This week Linkdex published an e-book, SEO Now 2015, as a follow up on the e-book from 2014. Like last year State of Digital played a big role in the e-book with severa authors from our team contributing. We will be looking at those contributions tomorrow. Today we want to share one of the chapters (get the entire e-book for free here) with you. A chapter of course written by ‘one of ours’: our good old Paddy Moogan. Paddy talks about link building in 2015.
What does successful link building mean now, in 2015?
For me, the same trend that was set in April 2012 when Penguin was released is still going strong today. The difference this year is that more brands are coming to our agency already knowing that large-scale, low-quality link building isn’t what they need. Unfortunately, it’s because most have been penalized for this kind of activity in the past, which also leads to some negative opinions of the SEO industry.
That isn’t to say that Google is done. We can still see websites ranking off the back of low quality links, but the consequences are far clearer than they used to be and the risks to real businesses are high. If you’re building churn and burn websites, Google is still open to manipulation even three years after Penguin. So we’ll see them continue to penalize websites for manipulative tactics which means that in 2015, businesses need to treat link building like a real promotion activity and put time, budget and effort behind it.
What Defines a “Good” Link Today?
In short, one that you didn’t ask for – assuming it isn’t negative SEO, of course.
The reality is that everything needs a push before links will come naturally, if at all. While it’s definitely possible to get high-quality links without asking for them, it’s very hard.
Also, a link that sends real traffic is a good link. This traffic doesn’t necessarily have to convert directly into customers, but if the majority of the traffic coming via the link is the type of audience you’d typically sell to, then it’s probably a very good link.
Is Content Marketing The New Link Building?
I wouldn’t go as far as to say content marketing is the new link building. There are still ways to acquire links to your website without having a piece of content to promote, but these are becoming harder to find and aren’t always the highest quality links that will send traffic.
What I would say is that getting links via the promotion of a great piece of content is one of the most sustainable and safest ways to get links. There are additional benefits to this approach beyond links such as brand awareness and social visibility. Red Bull are one of the most extreme examples of this because they’re known as a content producer as well as an energy drink.
Ultimately, a website needs to deserve links in order to consistently compete in organic search. Otherwise, you’re fighting a constant uphill battle to acquire links and compete and it will only get harder. One of the best ways to deserve links is to provide amazing content that is link-worthy and share-worthy. It isn’t easy, but it can work very well.
The other side to this is that compared to link building methods of the past, it’s much safer and far less likely to get you a link penalty.
Smart Ways Brands Can Earn Links
Not taking shortcuts. We’re well past the days of link manipulation and brands need to acknowledge that link building should be treated in the same way as PR and general marketing activity. It should be well planned, given budget and designed to help for the long-term.
What this means in reality is that brands need to do the following:
- Invest in training their team. Link building mistakes are more costly than ever before and brands need to take training seriously.
- Move SEO and PR closer together generally. The two disciplines have been moving toward each other for a while now and brands need to acknowledge this by bringing them onto the same page. They can complement each other extremely well and PR and SEO teams should be sitting together and working together rather than in their own silos.
- Think about content strategy. It’s hard coming up with a content strategy. It takes time, patience, and research – but it is possible and the rewards can be huge right now. It is also a case of just getting going and testing what works and what doesn’t. Brands can’t linger around too long trying to come up with the perfect strategy because it will never be perfect. Instead, get 90 percent of the way there and start producing content, then iterate and refine over time.
The Deadliest Link Building Mistake Brands Make
Not taking it seriously and thinking it’s still some kind of SEO dark-art which they’ll never understand.
This can lead to low quality outputs which are a natural consequence of low investment. Instead, brands need to invest in link building in the same way they’d invest in PR and other channels – by creating an asset that is link worthy and in-line with what the brand stands for and who they want to connect with.