While the goal of link building is essentially the same for any business, the ideal strategy changes depending on the market and the size of the business in question. When it comes to SEO for enterprise, you need big results, and that takes big investment. A thousand visitors a day can make or break a small business, but it’s next to nothing for an enterprise.
Link building for enterprise needs to be truly scalable, and that means you need to change your thinking. Here are a few strategies appropriate for the needs of enterprise.
1. Blog Acquisition
Single links, no matter how authoritative, are almost always peanuts for an enterprise level business. The practice of going out and asking for links just isn’t going to make a dent in their already massive authority. Sure, you could set up massive outreach teams and start to get results, but this kind of large scale attention is generally more useful for going back through old content, changing up title tags, and optimizing previous pages for better results.
Rather than asking for links or trickling them in with guest posts, an enterprise level business is going to benefit much more from acquiring entire blogs.
What do I mean by this? Well, take a look at how Susannah Breslin became a Forbes blogger. She was a blogger for True/Slant, which was then acquired by Forbes, and after much persistence, she was accepted as one of the few bloggers for that company that was allowed to become a blogger for Forbes.
Put simply, if a blogger consistently earns natural links, it makes much more sense for an enterprise to just buy the blogger than it does to try to get a guest post on their blog.
I wouldn’t say that Forbes has done it perfectly, though. To really maximize the SEO value, I believe that you should buy not just the blogger, but the entire blog and its accompanying link profile.
In other words, hire the blogger, buy their blog, relocate the content, and redirect each individual page over to your site. Let them run the blog essentially the same way, with just a few pointers, and assurance that you already share similar values before the merger. That way, you capture not just their link profile, but their audience.
Most individual bloggers struggle somewhat with monetization, and those of them that aren’t too stubborn or proud will be happy to sell their blog and their continuing services in exchange for more secure income.
It takes more than just an offer that they can’t refuse, though, if you want to get the best results. Remember that their blog is their baby, and they’ll undoubtedly have some reservations. They’ll want some evidence, preferably in writing, that they will retain a fair amount of control over what they write. Make sure to recognize and address their concerns before they even have a chance to object.
Money is a necessity here, but it’s not an excuse to toss out basic outreach, relationship building, and people skills.
2. Industry Leading Studies
Studies are pretty much always in the news.
Just Google the word “study,” and click on the news results. You’re always going to see millions of results, and while many of them come from universities or government agencies, a fair number of them always come from private businesses, and we’re not just talking about Nielson or ComScore here.
Just as an example, as of this writing (7/7/2013), a company called AppRiver made the news in PC World by releasing a study. The semi-yearly study explains trends in malware and spam, and revealed that one of the latest trends in this world is to hack financial information and then hide the transactions by spamming the victim’s inbox with so much crap that they don’t see the payments being made.
I’ve never heard of AppRiver before, but after just 6 hours, a search for “study AppRiver” over just the past 24 hours turns up 38 results. That’s a lot of linking domains in less than a work day, and it’s testament to the power of industry level studies.
Any enterprise level company, regardless of what industry they’re in, has the resources to conduct some kind of study that is both relevant to their consumers and worthy of making rounds in the news. In fact, as you probably know, most of them are constantly conducting internal statistical studies and experiments for internal use. All it takes is releasing one of these, one with newsworthy appeal, to instantly earn a ton of respect and link equity.
Enterprises that don’t have the internal skillset to conduct such a study can simply sponsor one. The benefits are just as powerful, and they’ll earn massive bonus points from their audience if the study doesn’t “coincidentally” directly promote a product or service of theirs.
Finally, if you can present the results in a visually appealing, easy to understand, and actionable way, the results will be magnified tenfold. It doesn’t have to be an infographic, but it should look appealing, digestible, and worth sharing. Design is an important part of the results, regardless.
3. World Class Tools
I feel like I’m on repeat with this, but this has flown so far underneath the SEO radar that I don’t think I have any other choice. Let me just say this:
Just look at every single mega-successful site on the web and you will see that they’re all built around a tool. Google, Facebook, Blogger, WordPress, Twitter, Wikipedia, YouTube: these sites earn more links before breakfast than most SEOs will earn in their lifetime.
This is the nature of tools. They give people something to do. They give people experiences. People care about experiences and feel they’re worth sharing. And so they link.
The same can only be said of content in special circumstances. NYtimes.com is an order of magnitude behind Facebook in number of linking domains. That means something.
The success of these tools is multiplied even further by the fact that most of them also help people create and share things that came from their own mind. They encourage user generated content and communities, and the result is pure gold.
4. Celebrity Content
Remember how, back in point 1, we said “if a blogger consistently earns natural links, it makes much more sense for an enterprise to just buy the blogger than it does to try to get a guest post on their blog.” Well, that applies here too.
Look no further than LinkedIn’s introduction of the Influencers channel. In the first quarter of 2013, LinkedIn visitors viewed 63 percent more pages than in the same quarter of 2012. More importantly, traffic on the news products grew by a staggering 800 percent. The top posts regularly bring in 100,000 views. They owe this popularity to blog posts by people like Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and even President Obama.
In LinkedIn’s case, the influencers are doing it purely for the exposure on LinkedIn’s already relatively popular site, but there’s no reason the process couldn’t be accelerated and multiplied by financial compensation.
The New York Times has recognized the power of these kinds of posts, and has hired people like Paul Krugman to write for them. Ditto for Huffington Post, with posts by people like Kirk Douglass and Jamie Lee Curtis. Celebrities don’t need to come from Hollywood, they just need to bring clout and authority to the blog. They attract the kind of attention that produces enormous, purely natural link profiles.
SEO for enterprise is an entirely different beast. While many of the fundamentals are the same, you have to think big to win results that enterprises can actually say they care about. That means taking a page from the most successful site on the web. Dominate with tools, mergers, celebrities, and studies. The key is to be newsworthy.
How have you approached enterprise level SEO?