You have probably heard the phrase “link-building” thrown around in video marketing campaign meetings or seen it online, but understanding what the term really means will help push your online presence to the next level. How? Well, when we really understand what link-building is, we can differentiate between effective and ineffective link-building.
The What and Why of Link Building
Link-building is the process of having other website link back to content that your site originally published, which is pretty straightforward, and it is a vital component of SEO. Google’s Webmaster has previously stated, “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.”
The effectiveness of your link-building strategy relies heavily on what sites are linking back to you. Think of it like this, you are a writer for an organization that has recently published a small blog post. Would you rather have Forbes or a small blog link back and drive traffic to your site? Obviously, you’ll want to go with the website that has more traffic.
But, with that in mind, getting a larger website like Forbes or TechCrunch to link back to your content relies on one thing, the content you have.
Good Link Building
The cornerstone of strategic link building is effective content that engages your audience. There are some more nefarious methods of link-building (we’ll get there in a second), but if you want your content to get picked up by high profile or simply well respected websites then the content needs to be of a high quality.
“High quality content” is a pretty loose term, but here are some general guidelines for the sort of content that easily gets promoted in link-building campaigns.
- Video Marketing is King: Some research conducted by SEOmoz indicates that content that features video is signfigantly more likely to be linked to, and audiences tend to think that content is more important when it features video.
- People, especially young people, love lists: You could look at Buzzfeed, Tumblr, or virtually any other social media news outlet right now to see an obvious trend. Lists generate a lot of shares and promote link-building as a result. Plus they’re pretty easy to read and write!
- Audience, Audience, Audience: Effective content requires an awareness of your audience. If you’re oblivious to what your audience is looking for, then you’ll have no idea what to write! Additionally, if you don’t know who your audience is, then how can you measure its effectiveness?
- @Collaborators: If you want sites to link to you, then you should be linking to them in a way that is organic and thoughtful. Don’t simply drop the other site’s content every time you mention a keyword on your site. Instead, mention collaborators when the time is appropriate and authentically helps communicate your message
Bad Link Building
People may sometimes resort to some pretty desperate measures to widen their link-building strategy. These strategies are broadly referred to as “black hat link-building”. Sometimes websites owners will simply spam message boards and comments sections with their irrelevant content and, occasionally a larger number of websites will mutually spam each other.
So, there are organizations of websites known as “link farms” that pay money to essentially spam each other with collaborative links. The owners of these sites do this with the mindset that the more times they are linked to by other websites, the higher they will appear on Google search results.
In reality, neither of these practices is an effective strategy regarding link-building. Google and other search engine providers monitor and track who is linking to your website, and how often the sharers are doing so. The providers can tell when content providers are engaging in these unfair practices, and issue heavy penalties to websites that do not organically contribute meaningful content to the web.
In the end, content is king. This is true for link-building as well as your organization’s larger online presence.