As a working parent of two kids (ages five and one), my life is pretty busy. I know so many business owners are in the same boat, so when I advise on communication strategies and tactics there needs to be a business goal in place or a reason to do the work, otherwise, what's the point, and who's got time to do pointless things?
Content marketing is a term thrown around quite a lot right now. And about 15 years ago when blogging really became a thing for businesses to get into, I was one of those PR advisors telling my clients to go ahead and get a blog.
They'd ask me why, and I couldn't give them a good reason. They'd ask me what to write about, and I'd tell them "anything you like. Just have a damn blog."
Today, that's just not good enough. Blogging is like a competitive sport. It requires strategic thinking, a solid plan detailing the content, the audience, the purpose, and a Call To Action (CTA). You have a blog because it will be a tactic from a strategy that meets a business goal. The most common business goal I hear of daily is a version of "increase traffic to our website".
So how do you do that? I've written about what domain authority is and how it affects your chances of getting found on the first page of Google results. And I've written about how to increase your domain authority too, so you have a better chance of being on the first page of Google results. Links are just one ingredient, in conjunction with a bunch of other things that will help your domain authority become strong and healthy. That's why links are important and there are two kinds so it's important to understand both.
The two kinds of links are DoFollow links and NoFollow links.
DoFollow links are great. These are links that happily contribute towards your domain authority and are a true joy to have as part of your content marketing strategy. Every time a site with a higher domain authority than you links to content on your website with no rules around it, Google takes the influence from the higher domain site and rewards your site with domain authority points(this process is a lot more complex than I've explained here, but hopefully, you get the idea).
NoFollow links are pretty much the opposite. They are sneaky little things that have a line of code wrapped around the link that is pointing to the content on your website, instructing Google to pay no attention to them where domain authority ranking is involved. While they are sneaky, they are still good for referral traffic. So if someone is reading your content and feels inspired to click on a link that points back to a page in your site, they'll be able to do that. But the end effect on your domain authority will not be as great as if they were a DoFollow link without that instruction.
So if they are so sneaky, why do websites use them? Good question. NoFollow was actually invented to try and counter the amount of spammy links that people would often put in a comments section, or a forum or other community which made it really annoying for actual users wanting to contribute properly. So from that perspective, they're a good thing because they are reducing spammy comments.
There is an easy way and a hard way to determine whether links are DoFollow or NoFollow. The easy way is to use the free Moz toolbar. And by clicking on the pencil icon and then the "NoFollow" button, the links on your page that have NoFollow attributed to them will be highlighted. Similarly, links that are happy to share their page rank will also make themselves known. The harder way is to right click on the link in question, select "inspect" and look for a tag that says "NoFollow". It's only harder to do it that way, because some people may find a screen of code a tiny bit overwhelming. Try both and see what you like best. It's pretty clear in all of my blogs that I prefer Moz.
But what's really important when creating your content strategy that includes having other sites link back to your own site, is to not try too hard. Google can see when you're purposely trying to have all DoFollow links or if your site is full of NoFollow links because you've been careless with where you pitch your content to. And they really like authenticity the best.
So in summary
1) Authenticity in content and links is the best approach
2) NoFollow links are sneaky, but it's not the end of the world if you have them
3) DoFollow links are wonderful, but only if they're authentic.
Are we good? Yes? Great! If you need help making sense of this, please ask. Content strategy is just so damned exciting, I want to tell everyone about it!
Lou Draper is Managing Partner of Draper Cormack Group and a public relations veteran. Originally from Auckland, she is now living, working and breathing public relations, personal brand and content curation in Wellington City.