Why Your Link Building Efforts Need To Evolve[G]oogle’s complex and dynamic algorithm has had a long-standing love affair with links. The best practice process of acquiring links, or what we call Foundational Link Development (FLD), has been around for many years, but algorithmic changes are forcing Link Development’s evolution.
Welcome to the new frontier of Link Development. A three-tiered strategy that will keep your link building from staying one-dimensional. Of course we couldn’t lead you into this brave new world alone, so we’ve enlisted the help of The Muppets, those fantastic caricatures of ourselves, to help guide the way.
TIER 1: Foundational Link Development
It’s about actively seeking out authority sites to link to your site.
Foundational Link Development (FLD) is generally a manual system featuring two parties — one linking site and the site that is being linked to. Each link to another site is considered a “vote of confidence.” FLD includes activities such as direct link requests, link reclamation, social bookmarking, and directory submissions. The first two of these activities require communication between the two sites. These manual tasks help set the foundation for your link profile and a strong link profile provides a significant boost to how your site performs.
The companies that do FLD right (which are few and far between) understand the importance of acquiring relevant, high quality links from sites that search engines consider “authority sites” and doing this on an ongoing basis.
We like to compare FLD to Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show. They are foundational to the comedic Muppet methodology and without them, The Muppet Show wouldn’t be the same. Statler and Waldorf are old school, but their old school methods (heckling) are important (hilarious) and are still integrated into all of the Muppets’ performances today.
I’m sure you get it by now – links are still important and Foundational Link Building still works. It is the nucleus of a good LD strategy.
But there’s more!
TIER 2: Content Strategy & Development
It’s about having audience-focused content worth linking to.
Every site has content, but not all sites have strong quality content. As you conduct FLD, you can make requests and do all the competitor research you want, but the most important aspect of link development is having content worth linking to. Tier 2 involves the creation of interesting and meaningful content for more focused and strategic outreach.
We feel strongly that success in this tier is not driven by the sheer ability to pump out new content. The emphasis must be placed on audience and demographic research, the creative strategy and the timeliness of delivery.
For our Muppet comparison, think of Bunsen and Beaker, who are always cooking up some new gizmo, or chemistry project because they are scientists (creators). Bunsen will create a new invention (content) and test it out on Beaker (his audience) to see if it’s a success or failure. To succeed in Tier 2, you must do your research and develop the right personas so that the content you create is well informed, timely, and interesting, and all of your content “inventions” will be successful.
Consider the ‘grand old lady’ Facebook persona that David Meerman Scott discovered when he stayed at the extraordinary Nobis Hotel in Stockholm. The ‘grand old lady’ helps the Nobis Hotel attract the exact guests it wishes to serve. Everything the Nobis Hotel does is based on delighting guests who want upscale, luxurious and modern accommodations. Scott discovered that the Nobis Hotel has even taken content marketing offline with their physical book that chronicles the history of the hotel’s design.
Once again, there’s more! This leads us to Tier 3 and how management of this new content and choosing the right channels for distribution can put your link development strategy over the top.
TIER 3: Social Media & Content Marketing
It’s about getting your audience to interact with you and put their stamp of approval on your content via social media.
A deep dive into Search Marketing these days will reveal how Search and Social are quickly becoming integrated. Social media networks are fueled by content liked by the masses and subsequently shared to their peers and the world, which boosts linking opportunities and triggers social signals. This is where you want the content created in Tier 2, to achieve a “stamp of approval” from the audience. This is determined by the amount/quality of the social signals generated by users with social media.
One of the latest, and perhaps most talked about algorithmic changes are the social signals that Google now considers in its ranking of web sites. These signals are primarily votes of confidence driven largely by the marketing of content via Social Media and include such things as Facebook Likes, Google +1’s, Tweets and reTweets and the intelligence Google maintains on individual search. So while Tier 1 FLD considers authority as determined by other sites, and Tier 2 considers audience demographics and strategic content created for your audience, think of Tier 3 as how your web site visitors interact with your content. These social interactions (links to your content generated and spread by your audience) help build authority for your site.
The goal in this tier is to execute a well thought-out plan for content that makes lasting impressions. You want to participate in the conversations on many levels, featuring relevant content so you can enjoy the rewards of a long, happy link life as an authority on your subject/product. Let Kermit and Piggy be your guides. They are back on top thanks to their content and social media presence. They won 2 Webby awards in 2010 for best music video and best viral video and have thousands of followers on Twitter.
They are media and entertainment lynchpins again; Tier 3 ambassadors extraordinaire. Kermit is doing interviews on the red carpet, Piggy is on Chelsea Lately and Project Runway always willing to give her opinion, and you might have seen them recently presenting as a couple on the Oscars. While you will always want to perform FLD and produce meaningful, relevant content, the ultimate in Link Evolution is to have your audience come to you for your story and then share it up and down the Social Media chain.
Remember; Statler and Waldorf didn’t carry the whole show; they had help. Just like our link development tiers aren’t islands floating in isolation; they support an Integrated Search Campaign that builds your overall online visibility and authority.
Your web site can stay in the limelight, just like Kermit and Piggy. Our expert staff are ready to customize your link development strategy.