People: link building and SEO aren’t dead, they’ve just evolved

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Do you remember the days of building links? Submitting comments on blogs that bordered on spam? Directories and keyworded anchor text in the efforts to increase our clients’ sites organic visibility which worked for a while but then Google’s Penguin algorithm change struck and with it came a long-standing fear of building links. Well, link building is not dead it has just evolved into something more exciting and less drone-like.

The fear to build links

Since the stunning Google Penguin laid waste to many a website, SEO strategists have developed a fear of link building. Frankly I don’t blame them. Who wants a site penalised for building links in an effort to outrank competitors? But to be honest, we shouldn’t be scared because link building is alive and well.

Yes I know the old-school style of using directories and targeting specific pages is well and truly dead, but haven’t a lot of tactics died since the start of Search Engine Optimisation way back in the day?

We forget that as the internet evolves, so too must our tactics. We need to become more creative and clever as to how we go about getting a site to rank organically. Even though Google is asserting its authority and making us jump through unrealistic hoops to get there, it is still possible. We just need to change our approach and target the relevant audience.

How to build links for the modern internet?

To build links post the Penguin apocalypse, we need to be more engaging with the relevant audience. In other words, we need to talk with them rather that than at them. Nobody enjoys a one-way conversation, be it on or offline. So let’s have a look at the few tactics that can help gain your site those extra links that boost its organic visibility.

Hosting a competition

We all love to win something. The opportunity to win a prize goads us into doing a lot of things. This is the gateway to building links in the form of social signals.

Hosting a competition on your site can gain natural links from sources who find it interesting. If the competition mechanics utilise social sharing like a tweet, +1 or like it can grow the authority around the site. Remember, search engines take social metrics into account when establishing authority. So host a competition.

Seeding great content

I was going to say create a viral campaign, but that is a lot harder and it’s almost unnatural to force a campaign to go viral. The aim here is to create rich and engaging content such as a video that is seeded to the right audience. Yes, there does need to be a point or end result for this content. But if seeded correctly, the posts will garner loads of social shares as well as earn loads of links from high-profile blogs and influencers.

If this content is YouTube based, the more views and interactions it gets, the more authority it gains.

Campaigns that run offline

If you can get a hugely successful campaign that goes offline, you will garner loads of links from news -elated sources as well as bloggers and just the general public.

Obviuosly this is a lot harder to do as it takes a lot of resources to get right. But examples such as these can help you:

  • Fun Runs
  • Charity events — Food run for SPCA
  • Food Kitchens
  • Donations for the homeless

These sorts of offline campaigns are also good for brand image and perception in your customers’ eyes, which will also aid in improving the click-through rate in search. To get this sort of traction here you need content that is seeded to the right audience and influencers to maximise the reach.

Getting links is tough, but it possible. We just need to be clever and not limited to the SEO tactics that we once depended on. SEO as a standalone tactic does give us room to evolve or progress. We need to be diverse and not follow the usual, boring ways in the hopes of achieving greatness.

Remember, links that are generated by directories or built to a specific page using a specific keyword leaves a breadcrumb trail for Google to penalise you. The above tactics will ensure that the links built are natural as you are not “building” them but creating clever tactics for bait.

Any other ideas on how we can build links? Let me know below.

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  • GrammarNazi

    Looks like the comma police got you bad!

  • http://www.webgrowth.co.za/ Neil Pursey

    In essence I agree with your article but if we take a step back… The problem with link building is we tend to focus on the “what” first, when we should be focusing on the “why”. A “what” would be described as “increase your rankings” or “get more links”, which then may lead to the “how” which creates a link building mentality but if you focus on the “why” the “how” will follow. If the “why” is done before the “how”, the “how” becomes much stronger strategy. And then finally, if you get the “how” right the “what” naturally follows in 3rd place. So in summary focus on Why >> How >> What in this order. So an example of “why”, is Why do you want to drive traffic to a website? The answer is to make more sales? and to make more sales you need to focus on the customer or in this case, the visitor. If you can create a strategy that answers the “why” you’ve gone a long way in finding your SEO campaign. The thing with SEO now is not to focus on the search engine but rather to focus on the people. Focusing on “why” helps us understand the type of content we need to create.

    Phew.. does that all make sense?

  • gusvdw45

    I couldn’t agree more. Before penguin we were all focused on getting rankings because that’s what bought the traffic and sorta lost sight of the goal posts. Essentially we need to focus on creating great content that actually has a true connection with our potential customers.

    This could be emotional or simply offering our product or service as the real solution which in turn would reward us with better organic visibility but more importantly loyalty and return customers.

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