300 linking domains? Nah, I’ll take 30 thanks

  • 2
  • May 20, 2015
Laura Crimmons

Laura Crimmons

Communications Director

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, because it’s about something that really bugs me. That is, all of the case studies that are thrust in our faces at conferences, in which an agency tells us that they got 200-500 linking root domains to their amazing campaign. Upon reading them, we’re all supposed to sit there and clap, totally in awe at how amazing they must be to have achieved such success.

However, I think that’s rubbish for a few reasons:

  1. I don’t believe that there are 500 really top quality sites that I would want linking to my campaign
  2. This sets unreasonable expectations that every awesome piece of content should achieve these kinds of results
  3. Who really cares about links alone? Shouldn’t we be looking at the traffic and conversions the campaign drove?

For those reasons, we don’t take this approach to our campaigns. We’ll never pitch an idea to a current or potential client and promise them hundreds of links to it. In fact, if they ask us for that, we’ll be really honest and tell them that’s just not the agency that we are. Yes, we might lose business because of that, but nine times out of 10, the client will come back after they do the campaign, getting hundreds of links but not with the outcome that they expected.

Then, they’ll want us to disavow a huge chunk of them straight away, and do the campaign we pitched in the first place, which might only get 20-30 links. However, those links that we’re going for will be on top quality, high traffic-driving sites which will have a far more benefit than *just* being a link. They will also drive:

  • Brand awareness
  • Social engagement
  • Traffic
  • On-site engagement
  • Conversions

Surely most clients would rather have all of the above than hundreds of links?

To prove my point that you don’t need hundreds of links to generate results, here’s a few case studies showing how we do it and why we think that’s the right way.

Example one

This campaign launched in June last year after we’d had to disavow a load of links to recover the client from a manual penalty. Around 20 links were generated mainly coming from national newspapers and consumer magazines. The increase in visibility can be seen below but, importantly, we also saw a 107% YoY increase in Google organic traffic and a 68% YoY increase in conversions from Google organic. This meant that after disavowing over 2,000 domains, we were able to get their visibility back to where it was – and, ultimately, higher – with just 20 links.

example 1

Example two

Here’s an older example, showing that this approach has been working for us for at least the last two years. This campaign launched in August 2013 and generated around 35 links again across national and regional newspaper sites and financial publications. The visibility increase can be seen below and the campaign also drove an additional 30,000 visitors to the client’s site.

example 2

Example three

This example breaks all the rules, with no links whatsoever actively generated to it. This is purely a content project whereby we launched a new content hub in December 2013 to help the client recover from Panda and saw a dramatic increase in both visibility and Google organic traffic.

example 3

So please, for the love of God, can we stop measuring success by the number of links something got and start talking instead about the stats that matter? Please?

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