If you’re new to the whole SEO game, you have probably heard a lot of industry experts talk about “link building” and “link earning”. Even though, to newbies, these two phrases might look like Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen did when they were younger, everyone who has been creating links for a living for more than a couple of years can now tell the difference.
Even though they both aim to accomplish the same thing, a lot of different factors separate these two practices, most important of all being quality and intent.
If you have been keeping track with Google and all its algorithm changes, then you probably know that a lot of webmasters and SEO professional are constantly being pressured by the world’s most popular engine to tighten up their game and focus on quality instead of quantity when it comes to creating links for their websites.
While link building still remains an important part of the SEO puzzle, the process of acquiring links has significantly changed.
In 2017, it’s all about natural links. You cannot continue to stuff your backlink portfolio with all sorts of different garbage and expect to get away with it. No way. Google doesn’t tolerate that kind of nonsense anymore.
This brings us to the subject of this article:
In this day and age, thanks to all of the algorithm changes, terms link building and link earning stand for two completely separate things.
What is Link Building?
In 2017, “link building” is still a popular SEO off-site strategy. As before, the term is used to describe the process of manually promoting your website via various different methods and practices, with an end goal to add more backlinks to your link portfolio.
However, the thing that has changed is what it usually brings to the table.
Let’s say that you have a website like Dibz.me. You have just started promoting your tool online, you’ve built a website for it, social media pages, the works. But, you still don’t have a lot of domains pointing back to your digital office. You need to acquire as many backlinks as possible if you want to outrank your direct and indirect competitors in SEPRs for your selected keywords,right?
Well, not quite.
This is the exact point where link building and link earning start to part ways.
The fact is, you can build a link in any number of different places. There are literally more than 50 ways to create a link for your site. You can use article submission websites, send spammy emails or even resort to reciprocal linking. Some people who are in need of quick SEO wins tend to go for such solutions. They get impatient and start looking for hacks that could help them quickly pump up their rankings in the SERPs.
However, this isn’t really great for you. Especially now, in the post-Penguin era.
As I’ve already said above, it’s all about generating natural links.
Google made it clear to everyone that not all links are equal. Some will instantly influence your rankings for the better, while others have the power to significantly harm your website. If you don’t want to get punished for your link building efforts, you need to a develop a far more tactical approach to creating links for your domain. It’s imperative that you get a bit creative and start thinking beyond the link. You need to focus on the intent behind your efforts.
The Key Differences Between Link Building and Link Earning
Link earning is basically link building for the new millennium. For the post-Penguin era, so to say. It’s all about creating resources that are useful for both the engine and the searchers. In this scenario, link comes as nothing more than a reward for your efforts. On of the major differences between link building and link earning is that the first concept revolves around creating LINKS, while the second is more concerned with creating valuable resources that will entice people to ORGANICALLY reward you with a link or mention.
Thanks to Google’s recent changes, the general idea behind your off-site SEO action should be to create different types of VALUABLE backlinks. Emphasis on valuable and different. You need to diversify your backlink profile, if you want it to truly work its magic for your website.
If you’ve read my 10,000 word-long article about backlinks, then you know that creating too many links from the same domain might get you on Google’s blacklist. The engine will label your efforts as “spammy behavior”, which will automatically destroy your rankings and position in SERP for desired keywords.
Regardless of the fact that you should always aim to create high-quality backlinks from a significant number of different websites that have an above-average domain authority, you should also think about grabbing a few links from sites that are more in your league.
Having all this in mind, one could say that if you want to build lasting results – you should always try to EARN your links.
Switching from a Link Building to a Link Earning Mindset
Link earning brings a ton more benefits for your business online. If you create valuable resources that tend to create links on their own, you will most likely build-up your brand authority online. You can also significantly grow your website traffic. After all, when you gain a link, you’re gaining additional exposure. A link from a relevant site has the potential to earn you tons of cool traffic. Just think about it, if you earn yourself a mention on sites like The Huffington Post, Forbes or Entrepreneur, you’ll most likely be seen by a lot of people who have the potential of becoming your regular site visitors, or even customers.
Especially if you write a killer blog post for one of those publications. If you continue to produce intelligent content pieces that solve real problems for your targeted audiences, you stand a chance of becoming a success online. People will start to acknowledge your expertise and they will start seeing you as a genuine industry expert. So, now that we understand the value behind switching from a link building to a link earning mindset, I’m going to share with you some methods that could easily help you earn those organic links:
1. Create Amazing Content, Guest Blog on Relevant and Popular Niche Websites
Even though this is probably the most logical and conceptually simplest link-earning technique, it’s definitely the hardest. If you have ever tried to create a piece of content that has the potential to organically earn you a ton of links, you probably know that this sort of thing ain’t no walk in the park. Regardless of the subject, the competition is ALWAYS fierce. If you want to rise to the top, you need to create at least 10x better content that the one that’s currently ranking high in the SERPs for your targeted keywords.
Knowing that creating content that has the ability to fill up your link portfolio with all sorts of relevant backlinks is something that tends to drive people insane, I decided to write a separate post for my agency’s blog about all the types of content that could instantly help you get on Google’s good side. If you’re really interested in winning big with your content, be sure to read my Creating Content that Generates Links Like Crazy post over at Four Dots.
2. Give Out Cool, Free Stuff
This probably the fastest and most efficient way to get people instantly talking about your brand online. Everyone loves freebies. Especially if they’re valuable. Sure, you can turn some heads by giving out cool, free t-shirts, but if you really want to win big here, you need to level up your game. Nobody will pass the occasion to get some useful free resources. By “resources” I mean something that is not very hard to produce, but genuinely solves a problem for your targeted crowd. I’m talking about free trials, templates, cheats, hacks – the works.
If you want to be successful with this technique, you need to really understand your target audience’s needs. For example, Deezer’s 3 month free promo got me hooked on that app. I came for the freebie, but stayed for the music.
But what does this have to do with generating links, you say?
Everything. Even though you’re willing to offer your targeted crowd something valuable for $0, you still need something in return from them. You can ask for a like, follow, link, brand mention, photo, email subscription – everything that could be of value to you.
3. Give People a Chance to Compete for Something
People love contests. They love competing with each other for all sorts of different prizes. If you’re interested in creating buzz for your brand, this is a great way to do it.
You can easily create engagement within the community just by giving people a reason to share your links online. All you have to do is come up with a good concept and promote it online.
Get in touch with influencers within your niche and industry and ask them to help you spread the word. Give them a reason to help you out with your contest. Provide them with an opportunity to promote themselves via your campaign.
This will give you a lot of coverage, which will generate many organic links.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post from top to bottom. If you have anything to add or ask, be sure to write your thoughts down in the comments section below.
This is it for now,
See you soon again,
Rad @ Dibz.me