No, I am not about to write about buying links...well, at least not directly. But I am going to suggest that today's SEO is truly about the bringing together of cross-channel initiatives toward common goals.
For as long as I can recall, I have (to varying degrees) related the practice of SEO to PR. It's certainly a lot more so today than it was ten years ago and this leads me to my point:
Today's SEO is more about the amount and quality of outreach that you can do to pitch quality content to the right audience in the hope that you will grow the virility/exposure of that content. This, in turn, will hopefully lead to shares and then links and citations.
So, when you're left to consider how you might go about amplifying the content, you can either spend the time (time = money) on outreach to influencers or you can buy your way into these audiences. And that's a decision that should be made based on the ROI of such efforts.
Ego should not be involved. Results and ROI are what matter.
Case in point:
Recently, we needed to gain some traction for a client's infographic. A good amount of time went into the research and development of this infographic, but, as you can imagine, the best infographic in the history of infographics means little if folks don't see it and if it doesn't create engagement.
We could certainly find thought leaders and influencers out there as this was for a niche audience, but we must also consider how much time it takes to build up the necessary/real relationships to earn the opportunity to pitch something to them. Is there a better/more efficient way? We thought so.
For $360 and some time spent testing and reporting, we promoted the company through Facebook Promoted Posts. For this amount of money, the ROI was pretty significant.
We were able to achieve a reach of 67,000 with 1,104 likes and six comments for this infographic. We also received 221 clicks to the website and 226 new page likes.
We were also able to include Twitter promotion within this (small) budget and achieved a reach of 62,000, a gain of 52 additional followers to their Twitter profile and 140 clicks to the promoted infographic. Along with this, we received 12 retweets and two replies.
This is nothing really new. For example, we have always used paid press release distribution to earn links and promote content, but the manner in which you do this in today's SEO is more sophisticated.
It's not about buying links, as I think most would say was the reason for press release distribution in the past. It is instead now a function of marketing amd promoting content, as well as advertising in some cases, to help in this promotion.
Some would say this isn't even SEO. In my mind, it is.
When you research and develop a quality piece of content and work many angles toward the promotion of that content and seek the best -- the most efficient/effective manner -- to distribute that content, this is optimizing your time and optimizing the results.
The results are still coming in, but I can already see high quality -- read: relevant -- links coming in from this effort. And if we are to believe that citations matter, there are certainly folks talking about our client, sharing its content and helping us to build its brand.
I won't say that $360 is all we spent on this. There was, of course, considerable time put into the effort on the whole. But, am I suggesting that $360 was money well spent? Yes. While we also poured time into our own outreach initiatives, the added exposure/promotion (and, yes, links) for $360 made this an absolute no-brainer.