Is SEO link building dead again?
Appears so, if you keep your ears close to the ground. Tears were shed last week at the funeral of guest blogging as Google’s Matt Cutts gave a frank dismissal of guest blogging on his site.
Cutts told site owners last week to “stick a fork” in the practice which many have seen as one of the last refuges available for link building.
I couldn’t help but find the negative reaction from the community to Cutts’ comments a bit predictable.
Because it was the same reaction we saw when the Penguin algorithm took its hatchet to link farms.
It’s also the same reaction we saw when Panda smoked out keyword-heavy text and content farms.
The outrage typically comes from the same people – agency types that still rely on building links en-masse.
The search landscape is no longer like that, and the ‘death’ of guest blogging was inevitable. As a link-building practice, anyway…
But it’s long from a dying or dead medium. Like SEO itself, guest blogging will have to continue to evolve to offer practitioners real benefits.
And, a couple of days after Cutts’ remarks, I found a great case study to support my theory.
They’re so MoneySuperMarket!
While I was doing my media rounds last week I couldn’t help but notice one of the leading stories on the Daily Mail website on Friday centred around MoneySuperMarket.
A survey by the insurance comparison firm revealing the worst postcodes for burglaries had been picked up by the outlet and reported on. It was also picked up by a number of other media organisations and spread like wildfire.
It wasn’t an accident, either. It was part of the firm’s clever content strategy.
What do you think the future of guest blogging is? Have you lost faith after Matt Cutts’ recent comments? Let me know in the comments below!
Is it guest blogging, though?
Not in the traditional sense, and I can see how a number of people would (and will) label it as pure PR.
People could also cite the survey data as infographic-worthy, or that the findings could be used in a short video.
But I’m of the belief this is the way guest blogging will have to evolve to not only survive but to produce real results, through a mixture of creative content, some heavy public relations nous, and a large splash of big data.
The crux of the story revolves around postcodes and the 20 worst addresses for burglaries.
The information was teased from the huge wealth of data available to MoneySuperMarket from its client-base.
Not only is it an indicator of the huge range of data available to MoneySuperMarket, but it also highlights how content marketing professionals need the mind of an investigative journalist to sift through that data and find a relevant angle for a great story.
The data itself will likely have only been figures: ‘[MoneySuperMarket’s] staff examined more than three million insurance quotes for burglary over the course of a year, noting where and when people declared they had been burgled before.’
It shows a clever team, able to take that data and turn it into a story with real impact that potentially affects everybody in the UK and makes people take notice.
I’ve written before about the impact big data has on search success. I feel this example also shows what an important part big data has to play in the construction of creative, unique content strategies for brands.
The PR pitch
And, once discovered and analysed, the team will have to dig as deep as possible to fact-check and ensure that the data is accurate and OK to publish.
There are a number of reasons why. The most obvious to cover their backs legally, of course!
But another reason is to build a strong relationship with media outlets. They’re the ones doing the publishing, after all, and if you can provide as many facts and as much information and transparency as possible to a busy editor then it can only swing in your favour for a good story and any future submissions.
Trust is key when building relationships with media outlets – much as it used to be when submitting guest blogs to site owners. Though achieving results on this scale does take a lot of time and investment.
But as I mentioned before, this data could also be used in a press release, an infographic, a video, or other media channels.
Do you agree with my thoughts on the future of guest blogging, or do you feel there’s another way (if any) the medium can evolve? Let me know below!
Once submitted the content pretty much writes itself if the data used in the pitch is clear and additional information (a comment from someone within the company? Information from a previous survey?) has been included.
But the good content marketer will think beyond this story for guest blogging potential.
Though the story here has likely been pitched to media outlets in the form of a press release, the quality of the data can be used for a long time to come.
I refer back to how to stretch your content further by asking who, what, when, where, why, and how questions.
This story, for instance, cries out for a lot of them to be asked. Which areas are most at risk, and why? How can communities and councils battle these burglaries? What do the areas with least risk have in common?
These questions, thanks to the quality of the story, open a raft of opportunities for MoneySuperMarket to work with related guest bloggers.
Why not expand on the story by working with a crime blog, for instance, and neighbourhood watch websites? This also shows where MoneySuperMarket’s PR department will have to be on top form – providing quotes to bloggers and working with them to stretch their stories further than ever before.
And before you say the story in the Mail doesn’t have any links… does the future of search really need them?
Setting the stories straight
Though MoneySuperMarket has recently nabbed the head of content and PR from Confused.com, this isn’t a new tactic for them. The company has been getting stories in the press for a good while with its creative use of content, PR, and big data.
SEO should never be about the amount of links you can accumulate. It should be about authority, brand creativity and looking to set yourselves apart from the competition with an imaginative strategy that boosts your visibility.
The beauty of the above tactic from MoneySuperMarket is that anyone can do it if they angle the data they have collected properly, researched it, and pitched it to the right people.
Guest blogging as a form of link building should rightly be under the spotlight if it increases webspam and offers absolutely no benefit to the reader.
But guest blogging is far from dead. It will, however, have to adapt to provide people with top-quality information that helps people in their daily lives.
To find out more about search marketing and how creative content can help your online brand contact Webpresence today to find out more!