At Brafton, software and technology businesses make up roughly 20 percent of our client base. Through a deep analysis of individual pages on more than 75 software clients’ websites, we’ve discovered some interesting link trends:
There’s an entire psychology behind why users choose to share what they do – but when it comes to B2B software and technology, brands that present themselves as an authoritative leader in the space will reap the benefits of merit-based inbound links. Our research highlights the need for content best practices to earn links. And this is a critical step to brand reach.
The history behind links’ negative reputation
Marketers hear the term “link building” and often relate it to a negative practice, which isn’t entirely without merit. We certainly do not support buying links because it gives power to those who cheat the system – not to mention, Google has warned webmasters it’s a practice that will no longer be tolerated. But this wasn’t always the case…
1998: Google’s method for determining which pages would appear first in search results centered on keywords and page popularity. The latter was determined by how many backlinks a website had.
Early 2000s: Link buying and reciprocal link schemes become a common industry practice… and inside joke.
2012: Google introduced a game changer for websites with unnatural links (links that were bought or clearly had no context to the website) – the Google Penguin algorithm.
Since Penguin’s groundbreaking appearance, marketers have had to find more honest ways to earn backlinks, and creating an organic strategy around this goal is perfectly legitimate. In fact, Moz research indicates 73 percent of marketing professionals plan to spend more on link building in 2015, and content will be the avenue to success.
Is a link building strategy worth it?
Searchmetrics’ Ranking Factor Study for 2014 shows the quality and quantity of backlinks “remain crucial” for SEO.
Internal linking is another large component of a successful link strategy. The study says, “It is clear that pages in the top search positions have comparatively more internal links than pages further down the rankings.”
While the team at Google may have us rename link building to link earning, there’s not denying that they also acknowledge the weight of links.
“White-hat link building is called being excellent. Sweat and creativity is the best way to earn links.” Matt Cutts, 2014
The art & science of B2B tech link earning
There is no secret formula, no magic shortcut to creating good content. But we studied individual pages (excluding the homepage) with the most links across nearly 100 client sites to find the correlations among top-linked content.
Here’s what we found:
Vital elements to earning links
Rich product and services landing pages
An organized blog archive
Freshly updated content (naturally)
Product & service landing pages
Components of a successful product page:
Average landing page word count: Between 300-500 words.
OVERALL: 85.71 percent of product and services pages had a visual component, either an image, graphic or video.
Blogs & news
Blog or news archive and hub pages (“resource centers”) were actually more popular than individual posts. It makes sense that people want easy access to the freshest, most relevant content on a site.
Components of a successful blog archive:
Visuals accompanying blog posts
A dateline included on with each article
Freshly updated content (because a hubpage that features your “recent” posts from 2012 proves you’re behind the times)
Nurturing leads throughout the sales process
Landing pages that encourage users to learn more about your product or download your software are bottom-funnel pages that entice conversions. Blog hubpages. press releases and news articles are top-funnel assets that educate a reader and build up your industry expertise. As seen through these results, it’s imperative that websites in 2015 have a mix of both. And as our research shows, providing fresh, relevant and visually engaging content on your site is more important today than ever.