Given all the warnings Google has provided, it is kind of surprising that so many search marketers were lighting up forums regarding penalties they have received from Penguin 2.0 and to a lesser extent, recent Hummingbird updates. Penalties were primarily incurred as a result of link spam.
With all of the warnings, webmasters had ample time to clean up their link profiles before these changes were made. However, many of them continued to build rather spammy links. For instance, it is difficult to conceive of how a local pest control company could create enough interest so that 120 sites would legitimately link to them each month.
Therefore, the problem on the mind of most SEOs is to determine a viable strategy that will insulate them from future updates. They need to find the proper balance between immediate impact and sustainability. How should they proceed?
Link building should not be your highest priority. This is not to say that link building is not helpful, and even important, but too much weight has been placed upon it given Google’s current direction.
We believe that it’s important to alter our tactics in this business. Links are of importance, but to build a sustainable presence branding must take priority. We will share with you a strategy of maximising results by broadening your approach to link building so that it builds your brand.
You need to increase the awareness of your brand, not build links. You need to generate content that is of high quality and useful to your audience and then develop a strong social and PR campaign that connects your target audience to your quality content. In the process, links of high quality will be built, and you won’t have to be concerned that you will be penalised for them. The focus has now shifted from building links to building high quality sites that have excellent usability and integrating social media, content marketing, and PR to get links.
Here are some techniques you can use to increase the visibility of your brand and simultaneously get some links.
At times, locating brand building and linking opportunities may involve locating sources that mention your brand already, but do not provide a link. This technique is simply a matter of locating these sites and requesting a link from them. This will enable you to get links from sites that are relevant and are already mentioning your brand. It is also likely to get you some referral traffic from these relevant sources.
Increase Your Exposure With Press Releases
Matt Cutts, the web spam leader at Google, mentioned that press release links won’t help you in getting search engine exposure. Some are discounting this statement, while others are saying that press releases are obsolete.
Although, as a direct link source, press releases have little value, they can still be helpful when used properly. A press release has the capacity to get some of your content and your brand exposed to a large audience.
Many influential people visit the press release sites that are legitimate. This is a good method for getting the attention of influential people who may link to your content. In addition, you may obtain viral activity. Press releases should be used to build the awareness of your brand as opposed to directly building links.
Articles – Content Marketing
This does not involve large scale guest posting. Guest posting is great for building links, however it should be done in measured amounts and only in publications that are highly relevant. If you create content for authoritative sites and use Google Plus authorship, you will be able to build links that are powerful. Make sure your links are simple, and place only one link in the content. If you do this for sites of low quality or a site whose relevance is only loosely connected to your own, it won’t help your linking campaigns or your brand.
Comments are not useful as a link source. No well-established sites permit do-follow links in their comment section. Additionally, Google’s search algorithm focuses on the content in the main body of the article and gives most of the weight to the links within.
However, you can make contributions to conversations that are occurring on sites with active comment sections, in a highly relevant niche, and that has high traffic potential. Make use of your brand name rather than keywords. Attempt to write helpful comments that people notice. This is an opportunity for you to build relationships with influential people in your niche who make frequent comments.
A co-citation is when a brand is mentioned on a page and it is proximal to various keywords. To some extent, co-citations may be replacing traditional anchor text.
Google possesses tools, for instance Google Correlated which detect the statistical relationships amongst keywords. Certainly, Google also has an enormous database of search queries that frequently combine brands and keywords.
This makes branding exceptionally important. If people are frequently mentioning your brand, it will be beneficial for your rankings, even if you do not have links.
Using Social Media Channels
This is a very large topic in and of itself. However, we will mention several salient points. You certainly should have a presence on all of the major social media platforms including, Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Stumble Upon. Of course you need to setup attractive pages on each of these platforms and reach out on a consistent basis to obtain as many followers that have an interest in your niche as possible.
Certainly the content that you create needs to be interesting, engaging, and helpful to your target audience. Then, you need to disseminate it throughout your social media sites. If you have quality content this will result in inbound links, brand awareness, heightened visibility in search engines, and even some targeted traffic to your site.
After you have created those quality articles, images, and infographics, you need to make use of your social media sites and your PR program in order to amplify the message of your brand. Promotion of your content on these platforms will result in a dialogue and engagement of your targeted audience. Your content will then be shared which will result in increased awareness of your brand.
Speaking Engagements & Industry Events
Attending industry events and speaking at the meetings of local business organisations is one of the oldest ways to build links and increase the awareness of your brand. However, it is still effective. You won’t get a good link every time, but you will surely increase the awareness of your brand and you will help establish yourself as an industry leader.
Create Assets That Are Linkable
Brochures, videos, whitepapers, webinars, podcasts and other types of resources for educating your customers are excellent link bait. You can also disseminate them through your social media platforms and on your blog in order reach your target audience.
Create Useful Online Tools
If you can create some type of tools or calculators that are useful for people in your industry, you will have some valuable content that many people will link to. For example, a company that specialises in currency trading may but a foreign exchange rate calculator on their site. Creating useful tools for your target audience can be excellent link bait.
Create A Blog
Webmasters have been incorporating blogs into their sites for quite some time, so this is nothing new. Of course a blog is valuable for SEO purposes and it will help you to rank for many long tail keywords. However, if you generate engaging and useful original content, it also provides a useful resource for your potential customers and helps you to engage with them. The blog can also be used to house many of your useful online assets.
Infographics can be great link bait, but they are also a great way to help build your brand. A high quality infographic is likely to be shared throughout the web and it will increase your visibility and reach. Infographics are great for social sharing and they help you reach potential clients that don’t often read text. When done properly, they can generate a significant amount of traffic to your site.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of infographics is that they impart professionalism and legitimacy to your brand that enhance the image of your brand from the viewpoint of potential clients and influential people on the web.
It is clear that Google is partial to brands when generating their search results. Google is likely to maintain this partiality since it has commercial reasons for doing so. Your marketing efforts are likely to be unsuccessful in the long run if they do not incorporate branding. In the absence of branding, your marketing efforts will be short term, whether it consists of PPC or spam.
Therefore, for your long-term success it is important that you expand your link building campaigns into building your brand.