Why Social Media is GREAT for Organic Links

For a very long time ‘link building’ was by far the most popular term in the SEO industry.  In fact, for many SEOs it made up the vast majority of an SEO campaign which has led to the typical overuse (and abuse) of a ranking signal.  Thankfully, Google took measures and over the last few years during which ‘link building’ has been thoroughly scrutinized by Matt Cutts and his team of anti-spam.  The result is a shift (albeit a seemingly very slow shift) in approach.  Link ‘building’ has become an outdated term; put simply building a link is sometimes too proactive a form of manipulating the search results.  Proactively building links is like walking a tight rope in high winds, when there are safer alternatives for your long term web health.  Link building is therefore a misleading term, I much prefer the recent rise in popularity of link ‘earning’.  For arguments (and tradition) sake let us call it all link building.

I actually started writing this article a couple of weeks ago but did not finish it due to more pressing matters.  It just so happens that this week, Moz’ White Board Fridays post by Cyrus Shepard tackles the issue of link building which has spurred me into action.  So thanks Moz.

First of all, looking to gain links is not a bad thing.  In fact, as Cyrus rightly states, link building is still a viable option if you play by the rules.  The problem is that SEOs tend not to play by the rules.  Link building techniques are abused, as can be seen by the recent issue with guest blogging.  But as Matt Cutts himself said in his now infamous post, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.  Link building is still important, it is just that it has to be as natural as possible.  Cyrus mentions in his WBF that controlling links and dictating anchor text is asking for trouble, and that is why I believe that social media is one of the best ways to link build.

There is quite a major caveat here.   This strategy will fall flat on its face without awesome content; much like the early morning porridge and bananas that fuel marathon runners, content is the fuel for link building through social media.  Annoying as it is you only have to Google “Content is King” to find a plethora of militant marketers preaching about the benefits.  I’ll leave it to them.  Just make sure you take heed.  Let’s look at how social media can be one of the very best ways to link build.

A good example of social media’s benefit is guest blogging.  To be clear, I am talking here about high quality guest blogging, not the spammy stuff that was condemned by Cutts.  You contact someone that might have a larger reach and is relevant to your website.  You then spend a lot of time and effort researching and writing down the best ideas you can conjure for this post.  After all, your aim is to impress.  Hypothetically speaking your guest post is accepted, great news.  You might even ask for some keyword rich anchor text (which is accepted), awesome.  Link building is easy right?  Yes, there are considerable pros of guest blogging – a backlink, exposure, potential traffic.  But there is one major con: your great article is on someone else’s site.  It is very plausible that this highly polished and engaging content generates links from interested readers posting about it on their respective blogs.  Guess which website they are linking to?  You have one guess, no clues.

The result: you have gained one backlink and some traffic/exposure whilst another website has benefited from multiple organically generated backlinks….on the back of awesome content that you donated.

Rand Fishkin mentioned in one of his WBF videos that you should keep your very best content on your site.  I fully agree – I KNOW, shock horror and SEO agrees with something that Rand Fishkin said ;).

The example above should outline the fact that guest blogging might not necessarily be the most effective form of gaining links and that keeping incredible content on your own site might be more beneficial.  However, if nobody sees your content then your screwed anyway, right?  Isn’t that the whole point of guest blogging?  To utilise another website’s higher traffic figures to gain more exposure?  Thud, thud, thud.  The considerable weight of social media now steps into the ring….

Social media allows you to expose yourself (not in a weird way) to people that might not have come across your site through traditional methods.  You get to make noise about yourself, and if your content is good enough you will be on the receiving end of what could be considered the holy grail of social media…..the share.  Engagement with your post by others means that you are then referred by said profile to their own network.  You exposure has just been turbocharged.  Factor in potential ‘key influencers’ and your content might be seen by thousands.  For example, if this article was to be retweeted by Rand Fishkin, Larry Kim or Cyrus Shepard it would have substantially more eyeballs on it than if I just sent it out to my own network.

p.s in the unlikely event that Rand, Larry or Cyrus are reading this far….go on guys, you know you want to (it doesn’t hurt to ask!).  There would be no greater proof!

So we have now reached a point where I might be seeing a return on the investment of time that I put in to writing a great article.  More people are seeing it and possibly linking to it.  What’s more is that they are not linking to a guest post of mine on somebody else’s blog.  They are linking to MY blog.  I get the credit and my authority increases.  Social media is great isn’t it?

A couple of closing points: referring to something that Cyrus mentioned in his WBF – link patterns are dangerous.  That is why he claims to have never asked for specific anchor text.  This pattern issue is sorted by our example of spreading your content on social media.  You have earned these links naturally through your own awesomeness…..not through some proactive form like guest blogging.  As such, the anchor text is likely to be varied and natural.  You just can’t get a more organic link profile than by earning links.  Finally, if our prediction of social media metrics becoming an ever increasing ranking for both Google and Bing it would stand to reason that not only would your efforts on various platforms create organic links but also the increased engagement with your profile would put you in good stead for the future.

Enough said, I hope it all made sense.  Thanks for reading.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.