You know the SEO story. You produce “great, unique content.” Then you write guest posts and ask influencers for links. It’s a simple story. And it’s not a lie. It does work.
But it’s not what any of the top sites on the web have done.
The most successful sites on the internet do little to none of this. Instead, they’ve focused on a different story. They’ve built things that were worth linking to. Those things were so useful, so engaging, so entertaining, that not even the press could avoid talking about them. And with the help of some carefully crafted promotion, they have come to dominate the web.
I’m talking about linkable assets. You don’t need them to be a successful SEO. I’m not going to sell you that lie.
But do you want to completely dominate your competitors? Do you want to secure a future in the business landscape? Do you want to dramatically reduce the amount of work it takes for you to rank every future piece of content?
If so, I suggest you get onboard.
Let’s talk about how.
What Are Linkable Assets?
We dedicated an entire Search Engine Journal blog post to that question, but the answer is fundamentally simple. A linkable asset is something worth linking to. The definition is too ambiguous to get more specific than that, but I would argue that linkable assets tend to have certain properties, like these:
- Usefulness – If something is worth linking to, it’s often because it’s beyond useful. It’s not just another blog post. It’s a resource. Not only that, it’s arguably the best resource within a particular niche. And we’re not talking about some obscure micro-niche. I mean it’s so useful that at least one major industry publication is going to feel compelled to reference it once they find out about it.
- Emotional Impact – Linkable assets tend to evoke emotional reactions. By far the most powerful emotions are humor and awe. More important, however, is the “arousal” the emotion causes. Negative emotions like sadness, for example, do not arouse us, but negative emotions like fear and anger do. Linkable assets that incorporate fear, anger, humor and awe will tend to do best of all. (Awe, in this case, refers to that sense that you see things in a new way, that you’ve had a revelation. This is one reason why scientific discoveries, not to mention conspiracy theories, tend to be surprisingly viral.)
- Relatability – This one is perhaps less important than the last three, but it’s often the only way to distinguish yourself from your competitors. While it’s generally a bad idea to intentionally court controversy for its own sake, it’s often necessary to take stances and draw a line in the sand. Various studies have demonstrated that consumers are more likely to buy from brands that share their ethical stance, and will even pay more because of it. Appeal to subcultures and you will win their support. Try to focus on the positives, though. It’s rarely a good idea to bash “enemy” subcultures, since this can alienate you from the mainstream, or even call attention to some of your faults. In any case, it’s better to have personality than to say things that sound “corporate” and “sterilized.”
The big question you should be asking yourself when you are brainstorming ideas for linkable assets is this: “Would a major industry blog link to this?” If not, you probably aren’t there yet.
Types of Linkable Assets
The list you’re about to see is by no means comprehensive. Keep in mind that innovative ideas are the most linkable. This isn’t a copy-paste formula. That said, taking a look at examples of successful linkable assets can help you think about how to approach this.
We mentioned before that interactivity is massively important for linkability. Tools aren’t an outright necessity for link bait, but in my opinion they are one of the most powerful things you can invest your time and energy in.
It’s hard to find a top site on the web where tools don’t play a crucial role. We keep reminding our readers to check out the Moz top 500 and learn from the examples you find there. Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, WordPress, Adobe…it’s pretty clear that these sites would be nothing without their tools.