Link building isn’t what it was. In days of old, the SEO crowd took advantage of a weak Google algorithm and did things to get links that would be frowned upon today. Free for all web directories, both free and paid. Press releases of low worth, article sites, off topic domain redirecting, article spinning, spammy blog comment links, forum signature and post links and many others bought and sold links from paid link exchange networks, bloggers and whoever else would give them the time of day and that all import href.
Whilst there’s nothing inherently wrong or illegal about such practices, the reality is that Google didn’t like any of them and wholeheartedly damaged the business models of anyone caught abusing their terms of service.
Today, many of the old ways have gone away as most web properties looking to maintain their position in search engines are a little more cautious in their efforts. Google’s efforts to demonise link building that conflicts with their TOS has been a success. Most people and web savvy businesses take great pains to create ‘natural’ link profiles – they look at who is linking to them, how they are linking to them and why. They’ll spend time pawing over their links, adding ‘bad’ ones to their ever growing domain disavow file, just in case they get dinged. They’ll look to ensure that the links they do attain are worth having and will go to sophisticated means to ensure that they get their links from domains that will make the difference.
The ways that people go about this are both fascinating and varied – ‘content marketing’ often plays a big part, with people drawing up cunning plans to create those all important web citations – link building has grown up. Great content does attract links but it doesn’t do so in a vacuum and the best purveyors of the art do it fabulously well.
Paid linking still goes on of course, the quick and dirty stuff is by and large an underground thing that’s performed behind closed doors with mostly sensible implementations likely to survive the scrutiny of a search engineer. The other paid stuff is of course a whole lot more sophisticated, dreamed up in PR and marketing agencies with designers and content strategists laying out their execution paths with key timings en route, using a multitude of well positioned assets to ensure maximum reach and citation. This of course, doesn’t fall into the traditionally understood idea of paid link manipulation, it’s ‘earned media’ and usually at pretty high cost.
The better content is created with share-ability and audience in mind, it’ll contain all manner of emotional hooks and visual and audio devices that’ll inspire an action of sorts. It’ll be crafted towards a target demographic, a group of people like to react or respond. Sometimes it’ll contain direct references or quotes from influencers within the target field hoping that they’ll cite it in some way, “ego marketing” if you like. Other times it might well be controversial and designed to rile a specific sector of people into action. Back in the day if you said SEO is Dead for instance you’d find a couple of 100 people who’d disagree and a lot of these would go off and blog about you. Win. Easy meat huh?
So yes, there are many different types of content for the many different audiences to which they cater and all of the content created will have its group of social buttons close at hand making it easy for the reader to share. Like buttons, tweet buttons, buttons aligned to social media networks of choice, deftly integrated to be shared with one click, greasing the path to those all important mentions elsewhere. However, it’s often hit and miss, there’s no sure fire win every time. Over do something and you’ll fall flat on your face, be first and do it well and you’ll likely succeed.
So, how are you building links to your domain today? Doing it yourself? Or are you outsourcing? Who’s doing it well – have a great example that you’d like to share?