Why Links Should Be a KPI Within Your Digital Marketing




  • May 13, 2016

    Links as a KPI


    Tracking links will increase the effectiveness of your online marketing, as a whole.


    The Internet is often referred to as the web, due to its interlinked nature. Links function as a vote of confidence, an endorsement, a citation of value, and a signal of trust and authority.


    All of these factors make links ideal to track from a marketing standpoint. The more relevant sites endorse your pages, recommending you to their audience, the better your marketing does as a whole. Links affect branding, grow relationships, improve reach, and most of all, SEO.


    For all of these reasons links can, and should, serve as an important KPI for measuring the success of your online marketing. Links will help gauge the efficacy of your marketing, and increase your overall effectiveness.


    Branding

    Nearly all marketing involves brand building, especially a new product launch, event marketing, or any type of publicity campaign.


    Brand building requires a multi-faceted approach that accounts for:



    • Exposure,
    • Positioning,
    • Authority,
    • Interaction,
    • And trust.

    If you’re running image PR campaigns, sponsoring local events, hosting giveaways/contests, distributing press releases, etc. – links can help measure whether you’re building brand equity effectively. Your brand represents how you are perceived and what your customers think of your company. Links improve your publicity efforts through increased exposure, authority, and trust.


    Links are the digital version of brand names. If someone mentions your product, but not your brand name, your publicity is missing a crucial piece. Online, if someone mentions your brand, product, or website, but fails to include a link, you’re missing a crucial piece of the publicity (and brand!) puzzle.


    Building a strong, respected brand is one of the most sustainable ways to grow a business. People want to engage with brands they trust and respect, and links are a great way to measure trust and respect online.


    Relationship Building

    Good marketing relies upon building relationships. Links literally form a digital connection and a relationship between two sites.


    Relationships are crucial to marketing—online or offline—because the right relationships increase the reach of your marketing messages to new audiences, and often strengthen those messages.


    Links are an ideal KPI for tracking your relationship building efforts because links indicate you’re securing marketing value from your relationships. Building relationships that help spread your marketing messages but don’t link back to your site miss the mark. Even with proper branding, these relationships are missing a key ingredient – direct navigation.


    When another site links, they are telling their audience your site is valuable enough to be worth their time, and are sending them directly to your site. It’s a public recommendation to their audience.


    A link is digital word-of-mouth marketing.


    Links on trusted sites will pass that same trust onto your site as well. People tend to trust links on their favorite sites because they trust the person/people that run that site. A site won’t link to you unless some level of relationship exists, so tracking links represents an effective way to measure your relationships across the web.


    Building positive relationships within your niche is critical to online marketing success. Making meaningful connections within your online community aids marketing efforts through:



    • Increased amplification on social media promotion.
    • Collaborative marketing projects.
    • Cultivating a group of brand advocates.
    • Opening doors to new promotional channels.
    • Partnership and affiliate opportunities.
    • References and social proof.

    Relationships are integral to marketing and links serve as a good signal of your relationships across the net.


    Audience Discovery

    One of the central goals in marketing is to reach your audience.


    Regardless of strategy or tactic, marketing essentially boils down to promoting a message to a specific audience. Links will help you tap into new audiences around the web.


    Links provide an opportunity for exposure. Without links, the internet would be unnavigable; people use links (whether it be in search, social, or from domain to domain) to traverse the web and find the information and pages they’re looking for.


    Every link you secure creates a new pathway to your site and provides further brand exposure across the web. Branded links especially provide exposure–even if they aren’t clicked–as they serve as tiny internet billboards for your brand.


    Finding and reaching new audiences online is tough, but links provide direct access to a site’s audience. If you’re working to grow your audience and find new platforms, you should be securing links.


    Links are a great KPI for tactics like new content initiatives because they will signal if you’re doing enough manual promotion and whether or not it’s effective. Content marketing lives or dies depending on exposure and promotion, and links provide access to new audiences that can drive success.


    SEO

    Search is an important channel online, and it’s continuing to grow.


    Any digital marketing strategy that doesn’t involve search is missing a huge chunk of audience. Search is the biggest channel online and you need SEO to gain visibility in search and grow organic traffic.


    Optimizing for search means optimizing for authority, and links are the best measurement for gauging authority online. In fact, Google uses links within their search algorithm because links are such a strong signal, and have been since before Google existed.


    The more endorsements (links) you acquire, the more the authority of your brand grows, especially if you’re securing links on authoritative, industry-leading sites. Links signal authority to search engines and actual humans using the internet alike.


    If you want to measure your brand’s (and website’s) authority online (as well as reach), you need to track links.


    Recap

    Links should be a KPI within your digital marketing. Tracking links improves your entire online strategy.


    Any digital campaign that aims to develop brand, cultivate relationships, grow audience reach, or improve organic search performance must make links a KPI. Links are a strong KPI for:



    • Branding – Links support brand exposure, positioning, authority, interaction, and trust.
    • Relationship building – Links represent public endorsements that indicate trusted relationships.
    • Audience exposure – Links provide direct access to fresh audiences and create new pathways to your site.
    • SEO – Links signal authority to search engines and humans alike.

    You should track links as a KPI within your digital marketing. Links are bridges to new audiences and new business, and will help you measure the effectiveness of your marketing reach and brand value.

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