Using link building as part of your SEO strategy can be a roll of the dice.
Links are undeniably valuable for achieving higher rankings and search visibility. However, as Google cracks down more and more on practices deemed as spam, the risks of link building are just as great.
Though it remains an important ranking factor for most search engines, link building is fraught with black-hat tactics and bad actors – one wrong move, and you may end up taking a walk on the dark side.
So, how do you steer clear of the common link-building pitfalls?
How do you avoid the risks involved with outdated link tactics and shady providers?
In our new ebook, The Dark Side Of Link Building, author Loren Baker takes you through eight black- and gray-hat tactics, as well as what to look out for and how these tactics can be trouble.
So, what exactly is on the “dark side” of link building? What happens to sites that use spammy SEO tactics in their link development strategies?
“The thing about black-hat tactics is that they sometimes work really well – that is, until they don’t,” writes Baker. “When they stop working, they tend to implode. And when that happens, you could be in for a lot of work undoing the damage.”
And if you’re not careful, your website could wind up banished to the outer regions of Google forever (or at least until you clean up your backlink profile and win back your good standing).
Manual penalties by Google may be rare, but they aren’t the only risks of poor link-building tactics.
Ultimately, they can be very costly, as you’ll end up wasting money on links that either don’t work now or will stop working in the future.
So, is there a way to use these tactics ethically in ways that Boost search?
In this guide, Baker also looks at the positive side and explores whether these tactics can be used effectively to Boost search visibility, brand awareness, or reputation.
Link building isn’t all bad when used carefully.
The good news is there are steps you can take to build your links safely without risking your site’s search visibility and rankings.
If you want to learn more about how to successfully build links in today’s search environment, this ebook has all you need to know.
Inside, you’ll discover:
This pocket guide is packed with helpful resources, supporting research, and tips to Boost your own link-building strategy.
Download your copy now and get started!
How did term gender take on the meaning that it has today? How was it developed as a social pairing to the purportedly fixed notion of sex? Surprisingly, historian Sandra Eder traces its origins to a Pediatric Endocrinology Clinic at Johns Hopkins University in the 1940s. She discusses the significance of the introduction of the idea of a culturally-constructed gender, in the Cold War context of mid-20th century America, and the inherited baggage of the term today.
Sandra Eder, How the Clinic Made Gender: The Medical History of a Transformative Idea University of Chicago Press, 2022
There is a growing awareness that brand-building in the metaverse can shift your marketing onto a new playing field.
Or is it multiverse?
With all the commotion surrounding the metaverse – especially within the marketing industry – there’s a fair amount of uncertainty and confusion.
And that’s understandable, as we’re all still figuring things out as we go.
But whether you like it or not, you need to buckle in.
According to Gartner, it won’t be long before a quarter of the world spends an hour or more each day in the metaverse.
Doing what, you cry?
Well, they’re doing whatever they usually do in the real world, according to Cryptoslate: their jobs, buying stuff, learning stuff, collecting stuff, and playing. Lots of playing.
And, it is potentially big money for businesses. Bloomberg Intelligence analysts forecast the scope for market opportunity is around the $800 billion mark.
So, now that I have your attention, here’s how to set your brand up for the long game that is the metaverse.
I hear you; this is a lot to take in. So, in the words of Maria von Trapp, “Let’s start at the very beginning.”
Let’s break it up into “meta” and “verse.” Meta has several definitions, all of which fit perfectly here.
First, it can refer to something self-referencing or self-aware, like data about data (think: metadata).
Then, the Greek definition of meta is “beyond” or “after,” as in, the next thing, implying progress.
Verse, in this instance, is a shortening of the “universe.”
So, in essence, the metaverse is a progressive universe in which you exist as a highly self-aware avatar that allows you to engage and experience the 3D world beyond what you are capable of in the current “real world.”
That’s my definition of it, anyway.
While it might sound a bit like Second Life has had, well, a second wind, it’s not.
It’s not quite “Ready Player One” vibes. It’s actually a bunch of different 3D worlds hosted on different world-building platforms.
We call this the multiverse.
Thanks to a more decentralized web 3.0 – the next evolution from web 2.0 – you can create content.
How is that different from web 2.0?
With web 2.0, centralized entities have power over access to the service.
Web 3.0, on the other hand, allows you to own, control, and monetize this content through blockchain and cryptocurrencies on the metaverse.
Brands get to choose where they want to exist in the metaverse.
They can have different styles and forms simultaneously active in many of these virtual lands, depending on who they want to reach, how they want to reach them, and with what product.
But how do we prevent the metaverse from turning into a lawless mess with all this freedom?
With the launch and growth of Metaverse Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO) – we see the combination of blockchain and metaverse revolutionizing how crypto, autonomous governance, and community involvement are applied.
Aside from the potential to make big bucks, it is a great way to grow a connection with your customers.
There is tremendous brand power in owning the omnipresent experience with your client.
As with all things post-2020, authenticity and personalization are key, so this is a great opportunity to grow both.
It opens up a new, more effective way to build closer relationships between brand and customer.
Plus, brands can afford to be a bit more creative, experimental, and personalized in this space than in more traditional platforms. And immersive experiences and interactions are unparalleled in the metaverse.
I’m not going to lie; brand-building in the metaverse has its challenges. But, if you get it right, you will reap the rewards.
The currency of choice in the metaverse is non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Blockchain technology has never looked more attractive. NFTs are digital assets – think art, money, or even fine wine – stored on the blockchain and cannot be replicated or overwritten.
As with real-world assets, there is an original. There may be reproductions, but there’s but one master version.
In the metaverse, the NFT is authenticated by metadata and time stamps – code stored on the blockchain.
In this way, the NFT is a thing that can be owned, traded, bought and sold, collected, shared, desired, and admired – all within the virtual world you exist in.
Through this avenue of NFTs, brands can ramp up revenue and build.
And it’s not just the typical tech-heavy brands who are doing so. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Coca-Cola have already set up shop in the metaverse and are advertising products with great success to this plugged-in consumer base.
So, how do you do it?
You can take this literally if you consider brand-building on Roblox, as Gucci did.
However, let me state that this is not something only big brand budgets can afford.
Content creators for brands of all sizes have the opportunity to build awareness in the metaverse.
You just need to wrap your head around what that will look like in virtual reality. I can’t even guide you here, as the options are limitless.
Start thinking about immersive experiences – things that you do in the real world that you’d like to replicate in the virtual world.
What does your target audience want to do in this space?
Watch a movie with friends, go to a concert, walk down a busy street? No problem. You can even supply a corporate presentation in a virtual space, or do promos and branded giveaways.
However, before you get too carried away, I offer this word of caution: Keep your feet on the ground and your thoughts collected.
All marketing – in the metaverse or terra firma – needs to be aligned with your core branding objectives.
Do your research. Who is your target audience? What problem do you solve for them?
Does your target audience spend any time in the metaverse?
Does your brand benefit from radical marketing digitization? Don’t lose your head. Stay true to your brand objectives.
The beauty of NFTs is that they can be integrated with most games.
That makes them a great way to reward loyal customers with desirable, one-off digital assets.
Never underestimate the power of desirability and scarcity – even in a digital world! Brands can use this innate trait in all of us to grow awareness, align messaging, incorporate brand values, and gain customer attention.
I know I’m not the first to beat this drum. But it’s one of the ways that you build a brand in the metaverse.
How do you do this? You think about the sales process in the real world and then create out-of-this-world experiences that support that journey in the virtual world.
Your sales teams can supply live presentations and demos to prospective clients in a bespoke location of your making.
Avatars can try on your products virtually and play the game in their bespoke branded clothing.
Not only is it cool, but it is also a passive way of growing your brand with other players.
They can sell, trade, and buy virtual versions of your products in their world with NFTs. They can display their NFT art in 3D galleries of their own design.
You can even use the metaverse for internal brand-building tactics.
Training, staff onboarding, and meetings can be hosted in a 3D space for optimal immersion. Rewards and recognition can be given through NFTs and cryptocurrency.
Think scarcity, think collectibles, think real emotion.
Create experiences that are highly immersive and build from there.
As with all emerging tech trends, it’s tough to know what direction this will take. At this point, you can still take a bit of a breath and observe.
Check out what the competition is doing. See what’s working, adopt, adapt, and improve.
Don’t wait too long, though, as you don’t want this train to pass you by.
The threat of getting lost in the metaverse crowd could be as challenging as being on page two of Google in the next few years!
The metaverse offers a unique, fresh, and highly immersive platform for brands to connect with their customers in a whole new way.
It’s set to become the new powerhouse of digitized marketing, from selling digital assets and merch to immersive team meetings.
As with all things marketing, get clarity on how your brand can feature in this space without losing its authentic brand voice. Keep your eye on the future of immersive brand building without losing sight of current marketing objectives.
So, whether your stance is to plan, play, or passively observe, the metaverse will not be ignored.
Thankfully, it is open to big and small brands. So get started!
Featured Image: thinkhubstudio/Shutterstock
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines.
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha asked: How does the “build in public” mindset impact the way that startups are built? Alex and Natasha chatted through the difference between building in public, going direct, startup PR and just straight-up hype.
We spoke about the challenges in community and recent examples that show the difficulty of building in public (and then clamming up).
The conversation included Launch House, Copy.ai, On Deck, Egnyte and even Databricks. While we have very biased reasons for more companies to build in public — we love to learn things! — we tried to expand the conversation to include more perspectives.
We’ll be back on Friday with our regular news roundup, an episode that may include a voice that you’ll hear more frequently in the coming months!
Before we go, two programming notes (that help your wallet, too):
Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts. TechCrunch also has a great show on crypto, a show that interviews founders, a show that details how our stories come together and more!
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Several technologies have converged to build the metaverse, allowing for multimodal interactions between people, digital items, and virtual spaces. We expect that a combination of augmented reality, virtual reality, the Internet of Things (IoT), cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, and 3D reconstruction will offer an immersive experience in the metaverse.
However, it is yet unknown how much some of these important technologies will contribute to the metaverse development.
Facebook's rebranding as Meta has made the metaverse concept more popular. Neal Stephenson's 1992 book, Snow Crash, is the starting point of the story of the metaverse. The story portrayed a virtual world incorporating technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality, and the internet.
The metaverse is an amalgam of several technological entities, such as the internet, augmented reality, virtual reality, and other technologies, where people "live" within a digital realm. Metaverse enthusiasts can interact with one another, work, have fun, and keep in touch with friends through events like virtual conferences, concerts, and tours all over the globe.
The concept of "binocular vision," which combines two images—one for each eye—to create a single 3D image, was introduced by scientist Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838, long before the metaverse was even thought of. This concept inspired the invention of the stereoscope, a device that gives the illusion of depth to an image. The same concept is now applied to modern VR headsets.
We now use "the metaverse" to refer to a fully immersive internet, where we can access and experience augmented and virtual reality and interact with virtual worlds via avatars and cutting-edge digital technologies. It has expanded dramatically since the introduction of binocular vision.
From a macro perspective, the evolution of the metaverse typically consists of three sequential phases:
This first phase is the current phase of the metaverse. Digital Twin involves the invention of a mirror world made up of large-scale, very accurate digital twins of people and objects in virtual environments to create a lifelike digital reproduction of the genuine world. Reality and virtuality are two parallel spaces and virtual activities in this phase. In addition, properties like user movement and emotion are imitations of their physical counterparts.
Digital natives focus primarily on developing native content, where avatars representing digital natives can produce insights and inventions inside virtual spaces. Digital natives can only exist in virtual spaces. In this phase, the massively produced digital contents will be on par with their physical counterparts, and the digital world can change and advance the physical world's production process. This will result in enhanced interactions between these two worlds.
In the last phase, Surreality, the metaverse matures and develops into a durable, self-sustaining virtual reality that absorbs reality into itself. There will be mutual symbiosis and seamless integration of the physical and virtual worlds where the virtual world's scope will be larger than the real world's. Furthermore, more lives and scenes that do not exist in reality can exist in virtual realms. This phase is the future of the metaverse.
Thanks to the metaverse, we can interact with people in real-time, even if they are in another virtual world. In a way, the metaverse isn't only about convenience or leisure; it's also a piece of technology that can connect two people who live apart.
Many technologies support the metaverse. We will look at the leading technologies that are the driving force behind the functioning of the metaverse.
Augmented reality (AR) is a technology designed to augment reality. The many applications of AR technology enable users to engage with digital elements in a more enriched version of the genuine world. An AR app will provide interactive information that is visual, aural, and multi-sensory in real-world ecosystems to Boost the user experience.
The most popular software and applications for augmented reality run smoothly on smartphones. They help us in a few straightforward steps to access a digitally enhanced environment. All we have to do is turn on the cameras on our smartphones, look around us through the phone's screen, and rely on augmented reality software to 'augment' the experience of viewing the world around us.
"Virtual Reality" is a digital simulation of a 3D image or environment that allows for physical or pseudo-realistic interaction. It is easily accessible with a VR HMD or virtual reality head-mounted display. The Oculus Quest 2 VR headset from Meta is one of several such headsets; our review of the Quest 2 found it to be one of the most accessible introductions to VR.
Tech gurus can construct digital replicas or twins thanks to the metaverse and IoT, which offers virtual people and digital replicas with immersive experiences and uses within the metaverse. Without it, the metaverse can't offer its users such lifelike virtual experiences.
IoT will stimulate the metaverse industry and offer simple user interfaces for virtual gaming, real estate purchases, and other activities. With IoT and other cutting-edge technologies, learners can develop novel projects for users through metaverse training programs.
Users can transfer value using cryptocurrencies while working and interacting with others in the metaverse.
Moreover, blockchain technology offers a decentralized and transparent solution for accessibility, governance, digital collectibility, interoperability, and proof of ownership.
As we can liken the metaverse to the real world, virtual spaces can offer realistic spaces, and 3D reconstruction technology facilitates this. The metaverse has been merged with realistic virtual spaces made by the e-commerce and real estate industries. It offers experiences similar to what is obtainable in the real world.
Interested parties can digitally tour the property without having to interact in person. Online retailers have set up virtual marketplaces where buyers can check products before selecting.
Although the metaverse is relatively still in its infancy, several companies actively explore its possibilities. The Sandbox and Decentraland are prominent projects in the crypto ecosystem, but other major companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and NVIDIA are also exploring the space.
As AR, VR, and AI technologies develop, we might see interesting new features in these virtual, limitless worlds. Already, designers, engineers, and other creators can collaborate virtually with the help of NVIDIA Omniverse. This open platform connects 3D spaces into a single shared universe. In the same vein, we expect more offerings in the future.
As Rockstar gets on top of this week's massive GTA 6 leak with sweeping copyright takedowns, fans are working to piece together their own resources from the early footage. As reported by Kotaku, this includes a number of map-building efforts, with players using the leaked footage to put together an early estimation of GTA 6's huge open world.
The project is reminiscent of a fan-made GTA V map created by GTA Forum users, who used the game's promotional footage and screenshots to get an early view of Los Santos. This time, the map is being created from the leaked footage, with fans often getting creative in order to get around Rockstar's copyright restrictions.
With much of the leaked footage displaying in-game coordinates, fans have created bare-bones maps picturing where each location sits in relation to the rest of them. It's slow going, with much of the main GTA Forums discussion working out how to most accurately map the leaked content without including images that can't be posted in the community.
Other projects hosted outside the forums have more complete maps in the works, including mini-map segments taken from the leaked footage. One map posted by Church of GTA includes some speculative roads and borders, as well as the more concrete details taken from the leaks.
Until Rockstar releases more official material on the game--which is still a few years off from release--the mapmaking efforts aren't likely to get much further than basic speculation. From what fans have already uncovered, it's looking like GTA 6 will have a huge world to explore, with a map at least as big as or bigger than GTA V's Los Santos.
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