We know that SEO is one of the most effective ways to drive high-quality traffic to our website. However, good quality backlinks continue to be the foundation of every successful SEO strategy. They help improve the rankings of your website as well as your content such as blog posts & infographics. One great backlink to your home page has the potential to boost the rankings of every page on your website.
So what is the simplest way to get backlinks?
Sure, you can slip into the shady corners of the internet looking for high-authority websites that will give you an easy backlink, or dive into the numerous black hat forums that let you buy hundreds of links for a pittance. However, as we’ve seen from the numerous horror stories of websites being penalized, you can’t game link building – you need to earn backlinks.
The simplest way to earn quality backlinks is to create link-worthy content. It may sound boring but trust me, it’s a lot easier and faster to earn backlinks this way than spam thousands of bloggers with your commenting or broken link outreach strategy.
Let’s go deeper and see how content earns links, and how you can engineer your content to do all the link building on its own.
1. Create Link-Worthy Content – Use Your Own Data
The first trick is to get your own data. Every blogger is obsessed with establishing authority and producing research-backed pieces of content. So if you write content with valuable data, then anyone who wants to talk about it, will have to link to it. If you refer to third-party data sources in your content, then people are likely to link to those websites, as they’re the original source of your information.
According to a report by BuzzSumo, people prefer to link to content that is backed by data or evidence, especially research content that gives new insights. As per the study, the content with the highest link:share ratio was the one that contained unique research.
It’s not surprising why. See what I just did? I wanted to give you a useful insight but couldn’t do it without linking to the original source of information, a study. The best way to ensure your content gets links is to produce something that can be used as a source elsewhere.
Generally, you’ll find that companies release a study that gets covered by many top journalists and ends up earning tons of backlinks from high-authority sites. Here’s an example,
The above article links to a study by Nielsen. If you check out the backlink profile of the study, using a tool like Ahrefs, you’ll realize that it’s not only covered by TechCrunch but by 500 other websites all over the internet. In fact, in the process, it has also gathered backlinks from some of the most authoritative sites in the world.
Original research tends to get shared a lot, which leads to more traffic, and in turn, drives more backlinks. So one of the secrets of producing link-worthy content is to write quality content that’s share-worthy. And this brings us to the next point.
2. Create Link-Worthy Content – Write a Stunning Headline
According to advertising legend David Ogilvy, “When you’ve written your headline, you’ve spent 80 cents of your dollar”. In other words, out of every 100 people who read your headline, only 20 will proceed further to read your article.
But how do you write a headline that grabs readers’ attention?
The answer lies in the marketing bible, Tested Advertising Methods. In it, John Caples provides the guideline to make your headline more interesting, which includes:
- How you say it is more important than what you say
- The headline is the most important aspect of every advertisement
- The most attractive headlines are the ones that give news or add to readers’ self-interest
- Long headlines that give some information are more effective than short ones that provide nothing
- Specific headlines are more believable than general ones
You can also use the headline analyzer tool by Coschedule, to automatically figure out what’s wrong with the headline. It will grade your headline on a scale of 0-100, and anything above 70 is outstanding.
The key is to write and rewrite your headlines, try out various words, phrases and even angles to draw out the desired emotions from your readers. Did you know that Upworthy drafts staggering 25 headlines for each article?
3. Create Link-Worthy Content – Ensure 3 Key Elements – It’s Unique, Interesting & Actionable
The world of content marketing follows the Pareto Principle. Only 20% of content get 80% of the links.
Why does it work this way? It’s because most of the content you’ll find online is just bad. If you search for resources on any topic that’s not trending, you’ll end up with a pile of unreadable junk from sites that were updated more than a decade ago.
Why do they get end up in your search results? It’s because they’re the best content available for that topic.
If you want to earn links, and are targeting a huge audience, then you must make your content unique, interesting & actionable.
If you want to make your article interesting, you need to use the right tone and subject matter. Voice your opinion, tell a story or deliver a fresh take on a popular topic (subject matter). Otherwise, you’ll sound boring.
If you want to make your article unique, give it a personal side or pepper it with original data. Share your experience as a part of the article. This will naturally make your content unique. Have you analyzed hundreds of customer support issues? What did you find? Did you try to conduct a customer survey? How did it work out?
To write actionable content, ensure that you tell the readers what to do with the information. If your readers can’t take away anything from your article, then it’s unlikely to be read, shared and linked to.
4. Create Link-Worthy Content – Keep it Authoritative and Well-sourced
If you want people to share & link to your article, you need to make it credible. And the easiest way to do this is to provide authoritative sources for your information.
Readers don’t know you, so why should they believe what you’re saying? So it’s important to gather existing knowledge about your topic and write it in an interesting way. This will show that you have spent some time actually researching the topic and your information is based on well-known authoritative sources, thereby making your own article more believable.
Besides, outbound links are a great way to improve SEO rankings so you’ll be missing out if you didn’t. Also, if you link out to other bloggers and websites regularly, they might be inclined to reciprocate the gesture. Make sure to notify the people & companies mentioned in your article about it, via Twitter or email. This will persuade them to not only share it with their audience but also, possibly, link back to you.
5. Create Link-Worthy Content – Use Original Visuals
Today visuals play an important role in persuading people to read your article. In fact, Xerox found that using visual illustrations can boost the number of people reading a post by 80%
However, when you use visuals (infographics, charts) in your article, ensure that they’re original, just like your data. Otherwise, people will end up linking to the original source (as mentioned in point #1). If you provide original visuals, other bloggers who want to talk about will have to link back to it, as it is unavailable elsewhere.
Here are some examples of visual information you can include:
- Quote Visuals
- Graphs & charts
- Presentation Slides
- Images & illustrations
Even if your article doesn’t get a backlink for its overall content, the visual elements on your page might individually generate backlinks. For example, let’s say you produce an article which has a couple of charts, an infographic and a quote visual. Some might link to the graphs in your article, others might link to the infographic and some might refer to the quote visual. So your one article just earned you at least 4 valuable links.
6. Create Link-Worthy Content – Make Sure Your Content is Evergreen
Although people love to read & share news, such content loses importance rather quickly. For example, no one will link to your today’s news article a couple of days from now.
So, it’s essential to also produce evergreen content that lives forever. Evergreen topics (like this post) tend to stay relevant to the target audience for a long time and attract links for a long time.
See for yourself:
You’ll notice that although a New York Times article gets more than 3,600 shares on an average, it’s able to get only 7 backlinks. For example, which of these stories will remain evergreen?
Unless you’re always blogging about Donald Trump, most of these articles won’t even be relevant a week from when they’re published. On the other hand, articles like the following…
They contain information that is relevant and useful for people over a long time and will keep earning backlinks whenever someone else writes about this topic, or mentions it in their content.
To summarize the above points, here’s a quick checklist to help you write content that drives backlinks:
- Use original data
- Make it interesting
- Ensure that it is useful
- Provide actionable takeaways for the reader
- Write about an evergreen topic
- Use original visuals
- Back your ideas with authoritative sources
- Write a headline with a 70+ score in CoSchedule’s headline analyzer
Although it may seem like a time-consuming process, remember that you have to follow these steps just once, for every piece of content you write, and it will keep generating valuable backlinks for years to come.
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