Bill Hartzer

Why I am No Longer a Link Builder But Now a Content Publicist

I think the title of this blog post says it all. Really. Here we are in the beginning of 2013 and many respected experts in the Search Engine Optimization industry offering their predictions for the year. I purposely have decided to not offer any predictions for the year. Rather, just go ahead and change my whole entire attitude and way of thinking when it comes to SEO, web site marketing, internet marketing, online marketing, whatever you want to call it these days. What is the change I’m making?

I am no longer calling myself a link builder. I no longer do link building. It’s now all about link earning, so I am officially going to call myself a content publicist. I am no longer a link builder, but am now an online content publicist.

Why the change? In 2012, we have seen a lot of changes in how the search engines deal with links, which types of links they are “counting”, which links that they are telling us that are unnatural or bad, toxic links. And even the link moses, Eric Ward, who has been doing link earning all along, has offered his predictions for 2013.

Link Networks – gone and devalued.

Infographics – people are starting to ignore them. I’m not a big fan.

Directories – there are really possibly less than a half a dozen still worth getting “listed on”. And even then, the SEO value of those are potentially questioned.

Sponsorships – potentially devalued in 2013, but since they’re paid anyway do we really think the search engines would value these anymore? Paid posts and paying for links has been out for several years now. Devalued. Why should a search engine give value to a paid sponsorship of an event?

Blog post comments – pretty much still worthless, unless it’s a comment on an A list blog with a lot of traffic and a lot of trust. Still then, comment because you want to comment. Now because you are looking for a link.

Forum Posts/Signatures in Posts – Might bring you a few clicks if it’s a popular forum. But other than that, no longer any SEO value there.

Links from Social Sites – The search engines crawl the social sites, and the best way to get a page crawled is to mention the URL in a Tweet or on Google+. But the value here is more when it is done for content awareness, and not because of the actual link or SEO value of the link.

For me, it all really started with Danny Sullivan’s rant about link earning in June 2012. It really comes down to one statement by Danny that sums it all up quite nicely:

What you want is to be linked from places where there’s an actual audience that might see your link and click on it directly to visit. Do that, and you’re building the type of links the search engines want to reward.

If you want to hear and read the audio from Danny Sullivan’s (now) famous rant? Jeremy recorded it and posted a transcript.

I’ve officially stopped focusing saying that I do link building. I’m no longer a link builder. I’m a content publicist. Why? If you stop thinking about building links, you start thinking about publicizing content, then you start to focus on what matters most: getting really good content in front of people. Real people have the ability to “like”, “plus one”, and share content with their friends and others. If it’s good content then it will get noticed if you do the “publicity part” right. And it’s a lot easier to get links to great content–so the link building (or link earning) part will come naturally.

It’s now my belief that a link will have more value or be valued more by the search engines if that link has traffic and visitors associated with it. The search engines have a lot of data now. They know when people are clicking, tweeting, liking, sharing, and visiting certain URLs. Trust me, they know.

If you are a link builder or do any link building for your web site or a client’s web site, you need to stop calling yourself a link builder. Start changing your whole attitude, start thinking of yourself as a content publicist. You’ll thank me when 2014 comes around.

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