With links still being the primary metric that Google uses to help it rank its search results, it is still important (and will be for many years to come) to build high-value links.
We have all heard about the traditional reasons for building links by creating high-value content assets (articles, infographics, videos) and then marketing those assets through social channels and blogger outreach to acquire links.
But there is one reason you might not have thought of, and it might be the most important of all.
Link Discovery Tools
There are many great tools out there that one can use to dig into any competitors back link profile (and competitors can use to dig into yours), and by doing so uncover a list of high value sites to reach out to and try to get links from. A few of these sites that have link discovery tools include SEOmoz, Ontolo, and Citation Labs.
Guarding Your Links
So how do you guard against a competitor utilizing these link tools to find your links and then reaching out to the same sites you got links from and mirroring your link profile? One word, value!
Scenario 1: Pushing a bolder up a hill
You have spent time and energy creating average assets that might give some basic insights, but nothing that a normal person would not think of on their own. You then spent more time and resources to reach out to and sell-in that content to relevant websites, which because the content was just average, was very difficult.
The big sites that could get you a ton of exposure and would have given you a valuable link can see that it’s average content and thus don’t publish it. The mediocre sites that accept mediocre content might have some interest in it, if it’s better than other content they have currently in the pipeline.
Either way, at best, you get a few average links and maybe a few clickthrough referrals.
What happens when your competitor finds your links?
Now I ask you, how easy would it be for your competitors to find those links by utilizing one of the above tools, create some content that was slightly better than yours, reach out to those sites, and almost certainly get a link? The answer is, “it would be pretty easy”.
Scenario 2: Just a nudge gets it over the hill
So instead of going gangbusters out of the gate and just creating some average content, you actually do some research that includes.
- Advanced keyword research
- Identify your asset’s target audience or persona
- Find out what that target persona would be most interested in
- Then create a few kick-ass assets from those insights
You then give your asset a little nudge in the direction of the correct influencers and leave most of the link building and marketing to them.
The influencers, through their social muscle, can help get your asset on the sites that matter (if you have provided enough value) which can not only get you high-value links but can drive substantial traffic on a consistent basis.
By doing things that help build your own reputation, you are focusing on the right types of activity. Those are the signals we want to find and value the most anyway. -Matt Cutts, Google
I am by no means saying this is easy, but it is a much better long term strategy for the following reasons:
- Builds Brand Value
- Builds Authority
- Gains High Value Links
- Drives Consistent Referral Traffic
- Builds Trust
- Targets Primary Personas
What happens when your competitor finds your high-value links?
In the second scenario when a competitor scours you link profile for links they can also get, and comes across those high value links, their eyes will widen and I’m sure they will get all excited thinking they can get those links too.
What they won’t understand is that it will be that-much-more difficult for them to replicate your link graph without matching the value proposition of your content, a significant understanding of link building and content strategy, as well as understanding the list of influencers you used.
So along with all the traditional reasons for building links by creating high value content, this gives you yet another, “guarding your link graph against competitors”.