You've probably noticed that a lot of link building and SEO guides focus on creating high-quality content. There's a good reason for that: it's far easier to build links to top-quality content because that's what gets shared.
Businesses and individuals are in search of quality material to link to so that they have something of value to offer their website visitors, and if you'll notice, few people link to a homepage, product page or shopping cart.
Of course, there's a difference between creating content that's simply stuffed with keywords and links, and creating top-notch blogs and articles that are geared towards helping you build authoritative links to your website. And just to be sure that we're speaking the same language, here are two important definitions:
Content marketing is when you create and share content (articles, blogs, infographics) for the purpose of driving traffic to your website and navigating visitors through your marketing funnel in order to acquire new customers.
Link building is when you get other websites or blogs to link to your web page in order to improve your search engine rankings. The engines crawl the web looking for links between your web pages and other websites to decide how valid your content is, and thus, where your page should rank in their search results.
As far as search engines are concerned, if your website or blog contains a lot of authoritative links and it receives a lot of links to it, then you're not only considered popular, but valid, too. And search engines are constantly evolving their algorithms to discern the spammy links from the trustworthy ones, which means that valuable content and inbound marketing are more important than ever.
Because 93% of marketers use content in their marketing strategy, and 42% of them regard their content marketing skills as effective, this is an area where you don't want to get left behind.
In this guide, we're going to share tactics that'll help you create linkable, high-quality content for your website, as well as how to use that content for link building purposes.
Part 1: Creating Linkable High Quality Content
In the introduction, we explained that linkable, well-crafted content is that which is specifically geared towards helping you build links to your website. But let's step back for a moment and explain what exactly quality material is.
High-quality content is made up of:
- Well-researched and accurate information
- Extremely valuable material designed for your target audience
- Impeccably-written copy
- Supplemental images, graphs, videos or infographics
- The most complete and up-to-date information at the time of publishing
By incorporating these five points, your work will stand head and shoulders above the crowd.
The first thing to do to start the process is to conduct in-depth research. Find the top pieces of content about your subject and determine what each of them is missing. You'll probably find that out of ten posts, each one covers something different. If you combine all those ideas into one piece of content and add your own unique take on the subject, you'll already be well on your way to success.
In addition, aim for meaty posts with over 1,000 words. Studies from analyzing a million articles have shown that content that is 1,000+ words tends to get the most social shares and backlinks.
If you're not a writer, don't worry. There are plenty of freelance writers that you can hire to create content for you. Just be sure to find someone who's an expert in your particular niche and who loves writing (trust me, you'll be able to tell the difference in the finished product). The fastest way to do this is to look at the top online publications in your niche and see if any of the bylines belong to freelancers. Or just do a search like this on Google:
This search will give you the top writers in your niche, along with some samples from their portfolio, which you should definitely read to ensure that their style of writing is appropriate for your brand. Run the search for sites that produce the type of content you are looking to create in order to find writers who already have a handle on the topic and are experts at crafting high-quality content.
Once you've hired someone to create some really cream-of-the-crop writing, it's time to add the elements that'll transform it into linkable material. Here are the elements that you will need in your content and how each will help you get links:
It's one thing to say that Facebook's the most popular social network on the planet, but without the numbers to back it up, it just comes off as opinion. But when you write that "with 1.55 billion active monthly users, 83.5% of which are outside of the US and Canada, Facebook is the most popular social network on the planet", this is no longer opinion; it's fact-based writing with the statistics to back it up. This is what often separates the experts from the amateurs.
Cite specific sources for every one of your claims throughout your article so that readers instantly know that they're looking at a well-researched piece of content. This gives them a reason to trust you and link to your content rather than content written by others. It also allows the readers to dive deeper into the subject to which you sourced if that interests them.
Another way to add credibility to your writing is by using quotes. For example, I could say that link-building methods of the past will no longer help your website. But again, that's just opinion, and unless you already consider me an expert, you won't necessarily pay heed to it.
On the other hand, if I say that John Mueller of Google suggests that webmasters should focus less on link building as it's been done in the past and instead focus more on creating high-quality content that is easy to link to, I've now added expert opinion from Google, a source that most people trust. All the better if I can use word-for-word quotes that are hyperlinked to the source.
Even if your readers have never heard the name 'John Mueller', the fact that he's from Google makes him an instant expert in the area of SEO. When you can't find specific research or statistics, expert quotes are the next best thing to back them up.
In addition to boosting the quality of your content by adding expert opinions, you're also adding influencers to the article who might actually help you promote it. Even if Mueller doesn't link to your content, he might share it with his 14.4k Twitter followers, which could, in turn, prompt one of his fans to share it with their own audience or link to your content.
Last, but not least, are resources. Look for opportunities throughout your content to mention specific resources. For example:
- Don't just say that people should try various SEO tools. Recommend your favorites, like SEMrush for paid search advertising research and Monitor Backlinks for link profile monitoring.
- Don't just say there are tons of great beginner's guides to SEO. Provide examples, like Moz's Free Beginner's Guide or Buffer's Complete Beginner's Guide.
- Don't just say there are lots of SEO experts. Mention the ones that you frequently refer to, like Bruce Clay, Loren Baker, Dr. Pete Meyers, and John Rampton.
Better yet, don't just include links; include images that show what people will find when they click through to one of your recommendations, like this quick peek at a report from SEMrush.
For the average reader, this adds more value to your content because you're giving them additional resources that provide substantial information. Remember, you'll stand out from the competition by doing this because so few people take the time to give their readers this kind of value.
You've also added more opportunities to connect with people to let them know that you've featured them, their resource or their product in your latest piece of content. Resulting shares based on "ego-baiting" (creating content that features an influencer for the purpose of getting a link or share from them in return) have additional potential to result in links.
Part 2: Building Links to Your Linkable High Quality Content
Once you've published your linkable high-quality content, your next goal is to actually build links to it. You're going to do that in 4 steps:
- Playing the numbers game
- Getting as much exposure for your content as possible
- Reaching out to the people most likely to link to your content
- Answering questions
Each of these steps plays a vital role in getting links to your linkable high-caliber article.
The first step is playing the numbers game. The number of social shares, the number of votes, and the number of comments you receive on your content all play a role in convincing people that your piece is valuable, popular and, ultimately, link worthy.
This is why the second after you publish your content you need to start building these numbers up. Begin by sharing it to all your social media networks. You can also look to get your content on popular voting networks like Inbound.org for marketing content, BizSugar for business content, or subreddits for any kind of content.
The faster the votes build up, the better the chances of it getting to the homepage and driving more traffic.
Finally, get comments - the best place to start on this is your own email list. Send out a broadcast announcing your post, and at the end of the email provide a clear call to action that people stop by and share their thoughts on your blog post. You can also try groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to prompt further discussion about your content.
The next step is exposure. The more people that you reach with your content, the greater the number of links you're likely to get from them. The fastest way to get exposure with your target audience beyond simply sharing it on your social accounts is through social media advertising. Specifically, create ads for:
Next, do some Twitter outreach by finding people who have shared similar content by using BuzzSumo.
If you can find direct contact information for these people, you could try emailing them, but otherwise, sending them a simple tweet to let them know that you noticed they shared a particular post and that you have a good one on the same topic you think they'd be interested in can be another, less intrusive tactic. Start with those sharers who have the most followers and retweets and work your way down the list.
Just in case your outreach is ignored, you can also combine tactics by exporting lists of people from BuzzSumo who've shared similar content and then create Tailored Audiences for Twitter ads using their usernames. This is a great way to craft a relevant remarketing campaign for your target demographic.
Since Twitter takes a while to create Tailored Audiences, you might want to do this research prior to publishing your content so that your Tailored Audiences are ready when the content goes live.
Now it's time to reach out directly to the people who are most likely to link to your content. These will typically be bloggers who are already linking to similar pieces. BuzzSumo also offers a feature that allows you to view the articles that link to this piece of content, so as you're viewing sharers, look at the linkers too.
BuzzSumo makes your backlink research valuable by showing you only content backlinks - i.e. links to content from other pieces of content. Seeing the social share potential of the blog will also help you determine if it's a quality website that'll drive traffic to your own site.
Using the results from that report, reach out to the blog author as well as the author who created the link to the similar post and let them know about yours. You'll have a higher rate of success if you aim for the most recent posts, as they're more likely to be recently updated, as well as posts from authors who write link roundups, like Marketing Day (shown in the search results above).
From here, start looking for additional link roundups in your industry. They will usually have keywords like:
- [your topic] roundup
- best [your topic] links
- best [your topic] posts
- best [your topic] articles
- top [your topic] links
- top [your topic] posts
- top [your topic] articles, etc.
Reach out to those people directly so that they can consider you for their next edition.
Also be on the lookout for people who do roundups by email. In the SEO world, the holy grail is the Moz Top 10. Subscribe to their emails (preferably in advance), familiarize yourself with the content they share, and then reply to the latest one to let them know about your suggestion for their next email.
Not all of these arenas will create SEO links, per se, but they will allow you to gain more exposure for your content in a helpful way. And more exposure has the potential to lead to more links.
Here's a quick rundown of the steps to building links with content:
- Create linkable high-quality content that is valuable, accurate, up-to-date, complete, and 1,000+ words
- Include specific research, expert opinions, and resources
- Build social proof immediately after publishing by getting social shares, social votes, and comments
- Get exposure through social advertising and social outreach to people who share similar content
- Get links through direct outreach to people who link to similar content
- Get links by answering questions on Q&A networks, forums, and social media groups
If you follow these steps each time you write an epic piece of content, you'll increase your likelihood of creating a library of linkable, high-quality content on your website that drives up the overall authority of your domain with great, editorial links.
This post originally appeared on Single Grain