For content creators and website developers, link building has almost always been a staple, a pillar, a daily practice, a tool that more often than not can end up being extremely useful to drive user readership or everyday traffic.

In terms of Domain Rating, Domain Authority, and overall brand awareness, it gives unquestioned benefits to the businesses who regularly engage in its practice.

What is link building?

Link building refers to the opportunity of developing our domain and authority through external links which bring back to our website.  It is a valid and effective way to get more traffic and leads to our channels, as it frequently translates into a better ROI (both engagement and financial-wise). 

Where does link building start?

Link building is usually a key component of blog writing.

 As of today, the overall number of blogs gets closer and closer to the 500-million mark.

According to some of
 
bluelist’s staggering stats:

  • 409 million readers view more than 22.2 billion blog posts every month;
  • 66% of B2B marketers who use blogs generate more leads than those who don’t;
  • Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website.

With a view to link building, these stats speak for themselves. 

Link building is an extremely popular practise among bloggers and content creators, mainly because it allows them to scale their efforts and overcome the highly saturated competition in today's attention marketplace.

 However, it’s not only related to blogging. It can also be implemented within social media and email campaigns, just to name a few.

Link building is not new, and it developed across multiple time frames. As the World Wide Web came into play, link building was treated as a more organic process, which generally took years to develop.  It wasn't seen as a way to get results immediately, but rather to maintain that kind of authority that, piece by piece, slowly accumulated itself over time.  However, there was much less competition back in the day.

New methods of doing things (and appealing to the continuous changes of Google's algorithm), as we just outlined a few lines back, were the results of simple coping mechanisms. As a matter of fact, in recent years, marketers and businesses on the rise took it a step further and used paid link building tactics to compete on an equal footing with more established realities.  One way of doing just that was though taking advantage of sponsored posts.

What are sponsored posts?

Sponsored posts, as opposed to guest posts (which tend to focus more on the content, and even more, the overall relationship between the owner of the platform and the contributor), are posts paid by sponsors and can, therefore, be considered an advertising method in full effect.

While guest posting has been worshipped as the organic, cost-free genesis for “win-win” business relationships on many different levels, sponsored posts, although way more frequent than the formers as of now, are content pieces that a brand pays for and distributes to members outside of their community. 

How link building and sponsored posts go together, then?

Right now, you might be thinking:

"I've learned what link building is. I've also learned what sponsored posts are. How can they possibly be connected?"

It’s simple.

The link building strategy’s aim is for your website to be featured on other websites, where it’s likely that your target audience won’t be around.

If you own a website and are also a newcomer in your niche, the goal is to be featured wherever your budget allows.

 That’s when sponsored posts come into play.

The more visible your content is, the more chances you have of getting more links (and therefore viewers) to your website. 

As Luisito Batongbakal, CEO of Massage Boss, pointed out:

“For people to discover your website, you need to build pathways and big, flashing signs that lead them there. In digital marketing terms, this means you need links, links and more links.”

How do insiders and business owners perceive link building?

From suspicious marketers and small business owners, especially those who have been in the game long enough, sponsored posts are believed to be misleading and responsible for compromising the excellent reputation of a website.   They're seen as shortcuts that can cut in half the long, gruelling, and conventional link building process, a short-sighted strategy among loyal, white-hat SEO content creators.

But are they?

Do sponsored posts actually make a website worse in terms of trustworthiness for the end consumer?

Or can they be a catalyst for meaningful business growth?

Do they go in contradiction with providing actual value?

 Or can they complement it?

Sponsored posts are not evil!

And even if they were, everyone’s using them, so you might as well catch up. 

Think about it:

  • 93% of bloggers are steadily increasing the use of promotional methods, not only through the most obvious means (like social media shares, for example) but also through paid channels (source:
     
    Content Marketing Institute);
  • The first page of Google search results gets the overall 95% of all Internet users’ attention and clicks (source:
    Brafton);
  • Close to half of all clicks on the SERPs (search engine results pages) go to the top 3 listings. (source:
     
    Ignite Visibility)

If you don’t fight for the top spots, someone else will get them. 

The days of fully organic reach are over.

 Facebook, for instance, is a great predictor of digital trends, and its organic numbers haven’t been the same since 2011.

How to create a strong link building strategy

Even if you have little to no idea about how to succeed with link building, in the three-step process below, you're going to find valuable information for you to get started.

  1. Get to know your audience

     
    Knowing your audience, their pain points, and how to appeal to them through your content, remains the first and most crucial step within any communication strategy. It's imperative that you get to know them from the inside out before diving into the more practical stuff.

     
  2. Create amazing content

    “Sadly, much of the content being published is simply not worth linking to. Your content will generate links only if it is truly exceptional — ’ remarkable,’ as Seth Godin would say.” (Brian Sutter, Forbes.com)  If your content is not amazing — full of valuable insights, coherent with your tone of voice, and appropriate with the solution your target audience is looking for — then there's no point in trying to create links. Before creating your stellar piece of content, don`t forget about pitching to editors! Check
    this guide by
    Luckyposting to learn how to do it efficiently!

     
  3. Use cross-promotional channels to further your reach

     
    Once your content is out, you want to take advantage of any promotional method available. Paid promotion is the most effective one, but it doesn’t mean you should count out other opportunities, such as social media shares and emails. Spread the word as much as possible, regardless of how much traction you already have. 

 

Link building in the sponsored era: conclusions

It’s hard to admit that organic content is not sufficient anymore, and it’s not fun to pay for ads right off the bat, especially when the budget is one of the main issues.

However, aside from the monetary investment (which is really the only negative aspect, and might as well just be considered the cost of entry), there are very few other ways to spread your content (most of which require an obnoxious degree of patience). No doubt, sponsored activities can be and are misused. Some businesses have always been in it for the money, and for the law of high numbers, that won't change any time soon.

It’s also true, though, that sponsored opportunities can both supplement and benefit to a great content strategy. If the valuable content brick is already placed, then there’s no better way of exploiting a niche than coupling that component with a coherent targeting strategy.

We live in an information-packed society, and every day we come across a heap of content that’s doesn’t really represent what we’re looking for.

 Sponsored content avoids useless impressions and gets directly to the end (and more importantly, the right) consumer. Hence, the answer is, yes: they are useful

And guess what?

You can advertise and still not be considered spammy at the same time.

The game has changed, and everyone's playing it.  Just like Hamlet's "To be, or not to be?" soliloquy, today the real dilemma is "To post or not to post?" Everyone's got something to say, and everyone's willing to go the extra mile to spread the word.

So why not do it yourself?

 

Author's Bio: 

David Gutierrez is a web design freelancer and contributor. He enjoys sharing his professional experience in writing, blogging, and content creation. Contact David at david.gutierrez.business@gmail.com