Qualified Referral Taffic and Keyword Rankings

Last week I scanned Wil Reynolds’ Pubcon deck and saw interesting data. Unfortunately, I was not at the presentation, so I can only speak to how I interpreted the information on the slides. I am focusing closely on slides 58 to 95. My interpretation of the information is:

The large quantity of highly qualified referring traffic Seer received from the Moz Top 10 email helped move an article onto the first page for the search: pinterest guide. 

If target keywords for one content article or even an entire category are off the mark, qualified referral traffic will help a lot.

Those of you who have tried getting this type of traffic before know it isn’t easy to come by, which makes me ask a question: why are links with qualified referral traffic so hard to get? I see two reasons why:

  • Links with qualified referral traffic come with a very engaged audience. The keeper of that audience is not going to include you unless what you give them will really delight their audience; their barometer is very high.
  • These mentions are built off of authentic relationships. In Wil’s example, the relationship between Seer and Moz likely spans 10 to 15 years. That is a long time.

In my opinion, SEOs should allocate time to get these types of links. However, it is likely not going to happen one-month into the project or job. You need to set aside time to identify engaged audiences. Unless content is amazing or newsworthy, I don’t see the keeper of an engaged audience adhering to a cold pitch. The relationship needs to be genuine and it might need to span across a few previous exchanges.

This type of SEO makes it more about people than anything else. Care deeply about the people and businesses you target.

There are many ways to get qualified referral sessions outside of pure link building. That is of course one way. But in Seer’s case it was an email that moved the needle. I’m sure there are other ways within the niche you working in. Below are some quick examples I came up with:

  • Link from site with engaged audience
  • Link from engaged email list
  • Link from social channel w/ engaged audience
  • Link from individual influencer’s social channel
  • Impactful CTA at large in-person event
  • Natural mention on Reddit
Feel free to drop a others I missed in the comments below if you think of any. Follow me on Twitter for more quick nuggets.