Link Building: Thinking about the Message

Posted by: Laura Brooks on April 21st, 2010
In Search Engine Optimization, SEO

I’ve been thinking about the limits of media when I was a child and in my teens. We had television (and not 500 cable channels), movies, and then print. It still left a fair number of options, but nothing compared to the world we live in today. Would it date me to say that the general populace didn’t even begin to talk about the internet until I was in university?

As SEO professionals, it doesn’t hurt us to remember that some of the lessons from the pre-internet era are still valuable today. Studying the media itself and how it works is still worthy of our attention today, just as it was in 1964 when Mashall McLuhen coined the phrase “The media is the message”. It even applies to link building methods, including content writing, asking webmasters to link to your site, and linkbait.

Content writing is all about attracting readers and links to your site through simple, clear content. In order to take full advantage of this kind of marketing, “make sure that your content is easily readable and absorbable (and linkable)”. If you manage to do this, you’ll attract inbound links.

While acquiring links through good content writing is a passive activity (you are passively seeking links with your content), there are more active ways to pursue links, like asking webmasters to link to your content. This asking can take many forms, including “You ask, you beg, you might whine or offer a form of compensation.” This is a trickier method, because each webmaster has different preferences of communication and each niche market will require different language both for the content you want linked and for dealing with the webmaster you want to have do the linking. “You also have to choose and use, proven methods for approaching webmasters and alerting them to your content.”

Linkbait is a combination of active and passive methods of link building, and it has the advantage of being creative. You can use anything from videos to content pieces to whatever you dream up as linkbait, allowing your company to rely on its biggest strengths. As Julie Joyce says, “Linkbaiting is both passive and active. In producing linkbait in your desired form, you could just let it sit there and wait for the links to roll in, which is passive, but in order to really succeed, you have to take an active approach and do the asking/begging/pleading bits.” Social media can help to make your linkbait more visible too, but will be much more successful in a social media arena where you or your company are active members.

So the next time you are thinking about link building, consider the media you are using, the effort you intend to invest, and the outcome that can follow from each possibility before putting together your own link building toolkit.

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