How to Create Content that Attracts Backlinks
You’ve heard it said a dozen times, backlinks are powerful stuff. They boost your search engine rankings and all that jazz.
In the world of SEO, this is the department of ‘linkbait’. However, hold your horses a minute if you think we’re about to indoctrinate you in how to simply get masses of links, linkbait-style. We’re not. You need the right kind of links, and we’ll come on to this.
So what we’re going to cover is:
· What is linkbait (and also what is it not).
· What makes a piece of linkbait successful?
What is linkbait?
Linkbait, traditionally speaking, is content which is created with the sole purpose of attracting links.
Immediately this puts us in some tricky water. It starts us thinking about the negative side of the SEO world. We start thinking about how content creators trick the unsuspecting SEO bots in to thinking something is better than it really is.
However, we’re going to dispel this myth straight up. Whatever you’ve heard of ‘linkbait’, you’re probably tarring it with the wrong brush. It is not the same as its naughty little brother, clickbait, which simply wants you to notice it.
Linkbait is the more mature, more important, high quality content which others just desperately want to link to because it’s so awesome. It offers value, uniqueness and sheer epic wonder.
However, it does have a brilliant side effect. As other sites link to this piece of incredible content, your site is gaining tonnes of fabulous ‘backlinks’. These backlinks add in to the SEO secret formula and bam, your rankings go up.
Types of linkbait
Any old blog post (like this one) is unlikely to cut the mustard in terms of ultimately becoming linkbait. You normally need to do something more WOW. This might be:
· An eBook or comprehensive guide.
· An infographic.
· Video content of high quality and value.
· Interactive content such as quizzes, tests, and the like.
Linkbait isn’t ever about just itself
Linkbait therefore, takes a great deal more time and effort to create than your standard web content. It takes lots of resources and a really hefty amount of hours.
However, when you realise that the power of linkbait goes beyond its own ‘page’ you’ll realise it is worth the investment. A piece of linkbait, if it’s successful, will result in tens, then thousands, of links back to it.
These don’t simply improve the rankings of that one page. Oh no, they improve the rankings of the whole site. And that means that one piece of linkbait (which was the love project of hours and hours of painstaking labour), gives you something incredible in return in terms of SEO.
All of a sudden the whole site ends up ranking highly on a myriad of different keywords across a raft of different pages.
How does linkbait work?
Before you rush out and order an infographic or get your video editors working hard, what makes one piece of content become linkbait, and another languishing with the dust bunnies?
For this, we need to understand the psychology behind why people share stuff. There isn’t one set reason, but people tend to share content because:
· It makes them look good (at a brutal level, those quizzes on Facebook which say you are loved by 5000 and hated by 1).
· It makes them feel good (it links in to an emotional call).
· It backs them up (those pieces of content which argue their own point well).
· It makes them look hip and happening (those pieces of content which show you ‘get’ the current news item, or the TV show which everyone is talking about).
· It’s useful (we like this one!)
· It’s been shared by others (yes, really, people are generally sheep).
In terms of looks, therefore, linkbait will always have some things in common. Tonnes of images (custom ones at that), and something different, are just two things you’ll find.
How to create linkbait?
So you want a piece of the action and want to know how to create linkbait then? Well, if there was a set formula, Google would be on to it and bam, it would end. Google don’t take kindly to even a hint of tricking the users. Fair enough. Neither do we. However, this does mean that at the end of the day, there are pointers you can take on board but some it is just down to sheer luck.
That said, don’t give up. Get your ducks in order, follow the steps below, keep making adjustments, push the content, and hopefully your efforts will be rewarded.
Steps to creating linkbait
1. Work out what your unique offering is
Value. Your number one goal is to add value. Therefore, know exactly what your value offering is from the outset, and keep this in mind throughout the piece of content and how you share it.
When we talk about value usually, we talk about things such as length and depth. However, for linkbait, you need to go way beyond this. What you really need to pin down is the value you offer your target audience.
This may mean doing something we often tell you: take what your competitor does and do it WAY better. It may be taking a completely different angle. It may be using a medium they haven’t used.
2. Get the emotions going
Ever read something and laughed so much the person beside you wanted in on it? Whether laughter or another emotion, it’s that power of emotion that you want to elicit. So whether it’s “aw that’s SO cute” or “wow, that’s incredible”, you need to invoke something.
However, the reality is that this does predominantly, work best with humour. We’re social beings after all. That’s why, even when a topic is serious, if it’s peppered with subtle humour, it fares well.
Clever little tactic, eh?
Let’s be realistic though. That’s not always a) appropriate or b) possible. Other emotions you can try to invoke are wonder, amazement, surprise, compassion, anger or sheer pleasure.
3. Appeal to the senses
It’d be great if you could tickle taste buds through cyberspace, but we’re not quite there yet. However, we all do a million times better when something is appealing to our senses. That’s why video content works so well.
Nonetheless, you can use visual awesomeness in other ways too. It may be some brilliant custom graphics. It may be some gif wizardry. It could be dazzling graphs. It could be a fabulous infographic. Just make the content stand out visually.
Herein lies a little secret. If you know you’ve got an awesome piece of blog content but you know it could do better, pop in some great imagery and see what happens. One day we’ll do it here, ya know, when we have time between the writing orders and all that.
4. Appeal to the headlines
The internet is all about NOW. Not five seconds ago. To be appealing as linkbait, you need to be slap bang up to date. This means that you actually have to include something which is newsworthy.
Now, we all have different interpretations of what this might mean. But there is a little trick here that you can use. This is a nifty little beast called ‘newsjacking’.
Newsjacking is where you use whatever is currently trending in the news, and bend it to fit your story. So, whatever is already trendy, you can jump on that bandwagon.
This works really well with a bit of politics (all those Brexit and Trump memes anyone?!) or TV shows. Get dextrous with your thinking and work out how it can link to your message.
Learn from the pros
You are probably aware of which of your competitors you envy. You might not admit it, but you know it. Go and find their pieces of successful linkbait. Don’t get too green in the process, but discover what they do, how they do it, and why it’s working.
Now think about how you can jump on board. If you find a piece which is, frankly, outstanding, stay green, move on. You want to find the pieces which are pretty cool but could do better. This is your gap, your place to shine.
So find a great piece of their content and then go and add some zing, elevating it to linkbait level.
How to do this?
· Add images and other visual content
· Make it more up to date
· Increase its length and depth
· Take a different angle
· Make it emotive
If you’re struggling to find something awesome, look for infographics. They will point you in the right direction.
Don’t stop at linkbait creation
The reality is that having put in all this time and effort to create great linkbait, you now need to invest even more time and effort in to promoting the hell outta it. Unfortunately, it’s not just a case of dropping it on to your website, crossing your fingers and letting them come.
You’ve got to get the crowds coming in because that’s how you get them to share and share away. So what can you do?
· Share it with your usual audience: Twitter, Facebook, newsletters, whatever you usually do, do it now.
· Pay to share it: Now we’re talking things like Facebook ads, Pay Per Click, sponsored posts, getting an influencer to tweet it, or any other method that takes your particular fancy.
· Outreach: Harder, effort draining, but often worth it is reaching out to those who may not currently be familiar with your stuff but you reckon they’ll like it. Just make sure they have the power to share your stuff else it’s all a bit futile really.
Time to get cracking
Creating linkbait takes serious wodges of time and effort. There’s no quick fix. However, for SEO it’s really pretty great stuff. So get cracking, or get someone like us on the task.
Chrissie Brown is owner of The Content Ninja, a busy bee, but just can’t stop writing. If you’re bootstrapping a business then content creation is going to get you going and build traction.