Alex Butzbach

Google has made a lot of tweaks over the years, but its algorithms have always been at least partially influenced by the quality and quantity of editorial references. Links imply content has been shared by others, or that it contains the caliber of information other pages want to reference, and SERPs have tried to reflect this for as long as Google has been around.

Here’s what has changed: the ways marketers have attempted to strike a balance between stuffing their websites with hyperlinks and organically building content that earns links naturally . Google has been encouraging the latter for years. Buying or outright soliciting links is no longer acceptable, as Brafton reported and proved in the Rap Genius saga.

Additionally, guest blogging’s importance has been minimized. Matt Cutts himself has discouraged the practice, though it is possible to do this in a way that isn’t too spammy. The bottom line is – websites need to be natural extensions of business’ products and services, providing good information and valuable content people actually want to read. As such, the latest way to receive links without buying them or begging for them is to reach influencers.

Get shared by influencers

According to a study conducted by Augure, marketers’ key aim is to identify and appeal to influencers – over 60 percent of those surveyed said it was a key challenge for their online campaigns. Influencers are essentially any people or organizations who can pump up the volume of content marketing – they’re people with a lot of sway in certain industries. For instance – Matt Cutts is an influencer. But where are they found online? Here are some examples.

Other bloggers

Writing a company blog isn’t all about attracting the eyes of organic traffic, though that is incredibly important. It can also help a company earn a larger readership, including people who write their own content. Being shared or referenced (ideally via hyperlink) is a way of expanding a company’s marketing reach as well as appearing more valuable to Google’s crawlers.

Citations and links are just as good – or better – than links purchased 10 years ago because they aren’t subjected to Google-mandated penalties.

Serial social users

Some social platforms, such as Twitter, aren’t necessarily hotbeds of activity for your ideal customers. However, interested parties who are active on these sites may straddle the line between one network and another. Content shared by influencers on Twitter, for example, may be referenced in a blog or in a news story. Speaking of which…

Actual news

If you’re producing good content that’s relevant in a particular industry, it’s possible related news sites may become readers of your work. This might not mean your company is mentioned by name, but a citation or link in a story is just as good or better than links purchased 10 years ago – because they aren’t subjected to Google-mandated penalties. This offers the added benefit of attracting readers from very authoritative news sources.

The days of awkwardly stuffing keywords and links into websites is long gone, and while the internet isn’t a perfect answer-generating technology yet, Google wants it to be. As such, the only way to spread web marketing materials around is to get it shared organically. Find the influencers who have larger readerships to spread your content’s wings.