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The Content Link-Building E-Book

The Ultimate Guide To Creating Link-Worthy Content For Your Website

Summary:

Often times as a small or mid-sized business, the most important aspect to your website’s SEO success is gaining backlinks. The sad part is, not many people know this! They just think SEO is all about keywords when in fact, backlinks matter to Google more than ever. This e-book is designed to help drive backlinks through content marketing and other initiatives. You’ll learn how to come up with awesome content ideas, write them, and find the right websites to get links from. By the end of this, you’ll be considered a backlink superhero!

Table of Contents:

Content Ideation

  • Topic Research
  • Find Keywords for Your Topic
  • Idea Refinement

Content Creation

  • Content Formats
  • 10x Content Elements
  • Link Assets
  • Collaboration

Content Promotion

  • Link Building Prospecting
  • The Outreach Process
  • Email Outreach Tips
  • Outreach Approach

Part 1: Content Ideation

How to Find Proven Ideas That Work

To start your content process, you should base your content and topic choices around what has already worked. In order to do that, we’ll need to do our due diligence in finding existing content pieces that have had success, and ultimately, emulate it.

Here’s what you’ll need to research when finding ideas for content ideation:

  • Topic Research
  • Search Volume
  • Engagement

The Content Process:

Ideation

Persona

Keywords

Idea Expansion

Content Formatting

10x Elements

Linking Assets

Collab

Outreach

1. Topic Research

Whether you’re publishing a piece that is completely unlike any other, or you’re emulating another content piece to be better.

Use Persona Research to Start Your Topic Search

A great starting point is to use any formal or informal research around user personas. These are fictional representations of your ideal customer. Personas are generally based on research and incorporate the motives, values, and behaviors of your potential buyer.

The topics you choose for your link building pieces should be based around what you know about your defined user personas. Whether you have formal data of personas, or you have informal personas that based on what you know about your target audiences, you’ll want to use what you have to target personas through content topics that they would find important.

Use Google & Social Networks for Further Research

After doing a deep dive into what topics your user personas find interesting, it’s time to start searching for some content ideas. You can find ideas from a number of different sources:

Google Searches:

Google searches can help explore an ideas you may have to see what content already exists online. These Google searches aren’t just regular searches you would use Google for, rather, we will use Advanced Google Search Operators to help better find content ideas. For more relevant searches, try filtering over the past year, past month or even past week in Google searches for more relevant searches.

Forums: The use of forums can be a great way to further research a topic you’re interested in publishing. It’s one of the purest ways to your target audience’s thoughts on a topic. Here are a few ideas on how to use Advanced Google Search Operators with forums:

  • site:forumxyz.com “topic” – pages on a forum that relate to a topic
  • site:reddit.com “topic” – pages on Reddit that relate to a topic
  • site:quora.com “topic” – pages on Quora that relate to a topic

Competitors: Another source to consider are competitors. Using broad topics for Advanced Google Search Operators, you can see exactly the content (and topics) they are posting.

  • site:competitor.com “topic”

Searches by Topic: With Google Search Operators  don’t necessarily need target topics to search certain websites. There are different ways to find the content you’re looking for without a site: search:

  • intitle:”topic” – topic shown in a title tag
  • intext:”topic” – topic shown in the text of an article
  • inurl:”topic” – topic shown in a URL of an article

Social Media Searches:

Social media can be another way to find content ideas. Chances are, you’ll find some content pieces you may not otherwise see on Google searches. Here are some social networks to use:

  • Twitter – hashtags or Twitter searches
  • Pinterest – searches for any related images
  • YouTube – searches for any related videos

2. Confirm Topics with The Right Keywords

Once you found an idea, you should confirm that the topic has keywords you can use. While your main idea behind topic research is to get backlinks, you should also be sure to account for topics that have keywords that make sense for your business. By doing keyword research, you ensure that you’re able to drive organic search traffic to the piece of content you’re looking to create. Here’s what to look for:

Keyword Search Volume:

  • A topic ideally should have a keyword with some amount of search volume. If people aren’t searching for that topic in search engines, what’s the point of even publishing it.

Low-Competition Keywords:

  • It must also realistically rank against the competition. Check the competition of the keywords you want to target. In addition to that, take another look at the top ranking websites.

Relevant Keywords:

  • You should try to target keywords that are relevant to your business. This may seem obvious, but in most cases, you’ll want to write a content piece that you’re an expert on, or at the very least, a topic related to the services or products you offer.

3. Idea Refinement & User Engagement

After the proper keywords have been identified for your topic, it’s time to expand on your idea. So far, you just have a topic – but in order for it to be a great piece of content, we should start thinking about what exactly should be in the content piece. 

Find Comparable Pieces of Content Already Published

To better understand what to include in our content piece, it’s helpful to see what else is published online by other companies or publications.

Type in your keyword into  Google and click on the top few search results that appear. These results are shown first for a reason – because Google estimates that these are the best results to show in relation to the keyword that was searched.

When you take a look at each of the first few search results, be sure to note the following:

  • Total Word Count – is the content short or long? Often times, how broad a topic is will dictate the length of the piece.
  • Content Formatting – are there paragraphs, short subheaders, bulleted or numbered lists? 
  • Use of Videos or Images – do these exist? If so, how do they add value to the content?
  • Quality of Content – is the content quality? Is it well-written? 

Checking the Quality of Content

Social Media:

• Checking social engagement of similar content pieces is helpful in determining the quality of content piece is in the eyes of the target audience. Be sure to check what people are saying in the comments – likes and retweets are great, but you’ll really get a sense of engagement with what people are saying.

Backlinks:

• Just like social engagement, it’s important to see if a similar piece of content has been linked to by other websites. The number of backlinks and referring domains for the content piece received, through tools like Moz, or Ahrefs.

Part 2: Content Creation

Now that we have our idea and a what we will need to have in order to be competitive in Google search result, it’s time to create a plan for our content piece. This plan will help you create a content piece that will be remarkable, and more importantly, linkable.

The Content Process:

Creation

Persona

Keywords

Idea Expansion

Content Formatting

10x Elements

Linking Assets

Collab

Outreach

Step 1: Content Formats: What Are Users Looking For?

Formatting is important to make your content digestible and engaging. Web users these days have very short attention spans, so formatting the content in a way that is readable and engaging to the average web user will be important to the end goal of getting backlinks.

  • Q&A’s – a great way to elicit valuable content through interviews.
  • Listicles – content presented in the form of a list. Usually these are evident from the title of the piece.
  • Interactive Content (Quizzes, etc.) – these are content pieces that require participants’ active engagement.
  • Step-by-Step Guides – these serve as informative content pieces, that serve to educate users on a topic.

Step 2. 10x Content Elements

What Is 10x Content?

10x content is defined as content that is “10 times better than the best result that can currently be found in the search results for a given keyword phrase or topic”. Creating 10x content helps make a content piece more linkable.

 

Qualities of 10x Content:

  • Provides a uniquely positive user experience through the user interface, visuals, layout, fonts, patterns, etc.
  • Delivers content that is of high-quality, trustworthy, useful, and interesting Is considerably different in scope and detail from other work on similar topics
  • Loads quickly and is usable on any device or browser
  • Has achieved an impressive quantity of content amplification/promotion
  • Solves a problem or answers a question by providing comprehensive, accurate, exceptional information or resources

 

Elements that make Content more “Linkable”:

In addition to the idea of 10x content, there are other elements of content pieces that can enhance how users interact with content, both aesthetically and cognitively. These elements will ultimately be the reason your users will share and link to a content piece:

  • Emotional Content: Content that creates or elicits an emotional response of awe, surprise, joy, anticipation, and/or admiration.
  • Highly visual: The use of visuals can help enhance the users tend to engage with visual posts; infographics, maps, inspirational visuals tend to do very well in terms of engagement.
  • How-To Content: Content that answers a question users may have. The question has to be popular, and the answer has to be quality, actionable and in-depth.
  • Data-Driven Content: New studies can support an argument or confirm the thoughts of users. This would require some research. 
  • Trends/Pop Culture: Newsjacking current events or pop culture references to tie back into what your business sells can be a great way to engage with your audience.

Step 3: Link Assets

Link assets focuses on how prospects to link to our piece of content? More specifically, where on the prospect’s site will they put a backlink? A great way to get a link on another website is to target content that would be linked to from either “press”/”news” page, or on a blog. In addition to the good old fashioned HTML link, embedded links are a sneaky good way to get backlinks.

  • HTML links: these links are usually featured on a blog, press, or news page of another website.
  • Videos: include an embed link on your video so that others can take that code an implement it on their website.
  • Contest and Award icons: when reaching out, include the image and code in an email so that the webmaster or linker can easily embed on their site.
  • Infographics: add an embed code at the bottom of the infographic, or in an email with an infographic as an attachment.

Step 4: Collaboration

A great way to get backlinks on a content piece is to get companies or organizations involved in the content itself. By featuring other people’s opinions, advice and experiences, you ‘ll greatly increase the likelihood of them linking back to your content piece.

Collaboration Types

There are many different types of collaborations to consider when creating content that features guests. Here are some of the different collaboration types to consider:

  • Round-Ups: Feature experts’ opinions or input on a subject.
  • Features: Similar to round-ups, but for one website or business.
  • Guest Posts: Writing content to post on another website. Often times, guest blog opportunities can happen when you are seen as the “expert” of a subject related to the website or publication.  Tip: to find guest posting opportunities, use Google search operators with “guest post”: examples: title: “guest post”, or allintext: “guest post”.
  • Influencer Marketing: Partnering up with an influencer to promote your content.
  • There are two ways to target influencers: Mention influencers in content, then reach out to notify that they’ve been included. Partner up with influencers beforehand by pitching them a campaign.
  • Customer Contests & Awards: Awarding customers or clients for their great work through badges they can paste to their website.

Before creating your content, you’ll want to make sure that the collaborators you reach out to are the ones that will bring you the most SEO value. For more on the outreach process, jump down to the “promotion” section.

A Final Look at the Content Creation Process, Step by Step:

Part 3: Content Promotion

Content Promotion

Now, we have our content planned out. Our next step builds off of the last step, which was finding collaboration opportunities. Once you have a plan to reach out to a group of collaborators, you’ll need to find the best ones to reach out to and get them to contribute to your content piece.

In addition to finding collaborators, we should also find other websites and publications that would be interested in linking and promoting our content piece. 

The Content Process:

Promotion

Persona

Keywords

Idea Expansion

Content Formatting

10x Elements

Linking Assets

Collab

Outreach

Link Building Prospecting:

A good starting point in the outreach process is the “collaboration” from content creation. Our content idea will be achieved with the help of contributors. 

What to Look For While Prospecting:

When looking for participants and promoters, we can’t just choose anyone. That’s where prospecting comes in. When you put in the time to prospect, you can get great results.

The prospecting process starts with a list made of potential websites to reach out to. The list should be pretty expansive, so you’ll have a lot of options to choose. Once you’re satisfied with the list, you’ll want to narrow down your list with certain criteria that fits best for link building.

Here are the criteria to keep in mind as you narrow your prospecting list:

 

Domain Authority: Should be relative to what your website domain authority is – so if it’s low, you can go after lower domain authority websites because it may be more realistic to be able to get a backlink. Take the score directly from the Moz Google Chrome plug-in.

Linkability: Have they linked to similar content pieces in the past? If so, how long ago? Most common places sites will link will either be the blog or some type of “press” or “news”, but it all depends on the type of content. Content Frequency: How often do they publish content? At the very least, it should be once every two weeks. Social Media

Presence: How are active are they on social media? Do they have a good following? Are followers actually engaging in the content they are posting on social media? Spam Score: Use tools like the Moz toolbar to get an initial score, but evaluate and probe sites to see if they are considered spammy under Google’s guidelines.

Estimated Traffic: Check how their website currently ranks. Does it get a lot of traffic? Are pages well optimized? Utilize tools like SEMrush, Spy-Fu or others to see how much estimated traffic they get from organic search.

Social Media Following: With many bloggers and influencers putting an emphasis on growing their social following, bloggers and influencers will use their number of followers as leverage to be paid to contribute (remember, if you pay someone to link, you have to use “nofollow”, which discredits link juice). Try to find bloggers and influencers that have a high domain authority, but not as many  social followers – that will be the sweet spot of getting links from quality websites, without having to pay.

Outreach Process

Now that you’ve gathered a list of prospects you want, it’s time reach out to those prospects! This is where outreach comes in. Outreach is when create an email or message and solicit bloggers, publishers, or webmasters to link to your content. Whether your outreach efforts are through email or on a social media platform like Twitter or LinkedIn, outreach is an important step in getting quality backlinks from our content that we will create. Listed below are a few tips to keep in mind during the outreach process:

1. Reach Out Prior to Creating Content

Up until this point, we’ve talked a lot about content, but if you’re looking to feature others in your content, you’ll want to reach out prior to creating a rough draft of the piece. You’re basically pitching others on your idea, not that finished content piece.

2. Create Email Templates to Use For Your Outreach

When you reach out to prospects, you’ll need a few email templates to base your emails on. (refer to the flow chart above):

  • intro (email 1) – the first email to a prospect. Summarize your offer.
  • follow-up (email 1a) – for those who don’t respond, send a follow-up email.
  • guidelines (email 2) – send guidelines/content info in more detail.
  • final content (email 3) – send the participants/prospects the final content piece.
  • thanks anyways – if the prospect is not interested, thank them for their time.

Creating templates can help you say what you want to say, how you want to say it, at each point in the outreach process. The message and tone should ultimately remain the same, however, the next point is important too…

The Roundup Email Outreach Formatting Tips

Email 1: Intro Email

Short, Direct Headline: Try to be short, sweet and to the point. For example, if you are looking for someone to participate in a new round-up idea, something like “Feature Opportunity on businesswebsite.com”.

Personalize Body Copy: Again, keep it short and direct. Personalizing is always encouraged, so if you want to add a sentence that shows you’ve researched their company, by all means. However, the overall tone should be short and sweet, and the ask should be direct, and clear. End By Referencing

Follow-up Email: With the intro email, end with something like “if you’re interested in hearing more, I can send you more details on this opportunity”.

Email 2: Guidelines Email

Assuming the prospect agrees to participate in the content, or promote the content, we’ll move on to the “guidelines” email. This is the email where you will expand on your offer and give some more guidance.

  • Timeline: how long will it take to produce content?
  • Project details: if you’re trying to get participants/contributors, add guidelines
  • Word count for contribution (min/max # of words)
  • Include any other guidelines of things to include or not include in the participant’s response.

Email 3: Final Content Email

The “final content” email serves to notify the interested prospects that the content has been published. The tricky part is asking for a link. Asking for a Backlink: To not break Google’s guidelines, you should not use the word “link” in your ask. Instead, use another word or phrase that alludes to this: “we hope you share this on your website and social audience”.

Keep in mind, some contacts may be hip to SEO, and will not give a link if you ask point-blank. There’s a notion around linking out to another site that’s it’s in bad SEO. Despite whether or not that’s actually true, you’ll need to temper your email to make sure it doesn’t seem like that is your only motive. Thank them for their time: It’s important to do this, especially if they take the time to participate in a round-up or send you content.

Also, mention that you will keep them in mind for future opportunities. Monitoring & Following Up: Obviously our ultimate goal is to get backlinks. Be sure to check if the prospect linked on their site. If they haven’t linked, wait 7-10 days to send them a follow-up email. In that email, definitely encourage them to promote but you don’t want to be too pushy in your tone. Consider sending something like “we would certainly appreciate if you were to share this content piece on your website or social channels”.

Outreach Approach

Here are some things to keep in mind before & during your outreach process:

  • Send a Few Emails, and Tweak if Needed: Start by sending a few to get some feedback, that way you can tweak your intro email or guidelines email on the fly.
  • Expect Some Back and Forth When Emailing: You should expect some back and forth – sometimes prospects will have some questions. You’ll want to anticipate those ahead of time, and know how to respond.
  • For No Response, Send a Timely Follow Up: Prospects are sometimes busy, and will miss emails – particularly if it’s a small business. If the prospect doesn’t answer, you’ll want to follow up. In terms of timing, you’ll want to allow a for 7-10 days to follow up from your initial email sent.
  • Keep Track of Your Prospects: Use an excel sheet to keep track of responses and dates emails were sent. See below as an example:

Other Promotion Tactics

Find Other Publications & Businesses

In addition to “collaborators”, there are other websites and publications that could be interested in promoting and linking to our content. 

Promote to Your Followers

Use your current brand following (no matter how big or small) to promote your content. These are the people who are most likely to share your content:

  • Social Media: Promoting your content to your social media followers will help your content piece gain exposure online.
  • Email: Hopefully, your email is segmented by persona.

Prospect Tracking Sheet Example

Use a sheet like this to track prospecting and outreach efforts. This sheet would not track qualifications of potential outreach partners like domain authority, but it will also track when you reach out to these people. You can make your own sheet similar to mine!

Final Takeaways

As you go through this process, keep these things in mind:

Know Your Audience

When creating content, knowing your audience is powerful. Knowing what entertains them, annoys them, or motivates them will help you create content that will make a lasting impression.

Embrace Creativity and Innovation

Creativity will help make your content piece more linkable! Whether it’s the topic, or how the content piece is laid out, it should be like no other piece of content.

Test Your Idea & Pivot if Needed

See if your link audience is even interested in participating

It Takes Time

This process takes time and effort! Between thinking of an idea that resonates with your audience, to reaching out link building prospects, you’ll need to set aside some time in order for this to be successful.

About The Author

Nate helps agencies and enterprise businesses improve their organic search visibility and performance. In addition to link building strategy and on-going link building services, I also offer keyword research and implementation strategy services and technical SEO support. Find out more about me and how I can help you with SEO.

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