related disciplines. In order to understand the approach (and some of it's limitations) fully, you’ll need to keep the following things in mind.
- At an agency with teams serving dozens of SEO clients at any given time (and growing), I'm just a single person. These clients range from mid-size businesses with little known brands to major Fortune 100 companies (Read – the strategy had/has to scale in many ways).
- I’m not a mathametician/statistician. There are undoubtedly ways to refine this process and gain even more insights if you have a strong grasp of statistics and other advanced mathematical disciplines. This approach however has proven accurate and insightful over dozens of iterations.
- Whether or not your site is competitive against the competition from a backlink perspective when compared by MR and MT.
- In general, how badly you are losing to, or beating, competitors.
- Whether you might be able to get away with more “quantity” and less “quality”, or whether you really need to focus on quality over quantity.
- When you divide the competition up based on a midpoint, whether you are more like the top dogs or the bottom of the barrel scrapers.
- You have lots of backlinks, lots of good backlinks, lots of linking root domains and all the other good things you need. Essentially, you have the power, you just need to utilize it correctly.
- You are lagging the competitors you really need to beat from a backlink perspective. This means you need to come up with efficient ways to improve your backlink profile so that you can move into situation 1. How do you do this? There is a simple equation I like to use:
Content + Promotion = LinksLooks simple, but trust me, it’s not (as many of you know). What goes into each of these elements so that you end up with the correct result is a topic for another (or several) post. Wrapping it up If you use a method similar to what I’ve laid out above, it’s important to consider all the different data points (and others you might have), and not simply go off of what the chart is showing. It's a big piece that provides a lot of value, but your insights become even better when you start to ask more questions based off of what you’re seeing. For instance:
- Their backlink profile stinks, but their SOV is high. Why?
- What types of keywords are primarily making up our seed list (head, long-tail, etc.)
- Based on what we’re seeing, what options do they have now and what can we hope to do in the future (what’s realistic to accomplish).
- What resources are available to help with link development and how much of each?
- What’s reasonable to accomplish and in what time frame? How does this tie into our over-all SEO goals?
- Remember, we’re only seeing a part of the picture. Our understanding is that SEOmoz indexes around 10-20% of the web. Likely the most important parts, but still, it’s limited.
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