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Following Google’s “Panda” update, many SEOs who used article marketing and article spamming found their efforts washed away overnight. Though the update didn’t purge all content farms from Google, it made it so that the risks of article marketing now outweigh the potential gains.This has left many struggling to find a way to replace article spamming in their toolkit. Unfortunately, in the post-Panda era of SEO, there just aren’t any shortcuts to success with Google and there simply isn’t a good replacement.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t quickly build a strong presence in Google, it just means that you have to work a bit harder at it and, most importantly, focus on becoming a leader within your niche.

Fortunately, becoming a niche leader is surprisingly easy in most areas and something you can do with a simple, but effective strategy for getting your site noticed.

1. Start with Great Content

The first step to any good SEO strategy is to start with good, high-quality content that people want to link to. Build a small library of good posts and articles that others will find useful, entertaining and easy to read.

Generally, you need to establish your site some first before working too much on your SEO. This is akin to “building the nest” so that you can have something for others to read when they come by later.

2. Determine Your Niche’s Leaders

Do some research and find about half a dozen industry “thought leaders” that are both established in the field and similar enough to you that a partnership seems natural.

It may not be wise to target the biggest names in the field, especially at first. Instead, focus on well-respected mid-level experts that might be open to linking to and working with an upstart website.

3. Engage with Those Leaders

Next, it’s important to engage with those leaders in a way that’s productive and helpful to them as well as yourself.

Start with posting high-quality comments on their sites. Be sure to ask tough questions and expand upon points that they raise so you can integrate yourself with their community.

However, don’t forget about social media, tweeting their links while including a mention to them and adding a comment to their Facebook wall are two great ways to get the attention of others in the field.

Remember, when doing this it is important to avoid anything that could be perceived as spam. Even one unintentionally spammy message could get you dismissed outright.

4. Write About Them and Link To Them

Once you’ve gotten some face time with them on their site, bring some of the conversation to your site. Write about them and link to them, perhaps even going as far as to write posts responding or expanding on their points.

When doing this, make sure to let them know that you’ve written about them. Pingbacks and trackbacks can help, but it’s best to drop a friendly email if you can. Encourage them to participate in the conversation and to get involved.

This will encourage these bloggers to link to you, not just to the stories referencing them, but also to any other stories where your site might seem like a good reference. Letting you build high-quality, organic inbound links.

5. Move Up the Ladder

Finally, though you don’t want to ignore the communities you got your start with, once you’ve gotten a few links and some quality name recognition, it’s likely time to step up to larger communities that may have been too tough at first.

The more bloggers you engage with, the more links you will get and the better your SEO will do. As it grows, you can use your expanding reputation to open doors to larger and larger communities and gain an audience with higher and higher level experts.

This, in short order, can have you on the top of your niche, even if it is very competitive.

In the end, there just aren’t any shortcuts to success with Google anymore. Article spamming, more or less, was the last viable shortcut and, after the Panda update, it simply isn’t worthwhile.

But this doesn’t mean that you can’t find quick success in Google, just that you’ll have to work a bit harder at it and use more traditional tools.

However, if you can do that, you’ll likely find that your gains are much longer-lasting and won’t be put into jeopardy every time Google decides to shake up its algorithm. This ensures that the little bit of extra effort it takes to do SEO right pays off many times over in the long run.

This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for a neon sign store that offers a variety of business neon signs such as led open signs; and who also consults at a cancer treatment center for tumorgrafting.

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