Link building is on its arse. It’s pretty hard to get trusted inbound links these days – even the so-called reputable media outlets like Forbes and Huffington Post are selling space for advertisers. This is spammy link building.
Contributor pages cannot be trusted to be authentically passed by professional editors – which cancels out the idea of qualified experts positioning themselves as specialists. And all these pages have spammy links that is blatant advertising the company has paid for. Which is against Google rules.
Google bitch-slapped spammy link builders pretty hard when they released Penguin. Paying money-grabbing webmasters to host your posts is not sustainable. Furthermore, spammy links are devalued by Google so including links to your website in dodgy media outlets such as Forbes and Huffington post is a detriment.
However, search engines still count inbound links from third party sites in their ranking process and the precious links do carry a lot of weight. But acquiring them is difficult.
Small businesses and independent contractors are unlikely to attract the attention of bloggers linking in no matter how good the quality of content is: because Google insists you should only link to authority sites. Which is a kick in the Googles to small business experts that do actually have real authority – moreso than a journalist who only writes about a subject rather than a hands-on experience day-in-day-out.
Google guidelines are pretty strict on link building exercises. The search master has all but wiped out the possibility of small business owners cheating the algorithms. Which is good really. Nobody likes cheats.
I write for industry magazines and only get no=follow attributes. I graft for third-party websites with no benefit to the page rank of MasterMind Content. But because I write for magazines that do carry some authority, it positions me as an expert and helps me get work as a result.
Link building is pretty much a dead-end game unless you’ve got at least £700 to throw at a rogue journalist. But building an online profile and attracting ‘earned media’ is very much alive and performing star jumps. Furthermore, building an online profile does attract organic inbound links which are rewarded by search engines.
Therefore link building is still possible as a content marketing strategy – it just has a different strategy and scoring system!
So, it’s time to turn to plan B and build an online profile.
How to build an online profile
By building an online profile, what I mean is spreading your name and brand across as many platforms as possible.
You already have a website and several social media platforms, but if nobody has heard of your company they will not find you through any native online channels.
Okay you will get the odd follower on social media, but that is because they are trying to sell you something, not buy your product or services.
Your best option on social media is to join groups and be an active member of the community – if you’ve got time!
Do not rely on social media to keep your business afloat because the networks cut off the supply line to your audience unless you buy paid ads to increase your visibility.
The solution is to write for third party sites; industry magazines, influential blogging sites, forums, content hosting platforms and the new breed of social media networks that allow you to publish specialist content. Quora for example.
Become a contributor
High on the agenda of consumers is trust. Before they are prepared to purchase products or services from a company they do not know, they want to be able to trust they will get value for money.
With this in mind, customers are more likely to trust you as a professional and a business if you are contributing to an industry magazine that has an editor passing their professional eye over your content.
It stands to reason. If you have a talent for writing, dust down your keyboard and start typing. Otherwise, hire a ghost writer. But submit the article under your name. That means you have to send it yourself using your email address.
It seems that the blogging craze is more popular than ever. And people used to laugh at bloggers. Now, some of them are becoming mini internet stars. They even have a name: influencers.
Influencers are bloggers that have an authority in their field of expertise and over the years have developed a cult following. What they say, holds sway.
And busy bloggers want help filling out the content on their blog. If what you have to say is unique, strong and worth a read, they will accept submissions. And because they know Google devalues spammy links, they will should not charge you to host your post.
Mental note: MasterMind Content welcome thought-provoking content from contributors!
Approaching influencers is worth a stab. They may turn your content idea down, but what that tells you is, you need to think of a better idea. Keep trying and you will find a source to host your content, and when you do, you open lines of communication to a wider audience.
If all else fails, there is always content platforms to fall back on. HubPages, Contently and About.com accept posts from contributors and their pages typically rank well in search results.
There are also spates of new social media accounts popping up like Medium and Linkedin that allow you to publish content. And the beauty about these sites is that readers are actively searching for specific content topics.
This is in stark contrast to the mainstream social accounts when people only engage with content that strikes their attention, and even then only if it happens to pop into their newsfeed.
Most followers on Facebook et al will not read your content because they have no particular interest in your industry – a sweeping statement of course. Obviously it depends which industry you are in and who your audience is!
So there you have it. To improve your search engine rank, you need to attract visitors to your website by widening your reach.
You can’t rely on others to gift you inbound links, but you can actively build an online profile and increase brand awareness and trust that way. Providing you are publishing premium content on high-quality websites, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field.
If you need help with your link building or for more content marketing strategies contact MasterMind Content.