While most link builders complain about Penguins and Pandas, I'm happy to say there has never been a better time to be in the business of helping great content get found. Why? Because of The Big Change.
What is The Big Change? The fact that almost everyone who is on the web today has the ability to help push, spread, and migrate URLs to the far corners of the web.
Back in the '90s, there were very few methods available to you to help distribute, announce, disseminate, and otherwise broadcast the fact that you had a website in the first place. Imagine a world with no Google, no pay per click, no link-based rankings, no Facebook Likes or Pages, no Twitter tweets, and no bookmarking or press release distribution services.
You had to earn links. There were no shortcuts whatsoever.
A tidal shift has and continues to take place in the way we consume and interact with content, and our ability to do something further with that content if we so choose. Let’s look at the three important pieces that will help you understand The Big Change.
Know What Doesn't Work
As linking strategists, we owe it to ourselves and our clients to devote significant time researching and studying the industries and content we promote. We are all well aware (or should be) that the days of one-size-fits-all linking campaigns are long gone.
From a strategic perspective, there are no "best practices" as they relate to The Big Change. I call b.s. on anyone who says there are.
You can’t tell me that a new website for a Hollywood movie requires a content publicity approach that is in any way similar to what you would need if you were promoting a new iPhone app that calculated construction industry job estimates. And I know this because I have created and executed linking and publicity campaigns for both of those examples.
The Big Change isn’t simply about adding a bunch of buttons to your content or creating a mobile version of your site or making an app. Nor is it about creating social link signals for better ranking at Google. The most socially enabled site in the world is not going to get shared in any meaningful way if that site's content isn’t link/shareworthy in the first place.
URL Sharing & Migration are Important
Today, everyone is a link builder, they just don't think of themselves that way, and unfortunately, many web marketers miss the real power of the The Big Change.
Change is also happening on devices. I don't need a PC to be a link builder. I don't need to know HTML. I just need a net connected device with a keypad.
From my phone I can tweet a URL to 7,000 followers, post a Google+ update to my circles, share a link on Facebook, write this article, and on and on. And that's just the start.
Once URLs are released into the wild by a person who has some degree of credibility, that URL usually reaches others who have some degree of credibility. Then those URLs can migrate across the world in a matter of seconds.
While not all of these migrations are links in the traditional sense of the word, they are still bridges, conduits, and pathways that help people get from one place to another, based on who shares what with who, when, and why. It could be as simple as alerting your college buddies to a new Adele video on YouTube, or it could be a mother tweeting a link to a page about a virus she fears her baby might have.
Another effect of The Big Change is how link sharing can and does result in a secondary permanent linking. I know this to be true from multiple instances of personal experience with clients. On one of my Twitter accounts I have many librarian followers who are link sharing curators themselves. When they spot something they like, whether it's via Twitter or Facebook or wherever, it can end up as a link on a library website's resource pages. And that's link gold for you rank seekers. I wrote about this phenomena in 2009's Riding The Twitter Link Waves.
Much of this may seem obvious, but if it is so obvious, why are there still thousands of websites that don't take the most basic step of enabling the sharing of their URLs in an obvious and easily understood way? I'm guilty of it myself on my own site on the very article I just mentioned.
Develop & Master the Skills You Need
This is the single most important of all. Be willing to develop the skills you need to recognize what is needed for each individual client, then help them create and execute a content publicity and linking blueprint/plan that is in their best interests, and not just yours.
Learn and share new linking techniques and tactics. Refuse to get complacent.
We are the algorithm, we always have been, and the search engines are looking for valid, trustworthy signals amongst the deluge of shared data that grows every second of every minute of every day.
Don't let The Big Change get you. Master the skills you know you need. If you take the time and put in the effort, 2013 will be kind to you.