How to Create Content That Actually Drives Links
When it comes to content marketing, it’s no secret that a well-balanced mix of owned, paid and earned media is critical to success. To truly create a comprehensive plan, one that effectively captures customers, marketers must consider that the lines between each of these three types of media has blurred–one influencing the other and vice versa. And therefore, the solid approach will no longer cut it. Instead, you must choreograph the successful interplay of these three types of media.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, more than 80% of both B2B and B2C marketers said they create and then host content on their own assets–owned media. Additionally, 92% of B2C marketers and 80% of B2B marketers said they used at least one paid advertising method to promote and/or distribute content. Unlike owned and paid, earned media can’t be fully controlled from the comfort of a corporate armchair, making this the most difficult of the three-part mixed-marketing plan to influence and acquire.
But it’s impact cannot be ignored. Webbed Feed reported that 92% of consumers say they trust earned media, while only half trust paid ads. Earned media drives 4 times the brand lift of paid media and 51% of millennials are more likely to be influenced by earned media, according to BazaarVoice. And Conductor reported that lead generation driven by earned media out-performs lead generation driven by paid media by a delta of 10-15%. Earned media is a veritable unicorn–magical, powerful and beautiful.
This type of media is the most influential of the trio. In fact, it is this modern equivalent of classic word of mouth that will differentiate the content marketing standard from the stellar in the years to come.
Typically, earned media is sparked from supremely effective uses of paid and owned media. From there, people share, tweet, comment and, in the best cases, link to your content in their own posts. The challenge: You can’t force people (at least not in good conscience) to share or link to your content. What’s more, you can’t predict with 100% certainty whether or not your efforts will result in links. You can, however, be smarter about the content you produce.
With a bit of strategic research, some carefully penned content, and a few tweaks to both readability and format, you can increase the likelihood that you will earn links.
1. Don’t reinvent the wheel
There’s no shortage of content out there. Social media automation company Buffer admitted to losing 50 percent of their viewership due to what’s being called the Content Crush. Buffer’s content curators argue that this content crush–or excessive amount of available content–makes it even harder to create a splash in the Internet ocean.
To overcome this, it’s more imperative than ever for marketers to use the insights from content that’s already driving traffic as a springboard for their own original articles. Ensure that your content doesn’t become yet another article that doesn’t yield results by doing your homework. Take a look at what’s already catching reader attention through the use of one of the many online tools. Just pick a keyword, and start searching.
- Google Search: A simple Google search will show you the results Google (and therefore readers) deem most useful. Review these results, taking note of style and format. Then, think of ways you can improve upon it or put a fresh spin that you don’t already see represented in what you find.
- Buzzsumo: Buzzsumo is a content intelligence tool. While this tool may not prove useful to laypeople, to businesses seeking to capture attention with content, it provides invaluable information necessary for strategic planning. To use the content intelligence tool, simply enter any topic or domain, such as customer service techniques or forbes.com to return a list of high-performing articles. You can filter by date, language, content type and more. The list of results also includes the total number of shares broken down by social network.
- Ahrefs: Ahrefs.com monitors keywords, backlinks and brand mentions through the use of a proprietary web crawler. Take the content you’ve gathered from google search and Buzzsumo, and use Ahrefs backlink checker to see who’s linking to it. Keep that in mind when youÕre writing, because you can frame your content specifically for a particular website or audience.
Ahrefs also offers a Content Explorer, similar to the one offered by BuzzSumo, allowing you to identify the most shared content relevant to your business. Also explore here some high quality backlinks methods which can help you get more organic traffic.
2. Think about searchers queries
If you want other businesses to link to your article, you need to think like content marketers –their content marketers. What are they going to search when researching support for their own articles? To create reliable and professional articles, these writers will likely look for statistics and data to support their arguments. Increase the probability that they land on your article by pairing the keyword with the words they might include in an attempt to narrow their search results. Try words similar to:
- Best Practices
When you couple the above with your keyword, and you’ve significantly increased your link intent. You increase the likelihood that content developers will find and use your article to support the arguments they’re making in their own content.
3. Crown your content with a killer headline
According to Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the remainder of the text. You have literally a couple of seconds to snag a scanner’s attention. “The Father of Advertising”, David Ogilvy urged advertisers to remember the importance of the headline, famously saying, On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.
Do your headlines need some TLC? Making your headlines engaging isn’t quite as hard as you may think. While you’ll still need to flex some creative muscle to pen a headline that shines, following some basic rules can make your headline immediately more appealing:
- Include a number or other specific data (i.e. Quick Ways to Increase Conversions by 50%)
- Make it a list title (i.e. The 7 Secrets to Busting Belly Fat)
- Stick to odd numbers Ñoddly enough, according to the Content Marketing Institute, readers tend to believe them more
- Use a colon or hyphen in the headline
- Make the headline a question to get readers thinkingÑand clicking
- Include rationale or a reason why the reader should go deeper
- Write with a sense of urgency
4. Provide actionable raw data
Many searchers take to the web seeking a specific fact or figure. How about giving them what they want? People looking for a statistics absolutely hate slogging through an entire article to get it. Providing tables or charts can help readers easily access and digest information, endearing them to your simple and easy style.
5. Write with the web in mind
This may go without saying, but articles that drive links are typically engaging, scannable and easy to digest. Online readers aren’t really reading they’re scanning. Serve up content in bite-sized chunks, using bulleted lists and subheads to break it up. Content that’s easy to absorb is easy to share. And be sure to pay attention to readability. While flowery language reminiscent of a writer from the Romantic era may sound fancy and be pleasing to the ear, it’s going to turn-off your average reader. Twenty-one percent of adults read at a fifth grade level, so your lofty sounding prose, rich in jargon, will likely find a small audience.
6. Obtain powerful quotes
Including quotes from experts and/or industry influencers is one of the most effective ways to boost the credibility of your content. Again, it’s important that the quotes are relevant to the source content, are accurate and add value to the reader. This is also a great way to generate more links to your site: if you include a link to your expert’s site from your content, they may return the favor.
7. DonÕt forget the design
Impressing a modern Internet user is far more difficult than it was back when the whole idea was shiny and new. Today, web searchers donÕt just want information. They want information that’s dressed up and topped with a bow. A poorly designed website can hurt your credibility just as much as a website containing weak copy. By creating an attractive website to frame your content, you can capture the discriminating web searcher and make yourself–and your content–seem legitimate and worthy of attention.
Bonus: Make it worth their while
There’s a growing trend among content providers, offering a meaningful incentives or bonus content to readers who finish an entire article. This typically requires the reader to enter their email address or share the content on their social media networks before gaining access. People like positive reinforcement, so getting something for actually attending to an entire article–a feat in these frenetic times–can provide the little extra motivation that readers need to both finish and share your articles.
What other tips and strategies do you use for creating high-performing content?