In any content marketing strategy, the end goal is to create linkable content – that is content that people naturally want to link to. This helps to develop your SEO too, by increasing backlinks to your domain. But, you can’t just craft run of the mill content and expect the links to come rolling in. First, you have to research what you’re up against and develop a plan to outshine the competition.
What are the Top Information Sources in Your Niche or Keyword Space?
Search the keywords you’re trying to rank for in Google and other major search engines. Ignoring the ads and focusing solely on the organic search results, look at the resources found in the top 20 results. Focus on things like how tos, entertainment pieces, and the link. Skip the salesy stuff.
Now, record the URLs and main domains for each of those resources. Use an SEO tool like Yahoo Site Explorer to take a look at the number of inbound links each piece has. Repeat for each of the domains found in those top 20 resources.
Keep track of the content and the number of inbound links, as this helps you see the content people are responding to, and allows you aim to get more links than that top content. From here, you can start looking at the topics that receive the most links, which can help you get your content strategy heading in the right direction.
Look at the Attributes of Content Extracted From Those Sources
Now, it’s time to start identifying patterns in the top linked content. Look at a number of metrics such as:
- The topic itself
- How long the content is
- The reading level
- Whether or not media is embedded – if it is, what kind of media is it? Video, images, podcasts…
- Are there outbound links on those pages? Are they reciprocal?
- Scope of content – does it dig deep, or is it a basic overview?
- Structure of information – Top 10 list, an “ultimate guide” like this one
- The apparent target audience and skill level
- The stage of the buying cycle it targets
Not all of these metrics may be appropriate for your space, so focus on finding patterns in those that are most appropriate for you. Depending on your niche, it may be best to fill your blog with long, in-depth content in excess of 1,000+ words, but if you know your audience only needs short basic, overviews, it’s not a good idea to create comprehensive guides to everything.
Your Linking Audience
Is there a possibility of building a relationship with any of these top 20 resources so you can get a link on their website? Consider:
- Offering a guest post
- Asking to have one of your more in-depth posts added as a resource, or offering contributions to an existing resource page
- Contributing to their email newsletter.
Choosing the Right Types of Content
All content you create should provide value to the reader, whether it be informative, educational/instructional, or for pure entertainment purposes. However, the blog post isn’t the only type of content you’re limited to. Convince and Convert offers an excellent list of 105 types of blog content you can use for inspiration – case studies, product reviews, demonstrations, interviews, quotes, and more – but think outside the blog post box and consider other forms of content such as:
- Cheat sheets
- Downloadable workbooks/worksheets
This infographic details six types of shoppers and the brands they’ll pay more for. It takes data from a research report that may otherwise bore most readers, and turns it into a fun way to learn the information. Users are likely to share the article and infographic because they can easily identify the type of shopper they are.
Nextiva, a business VoIP provider, uses YouTube to provide basic product information, but launched a separate channel, Nextiva Cares, where the company CEO gives a short video shout out to customers who’ve reached out to them with an issue. It’s a wonderful customer service approach, and earns them links because they serve as an example for articles like this one. Plus, the customers who get their own YouTube video shout outs are sharing them with their friends, strengthening the overall brand.
DIY website Curbly, has an entire section of their blog dedicated to free downloadable cheat sheets, to help their readers. Everything from kitchen cleaning to organization, to stain removal, and more.
It will take more time to create these kinds of assets, but they will earn you traffic and links, as long as they’re what people are looking for. If you want to create your own cheat sheets, look at what others in your niche are offering on theirs, and think of ways to improve yours. Add more space, change the layout, or add or remove categories as you see fit.
What to Consider as You Craft Content
- Your audience: Who are they? What kinds of content do they respond to the most often? What kinds of content are they most likely to share with their friends and circle of online followers? Create content with those answers in mind, and you’re already one step ahead.
- Shareability: If it’s not easy to share the content, you can’t expect to be shared. The vast majority of people will not take the time to manually share content anywhere online, so you must be sure you have share buttons at the top and/or bottom of the content. There are a variety of WordPress plugins available to help you with this – and many of them will also allow you to control the text that is included when a share is posted. Share content yourself – if you’re not taking the time to share it, why should anyone else? Use automation tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to help schedule your social media posts ahead of time – but don’t forget to pop in and actively participate. Running social completely on autopilot tells your audience no one’s really there paying attention.
- Allow Comments: Allowing your readers to leave comments on all your blog posts is a wonderful way to get their feedback. There’s always the chance readers won’t take the time to leave a comment, so don’t let the lack of comments serve as an indication the content isn’t resonating with the audience. However, if someone takes the time to leave a comment, leave a thoughtful reply thanking them for their words. It goes a long way toward showing your audience you’re paying attention and value what they have to say. A reply is especially important when someone asks a question.
- Repurposing Old Content: Do you have a catalog of articles that would also be useful and shareable to your audience if they were reconfigured in different format? An article based on research reports could make a fantastic infographic. Simply include the embed code at the bottom of the infographic, complete with a link back to your site as the source of the infographic, and let readers know they are free to share it on their own blogs.
Be different. No matter how many other resources out there in our niche, if you’re simply regurgitating all the information that’s already available, you’re not likely to get the link over your competition. It’s through researching the competition, and coming up with creative ways to develop content that’s got a different angle or spin, that will give you the edge when it comes to getting links.
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock
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