A single highly-linkable article can attract tens – sometimes hundreds – of links from relevant and valuable sites. Make that article *sell* and you’ll drive a similar number of leads that come pre-qualified and ready to talk business. This article outlines how to merge the practice of linkbait (we call it linkable content) and the strategies of content marketing to maximize the value of your content creation and publishing efforts.
- Content must appeal to your market: the audience of potential buyers
- Content must attract links from relevant, influential sites
- Content topics must sell your company
Content must appeal to your market: the audience of potential buyers
This is the sphere in which linkbait, in its “purest” form, often misses the mark. Especially when folks target Digg and other mass market distribution networks for attention acquisition. Building links with content that isn’t relevant to your target market can lead to brand confusion and short, ineffectual visits. Though you may not always “get links quickly” through creating and distributing content that appeals to your target market, you ensure an experience that resonates with your company’s brand, values and capacity for meeting your market’s needs.
The core task of appealing to your market with content is to understand its needs. Thinking about market needs in terms of content, and not goods or services – can sometimes prove tricky. Here are some thoughts to get you started.
Your content must:
- Help meet an aspect of your market’s needs through information or guidance
- Remain relentlessly factual and helpful (think engagement if you’re a lifestyle brand)
- Target key stages of the buy cycle
Ask your customers what online (and offline) publications they read. Ask why. Then research these publications and see who’s advertising – if the advertisers are players in your space, this is an indicator that you’ve found a relevant site. Identify what kinds of content gets published there, and the questions this content answers. Could you tailor content to fit here?
Revisit your FAQs and emailed questions – what gets asked over and over? These concerns represent the needs of your market and could provide you inspiration.
Any questions that repeatedly come up in forums and Q/A sites can represent your market’s needs as well.
Content must attract relevant links from targeted sites
Addressing your market’s needs with informative content increases the likelihood that it will be linkworthy. However, just because a piece is informative doesn’t mean it will be highly-linkable. It’s important that your content appeals to the most important and influential linkers in your space. This means you need to determine who these individuals are, and identify what gets them linking. The good news is that if your content meets market needs, then you’re well on your way. The bad news is that your 10 tips article might be 90 tips short of earning you lots of links.
- Research your space and identify what content types and topics frequently attract links.
- Conduct SERPs Analysis Research to see which sites shows up frequently. These websites that frequently occur in the SERPs may lead you to an understanding of “highly-linkable” for your space.
Keep an eye out and a spreadsheet open to capture information such as:
- Which bloggers, media and other publishers appear the most often in your target SERPs?
- Which bloggers, media and other publishers link most frequently to your competition? Why?
- Are there key informational resource pages that appear frequently in the SERPs?
- Write down contact information for the sites that appear to be influential in the SERPs and the market.
Content must create leads or fulfill other business objectives
Creating linkable content that meets your market’s needs is a good start, but you must be sure to sell your company. Please don’t take this as encouragement to pitch your products and services, but rather to write on topics that illustrate your professional competence, domain of knowledge, authority of expertise along with the core values of your organization. If you’re writing to meet market needs, then you’re likely going to demonstrate your capacity to meet them. You may find that in the process of communicating the values that make your organization distinct you end up with content that’s more linkable and more likely to generate leads anyhow.
Brainstorm content topics that:
- Demonstrate or illustrate authority of knowledge space (thought leadership)
- Illustrate core values of service/product and company
- Demonstrate capacity to deliver results
- Demonstrate core competencies
- Remain relentlessly factual
- Describe the process of inventing or making your processes or services.
Next steps: publish content onsite; place content offsite
Publishing your linkable, branded content onsite, combined with link request outreach, generates links. We also recommend, as this article demonstrates, placing content offsite for the purposes of generating relevant traffic, qualified leads, link equity and the benefits of brand association. If you know of sites that engage your target market with content that answers their concerns, we highly recommend that your content appear there. Striking a balance between on and off-site publication is an ongoing balancing act, as demonstrated by colleagues such as Aaron Wall, Eric Ward and Debra Mastaler.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.