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8 Pillars of B2B Link Building (Video)


B2B link building can be much different than link building for companies in other fields. In this video our Director of Marketing, Ryan McLaughlin, breaks down the foundation of a good B2B link building campaign.




Video Transcription


Hi everybody this is Ryan McLaughlin, Clarity Ventures. This is going to be the first in a series of videos that we're going to be doing. This is going to be on B2B link building. The reason for this is that Clarity works with a lot of companies that sell business to business that are B2B companies and they a lot of times have questions and ask how B2B link building campaigns work, how are they different from B2B campaigns. A lot of people that are SEO's in the space that primarily deal with B2B companies also ask about B2B questions. So I thought I'd make this video and kind of overview the foundation of what I look for in a B2B link- building campaign or strategy or whatever you want to call it.

You can see down here below I've written out great content. I wrote it so that I could scratch it out. That's not what I'm going to be talking about today. It's a big talking point at SEO that you know, if you want to build links just create great content. I don't think that's great advice especially for companies that are B2B that are just starting out link building or just trying to ramp up their marketing.

I think that it's a great idea. I think it's really powerful, but that's going to be your 80 yard touchdown pass as opposed to trying to nail down your offensive line and then create the foundation of your link building and marketing and SEO as a whole. So I want to get into the specifics here.

First, I'm going to start with directories and supplier lists. Now when I say directories for SEO and marketing in general for the internet this is going to have a bad connotation and it's going to be related to the general web directories that exist at our ghost town websites that were created in the early 2000s probably. They were to list any and every business that ever existed and that's definitely not what I'm talking about. Those websites don't provide any value. No one visits them and they are kind of being looked at now as manipulated link building.

The directories I'm talking about are niche industry directories that apply only to companies that provide particular products or services. Why that's valuable especially in the B2B space, I'll give you one example. If you're a purchaser in a company you're going to have a boss that tells you hey, go out and find three to five vendors that provide this thing and let's bet them out. Let's find our favorite and let's buy from them.

So number one, it's a great marketing play because you're going to be listed on websites that are frequented by purchase ready buyers. Number two, these are authoritative and legitimate websites that can give you a link that passes value through to your website. They are even more valuable because the second tier link building is already built in. If you find a directory like the one that I just described then you're going to find a website that has other sites linking to them because other people found it valuable.

I find these time and time again and they're really, really authoritative in their own spaces. You can probably find if there's specific niches. There's probably one website that's dominant that everyone in that space knows about. You need to find that site and you need to be listed on it.

Business relationships include manufacturers, distributors, resellers, partnerships and acquisitions. There's lots of other examples. I'll start with manufacturers and purchasers. I'm going to tell you, you can get a link from somebody that you sell to and you can get a link from somebody that you buy from. I've seen companies do both and do both really well.

The reason for this is especially on the purchaser side, they're going to be talking about companies and the products that they use to sell their clients. And because this is B2B and there's you know, eventually there becomes a circle. There's a lot of intricacies and relationships that companies try to use to market their own company and if you're part of that circle and if you're part of those relationships then you need to get those links. You need to be at the forefront of others marketing. Again, not just for link building, but also for marketing in general.

Acquisitions. I've seen companies spend six, seven, eight figures on a company. That other company has their own website and they did nothing with it. The problem with this, is obviously, there's a lot of value there in all facets of marketing. From an SEO stand point, if you have a company that you bought and it was authoritative or legitimate in its own way then it probably had a domain authority of at least 40 through 70. There's a lot of value there that's not being taken advantage of and you own it. So it's your playground and you can do anything you want with it including if you want to 301 it, if you want to redirect it to your site to gain the value, if you want to create a side-wide link if that's what you want to do. You can also just create like, a homepage feature that says, hey, we just got acquired by this company. Go check out all of their stuff here and link back to your side.

So there's that and also partnerships. If you resell a software product or if you customize a software product for your company clients then those partner companies should be linking to you because if a company has a partnership program all of those programs advertise their partners. If you're not doing it you're probably the one being left out. You need to find where the partnerships are being listed on the websites that host the products that you resell or customize or whatever you do and make sure that you're on those partnership lists and that you're getting a link from them.

Associations and Certifications. In big industries, there's a lot of the times these organizations that rank or give certifications to companies in the space and kind of rate them for the prospecting clients. If you have one of these certifications or if you have also certifications being in compliance. If your company is compliant with a particular standard then you're probably given a certification and those are listed somewhere. You need to find it and make sure that you're getting linked from it.

Sponsorships. You can really sponsor anything nowadays. You can sponsor scholarships. You can sponsor events, clubs, just organizations in general. I found dictionaries where you can sponsor words. I guarantee you if you're in a really like, niche B2B industry space then you find the word that is related to your product or the name of your product and you sponsor that word. That's a natural link that is linked back to your site and it contains the anchor text of your product. So it's something that is really valuable in a couple of ways.

Tools and estimators are also really valuable for your users. This is something that I've seen in manufacturing. If you have a big complex product that you sell that has to be customized to your client because the project's really big, lots of money, lots of customizations, lots of everything then there's lots of detail there and it needs to be taken down and customized in a way that you can give it back to your potential client and tell them how long is it going to take, how much money is it going to cost and any other details that apply to the project. A lot of times some of that stuff can be automated. If you want to get in there and make a tool that automates some of that process, I guarantee you two things are going to happen. You are going to have better user behavior metrics. You're going to get a lot of engagement from this on your site. People are going to stay longer. They're going to interact with you more and a lot of times they're going to see you as a more reputable entity in the space because you have cool things on your site.

Number two, these B2B industries have their own communities on the internet. They have their own forums. They have their own publications. They have their own clicks that talk together. If you create something of value for these people then they're going to talk about it. They're going to give you mentions and they're going to give you links. That's going to work out for you in a couple of ways.

Partnership PR. This is something that I've seen that is kind of a cool psychology point and I don't have the data on it yet, but what I've been seeing is that when you have a partnership and you create PR, you create press releases, you create you know blog outreach about this partnership, it does better in outreach than if you were to do PR just about your company and like, a particular thing that you were doing. The reason that I think this is, is because the receiver of the outreach sees the story as more about the thing that the companies are teaming up to do because there's more than one company involved. They see it more like that than just a pitch to rep the company that's coming to them and just kind of like a pure one-way opportunity play.

At that point, I can't give too many more details on that and provide you proof about this, but that's what I've seen. I'll put the data together if I eventually get it, but I wanted to let you know what I've been seeing.

Analyst outreach. This might be the most important point on the board, for a couple of reasons. Number one, analysts write all the time. They write blog posts, they write analyst contributions on other websites, they write for their own site. Almost every day, I've seen popular analysts write on their site. If you create a relationship with one of these analysts and you're in with one of these analysts then they're going to eventually write about you if they like you and they like your product and they think that you address a good or like a prevalent pinpoint in the industry.

Number two. Analysts are the people that purchasers go to, to ask them, hey, point blank, who do I buy from? I've got this one particular problem. Who is the best, who has the best product to solve my problem and just kind of guide me in general. If you're in with the analysts already then of course, if you're providing the best product then they're going to give you that client and those clients you don't have to fight for. If an analyst recommends you as the guy for this particular situation, unless you really screw it up, those guys are going to buy from you. That's real important. I would definitely consider that and then competitive analysis is going to bring all of this together.

Basically, what you want to do is you want to look at your competitors back link profiles and kind of back track in reverse engineer the strategies that they have been using and see what they've been doing and try to see if you can replicate some of it. Are there companies that are using them as a partner that aren't using you and you think that they should be. Depending on how aggressive you want to be, you can go to websites or companies that are listing your competitor as a solution provider and say hey, I saw that you have XYZ company as a partner, a solution provider. Would you like to have this extra tool in your arsenal?

If you want to be really aggressive then say hey, we do this better than these other guys in this way, here's why you should probably list us as a solution partner. Depends on your personality. Depends on your selling style, but nonetheless it's all the same point. It all achieves the same thing if you're successful. It's something definitely to consider.

Find tools that your competitors had made. Maybe they made tools back in 2005 and they suck now and you have an opportunity because it's 2013 to build a better tool. If you do that, then of course the people that were talking about that tool back in 2005 through now, they're going to see new value in what you've provided and you've just created a list of the people that would be your initial outreach targets for the new tool that you're providing or building.

There are lots of examples where competitive analysis comes in handy. It's definitely going to apply to all these things. It's going to also give you ideas about new opportunities I haven't told you about on this board, very unique opportunities that are just going to be unique to your industry so, you're going to find those. That about wraps this up, but basically, this is my foundation for B2B link building campaigns in general. This is going to be your offensive line. I hope that you gain value from it and I will also include a comment section below in case you have any comments or questions or whatever it is. Also, I probably left some loose ends here so I'll provide a note section below that kind of ties those off. Until next time, Ryan McLaughlin, Clarity Ventures. Have a great day.

Notes! (from Ryan)

Here are the 8 pillars written out for you in easy text form:

  • 1. Directories & Supplier Lists
  • 2. Business Relationships
  • 3. Associations & Certifications
  • 4. Sponsorships
  • 5. Tools & Estimators
  • 6. Partnership PR
  • 7. Analyst Outreach
  • 8. Competitive Analysis

There's a point in the video in which I mention sponsorships in the context of getting "natural links." This is really going to depend on how you define a natural link, but irregardless this is a great marketing strategy with many benefits.

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An image screenshot of the 8 pillars:

B2B link building tips, foundation of business to business SEO

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