Online Brand Development – Old School Link Building in Social Media Age

by Jason Acidre on June 9, 2011 · 33 comments · Search, Social


Brand is the core element of most lucrative online businesses and websites today. From a cool business name to a striking lobrand developmentgo or to a unique identity, a site’s brand appears to be its solid ground, which makes most of its parts possible to be scaled, given that a highly trusted brand looks more appealing not only to its targeted audience, but to other related market as well.

With today’s modern and powerful age of marketing, there are many channels – and probably more coming – that businesses can utilize to get their products/services in front of their target audience in areas of online marketing such as search engine optimization, pay-per click, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, mobile marketing and email marketing.

They all seem to sound too complex, but the good news is that all of them are aiming for one same goal – to make your business earn more money. These areas may differ in terms of methodologies, but in the end, they all land on the same page, where they are all able to be integrated into one overpowering marketing campaign that can strengthen your site’s brand, which is very important if you’re planning to prolong your business’ productivity for years.

Rankings VS. Brand

High search engine rankings for profitable keywords (keywords that users use to find what they need or want to purchase over the web using search engines like Google and Bing) is achieved through two traditional web marketing processes: on-site optimization and link building.

These two processes require monotonous tasks and months of work to fully materialize, given that many sites are competing for keywords in order to generate organic traffic through relevant search queries and eventually earn from those highly targeted visitors.

Returns from rankings: High, especially if your site is obtaining thousands of free and high-quality traffic from search engines through relevant and high volume queried keywords, which increases your chances of selling your business.

Building a strong brand presence for your site also does take lots of time and effort. However, setting your brand in your industry as an authority can get you almost the entire job done, as it is:

  • Easier to sell if you are a well-trusted brand
  • Easier to gain your visitors’ loyalty
  • Easier to get high quality referrals from other authority sites
  • Easier to obtain higher search rankings for your targeted keywords
  • Easier to attract and acquire natural links from other websites
  • Easier to generate more traffic and leads from different sources (search engines, social media, etc…) as well as second time buyers.

Obviously, social media is more about branding, whereas the more your business interacts over the web, is the more people are being aware of your business. Though, social signals are now being used by search engines to help determine popular and trending websites/pages/brands.

Returns from social media branding: Medium, if done solely as procedures from this branch are much slower compared to SEO, but very high, if integrated with search.

Your brand name is your most important keyword

Companies will never end in relentlessly competing for high-stake keywords, but with your own brand, who knows. Focus on shaping your brand externally, while you are targeting highly profitable keywords within your territory (through publishing high-quality content in your site that will naturally target keywords), as it is a tactic that’s more engaging and appealing to both users and search engines.

Integrating all valuable and known to be efficient sources for web popularity – like link building and social media – can result to unimaginable height and speed of success if done appropriately. Given that having a strong brand presence can naturally attract links (authority brands are link magnets) and most authoritative brands can pretty much rank on any keywords they choose to, as search engines are rewarding highly trusted sites (reputable brands) with higher rankings on their search results.

Special Note: Never attempt link building if your site contains poor content.

17 Ways to Integrate Traditional Link Building with Social Media for Brand Development Purposes

1. Blog commenting

  • Leave remarkable and intelligent comments that will be useful to the discussion to be able to attract other readers to visit your website and to increase your chances of being mentioned by the blog owner on his/her future posts for asserting an idea.
  • Build conversations by responding to others’ questions or replies on your comments.
  • If you want to build a solid reputation for your brand, then present yourself worthy of it. Link building efforts should be as heavy as your brand want to stand out (skip the great post drop link tactic).
  • Use your name or brand as your links’ anchors instead of keywords. You can also link to your social network accounts (Twitter or Facebook Fanpage) through your comments to increase their visibility.
  • Use a Gravatar, as it helps in building your brand across the blogosphere, especially when people in your industry starts seeing you almost everywhere, particularly on well anticipated blog posts.
  • Share interesting blog posts or comment discussions on social networks to further engage with the bloggers you are aiming to be in contact with. This will also allow your comment links to be indexed faster by search engines.

2. Forum posting

  • Actively participate on high traffic forums that are related to your industry. Build an authority figure by genuinely interacting with the community. It’s a place where people interested in your business want to learn more about it, so do not just drop links.
  • Leverage your site’s content visibility through informative contribution, or basically by using your site’s resourceful content as a reference in helping out other members. Manipulate readers into visiting your site by displaying your expertise in responding to threads.
  • Use your site or brand name as your signature link’s anchor text instead of keywords. It’s also best to include links to your Blog, Twitter or Facebook account to improve your follower base along the process of building your reputation on these sites.
  • Use the same avatar and username on all the forums that you’ll choose to participate actively to consistently build your brand’s presence in your niche.

3. Q&A sites

  • Almost similar to forums, where you have to genuinely contribute to the community by sharing your expertise and using your site’s useful content as the much comprehensive source of your answers.
  • Connect with other influential people in your industry by following them on sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers.
  • Links from these websites are known to pass high amount of trust, as it’s seen as “useful links” by search crawlers, particularly if the link is placed on the upper part of the document’s body (usually the top or best answer).

4. Web design

5. Infographics

  • One of the most important factors of marketing your website through infographs is the inclusion of your site’s logo within the image.
  • Infographs have high tendencies of going viral through social networks and also when being embedded by linkers on their own blogs. It’s important to monitor its performance and possibly to track sites that have used it, as some might not give proper link attribution to its original source. You can simply track this by setting up Google Alerts for your infograph’s title (ex. “how to create a magnificent infograph [infograph]”).

6. Guest blogging

  • Submit guest posts to blogs that have high traffic value (measurable through Alexa traffic rank, SEMRush and Compete.com) and domain authority (measurable through SEOmoz Toolbar) within your site’s niche or somehow related to your industry.
  • Put emphasis on your site/brand name by using it as your link’s anchor text on your author bio.
  • You can also promote your active social network accounts through your author bio, given that it’s easier to engage with people on these networks.
  • Respond to comments and/or retweets on your guest blogs to attract readers in visiting your site and to display an approachable image to future visitors of that page.
  • Watermark images that you’ll be using on your guest blogs with your logo.

author bio

7. News pitching

  • Pitch your story to news websites if you have groundbreaking news related to your industry. News sites usually have a link to a “send a tip”, “submit news” or “contact editors” page placed on the footer.
  • When pitching your story, it’s best to keep your message concise and straight to the point, where you can highlight the angle of the story straight ahead and include links to resources, which can be a content/blog posted on your site or a press release you have published.
  • It’s also advisable to directly submit your pitch on their site’s given contact details and not on their personal social networking accounts or email addresses.
  • You can also sign up on Help a Reporter and become a source for reporters, where you can pitch your story to almost 30,000 journalists.
  • If the story will require more in-depth information, you can always offer your client or yourself (in a discreet manner) to be interviewed to give further data or statistics to complete the story, which of course can gain your site a strong link, plus a good brand exposure, knowing that in-content links from news articles have high click-through as it’s contextual.

8. Get interviewed

  • Find bloggers who cover topics related to your industry and ask if they’ll be interested to do an interview of you or your client.
  • Showcase your site’s best content whenever it’s possible when on interviews, as sharing it through this form of content have high chances of being viewed by their readers and may establish good impression for your brand.
  • Mention how people can contact or connect with you by also linking to your social network accounts or by inviting readers to subscribe to your blog’s feed – a good call to action on the closing part of the interview.
  • Respond to comments and retweets as well as to help the blog owner promote the content (preferably through your own networks).
  • This page also shows up on SERPs, in case someone tries to search your name on Google, which is actually a good trust signal to users.

9. Attending/speaking at conferences

  • There are a lot of opportunities in getting links and in leveraging your brand on offline events such as industry conferences, blog meetups and seminars/workshops, as you have the chance to socialize with like-minded people – there’s no better way to interact than live social networking.
  • Teaching results to natural links and brand recognition, since attendees more often than not cite remarkable statements from speakers through blog posts or share it on social networks, which can help in your making your brand more visible by absorbing attention from their networks.

10. Extract link opportunities from related foreign websites

  • Expand your brand’s reach by scaling the process of your campaign’s link development. Find sites from other countries that are related to your industry (could be or not a competitor) and study their link profiles.
  • You can search for these sites through country-based directories, Google search localized extensions (ex. Google.com.ph, Google.de, etc…) or large directories like Dmoz.org. While you can use Open Site Explorer or Yahoo Site Explorer to track sites linking to them.
  • Extract the best linking sites (have high domain authority, good traffic and provides quality content) and contact them to request links or start building relationships with them.

countries stats

11. Image submissions

  • Produce original images/photos that can capture your target market’s interests and have potential to go viral (something like these). Upload them to photo sharing sites like Flickr and Photobucket. Optimize your images’ description to increase their chances of getting aggregated on Google’s image search.
  • Make your uploaded photos link back to its original source, which will be a page that hosts the photo/image in your site.
  • You can also submit or upload your infographs on these sharing sites.
  • Watermark your photos/images with your logo.

12. Coin a new term

  • Invent or reinvent terminologies, techniques or start a meme in your industry and make sure that when people search for that term they’ll find you first, to ensure that you’ll get proper link attribution when people start writing about its history. You can create a specific page on your site that has the sole purpose of defining the term.
  • Continuously use and promote the term through your succeeding blog posts, guest blogs or when participating on online discussions.

Green-hat SEO

13. Create your own Wikipedia page

  • Create a Wikipedia page for your business/company, but it’s important to create the content in a professional (and non-promotional) approach. Focus on citing factual information about your company including its history, achievements, editorial citations from trusted websites and multiple valid resources.
  • When creating the page, it’s also best to link out to other relevant Wikipedia pages (internal linking), seeing as it’s the basic model of their site’s content. Having a Wikipedia page for your business can really amplify the level of trust that people and search engines see in your brand, knowing that with its highly-trusted domain, it’s certain to be returned as a result when people try to search your business name on Google.
  • You can also create Wikipedia pages for terms that you have coined, but be sure to research your entry first, by seeking if the topic was already created. (ex. “Siloing in SEO” is still an available subject to be created). You’ll also need to publish a page in your site that discusses your chosen subject extensively, for you to be able to include a referential link from that Wikipedia page to your domain.
  • If you are already an influential individual in your industry, you can also choose to create your biography page on Wikipedia, which can link to your website and cross-link to your business’ Wikipedia page.
  • Actionable example: if you are running a travel website, research about upcoming tourist destinations, then see if information about the place is still not available on Wikipedia. Be the first one to write about it (make the content as comprehensive as you can), then create the Wikipedia page about that certain destination and use your published content as the main reference for the subject (it’s highly recommended to include other sources as well).
  • More tips on creating an encyclopedic article on Wikipedia: How to Create your own Wikipedia page and Wikipedia: Starting an article

14. Tools/Widget

  • Offer free and useful tools to your target market and stress your brand as its creator. Free tools – particularly those that are very useful and unique – have its own way of persuading links towards it and it’s also an excellent way to spread your brand to the public, as these kinds of incentives get easily shared.
  • You can also choose to automate the social sharing process each time users utilize your free tools.
  • Actionable example: Say if your site is selling pizza, why not try to build a tool where your visitors can make their own recipe of the pizza that they’d want to order. They can drag and drop the ingredients through a split screen (list of ingredients and finish product, then eventually press “submit order”). Once they are done, a pop-up window can display which will allow your users to share the experience on various social networks.
  • Set out an ego bait (rankings of the best in your industry), where you can inscribe your logo in the embeddable widget.

15. Monitor brand mentions through Google Alerts

  • Set up Google Alerts for your brand and/or for name of the site owner to track sites that mention your site with no link attribution. It’s easier to request for links from sites that have already cited you, don’t forget to ask them nicely.

16. Distribution of branded whitepapers

  • Produce exceptionally crafted and extremely informative whitepapers/free report/research in PDF or slide presentation format then submit it to document sharing sites such as Scribd, Docstoc, Issuu and Slideshare.
  • You can also distribute and offer the document to active bloggers in your industry, since they can use it as a giveaway on their paid information products or courses and they can also use it in capturing their visitors’ emails through opt-in offerings. Having your whitepapers available for download on authority and high-traffic blogs can definitely give your site some high-value links (coming from your PDF) and works excellently in improving your brand’s visibility.
  • Awesome example: Brian Clark’s free SEO copywriting report, which successfully made its way to numerous blogs’ sidebars.

ebook distribution

17. Video marketing

  • Create videos that have high potentials of going viral, as they do translate to links if marketed really well (try Stumbleupon Ads!). Build an active channel on Youtube and engage other users to subscribe and entice them to visit your site by promoting it appropriately through your videos and your channel’s elements.
  • Actively participate on Youtube’s community by leaving comments on other videos (especially those that are related to your industry), seeing as the more you are contributing in their community, the more you are able to build internal links to your channel (which passes massive Pagerank to your channel that can all be passed through your website) and the more you are able to attract visitors to your Youtube channel.
  • Pimp your channel by adding your logo, completing your profile and of course by uploading videos that will both be useful and entertaining to your target audience.

If you liked this post, please do subscribe to my blog’s feed and follow me on Twitter – @jasonacidre.

Image Credit: Craziicore

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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