By Karol Krol
Building backlinks is one of those practices that has been regarded as a one-off thing, for the most part.
In other words, once you’ve built a backlink, you have no power over its appearance or the URL on your site that it points to.
Or do you?
What if there was a way to track how your links are performing, measure various metrics related to them, and even redirect the traffic and “SEO juice” that flows through them to the individual pages of your site?
Well, there is a way, and here, we’re going to discuss all the “whys” and “hows.”
Why You Should Take Control of Your Links
Links are still the backbone of every SEO strategy and every online marketing effort, for that matter.
I know that I might be sounding like captain obvious here, but links really are the main vehicle that drives us across various pages, sales offers, social media, and so on. Isn’t it therefore reasonable to have some control over this vehicle, and especially if the vehicle is our business?
Having control is important because of the hectic nature of online marketing and the modern SEO space.
Let’s cover SEO first.
With the landscape changing all the time (new algorithm updates being released every month or so), we need to be able to act accordingly as well. The difficult part is that no one knows where SEO is heading, so a situation where you might need to revamp your site’s whole SEO structure isn’t so far-fetched. However, if your backlinks are concrete-set and can’t be altered in any way, you’re in trouble.
Then, there’s also the online marketing side (not SEO).
Imagine the following scenario. You launched a nice promotion and other websites were eager to link to your landing page—the page with the offer. The promotion went well, but now it’s time to launch a new one.
What about all those backlinks pointing from other sites? You’d prefer to re-use them and direct them to your new offer, right? Well, you can always erase the old promotion and replace it with a new one, but that’s not the perfect solution (some people might still be interested in the old stuff).
In short, you can’t do anything without harassing the site editors who linked to you initially, and if you do this more than a handful of times, they will become quite annoyed with you.
There’s a Solution
The solution is a really simple trick at its core, despite its relatively fancy sounding name (smart links, cloaking, intelligent traffic redirection).
Note. Your site needs to be running on WordPress to make this one work. (If it isn’t, you can find similar solutions for other platforms as well. Feel free to ask in the comments.)
What you want to do is include a kind of “middle-man” URL right in between the page that’s linking to you and your end landing page.
The Step-by-Step: Setting Up Smart Backlinks
Okay, so let’s say that your current promotion can be found at the URL “yoursite.com/January-best-shoes/” (which would be your final page). In a standard scenario, you would approach other site owners to link to that URL when mentioning something about your promotion.
However, instead of doing this, you can create a new URL through the Pretty Link plugin. For instance, make it “yoursite.com/best-shoes/” (which would be your middle man) and set the redirection to your end landing page at “yoursite.com/January-best-shoes/.”
Also, set the redirection as “301 (Permanent).”
With this simple, two-step setup you’ve achieved a handful of things:
- You can tell your partners to link to “yoursite.com/best-shoes/” instead of your end landing page.
- Because the redirection is set to “301 (Permanent),” Google transfers all the SEO link juice to your new landing page.
- Every visitor clicking the “yoursite.com/best-shoes/” link will land on the new landing page safely.
- You can track the clicks/visitors coming to your landing page using this new middle-man link—the built-in tracking mechanism will let you know about the number of unique visits and hits.
- Most importantly, once your promotion ends, you can easily set up a new landing page, for example, “yoursite.com/February-best-shoes/” and then set it as the new final page for your middle-man link—”yoursite.com/best-shoes/.” With this, your old backlinks have been automatically updated and are now pointing to the new promotion, and the old landing page is still online (“yoursite.com/January-best-shoes/”), should anyone still be interested in it.
- And lastly, if at any point Google stops appreciating your final landing page, you can redirect your middle-man to a new page. In other words, you can get rid of the previous landing page, yet still retain all its backlinks that you’ve put so much effort into building.
Let’s look at a real world example.
Link building has been instrumental to the success of Bidsketch and the way we’ve been able to use content marketing to promote our main product—the Bidsketch proposal software.
One of the approaches we’re using is testing different free offers under a handful of landing pages. For instance, you can check out our free marketing proposal template if you go here.
With pages like the one above, under different URLs (we also run other similar offers), we can experiment with our online promotions, and if we happen to shift the direction mid-year, we can do so easily without losing all of the previous backlinks.
Including Advanced Content Analytics and Split Testing
If you’d like to do even more in terms of having your finger on the pulse, you can hook up your landing pages to one of the content analytics and split testing solutions available out there.
Split testing can be used very effectively with this sort of backlink building. For instance, once you start using a module called Experiments, inside Google Analytics, you can get a load of data on what brings the best results in terms of visitors and interaction on your landing pages.
And to take it to an even higher level, you can pay a visit to a more specialized and automated tool, like TrenDemon, which runs an analytics algorithm through your site to find the most effective content paths and then helps you to optimize them even more. Again, you can improve the results you’re getting from the tool by building at least part of your backlinks the way described here.
In a nutshell, all of this is smart linking. It gives you complete control over the exact pages on your site that other people are linking to. You’re cloaking the final destination of the links, you get tracking, and should the landscape change (due to promotions ending their lifespan, or your SEO strategy shifting) you can quickly pivot.
I highly encourage you to give it a shot, and especially if you value having real data input regarding the number of clicks and unique visitors your backlinks are delivering to you.