In our industry, there has been quite a bit of a debate about linking in recent years, and if links continue to provide value (good or bad) for a website, in the eyes of the big search engines such as Google. In my opinion, links are still very relevant for today’s websites, as part of a strategic SEO plan, and I have not seen any signs from Google that indicates they’re no longer using links as a factor in determining rankings. Links are dead, but things have definitely changed.
You do have to be careful with linking. You always want to go after legitimate backlinks from trusted sources. Remember, quality vs. quantity. A good quality backlink usually comes naturally – the site linking to yours found you to have content (or a different valid reason) worth linking to, and thus a natural link is born! Although domain authority has lost its luster over the years, you can still use it to help gauge the trustworthiness of various domains. Remember that .edu and .org links are usually higher quality than many .com links, simply because higher education and non-profit organizations have established trust over the years. The best way to generate links today is through content marketing.
We have all heard this before, but really it’s true, CONTENT IS KING! Content is what drives links. Without great content from you that others want to share, there is really no reason to help “promote” your site. Think about it, why send people from your sight to theirs? Because there is a reason you need/want to send them elsewhere. You want to be that site with well-written articles and have other well-designed content created by you (or someone you hire). After all, you are the expert in your field! Don’t be afraid to spend money on great content if you can’t produce it yourself. In the long-term, great content that is on your site will bring in consistent quality traffic, so think of content as an investment.
Here are a few ideas that I consider to be awesome content:
- Comprehensive Guides Written by Multiple Experts of a Topic
- Long-Form E-Books Showcasing a Breakdown of Difficult Topics
- Professionally Designed Infographics (these are trending these days)
- Useful Online Tools for Your Audience like Calculators or Cost Savings Tools
- Professional Style Videos or Webisodes Published Regularly
Once you have all this content created, you can also put it to use in your content marketing plans. Wait, you do have one, right? This content that you have either invested time or money into will be useful in your content marketing campaigns and to share via social, all of which will promote your company, build brand awareness and in time get links. Map out ahead of time what your goal is, who your audience is, what type of content works best, when you will create it, how you will share it, and how you will measure it. These items combined together in one plan will help you budget your time and resources and map, in advance, the best types of content to drive traffic and links.
So keep in mind as you are creating a content marketing plan that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t exert all of your time and energy in the first mile. Building great content over the long-term leads to increases in links, from both social referrals and third party websites, and eventually helps you drive more traffic to your site and hopefully boost your rankings in the search engines. You may have some challenges along the way, and it will certainly take time to create, implement, share and earn those links, but it is totally worth the reward in the end. To say you finished the race and earned a medal…or links in this case, will be worthwhile!