1. Before Google
  2. Early link building for SEO
  3. Paid link building
  4. Guest Post
  5. Article directories
  6. Black Hat Link building
  7. Hell didn't despise anger like Google
  8. Is Link Building Dead?
  9. Enter digital PR

Link building is a constantly and rapidly developing sub-specialty in the SEO world.

Since most of us know that links are an integral part of modern day search engine optimization and that it will continue to be so in the future, it is wise to understand not only where we are today, but also how we got here.

This gives us a stronger basis for our decisions and helps us see through the BS when someone is advancing a crackpot theory.

Let's examine how link building has evolved over the years from Google to today.

Before Google

When we think of link building, we often think of Google.

With the invention of the link-based algorithm Backrub, Google introduced link building as a tactic for search engine optimization.

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But even before Google became the dominant force, there was link building – it just didn't play a role in search engine optimization.

At this point in history, link building was being used to drive visitors straight to your website rather than manipulating search results.

At the time, marketers used a tactic called web rings, where website owners published pages with links to other related websites.

They did this for several reasons – to help themselves, others in their industry, and even visitors, because search engines honestly sucks at the time.

People would actually visit these pages and specifically look for other interesting and useful websites to visit.

At this point there was still no link building that you would consider spam or black hat.

Not only were there no webmaster guidelines but there was no incentive to post these types of links as they would have had no effect.

From a purely technical point of view, this would have been unrealistic anyway, since domains and hosting were relatively expensive by today's standards and websites were coded manually in the editor. Automation would have been almost impossible.

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People took a user-centric approach because that was all that was important at the time.

Early link building for SEO

It seems crazy to think about it, but once upon a time, Google was just started as a research project by two college folks.

From then on, it grew rapidly and began to gobble up market share, eventually becoming the giant it is today.

Once marketers learned that inbound links were affecting rankings on Google, they started headfirst to build or acquire them by all possible means.

Virtually overnight, link building turned from a strategy with direct long-term benefits to a tactic that primarily offered indirect benefits in practice.

And as with any tactic, we abused them.

We figured out all sorts of tactics to build links and then exploited those tactics on a massive scale.

This eventually led to Google launching the disastrous update to the Penguin algorithm, which we will get into later.

First, let's break down the early tactics for building SEO links.

Mutual links

One of the earliest widely used link building tactics used for SEO purposes was reciprocal link building, an adaptation of the older concept of webring.

Initially, website owners simply published a page on which they link to other websites in exchange for those websites that link to their websites.

It quickly evolved into categorized links and paginated listings – basically a miniature directory.

Special software was even developed to manage these tactics, which automated much of the workflow.

A website owner would need to first place a link to their website from their website and then fill out a form on your website asking you to link to that website.

In the backend, a bot analyzes its submission, verifies that its website is linked to yours, and then queues that information for you to review and publish.

Many of these tools even had an email component that you could use to search for websites on a specific topic and email the owners of those websites to link to your website as you link to theirs.

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The main difference between web rings and reciprocal links is that web rings are almost always linked to other highly relevant websites, while reciprocal links often point to websites that are ready to go back to them.

This tactic became less effective when some website owners refused to create links.

They believed that linking to other websites would decrease their link fairness, so they tried to get others to link to their website without linking to it again.

Some have made this transparent and simply stated that they would not link to your website.

Others initially linked to a link partner's website only to remove the outbound link some time later.

Directory links

When I was a kid we had phone books, encyclopedias, and dictionaries. Today we have search engines that can instantly return the correct answer to almost any query.

Between these two periods we had a period when these sources of information were mixed.

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We had search engines, but they weren't very good. We had also categorized directories that were in many ways similar to old school phone books.

Often times the two were combined into one portal, as we've seen on Yahoo, AOL, AltaVista, and countless others.

Website owners can submit their website for listing, or the directory owner can even add specific websites just because they provide great information.

You can carry out a search in these portals. If all you want to do is explore, you can navigate to a specific category and click links.

It wasn't uncommon to find yourself deep in a rabbit hole by 4 a.m. after poking around all night.

Countless directories were created during this time. DMOZ was one of the largest nonprofit directories at the time. They didn't charge a fee to be listed but you had to be approved by a moderator and the queue was ridiculous.

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In fact, some people waited years to be listed and, in some cases, moderators simply ignored all of their competitors' posts.

Yahoo! also had a directory but charged a fee to be checked. They didn't guarantee a listing but said they would refund your money if you weren't listed.

Yahoo! directoryScreenshot of the Yahoo! Directory home page when it was still active.

However, I personally don't know anyone who has ever been turned down.

Note: The Yahoo! The directory no longer exists today.

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Countless thousands of directories appeared in various forms. Some were hyper-targeted and focused on a very small niche, while others were general directories that literally linked to anyone willing to pay the fee.

This quickly developed into a self-nourishing business model in which users who start new directories send their URL to existing directories in order to increase their link fairness – as measured by the PageRank or PR of Google at the time.

Once a directory has achieved a reasonable PR score, other people with new directories submit theirs for inclusion.

Google PageRankThe now-discontinued Google PageRank toolbar shows a rounded PR rating in your browser.

And that was on top of the normal business owners who also paid to have their website included.

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Guest book links

Everything on the internet was novelty in the early days, so we've done a lot of things that people would probably think were weird today.

Guest books are one of those things.

As the name suggests, guest books were a place for visitors to leave a message to the world that they had visited this site. It was the digital version of the scribble: "Dave was here!" on the side of your school in spray paint.

Visitors filled out a form and their response was posted in the guest book of this website for the world to see. It was a fun concept at first but was quickly abused by marketers.

This was one of the first early link building tactics to stall, mainly because it attracted so much junk.

One tactic that has stood the test of time is paid link building simply because it works. It's also far more efficient than cold negotiating for free links.

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It's also worth noting that many websites these days require a fee to link to your website, regardless of how impressive your content may be.

In the early days, people bought links from other highly relevant websites because their main focus was on attracting users rather than manipulating rankings.

However, over time, they bought links from websites based on a high page rank score. The higher the score, the higher the price.

Eventually, Google stopped sharing that score publicly, forcing link buyers and sellers to use scores from tool providers who tried to emulate the Page Rank formula.

The results from other tool providers are not identical to the page rank and do not in themselves mean anything. However, they provide a relative metric that can be used to compare the authority of different websites relative to one another.

Google is obviously against buying links and they have been very vocal about it, but reality doesn't matter in the real world.

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While purchasing links is a clear violation of Google's webmaster guidelines, so is every other method link building.

In other words, unless you just kneel by your bed and pray that people will link to your website. literally anything you do to acquire links is a violation of their guidelines.

And despite all the claims, Google is unable to identify and ignore paid links on a widespread or consistent basis. There is just too much evidence to the contrary.

Today, paid links take several forms.

Some marketers focus on buying links only from relevant, authoritative, high-traffic websites while others buy links from any website that appears to move the needle from a ranking perspective.

While I personally believe that buying links can be an effective and safe tactic today, there are some caveats here.

First, all of the links you buy should have the potential to drive real human visitors to your website.

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If you are buying a link for the sole purpose of ranking manipulation, you will not have as much control over it.

Second, you need to be selective about where to buy links.

You can throw away any of those stupid emails in which a stranger offers you to sell links right away because they are offering it to everyone, so you can be sure that Google knows about them, too.

You can also ignore any website that links to a bunch of random websites that don't make sense in context.

For example, linking to third-party data that supports a position or statement in an article is perfectly acceptable.

However, talk about a specific topic and randomly link to a company's homepage. even if the company is relevant to the topic – This is a sign that they are likely to be selling links to such an extent that they are not having a positive impact on you.

In the early days of the internet, websites were mostly static. Blogs and forums have changed this by allowing people to get involved in real time.

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It also provided the opportunity for marketers to generate huge amounts of links, which in many cases went unnoticed by website owners.

Blog comments

Although you don't see them that much these days, most blogs had a comment section that visitors could use to post their thoughts at the end of a post.

Nowadays, most blogs don't allow comments because it's just not worth fighting spam comments and angry trolls.

This tactic started when marketers realized that they could easily get a link simply by posting a comment on a blog post.

In most cases, the comments form will contain fields for a name, email address, and URL. When the comment was published, the name became the anchor text associated with the URL from this field.

Blog comment.This is a screenshot of a blog comment form with standard fields.

However, it was a monumental task and not cost effective to manually identify enough blogs and then leave enough comments on them to affect the ranking. Smart people who wanted to be more productive developed software to automate the process.

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With this software, marketers were able to quickly create huge amounts of links by posting spun comments on thousands of blogs in a single day. (I'll talk about spinning in the article submissions article a little later in the article.)

There was a time when this was incredibly effective – until Google released their Penguin update. Google later screwed up its algorithm and it came back into operation.

I'll talk more about this facet a little later in this article as it is an important piece of information you need to know if you really want to understand modern day link building.

Forum links

Before social media was as prominent as it is today, people gathered in forums to exchange updates, ask questions, network and debate.

Forums as a link building channel came in two styles.

Forum Links Style # 1

The first and most obvious style was posting links within the forum. The key here was to bring some level of social engineering into these positions.

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Myopic link builders would take a drive-by approach by simply deleting their link and running.

Forum spam.Here is an example of drive-by spam links on a forum.

These would be predictably deleted almost instantly in any relatively active forum.

Smarter link builders designed their posts in such a way that it was not only logical, but often necessary to include a link. These tended to linger for a while, if not forever.

Forum Links Style # 2

The more subtle style was to create an account on a forum, add a url to your profile, and move on. Since most forum owners didn't have the time to look at each new user, this usually went unnoticed.

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Unsurprisingly, software was designed to automate this on a large scale, which meant link builders didn't have to spend time on these forums – The software would do 99% of the work.

Both styles were incredibly effective at the time, but with social media replacing the role of forums, there are significantly fewer forums and they're less effective today.

Guest Post

I've always loved this tactic because it's a solid, holistic marketing tactic.

It's been around since the earliest days of the internet. More importantly, guest posting still exists today as it is still an incredibly effective tactic.

By sharing your knowledge on a larger platform that already has an established audience, you not only create awareness for your brand but also earn valuable links to your website.

Sometimes these links are in your bio at the bottom of the article and sometimes even in the body of the article.

There's a natural barrier to entry here because to use this tactic effectively one had to write well and have decent skills to introduce the subject to the website owner or editor.

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In reality, it's much more like traditional public relations than link building.

The key is to identify websites with consistent traffic that are relevant to your product or service and get them noticed by writing on a topic that the audience will want to read.

When I say relevant here, I don't mean loosely relevant. It is not enough to say, "Your website is about vehicles, mine is about vehicles." In fact, even saying, "Your website is about cars, mine is about cars" is not enough.

You need to be more specific.

If your website is about traditional muscle cars and your website is about small import cars, your audience is unlikely to care about your article, titled "9 Reasons the Honda Civic is the Best Car Ever".

In fact, they'd probably hate it, and the website owner would likely get beaten up by their audience if they published it at all.

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For guest posts to be effective, the published content had to be well-written, very engaging, and most importantly – relevant to their audience.

When these criteria were met, guest posting became a powerful tool for building not only quality links, but awareness, a strong personal brand, and in many cases a strong corporate brand.

But a lot of marketers thought that if a little bit of this is good, then it has to be a lot better.

This led to the proliferation of article directories.

Article directories

Once marketers realized how effective guest posting was, the next logical step was to scale the tactic.

This is how article directories were born. They have become one of the most disruptive and powerful link building tactics of all time.

In fact, the impact of this tactic was so great that Google was eventually pushed over the edge to take unprecedented action against link building with the Penguin update.

Think of creating links through article directories as a more robust form of creating links through blog comments. Instead of just posting a comment on someone else's blog, publish an entire article.

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Similar to link directories, article directories quickly became an entirely new industry.

Thanks to dedicated software, website owners have been able to create their own article directory with minimal expenditure of time and effort. New WordPress plugins allowed them to add this feature to an existing website.

It didn't take long to create a huge network of article directories to which other link builders were eager to submit tons of content.

And they did.

After running my own network, I'll say this firsthand.

I kept hundreds of these directories and every morning I woke up to find hundreds of new articles submitted to each one. The volume of fresh content was amazing.

Now I will say that I am using the term "fresh content" a little loosely here.

The content was technically fresh as it would pass a Copyscape test, but it wasn't really original content.

Marketers would write an article on a specific topic and then use Spintax to convert that content into an infinite number of other articles so they can submit a "unique" article to each directory.

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Specialized software read this spin tax, selected randomly selected variables and created a technically unique content.

So your original sentence could look like this:

Most SEOs who claim to be "white hat" either lie or don't know what they're talking about.

And your new sentence with Spintax could look like this:

{Many | Almost all | Most} {SEO professionals | SEO professionals | SEO practitioner | SEOs} who {say they are | say they are | claim they | claiming to be} "white hat" this is not telling truth either | Falsehood | Lies} or none {significant | real} experience | {Understand | Know} what they {talk |} about.

Here are some sentences that Spintax created:

  • Almost all SEOs who say they are "white hat" are either not telling the truth or have no significant experience.
  • Most SEO pros who claim to be "white hat" either lie or don't know what they are talking about.
  • Many SEO pros who claim to be "white hat" are either untrue or don't understand what they are talking about.
  • Almost all SEO pros who say they are "white hat" either lie or don't know what they are saying.
  • Many SEOs who claim they are "white hat" either lie or have no real experience.

It doesn't take much to see how powerful this tool was.

Invest a little money into writing a decent article and then add the appropriate spintax for the entire article. You can now send a unique article to hundreds or thousands of other websites – with each article linking to your website!

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And just as software was designed to run these article directories, software was also designed to submit your articles to them.

It would create your accounts, rotate the articles, and submit them to the directories. All you had to do was provide the item, add the Spintax, and then run the software.

I personally used both sides of this equation.

I used this link building tactic by submitting spun articles that link on a large scale to my own websites, but also ran my own network of article directories.

These directories generated advertising revenue, collected email addresses, and even became valuable resources from which I could link to my own websites.

They essentially became a new source of income, a new marketing channel, and my own huge PBN made up of hundreds of websites that have been positively rated by Google.

Until they weren't.

Technically, this was viewed as a black hat by Google, which silently prepared a major algorithm update behind the scenes to combat what they viewed as manipulative linking practices.

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Before we talk about that, I want to take a minute to explain what counts as black hat link building.

Black Hat Link building

Most SEO professionals want to place themselves in either the white or black hat category, but most people who claim to fall into the white hat category are lying or wrong.

What is the difference between a white and a black hat?

Supposedly, white hat means you follow all search engine webmaster guidelines, while black hat means you don't.

It seems pretty simple, doesn't it?

I think it is.

This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but it does mean that, literally, anything you do to get links to your website firmly falls into the black hat category.

According to Google's webmaster guidelines, participating in link schemes is the second item listed as a technique to avoid.

How does Google define a link scheme?

Google defines a "link scheme" as:

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Any link intended to manipulate the PageRank or ranking of a website in Google search results can be viewed as part of a link scheme and as a violation of Google's webmaster guidelines. This contains Any behavior that manipulates links to your website or outbound links from your website.

In other words – literally anything you do to acquire links.

Blog comment and forum spam? Yes. We can all agree on that.

But what about a PR campaign? Surely that's organic because your brand is featured for the merits of something it does or has done, right?

Did you ask the journalist to link to your website or did you just send them your url in the hopes that it would?

Then you violated Google's webmaster guidelines by manipulating links to your website and you are now officially a black hat.

Welcome to the club. We have T-shirts and we meet on Thursdays.

When most logical people (who aren't Google spokesmen) think of building black hat links, they usually think of tactics like:

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  • Blog comment links.
  • Forum links.
  • Profile links.
  • Mutual links.
  • Private Blog Networks (PBNs).
  • Hacked website links.
  • Guest post with spun content.
  • Buy links.
  • Web 2.0 connection wheels.
  • Widget links.
  • Free thematic links.

In general, these are low quality links that are easy to automate.

The reality is that what most logical people consider a black hat and what Google considers a black hat are two very different things.

Ultimately, that decision is entirely in the hands of Google and it is up to all of us to determine where we stand in terms of the risk / reward balance.

If you want to fully adhere to their guidelines, you need to give up link building entirely.

Just know that you are giving your competitors an enormous advantage over you by doing so.

If you are ready to take a risk and play in the gray area, you need to know that Google's answer may one day destroy your business.

This is what business owners and marketers found out about in 2012 when Google released their Penguin update.

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Hell didn't despise anger like Google

In 2012, Google took massive action to combat link building tactics deemed manipulative.

With the release of the Penguin algorithm update, Google effectively destroyed countless thousands of businesses overnight.

This was a kind of update "burn the harvest and salt the earth".

Not only was the penalty harsh – many companies didn't even turn up looking for their own name – but it was often unfounded as the algorithm was prone to false positives.

In most cases, if caught in the crossfire of penguins, a business owner had no choice but to start over with a brand new domain.

Many people learned this the hard way when they were once hit by punishment.

While they could put a ton of money into trying to remove the offensive links, it wasn't a guarantee of getting reintegrated on the SERPs.

And even if you were, you would be starting from scratch.

Countless business owners have done just that just to wait (sometimes for years) without change. No feedback. Not even an answer.

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Over the next few years, Google then destroyed its own algorithm when the nofollow initiative was pushed forward.

This is simply an HTML attribute that website owners can use to instruct search engines to ignore any links marked with the attribute.

It should be used to help Google identify and ignore links that are not editorially placed.

In other words, it was a signal for Google and other search engines not to use a link marked with the attribute in order to positively influence the ranking of the website being linked to.

Seems pretty easy right?

Almost immediately, most blogs, forums, and other web-based platforms implemented the nofollow attribute into their code base, rendering many black hat tactics useless.

But then publishers, from tiny blogs to tier 1 media like the Wall Street Journal, started applying them to literally all outbound links.

While the nofollow attribute has hurt the effectiveness of certain spam link building tactics, it has also effectively destroyed Google's ability to understand contextual links.

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This created a whole new problem that needed to be quietly fixed behind the scenes.

How did Google do that?

They did it by ignoring the nofollow attribute.

This brought us back to where we were before the Penguin update, only this time most people had no idea that virtually every black hat link building tactic was back in the game.

Perhaps you've heard some SEO experts and even Google employees claim that this type of tactic doesn't work today.

Perhaps their claims sound credible.

But the truth is that they are completely wrong.

Everyone. Single. One. Of. You.

Die SEO-Experten, die behaupten, dass diese Taktik nicht funktioniert, machen diese Behauptungen aus einem von zwei Gründen geltend, und ich bin mir nicht sicher, welcher Grund schlimmer ist.

Ein Grund dafür ist, dass sie wirklich keine Ahnung haben, wovon sie sprechen, wenn es um dieses Thema geht. Ich glaube, dieser Grund trifft auf die meisten Menschen zu, die diese Behauptung aufstellen.

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Der andere Grund ist, dass sie wissen, dass diese Taktiken funktionieren und sie anwenden, sich aber als „weiße Hüte“ ausgeben, sodass sie weiterhin über Googles Gesprächsthemen nachdenken. Ich glaube, dieser Grund trifft auf einen sehr kleinen Prozentsatz der Personen zu, die diese Behauptung aufstellen.

Das habe ich vor einigen Jahren gelernt, als ich anfing, Experimente mit Blog-Kommentaren durchzuführen, um Links zu etablierten Websites zu erstellen. Darüber hinaus habe ich absichtlich jede Art von Fußabdruck erstellt, die Sie sich vorstellen können.

Für jede Website habe ich genau passenden Ankertext verwendet und fast 300.000 Links erstellt – alle zur Startseite innerhalb von weniger als einer Woche aus einer zufälligen Sammlung von Blogs.

Viele dieser Blogs waren für die Testseite nicht relevant, waren reiner Spam oder enthielten hauptsächlich nicht englische Inhalte.

Alles, was Google behauptet, rote Fahnen auszulösen, die zu einer algorithmischen oder manuellen Strafe führen würden, war in großem Umfang vorhanden.

Hat eine dieser Websites entweder eine algorithmische oder eine manuelle Strafe erhalten?

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No.

Aber Google muss diese Spam-Links einfach ignoriert haben, oder?

Auch Nein.

Stattdessen verzeichneten alle diese Websites einen massiven Anstieg des Rankings und des organischen Verkehrs.

Jetzt denken Sie vielleicht: „Hah! Aber wie lange hat das gedauert, Jeremy? "

Nun, wir machen jetzt zwei Jahre weiter und das Ranking und der Verkehr halten immer noch stabil!

Blog Kommentar Spam.Sieht das nach einer Taktik aus, die nicht funktioniert?

Ist Link Building tot?

Alle paar Jahre hören wir jemanden erklären, dass der Linkaufbau tot ist. Und trotz dieser Behauptungen wird der Linkaufbau nach wie vor fortgesetzt.

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Ich verstehe, dass viele dieser Leute diese lächerlichen Behauptungen nur für den Werbefaktor machen. Das ist PR 101 – sagen Sie etwas Schockierendes oder Kontroverses, und die Leute werden darüber sprechen.

Sie müssen nicht lange suchen, um Tausende von Beispielen dafür zu finden, sowohl in der SEO-Branche als auch im Allgemeinen.

Aber es gibt noch eine andere Seite dieser Medaille, die meiner Meinung nach weitaus heimtückischer ist: Crackpot-Theorien darüber, wie sich der Linkaufbau entwickeln wird.

Eine Besonderheit (die ich in einem zukünftigen Artikel vollständig zerlegen werde) ist die Vorstellung, dass Suchmaschinen bald auf magische Weise die Bedeutung eines Inhalts ableiten und diese als Ranking-Faktor anstelle der tatsächlichen Links verwenden werden.

Diese Idee, die von Rand Fishkin vertreten wird, ist genau die Art von Unsinn, die dazu führt, dass SEO-Mythen von unerfahrenen SEO-Praktikern und Kleinunternehmern erstellt und wiederholt werden.

Linkaufbau ist alles andere als tot, und die meisten Experten sind sich einig.

Obwohl Konsens nicht unbedingt eine bestimmte Position zu einer Tatsache macht, kann ich zuversichtlich sagen, dass der Linkaufbau in unserem Leben wahrscheinlich nicht zum Erliegen kommt, wenn auch aus keinem anderen Grund, als weil die Grundlagen der Benutzerfreundlichkeit im Web Links erforderlich machen. Links sind der einzig logische Weg, um auf eine „Abstimmung“ für eine bestimmte Seite zu schließen.

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Geben Sie Digital PR ein

Die aus ganzheitlicher Sicht effektivste Art des Linkaufbaus, da sie den langfristigsten Wert bietet, ist die digitale PR.

Dies ist die Zukunft des Linkaufbaus, da es nicht spielbar und nicht durch automatisierte Methoden skalierbar ist.

Sogar Googles John Muller ist an Bord. (Zur Zeit.)

Ich liebe einige der Dinge, die ich von Digital PR sehe. Es ist eine Schande, dass es oft mit der spammigen Art des Linkaufbaus zu tun hat. Es ist genauso wichtig wie technisches SEO, wahrscheinlich in vielen Fällen sogar noch wichtiger.

– 🍌 John 🍌 (@JohnMu) 23. Januar 2021

Stellen Sie sich das so vor: Nehmen wir an, Sie haben ein fantastisches Produkt und beauftragen einen Blogger oder Journalisten, darüber zu schreiben. Sie stimmen zu und schreiben eine Funktion für Ihr Produkt, Ihr Unternehmen und Sie auf.

Jetzt sehen ihre Leser diesen Artikel und erfahren mehr über Ihr Produkt, Ihr Unternehmen und Sie.

Der Artikel wird wahrscheinlich mindestens einen Link haben, möglicherweise mehr, und er kann sogar eine Position in den Suchergebnissen für Ihren Markennamen sichern.

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Als Ergebnis dieses erfolgreichen Pitch haben Sie nun Folgendes erreicht / verdient:

  • Markenwahrnehmung.
  • Exposition.
  • Vertrauen durch implizite Unterstützung.
  • Ein oder mehrere Links.
  • Eine Position in den SERPs für Ihre Marke.
  • Erhöhte Markensuche.

Dies ist jedoch keine einmalige Auswirkung!

Dies wird auch in den kommenden Monaten oder Jahren Ergebnisse liefern und einen Schneeballeffekt erzeugen, bei dem je mehr Deckung Sie verdienen, desto mehr wird zu Ihnen kommen.

Once you build enough momentum and begin to be seen as the authority in your industry, PR becomes a self-feeding machine to some degree. But that doesn’t mean you should take your foot off the gas when it happens.

There will always be someone who wants to eat your lunch, so no matter how dominant a position you think you have it’s critical to keep pushing.

This can be somewhat of a zero-sum game because if a publication writes about your business, they probably won’t write about one of your competitors for a while.

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The media coverage and resulting links you miss out on today could very well be the ones that enable your competitors to overtake you in the future.

The first and most important factor is that you must have a story worth telling. Most people don’t, and many of those who do frankly suck at telling their story.

In telling your story, you have to understand both your audience and the audience of the publication you’re pitching. Understanding the audience is critical to getting your story picked up and for getting it to resonate with people.

From there, you have to build relationships with journalists, bloggers, editors, producers, and others responsible for publishing content online.

Yes, you can achieve results from a cold pitch, but it’s rare and difficult. When you’re reaching out to someone you communicate with on a somewhat regular basis, your messages get top priority.

Here’s a perfect example…

I recently hosted a Clubhouse room with a number of media professionals, and many of the people in the room were friends of mine. After that room concluded, another publicist who was in the room reached out to one of the television anchors and pitched a story for one of their clients.

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It went nowhere.

Now, it’s worth noting that this publicist, who happens to be a very close friend of mine, is highly experienced and capable, so I know the pitch was expertly crafted and delivered.

As a favor to this publicist, I pitched the story on their behalf.

I got a yes within minutes.

Same pitch. Same story. Same timeframe. Same television anchor.

The only difference was my relationship.

This demonstrates the importance of relationships in this model, and also shows that PR, unlike traditional link building, cannot be easily gamed or automated.

This won’t be the end of the evolution of link building, but I believe this most recent major evolution will be the primary link building tactic for the coming years.

Link building is going to evolve with or without you.

Are you evolving or getting left behind?

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Screenshots and featured image created by author, April 2021

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