Link Building Gone Stale

Most SEO’s (search engine optimization professionals) find that at one time or another their backlink building campaign has gotten a little bit stale – monotonous and/or less effective. It can be difficult to come up with a diverse backlink profile so you’re not getting too saturated with one method of obtaining links to your website. In order to appear natural and prove your website is of great value to those that are seeking what your site has to offer, Google likes to see that a website is being paid ample attention to from a variety of sources and that it’s coming in a variety of ways as well.

Excellent Content is What Google Wants

Besides the issue of obtaining links to your website from various sources (blog posts, natural mentions of your brand, social media, niche directories, etc.), the name of the game post-Penguin (Google’s most recent algorithmic update) is to make ever more certain that you engage in great content marketing. Search engineers have always made the push for website owners to create good content – it’s been stated over and over that “Content is King” – and lately Google seems to be not only talking the talk, but walking the walk as well. Going forward, Google is paying more and more attention to eliminating spam and poor content from search. We’re not talking so much here about content on your own website (the Panda updates take that into account), but more so the content you are offering elsewhere on other websites that link back to you. If you don’t offer content that is truly engaging, that has the seeds of sparking social interest, answers a question, solves a problem, or fills a need, you are at a great disadvantage in receiving any help from the search engines in the way of better visibility and higher rankings. The same holds true if you create excellent content, but it doesn’t get published on the types of websites that Google sees as high quality. Simply getting a link inside of great value-added content from a website that is of lower importance does little to nothing for promoting your website, and provides a poor signal to Google’s advanced search engine algorithm.

Using Web Widgets in Your Content Marketing

One way to create some buzz around your brand is to offer content that is interactive and engaging. Web widgets are a way to tap into a demographic of social media aficionados and influencers to help you get your content spread through their various channels. If you can come up with a web widget that is unique, engaging, and socially shareable, you take some of the heavy lifting out of link building by taking advantage of the natural act of others sharing content you created that they find valuable and interesting. It can be a little bit difficult to come up with something that gets some social media excitement buzzing around it, and it can be a risk if you put too much time and money into it, but it can also pay off for you in the long run if done correctly. Going into it, one of the keys is too make sure that the content you will be doing outreach with is at least relevant to your niche. Google tends to frown upon links in content that is totally unrelated to your niche.

Interactive and Informational Widgets Attract the Most Attention

Interactive and engaging web widgets have a good track record of getting attention. And so do web widgets that are useful and provide information. A couple of examples are in order here. Have you ever seen the pregnancy widget, the one where you can track the baby’s growth inside of the womb when you input the due date? It tracks the growth and progress of life taking place inside of a mother-to-be! Have you ever used the Weather Channel’s web widget? You can design one for your own blog or website and embed it for the use of your visitors who wish to be able to check the weather from simply inputting a city or zip code. These are example of very successful web widgets.

What to Do and What Not to Do

When you come up with an idea for your own web widget, make sure that it’s relevant to your niche and that you embed your link within the widget itself (though it shouldn’t be obnoxiously obvious) so that every adopter of your widget (anyone that republishes your widget on their blog or website) can help to spread your brand. Don’t include a keyword-rich anchor text as the hyperlink, as Google is cracking down on over-optimizing your backlinks for specific keyword recognition. It’s enough simply to have your brand as the clickable link, after all Google has proven lately that it is much more keen on awarding brands with high rankings in its search results, a trend that is probably well-embedded in the algorithm and is likely here to stay. To compete with big brands, you need to become brand-recognized yourself, especially in the retail space.

Outsource the Creation of Your Widget

Unless you are savvy enough and a programmer yourself, or can have it done in-house, you’ll need to outsource the creation of your web widget to a competent programmer who has made web widgets in the past. A good resource for this is oDesk. Ask to see the prospective contractors’ previous work to find out they’ve done widgets before, and outline very specifically the details of what you want created for you before you enter into a contract.

An Example

A relatively new web widget created by the author of this post is the fun and engaging Own Your Bedhead! web widget, which encourages the user to use their computer’s webcam to take a picture of their bed head and include a funny description below it, and is then framed for the user who can share it anyway they choose to. The author’s website offers some suggestions on fun ways to use the pictures that come as a result of using the bedhead widget.

Courtesy of PlushBeds.com

Outreach and Education of How to Use Your Widget

Once your web widget has been created, it’s folly to expect it to “go viral” on its own, and you will need to put some effort in promoting it. Submitting it to WidgetBox and Widgepedia can be a good start. You may also want to Sign up on SponsoredTweets.com and find a few social influencers in your niche to get the ball rolling as far as outreach goes by getting some Twitter users with good amounts of followers (20,000 + or more) to tweet your widget for you. You can also approach bloggers within your niche to find out if they will allow a guest post that includes your widget. There are many ways of doing outreach with your web widget. You should not rely upon just one method; neither should you rely upon your widget becoming a viral sensation overnight. You may want to put out a press release announcing how your company just released a web widget and explain what it does and how it helps its users. Depending upon how much time, effort, and money it could still be worthwhile to create and do outreach with your widget even if in total you only accumulated 50 “downloads” or embeddings of your widget (and 50 additional links). You’ve at least diversified you link portfolio in a way you haven’t before. And you never know when that one person or a few people could happen upon it that could get it spreading like wildfire!