Are you struggling with link building? Freaked out by Penguins and unnatural linking messages? A lot of folks are and seem to be putting a ton of stock into outreach and guest posting. But is that going to work?
On a few occasions over the last 6 months I have started to express concerns over how well this might be working, so today we're going to really dig in a see where things stand.
The Google Stance
What does Google think about these kind of links? As you might imagine, they're not huge fans.
In the modern world of SEO, Google has seemingly taken the stance that pretty much any form of manufactured link isn't ideal. Heck, I've even had a conversation with a Googler who referred to infographics as "faddish" (another story altogether).
I know of one instance where an SEO team did some outreach offering free product in exchange for a review. They didn't ask for links. They didn't ask for a positive review. What happened? A few dozen links and they actually tanked for the term in question. It seems bloggers being what they are, educated, by and large did link and used the same or related anchor texts.
When I enquired about this situation, I was told that the issue was the blogs themselves. That it was about quality. In this case they had targeted Mommy Blogs that by and large were full of reviews, give-aways and the like. That one post might be about brownies and the next about vacations. Low quality blogs and vastly varied topicality.
Flooding the Market
The next issue that has started to become a problem over the last while is the fact that SEOs have taken to this kind of link building approach. As link building has become more convoluted and risky, blog posts about many a past method have been replaced by ones about doing outreach and guest blogging.
What follows? Search optimizers of varying degrees of talent start flooding the space with truly irritating attempts. Look at some of these:
I'm Emily, a blogger from Manchester. I've been reading your blog and found the article XXXXX very interesting. As you accept guest posts I was thinking I could write you an article on "Worried with latest penguin update? These tips helps you better". The content I provide would be Copyscape protected and at no cost to you. In return I just need a clean back link to my site XXXXX
I am looking for social media sites for doing guest post. I found your site: XXXXX very informative and interesting. I wonder if you give me an opportunity for doing a guest post for your site. I use to add text link in my article or in the author bio as suggested.
We may be able to offer you some free of charge content for your web site, in return for a link back to our site.
We have a dedicated team of professional writers. We can have them (at our expense) research and write some content specifically for you to publish on your web site (XXX).
You have complete control over the subject and focus for each piece; the content will be unique to your web site and there are definitely no costs or other commitments for you. All we would ask is that for each piece of content you agree with us, you allow us to include one simple text link to my site within the content.
I am sure most of you that blog or own a website, have seen these approaches. All too often the English in the outreach is barely readable, never mind the eventual post they'd be sending over. Others I've collected include the link whoring such as:
In exchange for this free article, we simply ask that you provide us two links in the author bio of our article to our website. Of course you will be able to decline the article if you are not satisfied with the content or with the linked URL. I am always open to hearing any ideas you might have. Here are my previously submitted posts in similar topics in different websites.
In exchange for this free article, we simply ask that you provide us two links in the author bio of our article to our website.
Of course you will be able to decline the article if you are not satisfied with the content or with the linked URL.
I came across your blog a little while back, and I really enjoyed the content of your posts! Aside from sharing my love for your blog, I wanted to get in touch with you because I'm interested in guest blogging for you! I have a few ideas for posts that I think your readers will really enjoy! If you're interested, I am happy to get something written up and sent over to you, or if you have a specific topic or area you'd like to see covered, I am more than happy to write on that!
The funny part about that one? They sent the exact same email to my personal blog as well as the SEO Training Dojo, which at the time didn't actually have a blog on it. Sigh.
This happens a fair bit with the various sites I own. Ya just have to love the personal approach, right?
The sheer mass and incompetency of the attempts is turning off bloggers far and wide. Yet another approach killed by the SEO asshats.
Response Rates on the Decline
Thanks to this newfound zeal for the approach, we've seen opening and response rates heavily declining over the last 18 months and I doubt that's going to improve any time soon. For the most part, any blog worth actually being on has tuned out SEOs and the ones that might talk to you, leave one at risk of some of the issues I spoke about earlier as far as quality is concerned.
In fact, a lot of the better blogs, places we'd actually want to be, have started charging for article placement. This of course opens up an entirely new can of worms as you're now paying for links and would be wise to get them nofollowed lest you run the risk of being outed some day should said blogger ever fall out of favour.
Wheeeeeeeeeee.... Fun, huh?
Build Relationships, Not Links
So what can you do? Long ago one of the folks I know and have great respect for, Debra Mastaler, stressed that one should call it "relationship building" rather than "link building". If one embraces this concept, the process begins to make more sense and often bears greater fruit.
When you do outreach, don't ask for links. Don't even broach the topic. Instead, try to establish relationships with bloggers and other related influencers in the client's market.
- Seek to build new relationships in the blogging community.
- Offer to promote them via social channels.
- Offer them the opportunity to post on your blog.
- Offer advanced notice of news items (from larger corporate clients).
- Offer access to products to review.
- And more, depending on the situation.
Whatever you do, don't barge in the door asking to post crap in exchange for a link. In fact, that's just stupid.
You should start a relationship by giving, not taking. Want to increase your chances of actually getting somewhere? Start looking at how they do things in the world of public relations, not the world of SEO.