You’ve probably heard it before: “We need links!” A huge asset to Digital Marketing is SEO, and an equally important asset of SEO are links. I love Google as much as Google loves links: a lot. There are a lot of great ways to garner links and get Google to like your brand (here’s what they don’t care for) that are all built upon the same thing (hint: it’s your business!).
One of the greatest challenges when it comes to links is brand identity. Let’s say xyz.com is a publication based in your industry. You may have a great, important product that they could write a piece on, but when you reach out to them, they’ve never heard of you and can’t find mention of you anywhere online.
XYZ is unlikely to want to link to your site, let alone develop content and spend time researching your brand (especially if that brand barely exists). Therein lies the number one challenge of link building: branding.
I’ve overseen link building efforts for several clients who are nearly impossible to garner links for. After many attempts at manually searching for links (via our best friend, Google), finding few articles or third-party content, and failing to get a reply to a link request email, I traced back the main problem to a lack of attention. A lot of SEO’s dream of getting links from news stations and publications, like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, but fail to first consider their client’s industry.
Content Harmony similarly notes that “if you’re an electrician, getting a link from a website dedicated to electricians is more valuable than a website dedicated to fishing,” a wise interpretation if I do say so myself. At risk of drawing back the curtain on my research tactics, the aforementioned quote and subsequent links were placed in this very blog by way of searching Google for supporting articles, finding Content Harmony’s blog, and finding their content to be relevant and valuable to my own blog.
With a domain authority of 42, CH ranks well in organic search, allowing more opportunities to be found by writer’s like myself. Their attention to branding (in way of local optimization and other ranking factors) earned them a link, something SEO’s like myself hope to accomplish with each blog and piece of content we write.
One big question SEO’s are faced with is whether or not links are “[signals] to Google that your site is a quality resource worthy of citation.” What makes a citation worthy? Imagine for a moment that you’re in school, writing a research paper. Your teacher has told you the value and importance of building a healthy and authoritative citations list. Your references should be credible, knowledgeable, and relevant.
Google is essentially a doctoral candidate. Google is great at parsing through the millions of sites and pieces of content on the web and assigning them value. One way Google does that is through links.
When I was in school, my teachers and professors had a required amount of citations needed in order for my paper to be deemed well-researched and valuable enough for a read.
This is essentially what Google is doing. When site XYZ links back to you, Google knows that those people thought your content was worthy of linking to, so they must know something about your industry. XYZ creates solid, optimized content which boosts their relevance, which in turn boosts the quality of the link back to your site, thus bolstering your site’s linking profile. Cheers all around.
You may be familiar with the quote, “if you build it, they will come.” There’s a school of thought in SEO that if you build the brand and the content, the links will come. I like to think it’s a mixture of this kind of hope and a dash of hard work. The hard work comes from garnering awareness of your brand within your industry in the hopes that other industries take notice.
Awareness can come from sponsorships, scholarships, and being a genuinely decent group of people creating something genuinely decent. Not only is brand awareness an asset to SEO and link building, it’s an asset across the board. Links feed into the great, secretive system of rankings as determined by Google and can help customers or clients find you within the ocean of search results.
Links are an incredibly vital part to the digital marketing ecosystem and should be an integrated part to your branding and marketing strategies. The revolving world of both links building a brand and a brand building links is a healthy cycle that fuels Google’s impression of your website, brand and company. We all play the Google game and links are a great leg-up on the competition.
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