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29 Sep 2011

Link Building vs. Link Attraction

September 29, 2011Content Marketing

Link-Building-vs-Link-Attraction

It is probably safe to assume that your business objectives depend heavily on search engine rankings and exposure through links from other websites to your own. As readers of this blog know, a major contributor to search engine rankings is the number of quality links to your website. On top of that, links from reputable sites to yours help increase traffic to your site. Needless to say, links to your content provide a major benefit to your efforts. So you have to find a way to get people to link to it.

Link Building with Content Marketing

Theoretically, and largely in practice, links are where humans identify relevance page to page because if they like it, they will link to it. Many businesses, however, have had to develop links “unnaturally” by relying on proactively creating backlinks or — gasp — paying for links. Some have resorted to spammy techniques in order to obtain a quantity of links on the cheap. It turns out that spam is a really good way to annoy a webmaster (and Google or Bing), and it won’t help your reputation. To do link building the right way, you have to get personal.

I’m suggesting that you focus on link attraction rather than rely solely on link building. If you generate awesome content and then promote it, you’re going to attract natural links. In effect, if you develop really compelling material, links will follow as the content gets shared. That’s link attraction. It’s really quite simple, and it serves as one more very strong case for taking care to publish magnetic content. The process of promoting and distributing your content gives you an edge in link building because in those cases it’s reaching a targeted audience that will be compelled to share your page by linking to it from their site.

Link-Building-vs-Link-Attraction-Content-Traffic

However, link attraction often requires patience.  Yes, most likely you will receive some links immediately from your promotion efforts, but we have seen content receive new links years after it was originally published.  Think about it, people will not always be ready to link to your content when you want them to, instead they link to it when it suites their purposes. So be patient, the links will come.

Link attraction plays a key role in making a link request, too. You won’t attract a link without providing some kind of value to the site that you want to link to you. The right way to request a link is to research bloggers (or webmasters) that are writing on topics in your industry. If your content can respond to the issues they address in their content, you can offer up your page as a solution. A link request (I just linked to a 5 year old post) that is targeted and customized will answer the question, “Why should I?” before the webmaster or blogger has a chance to ask.

The way I look at it, the right kind of link building is all centered on creating excellent, quality content that has inherent value to the person linking to it (and their audience). The industry term for this kind of content is “linkworthy.” I like to think of link building as a rewards program for your content. Do it right, and you’ll get rewarded with relevant, traffic driving links to your content. High quality links are the right way — and the best way — to make your content rise in search engine rankings.

A significant part of content marketing involves achieving these links. Link building has traditionally meant that you reach out to a website and ask them to link to you. Part of link acquisition today has included paying for links because website owners understand the value of having links. But this often leads to bad practices and low-quality links. In fact, Google will penalize websites that both sell and buy links. The best alternative to paying for a link is generating linkworthy content.

Think about it. If I contact you and ask you to link to my web page, the first thing you’re going to think in the back of your head is, well, why should I? Compelling, relevant content already answers that question. If my content adds value to the audience of the website I’m reaching out to, then it will benefit the website by enhancing the content on its page and, ultimately, the experience for its visitors. The content stands out as interesting to their audience so they should be willing to link to it.

Top-notch content makes the strongest case for getting natural links, that is, links from genuinely interested website owners or editors. Linkworthy content generally gets more links from a variety of different sources, which is enormously valuable to your rankings and overall success. And the traffic that those links generate typically attracts a better potential customer. Put the effort in at the content development stage to make your content rock, and the links will follow.

Have any great “link attraction” examples you would like to share?

Note: the above is excerpted from my book Accelerate! Grow Your Business Through the Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing. It is a 250 page, step-by-step guide that any organization can follow to kick their content marketing strategy into high gear. Buy your copy today!