Changing Course In The New Linking World

In the wake of the Great Google Massacre (i.e., everything that’s happened over the past couple years since Google got serious), there are many sites that survived the carnage but aren’t as successful as they used to be — and they’re looking for ways to get back to where they once were.

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The scenario most often encountered sounds like this:

“Our site used to dominate for all our keywords. Ever since (choose your reason) hit, we lost rank, but didn’t receive any unnatural links warnings or manual penalties.  We’ve simply lost tons of traffic, and it’s killing our bottom line. How do we get back where we were?”

These are my favorite scenarios, because they indicate hope.  If your site has not participated in link schemes (or other truly manipulative link building activities) and has not been warned by Google, there is a definite opportunity to change your approach and style of link building… if you are willing to.

Those five words are the key, because you’ll need a complete change to your fundamental approach to link building and content publicity. This is where I try to help sites see what they have to do to get where they want to get, and then it’s up to them whether or not to do it. Many sites don’t. They want the newest and quickest way back to the top of Google, and they want it by Friday. Those sites are doomed. Other sites pay lip service to adopting a new style of link building, but revert back to old ways and techniques when they aren’t at position one within a couple months.

Changing Course In The New Linking World

Then there are the real converts. These are the brands that recognize the remarkable shift that is taking place right now, in which algorithms and human reviewers and link analysis tools are getting so much better that the path to organic success moving forward means adapting to new strategies and techniques.

One of my favorite (and eye-opening) ways to illustrate to a client the link attraction power of useful content is to find sites in their niche that have already attracted high-value links as a result of specific content.  I’ve written on this before, but back then people laughed. They aren’t laughing now.

Examples always help. Let’s use the search [skatepark locator] and check out the results. Have a look at the number of tools, apps and websites there are to help people find skateparks. Some look like they are completely commerce free, like pushwood.com (a website with an accompanying free app) and skatepark.com. Others have an obvious angle, like Thrasher Magazine, a site sells that sells skateboard gear and magazine subscriptions.

Now, have a look at these search results: [Pushwood SkatePark Locator]

Wow. That’s link love awesomeness for a pretty nichefied app, isn’t it? And, if you take the time to study the backlinks for the top ranking sites for phrases related to skateparks, you’ll start to notice how some companies have used the web to great advantage with content and tools that would be impractical to produce otherwise. A printed skatepark directory would be out of date before it was published. And costly. The skatepark finder is just one example.

After this exercise, show your client subject-specific sites they may never have thought of, but which illustrate the potential for high trust inbound links in certain niches. I like to start with a tricked out Google search, show them a specific example, and then hope the light comes on for them. For the skateboarding site, try this search:

[“skateboard club” useful links site:.edu OR .org]

The search results for the above search phrase are one big piece of your blueprint for content publicity, awareness building, and links in the age of the new Google.

This is only an example — these sites won’t all be perfect, and they won’t all be receptive. Some will be head-scratchers, but think deeper than the top ten results. We are being shown what Google believes to be hundreds, thousands of credible URLs in this niche.

Your job now is to see, recognize and pursue a path that will land you on those sites.

Good linking.


About The Author

Eric Ward
Eric Ward founded the Web's first services for announcing, linking, and building buzz for Web sites, back in 1994. Ward is best known as the person behind the linking campaigns for Amazon.com Books, Weather.com, The Link Exchange, Rodney Dangerfield (Rodney.com), the AMA, and PBS.org. His services won the 1995 Award for Internet Marketing Excellence, and he was selected as one of the Web's 100 most influential people by Websight magazine. In 2009 Eric was one of 25 people profiled in the book Online Marketing Heroes. Eric has spoken at over 100 industry conferences and now publishes LinkMoses Private, a subscription based link opportunity and strategy service. Eric has written linking strategy and advice columns for SearchEngineLand, MarketingProfs, ClickZ, Search Marketing Standard, SearchEngineGuide, Web Marketing Today, and Ad Age magazine. Learn more about Eric and his content publicity and link building services at http://www.ericward.com