By Holly Powell
A lot has changed since online marketing first started; in fact, can you even remember a time when you thought stuffing meta-data full of keywords was a good idea?
Once upon a time, if you spent time building links you’d see results quickly, and minimal effort could increase your ranking on Google.
But if you’re in marketing now, you probably know how hard it is just to get a single link these days. Today, you need to earn links rather than build them.
Google and search has changed. You might think Penguin 2.0 was the tipping point, but Google has been trying to diminish, if not destroy, the value of paid-for or spammy links for a very long time.
Google is even starting to classify some guest posts as bad links, as some are potentially ‘unnatural.’
So what is a marketer to do?
Is SEO Dead?
The answer is no: SEO is certainly alive, but it’s not as we once knew it. You shouldn’t panic either, as any marketers who are focused on obtaining good-quality links, and writing content that is both engaging and reader-focused, will actually benefit from these changes.
The new algorithms at Google are working to remove the competition of those who use black-hat SEO methods, and so you’re about to be rewarded for all the dedicated, hard work you did for your clients.
You’re about to be rewarded for adhering to the rules too, and there are more benefits to come. To take advantage of them, all you need to do is embrace the new methods, it’s time to earn links.
Earning links is about creating things that people want to link to, so rather than asking people for a link, you’re just placing excellent quality content in front of influencers, and letting them do the rest.
Spend most of your time as a marketing agency coming up with brilliant ideas, rather than begging people for links, and you’ll soon find that when you produce those ideas, they are just as valuable, if not more valuable, than hours of outreach.
Earn Your Links
Lets take a look at a few of those ideas. Here are a few examples of thinking outside the box, that should help you attract the very best links:
- Think visual. Infographics, pictures, puzzles, Photoshopped photos, editorials, and more. Most people would rather scroll through a heap of great pictures than read a blog post, no matter how incredibly well written it is. If your visual content is unique and/or original, even better. You can release your content to news websites or blogs, offer them exclusivity or even the chance to be the first to publish the content.
- Create videos. Videos are one of the biggest emerging sectors of social media. Did you know YouTube is now the second largest search engine in the world? Just by publishing a great video on YouTube, you could get a heap of links from people sharing it with their friends or embedding it on their site. A great video could lead to your brand being approached for interviews, or being reviewed by bloggers and vloggers, because it’s such a great way of getting a lot of information across in a fun and interesting way.
- Think offline. Sometimes online marketing has to start offline. Just think about how many websites must review, write about, and link to events and news. Well marketers, it’s time to create that news, and plan those events. Get out there and get involved with your target market, create a flash mob, launch a publicity stunt, and do what it takes to make people talk about your brand. What happens online is often reactive to what happens offline, so maybe it’s even more effective to be the creator, not the commentator.
- Be interactive. People are more likely to engage with something if they are part of it. Games and apps are, of course, one of the best ways of doing this. Add a game or app to your client’s website, make it brilliant, funny, or just plain addictive (even simple can be addictive, just take Angry Birds or Candy Crush for example), and then litter it with sharing buttons. Links will come from sharing scores and results on Facebook and Twitter, or even from bookmarking and sharing on Reddit and StumbleUpon.
- Add gamification. Gamification is the newest buzzword in marketing, and rightly so! The idea behind it is we are all competitive, and we like it when things are set out as a game (remember, that’s how teachers got you to learn and pay attention in school!). Any content can benefit from gamification, just think about adding scores and an interactive nature, and you’ll find competitiveness leads to people linking their friends to your content, just to compare scores and abilities.
Remember the old “content is king” saying? Well new SEO still follows that rule. Link earning allows you to spend more time being creative, and less time sending out requests for guest posts and links.
And who wouldn’t want that?