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Link building and social media

Written by David Harry   
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 10:10

It’s all about the secondary links silly

Time and time again I see folks in the SEO world talking about getting links from social media websites. Many times this advice will include finding ‘followed’ links and even lists of ‘dofollow’ social media sites. This is quite strange and bewildering to me as the holy grail of link building in SM isn’t getting a link from the actual site…. but getting the secondary links that follow viral content.

You see, one shouldn’t be using the state of the links on the site as the measure… and such approaches are often even frowned upon by many in the biz as noted in this recent Sphinn thread. Regardless of the emotional reaction, the whole concept is flawed. I could give a rat’s ass if the links on a given site (including social and blogs) are followed because that was never the consideration in the first place.

Don't social spam for links

Secondary links are the goal

The main thing, from a link building perspective, is not really about direct links but the secondary links one garners from having a viral story on said site. If one gets a hot story on places such as Digg or Twitter, how many links are being generated? This is where the story begins for link builders. Having a viral story make the rounds can often result in a great number of back links that can often be of far more value than those single authority links social spammers seem bent on getting. This is the greater value to be had from SM sites for the adventurous link builder.

Now, we can discuss brand development and authority building as an important aspect of content distribution, (and social media) but let’s stick to the potential of them for link building. When we look to target a given social site what do we want to know?

  • Is the site targeted? Meaning does it have active categories relating to our market.
  • What’s the demographic? Is there a viable number or market related peeps?
  • What’s the reach? Is it syndicated heavily, (RSS, Twitter, Blogs, Scrapers..etc..)
  • What links are top stories getting? (is the demo a linking group)

You get the idea… we want the best possible opportunity for generating secondary links from the primary exposure. That is the goal at the end of the day (from a link building perspective).

 

Don’t be short sighted

This is actually true of a lot of content distribution/placement channels. You shouldn’t be as concerned about the type of link as the ability to generate links from the situation. What would you rather have?

  • Scenario 1 – a followed link from a marginally popular location such as http://www.under-link.com/
  • Scenario 2 – a nofollowed link from a popular site (or maybe dropped by a top Twitterer).
  • Scenario 3 – a followed link buried on a popular site (poor exposure)

If you said anything but Scenario 2 then please move to the front of the class, because you are failing sadly. Ultimately the actual status of the link is not going to be nearly as important as the ability to get the content in front of as many folks as possible. If you and the content team have done your job, and chosen the right locales, then you should end up with some great secondary links.

 

The ethical dilemma

Now, let’s deal with the purists ok? If you noted the Sphinn thread cited off the top, there are more than a few folks impassioned around this topic. For starters, I do get kinda pissy when I see folks condoning social spamming – but that’s a personal thing. I also get somewhat bemused when folks think that some tactic has been ‘outed’… cause if social spaming is a tactic, it certainly ain’t a secret. But that’s just me – I really don’t see how marketers are in a position to be complaining about web pollution – ya know what I mean?

And so I submit to you that there are far more distasteful link building methods than social/comment spamming. I don’t think it will go away anytime soon and I doubt they will ‘destroy the web’ as some have insinuated. What is the important thing for SEOs to understand is that social media, for link building, is more about the exposure of the content and not grabbing the core links. The status of the link (followed or not) should never be the consideration… that is simply short-sighted.

What say you? How do you use social media for link building?

 

Comments  

 
0 # Jun 2009-04-29 20:20
Some very good points here Dave. When "socializing", it's not just link building/link dropping, but more on talking with people, sharing some valuable information/content. The sweet thing though is that if they like what you share, you get a link, most of the time a "dofollow" one.
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0 # Steven Bradlley 2009-04-29 22:03
I think this is part of the get rich quick approach you see too often. Some can only see the immediate and fail to see that the indirect benefits that come after are worth so much more.

Which is easier? Finding a dofollow site or creating useful, informative, entertaining content? Too many opt for the easy one and miss out on the greater benefit of the harder one.
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0 # edwin 2009-05-04 11:49
I don't interially agree. You can't manipulate the secondary links. Maybe everyone will link to the 'nofollow' social media article instead of linking directly to your page. Maybe your wonderfully educational article does not turn out to be so popular as you thought..
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0 # Jack 2009-05-05 13:02
You may ask why I don't agree. What about link building for a hotel or a restaurant? It's my 2nd post read here and still more to come but what kind of techniques for viral linking would you suggest when promoting some typically commercial site.
Social spamming works great and we just can't omit it.
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0 # Paul Anthony 2009-05-12 14:14
Hi Dave - Agree to a point, although.. sometimes in the pursuit of secondary links, you never know whether a piece of content will go viral or not.

Getting it in front of as many eyeballs as possible obviously increases the chances, but also getting 70 followed links (as quoted in the article) would be better than none if it doesn't go viral. Everyone already knows the big players - so articles like this on Sphinn are useful from a link building perspective no?
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0 # Dave 2009-05-12 20:29
Thanks all for the comments, let me just say that mostly what I am referring to are folks that worry about the links being nofollowed on various social sites. This to me shows a short sighted view of the true value of SM in link building.

We take the time to cultivate client accounts on such sites and target content that has the highest probability of getting viral/hot so that we can attract the secondary links - that is more the goal. Let's look at something like Stumble, it's near impossible to get a good link from there and so secondary is all we have.

If we look at places such as Digg or SlashDot, once more... often the secondary links are more valuable than those on the site... heck, one mention on SlashDot led to a link from TechCrunch that was worth it's weight in gold (as that mention led to 200+ links)... so even third hand created from a social space...

..just sayin'
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0 # chris 2009-06-05 05:09
very good article with lots of infromation. I will try your rules and hope I got some links more
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0 # Edward Izzys 2009-06-19 11:50
Interesting!

I feel like there is a scarcity of good marketing today. Good marketing means which can convert the leads into sales. The only marketing that has moved me in the last couple of years is Social Media Optimization.
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0 # online casino 2009-08-12 00:13
We take the time to cultivate client accounts on such sites and target content that has the highest probability of getting viral/hot so that we can attract the secondary links - that is more the goal. Let's look at something like Stumble, it's near impossible to get a good link from there and so secondary is all we have.
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0 # Guest 2009-08-14 12:37
Dave agreed on the short sighted theme, but keep in mind there are some out there who will take the negative stance on nofollow as an excuse not to do social. I stayed away from social because I thought it was just losers with nothing better to do. =)

Likewise you have the twits selling Social as a link development service. That's even more BS then using nofollow as a reason not to do it. I've got on the Social bandwagon because I think at some point it will be important and the early adopters always fare better because they have more "practical experience" and have developed more strategies to leverage Social activity with other activity. IMO, that's where the rubber meets the road, improving and enhancing other activities using Social as a vehicle to broadcast to a wider audience.
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0 # furniture antique 2009-10-16 17:44
I don't interially agree. You can't manipulate the secondary links. Maybe everyone will link to the 'nofollow' social media article instead of linking directly to your page. Maybe your wonderfully educational article does not turn out to be so popular as you thought..
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0 # Jerry 2009-11-28 00:37
Social media is not just about link building. It's also a tool where you can connect to more people, get visitors and possibly turn them into clients.
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0 # online casino 2009-12-18 05:18
I think like is a good marketing today. Good marketing means which can convert the leads into sales.and.your artical is good so i am very impressde.and your site is very use full.
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0 # Austin SEO 2010-01-20 08:27
Start to become a real member of the community first before you start promoting, is the bottom line. Try to spend a little time getting to know the people you find and building up a relationship before trying to interest them in your business.
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+1 # Eldad Sotnick-Yogev 2010-06-14 11:01
Spot on Dave! Social spamming does exist and it will continue just like link wheels will. However, as those of us in the ethical SEO camp know there are better ways to build your sites up. Speed can be a thrilling ride but it often leads to a fatal crash - one day soon the link wheelers and social spammers will find that out with a subtle change in Google's algorithm.

Building good content has always been the best thing to do and SMM is no different. Sure, good content that can go viral and get secondary links may require a different approach - one filled with more humor typically seems to work in the Social world - but it is still down to the old adage "Content is king."
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0 # sami 2010-07-07 08:08
I agree wholeheartedly. hence must show my support & comment.
The sad thing is that while its very obvious stuff for the most part, it seems to me like the top what ever do follow lists are the articles that one comes about on every turn, and this type of reason is harder to come across. And reading something that you agree with can help clarify things even further.
So thanks for a very well written and clear article.
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