Quite often, when we start discussing link-building with a client, a very interesting question comes up: Does link-building work for lead generation? Or, in short: “Will link-building get me leads?”
In this post, we’ll aim to give a general answer to that question. Whether you’re an SEO consultant pitching link-building to your team or a marketing leader assessing whether it should be a priority, this post is for you.
So, let’s dive right in.
Does Link-Building Work for Lead Generation?
Let’s cut to the chase. Yes, it does. But depending on certain factors, it may have a slow and indirect impact, or its impact may be direct and fast. It’ll depend on a number of factors. But let’s start with the basics.
When looking for link-building prospects, your criteria should include:
- Having a high Domain Rating (DR) or Domain Authority (DA)
- Being relevant to your niche
- Having a considerable volume of qualified traffic
But, in some cases, you may want to use your link-building efforts to expand a bit beyond your niche. In those cases, you may do a “crossover” between your specific area of expertise and the platform’s area of expertise.
For instance, let’s suppose you’re guest posting for a Project Management tool, on the blog of a company that runs an SEO tool. In that case, you may want to specifically connect your tool’s value proposition to the SEO niche. Some SEOs may be experiencing the pain points you promise to solve. In that case, your guest post won’t help you signal to Google that your brand is reliable, but it’ll also help you generate leads.
Quite simple, right? But it doesn’t always work like that.
Why your backlinks may not get you leads
It’s not uncommon for high-DR, high-traffic company blogs to suffer from:
- Extremely uneven traffic distribution
- Poor social media engagement
So your guest post is likely to have a very reduced readership. And if your brand isn’t very directly related to the platform’s niche, the pool of readers who will be willing to engage and convert will be tiny.
Most successful link-building formats for lead generation
But, are there exceptions?
Sure, you’re most likely to get leads from your guest posts if:
- The platform you’ll publish on is an industry leader with very high social media engagement
- You’re featured on a tools listicle or expert roundup, which highlights your unique value as an expert/solution
An unpopular opinion: Link-building works, even when it doesn’t
It may seem oddly convenient coming from us. But even if your backlinks don’t get you leads directly, if your website is receiving organic leads, your backlinks are partially to blame.
The reason’s quite simple. While the Google algorithm is a black box, there are some things about the search engine’s ranking criteria that we do know. Among them, we know that Google judges your platform for the websites that link to it. High-value websites that offer a great experience and host amazing content are usually linked to on similar sites. And low-quality websites also tend to link to each other.
So, the more high-quality backlinks you get, the better your organic visibility. Of course, this rule only applies if your content is competitive. But we’ll leave that for another article.
Going back to this discussion’s core: If backlinks can boost your SERP visibility, they make it easier for your target audience to discover your brand. So, tangentially, link-building can support your lead generation efforts, even if these leads don’t discover you through your guest posts/inserted links.
How Much of a Priority Should Link-Building Be for Lead Generation?
With all that in mind: Should you prioritize link-building for organic lead generation?
As per previous research by Postdigitalist, 42% of SEO specialists consider link-building to be a huge advantage in their SEO efforts. But the general stance is that content is far more significant.
Link-building should be among your top priorities. But it’s not as important as:
- Having a responsive, high-performing, and generally user-friendly website
- Producing high-quality, user-centric content consistently
Backlinks alone won’t make you rank, they’ll just give you a boost in visibility. But your existent content has to be up-to-par.
Link-Building vs. Media Buying for Lead Generation
You may be wondering if you should invest in link-building or buy ad space on digital media platforms instead. But you don’t really have to choose.
In most cases, digital PR and link-building go hand-in-hand. Let us explain.
Outside of niche specificity, your ideal link-building contacts should have:
- High DR
- High volumes of qualified traffic
Top publications have a high DR, and in some cases, their traffic volume is so high that qualified buyers are practically bound to find you. Especially if the publication covers your industry at large. So a good digital PR strategy will probably help you build great links. Especially if your PR team remains connected to your SEO team and they collaborate on choosing partners and negotiating with them. Remember that unlinked mentions are far less impactful than direct links, both for lead generation and for link-building.
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