Discussion has arisen in the world of link building of late, for good reason. Google made modifications; the search engine came down on suspicious linking practices. The purpose is to rid the Web of unrighteous rankers and unscrupulous link building practices.
I've read a number of posts, urging clients and brands to rethink linking. That's great; I have experience in public relations, an aspect of link building many good practitioners encourage. I'm no Seth Godin; but, the union of link building and PR has knocked at my intuition's door for years. Links are like votes. How do you get votes without a little socialization, facilitating exposure and understanding?
Why PR Wasn't Always Needed
I see you. I understand how some brands got in trouble in the past; and, why some may be approached, to endure lost rankings or penalties in the future. It's anxiety. Brands are anxious to compete in a competitive vertical.
Brands thought, "Gee, we don't rank for major keywords right now. Natural progression takes time. How can we be impatient and get rankings now rather than later? Hmm…we can get links from anywhere, just for now…"
Many sought unscrupulous ways to build links for desired keywords. I'm not judging; however, many know the difference from a quality, natural link and one chased purely for rankings. Usually money is the only necessity to get lower-valued links; when you're not gunning for quality, PR is not a need.
Regardless of your past or present philosophy on link building, understand that getting good-fit links is building to last. Other endeavors may not necessarily lay any lasting foundation at all; on the contrary, as we're seeing, a short-term 'fix' can drastically breakdown future pursuits of success.
Why PR is a Need Now
PR is an inextricable need in organic link building these days. I hope it stays that way. My intuition tells me it will. In short, this is why PR matters when it comes to rethinking linking:
- Quality links come from quality sites. For instance, many news sites are high authority sites. Reporters and editors may randomly come across your URLs; but, don't rely on chance. Be proactive. Find news sites covering your vertical. The former may do so in a general or niche manner, either way, this is good. What do you have of value to offer them?
- Quality links come from quality personalities. Many individuals write blogs or reference in-vertical material for readers. Do you engage in your vertical? If you don't, bloggers (like the reporters and editors above) won't just come across your material. However, if you regularly read blogs, comment, and show a social presence in your vertical, you can build relations and links in the process. What value can you offer bloggers and the community?
- Quality links go to authority sites. Rank is contingent on worth…to the browser, to the consumer. Other sites, bloggers, and people will draw attention to your URLs if the pages are of quality. Engagement in your respective community and engagement with consumers warrants effective PR. Effective PR doesn't guarantee you have quality pages; but, it makes it likely you'll be seen and gain ongoing attention. I'll say it again; PR is a means to an end of greater exposure, but doesn't guarantee the end itself. What value do you offer, warranting increased exposure?
Maybe this is the best way I can phrase it. Like rank, PR and link building gain a business more exposure. Getting more exposure is like your brand's elevator pitch to the public; it helps get them to look your way and hear what you have to say. Are goods, services, and Web properties deserved of quality attention? That's the first question to ask. Poor quality attracts the same brand of attention. Excellence begets excellent links and attention. Can you be excellent?
Chris Dyson – Optimize Your Link Building with Twitter
John Doherty – Link Branding: A Link Builder's Marketing Mindset