To Get Links you need to Forget about Link Building

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I have been building websites and getting people to go to them since 1998. Doing it for such a long time does not always make you a better link builder, but it does give you a long view. It allows you to note that the current changes in the building of links to increase search engine rankings is just one more change in an constantly changing landscape.

The cost or value of links has changed too, experts would usually quote an average link on an average website, giving an average amount of Google juice would cost around $100 – $150. These would be links that would pass the “natural” test. You would need a few hundred of these links for the average niche to rank and get a decent ROI.

But what has happened is a whole level of the SEO industry has been eviscerated. These are SEOs who would rely on a fixed cost for link getting and could quite easily plan it out with blog network buys, industrial guest posting, web 2.0 articles, plus many more techniques that are available on black hat market sites.

Some of it still goes on of course and still works if you don’t abuse it.

Current link building best practice is more akin to PR than it is to SEO. The ironic thing is that the traditional PR agencies are still quite poor in achieving an effective ROI. This is because power has shifted from those slick smooth talking PR types to the passionate, creative, online digital publisher, or what we would call the Blogger.

Pick a jargon phrase and run with it – conversation marketing – inbound marketing – relationship marketing – content marketing – and so on. These phrases have a high copulation rate and so if you don’t like one another will be along shortly. If you employ a digital agency or find yourself on a self styled “guru’s” website, they will be using these types of terms and explaining how you need to buy their book that will reveal all.

But the reality is, the way you link build is actually quite ancient. It’s called “Publishing”. You create an idea, make it physical (ok digital but lets not distracted by semantics) by using a medium such as a blog post and then you share that idea with other people who react, hopefully in the way you desire.

It’s not about “build it and they will come”, publishing includes marketing, advertising, means of production, delivery etc.

To get links you need to be a publisher, you need to publish. Anything else is mechanics, the way or form in which you publish.

Effective publishing involves knowing the audience, achieving an effective ROI, developing relationships with those who consume the published material.

This is where effective link building resides right now. It could be argued that it has always resided in the concept of publishing (and as we know from Reddit pretty much anything can be argued).

Where does that leave you if you want and need links? You are probably not a publisher but sell something like, plumbing supplies online.

You simply have to build an efficient, effective publishing machine. This can be a one man band or a huge army of workers to build out a magnetic for links.

Your effort will have more effect if it is consistent, rather than a few linkbaits here and there.

Go get published and go get links.

Feed the viewer of your content as if it were a Velociraptor

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When creating content you should always serve the meat first and then let the viewer gnaw on the bones after, if they so desire.

My thinking when it comes to this stuff is to put the meat above the fold and then allow the detail to be revealed to those who wish to scroll. This rewards the hit and run viewer who simply wants the meat and then to share it, and the viewer who likes to spend more time and dig down to rich detail and then share.

When you have made the massive effort of tempting the ravenous viewer to your page, to feast on your tasty content, don’t make them work for it.

Feed them Seymore

Don’t make them have to think. Viewers when asked may like to pretend they like classics like Dostoyevsky, but John Grisham always sells more. Don’t make them have to scroll further to get to the meat because even if the meat is the tastiest in the world, the viewer will probably give up before they get to the end..

The importance of having the meat above the fold is huge, as most people will even give great stuff a cursory glance. Content has to impact fast and smash it in the viewers face. The detail, the complexity and the “take the viewer on a journey”, comes after that and rewards those who stick around and want a deeper narrative.

It is tricky because when we create something we have been taught to take the viewer on a journey, this thinking developed for magazines and books, when the viewer had little distraction or need to quickly move on, as they had bought the book/magazine and intend to read as much as possible.

Same doesn’t apply to web content.

I see the modern web browser as a starving Velociraptor. They are not too concerned with the complex flavours or that hint of truffle oil.

They want meat and they want it now.

My solution is to radically change your layout so that the meat is always served first, and then as the blood drips from the Velociraptor’s teeth, let them gnaw on the bones of the detail.

The aim is to create art that satisfies the hunger on viewing and then allows for further investigation and confirmation that the content is worthy of a social signal or a link.

This thinking underlies my philosophy when I consult with clients on content that gets shared.

I hope my thoughts on this helps.

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How to Compete with Kim Kardashian’s Ass

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The competition for your website content is not only content from other websites in the same niche.

You are also competing with:

  • Buzzfeed.com
  • Netflix
  • Twitter
  • Angry Birds
  • Facebook
  • World of Warcraft
  • Email
  • Lunch
  • Plants Vs Zombies
  • Huffingtonpost.com
  • and last but not least, Kim Kardashian’s Ass

The point is, don’t just think about the very small space that is your target website niche. Any niche is small compared to all the content that people are bombarded daily with and all this content is competing for the attention of your target. More content than a target may be interested in is being produced each day, this is what you are competing with when creating content.

When I was growing up – it was not that different to this Hovis advert – we had three TV channels to choose from, and to buy a newspaper, book or magazine you actually had to go outside and visit the shop, facing the problems of actually having to interact with people.

Effort and energy on the part of the reader had to be expended to be exposed to the content they wanted, this may have meant having to be in front of the TV at a specific time, or walk into town to buy the latest 2000AD.

Content creators back then (were not called “content creators”) had a lot less to compete with. The effort of publishing and actually getting the content in front of your target in the form of a magazine or TV program was usually enough. You didn’t really need to think about marketing that content like you do now, because the barrier to shipping was huge.

Now the barrier to shipping is a few mouse clicks.

To get traffic to a website you simply need to curate a blog post around Kim Kardashian’s Ass. Not that I am recommending that, but I want to highlight how easy it is to create content that people will be interested in and that TV, Tablets, Movies, etc. are also competing for the attention of your target.

90% of your content is useless. I make this claim after years of looking at clients and prospective clients websites and being asked to provide content marketing consultation. Most content is created by dead eyed copywriters, chained to the desk between 9 – 5, who care little about the words flowing from their keyboard and more about hitting the required word count.

Most content is without:

Passion
Usefulness

Most content does not have a chance, even if you only compare it with the daily output within that particular website’s niche, let alone competing with all the other great content attracting your target audience.

Beware those who say, “content is king”. They just don’t understand the space.

That was great in a time where Kings were rare, nowadays the Kings outnumber the peasants.

The solution is to have a Content Marketing Strategy.

It’s a fancy term isn’t it, one that is designed to wow and impress. What it means is that all your content shares one specific aim, which is tied up with your business model, your brand strategy and all sorts of other management speak guff. It’s something that goes down to the bones of what your business is about.

I know this kind of stuff is hard for a lot of website owners and business people to get their head around, I go through this each time I consult with clients on this matter.

It’s all about the Strategic Plan and using a combined forces mentality to build a machine that will compete with the posterior of any reality TV show star.

In a future post I will detail what a strategic content plan should look like.

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9 Keys to Effective Content Marketing

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1. Content has to have passion

2. Content should have a compounding interest effect

3. Content should be seen as a long term asset

4. Content should inform the reader of how to feel about your brand

5. Content creation should involve building a network of fans

6. Content should deliver a measurable and effective ROI

7. Content should be unique

8. Content should resonate with the targeted reader

9. All content should be part of a strategic content plan

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