Understandably, there were a lot of comments from panic-stricken link builders and webmasters around the web. Many wanted to know what to do now that their main (or only) link building strategy was decried “dead.”
It was a bit of an overreaction from both parties. I’ve discussed what Matt Cutts really meant by that infamous guest post here, but in brief: Matt Cutts and I assume Google (possibly already included in their algorithm) are looking to stop any benefit from low-quality guest posting. But guest posting as a whole isn’t dead.
I recommend using a variety of methods to promote your business or product rather than going down a single vertical. Here are four strategies that are currently working very well for online promotion.
PR has always been one of the best strategies to attract attention to your business, both offline and online. Long before the internet, companies were using PR and advertising strategies to get attention and put their name in front of the masses.
Coca Cola, Nike, Lady Gaga, you name it – there’s a great PR team behind every successful business or personal brand.
Why can’t your small business make it in the news? Well, it can. Offer a breaking news story, quote, data (more on that later), etc., to a journalist or media publication that is relevant to their audience. This is a great way to get yourself and your brand in front of the public.
Real life example: After-School All-Stars is a company in the USA that provides free mentorship, help with school homework, tutoring and fun activities to students from low-income families. They recently recorded Arnold Schwarzenegger in a poor disguise at Gold’s Gym in Venice, California.
After it was uploaded onto YouTube, the video immediately went viral, and has currently been viewed more than 16 million times. Part of this campaign included an opportunity to ride a tank with Arnold himself. With the help of this video putting After-School All-Stars on the map, the competition page now has more than 350 referring domains linking to it.
Obviously, we cannot all get a great celebrity and actor like Arnie to participate, but producing a viral video worked as great PR for After-School All-Stars. Try to create a great video or piece of content that others can't help but share to increase brand awareness.
A resource that the public wants to read, is genuinely useful or is shareable is a fantastic way to get more links pointing to your website. Your resources can take many forms: it could be a super cool widget or a really useful guide that people will refer to online when they’re discussing the subject in a blog.
If your resource is presented in an engaging way and sparks some form of emotional response, people will be more inclined to share it on their blog, forums and social media pages.
Having this kind of “Flagship content,” as Chris Garrett calls it, on your site can bait webmasters and bloggers alike to link to your content.
Real life example: Transport for London has a downloadable PDF of the London Tube Map on their website. This is useful for people who are planning a visit to London but haven’t been able to grab a copy from a train station. They can print it out or even look at it on screen. This PDF file has over 1,600 referring domains pointing to it.
I love data and statistics. Perhaps it’s not for everyone, but if there’s someone in your company who loves it half as much as I do and is creative with data, there are endless ways to interpret data and position your findings to outside sources.
One data set can be interpreted and manipulated several times to create more than one story. Stories in different areas broaden your chances of getting links from different verticals. Data, of course, is also great for PR.
Real life example: A Sheep No More published a blog post at the end of last year containing 40 maps made up of different, interesting data. It proved to be their most popular post, currently with over 200 referring domains pointing to it and several thousand social shares.
The maps themselves were taken from other resources, making the blog post essentially a list of other users’ data. But this is just one simple example of using data to bring attention to your website and business.
Surveys are a good way of collecting data. The results of these surveys can be used to create interesting, factual stories to share with the public and your readership.
Conducting a survey can also help you with your branding efforts as a thought leader in your industry. After all, it’s statistics and hard evidence that establishes authority across many sectors.
Real life example: In April of last year, the British Broadcasting Corporation released a "Great British Class Calculator" survey on their website. Users would answer questions and be told what their modern class was.
Five days after this went live, the BBC published the results. Over 160,000 users had completed the survey. The survey itself attracted more links than the results, with more than 750 referring domains pointing to it.
It’s your turn
It’s time for you to move away from guest posting and be more creative. Instead of doing work solely for links and ranking in Google – how about trying to come up with some fresh ideas when creating content? The kind of content that’s newsworthy and adds genuine value.
It doesn’t matter how big or how small your brand is, or how much your budget is; you’ll be able to offer something that nobody else can offer.
Barrie Smith is an SEO consultant for Receptional Ltd. His last article for SEMrush was “5 Google Changes in 2013 that Affect How We Market Now."