One reason I enjoy reading Michael Martinez’s articles about search engine optimization is that he’s an SEO who hasn’t drunk the “it’s all about link building” Kool-Aid. He’s pointed out in multiple blog posts (How to Get Traffic to Your Website for Free is one of my favorites of these) that link building isn’t even necessary to build traffic. All that’s really necessary is the willingness and the ability to publish interesting content on a regular basis.
Earlier this year, I tested this approach by building a website and doing absolutely no link building for it. I didn’t even submit the site to the Yahoo Directory. I didn’t link to it from any of my other sites, either.
The only thing I did was publish a single blog post every day, five days a week, for 4 months. I included links to other sites from these blog posts, but I didn’t do so in order to attract links. The links I included just complemented the content I was publishing, but those links did result in some readers and links back from some related sites.
Each post took between 30 minutes and an hour write and to publish. That’s a small investment of time, but if you’re consistent, you wind up with a large amount of content that brings in a remarkable amount of traffic for long tail phrases you would have never thought of.
I launched this test site in January of this year, and I published content there 5 days a week until April, when I ran out of time to devote to the project. The site received the following number of search visitors per month:
- January – 16 visitors
- February – 31 visitors
- March – 56 visitors
- April – 27 visitors
- May – 79 visitors
- June – 72 visitors
- July – 116 visitors
- August – 100 visitors
That’s 497 search engine visitors to a site where I did no link building.
The site also received a similar number of visitors from some of the links it attracted. Almost all of those link were nofollowed.
I didn’t share any posts via Twitter or Facebook. This plan literally only has a handful of steps:
- Get a domain. Don’t worry about including any keywords in it.
- Install WordPress.
- Brainstorm some ideas of questions your target audience might want answered.
- Write a blog post providing a detailed answer to each question every day, Monday through Friday.
If I’d continued to post every day to the site, I’d be getting 400 or 500 visitors per month by now.
Some type of content promotion would have also complemented the content generation part of the strategy. For example, had I launched a Twitter and/or Facebook account, I could have attracted readers and links by promoting my content there.
Had I invested a little bit of money by submitting to 3 or 4 of the better Internet directories, I might have seen more traffic, too.
But that’s beside the point. What’s interesting about this case study is that it demonstrates that you can build traffic streams via search without a link building campaign.
And the best thing about not conducting a link acquisition campaign? You dramatically reduce the possibility of getting a link-based penalty.
I have one really smart friend who’s made a lot of money on the Internet. She has a network of sites, each of which has a minimal amount of mediocre and dull content on them. Every time we discuss her network, she floats multiple ideas for how to build links to these sites.
She’d see a better, less risky ROI if she focused on upgrading and expanding her content. I explain this to her at least once a week. Heck, sometimes I explain this to her several times a week.
It doesn’t matter. She’s drunk the “it’s all about links” Kool-Aid, and changing her focus is beyond my powers of persuasion. That’s cool, though. I’ll just keep puttering along, writing interesting blog posts that provide useful answers to real questions, while she’s link scheming and risking search penalties.
See also: Another post from Michael Martinez I recommend is this blog post about long tail content strategy.
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