A content marketing team can benefit greatly from having a link builder on staff.
Content marketing requires writers, industry experts, graphic designers, etc. Sometimes one person can play several roles, but no one person can fill every role on their own in a meaningful way. One role not often discussed is that of promotion – specifically, link building.
Judging from what I’ve overheard people say at conferences, I fear some people don’t fully understand the differences between content marketing and link building.
I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll have to keep saying it: content marketing and link building are not the same thing. There are several key differences between the two. Yes, the two complement each other extraordinarily well, but that’s not the same thing as synonymy. Content marketing is about disseminating a message and building an audience. Link building is about increasing visibility in search and campaigning for votes of confidence.
So no, content marketing isn’t link building, but it benefits greatly from an injection of links. Content doesn’t just magically become visible – even the best content needs promotion. Link building can be that promotion.
Content marketing has been around since the late 19th century; it’s hardly an innovation of the digital age. More and more, digital marketing heavily relies upon the production and distribution of content.
Content marketing has grown significantly just in the time I’ve been in the industry. The amount of content that’s been produced on a daily basis is up for dispute; there’s no way to calculate an accurate figure. According to Domo and Column Five Media, however, we’re led to believe that there are 347 new blog posts uploaded every minute…
…and that’s just on WordPress.
The rise of content marketing has given birth to the theory of content shock. The controversial theory–first propagated by Mark Schaefer in January 2014 – proposes that content marketing is an unsustainable business practice, and that the bubble will eventually burst. This is due to the stark increase in the production of content, and the fact that there are simply too few hours in the day to consume all of it.
Even if you don’t agree with his conclusions (there was some dissent), it’s impossible to deny that there is an insane amount of content hosted on the web. How can a single piece of content stand out when there’s so much noise?
The answer: Link building.
Links are still an important ranking signal in Google’s algorithm. They always have been. High-ranking employees at Google have confirmed as much.
Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts, took an hour to talk to Danny Sullivan at the most recent SMX Advanced conference in June. They talked about a lot of things during the interview — but the point at which my ears perked up is when Sullivan pressed Cutts about the value of links and link building. (There is a video of the interview on YouTube, and the part I’m referencing occurs at 27:27.)
Link building is not dead. [...] I think that there’s a lot of mileage left in links.
So what does this mean? Having authoritative and relevant backlinks pointed at your content will still increase your chances of being highly visible in organic search. The more visible your content is in search, the more traffic and recognition it will receive. After all, Google is the most visited site in the world.
So yes, links are incredibly important for your optimization efforts. Now go get them!!
Not so fast. You can’t just add link building to a current employee’s list of responsibilities – not if you want the job done right. A great writer/graphic designer may not necessarily be a natural link prospector. They won’t know what constitutes a good link, which websites to pursue and which to avoid, or the many other nuances of link building and SEO.
Even if you can find the time to train your content team to do this, they aren’t going to have the time to hone their link building skills on top of their current responsibilities. Creating link-worthy content is a time-consuming task, as is building links to that content.
This is why it’s best to hire a link builder who knows the best practices that can increase your content’s visibility in search. Think of it this way: would you hire an untrained member of your staff to provide your content and build your brand?
A link builder lays the digital foundation that puts your team’s content in front of the billions of eyes that land on Google every day. Content marketing isn’t only about the creating content: it’s about promoting that content as well. Links can act as that promotion.
Forget the days when link building was simply submitting keyword-rich anchors to a large amount of link farms that would accept anything: we live in a revived era of link building. We are back to the days of link building as promotion.
Link building has been around for a long time, even before there was an algorithmic benefit to it. Eric Ward, the de facto Godfather of link building, started building links for Amazon back in 1994. There was no such thing as Google back then. BackRub, Google’s first incarnation, didn’t exist until two years later. Back when Ward was building links for Amazon, it wasn’t for the link equity – it was for promotional purposes.
When Larry Page and Sergey Brin launched Google, links became the strongest ranking signal for search engines. As a consequence, link building almost immediately became an industry of manipulation. Technical wizards discovered a multitude of methods that created thousands of low-quality links designed for the sole purpose of manipulating Google’s algorithm.
In the years since its inception, Google has wised up. They announced the Penguin algorithm update in April 2012. This update is widely regarded as the most aggressive move Google has ever made in the war on spam. As a consequence, link building has practically come full circle.
The promotional benefits of link building are paramount: backlinks provide a plethora of advantages. Remember that Google is the traffic cop on the busiest street in the world.
When you acquire backlinks that point to your content, that content has a greater chance gaining visibility on a search engine that is used over 3 billion times a day.
I understand that we live in the age of burgeoning social media and that platforms like Facebook and Twitter attract increasing focus in the digital marketing complex. Social shares by their very nature are far too fleeting, however. I’d much prefer to be found on Google, where users are specifically seeking out information about my industry, products, and content.
As far as link earning is concerned, if links come your way without you having to make any promotional efforts, more power to you. It can happen. But for every link earned, there are five more that you deserve and can build through promotion. This is the job for a link builder.
A good content marketing team should be comprised of people with varying skills: link building should be one of those skills.
With all the content that populates every nook and cranny of the web, it’s easy to be drowned out – particularly when you are doing nothing to promote your content. Adding a link builder to your team could help make your content marketing stand tall and increase your visibility.
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