18
Feb
2009
10 Link Opportunity Segments that Increase Link Acquisition Efficiency and Conversion Rates

Your list of link opportunity urls - which you qualified out of your link prospect data set - must be segmented to increase the efficiency and conversion rate of your link acquisition phase. By segmenting your link opportunities you more effectively structure the work of acquisition and ensure that you approach each opportunity with the link offer most likely to result in conversion (the publication of your link).

Because you used your business goals to qualify your link opportunities, you know that all of your following efforts will meaningfully impact your link building KPIs.

Segmenting your link opportunities impacts your acquisition efforts in two ways:

>> Increased Efficiency
By grouping like opportunities together you can gather necessary resources and information and knock out large portions of your outreach at one time. Further, you ensure that you're using the right people for each type of acquisition group - the personnel submitting to niche directories may not be suitable for comment campaigns.

>> Increased Link Acquisition Rates
By organizing your link opportunities into meaningful segments you can better target each segment with link offers that will resonate with them. This in turn increases your acquisition rates.

We recommend that you read through these segmentation options and employ 2-4 of them in your initial efforts. You will find overlap - think of your link opportunity segments in terms of a Venn diagram. Concentrate on the opportunities that appear in multiple segments. Once you have qualified out your link opportunity urls you can return to them repeatedly with different target segments in mind.

1) Required Methods of Link Acquisition
Organizing link opportunity lists by required acquisition methods makes it easier for you to orchestrate the acquisition phase. For example, there will be a grouping that requires more personalized attention - several emails, a phone call even. And then there will be niche directory submissions. Sorting your link opportunities by acquisition methods helps to structure your work load and improve your link building efficiencies. Here are some examples of segments based on link acquisition methods:

-Establish phone contact to determine link prospect's needs
-Request link inclusion on a list, article, blog post, etc
-Make your link offer
-Submit article/press release/blog post
-Add your listing
-Answer a question
-Leave a comment

2) Site (or Page) Creator's Agenda
Depending on your market you may find a diversity of "agendas" within your link opportunity set. We define agenda as the page creator's reasons for publishing that particular page. We find that "audience education" is a common agenda that is motivated to link by strong, informational content. By identifying agendas you can better target and align your link offers. For the "audience education" agenda segment within your link opportunity set you could send an email (or leave a comment) that provides further, more thorough or unique resources on the subject. In some markets you'll find that audience education is still too broad and further segmentation could provide improved link acquisition rates. Here are some agenda-based questions that will help you determine your segments.

-Why did they publish this page?
-Why do they have a website?
-What are their online goals?
-Do they get revenue from ads?
-What are their areas of interest and expertise?
-What is their stance on your industry's controversies?
-What is the tone of comments and commentary in their onsite conversation?

3) Your Link Offer
We prefer making "link offers" to making "link requests." The difference may seem subtle, but when you make an offer you clearly communicate the value you have to the publisher. In a link request you put the onus of qualification on the site owner. We recommend that your link offer align with website/webpage publisher agendas. While strategically aligning agendas and offers is not always necessary for success, establishing and clearly communicating your link offers is. We wrote more extensively about link offers in 12 Powerful Offers that Build Links in Your Link Acquisition Phase:

-Expertise or data
-Tshirts, stickers, other freebies and offers
-Comprehensiveness
-Expert recognition of their contributions
-Provide mention or distribution on your platform
-Remarkable content that entertains or educates

4) Your Site's Target URLs and Target Keywords
Often it makes sense to segment your link opportunities according to the URLs on your site you have selected for ranking increase for specific keywords. Ideally you have conducted usability testing and optimized conversion rates for these pages already. If you're building links to thousands of potential urls on your site consider selecting the pages with the highest conversion rates and segment your link opportunities that way.

-Site pages with high conversion rates
-Site pages optimized for your target keywords

5) Page/Site Type
The type of page - or site the page is on - often dictates how you pursue the link. If your research determines that social bookmarking links are indeed influential for your target search phrases then you can organize a portion of your acquisition phase to include time for profile creation and bookmarker outreach. If you find both niche media journalists and bloggers you may find that offers of executive access resonate more powerfully with journalists while resource urls get bloggers linking.

-Q/A site
-Niche forum
-Social networking site
-News story
-Directory
-Resource list
-Blog post
-Niche media story

6) Ease/Rapidity of Link Acquisition
Sometimes on client link building projects - or projects handed down by management - it's important to show link acquisition results quickly. Sometimes circumstances outside of your control dictate an immediate need for links. Creating a segment of link opportunities that show signs of quick link conversion enables you to achieve results even as you conduct your longer cycle, relationship-centric link acquisition efforts.

-How long will it take to get the link?
-Do you get to press the publish button?
-How likely are they to link?
-Is contact information easy to find?
-Who in your organization needs to be involved?
-Can you up the ante on your link offer?
-How many emails/phone calls are likely to be necessary?
-Who do you know at the organization?
-How long have you been in the industry?
-How well branded are you in the space?
-How seo/link building-averse is this segment?

7) Magnitude of Search Rank Influence
Impact on search rank is one critical way to segment your link opportunities. Links can bring targeted, converting traffic though, and link outreach can serve as the first step in a longer term relationship with purchase influencers in your market. Overly fixating on search ranking can detract from other benefits to link building - however in large scale link building efforts you must capitalize on the easily quantified impact that qualified link opportunities can have on your rankings.

-High, medium, low potential impact on rankings
-Level of contextual relevance to target keywords

8) Needs Expressed/Benefits Sought on Page
In comment threads, niche forums and Q/A sites you'll often find needs clearly expressed, and benefits sought. These link opportunities also provide an opportunity to offer links to your products, services or informational resources. If there's a great deal of need/pain expressed in forums, comment threads and Q/A sites then you may end up segmenting these groupings further to align with specific products, services or info resources you can offer links to.

-Specific pain points or problems described
-Requests for help, ideas or solutions
-Typically in blog posts, Q/A sites and news stories

9) Geographic/Demographic Reach
In certain cases you might want to target certain geographic regions or demographics with different links or different approaches... or even different languages. This type of segmentation enables you to structure your approach for greater efficiency and conversion.

-Where is the qualified target from geographically
-What geographic region reads them primarily
-Demographic grouping
-Language/s used on page

10) Level of Page Creator's Purchase Influence
Though indicators of purchase influence exist in the data set, identifying and quantifying purchase influence is far more art than science. Building relationships with purchase influencers takes time and resources. If your link opportunity data set includes people who are likely purchase influencers then we highly recommend you develop an outreach strategy built entirely around asking the question: "how can my organization aid your agenda?"

-High, medium or low influence on organizational purchase decisions
-People who influence purchases at specific organizations
-People/bloggers who work at prospect organizations
-Type of organization they influence: Fortune 500 vs. SMBs

Sorting your link opportunities into segments increases the efficiency and conversion rates of your large scale link building efforts. Further, link opportunity segmentation paves the way for identifying content opportunities that these segments will link to in greater numbers.

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