Way back when Google first started they created an algorithm to rank web content based on relevance and citations. ‘Citation’ as in those footnotes you see on a research paper where one academic or researcher references other published content that supports or endorses his paper.
The professor only lists (links) to the other papers most relevant and most important to their paper. You can’t buy that, and never occurred to researchers to try and do that with each other. This system was pure at its heart. Eric Enge. The Google Perspective on Links
This is still the underlying premise of the algorithm. In a recent interview with Eric Enge about what Google considers quality content, Matt Cutts said
By doing things that help build your own reputation, you are focusing on the right types of activity. Those are the signals we want to find and value the most anyway.
So SEO is about building your reputation and getting third-party endorsement. That’s PR. Who knew?
Yet so many SEO firms trash the notion of doing public relations. In fact, just yesterday I received an email promoting a link building program that said the PR approach is BS and it doesn’t work. According to Matt Cutts, and he should know, the standard PR approach is the only thing that does work.
The PR Approach to Link Building
- Every piece of content should enhance your reputation.
- Post unique, original content that positions you as a front-runner in your field.
- Provide real value to people looking for information on your chosen topic.
- Write interesting, useful articles with substance – content that offers insights not found elsewhere.
- Create a database of industry experts who can provide useful and accurate information. Get them blogging.
- Produce interesting, original images and videos that enhance and extend a story.
- Create compelling, well-designed infographics with accurate information that help people quickly grasp complex information.
- Make genuine content partnerships with other relevant sites or blogs that want your content because it has value for their readers.
- Post content that will spark conversation in social media. People talking about your content provides ‘social proof’ (endorsement) that the content has value.
- Never ‘buy’ links, earn them.
Enge warns that we’re likely to see another Penguin update from Google in the near future. The Penguin update was aimed at decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using techniques such as keyword stuffing, buying links, participating in link schemes, links from ‘bad reputation’ sites and deliberate creation of duplicate content.
Be prepared: Instead of doing content marketing to get better rankings, leads or sales, take the PR approach. Do it to build your reputation and earn genuine third-party endorsement and social proof. That naturally leads to the rest.