How To Identify The Blue Ocean For Link Building Strategy

Planning and executing link building strategies that are based on Google’s best practices is very complex.

Why? The only links that do not violate Google’s spam policies are ones where links are a consequence and not the goal.

So you’ll have to use that concept to guide the policy for planning any link building campaigns.

This is where strategy steps in.

However, we don’t need to figure out how to design strategy alone.

Strategy has been studied in marketing and business planning for a long time. In 2004, a cool little book called “Blue Ocean Strategy” changed the strategy planning process.

When the book launched, the theory caused a buzz among marketers who wondered how to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Although the Blue Ocean Strategy wasn’t originally designed for link building, there’s an undeniable need for link builders to seek inspiration beyond their immediate strategies and guiding policies.

This article serves as a tool to think about link building differently.

What Is The Blue Ocean Strategy?

The “Blue Ocean Strategy” is a business planning approach developed by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.

It focuses on carving out new, unexplored market territories, termed “blue oceans,” rather than vying for space in existing, crowded markets, termed “red oceans.”

In red oceans, businesses face intense rivalry, often resulting in reduced performance results.

On the other hand, blue oceans symbolize fresh market areas ripe for innovation and devoid of fierce competition.

This strategy pushes companies to introduce novel solutions, providing unparalleled value to consumers, sidestepping traditional competition, and fostering growth and, in theory, increased returns.

This application of the Blue Ocean means moving away from overused and saturated link building tactics and venturing into innovative, less competitive, and more value-driven approaches to earn backlinks that build your site’s reputation.

The Skyscraper technique is a good example of a link building strategy that found a blue ocean when many link builders were playing in a red ocean.

If you want to create a strategy like the Skyscraper, then examine these areas.

Examining these “levers” (i.e., controllable variables to take action against) will help you find a path to the blue ocean.

Innovative Content Creation

Instead of creating content that everyone else in your industry is producing, focus on unique, helpful content that addresses gaps in the market.

The skyscraper technique uses innovative content creation to build links. This method focuses on creating content that surpasses the quality of existing top-ranking content on a particular topic.

The general process for this way is to find popular content, make something better, and then reach out to relevant sites for links.

Untapped Platforms

Instead of focusing solely on traditional link building techniques like guest blogging, explore methods that haven’t been saturated by competitors.

This could include linkable content distribution on niche forums, emerging social media platforms, or collaboration with industries that are complementary but not direct competitors.

Building Relationships

Instead of transactional link building practices (like paid links or link exchanges), focus on building genuine relationships with industry influencers, bloggers, and even competitors.

This can lead to organic link building opportunities in the long run.

Value-First Approach

Offer undeniable value when reaching out for link building opportunities.

This could be in the form of original research, expert insights, or exclusive content that the linking site’s audience would find beneficial.

Diversification

Instead of relying on one or two methods, diversify your link building tactics to explore multiple blue oceans. This could involve a mix of digital PR, collaborations, podcasts, and more.

Why Use This Strategy?

Psychology Today says, “openness to experience is the most fundamental attribute of creative individuals.”

When you perform easy link building techniques, you limit your creative mind to a small set of problems to solve.

For example, if you want to focus on paid link building, then you’ll be focused on solving problems of staying just ahead of Google’s algorithm.

Thus, you’ll need to study algorithms and AI to stay ahead of the latest updates.

Although a fun subject, the complexity of analyzing and testing a moving target will take up valuable time. You’re better off being an engineer if you want to do that.

However, Google already provides some direction about how to maximize visibility in your topic area with the Google Search Essentials:

“The Google Search Essentials make up the core parts of what makes your web-based content (web pages, images, videos, or other publicly-available material that Google finds on the web) eligible to appear and perform well on Google Search.”

My interpretation is that to maximize visibility in search engines, you have to create helpful content from experience and expertise that is trusted by the “authority” (using this phrase broadly) on the topic.

Thus, keep your creative mind focused on that problem.

The blue ocean strategy is a growth hack inside Google’s parameters for ranking.

The following is my own process and steps for link building in a way that helps you find your niche method.

Step 0: Get Perspective

This step is almost universally overlooked – but start by setting your intentions for the campaign.

This means you establish that: Links are the consequence of the creative marketing of your content, and the goal is not the direct links from outreach.

Thus, a well-run campaign will result in both direct links and latent links.

Step 1: Find Your Place

Begin with an area where a compelling win is achievable.

Analyze content to identify 1) existing pieces that are distributable or 2) new content that takes a reasonable amount of time to create.

When determining what type of strategy to use, I try to balance the following:

  • Level of effort: How much time will it take to complete?
  • Level of complexity: Is it an easy step-by-step process or complex moving parts that are loosely interrelated?
  • Level of experience: Has anyone on the team executed a similar strategy?

The “achievable” strategy will be a manageable effort & complexity, with some internal experience.

Step 2: Build A Cross-Functional Team

Build an internal advisory team of PR, content, SEO, and tech that can consult on the approach to either request tasks, collaborate on the approach, and provide tips to optimize their workflow to include links or types of mentions.

Link building is not isolated from other marketing teams.

Thus, transparently share your approaches with this team to ensure no conflict of interest.

Step 3: Understand The Current State

Create a list of strategies that direct or search engine competitors are searching for.

I created a tool called the “Proven Content Marketing & Link Building Models” that guides you through the process of identifying proven strategies, so you can plan your differentiation.

link building worksheet template

My proven model’s template takes time to analyze.

Step 4: Find Pain Points Gaps

This is something I excel at and enjoy deeply. I love asking questions to find the pain.

Most of us don’t understand our own pain. What does this mean?

Hard problems need to be well-defined. But it’s challenging to define the actual problem.

To find the pain points:

  • Create a user story map: This may seem excessive, but understanding the story that the user is going through will help identify the specific pain points.
  • Ask questions: Have an expert create/ask many really specific questions.
  • Create a problem statement: Write out the specific problem and say it out loud in front of a group of peers or experts. They will tell you if the problem is real.

Pro tip: The real pain isn’t always known and needs to be uncovered through a robust investigation. A strong problem statement can uncover a lot of pain that people didn’t know they had.

That’s A Wrap

The Blue Ocean Strategy offers a unique perspective on link building.

By shifting from overused “red ocean” tactics to innovative “blue ocean” methods, businesses can tap into new growth avenues.

The Skyscraper technique exemplifies this, highlighting the importance of unique content and diverse strategies.

This isn’t a new technique; it’s a mindset shift towards creativity and problem-solving.

In summary, applying the Blue Ocean Strategy to link building is not its intended use case – but it’s a philosophy that encourages innovation through your content strategy.

More resources: 


Featured Image: Delia_Suvari/Shutterstock

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