This is the concluding article in a series that started on 22 May 2007, with ‘Link building I – Gaining direct traffic‘, and was followed with ‘Link building II – Creating relationships‘ on 24 May 2007 and ‘Link building III – Improving search rankings‘ on 28 May 2007.
In this article I will write about how to use link building in order to create awareness of your website.
Awareness does not mean direct traffic
First, I want to be sure that there is an understanding that creating awareness of your site does not mean immediate, direct traffic.
Awareness is used to build familiarity with your site and your brand – it is used to make people associate your site with certain needs, wants and desires.
For direct traffic, concentrate on part one of this series.
The benefits of creating awareness
Even though people may not click on your links immediately, creating brand awareness gives your site familiarity to those that have not yet visited. The ideal is that when a person needs to satisfy a need, want or desire they remember your site and visit it directly.
When the user visits, they will already feel familiar with your site and are far more likely to register and become a regular contributor and valuable member of your community.
To create awareness, you need to focus on ways of getting into the minds of people that come across your links. You want to use strong word associations that will be memorable and unique to your site.
You should also consider graphical banners and buttons instead of text for your links – the human mind is far more capable of recalling familiarity through imagery rather than words.
Identify your target
Before you begin link building to create awareness of your site, you need to determine the associations you want people to identify with your brand. I will use one of my community sites, Soap Forum, here as an example.
I want to market Soap Forum as a place for people who love TV soaps to visit and chat about their favourite soaps and read the latest spoilers. The site is strongly UK focussed, so this also needs to be brought across when creating the awareness through link building.
I can therefore determine that I want the following associations to be made with the site:
- TV Soap Chat
- TV Soap Spoilers
- UK Community
Design your links and ads
Once you have identified the associations you want to target, you can then get to work creating your banners and text links.
You want people to remember and become familiar with your brand and what it represents, therefore it is important to convey your target associations by including them in your ads.
Text ads are less effective at creating awareness, as already mentioned. However, they may be the only route open to you if a site is not willing to display your graphical ads.
Examples of text ads for Soap Forum would include links such as:
SoapForum.co.uk – TV Soap News, Chat & Spoilers
Chat about your favourite TV soaps at SoapForum.co.uk
Read the latest TV soap spoilers at SoapForum.co.uk
In each example I am using the URL which will hopefully stick in the minds of people that read the text. In this case, the URL also identifies the UK focus. The text also draws attention to the key associations I want to target for the site.
These are the best way of creating awareness of your site. Even if users do not immediately click on your ad, if it is effective they will remember your site and may visit in the future.
Again, it is essential your graphical ad conveys they key associations you want to get across. Here are some examples of the banner ads designed for Soap Forum (click to view the full size animations).
In each banner you can see how the desired associations have been included:
- The logo is strong and carries the URL and UK association
- Attention is drawn to the phrase ‘soap fans’
- Attention is drawn to the phrase ‘soap chat’
- Attention is drawn to the phrase ‘soap spoilers’
Once again, because the aim is to increase awareness it is important to draw attention to the URL in an attempt to get it to stick in the minds of viewers.
Placing your links
It is still important to consider the relevance of the sites you want to place links on, although this becomes less important when your aim is solely to build awareness and familiarity.
I would say that it is a good idea to target sites, but with looser relevancy. If I was looking for direct link traffic, I would target other soap forums or soap news websites.
To build awareness, I would also target general TV communities and perhaps websites that cater to women (women make up the largest share of the soap viewing audience).
Creating awareness of your site is not just about attracting direct traffic. It is the process of instilling familiarity of your brand into your potential audience. People may not visit your site as soon as they hear about it, but the more familiar your links and banners become, the more your site’s message will stick in their minds.
Hopefully when they are ready for your site to fulfil their needs, they will drop by. When a visitor who is already familiar with your site comes along, they are a far more ‘valuable’ visitor – one who is more likely to stick around, register and get involved in your community.
Link building series overview
I hope this link building series was of use to you. I really have only scratched the surface of the potential benefits of link building. My overall aim was to show that link building is not solely about gaining direct traffic; it has many other benefits which I have touched upon in this series.
If there are any areas you would like me to go into further detail on in future articles, let me know by leaving a comment. Similarly, any feedback or opinions are also welcomed.