Put what GoodROI said together with what netmeg posted and you have a general overview of the direction some link building can take. My focus of this kind of link building is on building awareness of your site/product in the minds of those likely to recommend it, either by word of mouth, social media, or links. Now more than ever the Industry is considering it. The sticking point is measuring direct impact. You can track new links from counting clickthroughs (referring sites
in your analytics), but you can't rely on a list of sites contacted to see if you created the links because many of the sites won't have been contacted.
There was a recent article on some blog. I won't link to it because I think it's also kind of lame. In it the author relates that he doesn't build links. The reason he doesn't build links is because he only consults for big brands who don't need link building. Now, you can call it lame that he only consults on easy site architecture jobs for big brand clients with bags of money that he can then namedrop on the Client List area of his site to attract more money bag clients. And it is kind of lame but it's nice work if you can get it, right?
But what I enjoyed about that article is that the author does have an idea for attracting natural links and it's what GoodROI, netmeg, and I have been talking about in our different ways, and goes way back to what Google originally used to advise way back around ten years ago: Make something good and tell others about it. Venganza!
About eight years ago I interviewed the guy who founded the Flying Spaghetti Monster site and posted the interview on my martinibuster.net blog (which I took offline). No doubt some SEO types didn't understand why I chose to interview someone who had no SEO experience, a person who engaged in zero SEO activities. So why should you as an SEO be interested? His site had a PR 7 and I wanted to know what he did to get it. People like that have more to teach you about marketing than a hundred posts on Matt Cutts' blog. That's why! The interview is offline but I published the text of it privately because it is useful to understanding the nature of attracting Natural Links. The gist of the interview is that the Flying Spaghetti Monster latched onto a popular trend (always a good way to attract links) and gave away cool and funny web graphics for people to reproduce and pass along. His server load for hotlinked images was something along the lines of forty gigabytes per month. And he profited, with zero SEO. That's food for thought, instructional, and inspirational. Which is why I interviewed him and republished it privately. With a few exceptions, there is more to learn about what to do from sites like Venganza than there is to learn from reading Google's official blog.
The big hang up with that approach is measuring ROI. I discuss this in my newsletter and published some of it on Facebook. Here's an excerpt:
The ROI of search advertising is directly measurable. The ROI of television advertising cannot be directly measured. The kinds of activities useful for attaining natural links are closer to the television advertising model in the sense that they cannot always be directly measured... The impossibility of direct measurement is not a problem inherent in the process. It's a problem imposed upon the process from without, by Internet Marketers and clients who are accustomed to measuring ROI and choose to make it a problem.
Getting back to the blogger who only accepts money bag clients with easy jobs, what put him on that track was:
1. Creating a useful product for web developers
2. Constant outreach to those likely to need his product
3. Constant outreach to those likely to need his consulting
4. Wrap it all around a brand Brand
That's a huge topic in itself. But it's becoming a necessary part of attracting long lasting natural links. Brand is one way of several viable approaches that can all be mixed together. But focusing on brand, I've been reading an interesting book called Zag, that talks about this issue. In Zag the author states that there are several aspects of building a brand and in Zag he devotes the entirety of the book to one of these aspects, differentiation
. While I found myself quibbling with the book here and there, the overall ideas are inspirational. What I mean by inspirational is that it expanded my view to apply some of the insights in my own way. Give it a read. It's applicable to the new Internet marketing paradigm we find ourselves in. Out of the box
I dislike how link building and crappy link building is thought of as the same thing. It's not. Article directories and all the other "scalable" strategies are making that water down the drain sound. It was scalable
and directly measurable
. The demand for measuring results through search marketing metrics have resulted in these spammy kinds of link building strategies. That's a box SEO has put itself in.