As you know, links and referrals are a central part of Google’s algorithm. They always have been, and more than likely, they will continue to be. In this blog post, I explore how, as a company, you can use individuals to build authority and thereby obtain better rankings and more traffic from Google.
I have collected several methods, whereby, using a person, you can effectively build links and build up the authority of the company. First, however, we need to take a look at why using individuals for link building is a good idea. Finally, I have contemplated whom one should choose as the personal brand, and whether you can use a fictive person.
Why: Four Reasons why Personal Brands are Good for SEO
In order to convince you to stage your employees more in the marketing of the company, I have collected four good reasons below. The first is about content, while the other three are about the advantages for link building and authority. You obviously have to weigh advantages and disadvantages. It’s time consuming to be a personal brand in a business. You have to write content, network, and make presentations, just as personal brands disappear over time.
Google assigns value to expertise, authority, and trustworthiness
Actually, Google assigns considerable value to personal authority by getting manual quality raters to evaluate a homepage based on the EAT principles. EAT stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, and the principles form the basis for manual evaluation of websites. In the past, I have reviewed Google’s quality rater guidelines here and here.
Google wants to connect a company and a personal brand name semantically with a topic. By staging employees in the business, you can strengthen the relevance of your website, since it is mentioned semantically alongside others in important contexts. Obviously, it is difficult for Google to incorporate EAT algorithmically, unless your website is reviewed manually, but Google can do it through mentions and semantics. By doing business with authoritative and trustworthy employees, you can appear as a better result for searchers, which Google rewards.
We help people rather than companies
As a central component of link building, you as a company must have contact to other people. You accomplish this by doing outreach, where you either call or write a person with whom you want to collaborate or who you want to link to you.
Doing outreach and asking for links is very much influenced by whether you are even the right person. People are much more authentic and trusting than companies. If, as a company, you go out and ask for a favor, your chance of success is smaller than if you do so as a person – for the simple reason that we trust people more than we trust companies.
Strong relations increase the chance of collaboration
The strength of the relationship between a person and the person that is posting a link is crucial for the collaboration. The closer the relationship is, the greater the chance of your request being successful. If you, as a person, can develop better relations with influential people, opinion leaders, webmasters, and gatekeepers for pages, you will have a greater chance of getting messages out on these pages.
Asking for a link can be compared to getting a job. Mark Granovetter wrote one of the well-known articles in networking theory about this: ‘The Strength of weak ties: A Network Theory Revised’. Here he compares it precisely to the influence from knowing somebody to get a job.
How: Six methods for link building as a person
Below, I have collected a number of examples of situations and link types that can be had much more effectively through a personal brand or a relationship with the person inserting the link. Obviously, there are other link building methods as well, which can be used with a personal brand, but hopefully, they can inspire you to think of more. You can collect more possibilities yourself through link prospecting.
Social profiles are profile pages on various social media and forums. Some classic examples are twitter or Google+, where you can sign up as a person and insert a link. Although links from social media are often no-follow, they can still provide your website good value. No-follow means that Google will follow the links, but without attributing any type of authority or value to them. This could be because having links from these often international and very authoritative domains can provide great value.
It simply isn’t possible to create social profiles on various pages unless you have a personal name and profile. In many places, if you create your social profile, you can insert links in profile descriptions and references.
In order to add more internal authority, you can check, if it is possible to comment to attract more internal links to your profile, thus making it stronger on the page. They increases the authority that is transferred to your website.
Statements for press releases
When you are a person, it’s easier for you to build relationships with journalists. With a closer relationship with journalists, you will be at the top of his or her mind, next time the person has to write an article about the topic.
Press releases and PR carry more influence with journalists, if the statements come from a person. You can take advantage of this by adding statements through the personal brand of the company. Thus, with the brand you have a natural name to add to the statement, increases the chances of getting the story picked up.
Similarly, as a person, you will be able to monitor stories in your field and react to posts in an effort to get links. When you come across new stories in the field, you can develop counterarguments, supportive arguments, or data that can support the story. Then you can try to enhance those stories that have already been published with your own statements.
As a personal brand, you can utilize guest posting as a link building tactic. The point of guest posting is to find similar sites in the realm of your segment or topic, where you can provide content in a capacity of expert or contributor. On one hand, it provides you with a soapbox and the permission to insert a link to your own content. On the other hand, it gives the recipients some good content that they can publish and distribute.
Typically, guest posts should be of very high quality in order to be accepted in blogs.
If you establish an employee as a personal brand for a niche, you can do so through events. When websites announce events, they often link to the company represented by the personal brand. Here you can try to collaborate with some of the organizations, from which you would like valuable links, and then arrange events with them.
Aside from getting links from the partner, with whom you arrange the event, as a company, you will also be able to enter the event into various lists of events and arrangements. This can get you further authority and publicity. Search the market for lists and directories and make sure you join them.
Testimonials or reviews
With a personal brand, you will be able to develop testimonials or reviews and get links through that. A review is something a person says about another company, event, service, tool, or something else. In reviews, it often states where the person is from, and you typically have the option of inserting a link, thus increasing authority.
Here, you should find out, whether you have partners or others the person uses and is thus able to review. It could also be companies with which the person has a good relationship, enabling them to request a link.
There are always websites, where you, as a personal profile, can comment and leave reviews. Here, you often have the option of indicating a web address or communicate where you are from. Generally speaking, the share of comments is decreasing. At least that’s been my experience on this website. Similarly, I can see the same tendency on a lot of other websites. Therefore, you should think carefully before making a comment, since it is often obvious that you are out to get links.
Likewise, you should keep in mind that almost all links from your comments will be no-follow. Similarly, many comments are far down on the page, which also dilutes the value.
Nevertheless, you can use commenting and interaction to get more variety in you link profile and safeguard against penalties. It is also possible for you to find do-follow blogs, where you can comment your way to more authority. Last, but not least, you can use comments to create relationships with interested parties and persons who may later provide an advantage for you in link building.
Choose one or more personal brands in the company
As you can see, it’s a great idea to make one of your key people a personal brand for the company. This means that one or more individuals in the company take it upon themselves to work on creating buzz on the web. This responsibility entails people being out in public, as well as helping to develop content.
By now, I hope I’ve convinced you to create a personal brand in your company, which you can use for things like link building. But who should it be? That’s a great question, and it definitely isn’t easy.
This is because you need to consider that a personal brand is not the property of your company. This means that people who move on after working for you take their authority with them. Sure, the company doesn’t lose the links that have already been created, but the relationships with journalists, bloggers, etc. that have been established over time are lost and must be reestablished.
Once you choose the personal brands of your company, you must consider the person’s ability to network, talk, write, and create posts on the one hand, and his or her competence and available time on the other. It can be a balancing act, and you may need to prioritize the daily routine and responsibilities of the person differently in order to free up time to exploit the available opportunities.
And of course, the person needs to be interested in being public, since he or she will be in a very extroverted position, creating many new relationships and showing up in many places. This can be intimidating for some, and sometimes it can make sense not to let the introverted expert be your personal brand, and rather choosing a more extroverted person.
Considerations around fake personas
As mentioned above, one of the challenges when using people is the fact that there are no guarantees that the person in the company will always stay there. Afterwards, a significant portion of the authority can be lost, since it is tied up in links the person has on, for instance, his or her social profiles. In order to cut your losses, one solution may be to choose a fictitious persona for the company, which will always exist in connection with the business.
I do not recommend using fake personas. Frequently, the opportunities to get links will be curtailed considerably, if you can’t build authentic relationships with others. Similarly, nearly no matter what you do, people can see through the fact that this is a fictitious person. Likewise, with a fictitious persona for link building, you will find it harder to get the really great links, such as PR links or links resulting from participation in podcasts and articles.
Therefore, I recommend resisting the temptation of creating a fake company persona and instead selecting a key person from the company who is expected to be there long-term. This could, for instance, be an owner or a partner.
Read more about link building through individuals here
- Great little interview with Mike King, where he talks about the importance of authenticity and person: http://pointblankseo.com/mike-king
- Post by Neil Patel with lots of inspiration for creating a personal brand: http://www.quicksprout.com/2015/01/07/how-to-build-a-million-dollar-business-from-your-personal-brand/
- Post by my colleague Trond Lyngbø about how to build a personal brand: http://seonomics.com/seo/personal-brand-building-with-content-marketing-and-seo/
- Post by Jason Acidre about the importance of a personal brand for SEO: http://seonomics.com/seo/personal-brand-building-with-content-marketing-and-seo/