In an ever-changing world of search algorithmic innovation, sometimes it can be a challenge keeping up from all sides of SEO, whether they be onsite attributes or offsite external citations and meta signals. Sometimes, it’s quite easy to overthink a lot of the approaches that are applied to search oriented link acquisition, especially when looking for alternatives for what used to work.
Over the past 2 or 3 months, it has become more evident than ever that linking shortcuts which were once simply frowned upon can now be detrimental to not only the rankings of a site, but also the brand itself; especially when link advertising methods are being thrust into the media spotlight.
For years we’ve all known that paid link acquisition on site footers, sidebars or other forms of on-site navigation have been on the way out. Extremely disproportionate & inflated inbound link numbers from a handful of websites with heavy emphasis on exact match anchor text is just not natural.
The issue is, with more and more of a trend in search leaning towards socially enhanced linking and other influential and more organic signals, are brands and companies looking to take the long term strategic approach and make the change to linking efforts, or continue to play Russian roulette with the available forms of link advertising until the trigger is finally pulled.
How is your company being proactive about your link acquisition strategies?
New components and signals from social aggregation, diverse & natural linking portfolios, social sharing & Facebook Likes as wells as traffic and influence can absolutely differentiate your incoming links from that of a competitors. If a link in a relevant piece of content builds traffic to your site, or better yet residual traffic values, then that link is actually doing its job … it’s sending a user to your site.
That’s what links were originally intended to do; help a user navigate or find a new site from a site or published content that is relevant to the target site. Somewhere along the way, linking was misconstrued as a ranking manipulator.
So, how do we find the best of both worlds? Where is the common ground between realistic link acquisition and utopian link theory?
The first step is the ability to take anchor text off the table, and then deconstruct the other values that make a link helpful by digging into other signals. Let’s begin.
Social Signals & The Natural Aggregation of Content
Great links generally come from great content, and looking at the practice of linkbaiting, one thing to always keep in mind is that linkbait does not always have to be hosted on the domain of your site. In fact, by using a lot of the strategies behind linkbait, you can build incredibly valuable and sustainable links to your own site from highly relevant third party sites.
Social media content, also known as linkbait or viral content, is a form of content that people will generally notice and link to (or share with friends). By linking to your site, other sites are saying they value the content of your site and that they think other people will be interested in it, too.
I’m not going to turn this into a post on how to write for linkbait. But if you want to learn more, I highly recommend reading BlueGlass Managing Partner Jordan Kasteler’s article, The Anatomy of Linkbait.
When a link is earned, acquired or built; what is the value of that link from a sharability and social signals perspective. Does the site it is hosted on have its own syndication network of RSS affiliates, Google News, Alltop & other topical aggregators?
If that is the case, the content which hosts the link itself should obtain a very natural social media co-citation portfolio of authorative sites which elect to share and distribute the content to their audiences.
Furthermore, what is the mothership’s (the site that houses your link) probability of going viral within social networks such as Facebook, Reddit, Digg, Delicious, Twitter, StumbleUpon …etc.
- Does the site’s content get natural Facebook Likes? Is it getting Tweeted?
- Do readers of the site retweet content that they find? What is the average amount of tweets per natural blog post or content?
- What about LinkedIn or other social network sharing buttons? Is Tumblr part of the mix?
The more your host site is tuned into social sharing amongst the target market of the site, the more relevant the social signals will be in terms of sending value to your link.
In terms of Social Aggregation, how well does the parent site fare on channels like Reddit, Digg, Delicious or StumbleUpon? Is the audience at the site naturally sharing this content and are there any traffic signals that you can pick up?
What’s cool about sites that do well in social network sharing AND aggregation is that there is generally snowball effect.
- Great content is fed to RSS readers and site subscribers
- Content is shared and promoted and becomes popular and moves to other social networks
- Bloggers pick it up and write about it, reference it or share it (this happens less than it used to, but when it does it can be GOLDEN)
- Individuals use Facebook Like & Recommend buttons, Retweet Buttons, share on Tumblr …etc.
- The link to your site reaps the benefits of increased traffic, links, buzz and conversation surrounding your content and brand.
The inbound values of high quality content on quality sites with added social friendliness and sharing relevancy will bring traffic and enhanced SEO signals to the content you are hosting your links on. At the end of the day, those signals bring a sustainability that goes far beyond anchor text value alone. If anything, it’s a way to prepare for future changes within Google and also Bing, while adding a much more organic direction to link procurement & development.
I would like to open up this post to more conversation on the topic, and making links better, and far more beneficial than short term anchor text approaches. Please feel free to leave your ideas and comments below.