It’s true, you can earn links with exceptional content pieces for sure. You can do it by creating value and encouraging gratitude without acting as a publisher too.
Just create great content to earn links?
When you listen to those who earn money by monetizing third party content you will hear things like “content is king”, “just create great content”, “content marketing replaces SEO”. You can get the impression that content is all you need these days.
When you also listen to inbound marketing pundits who tell you that link building is more about earning links by now and that you have to create great content to earn those links you can get the impression that content creation is all you can do or have to do.
There are cases or sometimes whole niches or even industries where content doesn’t make sense.
Content is often redundant when visitors are already typing in transactional queries into Google and ending up on your site. Google tries to monopolize these types of searches with ads only above the fold but there are still many long tail organic results users can actually see below the ads.
When I search for [buy organic fair trade rooibos tea vanilla] I don’t want to read an article about it. I want to go straight to online store. Ideally I do not end up on the front page but directly on the page where I can get exactly the sort of tea I expect. Nobody has to extol the virtues of organic farming, exploitation-free fair trade, South African rooibos tea or the true blue vanilla flavor. I have already made up my mind. No need to convince me!
Even in cases where content makes a lot of sense there are often alternatives requiring less effort and are more apt for the given industry.
You can build links by telling webmasters about broken links on their sites. This is a pretty common tactic by now. Approx. two thirds of sites have broken links on their sites according to a recent study. That’s not really earning links yet and it often requires content to suggest instead of the missing page. There are plenty of other issues on the Web though you could fix. There are:
- comment spammed blogs
- hacked blogs
- blogs that suffer from stolen content
just to name a few common issues. You can help them and they will be likely to say thank you on their blogs with a link to your homepage. Yes, there are many bloggers who have lost the fight against comment spam. Even Rand Fishkin has written about that. His wife had to invest a large amount of time to combat those. There are people who are not even aware of the comment spam problem so they do not even install Akismet on their blogs. So sooner or later they get overwhelmed. I’m not talking about newbies only.
I had a blog of mine overrun by spammers once already. I had to close it down. These spammers were even more vicious than comments spammers. They hacked my WordPress repeatedly and inserted invisible spam links to it. How did I notice it? Well, I got weird referrers in my analytics and then I looked up my pages in the Google cache. You can search Google for such blogs and help people to deal with that. I simply didn’t have the time to fix my private art blog that didn’t earn any money all the time. I had to give it up.
Almost every blog out there gets scraped. Content gets stolen by scrapers or sometimes even manually. You could try to go after these people all the time but in most cases you won’t even notice. You could help bloggers and notify them of blatant content theft that endangers their Google rankings even. You could even go as far as help them with the legal fuss, like filing a DCMA complaint. Sometimes an angry email to the perpetrator may even suffice. Depending on who you are, a lawyer, a writer or a web programmer you can help one way or the other.
Helping a single blogger is great but still a bit like manual link building. You earn a link without content but you also have to invest time and effort. Ideally you would help more than one person at a time. You can do it by speaking out. Speaking out on your blog is great but it’s again content creation. Ideally you already have an audience or some authority and use it for the common good.
In the SEO industry speaking out could be done a lot but most people rather prefer to side with the bully (Google). They think that opportunism will pay better and rather invest in Google shares or try to become Google partners whenever Google introduces another change that shatters lives of business owners around the world. There are still a few outspoken search marketers though.
Indeed some of the most courageous internet marketers have even founded a company called Outspoken Media but most marketers seem to be completely ignoring the bigger picture. They rather cuddle with Matt Cutts during search conferences to get some additional advantage. In German we call such people “slimers” because they act like the green ghost from Ghost Busters.
Why not speak out on behalf of the weak for a change instead of trying to protect Google each time I criticize them? Why not use the opportunity you have at a conference and tell the truth about Google updates instead of trying to convince to bow down to Google by using disavow tools and such humiliating practices like reinclusion requests?
Speak out on behalf of the masses and many people will be fond of you. This will of course outweigh any perceived potential short term gains you get from trying to ass kiss Google employees or the corporation in general. There is so much wrongdoing I could speak out on daily I could cover it 24/7. There is enough to speak out on for hundreds of influencers.
Ideally you don’t only help particular people or the weak ones in general but you provide value for everybody indiscriminately. I have written about popular street artist Banksy lately. He can get away with an empty website that has a myriad backlinks. How does he do it? He provide s value for everybody. Everybody can see his work on the street and other can help more people to see it by sharing it. So that he even helps others to provide value. Banksy also speaks out of course on global warming for example or Guantanamo.
Banksy’s work in general is not only providing value it also inspires.
Banksy shows “you can do what you want without trying to be a celebrity or selling out and still make it” besides showing free art for everybody. He is “living proof” that not only mindless drudgery leads to a meaningful life and that even without reckless greed you can survive pretty well. I have featured Banksy on my art blog numerous times starting over a decade ago when we wasn’t famous yet. You want to earn links?
- Do a backflip in a wheelchair!
- Cycle Antarctica!
- Give away your patents!
- Teach your dog parkour!
- Jump from space!
You will most probably even find sponsors for these endeavours. You don’t have to be that spectacular. Note how Banksy started just by painting at night like any other graffiti artist. Come up with something you can do that will inspire others.