Link building campaigns often take a back seat to traditional offline marketing strategies. Online, the best place to start building inbound links is right at home. Web site architecture influences acquiring natural links, maintaining links, and improving search engine rankings.
Focus Features recently opened a new independent film, "Reservation Road." Let's use their site as a way to explain the site architecture related keys to successful link building.
Many sites often miss out on valuable search engine traffic because initial site design and architecture didn't factor search engines into the design equation. Part of the reason is that many companies still don't know how much traffic search engines can drive to their Web sites. A sample online search for the keyword phrase "Reservation Road" reveals the movie's official site ranked at number 14 in Google, number 210 in Yahoo and number 111 in Windows Live, all as of yesterday afternoon.
Even if a site doesn't directly sell a product, top rankings for a product or brand name are essential to public relations and marketing strategies. You want to control the message with potential consumers. Plus, what would happen when potential business development partners, investors, or sponsors search for your company's latest product? They'd realize dozens of other sites outrank yours.
A number one ranking conveys authority and best in class public relations strategies. A number one ranking also shows the world that a company understands the importance of search, as well as the successful deployment of search marketing strategies.
Targeted Link Destination
Clicking to the site from the search raises a couple SEO and site architecture issues. First, the title tag doesn't include the film's title. It would be easy to include keywords people search for, like "Reservation Road."
Also, everything about the film is shared on the home page with other films distributed by Focus Features. "Reservation Road" doesn't have a dedicated section of the Web site, such as http://www.focusfeatures.com/reservation-road.php or http://www.focusfeatures.com/reservation-road/.
These simple changes, plus the addition of a good title tag such as "Reservation Road - Focus Features," would result in higher search engine rankings.
Why is it important to have a specific page for people to link to? This accomplishes several things, including focusing anchor text, gaining more links, and maintaining acquired links.
Anchor Text Dilution
All sites link to the home page for each Focus Features film release. This makes it more difficult for search engines to decipher the topic of the page, in particular because those films change. This creates a large and unnecessary variation of inbound anchor text. Search engines reward sites that make it easier for them to understand the topic of each page.
A single page for "Reservation Road," combined with anchor text related to keywords "Reservation Road," would simplify the job of search engine algothrims. The topic of the newly created page would define its topic clearly. Instead, the inbound anchor text is being diluted by other films.
Gain More Links
Having a subject-specific page for people to link to will increase the number of natural links. It becomes the permanent page used in conjunction with home page promotions. The reason for this is rather simple. "Reservation Road" will not be the featured film on the home page as time passes. This means inbound links will no longer be directing users to the most useful information. When that happens, users will be disappointed.
Most Web site owners don't want to go back and change links. Instead, many will link to a page specifically about "Reservation Road," such as the dedicated IMDb page or other top ranking entertainment sites. They know these pages are specifically about the movie and will not change topics six months down the road. Web site owners who link to other sites want to maximize their users' experience with the least amount of work.
Life Span of Links
What else matters besides links gained? Links have a life span. When "Reservation Road" is no longer the featured film on the home page, some inbound links will come down. Webmasters, editors, bloggers, fans and others will realize they're not sending their online community to the best place for information on "Reservation Road." These links will likely be replaced with a link to a top ranking site for the film such as the "Reservation Road" page on IMDb or Apple's trailer page.
Entertainment sites may have outsourced marketing and public relations to gain them more links, exposure, and traffic. Some may even have an internal link building and public relations team focused on this task. It's easy for either team to contact Webmasters with relevant sites to let them know they're not sending users to the most useful information. Then it's easy to suggest a better resource and your link is replaced with theirs. Link building and public relations go hand-in-hand.
With the simple addition of a dedicated page for each film released, Focus Features would increase their search engine rankings, gain more links, and maintain them longer. With the increase in traffic, even an independent film studio can capitalize on fan involvement and start building a community around it, thereby gaining even more links.