Link building is an artform that predates the search engines. Although we talk of the future of link building as we describe networked social content as Audience Outreach, we are actually in some sense going back in time. A time when people actually put useful, unselfish and unoptimised anchor text links to other sites because there was no search engine to game, no PageRank, No HITS, No Hilltop algorithm let alone Panda, Penguin and other various significant Google updates in between to worry about. There was also a time when people could click on the links knowing the links would lead them to useful further reading as the links were placed on merit.
Of course in the real today, having experienced the phenomenon that is Google, the link graph is now skewed thanks to SEO – we’re all guilty because it worked and to an unquantified extent it still works. However, despite Google’s best efforts to diminish the returns to SEO by introducing the knowledge graph, paid inclusion into certain verticals like credit cards and travel – Google cannot and will not destroy link building.
So it’s back to good old fashioned internet marketing – building relationships, producing trustworthy and accurate content then being social.
Building relationships means ensuring the content are related to each other. Some call it Indirect link building basing it on the theory of Truncated Page Rank by Baeza-Yates et al, and some are talking about the dreaded silly link wheels that come in all wonderful patterns of diamonds, butterflies selling for less than $200. Hey you can even get software to automate that for you much less the manual services found in India. Keep it simple, nothing wrong with interlinking content into a audience network – if it makes sense.
Trustworthy content is pretty subjective as a measure. You can’t control the internet let alone the webmasters you approach. Try to source sites that have the right target audience you’re looking for. Use Alexa, Quantcast, ComScore, HitWise – the name dropping stops here. Forget SEO Moz and Majestic SEO, it’s just simulated PageRank that tells you nothing about the traffic let alone the target audience looking for your site. The best thing you can do is to check their writing, perhaps you can write for them. When writing for other sites have the professional pride and courtesy of using journalist trained writers that will actually make physical phone calls to verify the information they write. Yes, we’re playing in the big league now, no more cheap copy written by students sticking keywords strategically here and there. Good content will not only earn links but stand up to the scrutiny of those who read it and thus earn you a click through as well as the scrutiny of Matt Cutts.
The futuristic part is to make sure those relationships are social. That’s right – it’s not enough build private networks where the lights are on but nobody’s at home. You actually need to ensure all the relationship parties i.e. the webmasters have a social following or at least put themselves in a position to earn a following by being on the online social scene (or having an online babysitter ready to answer the door).
Now imagine doing this in foreign languages – Russian, Swedish let alone the more mainstream French and German. That’s real multilingual link building founded on audience outreach principles.
Sounds like a lot of work doesn’t it? Welcome to the future…