Starting in early 2011, link building and SEO fell subject to some pretty significant changes. It shaped the way SEO would be done going forward and although widely discussed in the SEO community, there’s always debate over what practices and techniques are safe to employ.
Google, above all, was been at the forefront of these changes and responsible for the impact. I say this because the changes were due to purposeful updates to Google’s search engine ranking algorithm.
The Google Panda update was Google’s first warning that change was coming.
Aimed at sites with poor content, it was designed to demote these sites and keep them from making their way to the top of the search results. It primarily targeted sites using shady practices such as keyword stuffing and content written solely for manipulation of search engine rankings. Google Panda eventually became part of Google’s core algorithm and is now updated in real-time.
Shortly after in 2012 link building was redefined through the Google Penguin update.
It was clear from that day forward Google wasn’t going to standby and watch link spam continue to drive its search results. They demanded higher quality standards for the web and the original Penguin update penalized millions of websites for engaging in link spam. It was panic across the SEO scene and many stopped dead in their tracks with any type of formal link building.
Google’s standpoint was that if you’re creating high quality content, links will come naturally.
Content is king. Google had been preaching it for years and the Penguin update finally began to redirect SEO toward a higher quality, content-based marketing approach.
To really finalize the push toward content marketing that Google was trying to enforce, their team uncovered many link farms and public blog networks (PBN’s) that were being used for link spam and the manipulation of rankings. In swift action, they deindexed all the websites in these networks; essentially shutting them down.
While some SEOs lost their careers and saw their websites plummet, others rejoiced. A lot of the internet spam fell out of the search results. If you had been using quality content marketing practices from the beginning, what was left was your website – right at the top with higher rankings than you had ever experienced.
Today, Google Penguin is now updated in real-time and a part of Google’s core algorithm, just like Panda is. What this means is there will never be another refresh for either of these updates. Changes happen automatically and become visible much faster. If your website gets penalized, working your way out of that penalty could happen as quick as a recrawl or reindex.
Today’s SEO is less about link building and more about content. Looking back, it always has been.
While link spam may have been effective at certain moments in history, it was never a long-term or legitimate marketing strategy.
Filler content . The days of hiring the cheapest content writer you can find are over. Gone too are the days of mass blog comments, forum profiles or article directory submissions. If you’re thinking more links is the avenue to better rankings, you’ve missed the mark. It’s about better links.
How you serve your audience and the value you can provide is what makes the difference.
Have great products or services? You can prove that through your content marketing strategy.
Show your audience you’re able to lead the industry by answering their questions, solving problems and creating a spark. Get people interested in what you do and you’ll never have to pay for advertising again.
Develop your blog with the kind of content that gets people talking, then you can begin to promote.
I covered promoting blog posts extensively in another post.
Many of the techniques you’ll find there are fundamental to content marketing and are great for link building as well.
By combining those methods with more direct link building strategies, your SEO campaign will follow a content marketing footprint that is tried, true and proven.
Guest post using brand building content
Guest posting is the process of reaching out to other sites and contributing to their blog by offering to guest write.
When I find a quality guest post, it matters to me who wrote it. I almost always check the author because good content is representative of a good business.
If the site you’re writing for provides an author bio beneath your post, this is the perfect area to showcase your website and subtly advertise. This is why guest posting is a big part of a content marketing strategy.
By guest posting and writing content for blogs in your industry, you can expand your presence and build links in a genuine and natural way. Guest posting not only provides links but it gets your business in front of an entirely new audience and opens new avenues for traffic. It’s a brand building outreach technique that has long-term benefits.
Guest posting is the strongest and most effective link building strategy for today’s SEO but it’s also one of the most costly. Reaching out manually and building relationships is no easy task and even when a guest post is agreed upon, great content takes time and effort to produce. When you’re building a brand, the content you guest post with can be equally important to the content on your own website.
Why does guest posting work? You have to provide value to websites that you hope to obtain a link from. The best way to do this is to aid their content marketing efforts by supplying some of that precious content. Guest posts are valuable and businesses are willing to link to you when you contribute to their blog.
Guest publish something of alternative value
Guest posts aren’t the only way to reach out and obtain links.
The reason why it works is because providing content is a simple and valuable thing to offer another website.
If your content marketing efforts are working and you’re just looking to improve your search engine rankings, there are many other things you could provide of equal value.
If it’s easier for your business to produce these other forms of content, you can pitch these instead:
- Case Studies
- Design Work
Think outside the box and really place yourself in the shoes of the website you’re reaching out to. If there are many things you’re able to provide, you can write custom pitches to each business with a unique and valuable offer that caters to their exact needs.
For example, if you’re a programmer and reaching out to startups, you could offer to write code that automates something for their business.
Local business listings
Business citations are a great way to build links and it provides reputation management for your brand.
By submitting your site to local business directories, you expand your web presence and provide opportunity for customers to rate your business and give feedback. You can then showcase these testimonials on your website.
If you provide products or services nationally or even internationally, you can still utilize local business listings. You’ll need to have an address and phone number to make a submission but with virtual offices and VOIP services you can easily obtain these if you don’t have them already.
Local business listings often allow you to provide a company description. Here you can write about your products or services and improve the on-page SEO for your listing. It’s a good idea to write a unique description for each listing and really utilize this space for keyword placement.