For a content marketer, the content is obviously, the most important thing. However, as a marketer, you will also need an audience to share the content with. While a part of your audience already knows that you have a blog or a website and that you are publishing frequently, there are a lot more people who need to find you in order to become part of your audience.
For example, let’s consider you have already published a blog post of high quality and value that is also informative and well written.
There’s a good chance that if you also share its link on social media, somebody will redistribute it and maybe, even get to be cited on another, more popular blog. You will immediately observe a massive change in traffic and if you keep doing the same things, you will attract more fans and followers.
How would you benefit in such an instance and why? There are multiple answers here.
1. Your first benefit comes from your content and its value.
If you are able to create informative and quality posts, people will want to read them. Except your already gained audience, there will be more to come and visit your website through organic search, the topic I will discuss in the next chapter.
2. The second benefit comes from your choice of linking back from social media channels.
While these channels give you backlinks with no-follow attributes and as a consequence, of no use for SEO, they help you grow awareness on your posts and make them available to the masses.
3. The third benefit comes from a valuable backlink coming from an influencer or a more popular blog than yours.
This means that someone read your article, considered it as for being of inherent value and decided to cite it on another article from another blog. This person can be someone from your audience, someone who has been searching similar topics on Google and found out your blog or someone who picked your link on a social media profile.
B. Why are links important for Google?
Remember the previous example and that I have mentioned about organic visits? Well, this is one of the most important things you should think of upon starting a blog or a website.
If you are a content marketer, organic search is one of the most important strategy for a long term strategy.
Let’s see why.
It’s no secret that Google and other important search engines are based on complicated algorithms that have to assess the links they have to display when a person searches for something. Their bots are constantly crawling the web and index pages and websites.
Then, they calculate ranking based upon the quality of the page and its relevancy.
Keep in mind this concept: Relevancy.
Your page is relevant as long as it is informative.
You might get on the first page based only on your content’s quality. However, it will not rank high on Google’s first query page unless you get backlinks from other relevant websites and blogs. Through these backlinks, Google’s algorithm is able to assess whether or not your blog has the quality and relevancy required in order to be placed on top of a query.
In order to explain this, I will try to offer a hypothetical example.
Let’s suppose you have just moved into a new city and you want to buy bread. You take a walk and see that there are two bakeries on your street, one on the left side and one on the right. Then, you ask around. Out of ten individuals, 8 will tell you to go to bakery available on the left side of the road. Two of them will tell you to go to the other one. What will you do? Which bakery will you visit first? Of course, you go to the left.
And this is exactly what Google does when they assess which website to place first on a search query.
Note: When it comes to the World Wide Web, relevancy also refers to where the backlinks are coming from.
When you rely on a word to mouth marketing strategy, as in the above example, you need referrals from people that are using your services or buying your products. When you are a content marketer, on the other hand, you need links from other relevant websites from the same niche.
For instance, if you are a dog trainer, you might not get links for other trainers in your area but you can get links from animal-related nonprofit organizations, pet shops and dogs related blogs. This is how the World Wide Web functions and these are the things you need to know about search engines and relevancy.
The more relevant you are, the higher you get to be placed on a search query and therefore, your traffic rates jump up.
Apart from what we have learned so far…
C. What content marketers should know about links?
Now that we know why links are important especially for search engines, let’s talk about how to get these links.
First, I want to tell you a few things about the specific types of media and what links you can earn for each of them.
Earned media, Paid media and Owned media
1. Earned media is what we call everything that gets to be published online for your benefit by other individuals. Here, we include reposts and shares on social media such as Retweets, Facebook and Linkedin shares and likes etc.
Also, in this category, we can easily integrate comments on your posts and videos, YouTube comments, reposts, reviews and backlinks from bloggers that are writing about you. This is what we’ve known in the past as „word of mouth” but this time, it is on an entirely new level.
How do you benefit from earned media?
Comments: First and foremost, they are all additions to your content marketing strategy. As long as you moderate comments and publish only the relevant ones, they will also function as published content on your blog, website or social channel. When people mention you in their comments, even on other websites, they will also contribute to your brand awareness. However, when it comes to links, the best comments are those who link back to your website. When does this happen? You get backlinks through comments when people give your posts as examples on specific topics.
Reposts: If your posts or visuals are valuable enough, you might be contacted by other bloggers or marketers who will ask you to let them publish parts of your content. This happens usually with infographics and videos. When someone wants to also publish one of your photos, you can ask them to link back to you, as the rightful owner of the published media.
Reviews: These are yet another great source of links for small businesses who are selling products or for those who are producing goods for the market. You can get reviewed as a blogger as well or as a website owner, as long as you have something really valuable to offer to your audience. Other marketers and content writers might mention you in their posts as an example. In all these cases you will get backlinks to your website. Some of them will be relevant and some of them will only get you visits. You can, however, benefit from both these cases as the relevant links will help you rank higher on Google while the others will help you expand your reach and grow your audience.
Bloggers who are writing about you: You can get backlinks to your website or blog when others are talking about your, mention your posts or cite parts of your articles. Usually, these are relevant links, good for SEO and brand awareness growth.
2. Paid media includes the paid ads from traditional offline and online marketing strategies. Here we include print ads, TV and Radio ads, display ads, paid search and all social media promoted and sponsored posts (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest). All these paid ads can be easily integrated into two main categories: offline ads and online ads. The offline ads such as the TV and Radio spots will not get you relevant backlinks, they will only help you to grow awareness on your brand and website. We are interested here in paid online media. Let’s see in the following paragraphs the main types of paid ads and why are they good for your website or blog.
How do you benefit from paid media?
Display ads: They represent the most classic and oldest method of online advertising. We are accustomed to banners ads since the dawn of the Internet and we’ve learned to accept them at first and to block them in the last decade. As a business owner, you can benefit from the links embedded in banners but lately, more and more people are using ad blockers to get read of these annoying and intrusive visuals. Nevertheless, you will get some new contacts, fans, readers or clients through ads even though, in some cases, these numbers will be lower than the numbers you get from an influencer’s link for example.
Paid search: This is yet another great method of getting links to your website or blog through the search engines advertising features. Virtually, when you pay for a search ad, you get to be featured on top of a search query for a specific keyword or key phrase. You will need a budget for that but nevertheless, the method is quite effective if you rely on an audience that uses search engines frequently.
Promoted/sponsored social media posts: Unlike the display ads option, promoted posts on social media is a relatively new feature that allows you to publish links to your website or blog. There are different strategies based on the type of social media you choose to use in your campaign. However, Facebook and Instagram are linked, which means that you can create a campaign from a common interface. Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms can help you grow awareness on your website and grow your audience but you will need a budget and also, knowledge related to the platforms your audience uses the most.
3. Owned media includes everything you publish on your website or on your eCommerce store, your blogs, social media channels, magazines, brochures, flyers and of course, the apps you publish on the online repositories.
How do you benefit from owned media?
Outbound links are also important for a website, but you will get the most out of your internal links. We’ll discuss this concept, along with the concept of inbound links during the next paragraphs.
D. What are the most common types of links?
I will answer this question by first acknowledging the difference between earned media, paid media and owned media when it comes to links:
Based on these types of media, we have two types of links: Inbound links and Outbound links
1. Inbound links (earned media + paid media)
These are the links you receive from other websites and social media accounts. I have already talked a few things about relevancy and search engine ranking, and I will reiterate these facts because they are important for a content marketer.
The first thing you should think about at this point is the quality of your inbound links. You can get ten thousand irrelevant links to a page of your blog that will serve you no good and one single relevant link that will make miracles. Why? Relevant and high-quality links are the basis of your domain ranking and at the same time, they generate traffic.
Let’s see how:
When you get an inbound link from a high ranking domain, the search engine notices that fact and considers your page as more relevant than it was before acquiring that link. Every link that comes from such a domain contributes to the ranking of your page and help you rank higher in search queries. If inbound links are pointing to your domain name, they will help you grow your domain authority with similar results.
At the same time, quality links from high ranking websites may also help you by driving direct traffic to your website. High-ranking websites have usually a great pool of readers, hence the newly gained traffic to your website. Some of them will stay and become regular readers.
How to get quality inbound links?
You can pay for links on specific niche websites related to your industry but you can also turn to guest posting.
Guest posting is free and it allows you the chance to grow awareness of your brand by contributing with valuable content on some of the highest ranked websites and blogs.
The easiest way to find relevant blogs and websites that accept guest posting is to search them on Google by using specific queries such as the following: “guest post by”, “guest post guidelines”, “guest author”, “become a contributor” and so on.
Take, for example, Gregory Ciotti, a successful blogger, writer, and publishing strategist. He has an interesting article on his blog about guest posting but more important, he writes from his own experience. A simple Google search on his name will reveal that he is a successful guest blogger on several high-ranking websites such as Lifehacker or FastCompany.
These guest articles helped him promote his own brand and HelpScout.net, the website he worked for as a marketing strategist. According to the aforementioned article published on his blog, Gregory managed through guest blogging to add over 36.000 subscribers to HelpScout’s email list.
Impressive, isn’t it?
Another great example comes from Danny Inny, the so-called “Freddy Krueger of Blogging”. He “skyrocketed his industry-leading marketing blog to success by writing 80+ guest posts on major blogs in less than a year” and now „he teaches others how to do the same in his Write Like Freddy blog writing training program”.
Search his name on Google and you will easily come with numerous articles and interviews all over the web. On the other hand, for further study, you can read one of his guest posts from thewritelife.com focused exactly on this topic that he excelled on: guest posting.
2.Outbound links and internal links (owned media)
Outbound links are the links from your blog or website that point to other websites hosted on other domains. They play an important role in your search engine optimization and marketing strategies because if carefully weighed, they can help search engines understand better your niche and rank higher your own domain.
Thus, we come back to our main keyword: relevancy.
Outbound links should also be relevant to your niche in order to make use of them in your SEO strategy. Pay attention however that while outbound links may be good, too many of them might annoy your audience. You need these links as the more your post, the more you will cite other writers and give credit for visuals, ideas, and quotes. A well-researched blog post cannot be based on a single opinion, that of your own.
Hence, the outbound links.
Internal links, on the other hand, are links that point to different pages and posts from your own website or blog.
For example, take a look at Wikipedia and see how each of their articles link back to other articles from the same domain when the link is relevant to the reader.
Internal links should also be relevant and useful (see Wikipedia). However, every link should use a different anchor text and a do-follow attribute. Thus, they aid in website navigation and define the hierarchy and the architecture of your website.
3. The attributes of the links:
The nofollow attribute instructs the search engines bots that the links should not influence the linked domain’s ranking in their search index. Basically, they block the bot from following the link to the indicated address. These are the outbound links that will not help you on your SEO strategy and here we include all links coming from social media websites. Are they any good? Yes, they are, considering that they might drive traffic to your website.
Dofollow links are the exact opposite of the links described in the previous paragraph. They are what the marketers look for when they are guest posting on another blog. These links allow the search engine bots to follow the path to the linked domain and therefore, they help your ranking and domain authority.
The canonical tag: This is another important concept related to internal linking. What are canonical tags? Well, they help you deal with duplicate content on your blog. The problem of duplication is a problem that should not be taken lightly as duplicate pages may dilute your website ranking. While you cannot stop others to steal your content and duplicate it on other domains, you can at least make sure you are not duplicating your own content without even knowing it. How is this possible you may ask?
When you publish a post, you think about it as a standalone page. There’s no duplicate, you will say, the search engine is wrong. However, things are more complicated than that. Search engines see your website differently than yourself.
For instance, for the main page, they can index the content as “www.yourblog.com”, “http://www.yourblog.com”, “http://yourblog.com”, “yourblog.com”, “www.yourblo.com/index.php” and so on. For you, these are all the same page but for the search engines, they are individual pages with the same content. Can you see the problem here?
How to deal with this issue:
Insert in each post a canonical tag such as the following:
For a content marketer, the content is the most important thing.
However, in order to be effective as a marketing strategy, this content should help the marketer’s personal branding strategy and also to help grow awareness of the website, brand or product they try to market. In order to achieve these goals, you need to set up a good and effective link building strategy.
First, however, you need to know everything that there is to know about links and I hope my introductory guide presented here will be of help to you.
What do you think about the importance of internal and external links? Do you have your own link building strategies?
Please add your inputs in the comments section available below, I am sure everybody will be more than happy to read your inputs on the subject.