content marketing or link buildingThis really comes down to the question of what people are looking for. Some people are searching the web for sites that are considered popular and can attract lots of visitors where others are looking for an authority on a particular topic or field of interest. The distinction between the two can become blurred under different circumstances. A perfect example of this was pointed out by Chris Crum of WebProNews,

“Porn sites are popular because a lot of people go to them but not a lot of people link to them, and how on the other hand, a lot of people link to government websites, but not as many go to them. They want the government sites to have authority, but porn sites not so much.”

So the question remains, how do we determine whether you want authority or popularity when deciding the direction to focus when building your website?

Link Building

When you are looking to build links you need to research the right keywords to focus on and search for possible ways to earn links from other sites. You can do this by comparative analysis, studying different keywords, and applying SEO optimization techniques. Your goal is to pursue direct connections with other websites and online viewers to build up those links. The result will be the gradual movement up the ranks.

This process can be slow but steady and will usually end in success because the search engine algorithms take these kinds of links into consideration. The successful link builder simply has to create more links than their competitors in order to outrank them.

The caveat with “link building” is that traditionally if you are simply seeking links then the methods used to generate those links at some point are probably not going to look so “natural” to Google and consequently will work against you. What do I advise? Focus on marketing your business. Marketing, content marketing, inbound marketing, publicity, whatever you want to call it; is the practice of creating something media worthy to draw in your audience. Being featured on the Huffington Post or even doing something that your local media finds noteworthy are the types of things that drive people to learn more about your business, your website and ultimately link to it.


Content Marketing

Content marketing takes an entirely different approach by focusing on your audience and the long term goals of your business. Focus on your content and your message and the links will come. Before you can begin to create content you must be very aware of who makes up your target audience, what type of channels they use to get the information they need, and what purpose you are trying to meet in their lives.

This may require you to go to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook or it could entail writing blogs and articles with content designed to influence them in some way or another. It could also mean that you might need to seek the professional help of journalists or industry experts in your arena. Content marketing isn’t a quick or magic solution to bring droves of traffic into your site, but it is the right way to build a successful brand, and isn’t that really what you’re after?

You will most certainly need a team to help you collect the right data, do the right research and dial in a solid strategy for developing your content. There are many things involved in choosing between link-building or content marketing and most stem from the direction and position that your business wants to take in the market. It is my belief that the most successful link building campaigns are built around some pretty great content. It is also my belief that focusing on great content is the way to gain both influencer and consumer trust. Consider what Rand Fishkin, CEO of MOZ says about the subject,

“I think that what’s important is that we have a conscious conversation and we understand the dichotomy and the different reasons we might choose one of these paths, not that we always pick one or we always pick the other.”

Rand suggests that neither one or the other is the ultimate solution and that both can work, but perhaps the marrying of the two approaches is the best way to build your online business. I tend to think that link building typically utilizes techniques that make the links earned inherently more artificial; while building your brand through targeted content is a more effective long-term strategy and algorithmically more “natural” manner of acquiring links.