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Social Networking and Link Building: A Comparison

November 22nd, 2012 - Filed under Web Development

Link building is an old search engine optimization strategy that has existed for years, nearly since the first days of Google’s algorithmic existence. Social networking, on the other hand, has only been around since roughly 2007 or thereabouts. However, despite its newness, it’s slowly starting to supplant or at least rival long standing backlinking strategies.

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One particular factor that has wrought enormous changes on the entire field of optimization is Google newfound insistence on and enforcement of actual quality in websites; you’re no longer going to cut it simply by creating thin content, spamming out a bunch of cheap links to whatever websites you can and stuffing your website with keywords to the point of unreadability. Google now wants search rank to be guided at least in large part by human interest and as much of it as possible within your niche.
(Image Source: Blueclawsearch.co.uk)

The massive algorithm updates such as Penguin, Panda, several other smaller tweaks and all the numerous new editions of each have all started heavily penalizing link spam and other black hat SEO practices; while these practices have always been frowned upon, they’re now much more carefully monitored for by the powerful Google algorithm AI and the human handles behind it.

In essence, low quality search bot focused SEO is losing its effectiveness and a powerful way of dealing with this is to take focus back towards attracting human interest in your website and human sharing of your site’s URL links. This is possible with a softer, more organic approach to link building and it consists of two parts; one involving social networking and the other involving more classical organic tactics.

Let’s go over both and compare their value.

Link Building the Old (Spammy) Fashioned Way

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Taking aside social networking for a moment, link building through more classical means (both organic and black hat style) essentially consists of getting links that lead back to the pages on your website coming to you from other websites.

In earlier days, this meant doing whatever possible to get links and as many as possible. It also meant not caring what kinds of sites the links came from or how they got there. Thus, many practitioners of Link building set up their site and then went ahead and built links for it by buying them from other sites, spamming the hell out of blogs and comment threads, spreading links through thinly written articles in content farms and getting others to do all of these things for them en masse.

For a long time, at least a decade, this process of link based SEO worked very well and could get a site to increase its rank with relative ease. And then Google cracked down and since Google is realistically the worlds absolute most important search engine, its rules set the new standards; these standards brought back to the forefront something that had always been considered a “best practice” by Google and the other search engines.

Quality Organic Link Building

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Suddenly –and here is where we come to the value and details of classic organic link building—organic link building of the kind that people had practiced for years right alongside the spammy mass link tactics became popular again; since now it was the effective tactic in an environment where spamming links no longer worked.

This organic link building is a much slower process, but it doesn’t involve any spam and is quality focused because it depends completely on attracting reader interest through consistent, constant quality content that builds your site’s reputation for expertise and confidence.

Webmasters, who want to build links by taking an organic approach, create lots of well detailed, unique material that is informative and thus naturally keyword rich without being keyword stuffed. This in then causes it to slowly get picked up by the search engines and rise in rank.

In turn, visitors who wind it, actually having located something of value within their niche of search terms used, are more likely to repeatedly visit the content rich site and more likely to share its links wither on their own websites within that niche or through their social network accounts (we’re getting to that momentarily).

As your quality content is visited and shared by more people, your reputation expands and repeat readers with their own sites might soon start leaving comments on a regular basis. This can lead to enough familiarity that you might even be able to make guest post agreements with them, with which you can write an equally high quality article or more for another well-known site and include links to your content in it.

Or, as a site owner who has steadily been developing a truly well created, reader-centric site, you can simply approach other sites and blogs in your general niche and offer to write guest posts for them; showing them your well written, very reader friendly site that’s frequently visited as proof of your skills and expertise.

In either case, while slow, these organic tactics create two valuable things: a list of strong, organic backlinks to your web material that are scattered across a smaller but much higher quality of strong, trusted websites and a fan base of loyal website followers that give you a strong quantity of monthly visits which get noticed by Google.

This is where social networking and the “New SEO” comes into play.

Social Network SEO and its Importance to Organic Link Building

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What the social networks let you as a website owner do is accelerate the somewhat slow process of organic link building and organic visitor growth.

Since a social network landscape is somewhat smaller and more conversation focused, you can spread your websites quality content across to your fan base and others much more directly and in a more concentrated way by having what is in effect a “conversation” with these people. Your focus with social network SEO is in essence the same as it is with search rank; you’re aiming for social content distribution.

In the process of collecting social network fans, you also collect willing distributors of your content who are already interacting in an environment that is specifically deigned for sharing information, pictures and other content. If your Facebook fan pages or Twitter feeds are loaded with links to the same quality content that you’ve placed on your website, your existing fans will help you create new fans by sharing what interests them in your work with their like-minded friends, causing them to also start following you once they see that you’re someone to be taken seriously as a provider or something they need.

You can also help this process along by holding your own content distribution tactics through social media: activities like contests, giveaways and total social integration of your website pages with your social media pages will make sharing your content easier and faster. Your fans will have that much less difficulty in getting your word (which they respect and value) out to others.

There are two important results to this as far as Google and possibly other search engines are concerned:

First, you’re developing a series of highly developed social media presence/popularity indicators that will almost certainly soon be ranked even more valuably by Google than they already are. For example, the number of visits to a website that came from the more trustworthy social networks will be taken into consideration and if you have a high presence there, this will be beneficial to your ranking.

Secondly, your distribution through social media is achieving both of the things that your old organic link building tactics did; more visitors to your site are being created and each of these new visitors increases your chances of getting your content shared on another website.

Final Words on the Future of SEO Itself

The bottom line is that search engine optimization as a whole will become more and more organic, value based and guided by creating a strong fan-base and strong link base with others that have a good reputation online, like a sort of web of trust.

Google’s and every other search engines main focus in all of this to create the most valuable and accurate possible search experience for their customers. Because of this, they’re putting increasing and increasingly intelligent efforts into removing all manipulative results in their search index; they want a search based purely off sites that got there naturally because they were interesting to their readers.

If you mix your SEO as a whole, including link building, social media optimization and content quality into one heavily reader focused interconnected strategy, you’ll be able to build rank without worrying about takedown for black hat practices through detection by increasingly sophisticated algorithms.

Guest Author: Marty Reardon

Marty Reardon has been writing for Next Door Self Storage for years. When he’s not busy writing, he can enjoys playing board games and relaxing at home with his wife.

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