Developing compelling, unique, and resourceful content will help you build a base to a successful website that might just "naturally" earn you some links.
If you participate in social media activities, I'm sure that I can get you to agree to one thing…the idea here is to "give" before you can expect to "get."
What I mean by that is that to be successful with social media marketing, and building up your following (or whatever your end goal may be), you must provide great content to achieve anything.
So many companies and individuals still haven't seemed to grasp that basic concept. They want to build out their social profiles so that they can push marketing messages to an audience (akin to newsletter blasts). They forget that the idea behind successful social media marketing initiatives is to engage in an interactive discussion and build relationships. Then, after you have earned the right, perhaps you can make a subtle suggestion that they check out the latest/greatest goings-on at your company, or be made aware of a promotion that you are running.
To gain a following, you would either have to commit yourself to pushing out great content, or otherwise hire (pay for) someone to do this for you. In time, you might just earn the popularity/presence that you desire. Yes, there are ways to automate the growth of followers (follow me and I'll follow you – sounds like reciprocal link building, doesn't it?) and then you can, to make your Twitter profile look more discerning, delete those that you follow.
A similar issue exists with many websites which are trying to earn "authority" in the search engines. You can certainly buy links (as you've somewhat "bought friends," in the example above), and you can do reciprocal link building, if you wish, but the best and "correct" way to build a successful Web presence for search engine optimization is to create good, resourceful content that folks might want to "naturally" link to.
Case in Point
I currently work with a very large website that probably has six million. Truth is, a very small percentage of this content is resourceful, or even "good" for that matter. None of this was a surprise. Before we committed to providing search engine optimization services to this client, we first wanted to know that they were committed to some serious heavy lifting when it came time to write content.
Their existing setup is to use content rewriting software that can make sure that content is "no more than XX percent duplicated." The content that it churns out is not exactly of a high quality. While we've been "successful" in helping them to grow the number of pages indexed, it doesn't matter, because we have yet to get the content rewritten/created in such a way as to lead the search engines to believe that it's the kind of content that deserves to rank well in the SERPs.
We have been successful in getting this client to post quality content within their blog. Previously, their posts were the type that you might find on any personal blog. That is to say, random, and not at all relevant to their business. So, step one here was to define the categories for their blog, to help them organize their post writing, keep them on track, and help them build relevant content on their domain (the blog is hosted on the site at www.sitename.com/blog). Now, when they post, they can be assured that the content that they're adding is actually helping their SEO efforts. When we assist clients with blog setup, we're also helping them establish best practices as to the type of content that they should be writing under each category. We want to provide helpful/resourceful information for their target audience. What type of questions are people searching that our client may be able to answer? What type of valuable content could our client give away, that people might appreciate so much that they'd be able to link to it/source it and reference it to others through social means?
For those of you who have been in search engine optimization for many years, you may recall how many websites were set up "back in the day" with URLs like /dallas-search-engine-optimization, then /atlanta-search-engine-optimization, and so on until they've covered every single city within the United States. I'm happy to report that this stuff doesn't work (at least not as well as it used to) any more. "Find/replace" city name is not a strategy. Developing compelling, unique, and resourceful content is what is going to help you build a base to a successful website that might just "naturally" earn you some links.
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Mark Jackson is the president and CEO of Vizion Interactive, Inc., a leading SEO company headquartered in Dallas, TX, with offices in Overland Park, KS and Clearwater Beach, FL. Mark joined the interactive marketing fray in early 2000 in business development with Lycos/Wired Digital and then AOL Time Warner. After having witnessed the bubble burst and its lingering effects on stability on the job front, Mark established an interactive marketing agency and has cultivated it into one of the most respected search engine optimization firms in the United States.
Vizion Interactive was founded on the premise that honesty, integrity, and transparency forge the pillars that strong partnerships should be based upon. Vizion Interactive is a full-service interactive marketing agency, specializing in search engine optimization, search engine marketing/PPC management, social media marketing, SEO friendly Web design/development, analytics installations/analysis, and other leading edge interactive marketing services, including being one of the first 50 beta testers of Google TV.
Mark is a member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association (DFWSEM), the Dallas/Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association (DFWIMA) and is a regular speaker at the Search Engine Strategies and Pubcon conferences.
Mark received a B.A. in journalism/advertising from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1993 and spent several years in traditional marketing (radio, television, and print) prior to venturing into all things "Web."
His columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive.
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12:00pm ET/9:00am PT