Many people are obsessed with link building for SEO and it’s true that most of the best SEO campaigns contain some form of linking from other sites. The problem is that guest posting for links is such a dark area and there have been so many black hat techniques that sooner or later, whatever you are doing legitimately today, will result in a penalty if your sole purpose of outreach is to generate links.

Links are a critical element in any campaign right now, but how you or your SEO team acquire them is always under scrutiny by Google. Many sites accept posts from outreach professionals, but they insist any links must come from the author bio at the end of the article. That’s not a bad thing if the author bio has linked their piece to their Google+ authorship with the rel=”author” tag and updated the corresponding Google+ contributor list, but what happens when that author has 100 or 1,000 websites in their contributors list? Surely, that must devalue the posts a little unless the 1,000 sites are all high authority websites and the person is a thought leader.

Back to Old School

I’m not dismissing link building as a doomed practice, far from it. All I’m saying is that link building needs to change so that blogger outreach is much more genuine in its nature. There is absolutely nothing wrong with creating first rate content for another business’ blog, but that’s what it needs to be. The content should always be the most important part of the process because the rest will follow. Write something good, create a highly entertaining infographic or stoke some controversial fires and your piece has a chance of going viral.

Contracting a Virus

When your work goes viral and you have a link back to your website and Google+ author page, your content’s credibility flies and so does your website’s chance of ranking higher. Too many outreach professionals concentrate on obtaining links from sites that have a decent domain authority, page rank or other metrics like Majestic’s Trust Flow rating when they should be concentrating on creating great content and marketing that content to encourage social signals.

I spend a lot of time on Twitter and I follow certain people whose tweets I will 100% read if I’m not up to my neck in work. That’s because I know they produce or share great content. If you are marketing your guest posts to boost the social signals that Google considers the holy grail of off-site SEO, then how can you not concentrate on great content? After all, it’s the content that makes the site and not the other way around. Great content will fly, but average content is a false economy and time limited investment.

Creating the Illusion or Fact?

Many SMM pros use great tools like HootSuite to pump out a steady stream of high quality content shares from authority people in a particular industry. Throw in a couple of hashtags and those marketers send out all the right signals to their target audience. They spend months building their reputation and twitter following, but that is all undone when they share one hastily thrown together guest post with generic content that’s become outdated. That’s why exceptional content is as, but probably more important for outreach campaigns for long-term success than DA, PR or TF.