Search engines want to populate the results with quality content written by experts as acknowledged by other Internet users. Documents with links from websites that have lots of links and documents with links from websites that have high quality links get rewarded. It is no wonder that when you ask a search engine reps how to build links they will tell you to publish high quality, link worthy content.
If only it were so simple.
Are you responsible for a global 2000 company or international celebrity website?
For you, getting links may be as simple as blogging a couple of half-interesting paragraphs. But if yours is a small and relatively unknown business, you need to be far more creative and effective at capturing people’s interest.
The journey from obscurity to becoming a recognized and popular authority is daunting. For most small businesses, blogging for links probably feels like sitting alone in the classroom writing lines while your friends play at recess.
Which brings us to this proposition:
Your celebrity and authority influences which link building strategies work for your website.
Celebrity is how well you or your brand is known. Ford, Apple and Katy Perry possess huge levels celebrity. If Katy Perry tweeted that her goldfish died she would probably get a link on TMZ.
In the middle of the range, Seth Godin, Danny Sullivan and VNV Nation are micro-celebrities. Each has an enthusiastic following, but they must continue to create interesting content.
At the low end of the spectrum, the typical Etsy shop may have loyal consumer fans, but their influence does not extend to content creators, the people who publish off-site links.
If celebrity is recognition by people then authority is recognition by search engines, the amount of raw ranking power a website has. It comes from the quantity and quality of links to your webpages.
Measurements include Google PageRank, SEOmoz Domain Authority and Majestic Million. A website with high domain authority has an easier time ranking for keywords. As it ranks for more queries, it receives more traffic. Some of these visitors will be researching for their own content and create new links. The best example of this is Wikipedia. This site, Search Engine Land, is another.
Quadrant I – High Authority, Low Celebrity
Your website has lots of links. It likely enjoys plenty of organic search engine traffic and high keyword diversity. Your content tends to earn links naturally.
Focus on growing your audience. Publish interesting content. Network with other high authority sites and exchange promotion such as guest blogging or selling each other’s e-books. Use social media to promote yourself and to promote the people you want to network with. Speak at conferences and exhibitions. Consider banner advertising on sites where you can attract new readers.
Quadrant II – High Authority, High Celebrity
Your website is at the top of the link building game. Almost anything you do or create will get mentions and links. Your biggest challenge is to stay visible and maintain your credibility.
If you are a major brand, chances are good that you are also in an arms race with other high authority, high celebrity websites. Include good doses of keyword targeted content so you do not just get more links, you get links with strong anchor text. Engage with followers through social media and offer exclusive content to draw fans onto your website.
Quadrant III – Low Authority, Low Celebrity
Low authority, low celebrity describes the bulk of websites. Your goal is to break away from the pack and distance yourself from your competitors.
Whatever you do, try not to emulate websites with high authority or high celebrity. Chances are good that they have more money and resources behind them.
You are a gorilla marketer and need to make smart choices. Blog incessantly. Create free e-books that people will want to read. Network like crazy, both online and off, make allies. Participate in forums and communities. Offer to speak at local events or create your own.
Here is one of my favorite pieces of advice. Create a clan. Partner with two or three people you trust and commit to blogging about each other and talking to each other and promoting each other on social media sites. Then, slowly grow your clan.
Quadrant IV –Low Authority, High Celebrity
If you are in the low authority, high celebrity quadrant, chances are good that you have achieved success offline and are just getting started online. Review your website to make sure it has content people will want. Set-up social media accounts.
Make sure your Wikipedia entry or listings in resource sites are up to date. Once you have worthwhile content to offer, look for your fans or customers online. Do they congregate anywhere like Twitter, a fan forum or Facebook page? Drop-in and say hi. Offer something.
For example, if you are a musician, add a downloadable song or remix to your site or announce your new video. If you are a business, offer a sales promotion or a contest. As a recognized brand or person, press releases can be effective link building tools. High celebrity makes it far more likely that media outlets will pick-up your story and link to your website.
Know Your Quadrant & Be Strategic
There are lots of ways to earn links. Make sure you spend time on the ones that will work for you. If you have low celebrity, the chance of your online press releases getting picked-up in the media may be small. If you have high authority, links from directory submissions are unlikely to influence your rankings.
What link building methods do you use and which do you avoid? Let me know in the comments below.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.