HOW TO BUILD LINKS – DON’T DO IT?
I remember reading about the founder of UniverseToday.com and how he built his website and traffic to an astonishing 80,000 visitors per day.
His secret was really no secret at all. He just published articles people were searching for that happened to be related to space and the universe. This is known as publishing keyword focused content… or if you want a sexier term: “content marketing”.
He went after phrases like “why does the moon glow” or “how big is the sun” or “whats the biggest know star in the known universe”.
Then he built a community around his website through social media.
THAT’S IT. THAT’S ALL HE DID. RINSE AND REPEAT
Now once he had an audience he smartly expanded the reach of Universe Today into social networks. He was one of the first to showcase the power of Google Hangouts by hosting live space events with Google Plus by having people from around the world hook up their computers to telescopes for all to observe the night sky in different parts of the world.
Very cool stuff he does, and a massive website he does run. All of this of course helps to continue growth of his website (including his publishing schedule and keyword strategy).
BUT HOW DID HE GET HERE?
Do you know how long it took him to get to this point to get this level of traffic? Around 8 years.
8 YEARS IS NOT A STRATEGY, IT’S A HOBBY
With any new website or blog or business, if you build it:
THEY WILL NOT COME
You have to hit the proverbial pavement and promote your website. Now, I’m not saying that Google is not smart. It is and if you’re the sort to write 4,000 word epic pieces of content, with custom images and that’s well researched, and it’s going after big keywords that include a lot of long tail keywords – that sort of content will be indexed and ranked.
I guess it all comes down to how competitive your topic is. For WebsiteCreativePro.com it’s a very competitive niche. You have to both make outstanding content AND you have to promote your website.
Without the latter, you’re going to simply create great content that simply won’t rank because specific topics tend to be dominated by a few big players. But not always, it really comes down to keyword research.
Honestly though, for most topics, Google is smart enough to rank your content correctly if you’re consistently pushing out 2,000+ word pieces of content week after week.
What end up happening is the “flywheel effect” where because you rank, you begin to attract more links and thus cement your position even more.
HOW DO I KNOW?
I try stuff out like this on my personal blog. I recently wrote a blog post about why Connecticut sucks for all intents and purposes because that is actually a fairly popular search term because that’s what people think who live their. I wrote a 2000 word article and did ZERO promotion. What ended up happening was that it eventually took Google a month or so to index that content appropriately and now it’s one of my top 7 articles that brings in traffic everyday.
BUT again, it depends on your keywords. For example, my post on email marketing is a massive post. Almost 7000 words. Will it rank? For email marketing? Probably not, at least not with doing external link building through email out reach. BUT it could eventually be indexed and start driving traffic from a long tail perspective.
Don’t Build Links?
Well I can say from experience that content is important but it’s not enough in some cases. I’m apprehensive about talking about this because most people need to focus way more on their content than they do any sort of off page SEO.
But for competitive topics, you need to build links, you need to promote. When I say links, I don’t mean using some spammy technique where you blast a website with links. I’m talking about looking for link opportunities and reaching out to the respective website owner.
A good strategy would be to create an epic piece of content, then create additional pieces of content as they make sense for your website, but maybe their going after more specific keywords.
Again, you should aim big and go for big keywords, but sometimes some posts simply make sense to go after something smaller.
A great example is my “how to register a domain name” post. There is only so much you can write and create for a topic like that. To create a 4000 word article would be silly.
So do you need to build links?
If you’re just stating out and you have less than 30 articles published focus more on your content unless you’re an experienced marketer.
Marketing is the lifeblood of any business, online or offline. If you’re not actively working to communicate how your products and services can help your right people don’t expect to just magically get traffic.
It’s part of your responsibility as an entrepreneur who is committed to making money and helping people to find your target audience and connect with them, instead of waiting around for them to find you.
You need to develop systems (MULTIPLE systems, not just search) that elegantly and respectfully attract and convert buyers for your business. One of those systems is search traffic, and search traffic works off of trust and backlinks to your website.
When starting out or when you make big changes to your website it may end up in the “sandbox“, the place where new website hang out until they get some age and prove their not spam central. Now the sandbox is just a theory, but search engines do seem to implement some sort of process like the sandbox above.
DON’T BUILD BACKLINKS
If you do your keyword research really well and focus on creating best in class content, link building is a secondary thing you should focus on. This is even more true if you’re in a niche where there is just not that much competition from experienced SEO’s
THESE GUYS GET IT
Scott Dinsmore of LiveYourLegend.net wrote 20+ guest posts (see them here) that resulted in 4,000 subscribers that formed the base of his audience (which has now grown to 30,000+).
Derek over at SocialTriggers.com leveraged his contacts of A-List bloggers for free website reviews which all went live at or around the same time. This “blitz” resulted in you not being able to ignore Derek. This “off your website” strategy directly increase his subscriber base by the thousands and put Derek on the map as a go to source for online marketing.
Steve at MyWifeQuitHerJob.com launched an online store and promoted it in relevant forums as a way to make initial sales. He wrote articles on other websites for backlinks and promotion. He went and submitted his website to directories. His product description were matched with keywords that people searched for. He did not just make his online store and hope that people would just magically show up. He did what he had to in order to make things work.
David at TheRiseToTheTop.com started off with a local TV show which helped grow his interview website for what he calls “mediaprenurs”. With each interview, he grew his reputation and portfolio of interviews which allowed him to leverage his previous work to go after bigger more high profile people. Each of these interviews helped grow his website because the interviewee would share the interview with his network of people. Oh, and he did this while also posting 5 days a week for the first 2 years. He spent as much time off his website as much as he spent on it.
THE MAIN TAKEAWAYS
Starting a new website or e-business or blog is like trying to roll a boulder up a hill. It takes a lot of creative thinking and hard work to get over that hump. This is why Lisa’s post on growing a website to 150,000 page views a day (2,300 visitors a month roughly) with no link building is unrealistic for everyone just starting out because it does not address the competitive level of each niche a person can choose.
If you try to do the same you may have success as it’s totally possible, but most likely you’re just going to have a website with a lot of content that gets no search traffic or visitors.
So promote your website. Use Pintrest, use Facebook, reach out to relevant bloggers and communities like Reddit when possible.
BUT, make sure your content is worth linking to and worth sharing.
Over time, you’ll notice your search traffic increasing month to month, every month plateauing around the 3 year mark IF you’ve been consistent with content production.
- Search engines trust you and rank you more easily
- People know you exist and share your content via social media and word of mouth
- Webmasters know you exist and are more likely to link to you
- You have an audience and an online presence and reputation.
So once you’re over this proverbial hump it makes sense to focus more specifically on your own website, but if you’re just starting out you need to get out there and push that boulder everyday to make your idea work.
EXCEPTIONS + GROWTH IS IN THE LONG TAIL
If you start a website on a topic with a minimal amount of competition you stand a much better chance of having success by following the strategy laid out by Lisa and Universe Today. What I mean by “minimal amount of competition” means that there are not a lot of websites trying to rank for specific keywords and phrases related to your market.
They have the keyword in the URL, the post title, the meta description, and it’s located within the page numerous times. If you notice a website ranking for a keyword but does not seem to be targeting it, that’s a sigh of low competition. Meaning search engines want and need more content on that subject matter.
Focus on long tail keywords for the short term and high value keywords for the long term. Long tail keywords CONVERT better than short 1-3 word keywords. I know because I used to have a website that ranked for “awesome”. All that did was drive a ton of traffic to my website but not any sales or sign-ups.
Revenue over rankings is more important with an e-business and you’re going to find that it’s more profitable and helpful to your right people if your website ranks for long tail keywords like “buy Nike shoes size 12” than it is to rank for “Nike shoes”. Ranking for Nike shoes will bring you way more traffic, but if that traffic does not convert, whats the point?
What backlink building is not
Link building is not spamming blogs with stupid comments. It’s not joining 100 different forums so you can get a profile link. It’s not taking any shortcut meant to manipulate your rankings. What build links actually is consists of is the hard work of building relationships with people in your industry, writing content for other website with the intent to get exposure from that audience. Building yourself on other platforms that can drive back traffic to your website.
Link building is pushing that boulder up the hill so people and search engines will pay attention to you. You need to push. You need to build links. In fact, you are an idiot to not build links and market your website and e-business.