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Writing awesome content and publishing it on the web can be a great way to increase your search engine rankings. In fact, at present, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most effective forms of content marketing. A properly executed SEO campaign can transform a brochure-style small business website into a lead generation machine capable of generating hundreds of qualified leads per month.
Imagine how your business (and your life) would change if your website went from kicking out 10 or so leads per month from Google to more than 50.
This happened to one of our clients, a small custom shower door company in Maryland. Before investing in SEO, there were getting just 8-10 web leads per month. Five months into an SEO campaign and they consistently began receiving as many as 65 web leads from organic search. Pretty unbelievable and results of this magnitude aren’t uncommon.
The Relationship Between Content & SEO
While web marketing gurus clearly understand the relationship between content and SEO, a recent trip to Comfortech, a tradeshow for the HVAC industry, confirms that the same is not true for everyday business owners. So, let me take a minute to explain how these two are related. Google doesn’t rank websites; Google ranks website PAGES.
Generally speaking, Google ranks pages based on relevance—how closely does the content on the page match the search query and search intent—and authority. The authority of a web page is thought to be related to the number of times a page is referenced, cited, and/or linked to by other relevant and authoritative websites. The more citations, references, and links to a particular page on your website, the higher that page’s authority score and, assuming the page is highly-relevant to the searched query, the higher the page will rank in the organic results.
So, every page of content you create—whether it’s a service-specific page, a blog post, news article, or a response to a question frequently asked by your prospects—represents an opportunity to rank for a specific set of closely related keywords.
Getting More Links to Your Content
While it’s pretty easy to understand how you can use content marketing to increase your site’s relevance, figuring out how to get more people to cite, reference, and link to your content is a mystery to many business owners. In this blog post, I’m going to provide you with a few practical tips for how you can get more inbound links to your website from your content marketing efforts.
Getting More Links to Your Content Tip #1: Write Good Sh*t
A lot of small business owners hear that they are supposed to be blogging and they immediately start to look for the cheapest option. Like virtually everything else on the planet, when it comes to content marketing, you get what you pay for. There is no SEO strategy for getting long-term citations, references, and links if your content is the equivalent of digital dog sh*t. Don’t bother investing in content marketing if you’re not prepared to do it right.
At a minimum, “doing it right” means:
- Spending time (and, if necessary, money) to really understand your target audience
- Thinking critically about the topics you intend to cover (what unique perspective can you offer?)
- Realistically assessing your writing / editing / optimizing abilities (and hiring a professional if you don’t have the time or the pre-requisite skills)
Every content marketing coach and their mother is telling their clients to blog. As a result, the web is being flooded with content. Much of it ends up being done as a means to an end. From a topical perspective, it’s often empty (devoid of anything new, unique, or remarkable), and frequently, it’s also poorly written—a deadly combination.
If you want citations, references, and links from people that matter, you’ve got to bring your “A” game.
Getting More Links to Your Content Tip #2: Make It Citation Worthy
Take a weekend and wander the web. Visit business news and information websites like Inc., OpenForum.com, Fortune, Marketingland.com, Entrepreneur, etc. and pay close attention to the types of content frequently cited, referenced, and linked to from the articles on each site.
If you do this, you should notice some trends. What you’ll find is that certain types of content are more citation worthy than others. For example, you won’t find many links to blogs or articles that are nothing more than thinly veiled sales pitches. And you’ll find A LOT of links to primary research—especially when the topics are niche.
While it’s easy to find statistics about broad and very popular topics like the market share Bing has v. Google and Yahoo, it’s much more difficult to find reference worthy statistics about the preferences Maryland homeowner’s have when it comes to replacement windows that are Passive House Institute certified (this is a major HINT for anyone that owns a replacement window company in Maryland!).
If you want to generate more links to your website from the content you create, make sure that you include in your content marketing strategy a fair amount of primary research and non-sales oriented information. Invest the time and money required to conduct primary research—especially if you’re operating in a niche industry or geographic area.
Techcrunch probably gets 50 cool infographics a day with an accompanying pitch. How many do you think The Gaithersburg Gazette receives?
Getting More Links to Your Content Tip #3: Embed Links & URLs
Perhaps the biggest and most painful content marketing mistake made by business owners, when it comes to link building, is failing to embed or include links in the content assets they create. Every single piece of content you create—whether it’s a web page, blog post, image, video, etc.—should include multiple links and back to your website and references to your company.
On the web, everyone
steals borrows content. No matter what you do or how many times you place icons like, “This Site is Protected by Copyscape,” it’s going to happen; people are going to find your website and steal an image, snippet of content, or even an entire page. While it would be nice if they’d ask for your permission first and link back to you exactly as you’d prefer, the reality is that this just does not happen.
While there’s no single way to solve the problem, embedding links and inserting mentions of your website into any and all your content assets can help you get more value out of content
stolen borrowed from your website.
Here’s an example where, in my estimation, we screwed up.
Take a look at this example:
Roger W. Bodo is teaches communication courses at Appalachian State. Presumably for the benefit of his students and as reference material for his courses, he compiled a list of web sources. He was kind enough to include one of our case studies on the effectiveness (or lackthereof) of yellow page advertising. Unfortunately, the document he borrowed and linked to is a PDF, not something as easily crawled by the search engines as our original post. The PDF we created was meant to be shared via email with prospects and clients—not something re-posted around the web.
Had we had the foresight to consider that people might repost our PDF around the web, we would have created links to our website throughout the document. As it stands today, the PDF only has a reference to our website in the footer of each page, something that Google can find, but not nearly as easily as a standard in-page backlink.
Here’s an example of where we did a better job:
Notice the section toward the end of the screenshot above—the part that says, “You can read the entire article here:”. This section is automatically generated by a piece of software we have whenever content from our website is copied and pasted into another web page or document.
Conclusion & Takeaways
SEO is one of the most cost-effective forms of content marketing on the planet. By creating more specifically-targeted pages for your website, you can dramatically increase the number of keywords for which you rank. The end result is more traffic, leads, and sales.
You don’t need links to rank well organically, but it helps—especially in competitive industries and major geographic markets. There are dozens of techniques you can use to attract more inbound links to the content you create. The three above are the tip of the iceberg.
If you’d like more content-centric link generation strategies, subscribe to our email newsletter or drop us a line. If you need help creating a killer content marketing strategy, we can help you with that too.
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
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