As a newbie to SEO, I have learned that there are must do’s and must avoids’ in building your web presence online. As in any topic as deep as search engine optimization, there are going to be conflicting viewpoints. For link building the dispute is on which tactics work and which should be used. Cutting through the static, an underlying sentiment on both sides of every debate is that genuine based link building is preferred. By genuine I am referring to authentic, non-fabricated link building tactics that have substance and can work for you to get better search results. “If you build it they will come” is all fair and well, but ‘robotic’ content can score poorly with your web audience.
Being genuine in link building is much easier to do when you have quality content or links. According to the Webster Dictionary online “quality” is a “degree of excellence”. So the question becomes how to characterize your link building tactics with excellence (http://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/quality?show=0&t=1375455551). In link building, whether you are trying to gain web presence and awareness for a B2C or B2B company, excellence is dependent on whether or not you can provide value or usefulness. Here’s some strategies that do just that.
Quality Guest Blogging
Link building is all about improving web presence in order to get conversions, return on investment, clicks: whatever the metric you may be seeking at any given point in time. In guest blogging, if the blogger is providing useful and relevant information, it will be easy for them to come across as genuine. Get the most out of your guest blogging by doing some sharing yourself: promote the post on social media and advise the blog owner to do so as well. More exposure for the post means heightened awareness of your company and its role as a curator of progressive ideas.
Quality guest blogging does not mean writing content on a transient trend or idea. This only raises the likelihood that a post will get lost as time goes on. Stay away from a blog post about “the benefits of the WordPress theme everyone seems to be using at the moment.” Remember the goal is to provide usefulness and value, quality, which can come through presenting expertise and applicable takeaways. These superior posts will have a longer shelf life than the more narrow posts locked down to its subject and contextual basis.
Ekaterina Walker is an example of a guest blogger that regularly incorporates quality in her online presence. She guest blogs for such online powerhouses as FastCompany and Mashable, as well as a for the tech company INTEL.
Her post “The Simple Secret That Can Transform Your Marketing Strategy” (http://bit.ly/15jyVXo) on FastCompany provides genuine value and usefulness to any marketer browsing the site as well as showcases Ekaterina as a thought leader and curator of progressive content. A guest post like this is effective for Fastcompany as the content and its principles are applicable long term.
Takeaways: Genuine, quality Content is more likely to receive links in the long term. Once you’ve procured this type of content, share it on various different outlets and encourage those involved to do so as well
Quality Connections: Recognize industry thought leaders
Another example of a strategic link building tactic would be to interact with your business community and open up the discussion with thought leaders in your industry. For example, you could start a web-based awards to recognize or even reward these people that contribute regularly and add a lot to the industry. Making these connections through such an event can build positive brand presence. Of course, it’s always good to stay in touch with thought leaders and industry luminaries, but more significantly, a web-based awards could have large impact from a marketing and inbound standpoint, with minimized expenditures and high ROI. The event is in many ways a vehicle to showcase your company, so put your best foot forward. Budget time and money in order to put out the best product you’re capable of. To maximize results, the campaign surrounding the event should be promoted well before the award is given as well as afterwards. This type of effort is what defines great quality from OK quality and OK quality from poor quality. Avoid having the event fly under the radar as this small-ball approach will not get your SEO very far.
In planning the awards, the wrong approach would be to delegate the event to a specific employee, and not a team. One employee, whether a link builder, marketing specialist, or event planner can usually not tackle such a large goal alone. Surround them with coworkers and tools that will make the event everything that it can be. Set up a meeting with the event planning specialist in the office, the search engine optimizer, AND the marketing guru to fully address the goals of the event. This team-based effort does not have to employ“specialists” in the traditional sense, but more-so contributors that provide a genuinely novel outlook and bring something to the table. Remember, a quality link building approach recognizes the need to create a positive experience for your audience. Maintain focus on getting links and creating buzz around the event.
The Online Marketing and Media Awards showcase thought leaders and progressive advertising campaigns across different industries. The winners page (http://www.mediapost.com/ommaawards/winners/) rightfully links to each individual campaign in a responsive way. In addition, the implementation of a “member’s choice” category effectively draws in MediaPost’s subscribers to join the discussion, in turn increasing outreach. The event sparks discussion and creativity within the industry by recognizing thought leaders and industry mavens. Tactically, the awards are interesting enough to gain exposure outside the immediate industry, which should be a long term goal of any web based awards starting up.
Takeaways: If you are going to do something like web-based awards, attack it head on with proper preparation and budgeting. Focus on quality and being genuine throughout the entire process, especially in interactions with those involved.
The before and after of such an event will make or break your link building efforts. Create your own positive exposure: whether a well thought out outbound email promoting the event to a genuine follow up thanking all those people and organizations that participated. Invest in your link building and marketing strategy. Individual efforts, even when attempted by SEO Superman will likely fall short of the company’s goals. A well rounded approach with multiple contributors will produce the best quality and experience for those involved in the event.
Quality Social Signals
Let’s be blunt, If you are constantly seen as spamming your customer base, the efficiency of any given promotion will go down. Avoiding this can be done through personal touches and genuine sentiment. If one was selling shoes for instance, a bad social campaign would likely contain a string of posts with similar content to this: “Cushion comfort sandals. Price: 49.99 www.link.com” Promotions like these that come off as depersonalized and robotic can tick off the customer, especially if done in rapid succession. People don’t want to feel like they are being given a cold sell. In order to earn trust and in turn social shares, a more personalized approach can be implemented. “Outdoorsy? Free your feet with our new cushion comfort sandals. Get them here: www.link.com this summer for $49.99.” This post comes off as significantly more genuine than the previous robotic one, and can be sent off with other relevant product launches, even in semi-rapid succession, and still be come across as much less spammy. Not only that, but it also promotes open discourse to its audience.
A quality social signal is displayed by Walmart promoting back to school gear. The product is the focal point of the tweet but is not overbearing and the tweet manages to show some personality. It also uses a trending twitter hashtag #upcomingschoolyearin4words to increase its outreach to trend-seeking Twitter users.
— Walmart (@Walmart) August 9, 2013
Takeaways: Entice your customers; a cold sell will usually freeze conversion opportunities. Connect with your audience through thoughtful discussion instead of robotic self promotion and as a result you will be rewarded with social shares and happy followers.
To tie all these ideas together, don’t forget to share what’s worthwhile. Quality over quantity is another point of debate in link building, but being genuine in one’s attempts is not. While a non-genuine attempt can give you increased presence in the SERPS for a period of time, its results will become increasingly irrelevant over time and are largely not worth the effort. Quality and genuine–oriented link building strategies will position your company in a positive light, and very literally speaking, give your links potential to be built upon, shared, and built upon some more. It’s time to start bulking up your link building efforts.