Sunday, July 17, 2011

Relationships Have More Value than Links

Link building is one of the essential components of a strong SEO campaign. The more quality, one-way links you have pointing to your site, the better trust factor your site has. Links also help drive targeted traffic through to your site, which in turn can increase your conversion rate. But I’ve seen a lot of site owners get so focused on getting links that they sacrifice their online reputation in order to get them. Link exchanges, paid links, links to splogs (spam blogs) and “bad” sites (pornography, gambling, alcohol) all detract from you online reputation and trust factor. Besides, the link is not the most important thing in itself.

Building a relationship has more long-term value than just getting the links

Let’s say you want to get a link to your site on a really popular industry blog. The blogger is a well-known and respected industry figure, with thousands of loyal readers. Having a link to your site positioned in front of their audience would be incredibly beneficial. But getting that link is by no means quick or easy. That blogger is not going to provide any outbound links to sites they don’t think provide value to their readers, otherwise their reputation will suffer.

To start building a relationship with that blogger, you have to become a regular reader and commenter on their posts. This shows that you are actively interested and engaged with the blog and blogger. If the blog accepts guest posts, you can submit a request to be a guest writer. Now you are contributing to the success of their blog. Being a featured guest writer is also a great way to get a few links to your site, as most bloggers allow guest writers to have an “About the Author” section.

As your relationship with the blogger develops, you might be able to get them to write a review about a new product your company recently launched. It’s important to note that you are asking them to write a review NOT an endorsement. No reputable blogger is going to stake their reputation on a bad product and call it a great one.

If you are looking for a promotional post, just announcing the launch of your product, then you can get a lot of exposure for your company (as that blog gets thousands of daily readers), but you don’t necessarily get the 3rd party endorsement that a review would provide.

Depending on what kind of relationship you develop with the blogger, you might also get used as a source for one of their posts. Being the subject of an interview is a great way to get quoted and build your own online reputation. Your quotes can even get re-quoted in other articles/blogs/news stories.

A strong blogger outreach program is a critical component of link building and social media marketing. Just getting the link is a start, but there is so much more long-term value when you develop a true business partnership with that blogger.

Writing by Nick Stamoulis

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