Five ways to get buy-in and link building budget

There are three key pillars often referred to in organic marketing: 1. technical SEO, 2. onsite content and 3. link building. While technical and onsite content are, more broadly speaking, understood as a requirement for a website’s performance, link building is less so. 

In some cases, it can even have a negative mark against it as something that could harm your website due to past experiences or a lack of education on what it is and why it’s needed. 

For some brand teams, this can mean they’re unable to get access to link building even when they know it’s the key to seeing their cap on performance lifted. 

If this is sounding all too familiar to you, then read on to find out my five tips for getting sign-off for link building based on my years of experience.

1. Does everyone truly understand what link building is and why it’s needed?

As an SEO, you’ll be familiar with link building – from what it is, to why it’s needed. 

But for those internally that hold the purse strings, link-building can be quite confusing. 

Simply explaining that ‘it’s a backlink from an external website to ours’ isn’t enough, as there are many types of links and teams that could contribute to them (think affiliate links or the links generated by PR teams etc.). 

Ensure you’re specific in what type of link building you’re referring to and, at the same time, explain why it’s important to the website and its performance. 

A simple definition we often use is: 

An organic link is a backlink from an external website to your own. Each link acts as a ‘vote’ in the eyes of search engines towards your website being one that should rank highly for the terms your target audience searches for. 

The more links to your website, from highly relevant, high-quality sites, the better its ability to rank. Ranking higher on search engines ultimately increases traffic and therefore revenue.’

Even in this very simple explanation, there are things you might need to explain further if you’re talking to a more traditional marketer. But this should help you give your stakeholders clear direction on exactly what it is you’re trying to achieve. 

2. Uncover what the real barriers are 

Now that you’ve explained what it is, you need to uncover what reservations there might be about it. 

Here are some barriers we come up against and how we turn them around to get buy-in. 

A misunderstanding that link building is already happening 

There are other teams, like affiliate or PR teams, that will be building links but different links serve different purposes. We know that affiliate links, while doing other great things, won’t be doing anything to help you rank. 

On the other hand with PR, while organic links might be being generated as a side product of their activities, the links aren’t the focus, and the strategy isn’t based on where the links point to on-site, or where they’re from, meaning they generally also have limited benefit to SEO. 

It’s important that you clarify this, and clearly explain how link-building differs. Your stakeholders will be interested in how teams can work together, so ensure this is clear. 

A negative perception of link building

Link building has been around for a while, and it hasn’t always been done well so it can have a bad reputation. For some, it can be associated with dodgy methods and ‘blackhat’ SEO, or for others, they could have simply had bad experiences with link building in the past. 

If this is the case, take the time to listen to what your stakeholders’ perceptions of link building are so that they can feel fully comfortable with the approach you’ll be taking to build organic links for the website. 

There are other ‘more important’ priorities 

This ties into my next point a little, so I won’t delve into it too much. But, when it comes to link building if you simply say ‘we need links’ without explaining what those links could do for the company, it’s easy to see why it might get dismissed as a lower priority…and you can wave goodbye to the budget you’d set your eyes on. 

If this is the case, ensure you understand what these priorities are because I’d bet good money that you’d be able to showcase how link-building can tie into and aid one or more of them. 

3. Tie link building into broader objectives 

When your Marketing Director or CMO sets goals for the marketing team at the beginning of the year, I bet you none of them are ‘build 100 links’. 

So, when you’re trying to get sign-off for link building, be prepared to answer the question of how it ties into the company’s broader objectives. 

Or better yet, don’t build a proposal without first showcasing how link building will be able to tie into some of the broader marketing goals set for your team. We’re always looking for ways to tangibly report on the impact of link building, for example: 

These more tangible metrics should be able to tie into typical marketing goals that we see, for example: 

Link building can help these by increasing your rankings for pages with high-value keywords that are at the end of the funnel. The more links to a page, the better that page’s ability to rank in position 1-3 in the SERP and the more likely you’ll be clicked on by customers looking to buy. 

This ties into objectives that are not your typical SEO objectives, so you can see how it might do a better job of piquing the interest of those that hold the budget. 

4. Remind people of the size of the prize 

Give decision-makers a reason to want to move forward quickly with your solution by showing them exactly how much return they can expect in a specific period.

With some marketing tactics, it can be difficult to showcase the potential return on investment. But with SEO, this is something that can be done. 

At Builtvisible, we start any work on our clients with a project that showcases what opportunity there is up for grabs. Giving budget holders these kinds of figures will help them to build confidence in the work and see it’s worth investing in. 

5. Finally, call on the competition 

Nothing lights a fire in the minds of your senior stakeholders like showing them how a competitor is outperforming them. Sometimes, the difference between getting budget or not can be a bit of good old-fashioned competitor analysis. 

If you’re able to show that a competitor is link building and that this could be one of the reasons they’re outperforming you, it’s a no-brainer to invest in it too. 

As SEOs, we can show the beauty of how link building integrates with other marketing activities and the immense value to be gained in this. On top of this, it remains one of the most important pillars for improving your online visibility. 

Hopefully, this article has demystified key reasons you may be struggling to get buy-in for link building and how to overcome them. 

If you have any further questions or specific scenarios you’d like to chat about, feel free to reach out and I’d be happy to help!

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