The practice of link building has ranged from spammy (like purchased links and link farms) to what could be considered remedial content marketing. However, the goals of traditional link building (simply increasing the number of links pointing to your website) have been rendered useless in a long-term perspective due to the latest and most impactful Google updates.
Why the shift? Historically, the simple act of increasing the number of links pointing to your website exploited the shortcomings of search engine algorithms and didn't directly improve the user experience. Since search engines are mostly concerned with providing a great user experience, these shortcomings were addressed by algorithm updates such as Google's Panda and Penguin. Today, cutting edge digital marketing firms have tossed traditional link building by the wayside in favor of a new concept known as earned media.
The "earned" in earned media comes from the concept that your brand can earn, rather than pay for, a placement within an online publications article feed. Earning this placement can only be accomplished through the creation of a truly value-add content centerpiece (the "media") that's custom-tailored for the specific community in combination with high-touch social media networking. To truly be considered value-add, the content centerpiece must be an online resource that educates, entertains or solves a problem.
This media is offered to the online community in a "teaser article" that highlights the main ideas behind the content centerpiece. A link to access the content in full is included in the article for the readers who want to know more. The users who submit personal information to download or view the content centerpiece are the most valuable of an earned media campaign.
The main purpose of link building is to increase the number of links that point to your website. Earned media campaigns also obtain links to your website, but this isn't the main goal. The areas of real business value generation are focused on growing lead lists, online sales and increasing brand awareness. These goals can only be accomplished through focusing the earned media campaign around a truly value-add content centerpiece.
Historically, link building efforts resulted in increased search engine rankings. Today, the algorithmic shortcomings that led to increased search engine rankings in the past have been addressed by the Panda and Penguin updates. Increasing the number of inbound links to your website has no value to the user--and this antiquated practice won't be part of the user-focused future of search engine algorithms.
Results from an earned media campaign include:
- Lead list growth
- Online sales & conversion growth
- Keyword portfolio growth
- Increased brand exposure in search engine results & social media conversations
- Increased online brand relevance, authority and awareness
Online content marketing has evolved from link building to earned media campaigns. This forward-thinking practice builds a continuous business alignment between search engines, your brand and the user. Earned media allows your brand to partner with search engines by adding value to the user through original content that educates, entertains or solves a problem of a specific target audience. If you haven't been convinced yet, here are 800 more reasons why Earned Media is the new advertising.