Link building is a hugely vital facet of any digital strategy as the process of acquiring links has shifted over the years to ensure that links are earned for the provision great content. Now while this aim should be a coherent commonality shared by anyone looking to generate more links, it is often misconceived that quantity of links is more important than quality. However, I strongly refute this point and would much rather have one link from a top-tier site, than 10 links from less authoritative sites. “But why would you prefer this, Tom?” you may find yourself asking, well, read on and you’ll find out why.

Just to be clear, this isn’t just another one of those ‘Link Quality vs. Quantity’ debates because the best answer should be obvious… 

Quantitative Link Building

In the days of old, quantitative link building worked exceptionally well and garnered pretty quick results for those who were willing to spend more than their competitors. However, as we’re all very much aware, Google’s updates ground this practice to a halt and eradicated black hat SEO from the face of the digital landscape. Because of this, a quantitative approach to link building has naturally become less effective in generating the desired results. Why? Well it’s simply because Google’s updates over the past few years have guided SEO practices to focus on creating quality content to earn links, rather than buy them.

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Fundamentally, though, there is no set number of links that you need to accrue per month, and similarly, there is no set pace at which you should acquire links either. In fact, as long as your link building efforts and pace that you acquire them is natural, then you’ll be plain sailing. Google will only ever take action against websites whose link building efforts appear unnatural; by this I mean websites that will build 100 links one day, then 0 the next, then another 50 the day after, then 0 the next day. All this will indicate to Google’s algorithm is that your rate of link building appears to be automated, or at least spammy, so try to make it look as natural as possible. Ultimately, as long as your links are from good sources, the pace at which you get links shouldn’t matter.

So we’ve just established that quantitative link building isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and in some circumstances it can be unavoidable, but how does this compare to a more qualitative approach?

Qualitative Link Building

As mentioned in another of our past blog posts entitled ‘Link Building Myths’, quality links trump quantity every time. And referring back to my earlier statement pertaining to my preference in link building techniques, I’m going to explain why you should be focusing your efforts and resource on securing less links on more authoritative websites, as opposed to more links on less authoritative websites. Hence, the qualitative link building approach.

A couple of months ago we published a blog on the go-to-site for all the latest industry news, Search Engine Journal (SEJ), and the results that we monitored in the days following the post going live were somewhat eye-opening…

What did we do?

To generate this link, we created a blog post titled ‘Voice Search: The Future of Search?’ which was published on our website. Following our promotion, this was noticed by one of the team at SEJ who took it upon themselves to contact us enquiring as to whether they could include this within one of their pieces. We obliged, of course, then a week or so later they published the piece (on 30th June) titled ‘Proper Local SEO Citation Building Helps Users’ with a ‘DOFOLLOW’ link back to our Voice Search blog.

What were the results?

The results generated to as a consequence of this link acquisition provided an uplift in organic rankings, and in turn, an increase in traffic as a direct consequence of this enhanced exposure and trust. When tracked over the next 30 days, our website increased 147 keyword positions for a number of our major terms.

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Not only that, but our blog post on Voice Search dropped in at position 21 for the term ‘voice search’ and continues to fluctuate on a daily basis anywhere between positions 11 and 37. With this increase in ranking for our major terms, as well as the newly garnered ranking for our blog post on Voice Search (which has a monthly search volume of 4,400), we saw a traffic increase of over 12% across all of our keywords as a consequence. Moreover, when reviewing its performance after those 30 days, we saw that it has continued to generate traffic at a steady rate. As such, the attraction to our Voice Search blog has exceeded the usual two-week ‘honeymoon’ period where it would naturally generate the most interest.

Summary

In summary, when you’re devising a strategy for manual outreach always focus on quality rather than quantity. If you create quality content that people want to read and distribute well, then it’ll generate results on its own. Ultimately, though, no matter what pace you acquire links, as long as they’re from relevant, trustworthy and authoritative sites then it’s more likely to generate better results.

As a gentle introduction to his career at Digital Next, we asked newly-recruited Manual Outreach Executive, Lewis Ogden, to talk about his past experiences, interests and what he’s learned about his role thus far…

In the beginning

After holding down a variety of jobs from Cineworld to supermarket roles, I switched to hospitality in hope that I’d be able to find my feet in an industry that offered a progression path that I could grow into as I refined my skills. However, after more than two years and several unsuccessful attempts to scale up the hospitality ladder, I decided to switch industries and took up an opportunity in Administration/Paralegal for a solicitor’s firm which I held down for around a year. Though this provided a fresh, new opportunity for me at the time, it wasn’t anything that I’d ever considered for the long-term, so when I encountered a similar problem with progression routes at the solicitor’s I decided it was time for an entirely new approach. Cue Digital Next…

A New Venture

Once I’d decided to move on from the solicitor’s I felt it was time to look for an opportunity that would deliver much more promise and prosperity into my life. So, when I caught wind that there was an Outreach Executive position available at Digital Next, I felt that this was the ideal chance for me to get into an industry that I’ve been greatly interested in ever since I left school. Although I didn’t necessarily know a great deal about Manual Outreach when I joined, I believe that my past working experiences have helped me gain communication skills that are critical to my new role.

What I’ve Learned So Far

Since joining Digital Next I’ve come to learn that efficient communication is the single-most important aspect of Manual Outreach. It is through this communication that you are able to build rapport with webmasters to enable an efficient and effective system of acquiring valuable links on websites that provide our clients with the greatest results. By using a variety of tools to examine the ins and outs of potential websites is also extremely important and having as much information at hand as possible greatly increases the efficacy of our work.

Although my tenure at Digital Next remains a matter of weeks in length so far, I believe that I’ve learned a lot about the industry, digital strategies and techniques, and I hope to continue learning more so that I can bring more ideas to the table and help Digital Next continue to grow.

The PR landscape is evolving, moving towards an ever increasingly digital environment. Public relations as a discipline has had to expand its abilities far beyond the traditional, incorporating a more integrated outlook over all mediums. Digital PR has expanded in definition over the last few years, incorporating a range of strategies and disciplines designed to increase brand value and visibility online.

Digital PR is a term now being used frequently to describe not only traditional PR in a digital setting, but now incorporates Manual Outreach, Social Media and Content Marketing. This combination of disciplines requires detailed organisation, clear communication and a holistic strategy to meet clear objectives. Ensuring all these spokes are integrated is the key to quality digital PR, it allows for flexibility and scope, in order to be more fluid in the ever-changing online environment.

Manual Outreach

Manual Outreach has become a key component of Digital PR strategies, aimed at influencing opinion on the internet and generating leads. By connecting with influential websites and bloggers can give your brand important leverage in an increasingly crowded market.

“It is all about earning targeted media coverage for your business.”

Targeted brand exposure places your content in front of attentive eyes, which can generate online traffic to your business.

Outreach teams should be dedicated to sourcing strong links based on relevance, credibility and domain authority (DA). Reaching out to quality websites and blogs for your business not only helps promote new content, but also generates positive signals for your search engine rankings.

Earning links requires strong relationships to be built with bloggers and webmasters. With a focus on blogger relations, outreach teams can expand their knowledge of a given industry and reach across larger audiences. A network of online publishers can help potential clients find your content, generating online conversations and building your authority.

Collaborating with influencers across blogs, social media and other channels provides a stage from which to shout your message – resulting in relevant coverage for your business.

“It is all about working with the right people to amplify your brand in front of the right audience.”

Content

Having a team full of fantastic writers has become part and parcel of Digital PR. In depth research, strategy and creativity are key skill sets for your content team. They also need to be savvy in areas such as SEO and social media to understand how content must be structured to be digitally compatible.

Different mediums such as video or infographics should also be considered, to connect your message to the consumer in a different way.

A strong content strategy helps nurture leads, by ensuring all potential customers are informed, entertained or provided with value in some way. You should be looking to position yourself as a thought leader within your industry, verifying your reputation as the top brand. Proving and exhibiting your expertise helps expand your audience and form brand advocates.

Playing raconteur and illustrating your brand with a personality will resonate more clearly with potential clients. Well-written and strategically placed content has the potential to naturally nurture clients, ensuring trust is built as a part of your brand offering.

Social Media

Social media is the most fruitful way to engage with your customers on the web. It not only should provide information about your business, but communicate with your audience to develop relationships. Successful social media strategies, not only lead to greater brand engagement, but can also increase web traffic.

Social media channels can be utilised to gain insight into your audience, knowing what people say about your brand is essential. Listening to what is trending and how people are engaging can bring about significant advantages. It can provide vital intelligence to ensure targeting is accurate and allows measurements to be made to understand the success of a given campaign.

Brands now communicate directly with customers, offering them live advice and information via social platforms. Social media is a key driver of brand reputation. It hosts the world’s digital conversation – adding a personal touch to Digital PR.

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PR

Traditional PR techniques are still at the heart of Digital PR, with practices such as building relationships and producing press releases being a valid part of the marketing arsenal. PR shows its importance in establishing stories to capture the imagination of journalists or magazines.

At the core of PR is effective media relations, which ensures publications regarding a given brand are formed in a positive light, helping to secure exposure to a larger audience.

Multichannel focus ensures maximum exposure, whether that be online or offline, and provides an opportunity to spread your message in a cohesive and effective manner.

Ultimately a successful PR campaign will add value to your overall Digital PR strategy by picking up coverage online.

“Digital PR can be viewed as the glue of an integrated digital campaign, fashioning brand personality and building trust to influence consumer decision making online.”

Digital PR is an ongoing process, it requires monitoring and analysis in order for it to be continually optimised and amplified. The internet is constantly changing and requires a knowledgeable team to keep up to date and adapt with the digital landscape. Identifying digital trends and utilising online tools are also an integral part of any Digital PR campaign.

There is also increasing emphasis on the relationship between PR and search engine visibility, as both disciplines begin to become more intertwined. Since the Google updates of Penguin and Panda, many old SEO techniques are now dead and are now considered to be unethical. PR and Search now work alongside each other as having common aims, embracing both people and technology. There is little doubt Digital PR directly impacts your SEO campaign, meaning you are much more likely to be found online.

Digital PR provides another angle to ensure your brand gets heard, helping you drive conversation and improve brand perception online.

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