Hypothesis: PR5 and up sites retain PR better than PR4 and below. Fact: Not true, especially if you have paid links, as Loren pointed out earlier today. With the recent Google PR rollout, I’ve seen PR5 sites go down when they had no Google ads and PR5 sites stay level when they had AdSense. That in itself is no proof, merely an observation. What’s apparent, however, is that Google is discounting all sorts of links they don’t like now, for whatever reason, and sometimes relying on snitches to do the work for them. If you’re worried about your site’s PR, what can you do? Build more links, of course.
However, let’s take a different viewpoint of linkbuilding: that of other readers who are a bloggers/ webmasters themselves. What can you do to honestly, cleanly induce editorial links? The old saw: produce good content, but not just any content.
Editorial links are the best kind of links, the kind Google wants you to build. In the normal course of website operation, you will accumulate backlinks. But unless you are producing linkworthy content on a daily basis, the process is slow. Let’s consider a few related strategies.
For better or for worse, I write for other people on a number of websites that range in PR from 5 to 7. I also have my own sites that range from 0 to 5. So I have seen a reasonable spectrum of sites for the past year, and seen how an action on my part is or isn’t received.
One thing that I’ve been doing lately is adding more and more visual content to my websites and that of others – not for any conscious reason, but merely to add more depth to my content. I could also add audio podcasts, but I’m not yet sure that it would have as much response as my visual content has been receiving. (Please see my Performancing post, Creating visual content for your blog, for a few specific suggestions.)
You should keep in mind that trends change, and to aggressively induce external backlinks to your site, you have to keep being innovative, maybe mix things up. Clue: rich media is in, and it’s going to continue to be in.
Here’s a quick summary of types of content that I’ve seen draw link attention in the past year:
Everyone likes a good list, if it’s relevant and saves them time or informs them in a way they haven’t been informed. Lists of resources, lists of rules, lists of things you can do, or whatever. But a list without outbound links isn’t as linkworthy. It’s just a list and shows little effort, unless each item is very indepth. Add something of your personality to each listbait you create, something uniquely yours – at least until others start emulating you.
- Free blog themes.
Though the rumor is that big G will discount these sorts of links. That’s not as bad as a penalty, and there’s still traffic to be gained in the effort. A good theme will continue to at least draw traffic, which might consist of other bloggers that decide to link to you editorially. So you could still gain “legit” links.
Some of my diagrams have been pulling a bit of weight, link-wise, lately. Adding a relevant and professional-looking diagram to your content is a worthwhile effort, and on some blogs, I’m doing this for nearly every post. My diagramming inspiration often comes from what I’ve seen at idagram and infosthetics, as well as years of producing infographics as both a programmer/ webmaster and a technical writer. One web-based freebie is Gliffy. If you prefer something more like Fireworks and Illustrator, there’s the free Inkscape. I use that sometimes, and I also splurged and bought SmartDraw (non-affiliate link) – which I use for the diagrams on Search Engine Journal and others, with good response.
- Audio podcasts.
Despite having been a community radio co-host and show producer for a friend, I’m treading lightly on producing audio-only rich media. I can’t produce my old DJ Chaos shows for the web without worrying about the copyright fee problems that Last.fm and Pandora have been having of late. I’m waiting on this.
- Video channels.
I’ve started placing SplashCast players on several of my sites. I take 20-30 minutes here and there to produce different audio and visual content for each “channel” – even if that amounts to selecting a few images from Flickr and some videos from YouTube. Put in a bit of effort in the presentation and/or the theme of the rich media content. Don’t just slap a few things together haphazardly. Think of a theme and create a suitable playlist. Keep adding new playlists.
I have an example SplashCast channel at NewMediaJones (which is duplicated larger on my personal site). Once you hit the Play button, hovering your mouse over the player will show the channel guide link at top left. Click on that to see the different “shows” I’ve put together using YouTube music videos. Each new show has a different theme.
In addition to the player, to draw traffic, I’m posting the playlists, which are rich with well-known music artists’ names. The theory is that the playlists will draw traffic and teamed with a media player, eventually, editorial links. Million channels of TV, anyone?
Don’t just add a map to your article. If you have geographic information lurking in your content, see if you can’t plot relevant points on a map. Try Google Map‘s new My Maps feature to do this. You’ll see a tab marked “My Maps” to the left of the map window. You can drop a variety of point icons and text for each, hyperlinking them to other sites. Could be a nice mapbait lurking there for you, especially if you write in the travel or world news niches, but even if not.
- Miscellaneous visual content.
There are loads of other free applications (downloadable and web) that produce visual content of all sorts. Probably the type that has produced the most positive reaction has been my fractal images, created with the very cool, very free Apophysis. The images I’ve produced with Apophysis and posted at two of my sites last Summer and Fall continue to draw traffic from Google ImageSearch and the occasional editorial link. Because this application creates such a variety of fractal images, it’s likely you’ll find something to suit the nature of your site, regardless of topic.
It’s my new hypothesis that it will take innovation in blogging, and employing rich content, to compete for editorial links, to induce other bloggers to grant you valuable backlinks. These are the type that Google seems to value greatly, and not surpringly. And since Google marketshare is so large, and a Microsoft/ Yahoo merger not currently in the works, it should obvious where your linkbuilding efforts should lie.