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When I first got into SEO over 20 years ago, link building was easy. You just added pages of links to partner websites, swapped links using anchor text that matched your targeted keywords and presto! You were at the top of Google. That tactic doesn’t work so well anymore. Attracting inbound links is harder than ever, especially for new websites. According to Worldometer, almost nine million blog posts are published every day. So, how do you stand out, get discovered and get rewarded with a link or social share amid all that noise?
In order to get more links and shares, your content has to be credible, consumable and compelling.
Make it credible
People share content because it’s credible, and they want some of that authority to transfer to themselves. Whether you’re a journalist, blogger or the average social media user, the content people link to or share is intended to amplify their authority in their writing or social group. Try these ideas to make your content stand out as a credible source:
1. Gather original data
Try conducting your own online surveys. Form a hypothesis, and develop five or ten questions to test it. Use a calculator to determine the sample size you need for statistical significance and pay for that many responses. Then, deploy it on Google Surveys, Pollfish or Survey Monkey, and let the data pour in. Depending on your budget, this may be cost-prohibitive, so consider using sourced data.
2. Aggregate credible sources
Utilizing other people’s data isn’t as effective for link acquisitions, because most writers prefer to link to an original source. However, you can increase your chances by including multiple authoritative sources to appear credible.
Increase shares further by appealing to people’s egos. Writers and influencers love it when people source their work. So, credit them by name in the body of your article and include a link.
Make it consumable
Producing linkable content is about more than just your text. You also have to present your data and ideas in an attractive and user-friendly package. Try out these suggestions:
1. Optimize for readability
In the world of online content, few things are more intimidating than a giant wall of text. Organize your content, and split up large sections of text with headings and images. Use short sentences, and keep your vocabulary accessible. The reader will then be able to skim your content to determine its relevance.
2. Include visually appealing, rich media
Visuals are often more understandable than mounds of text. Embed some engaging images, videos, charts and graphs to tell a better story. Use Google Charts to quickly develop interactive components and make them easy to embed. Include a watermark in case someone shares your visual without a link.
3. Be quotable
Neil Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” It was obviously a prepared statement, and yet, it was memorable. When you write your article, include quotables that authors are likely to share.
4. Tell a story
People think in stories, so frame your content in this way to make it more engaging. If that doesn’t work, then inject one or two anecdotes into your copy.
Make it compelling
Readability, graphics and data will make your content richer. Make them compelling to earn links and social shares. Try these techniques to increase pickup:
1. Pick a trending topic
Use a tool like Buzzsumo, Ubersuggest or Google Trends to find trending topics. Then, write your article about that topic from a unique angle.
2. Be contrarian
Make your content stand out with divergent ideas and form. Make a case for why the sky is red. Make a long-form guide when competitors are doing 1,000-word blog posts. Or if competitors are going long-form, then be concise.
3. Embrace controversy
Controversy stimulates emotional responses. Done well, you’ll get engagement from people who are both attacking and defending you and your ideas. You may lose part of your audience, but those who stay are likely to be very loyal and engaged.
4. Optimize for long-tail keyphrases
Many writers use search engines to discover articles to reference in their stories. It can be difficult to rank for competitive keywords. So, target super long-tail keyphrases with low competition that a writer is likely to type in to Google.
5. Create a rockstar title and meta description
Headlines sell newspapers, and the same can be said for digital stories. Yours needs to stand out against all of the other content on the page to drive a click. Include keywords in your title and description that people are likely to use. Then, make it clickbaity. Include superlatives like best or ultimate, make controversial statements or frame it as a question.
Put it on their radar
Don’t wait for people to share your content — give it a push. Try these tactics:
Tag or email authors of all sourced content and include their names in the body of your article.
Pitch your story to journalists and bloggers. Discover good targets by searching for similar stories on Google, and work your contacts.
When people share your content, reciprocate by engaging and sharing theirs.
Now that you have a foundation, start creating content that attracts links and shares. Pick a topic today and commit to a deadline. Then, build and work your list of contacts who might amplify it. Follow these tips for a huge lift in the number of links and shares you earn moving forward.