With Thanksgiving just two days away, I thought it was only fitting to discuss what I think we should all be thankful for this year when it comes to link building.
After all, with the surge of updates, algorithm shifts, and keyword reporting changes that have happened in the past year, it’s easy to get caught up in being angry with Google.
However, as search evolves and link building becomes more and more about content, relationships, and authority… we, too, must evolve. On that note, here are ten things to be thankful for this Linksgiving:
1. Penguin Updates
While Penguin rolled out in 2012, updates continued to happen throughout 2013 — and I, for one, am grateful. Not only am I a big fan of penguins, with their built-in tuxedos and hilarious walk, but also, I like that these updates are driving out spammy link tactics.
As someone who loves my clients, I work really hard to build great content and solid links for them. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a bad site outrank a client’s because they are doing mass article directory submissions with keyword-specific anchor text or publishing press releases for no reason other than obtaining a keyword-focused link.
While I’m not against using keyword-specific anchor text (and think it actually adds value to a post), I don’t disagree with Google that mass link manipulation is a bad strategy. I also know that Penguin is not perfect, but as link builders, it should force us to think more about getting those good links versus mass quantities of links.
How awesome is the idea of authorship? Seriously. You write an article, publish it, and Google knows you wrote it. Even better, they put your picture next to it in search results and show it to your friends. I love it!
For link builders, this is really valuable. Users are more likely to click on a search result with an author photo, and I think it’s fair to say they are more likely to share a post from a person they trust. Authorship also allows us to show that there are real people behind company sites and blogs. This is pretty fantastic in the new world of “relationship building” (see #7) and something I am quite thankful for.
Be sure to give AJ Kohn’s latest post on authorship a read for more details on inferred authorship and entities.
3. Guest Blogging
“Guest blogging isn’t just a link building tactic (that has been spammed and abused). It’s an excellent way to build your credibility, your community, and your customer base.”
Exactly. This statement comes from Mackenzie Fogelson of Mack Web Solutions, and I couldn’t agree more. Guest blogging gives you a chance to reach a new audience, write about something you’re passionate about, and establish yourself beyond your personal or company blog.
Despite the fact guest blogging has gotten a bad rap lately, it’s still valuable when done right. Make sure to choose sites relevant to your business, look for sites with authorship enabled, and, per Matt Cutts, do it in moderation.
One of the great things happening in link building, and marketing in general, is the move toward greater transparency. No one wants to be the person or company that gets caught buying links (*cough*) and certainly no one wants to be the SEO company that gets thrown under the bus when said company gets caught!
Back in October, I wrote an article on setting the right link building expectations for clients. What I loved was that each of the three people I spoke to for the article noted they were completely open and transparent with their clients in what the link building consisted of. They also noted they worked to educate their clients about link building. This is so important and will go a long way in helping our industry grow.
I’m also a huge fan of being transparent and honest in your outreach. Whether you’re responding to a HARO query or emailing a blogger, don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.
5. Link Building Tools
While there are a number of tools out there, we all have our favorites. In no particular order, this Linksgiving, I’m thankful for Screaming Frog, Open Site Explorer, BuzzStream, Rapportive and Followerwonk.
At the end of the day, there’s a lot of manual action involved in building links, but it sure is nice to have some tools to help along the way. Check out Julie Joyce’s 20 Resources To Add To Your Link Tool Arsenal Right Now for a great list of tools.
6. Google Analytics
Putting your [not provided] anger aside, Google Analytics really is an amazing platform. It offers so much in the way of website data and visitor information — and on top of that, it’s Free!
Analytics can help you identify content themes for your link building strategy, tell you what type of links send traffic your way, confirm whether or not a campaign worked and much more. Check out Using Analytics To Enhance Your Link Building Strategy for more ideas.
The whole idea of “relationship building” is perhaps one of my favorite things to come out of the link penalties and something I’m definitely thankful for — not just because I’m a PR wannabe, but also because I’m a big believer that the goal of any online marketing campaign should be to increase conversions and drive revenue. Crappy links on non-relevant sites no longer help with that.
Plus, building relationships with people that matter goes beyond just a link and actually does something to help the business overall. Think partnerships, events, guest posts, Twitter outreach and more. Read How To Build The Best Relationships, Err…I Mean Links and Building Awesome Relationships For Links, Likes, and Love for more great “relationship building” tips.
Better yet, get out there and start building them yourself!
8. Social Media & WOM
Along the same lines as “relationship building” comes word-of-mouth marketing and the power of social media. Customers have a bigger voice than ever before, and businesses have an opportunity to reach these customers and get them talking.
Allison Canty, the Community Engagement Manager at Grasshopper, wrote a post recently in which she discussed ways to turn customers into fans.
Showing customers you care isn’t an exercise in making people love your brand. It’s more about showing genuine, human compassion and creating positive relationships. The brand love will follow.
Remember it’s the little things that make a difference. Always be thinking of and looking for new ways to build trust and authentic (key word!) relationships with your customers.
This is great advice for all marketers and can go a long way in getting people to talk about you (and link to you!).
9. Content Marketing
Content is Queen. Content is King. Build content. More content. Ahhh! Look, I know that content is the backbone of any successful online marketing or link building strategy, but what I’m most thankful for is more people are realizing that content isn’t marketing without a strategy.
It’s important that before you even begin writing, you have a goal in mind, understand your audience, and understand the purpose of that piece. For link builders, this is just as important as you have to understand what people are interested in and will want to share.
For a ton of great articles on content marketing, head over to Marketing Land’s Content Marketing Column.
10. [Insert Your Own]
I could list at least 10 more things I’m thankful for this year, but I’d love to hear what it is that made your year in link building. An update? A tool? Let me know in the comments below.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.