The term “link building” almost holds a mixed bag of connotations. If you are traditional SEO professional, when people say, “link building” you think about link exchanges and technical ways to generate links. But if you are a new wave link builder like myself, you think about relationships, working with publishers to provide value for something small in return. Regardless of whether you are an old-school or new wave link builder, you are held to the same expectations; to get your target page ranking in Google.
Justifying ROI has been a challenge in business since the early 1900’s. First it was print advertising, then it was television, and now it’s social media. What many people don’t talk about is guest blogging. Guest blogging for the purpose of increasing brand exposure and impacting SEO is difficult to measure because there are so many variables.
First management must understand what key metric to focus on from a content standpoint. Are you going to place emphasis on the number of links attained or the quality of the links? Placing emphasis on content will likely get you higher quality links but less of them, thus impacting the weight of links in the ranking factor. On the flipside if management just cares about Revenue / # of Links it may be to binary to take into consideration the intricacies of guest blogging and relationship building. Any site can pay for links, but guest blogging is a ticket to a long term partnership with like-minded people in your business network which can be potentially lucrative in itself.
Next, you should follow the sales pipeline through your SEO targeted keyword in attempts to better understand what your SEO efforts are providing. Take note that ranking for a search term isn’t exclusively because of a strong link building efforts; there are many other important factors like on page content, overall site power, and social signals. Use Google Analytics or Omniture to track where your conversions are coming from. Are you receiving the majority of your e-commerce sales through affiliate networks or do you have strong SEO that converts more users at a higher rate?
To better understand link building’s impact on the overall SEO revenue you should set a baseline before starting a link building campaign. The baseline should include a current keyword rank and SEO revenue per keyword. Tracking SEO revenue longitudinally will give you further insight into just how effective guest blogging is in the overall SEO big picture. For example, let’s say your company ranks #9 for gps fleet tracking system on August 1st and that keywords generates $1,000 a month for your business, tracking those changes over time will give you insight into effectiveness. Since your guest blogging program is put in action, revisit the ranking and revenue each month. The marginal increase in revenue and search engine rankings is the best way to evaluate your guest blogging ROI.
ROI in theory is a great statistics that shows relative output per unit; however it’s often not that clear cut. Guest blogging/ guest writing is something I think more businesses should invest in. Having in-house assets that are able to manage content partnerships is much more valuable for a business than money generated.