As the internet has become increasingly pervasive, establishing a brand presence and making your content easy to find online has become more important than ever. Consumers have become savvy to – and frequently annoyed by – tactics like mass emails and paid advertising. This means you have to work harder to get your product or service in front of the right consumers, and this is where link building comes into play.
BuzzStream and Fractl have collaborated to review the trends in outbound versus inbound marketing techniques and tell you why link building is essential to your digital strategy. By analyzing reported results, costs, and trends in online marketing, we show you how to judge for yourself whether the ROI is worth the investment for your brand.
What link building achieves
The most important thing to understand about link building is the results this strategy can achieve, especially in comparison to old PR methods.
Consider this: According to research from Nielsen and GroupM UK, only 6% of search engine users click on paid ads, but 94% click on organic search results. When it comes to earning click-through in organic results, however, ranking has an impact that can’t be understated. 90% of users will click on one of the first three results when searching for branded terms, and 61% will stay within the first three results for non-branded term searches. The average for clicks below the first three results is just 32%, meaning that your content needs to rank highly in order to earn the most traffic from organic search.
Link building practices play a powerful role in boosting search engine result rankings. Google’s algorithm updates are famous for penalizing sites based on blackhat or spammy link building, but have consistently recognized and rewarded the companies that have worked to grow traffic with authentic and value-added efforts. Sites that have earned backlinks from popular content on high-authority sites continue to rank better with every algorithm update – an indication that content marketing is and will continue to be one of the most valuable tools in link building.
This kind of outreach also holds another benefit for brands: By establishing relationships with well-regarded publishers, brands are positioning themselves for potential long-term exposure from key influencers in their industries. If a company works to consistently create and promote quality content, it will stand a better chance of earning better backlinks now and in the future.
Follow the money
If the results alone don’t make the case for link building as one of the most important tactics of digital PR, then the costs are sure to catch the eye of strategists and CMOs. HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2014 report estimated that companies save an average of 57% on inbound leads versus outbound leads. The savings increase for smaller companies: Brands with less than 26 employees save 64% on average, and those with a staff of 51–200 employees save 68%.
The savings are likely a significant reason that 81% of companies say they’ve increased their spending on link building in the past 12 months, and 73% say they’ll continue to do so in the next 12 months. Increasing investment in efforts that are consistently earning more ROI is compelling, but according to the results from Moz’s Link Building Survey 2014, another reason companies gave for increasing link building budgets is “to raise the bar on existing efforts, and to beat competitors with increasingly sophisticated content assets.”
Staying on the cutting edge may be the most important argument for considering link building as a substantial factor in your digital strategy. Older PR tactics like press releases are becoming outdated; even the press agrees that releases are currently one of the least desirable formats for content. From a business perspective, the number of companies reporting outbound marketing as a primary lead source has fallen to 22%, the first decrease in four years. Conversely, the number of marketers practicing inbound techniques has risen to 85%.
The tides are clearly turning in marketing strategies, and more companies are increasing their efforts – and finding increased success – in attracting consumers with high-quality content, social media campaigns, and dynamically designed assets that more naturally earn the attention of online audiences. As the volume and quality of content continues to rise, marketers will need to work harder and smarter to form crucial outreach relationships and innovate to earn publishers’ attention in order to achieve the search rankings that will get them into the most coveted search engine rankings.
Want to dive deeper on comparing your investment and return from digital marketing methods? Learn more about our industry research at frac.tl/press.