Maintaining a flow of relevant, authoritative links is an ongoing struggle for marketers. Long gone are the days where links could be built on discussion forums and comment sections to flood links back to your site. Now, getting links that Google will trust has become harder than ever. If you want to rank in the top spots, a high-quality backlink profile is crucial. However, one tactic that has helped to redefine link building, more than anything else, is content marketing.
Content marketing and link building go hand-in-hand. According to Google’s Andrey Lipattsev, high-quality content and link building are two of the most important signals used by Google to rank your website in search results. Without quality links in your content, your rankings won’t improve. Without having great content, nobody is going give you a link!
With this in mind, here are five content-led link building ideas you should try in 2018.
Infographics are a great way to display key data, information, or knowledge in an easy-to-read, simplified visual format that your audience will remember. The demand for infographics has increased by 800% in the past year, which isn’t surprising if you consider that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
However, with more and more businesses implementing infographics into their content marketing, standards have become much higher. Publishers want to see high-quality infographics that stand out otherwise you can think again about earning a link from them. If necessary, outsource the work or consider employing an in-house designer to keep your infographic standards above the rest, this isn’t a job for Microsoft Paint!
When brainstorming infographics, try to keep them directly relevant to your business and remember to keep your target audience/publication in mind. Keep it specific and targeted.
You could also jump on-board any trends that appear within your niche to keep your infographics current and timely – publications always want to be the first at reporting something new. Providing a short, exclusive, introduction alongside the infographic will enable you to differentiate the content across numerous sites and retain the benefit from your anchor text links, remember – copying and pasting the same piece of text across several sites will only result in Google labelling it as duplicate content and the links as spam, effectively eliminating all ranking benefits and potentially causing more harm than good.
Away Resorts – a UK holiday parks provider, created a fun, informative infographic on autumn wildlife spotting in the New Forest. As they have several parks around the UK, increasing the rankings for each location is essential for obtaining holiday bookings.
The infographic, which targeted their New Forest landing page, was outreached to relevant wildlife, activity and travel publications and managed to earn a placement and a link on New Forest Activities – a website that is affiliated with the New Forest. The relevancy and authority from anchor text links helped to push them into first position for the targeted keyword.
If you’re regularly featuring statistics from other publications in your content, why not collate your own? Rehashing existing data might be a quick solution for piecing together an interesting story, but nothing is more impressive than original data. What’s to stop someone else coming forward and offering exactly the same data if it isn’t actually yours?
Creating/conducting a survey is one of the most effective ways to collate original data. Although a survey itself isn’t a direct link building tactic, it can open the doors to several content opportunities if carried out effectively.
Start by defining your survey goal and topic – this could be related to a current news story, e.g. a mobile app company could jump on a new app that’s being released, or whether consumers prefer mobile apps to websites.
Your target audience also needs to be determined in order to guarantee that you generate the most accurate results – B2B, consumer? Have an idea of the types of sites/publications you would like the content placed on too – do they have to be relevant to your niche or can they be generic?
Outlining these steps first will define the types of questions you need to ask. Here are some dos and don’ts for writing your survey questions:
– Include screening questions to eliminate irrelevant responses
– Use a mixture of open-ended and closed questions
– Limit the number of questions to encourage survey completion
– Screen/test your questions first
– Include too many responses for multiple choice questions
– Use unfamiliar/complicated terminology
– Use leading questions to generate biased responses
– Write double-barrelled questions
We have recently upgraded our software to become a first-class tool, what are your thoughts on our fantastic new software?
This question is extremely wordy and doesn’t eliminate those who haven’t actually heard of or used the software, meaning it’s likely the data will be inaccurate. It also includes pejorative, language, i.e. ‘first-class’ and ‘fantastic’, which forces a positive preconception of the software, making the results biased.
Screening question: Have you seen the recent changes to our software?
- What are your thoughts on the changes to our software?
Splitting the question into two filters out irrelevant participants and makes it easier to understand.
Leading on from the previous point: once you have collated and analysed your survey data, how exactly are you going to turn that data into links?
Press releases are a great way to get your ‘fresh scoop’ in-front of publishers who are constantly looking for the latest news. These types of publications usually create a lot of buzz and have high-quality backlink profiles, however they can often be difficult to impress. You might think you have the best data out there, but how you present your press release will be crucial for gaining links. Here are some tips for writing a press release:
- Highlight key figures from survey data, don’t include all of it
- Use catchy headers
- Use bullet points to break up large blocks of text
- Include an ‘about’ and ‘survey methodology’ section
- Don’t make it too long, 600-800 words is recommended
- Don’t manipulate the figures
- Keep a press release as exactly that and not an advert for a product/service.
Once your press release is ready, look into the publication niches you would like to contact. If you’re going to contact several in-bulk, then a distribution software like Cision, or your existing mailing list, will ensure your release gets in front of your target audience.
Mobile app agency The App Developers created a survey entitled ‘What do Consumers Really Think of Mobile Apps?’ which was distributed to over 300 UK consumers. Respondents were asked ten questions such as which marketing channels encourage app downloads, how much do they spend on downloading apps or in-app purchases and whether they would choose an app over a website?
Once the data was analysed, they created a press release which was distributed to over 5,000 business, marketing and tech publications. The release obtained several branded backlinks for credibility which helped to boost their rankings for relevant keywords.
Nowadays, more people are distrusting and blocking heavily-advertorial content, meaning brands have needed to come up with a new way to reach their audience and build natural links. Influencer marketing has overtaken the digital world in recent years, with 94% of businesses considering it an effective tactic. In a similar way to brands getting celebrity endorsements to promote their products, influencers are a new breed of celebrity, usually found online. These influencers could be a popular blogger that has amassed a large readership or a social media heavyweight with a substantial following. Influencer marketing involves getting these people to promote your product or brand to their fans, widening the reach of your business.
As you reach out to a wider audience through influencer marketing, you will gain more opportunities to build links. Whether you’re partnering with them through product reviews or through guest posts, you’re almost guaranteed to earn a backlink.
However, before you can turn to influencer marketing, you need to have a campaign that’s bound to entice industry influencers to participate and share. The majority of bloggers will want to feel there is a sense of value to them; otherwise they will be unlikely to give you a link.
Try to add a unique angle to your campaign, such as offering original research or creating a giveaway that’s aimed around a national holiday or trend. Keep the campaign relevant to your brand, e.g. a nursery could create a back to school campaign aimed at family and parenting bloggers. You could offer free product samples or payment in exchange for a review, but this will depend on your budget.
If you’re struggling to find enough influencers to contact, websites such as Tots 100 are stocked full of bloggers suitable for different niches. There are also plenty of social media groups dedicated to bloggers that you can reach out to.
Discount Supplements – one of the UK’s largest health supplement providers created a Vegan Easter Cookbook for an influencer marketing campaign. They contacted a variety of food and lifestyle bloggers and offered them a copy of the cookbook plus money to supplement the cost of buying ingredients in exchange for a recipe review and a link to their targeted landing page.
(Post from Dolly Dowsie)
The campaign was a huge success, earning several placements and links from relevant bloggers. This method helped to keep the content unique and natural as bloggers wrote a review on a recipe of their choice, meaning there was no risk of the backlinks seeming spammy.
The art of contacting news outlets (e.g. newspapers and magazines) to feature your brand is not a new marketing strategy; however the digital world has allowed businesses to take this a step further and use it as a link building tactic.
Digital PR employs traditional public relations tactics, such as content creation, creative thinking and relationship building, but targets an online audience.
However, with large audiences to please, news publications are becoming more selective over what they publish, so having a solid digital PR strategy is crucial for making your pitch stand out from the crowd to achieve links from these high quality domains.
Successful PR pitches have a strong news angle instead of being adverts for a business – no news publication is going to feature a story that is solely promotional. Including original imagery and quotes will feature your brand naturally without seeming too advertorial.
If you’re trying to attract the top publications, create individual, personalised pitches instead of sending them to your entire mailing list, they will want to feel your story is tailored specifically to them. You can found out more about finding the best sites to contact here.
It’s also important to be strategic with the sites you contact for PR as the majority of news publications will ’nofollow’ links by default. This significantly reduces your search engine optimisation (SEO) benefit as it informs search engines that the link should not be ’counted’ by them. You can check whether a site offers ’dofollow’ links through right click -> view page source -> search for ’nofollow’ using CTRL + F.
Discount Supplements created a PR pitch which involved creating a tiny hamster gym out of vegetables. It was outsourced to high-interest publications such as Huffington Post and Bored Panda where it managed to obtain backlinks. Overall, Discount Supplements managed to achieve 429 links through their successful PR campaign, significantly improving their rankings.
Link building is an essential factor for SEO and it won’t be going away anytime soon. But with more brands competing for the top spots upscaling the quality of your links is essential. If you’re lost with creating a link building strategy our experienced team are on-hand to help you. Contact Receptional to find out more.