Link Building Case Study: Santa Claus

Santa's Claus, a savvy Web marketer?

Northpole.com has 17,100 links, according to Yahoo Site Explorer. Santa's home also has 3,826 pages indexed, a 5/10 PageRank, five DMOZ listings, and three Yahoo Directory listings.

Northpole.com is ranked 17,365 on the Web by Alexa. Santa bought the domain in January 1996.

Northpole.com has the number one listing for the keyword "Santa" in Google and Live.com. Competing Santa sites, such as Claus.com and SantaClaus.com, don't have anywhere near the amount of links as northpole.com. Surprisingly, Claus.com has only 4,510 links, while Santaclaus.com has 11,800 links.

Wouldn't the real Santa Claus want Claus.com to be number one? Or wouldn't he prefer the logical domain choice, SantaClaus.com?

Link Building: Check Indexed Content

The answer comes down to what each site has to offer. It's easy to get a quick picture of which site is better simply by looking at which site has the most content indexed. Look at these numbers:

  • Claus.com: 482 pages.
  • Santaclause.com: 2,490 pages.
  • Northpole.com: 3,826 pages.

Without even going to the sites, you can tell northpole.com has been working harder on content than the other sites have.

Link Building: Does Content Resonate?

Visiting northpole.com doesn't disappoint, either. There are tons of things for visitors to do.

Check out the Elves' Game Chest. There's Disco Dancing Santa, where you can change the scenery, Santa's dance moves, and the accompanying songs. Santa even has a cookbook.

No Santa site would be complete without a mailroom where you can write to Santa. There are a bunch of interactive things that make writing Santa extra special fun.

Link Building: Fulfill Your Mission

The people at northpole.com sincerely want to be the best Santa Claus site online. Honestly, I don't know why they go to all the effort. They ask for donations to help with expenses.

The "Toy Shop" page sends you to some educational toys at Amazon where northpole.com is an affiliate. That's definitely not a get rich quick scheme. They don't even have Google AdSense ads on the site.

Their mission statement hasn't changed since 1996: providing visitors an enriched Christmas experience through a totally child-safe, innovative, imaginative, and yet traditional holiday Web site.

Link Building: Transparency and Sincerity

In the social media (define) world, we're finding nonprofits adapt quicker than their corporate counterparts. Nonprofits are spending more time in places like Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. The reason is easy to deduce. Nonprofit organizations, for the most part, care more about what they're doing than profit-based organizations.

It's easier to reach out to the online community to tell a sincere, compassionate story. This is more difficult in the traditional business world because who loves their screws, batteries, and financial services?

Who has enough love for their company to create something as well done as northpole.com? Maybe the owner? Maybe.

The online world has already transformed business in many ways: globalization of services, flattening of organizations, customer participation in messaging, constant information availability, constant communication.

Link Building: The Secret Truth

One link building topic doesn't get discussed. The companies that will succeed in an online marketplace will have to find love.

They'll have to find appreciation, compassion, understanding, just plain old love, if they want to participate in the global conversation everyone's having about goods and services. The companies that continue to yell and stomp their marketing feet until people buy something are not long for the 21st century business world.

So, if you can't find an ounce of love for the batteries you sell, what about your company can you love? Is it your community contributions? Is it the ecological sustainability you are promoting for your company and your community? Is it the dedication you have to your team?

If you want links, you have to find something you truly love and build it on your site. You simply can't build something that's link-worthy any other way.

Why would people work so hard to create the best Santa Claus Web site year after year and likely make little to no money?

The only answer can be love. They love Christmas and they love Santa.

Because they love it so much, what seems like an insurmountable obstacle for all of us in the business world is done without a second thought for the people at northpole.com.

About the author

Sage Lewis started his online marketing company, SageRock.com, in 1999 during a time when most Internet companies were failing. SageRock, however, has thrived under Lewis’ direction -- growing an average of 30% every year, while also being recognized as one of the top ten search engine optimization firms in the U.S. by a third-party resource in the industry, Marketing Sherpa.

Regarded as a web marketing expert, Lewis speaks regularly to business organizations like NEOSA and COSE, serves as a resource for press about industry trends, and teaches a recurring class on search engine optimization at Cleveland State University.

Lewis has created a unique company culture that values the individual employee and client, and he has built SageRock around one principle, “The concern, respect and empathy for the individual people we come in contact with at SageRock is our single core value.”

Lewis lives in Akron with his wife, Rocky, and son, Indiana.

Read more of Sage Lewis's columns at ClickZ.