The best websites have the best content.
The best content attracts links naturally.
[Quality Content] + [Quality Backlinks] = TRAFFIC.
But, unfortunately, 90%+ of all web content gets no organic traffic.
If you want rankings and traffic, you’ll need linkable, link-worthy content.
- Is content that is so good, people can’t help but share
- Is content that slakes the thirst of the content consumer (in other words, it satisfies search intent)
- Is evergreen and can rank forever
- Is iterative, gets refreshed and rarely stays static for long
Earning backlinks is really the best SEO strategy, hands down.
But you won’t start earning links until people want to link to your content.
With thousands of client campaigns, including dozens of Fortune 500 clients, here are a few pro tips we have found that work for creating content that is truly worthy of building links.
Table of Contents
If you’re too lazy to read this post, feel free to get the synopsis from this brief 6-minute video.
Cite (Trustworthy) Outside Sources
You may know a lot about your industry and have years of expertise fueling your claims, but that won’t mean much to a new reader who’s never met you.
To add real substance and authoritative power to your writing, cite outside authorities on the matter, and include references for any data you received from an external source.
It will make your content seem stronger, better researched, and more reliable than if you just wrote off the top of your head.
The more valuable the source, like a national publisher or a leading expert in the industry, the better.
Furthermore, citing outside sources and linking to them, increases the likelihood that those very sources will notice your reference and link back to you.
It’s a virtuous cycle.
And the potentiality of them linking back to you increases by over 300% if you reach out to them and let them know you cited them as a source.
You don’t get what you never ask for (pardon the poor grammar).
Become a Source with First-Person Research
First-person research is time-intensive and monotonous, but it’s one of the best ways to become a citable source online.
In other words, it’s one thing to cite and source and have them link to you, but it’s quite another to be the source that everyone is citing.
Performing industry-leading, PhD-level analysis on a topic related to your industry is a great way to get other thought-leaders to take notice and link to you.
Once you have completed your researched and published it on your site, chances are, other authority sources won’t link to it naturally, but you can change that with a little content promotion.
Publish With Personal Brands.
People trust other people far more than they trust corporations, yet we still see many businesses posting blogs with a corporate brand as the author.
This is a mistake; instead, establish a handful of personal, individual brand profiles and embellish them in your blog.
Include names, bylines, and brief bios so people know who’s writing all your content.
Readers can follow their favorite authors, hold more trust in the information being provided to them, and ultimately form a closer relationship with your business.
You can even invite other, outside personal brands in as guest writers, but be very cautious and picky in doing so, especially if you’re looking to establish your site as a brand and authority itself.
Offer Personal Experience
Outside sources are great, but if you can cite personal experience—specifically—it’s going to make your content even more trustworthy.
The key here is to recall specific instances; vaguely indicating that “I’ve seen this before” or “I’ve found that” isn’t going to cut it.
Tell a story about the events that led you to this conclusion, step by step if necessary, and explain it in a context that will make sense to your reader.
The more specific you can be with this, the better.
Data & Charts: Use Quantifiable Information When Possible
When it comes to logical information, quantifiable data is always better than qualitative data—at least when it comes to persuading someone.
For example, stating that most marketers are currently using content marketing as a primary strategy isn’t as powerful as stating that 62 percent of most marketers are using content and link building as a primary strategy.
If you don’t have this information immediately available, try to find some backing for it in an external source.
If that secondary research fails you, try to quantify it in a less precise way—for example, you could say 3 out of 5 marketers you’ve spoken to have stated that content is a primary strategy.
Numbers and data almost always make your content more trustworthy and link-worthy.
But don’t just say it, show it.
A nice pie chart or bar graph says more than a paragraph of text explaining the findings of an otherwise boring study.
I trust you agree that this pie chart does a better job of showing that 42% of traffic comes from organic than simply saying it.
Avoid Attention-Grabbing Gimmicks
It might be tempting to earn more visibility and traffic with a sensational or slightly misleading headline; doing so can earn you more clicks but be aware that those visitors will almost immediately distrust your brand as a result.
It’s better to write strong, compelling headlines that are accurate and straightforward about the content you have to offer.
They won’t earn you as many clicks or visits as a gimmicky strategy, but they’ll earn you a lot more trust.
When exploring a given topic, be as thorough as possible, even if it means compromising your position.
For example, if you’re arguing in favor of adopting a new technology in a given industry, don’t stop after the main points of your argument; include the main points of a counterargument, and possible objections your readers might raise.
Admit if you don’t have all the information, or if there are things you aren’t sure of. Nobody’s perfect, and nobody has all the answers—admitting that is only going to make you seem more trustworthy, so give your audience the full picture whenever you can.
Longer, more thorough and authoritative pieces rank, but there are diminishing returns as you get content >2,000 words:
We cover the topic of how long your content should be for SEO in a separate post.
Get Rid of the Ads
With ad blockers becoming more prevalent, people don’t respond well to advertising.
They don’t like being sold to, and if they feel like your content is primarily intended to make you more profitable, they aren’t going to continue reading.
Remember that ads take on many forms—those flashy banner ads are probably the first and most important thing to remove, but also avoid making any hard sales pitches in the body of your content. Ending an article with a phrase like, “be sure to buy one of our great products today!” instantly destroys any credibility you might have built until that point.
You can still encourage conversions but do so subtly if you want to preserve your reputation.
Put these elements into practice and your content will almost instantly become more trustworthy. As your readers continue to read more of your material, becoming more familiar with your brand in the process, that trust can only stand to grow.
Prioritize trust as one of your top objectives in your SEO marketing campaign, and you can’t go wrong.
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