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Ask the Pit Crew: What’s the Difference Between Link Building & Social Media?

difference between link building and social media

Members of the Pole Position Marketing pit crew answer your web marketing questions from their unique perspectives, with a “bonus lap” by a guest industry pro. See previous questions or ask your own.

Today’s Question: What’s the Difference Between Link Building & Social Media?

Stoney deGeyterStoney deGeyter’s Answer from an SEO Perspective:

Social media is both a form of passive link building as well as a tool that can be used to build links.

If you’re actively using social media as an engagement platform, you should see your audience and interaction growing on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. That engagement, coupled with strategic promotion of great content, can lead to naturally generated links. People will link to you because you’re providing value.

As for active link building, social media can be a great way to build relationships with the power players in your industry. These influencers often have a reach that surpasses your own. With a well-established relationship, you can ask them to promote some content that would be beneficial to their audience. That will often translate to links!

Just be careful not to abuse social media. It’s all about giving more than you’re getting. If you use social media just to get links, you’ll likely get fewer links than enemies.


Annalisa Hilliard’sAnnalisa Answer From a Link Building & Local SEO Perspective:

The short answer is: Pretty much everything. The are totally separate strategies with different overall goals.

However, while social media in and of itself isn’t link building, it can be an avenue for attaining links. Finding out which social media platforms your audience engages on gives you the opportunity to build relationships and communicate with them in those places.

Your primary role on social media should be listening and observing. Find out the needs of your audience and create valuable resources to meet their needs. If done well, you will build your brand, which in the long run can attract natural links.

A good way to find these links is to monitor your brand on the web using a tool like Mention, which sends you alerts when you’re mentioned. This allows you to follow up with the people and websites that mention you and in some cases, ask for a link, if a link isn’t already given.

Another way to get links through social media is by promoting and sharing your content. Getting your content in front of the right audience greatly increases your link building potential. When you pay to promote your content on social media platforms, you’re able to target specific audiences.

Although social media and link building are completely different strategies under the web marketing umbrella, they can work together to strengthen your overall marketing efforts.


BONUS LAP WITH: Julie Joyce, Owner of Link Fish Media

Julie Joyce owns the link building agency Link Fish Media, located in Greensboro, NC. Link Fish Media works with clients in competitive niches all over the world, both large and small. She also writes a monthly link-related column for Search Engine Land and is one of the founders of the SEO Chicks blog.

The main difference between social media and link building is that social media can be used for various purposes much more so than link building. You can just try and get your brand out there, hoping for more visibility but not counting on getting links from it. You can learn who the influencers are and build a relevant audience.

With link building, the way I approach it, social media can be used to help target influencers that you want to approach, and it can be used to hopefully gain some links simply from the exposure. However, I would never count on social amplification to automatically get you great links. It can show you where to go, but it’s more of a “cross our fingers and hope for the best” situation from my experience. Link building is more of a direct approach of creating content and doing outreach in order to generate links.


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