Link building is a must for any SEO campaign. Without a solid ongoing strategy to increase your domain authority through offsite links, you’ll be missing out on a significant ranking boost—significant enough that it could compromise your entire campaign.
However, building links in the traditional way—that is to say, manually hunting down quality sources and posting your backlink in each location—is both tedious and risky. Spending all that time building manual links is a waste of valuable resources that could be used for more important tasks. Plus, if one of your links appears to be unnaturally built or irrelevant to the conversation, you could be hit with a Google penalty.
The better, easier, more effective way to build links is to use content to get the job done. When you create a piece of exceptional content, it will be shared and posted on other sites with links pointing back to your domain; essentially, your audience is going to do all your link building for you, and that backlink composition will be both natural and diverse, giving you the most authority for your effort.
However, creating a piece of “exceptional” content is easier said than done. It takes time and talent to create a great piece of content worthy of thousands of social shares, but these seven qualities can get you started:
First and perhaps most importantly, your idea has to be original. People aren’t going to share your article if they’ve read different versions of it a hundred times before. Coming up with a unique idea can be difficult, so try taking a new angle on a previously explored subject. What new information can you contribute? What new ideas can you unfold? Original research goes a long way in making your content more shareable, so if you can, get your hands on some. It might take some extra time and money upfront, but the added benefit is that more external sources will link to you in an effort to cite your data.
Next, your content needs to be informative. It’s true that many modern memes become viral a simple image with some text pasted onto it, but achieving virality with these types of memes will not result in attracting new links. Instead, your content needs to be informative, or at least have an informative component. Again, it’s better if the information you’re providing is original, but if you’re offering new ideas or new strategies and using secondary data to back it up, the result will be similar.
Consolidating raw information and submitting it through social channels isn’t enough to attract significant attention. You’ll also need to have an entertaining component, which usually comes in the form of a light tone or a bit of humor. How entertaining your content can be depends on your brand standards, but including things that make people smile or laugh as they encounter your content is always a good idea. You can also use a more casual voice to appeal to a wider audience.
Random facts and statistics can be interesting and entertaining, fulfilling the three requirements above, but learning about the sun’s average surface temperature isn’t necessarily practical if you’re running a B2B sales agency. Practicality is a big factor in content that goes viral, since the individuals who share the content will get credit for sharing worthwhile information. Make sure your content is practical when you’re coming up with the concept for your piece, and frame your information in a way that makes it useful to your audience.
Written content is great, but when you want to attract significant external links, it just won’t get the job done. Your content needs a visual component if you want it to circulate virally. Many times, this means formatting your information in the form of an infographic, or consolidating your information into a video. If you don’t have the resources or experience to produce one of these mediums, at least include some strong images in the body of your written work.
Interactivity is a difficult quality to build into a traditional piece of content, but the more interactive your work is, the more likely it is to be shared and published on external sources. Simply asking your followers for their thoughts can add an interactive touch to an existing piece, as can inviting others to contribute to your data. The key is to make sure your followers feel like they are noticed and appreciated.
Trends come and go quickly, and striking when the iron is hot is critical if you’re out to capture the greatest number of links. For example, if you’re working on a piece that has to do with a current event, make sure it’s published within a day or two of the original article. If it’s focused on the impact of a new technology, wait until the technology starts to increase in popularity before you release your content so you can capture the greatest number of interested consumers. The timing of your content can mean the difference between limited syndication and thousands of new shares.
If you can create a piece of content with these seven qualities, you’ll be in a prime position to earn a host of new links. Syndicate your content through social channels to earn the greatest possible initial visibility, and let your followers take care of the rest. Once done, you can monitor the progress of your efforts by auditing your backlink profile with a tool like Open Site Explorer—from there, you can easily determine your overall effectiveness, and make strategic changes for your next viral content push.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.