Content marketing vs. link building: in today’s world, these two forms of content promotion can make or break your website. But they are also at odds with each other, with people in both camps recommending one over the other, for different reasons.
In contemporary marketing, the most dominant forms of promotion are link building and content marketing.
The truth is, using one or the other may be able to help, but from only one perspective. If you combine the two, however, this can be great news for your rankings and traffic.
Link building as a form of promotion began back in the early days of web development. It has been used to promote websites both big and small, and now it is one of the primary methods for reaching out to current and potential customers.
Content Marketing is fairly new in comparison to link building; however, it also has strong roots based on quality content that can be shared among social media users. This will then help attract visitors to your website, which in turn, can eventually attract great quality links.
The main difference between link building and content marketing is where they focus their attention: link building focuses primarily on other sites while content marketing focuses primarily on one’s own website or article.
Both use different approaches but ultimately have the same goal, which is to bring visitors to your website.
Link building can be done with very little investment on your part, unlike content marketing which requires a large amount of work to produce quality content at regular intervals.
Link building techniques include reaching out to other websites to get them to link back to you, creating expert roundups, and so on.
Each time you gain a link back to your website, it will have a small impact in regard to ranking well within Google search results, however, over time, this slowly increases where eventually you will see much higher rankings for the keywords that are related to your website’s content.
In contrast, content marketing focuses primarily on making sure the webmaster’s own website has high-quality articles focusing on specific topics that will be useful for readers. A content marketing strategy requires a lot of time put into research and other efforts in order to ensure you are providing high-quality relevant information to them.
For example, if you are writing an article about car maintenance and repair, it is important you have reliable sources backing up your information so when someone does a Google search for car maintenance or repair, it will have a better chance of ranking. Achieving these higher rankings will also help you assess where you may want to improve both your content marketing and link building so you can get even better rankings.
There’s a snowball effect involved in this process that will help you achieve this at scale.
Content Marketing May Have a Lower Cost Compared to Link Building
The more effective link-building techniques require a large amount of time and resources, which can be very costly. This is unlike content marketing where all you need is an Internet connection, a computer, and software.
The cost for link building can vary depending on the techniques used. One technique that has shown success in gaining links back to your website is replicating your competitor’s backlinks.
When you do competitor research, you generally look at your competitor’s link profile. Doing a thorough analysis of their backlinks can give you great insight into how they are achieving their current ranking positions, and in turn, you can replicate them.
More experienced SEO professionals will know off-hand exactly what’s going on, which will save them time in coming up with a strategy to execute. Whereas for those with lesser experience, the analysis will take some time. Either way, replicating your competitor’s strategy is a good way to get started on your own link-building campaign if you are just starting out.
The Value of Your Content Marketing Is More Accurately Measurable than Link Building
While you can measure the success of your link-building efforts, it is very difficult to determine when and how much a visitor will click on your links and other forms of promotion. It is not uncommon for someone to want to use a website’s services or products after they click on an advertisement provided by that site, but this is not always the case. When they click, usually they have already at least made a decision to take a look at the company’s offerings.
In contrast, content marketing costs are more accurately measurable since you can track how many visitors have viewed your content, where they came from originally, and which keywords led them to your article. All of these can help you better understand what topics and words are being used by search engines in order to rank high for certain results.
This will allow you to create future articles around these topics as most people do online searches every day with those topics in mind. Make sure you are working on creating value through your content so you can do so.
Content Marketing Could Be More Scalable
Link building is a very time-consuming process that can result in a very slow progression of ranking well within Google search results. Since it typically requires going out and finding new websites to link back to your website, this makes the process all the more difficult since you will only see quick results if other websites are willing to link back without being asked.
Content marketing does not have this problem since when you find success with your first article or blog post, you can repurpose that content into multiple different formats which include infographics, videos, podcasts, images, or slideshows that can then be used on numerous different platforms.
This makes content marketing quite a bit easier since you can create 10-15 different types of content with significant value just from that one blog post.
Content Marketing May Have Higher Rankings Due to Links That Carry More Authority
Another benefit of creating different formats for your content marketing is that you can have multiple links pointing back to your website. For example, if you post a video on YouTube with a link in the description area of that video pointing back to your website, then this will give you an added advantage when trying to rank well in Google search results.
That’s because YouTube is now also linking back to your site, which makes it all the more valuable. You can do the same thing by posting various images onto social media sites such as Pinterest where people are able to click on those images and they will be linked back to your page or blog post.
Link Building Requires More Work from Content Marketers
It may seem like many link-building techniques require little to no work on your part, but this is not always true. For one, you have to find websites that are interested in linking back to your site and ask if they will be willing to do so without being asked. It’s a lot harder to get a response to your outreach email submissions than writing content that delivers value for your readers. Most people will just ignore your outreach emails as spam.
Going back to our process: once you have a list of sites that may be able or willing to provide you with such a link, you then have to contact them all, which can take some time before it takes effect. It is also common for people who run these types of websites–the ones where you are asking for an added backlink–to spam their own links onto many of these sites at a time when doing so means nothing since all the other online marketers are doing the same thing. This is where your competitor research can get useful–you can differentiate between these processes and figure out where you will want to go and how unique you want to make your own link-building process.
Content marketing does not require as much effort on your part since you are not always looking for websites or platforms where your content can be shared. Instead, you are creating the content yourself and then pressing publish to provide it with a home on your own site. You then have the option of sharing that content across many different social media platforms where there is an opportunity for others to find that valuable information. This will serve as an added backlink to your website whenever they decide to share. As your content marketing grows, so does your traffic, backlinks, and eventual social shares and mentions.
Content Marketing, in General, Is Less Likely to Get Hit by an Algorithm Update
Because you don’t really acquire links with content marketing, per se, and you’re more focused on your own site, it is less likely you will get hit by an algorithm update. This is, of course, as long as you are not gaming the system by buying, selling, or trading links.
Even if you did end up doing something like that, it would be difficult to get caught since you’re not usually going out and seeking a specific link. Instead, you’re going after other means on your own such as social media shares, which makes it harder for Google to pick up on.
Content Marketing Helps Establish Yourself as an Authority
The one thing content marketing has going for it is that it can help you get established as an authority in your industry. The more you post, share, and contribute, the more popular a position you will take. This means that many people who are looking for someone who may be able to answer their specific type of question now know where they can turn to.
This also means other website owners in your field are going to take notice of what you are doing, which then leads them on a quest to find out more information about you so they can start adding those valuable backlinks through social media shares and link-building techniques.
When you focus on a comprehensive content marketing strategy, you will have an easier time acquiring backlinks. Those who may have taken notice of what you are doing will be more inclined to share or link your content, meaning Google has a reason to rank it higher.
This is one of the most ideal methods of link building because you’re not physically doing any link building. You are earning links, which in turn means you will further earn better quality links in that snowball effect we talked about earlier.
Content Marketing Requires That You Be More Proactive
Content marketing is not as complicated as link building, but it does require that you be more proactive when posting your material. You cannot simply post once and expect others to find it–they need to know where they can find it in order for them to take advantage of that valuable information.
Link building, on the other hand, means all you have to do is identify people within your niche who may want what you’re selling (backlinks through well-placed anchor text) and then approach them with a deal that’s worth their time. It’s less time-dependent, which means you don’t exactly have to be quite as proactive.
Content Marketing Can Help You Build Backlinks That Look More Natural
Link building is a great way to attract people to your website and also works well for boosting your SEO rankings, but it can be risky if you don’t do it the right way. If you were to pay for backlinks through PBNs, buying links, or using spammy web 2.0 sites, then all of those factors are going to play into whether or not Google decides to rank your site higher in their search results.
With content marketing, on the other hand, you have a better chance of making some quality connections because it’s more natural and organic than acquiring multiple backlinks from multiple sources.
It’s not about what type of link building you use but the quality of those links that really matters. Content marketing is not as risky as link building because it still takes some work to build up your online presence and get people to come to your website in the first place. Whereas a PBN–if you don’t hide it and cover your tracks correctly–might be more likely to backfire on you due to Google’s algorithm updates.
Content Marketing and Link Building Can Work Hand in Hand
Content marketing is not the same as link building, but it does have some advantages over the traditional method of acquiring backlinks. Just be sure you are not breaking any rules when implementing either one into your online business plan or, better yet, both of them together.
They can work well in combination with each other to help you reach your goals, unlike traditional link building, which is more like a one-way street where you never know if those links will remain up for long, get removed at any moment by the webmaster, or just fall off the face of the earth altogether due to an algorithm update.
In contrast, with content marketing, you have an opportunity to really demonstrate your expertise in your field and show people that you actually are an authority in your niche. It will help you get high visibility and more name recognition, among other major benefits.