In short, yes.
It wasn’t very long ago that SEOs recommended using backlink strategies to any brands and publications that wanted to game the Google algorithm into “thinking” a website deserved more trust and authority than it actually had earned.
Ultimately, the goal was to boost the Domain Authority of the website and show up higher in search results. (Domain Authority is basically trustworthiness – but if you want to read all the details about Domain Authority, Moz is where you want to go since it’s their invention.)
Today, Google explicitly names that particular “link scheme” as a possible penalty. But it’s not 100% illegal.
Activities like guest posting on larger sites is also a good way to ethically build your brand and your reputation over time. Unless you’re suddenly getting a bunch of backlinks at once, there’s a good chance you’re on the ethical side of things. Benefit of the doubt.
That said, don’t think of backlinks are just another way to borrow the SEO juice of another website. Backlinks are now a long-term awareness strategy, building your reputation on Google so that the search engine will hold your content in higher esteem.
In most of the scenarios we’re going to lay out in this post, link building has nothing to do with getting people to click your link and driving traffic back to your site… though there will be times when you can structure a campaign in a way that makes clicking on your link a major benefit.
Backlinks should always provide a ton of value to your readers. Rarely should they link back to your home page, product page, or sales page. You’ll notice the links in this post go to either credible sources where you can check out information or convenient resources that you can bookmark and use later.
That means you have to shape campaigns in a way that provides your audience with a very good reason, a logical reason, a valuable reason to follow an influencer’s to link back to your product page, sales page, or landing page. Most of the time, you’ll be better off having them link to a page on your site that’s related to the topic or one that’s just a valuable link for people to access.
Now, at this point, I’m not *looking* for vitamins. I’ve completed my search and I have my system pretty much set. After all, it took me a few months to even find the vitamins I take now. They work fine. No nausea from the iron and no health issues.
So, the only way for another vitamin brand to get my business is to get my attention. How would a brand do that if I’m not looking for vitamins? They need a brand awareness campaign
Well, this new vitamin brand, let’s call it Dr. Nutrition’s Clean Energy Vitamins (that’s a really good name, by the way), needs to get on my radar while I’m busy living my life.
One way to do that would be to show up in a caption for a mommy hustler that I follow who just had her third baby in five years. I’ve been wondering how in the WORLD she’s going to handle business, babies, and bae and still keep her IG feed drool-worthy and her hair cute. And then the caption in one of the beautiful pics she posts offers some insight.
She’s taking these vitamins that have, like, time-release energy capabilities. And I think, “When did that become a thing?”
Because she still gets midday lulls when she’s too lazy or tired to prepare low-carb stuff to eat in the morning.
Hey, so do I.
And she still has those late nights with her youngest baby, nights when she only gets 4 hours and 36 minutes of sleep.
Hey, so do I.
And she, of course, still has workdays that can be four times as long as the amount of time she slept. Not including family time.
Hey, so do I.
So, she’s really surprised she’s able to get so much done, and she’s not dragging anymore and walking around reacting slowly to people like a zombie because she’s not always exhausted; she was even able to cut out those micro-naps at lunch time.
Hey… that’s something I don’t have yet.
And that’s when I realize a solution exists for a problem I didn’t even realize you could correct. And that’s when I think to myself, “Dr. Nutrition, huhn?”
Now, in that scenario, do you think skipping the brand awareness campaign and just focusing on SEO would have worked? No, because I didn’t know the name of the brand, and I didn’t even know my midday lull was fixable without quitting sugar. So, why would I search it when I know I’m not ready to give up sugar?
But the post from the influencer had impact, and the ad that featured that influencer’s content may have been just compelling enough to push me to investigate a little further.
Or maybe I got busy with Slack messages and deadlines and campaigns and my partner’s birthday and helping my favorite candidate with their online campaign or whatever. And I totally forgot about that thousandth screenshot in my phone that just happens to be the ad from Dr. Nutrition… which I’m totally interested in, by the way. I’m just super busy. And a bit of a procrastinator.
Still, even though I’m interested, I’m not going to remember Dr. Nutrition. If anything, the next time I wake up from a midday nap, I would probably look up more info on getting over my midday slump. Or dropping a sugar addiction. Or even nootropics, for goodness sake… Or venture down some intense Dave Asprey/Dr. Sebi/Ben Greenfield/ rabbithole of bodyhacking, OMAD, mitochondria, and telomeres.
But not Dr. Nutrition. That’s the one doctor I won’t be looking up. That guy’s long forgotten. Unless…
The Dr. Nutrition content team took time to optimize their website (and have keyword-optimized sponsored content on the sites of several of their influencer partners) for search terms like:
“circadian rhythm tired in the afternoon”
If they didn’t and another vitamin company did, I very well may end up buying from that other company as I cross over onto THEIR path to purchase.
If Dr. Nutrition’s team did the SEO strategy, Dr. Nutrition will be back in the game.