Link building has always been an important part of SEO, but the way links have been built and how they are viewed has changed dramatically over the years.
There was a time when businesses could get results by writing an article and posting it on any number of irrelevant sites or submitting their website to every directory they could find. Some companies even paid nominal fees to outsource this entire process of spammy link building to people they had never met.
The internet was becoming clogged up with useless content and companies with the most money were monopolising Google’s search engine results. People were abusing the system. It wasn’t sustainable and Google knew it.
How did Google adapt?
Firstly, it took away keyword visibility within Google analytics. Why? Because this metric is no longer important. Generally, if Google measure it within analytics it’s an important factor, if it doesn’t, it’s not. Keywords by themselves are no longer a driving factor for your website ranking within Google.
Secondly, Google penalised all those companies who had been building useless guest posts, submitting themselves to irrelevant directories and paying for endless links. Penguin was big and Penguin 2.0 was mean, but they were essential.
As a user of the web I don’t want to regularly find useless content scattered across the internet. Nobody does. As a digital marketing agency, we have a responsibility to make sure the information that we share is interesting, original and relevant to its target audience.
So, what happens now?
We step up our game by using a mix of traditional marketing methods and applying them to our online activities. But how do we get people to link to our content? By creating interesting pieces that people want to read and share.
Any businesses should know their target audience pretty well and you don’t need to be a marketing guru to identify the topics outside of your company that are also relevant to your target audience. You’ll often share the same interests, so why not use this to your advantage?
Speaking from experience…
We know that great articles, eBooks and interactive web pages don’t just come out of thin air! It takes creative time, resources and some serious research before those ‘oh so effortless’ pieces of content become ‘the next big thing’.
So to break it down, sit down with your team. This can be your sales staff, managers, receptionist or intern and ask them “what’s going on with our customers?” What are your target audience interested in? What are they talking about? What’s topical?
These bits of information will help you establish what kind of content is going to get picked up and shared by your audience and your peers. But before you go ahead and invest all of your budget in your great new concept, do some research. Has it been done before? Did it get shared? Have you spoken to anybody in your industry or leading websites? Would they share it?
Following your initial ideas and some further research you should have a pretty solid brief to put to your design team, copywriters and creative team. Without a solid brief and key research your outreach efforts could be doomed before they’ve even begun!
So what is classed as shareable content?
Absolutely anything that is of interest and of value to your target audience! The scope is endless and this is time for you to get creative.
Do you work within a professional industry and want to reaffirm your stance as a thought leader? Supply your audience with relevant and informative whitepapers.
Do you want to breakdown raw statistics in to digestible, useful information and speak to an audience which may have previously overlooked you? Produce a colourful infographic.
Do you want to share the latest in-depth industry news but don’t have design skills? Create a long form article.
Are you speaking to a younger audience or want to combat those with a limited attention span? Create a fun game.
Are you selling a service which would benefit more from visual content? Take your pictures and put them in to a blog post.
If you do it right you will…
- Generate links naturally from high quality, authoritative websites within your industry
- Increase brand exposure from social shares and further your reach
- Drive traffic to your site via referral sources
- Position your company as an innovator and thought leader
- Build on your relationship with your existing customers and target audience
Link building as the world knew it is extinct. Content production and supporting outreach are more valuable, natural successors. This is only one part of the SEO spectrum, but if done properly it can have a positive impact on more than your organic search performance.