Recently I’ve read numerous posts & watched a few webinars about link building, and one of the most talked about & successful forms of link building is known as content marketing. Content marketing describes using great content (link bait) to attract links & use in outreach. Every time I find a new post about link building it’s always on this subject. With things like Google’s recent freshness update, I’m starting to realize that the term “link building” is slowly becoming “content marketing”. The label is changing as we look towards things like social media leverage to get the links we need.
As I mentioned before, Google’s made a huge change by implementing what they called a “freshness update”. The official update reports that the new change effects 35% of queries (which is not the same thing as keywords). This change has impacted mostly the big head keywords & keywords that are based upon freshness, such as news & celebrity websites. In a nutshell, the most recent content on the subject will be showing up in the SERPs, which sometimes mean those 2 year old posts you built a few great links to won’t have the same power it did a week ago. What this means for you is that in order to stay on top of the SERPs for some of your keywords (not all of them, but some), you’re going to need to constantly write great content on those subjects.
With this new update & the overwhelming success of strategies like infographic creation, I truly believe the cut & dry form of link building is slowly going away. Google can finally pull the amount of social metrics it needs to judge content on its popularity, which is taking away from old forms of static links from relatively unimportant websites. I’m not saying link building is going away, and in no way will it ever truly go away, but as a link builder you need to start thinking of “what type of content can I create to get me the links & the social traction I need to rank?” instead of “what new sites can I find & contact so I can spend 30 minutes pursuing 1 average link?”
This revolution of content marketing has changed the term from “link builder” to “link attracter”. Although there’s nothing wrong with going out & contacting individual webmasters about pursuing links, which in my opinion is still one of the top ways to get links, you need to first think in terms of content. Trust me, I know more than anyone how sick you are of hearing things like “content is king!” and “the number one link building strategy is creating great content!”, but if you haven’t started taking pride in your content, you will be left behind.
Instead of telling you what’s attracting links, I’ll show you. I recently came across this awesome infographic that’s relevant to link building, because as we said, link building is turning into how we can market our content, and one of the best ways is through StumbleUpon.
Graphic via Column Five Media.
I recently saw an interview of the founders of Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn, the founders of The Minimalists, a blog who built an audience of 100,000 in just 9 months. I went into the video thinking about which type of traffic building technique they implemented to get readers to their blog, but I was dumbfounded when the only thing they talked about was their content. I think Corbett had to bring up the idea of building traffic to their site before they even mentioned it briefly. What they talked about most is living every single they preached on their blog, taking their time to craft the perfect piece of content (even if it meant hours & hours of their time), and taking the time to engage with all their readers. Not once did they talk about any form of building links to their website to help them rank & build traffic through search engines, which ended up being one of the ways their readers found their blog. They weren’t “link builders”, they were “content marketers” who took their time creating great content.
Maybe 5 years ago you could get away with creating crap content, because you could just rank by submitting mass amounts of articles to scummy article directories, getting paid listings in high PR directories, or spamming forums, but in today’s search environment you just won’t get by. Whether that example was extreme or not, we need to start drastically changing our ways to get the links we want. I recently read a tweet (sorry, I don’t remember the person who tweeted this) that talked about news stations spending 15% of the time creating the news and 85% of the time getting it out to people. What we need to do is the exact opposite: Spend 85% of our time creating the best content possible, and 15% of the time pursuing links.