Stop Link Building, Links != Traffic



Do you think that link building is the most important part of SEO nowadays? You may be right when you refer to SEO as search engine optimization for Google.


Link building or traffic generation?

In the Google SEO world you get your links, Google assesses them and sends you traffic after a while in case all of your site is optimized and you target the right keywords.

In SEO 2.0 you do not have to take the indirect way. You can get traffic directly cutting out the middle man, in this case Google.

Basically just a handful of sites or blogs have the ability to send traffic in relevant numbers. When you check your web analytics you will notice that most links bring something around a handful of visitors a month after linking, or when you’re lucky more like a few dozens.

Only really popular publications can bring you many visitors, meaning more than a 100.

Then there are of course social media and social news sites like Reddit and of course many topic specific or international sites. There also a few lucky webmasters who get much or some traffic or rather those who are prominent enough in the first place.

With great link baiting articles you can get popular there too but it takes lots of know how, luck and perseverance. By now everybody else also tries to create exceptional content and thus the competition is fierce.


Social media killed the Google star

My SEO 2.0 blog did not rank well at Google for half a year when I started out. Id didn’t rank for relevant queries where some traffic might come in like say in the top 10 for SEO, or even SEO blog. Nonetheless I got between 300 and 3000 visits daily.

Some of you already know where I got my visitors from, at my favorite traffic source: social media.

It all started with StumbleUpon, the most successful social discovery service. It wasn’t just a site. It was powered by a browser toolbar. When you visited the front page of SU you would only see the same old links for weeks or months.

You could use StumbleUpon to it’s full effect only when you installed the toolbar and started “stumbling”. You could also browse people’s SU blogs manually, like mine over here, but without the toolbar it was a little tedious.

Later on Facebook and “smaller” social networking sites likes Twitter, Tumblr or Google+ to over.


Crafting content, adding buttons and engaging

So what did I do to get traffic? Almost nothing. I just added buttons on my respective posts. This measure by itself, combined with perfectly crafted content for the social media audiences already brought me hundreds and thousands of visitors. This made me really curious so I started to use social media sites myself.

I found dozens of like minded people, hundreds of interesting sites and my traffic grew even more as active social media users will more likely notice you when you are engaging yourself. But do you know what?

I did not even get links in significant numbers, I just got lots of traffic and only some links.

Those brought me only a tiny traffic trickle in most cases. Even renowned or rather prominent weblogs did not bring significant traffic. So while all in all I was linked quite often there were only a few cases where I got more than 100 visitors from a link.


Cover popular topics

In contrast I got at hundreds of visitors from social media sites very often. Especially StumbleUpon traffic flooded my blog in the early days. So let’s repeat once again what we found out until now and add some info I wrote about elsewhere:

  • Google brings no traffic when you are not targeting important keywords or your site is too new to have the authority to rank well for those.
  • Direct links from blogs or other normal websites bring rarely significant traffic, when they do, they do for only a short period of time.
  • Social media sites only bring traffic to the chosen few as long as you don’t create specific content and don’t engage with the audiences there

In case you want to please the social media audiences rather choose something less commerce oriented to write about (in alphabetical order):

  • activism
  • art
  • blogging
  • design
  • graphic design
  • oddities
  • photography
  • software
  • tutorials
  • space
  • spirituality

I do not mean to say that you should add a page about art to your SEO blog! Make a site about something that matters in the first place to get the attention of the average people. Then use visible social media buttons and engage in the community.


Are you still waiting for Google?

You don’t need Google. Links from other blogs are nice but they can’t be your sole traffic gaining strategy.

Of course you can wait 6 or 12 months until Google accepts you an the links start to work, but thenĀ  you have to do onpage optimization for popular keywords and which blogger does like that?

When you want to have visitors right away, take the direct way and optimize your content for the social media crowd. They’re a great audience. The traffic is the best I have ever seen.


Last updated: July 9th, 2015.