Links, Content, & Traffic: Piecing It All Together

September 28, 2010
By Dawn Wentzell in SEO

A client recently asked how the links we were building to their site would result in new customers for their business. While a lot of what we do as SEOs is connected, we often only talk about it in its parts. We talk about content creation, or link building, or rankings. Each is a unique piece of the puzzle, however, they all work together toward the end goal of the site.

I thought I’d share with you what I told our client. It’s a nice refresher on why we do what we do, and how no one piece of the SEO puzzle is the “king” or “holy grail” of search.

The Content

While your company history might be meaningful to the CEO, it’s not likely going to attract a lot of links, unless maybe you’re Zappos and used as an example in every blog post about “company culture”. It’s just not going to cut it.

This is where linkbait comes in. But when I use the term linkbait, I don’t necessarily mean the latest, cheesiest infographic to make the front page of Digg and crash your server. All linkbait really is, is quality, relevant content that grabs the attention of the “influencers” in your particular niche and makes them want to share it. Where people seem to get hung up on creating content is in thinking that it has to be directly related to their industry. It doesn’t. Content that is related tangentially to your niche can still help build quality links.

The Links

Once you’ve got that great piece of content, you have to tell someone it’s there. There are people in every industry who are creating and sharing content online, you just have to find them and get the ball rolling with some self promotion. Reach out to them. Often times, all it takes is mentioning that you have a particular piece of content and making them aware of it to get them to share it. If you’ve created something truly valuable to the people you’re reaching out to, they’ll want to link to it and pass it on to their network. You’re not going to have to force their hand.

While a linkbait piece may result in a short-term increase in traffic from those that link to it, these visitors are not likely to convert. However, they themselves might also add a link from their own site or share it on a social network, and so on.
With good internal linking, the authority that a particular piece of content gains can be shared with the rest of the site. The key here is that the links to a specific page on a website help boost the authority of not only that page, but the entire site as well. Think of it as the old saying, “a rising tide will lift all boats.”

The Traffic

While we all know there is more to the ranking algorithm than just links, links are an important part. You’ve seen those pages that previously ranked #2, and with just the right link, have jumped to the first spot. And we’ve seen sites that gradually rise across all measured keywords as many pages on a site are simultaneously gaining authority.

Higher search rankings for commonly searched terms generally equate to more traffic from searchers, which is why rankings are still a factor that SEOs measure – even in a time of personalized search, Google Instant, and whatever the next novelty will be. The increase in traffic is not linear, though, and traffic can increase by multiples as a page ranks higher and higher.

The Result

The result, after all of that work, is that you now have several great pieces of link-worthy content on your site, they’re helping to raise the authority of the pages you want to rank, and those are bringing in the targeted traffic that is looking for your services.

And if you’d paid attention to the design of your site, usability, and landing page optimization, those website visitors will be walking through your front door.

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