Before Google’s recent algorithm updates, link building had been pretty simple. Spam a little here, spin an article there, and voila, you had hundreds of links to help increase your search presence.
But Google isn’t stupid. In 2012 alone, they made 37 updates to their algorithm and began penalizing anyone they found violating their policies. So in light of these changes, the question for link building is easy: how are we supposed to get links without getting in trouble?
Google’s focus is to provide “the best user experience possible” by serving relevant/high quality content. According to Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s search quality team, “Even if you do brain-dead stupid things and shoot yourself in the foot, but have good content, we still want to return it.” So if you want to acquire links without having to fear the Panda, you need to create good content.
Below are three reasons why you need to start using content as part of your link building strategy.
Content is an incentive
The hardest part of link building is simply getting people to link to you. In a perfect world, it would be as easy as asking, “Hey there, can I have a link?” But this unfortunately isn’t the case, and in reality, link building can be an arduous task with the potential for little or no return.
But if you offer a high quality, super informative and engaging piece of content and distribute it for free, you significantly increase the chances of a person linking back to you. You’re not only helping them maintain new content on their website, but you also save them the time and money involved in producing the content themselves.
Using that content to reach out to multiple people at the same time, you also open the door to gaining a large number of links at once. You not only gain more links, but you also spread the cost and time of creating that content over more opportunities.
Good content naturally gains links
The wonderful thing about our digital society is our appetite for social gluttony. Whether it’s through a “Like” or a “Tweet,” we love to share the things we love. So when content is well thought out and relevant, you are giving people something they want and allowing them to do the sharing for you.
This is common with blogging. When you get your content in the hands of influential bloggers, you are exposing it to other people who blog and open up your potential audience to their readers as well, meaning more potential links.
It is also evident with social media, as almost 1 in 5 social interactions involves sharing content. And as social media starts to play a more significant role in Google’s algorithm, these links from social interactions will become even more valuable to search results.
Content gets targeted traffic
The main goal of any link building campaign is to get links from pages with high authority and relevance. However, because of this focus, we often forget that link building is also used to drive traffic to your website.
Generally speaking, the more traffic you generate the better, but additional traffic is pointless if the people visiting your website have no interest in your business. By targeting your content towards relevant sources, you get targeted traffic resulting in qualified leads and potential new customers. Also, if a Google update removes the value from those links, you will still receive the traffic!
Creating content is by no means the only way to get links in a post-Panda world. There are many other tactics we could talk about, but those will have to wait for another day. In the meantime, I hope this has been helpful in illustrating the value that content brings to the practice of strategic link building.
Happy link building!