Search engine optimization is a true game-changer when it comes to bringing high-quality website traffic and increasing brand exposure and visibility on the internet.
We’re talking about so-called organic traffic that comes from non-paid search engine results. An effective SEO strategy will put your web page on the first page of Google results. If we bear in mind that the top result scoops 31.7% of all clicks, while only 0.78% of searchers click on a result from the second page, it’s obvious why high rankings are such a big deal.
All this brings us to link building as one of the key SEO strategies.
Google’s main idea is to help its users find the most relevant content for a particular query, meaning that it closely monitors how credible and trustworthy your website is. Having a lot of links from reputable sources pointing to your content is one of the most important signals that vouch for the reputation of your website. And that’s exactly what link building is about – earning and building high-quality backlinks.
But, where does content fit into this entire equation?
The Importance of Content for Link Building
We’ve established that improving your rankings and website relevance in search results should be your ultimate goal if you want your target audience to easily find your company on the internet.
Back in the early days of SEO, it was enough to get as many links pointing to your content as possible, regardless of their quality. In other words, even if some of these links came from websites, forums, and web portals of questionable quality and reputation, they still contributed to your overall SEO score and had an impact on your rankings.
At that time, link building was pretty simple and straightforward and you could pull it off even if your content was thin, unsubstantial, and lacking helpful and relevant information.
But Google’s algorithm has significantly evolved since then, and it’s now very sophisticated and capable of distinguishing relevant, useful content from drivel. This also means that not every backlink will suffice. As a matter of fact, backlinks coming from poor-quality websites can hurt your traffic and rankings.
Now we come to the crucial point: in order to earn and get high-quality backlinks from reputable websites, you need exceptional content.
Why would an influencer or a respectable online source refer to your content and send their readers to your website if your blog posts, videos, and other resources don’t provide any value?
Therefore, in order to even start thinking about your link building strategy, you first have to produce superb content that people will read, and that will help them learn something, find answers to their questions, and figure out how to solve a particular problem.
How to Create Great Content That Will Earn You Backlinks?
Creating superb content is easier said than done.
65% of content creators find it challenging to produce engaging content, which is why you should understand the basics of this process.
Here are a couple of steps that you should take in order to come up with content that will appeal to credible websites, Google, and your readers.
1. Research and Understand Your Target Audience
You can’t write a blog post or make a video without having an accurate idea of who is going to find it relevant.
Successful and relevant content isn’t simply something that you’re personally interested in and want to write about. It’s intended for two-way communication, meaning that its purpose is to engage your audience and provoke their feedback, comments, and reactions.
Hence, it’s safe to conclude that content creation requires involving your potential readers in the process.
The best way to do this is by providing answers to their burning questions and educating them. And you can’t do this unless you don’t know anything about their pain points, issues, needs, and wants.
Identifying and understanding the demographics of your target audience comes first. Who are your potential readers? What’s their age, location, job, education level, and gender?
Another important factor is psychographics, that is, your audience’s belief system, values, and interests.
Once you know all this, you should build your audience personas, that is, idealized representations of different segments of your audience.
2. Identify Your Content Topics
Determining your core topics that will make up your pillar content comes first.
To do this, think about the topics that relate to your product or service, and try to align your target audience’s pain points with the challenges your product or service solves. You can identify a pillar topic by analyzing a particular feature of your product or service that solves a particular pain point.
For example, SEO for accountants is one of our pillar topics, since we’re offering these services. Other pillar topics could be content marketing for accountants or content management for accountants.
Determine 5-10 pillar topics that you’ll later be able to expand into a number of blog posts, videos, and other pieces of content.
3. Conduct Keyword Research
Knowing the exact keywords your target audiences use in their search queries is essential as it will allow you to strategically place these phrases in your content. As a result, your blog posts, videos, or infographics will be shown in relevant search results.
Apart from identifying what your audience searches for on the internet, keyword research will also show you the search volume for a particular keyword, as well as its difficulty. You should aim for keywords that have a monthly search volume and keyword difficulty that corresponds to your domain authority.
In other words, don’t try to rank for competitive keywords after you’ve just started blogging isn’t a good idea.
4. Take a Cue From Your Competitors
You definitely share at least a portion of your target audience with your competitors, and it’s only logical to turn to them as a source of inspiration for content.
Check out their website and see what they’re writing about, what keywords they’re using, whether their readers are engaged, as well as how their content performs. You can use tools such as SEMRush, Ahrefs, or Buzzsumo.
That way you can focus on what works well, polish and adjust your content, and steal some of your competition’s thunder.
5. Post and Update Your Content Regularly and Consistently
Decide how often it’s viable for you to publish new content and stick to that plan.
Being consistent both in terms of quality and publishing frequency is a must. Otherwise, your audience will easily dissipate if your content doesn’t deliver or if it’s not published according to an established schedule.
Content creation is a challenging endeavor and it requires a lot of energy and resources, which is why it’s much better to publish a single high-quality blog post once a week or even once in two weeks, than churning out a number of valueless pieces.
It’s also a good idea to revisit your existing blog posts and update them with the latest stats and information.
What Are the Best and Most Effective Link Building Strategies?
If you apply all the tips we mentioned in the previous section, you should have a solid content foundation. But this fact in itself won’t generate any valuable backlinks.
You need a proactive approach in order to get the right people to notice your content and refer to it.
Here are some of the best ways to ask for backlinks.
The idea behind this strategy is to create useful assets such as informational blog posts, videos, infographics, how-to guides, or industry reports and reaching out to people from the industry who might find it interesting, educational, informative, and relevant and ask them for a backlink.
At first, only a couple of these influencers will respond to your request, but if you keep on creating helpful content, you’ll establish yourself as an authority in your own right, and all you’ll have to do is send your asset to a couple of key people who will then gladly share it with their audience and spread the word about you.
This process takes time and patience, but if you’re persistent and if your content is noteworthy, it will pay off in the end.
2. Guest Blogging
Reaching out to other websites and asking them whether they’re willing to publish your guest post can be a pretty effective link building tactic.
However, the same quality principles apply as for the content you publish on your website – your blog post has to be well-researched, relevant, and valuable. Many content marketers use this strategy to get backlinks, so the process became somewhat automated and it resulted in a lot of guest posts that are full of fluff.
Google noticed this and became very good at discovering guest post whose main purpose is link building. So, when you’re creating a guest post, focus on the quality of your content and its relevance, and not on the prospect of earning a link.
Also, don’t rely on websites that advertise they’re accepting guest posts – they receive tons of requests every day. Instead of that, create an awesome piece and pitch it to a relevant and respectable website from your industry.
Although they don’t explicitly mention that they accept guest posts, many of them do, but only if your content is well-written and has the potential to attract their target audience. Remember, you get a mention on a popular website, while they get great content for free.
3. Broken Link Building
This tactic is super effective and easy.
Here’s how it works:
- Find a broken link, that is, the one that no longer works, on a website
- Create content that revolves around the same topic
- Ask the blogger to replace the broken link with your content.
Since broken links are bad for SEO, websites will be sometimes willing to fix them by linking to high-quality content.
However, there’s also a shortcut that you can take. If you’re too busy to create new content, you can find your own, existing blog post about the same or similar topic, and submit it instead.
4. Unlinked Brand Mentions
The odds are that some websites, as well as regional online news portals or radio stations, mentioned your product or service without linking to your website.
This situation, or in this case link-building opportunity, is known as an unlinked brand mention, and you’d be surprised how frequently it occurs across the web.
With the help of a tool, such as SEMRush Brand Monitoring, you can unearth these mentions and reach out to the resources that referenced your brand without linking to your website.
It’s practically low-hanging fruit as you don’t have to do anything particularly complicated or time-consuming in order to score a couple of more backlinks. Check out this post on finding link-building opportunities as well.
5. Stealing Links From Inferior Resources
It doesn’t sound particularly fair, but you can greatly benefit from this tactic.
There are lots of mediocre blog posts and other types of content that still manage to get backlinks. If you’re wondering whether anybody would link to a 400-word blog post about, say, lead generation, the answer is – yes, because maybe they have no idea that a much better, detailed, and valuable one exists.
And once you come across such second-class content, you should jump at the opportunity to fix things and offer your comprehensive take on the topic.
But, the truth is that looking for such blog posts manually is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, which is why you should use a handy tool such as Ahrefs Content Explorer. Search for a particular topic and sift through the results with a number of links, and then analyze pages in Site Explorer. Check the Backlinks report and inferior backlinks that can be replaced by your content.
There are other strategies, but these 5 are the ones that you should definitely give a try.
High-quality content is at the core of link building, and the entire SEO strategy for that matter. It’s a starting point without which it’s virtually impossible to climb up Google’s ranking ladder and improve your visibility on the internet. For more information, check out our post on how to build links to your website.