Just like ‘regular’ marketing, you can roughly divide link marketing into two categories; push link marketing (the good old link building) and pull link marketing (link baiting). This division, however, seems to be a very strict one, as I don’t see a lot of folks mixing up pull and push link marketing in order to maximize their link marketing efforts.
Advertising (and I’m not talking about text link ads) can be a used as a tool that supports both a push and a pull link marketing strategy, and a good advertising strategy can provide valuable market information as well.
Search Engine Advertising
With AdWords (and any other search engine advertising program), you can do a lot more than just generating sales. A creatively designed AdWords campaign can result in extra traffic and, if you combine this with specially designed landing pages for example, a lot of extra links.
Traffic, branding and awareness can lead to links
In stead of aiming for nothing but conversions or trying to reach the ultimate success rate, you can use AdWords as a push marketing tool for branding and awareness as well. Just like with regular advertising campaigns, advertising on the right keywords with the right, attractive landing pages will result in people to see your brand and get familiar with it, and it can even result in people talking about you. And linking to you.
Also, a creative advertising campaign increases the chances of becoming the talk of the day and attracting several links.
Pushing your linkbait
So you’ve just created an awesome quiz about dogs, tv shows or any other quiz and are looking for some extra players? AdWords is your friend. Believe it or not, but there are quite a few people looking for fun quizzes to play each day. And only a few are targeting them. The same goes for tools, widgets and any other piece of content that’s suitable for attracting links.
A bonus tip for quiz baiters: it depends on your target audience, but don’t forget to make your widget code available in phpBB code or to provide an easy Tweet My Score button. Never underestimate the power of social.
You can also use AdWords as a pull marketing strategy, by advertising on keywords that reporters, bloggers and journalists may use when they’re doing research for a subject that’s related to your content, company or product. Try talking to a journalist about how and where he or she performs research when writing an interesting, in-depth piece; this can work very enlightening.
Don’t forget to test around with link-targeted AdWords landing pages that have the sole purpose of turning visitors into links. Just like you can turn other visitors into feed subscribers, you can turn journalists and bloggers into linkers with the right page, CTA or plugins.
The well known content network of Google is more than just something you can slap on to any two-page website you happen to have lying around and make $0,13 a month with. You can use it to gather extra traffic, as well as valuable market information. And you can turn both into links.
Copy the entire AdWords campaign you’ve created for the search network and target the content network with it. By advertising on relevant keywords, you make sure that your ad shows up on relevant websites. Although not everybody has the same opinion about Google’s content network, I love it for the surprisingly high conversion rates and low CPCs. Especially if you (or your linkbait ;) ) targets markets with a relatively low competition.
Just like with a ‘regular’ AdWords campaign, it’s import to determine your maximum CPA and to keep an eye on your conversion rate (if you’re able to measure this). Campaigns like this can reveal pretty interesting numbers. A campaign for one of my own websites had a conversion rate of ~1% at an average CPC of $0,10, where a link was worth at least 50 bucks to me. You don’t have to be an expert in math to see that that’s a pretty good deal.
If there are websites that look very interesting to you, or have proven their ability to convert in a regular AdWords content network advertising campaign, you should consider to target these websites directly with a site (or placement) targeting campaign. You can do this with text ads, but larger, visually attractive image ads are an option as well. If you choose for image ads, you’ll have to keep in mind that you’ll probably end up with higher CPCs, as it has to beat the combined CPCs for the top 3 text ads on the page you want to appear on (because your image ad takes the space of three text ads).
Believe it or not, but this is where the fun part of Google’s content network starts.
Like I’ve mentioned before, Google made it possible to see on which websites in Google’s content network your ad has been appearing. To run a report like this, select the ‘Placement Performance’ report in the AdWords Report panel and hit ‘create report’.
Because Google matched your website to content of these sites, most of the websites listed in this report are relevant to your subject. It might be possible that not every website is 100% relevant, but there must be at least one page on the site that is relevant enough to let your ads show up.
The report also gives an indication of the possible amount of visitors, because it mentions the amount of impressions. Besides the impressions, Google also lists the CTR and amount of clicks (interested visitors), the amount conversions (possible customers) and the total costs and cost per conversion (value of the link). All very valuable link marketing information, if you ask me :) . You can also download the report in csv, which makes the data even more accessible.
Affiliate marketing is awesome for generating leads or sales, but can be used for branding and to create awareness as well. All of this can lead to links indirectly, which is something lots of people don’t seem to think about.
Also, just like with Google’s content network, an affiliate marketing campaign can provide extremely valuable market information. Reports can show you which websites generate views, traffic and sales, and might be interesting to contact directly because of that. Talking to the folks of the affiliate program or to a few publishers can also result in gathering useful tips, or more information about your market or competition.
Reviews, advertorials & PPP
People only think of services like Review Me, PayPerPost or Viral Conversations as tools to get instant dofollow links with an anchor text of their choice. Setting up a buzz marketing campaign the wrong way, however, could get you into serious trouble. Even when your name is Google.co.jp.
These types of services, however, are very much suitable for generating traffic, buzz and -as a result of that- indirect links. After all, if you’re being mentioned by an influential blogger from your industry, or on any other authority website, it can -and usually will- lead to traffic, sales and more links.
Sponsoring an event, website, charity or anything else in order to get a link certainly isn’t a new link building strategy. What most people don’t think about, though, is that a sponsorship can lead to even more links indirectly.
For example, the fact that financial services entity ING was pulling out of sponsoring Formula 1 resulted in over a thousand online mentionings, including a few dozen high quality links. And that’s just a company that’s canceling a sponsorship. I’m pretty sure that your budget is a bit smaller than ING’s (to say the least) but you probably get the point.
Even an offline advertising campaign can generate links. There are numerous websites entirely dedicated to (creative) advertising campaigns or guerilla marketing campaigns, and a unique campaign could generate buzz in your industry as well.
I am a big fan of combining offline and online marketing into one big marketing campaign, but I don’t see a lot of companies doing this optimally, unfortunately. A campaign where offline and online are well integrated isn’t just (link)food for marketers, but increases your chances to be found (and linked to) as well.
Link development = Marketing = Link development
Of course, there are even more advertising techniques, such as display advertising, local advertising or CPV models (such as SU ads), that can lead to links directly or indirectly. The point is that, when you come to think of it, nearly any action you take can lead to links. Link marketing is just like “regular” marketing, but it’s a little bit more search engine optimized :)
Nearly anything you do both online and offline can -and most often will- result in links. Branding and creating awareness not only builds links (in)directly, but it also makes future link building campaigns much easier. After all, people are much more willing to link to websites (and brands) they’ve seen around before than to companies they’ve never heard of. Where the rich are getting richer, recognition is a very important factor.
As you can see, most of the links that an advertising campaign can result in are indirect links. This also means that, besides that links will probably keep coming in over time, you have less control over the URL people will refer to or the anchor text that’s used. You can try to influence this a little bit with your on-page content, but you’ll never have full control. While this is good, because it builds up a natural link profile, it may require additional link building or optimization efforts.