Without Links Content Stinks

Tadeusz Szewczyk
by Tadeusz Szewczyk | Last Updated May. 6th, 2015 0 COMMENTS



Content promotion techniques that solely rely on social media are not enough to succeed on the Web in the long run.

After a few days only links and search engines will send visitors your way.

How to adapt common content sharing and promotion tactics to a sustainable search strategy.


Content is like a pond

Content is like water. Imagine it like a pond or lake. As long as there is fresh water supply, even a small trickle, the water stays clean and fresh. Once there is no connection to outside water supply the pond turns green and slimy until it starts to stink and becomes a quagmire in the worst case.

The same thing happens to content on the Web. At first the is a large influx of traffic, a conversation starts, the word spreads, people engage. Then after a while only an occasional visitors say “hi” and adds a comment in an already empty room. With tools like Disqus people may still notice but the lack of audience leads to a gradual death of the debate.


The only solution

The only solution is a steady incoming flow of traffic from people who come via search engines by searching for relevant queries. The main route to get the people to find you by way of search is to let other people link to that content. Social media links do not suffice even though some sites are better than others in that respect.

Links from Tumblr are far better than the crippled nofollow links from Twitter or the hidden “private” updates from Facebook.

Yet, most sites, especially blogs ask their readers to share on Facebook, Twitter and maybe one or two more sites. Tumblr is rarely seen among them. It’s viewed as a blogging tool by many not a social networking site. That’s not completely wrong but it’s also the advantage of Tumblr compared to the heavily branded and barely customizable social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.


Links from publishers


Of course Tumblr is not the only option. The are still hundred of millions of good old website and bloggers using proper software like WordPress, be it hosted on WordPress.com or their own servers. These website owners and blog publishers are those who still decide whether your site will be valued high by Google and other search engines like DuckDuckGo or not.

Why does everybody ignore that obvious decision makers? It’s because social sites want your activity

and thus encourage the spread of their sharing buttons. A simple link button like the one below by Design Bolts is nowhere to be found because there is no one company that is behind it and pushes it by its marketing department.


Yet this is the button you need to add along the social media buttons and the mail button. Ideally you let your users also embed your content. This works well for videos and infographics but can also be done with other media types.


Copy and paste enhancement

Of course a “spread the word by linking to this post” button is not enough. Many people might also overlook the option as they don’t even expect it or are too lazy to copy and paste a link to their site. There is a tool called Tynt that automatically checks whether someone has copied text on your site and adds a link to that quote.

When the user pastes this text into their page they will also paste the source link.

This can also backfire though. Personally I often copy and paste headlines or quotes and replace the default tweet text for example. I let the link where it is but add a quote. I don’t need another link forced upon me. That’s only additional work. You can ostracize power users that way.


Making links linkable

Over the years links have become too cumbersome to use. This is no joke, Why would someone link to you when they can “like”, “tweet” or “+1” your content with one click? It’s too much work! It’s not only only work, it’s also not very usable. Why? Most links are too big, cryptic or both to succeed.

Nobody can memorize can neither long article URLs nor random short URLs.

As often the case the best links cover the middle-ground between length and memorability. They need to be as short as possible while retaining readability and memorability. Do you know what I mean? No? Think adobe.com/flash

The URL must be branded and self-explanatory to be remembered with ease.

How do I know it’s memorable? It was the first URL that came to my mind off the top of my head. In reality the short memorable URL is just a redirect to the a bit longer but still useful one: http://www.adobe.com/products/flash.html

This will work with other common services too:

google.com/mail redirects to https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox as I’m already a user

mozilla.com/firefox leads to https://www.mozilla.org/de/firefox/new/ here


Becoming memorable

Just imagine someone writing a quick message or hurrying up to meet the deadline and finish the article. Researching for the link would take too long. Only a link they have memorized and can add right away will do.

I know that most .com addresses are gone these days but with literally hundreds of new top level domains you can find one matching your niche and topic far better now. By adding some humor you can even make this even work better than a .com

Just think

  • jack.black for the comedian
  • abc.xyz for the TV station
  • face.book for large social network.

Become creative and preform a little brainstorming while using some tools that help you navigate through the huge number of new domain name endings (top level domains). Then make sure to add your product or service names in a manner similar to the corporations above. You can redirect to the actual page then. That’s no problem as long as you use a Google friendly 301 redirect. On WordPress many plugins help you with that.


* Creative Commons image by Hiroyuki Takeda