If you want to build links to your website and content, you need to create something worth linking to. Easier said than done, but, this article is here to help you navigate through developing a content strategy for creating link-worthy content.
In this article, we are going to tackle:
- Why you should care about building links
- How to build links
- Specific ideas for content that can get you links
Let’s dive in.
Why should you care about links?
If this is your introduction to link-building and content creation, let’s start with the why.
Why is link building worth considering when coming up with a content strategy?
Simply put, there is a correlation between links and search rankings.
The more links you have, in particular from real reputable and authoritative websites, the more likely that your content outranks a competitor, all other things being equal.
(While correlation does not imply causation, until we have Google’s algorithmic black box, this is the best data we have.)
As an example – let’s say that you just published a brand new article on “Social media marketing tips”, and you are thinking that now the article should start ranking at the top of search results. We’ll assume also that, objectively speaking, your article is much better than the other articles that are showing up in search results. Unfortunately, you may be disappointed not seeing your article outranking competitors, in particular the ones who have more links pointing to their content.
If you want to more easily outrank competitors’ content, you need links from real, relevant websites. That’s why it’s always a smart choice to go with trusted link building services that can actually help you improve your organic rankings.
Also, one caveat here is that quantity of links is not better than quality. Getting a link from a more authoritative website with a much higher DR/DA is more valuable than several lower-authority links. DR, aka Domain Rating, and DA, aka Domain Authority, are metrics used by the SEO research platforms, Ahrefs and Moz, that try to estimate how authoritative a website is.
OK, now that we’ve got that covered, let’s talk about some specific tips to help you create impactful content to build links.
Tip #1: Understand how links are built
First thing – links come from a few different sources.
You can get links naturally.
This happens when people come across your website content when researching a topic for their own blog and decide to link to it in articles of theirs.
The challenge with getting natural links is that if your site is lower authority, you are probably not going to rank well for specific keywords in search results, and not attract links. The higher authority your site, the more likely you rank better, and the more likely you can naturally earn links.
So, higher-ranking and authoritative sites have a leg up on you if you are just starting out.
Next, you can get links via outreach.
This involves doing cold outreach, typically via email, to connect with other bloggers to suggest they link to your content.
To do this, you will need:
- Link-worthy content
- Prospecting tools to find the right blogs to reach out to
- Email finding and email validation tools to find the email addresses of those blogs
- Email sending tools to reach out to and follow up with them
Beyond that, there are also a few different link building strategies you can use to pitch those bloggers to link to you.
Some examples include:
Resource Page Outreach – this is where you find blogs that link to resources on a given topic (usually these take the form of listicles like “99 resources for building your website”), and pitch them to link to your resource in their article.
Skyscraper Technique – this is where you find competitors’ articles that are outranking yours, find the websites that are linking to them, and pitch those sites to link to your content instead.
Link Roundup Outreach – finding newsletters and blogs that write regular articles that share other people’s content on a given subject, suggesting they include your article in their next roundup publication.
Lastly, you can get links from directories.
This involves submitting your website to various online business directories.
Directory submissions have generally been popular with local service businesses that are trying to show up in local results.
Many of these directories are free to submit to. Some of them require payment.
They are also finite – there are not an unlimited number of relevant directories you can submit your business to.
Also, many of the links you get from directories are “nofollow” links – this means that a link from the directory will not pass along any “link juice” to your website to help you rank better.
So, how can you earn links naturally or get people to link to you from doing outreach?
First, you need content worth linking to.
If you are the 5,000,000th person to publish an article on “How to start a blog”, then no website is going to want to link to you.
But, if you have something unique, that can be attractive for links…
Tip #2: Create something unique that no one else has
As we’re understanding how links are built, we need to create something that other sites would want to link to. And, the best types of content are the types that are unique, and more difficult to create.
If someone can just spin up a blog post on a topic with a little research on other websites and contributing no original experience or data, that material is not going to be exciting for other blogs.
The more original and personal your creation, reliant on experience and knowledge, the more valuable it is.
Let’s take, for example, a guide article on “How to start blogging”.
It’s been written about so many times before.
What’s unique about your article, worth linking to?
But, if you have an article that’s like, “How I built a blog that grew to 50,000 monthly visitors in one year with this step-by-step strategy,” that’s much more attractive.
That content that you can share, coming from your own experience or research, is something that cannot be easily replicated.
Speaking of research…
Tip #3: Publish a study
Other blogs love citing and linking to original research.
It can be an easy win.
Let’s say someone is writing an article about, “The importance of sharing your content on social media,” they are probably going to be doing some research online to help support their article. If you have a study published with data on “Correlation between social followers, shares, and website traffic,” then you’ve created this content that helps someone else out and is worth linking to.
I recognize that this can be easier said than done.
Your business may not have access to this kind of data.
A few options on how you could do this though:
One option could be buying data from another source.
Another could be conducting the study yourself.
And another option, which I find to be a much easier option, is taking your experience and writing up a case study.
You can use specific data on your own experience that helps illustrate your point.
As an example, I had a client who we helped to recruit affiliates that could promote their SaaS business.
I wanted to do a write-up on it and be the top-ranked article for finding and recruiting affiliates.
The other articles that I came across that were on similar topics did not have any data. They were mostly generic walkthrough guides. So, I published an article that laid out my steps on how to recruit affiliates, and shared the data about the specific campaigns I ran to support it.
Image Source: https://share.getcloudapp.com/RBuZdpAL
This got us a bunch of backlinks.
The data we had was not industry-wide, but a very specific case study that we could use to demonstrate how to replicate what we did.
And that was intriguing and worth linking to.
Tip #4: Collect and curate data
Another idea is that you can collect and curate data from other studies.
You can have an article on an overarching topic that cites specific studies in it.
As an example, let’s say that you want to write an article about Instagram statistics, so you cite other people’s studies and research in your mega-article. This article from SproutSocial shows how it’s done.
Image source: https://share.getcloudapp.com/WnuDNPZw
This article cites other websites’ research, packaging it all nicely together in an article on “Instagram Statistics You Need to Know for 2022”.
Tip #5: Create an infographic
In addition to writing up articles leveraging data, you can also take data and package it nicely in an infographic.
You can use data that already exists from other studies, but putting it all together in a clear infographic can provide readers with a ton of value.
For some inspiration, check out our Top 50 content marketing infographics.
To make an infographic, you will need to get your data (either original or curated from other sources), lay it out in a way that tells a story, and work with a talented graphic designer who can put it together.
The published infographic can be a great resource for anyone who has either used or cited any of the statistics referred to in your graphic.
Here is what an infographic-focused link-building strategy might look like:
- Curate your data to include in your infographic, noting not just the data, but the websites that the data was published on
- For each of those sites, using a keyword research tool like Ahrefs, find what websites are linking to them
- Once your infographic is published, reach out to those sites, saying something to the effect of, “Hey, I saw that you cited this study by X in your blog article. Well, we created an infographic that mentioned it, and I think it might be helpful to include in your article. What do you think?”
Tip #6: Create a free tool
If you have the resources to develop a free tool or app on your website, this can earn you a lot of links.
Here are some examples of free web apps and tools that have earned a ton of links:
Hubspot’s signature generator, a free tool for creating an email signature – as of September 2022 it has 17k links from 1.8k domains
MXToolbox, a free tool for researching DNS records – as of September 2022, it has 1.8 million links from 15.4k domains
Hemingway App – a free grammar editing tool – as of September 2022, it has 253k links from 18.7k domains.
Whenever anyone mentions email signatures, it should be a no-brainer to them to mention Hubspot’s signature generator, since it’s free, helpful to the reader, and it’s relevant to their content.
If someone is writing about how to edit your website’s DNS record, MXToolbox is going to be the go-to resource since it’s free and easy to use.
If you can develop a free useful tool for your target audience, when bloggers write about that audience, they can be more likely to mention your tool.
Tip #7: Create templates
People love templates.
Templates help people save time and makes their lives easier.
Templates get a lot of searches, and they are very valuable in most every industry.
Here are a few case studies.
Signwell is a software platform that helps people with e-signatures for their agreements.
They built a template library of sample contracts that you can use.
Image source: https://share.getcloudapp.com/8Lu1JA9m
Since their audience consists of businesses that need to digitally sign their agreements, they created templates geared towards that audience.
For Postaga, a platform that does cold emailing, there is a cold email template library that has different examples of cold emails so that anyone looking to send their own cold emails can get inspiration and not have to start from scratch.
Lastly, Canva, a graphic design app, has a bunch of free graphic design templates that you can use with their platform.
Image source: https://share.getcloudapp.com/4guemqrd
Tip #8: Write guest posts for relevant blogs
In addition to creating content for your own site, you can also create content for other people’s websites.
This is called guest posting or guest blogging.
Every time you write a guest post for another blog, you will get a link from that website.
Even though the content won’t be hosted on your own website, you will get a link from an authoritative blog, which can help your search rankings.
Many blogs have a “Write for Us” page with unique guidelines for guest post submissions.
The most common features of guest post guidelines are:
- Make sure your content is valuable and helpful
- Include images if you can, in particular they should be royalty-free
- Write 1000+ words
- No grammar or spelling errors
- Don’t be too self-promotional
Make sure that you abide by the blogs’ guest submission guidelines, and you’ll be in good shape.
Tip #9: Competitive research
If you are completely out of ideas, look at your competitors and other companies in your industry.
Look them up on Ahrefs or SEMRush.
Image source: https://share.getcloudapp.com/yAuQvNq7
Using these tools, you can see things like what their top-performing pages are by links and traffic.
This can provide you with some inspiration for what type of content you might want to create.
And with that, you have all the tools and ideas you need to generate content that can help you build links to your website.
If you have any particular strategies that you have found work well, feel free to let us know.
Andy Cabasso is a startup founder, digital marketing professional, speaker, and lawyer. He is the co-founder of Postaga, an all-in-one platform for link building and email outreach. Prior to Postaga, he started, grew, and then successfully sold a digital marketing agency.