In a time when “Quality Content” is touted as the prevailing factor contributing to SEM, many webmasters have become frustrated at the lack of tangible, definitive tactics to improve search rankings. It seems we’ve left the age of if I do X (list my website on 100 web directories, for instance), I will get Y (higher Google page ranks) and entered that of if I do X (create compelling content) I may or may not get Y (higher Google page ranks).
However, link building isn’t dead, it’s simply evolved to provide more value to the searcher. Rather than rewarding sites that have built countless links on poor quality directories or through commenting on spammy blogs, Google boost the rankings of those who’ve taken the time to build links on credible sites. Think quality, not quantity here.
Rand Fishkin of Moz.com point out that one classic SEO link building strategy continues to provide value: competitive link building. He recommends using a tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer to investigate your competitors, specifically those with higher rankings thank yours, and their inbound links. This platform allows you to identify sites that are linking to your competitors’ websites, thereby determining sites to approach for your own link building. As Fishkin states, chances are if these sites were interested in your competitors, they will likely create content related to your business in the future and will be glad to have a ready-made source.
Though this brand of traditional link building is still viable, a new strategy for attaining valuable inbound links has emerged: link earning. While link building is a push strategy, with you making the effort to build links directly, link earning is a pull strategy. You pull people in, creating opportunities for them to want to build links for you and making it easy for them to do so.
The Three Pronged Approach to Earning Links
- Create Quality Content: There’s no getting around it, the creation of engaging content is absolutely crucial, not only to provide value to your customers, but to build a site that people want to link to. If you’ve created a useful site that provides the information your customers are searching for, they will gladly do the groundwork for you by sharing your site on their blogs and social media platforms, no extra effort on your part required.
- Get Social: SEM and social media don’t work in silos. Social media provides a validation to search engines, serving as evidence that you’ve developed a web presence beyond your own website. In addition, it makes it easy for others to share your links, thus extending your web of inbound links and increasing your visibility.
- Ask and You Shall Receive: To use an old sports cliché, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. In the same way, you lose 100% of the links you don’t ask for. Fishkin states that simply adding a line to your email signature, through social media, or even at the end of your business voicemail message telling your customers how much it would mean to you if they were to share your website with others if they’ve found your business helpful.
Overall, both link building and link earning are important strategies for creating a web of high quality inbound links. In fact, they are two sides of the same coin. If you’re looking for guidance incorporating either of these tactics into you SEM strategy or building one from the ground up, give us a call. We’re here to lead you down the path to SEM success.