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Why Great Content Doesn’t Guarantee You Links

As a modern, ‘White Hat SEO’ the whole world tells you that content is king. Creating something that is engaging, relevant and link worthy takes time, skill and therefore money. Whether that’s in opportunity cost for your time or actually hiring someone to go off and do the work for you it doesn’t really matter – the point is that by producing this content we hope to see some organic benefit. Sadly, that doesn’t happen automatically and all too often great content fails or is outperformed by something inferior because it wasn’t marketed properly.

When it comes to content creation the most important concept to grasp is the fact that it is an asset. Just like a rental property or some stocks and shares, your content has the potential to generate cold hard currency. As an SEO that could be seen in a link, increased rankings, more sales or organic traffic – the point is that you wouldn’t just let an asset sit there and rot, hoping that something would happen. You’d work at it. Nurture it. Help it to grow.

Pushing Your Content

Let’s suppose that we’ve put some time and effort into creating an amazing piece of kinetic typography to generate some additional awareness for our dog boarding kennels. A little far fetched maybe (pardon the pun) but for small, local business, the difference between low and high organic rankings could be just one piece of great content that gets linked to again and again. Simply uploading this video to YouTube and hoping that people find it sounds like a ridiculous thing to do, but it happens again and again.

Whether it’s a video, infographic, how-to guide, or anything else of substance you need to make sure that people know about it. There are a few key outlets for pretty much any kind of content:

  • Social Media
  • Bloggers
  • Journalists
  • Content directories (YouTube, Vimeo, visual.ly, etc)
  • Customers

Social Media

Starting at the top, Social Media is a great place to seed your content. Whether it’s Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or StumbleUpon they all have the potential to generate you traffic. I’m still having great success with the latter of those (although I know that some would say its had its day), particular for fun, graphical content. Don’t go over the top with your web 2.0 submissions, but at the same time don’t be afraid to try different outlets.

Also, particularly for Facebook and Twitter, asking people you know or influencers within your niche to share your content is a great, risk free, way of reaching a wider audience. If you’ve truly created something great then you never know – you might get lucky and go viral!

Bloggers

Next we have bloggers. Whether they’re in your niche directly or have potential interest in your content for other reasons (i.e. you’ve created something that mommy bloggers may relate to) then you need to tell people about it. Spend some time researching a list of blogs and reach out to their owners. This could be via social media, email, or a written letter (worth a shot if there’s someone that you really, really want to make contact with). As long as you don’t spam them, most bloggers will thank you for sending them great content as it gives them an easy way to come up with a post that they just know their readers will love.

I’ve had great success with bloggers when creating content for Pet365 simply because I’ve immersed myself in the niche. It helps when it’s something that you’re genuinely interested in and by spending time talking to people, getting to know them, and sharing their content you can very quickly build up relationships that will help you time and time again. Having just a few outlets that will post content for you once a month or so is well worth the investment.

Easy Links

If you’ve created something news worthy, don’t forget about a press release. Whether you distribute this through a free service or via somewhere like prnewswire.com or pr.com it guarantees you at least a couple of decent links back to your content. Taking this a little further, it’s worth reaching out to journalists within your industry. They can be hard to get in touch with and it’s hit and miss as to whether you’ll have produced something that might be of interest. Getting yourself in front of these people, however, is more of a long game. You never know – next time they’re looking for an expert in a certain field, your name may pop into their head!

Moving on from something tricky to true low hanging fruit, content directories are a great way of getting your stuff out there. Whether it’s a video on YouTube or an infographic on visual.ly, this takes a relatively small amount of time and is a simple way of reaching a wider audience and picking up some great links. Try to be selective and for the most part avoid using paid services (I’d rather offer a prolific blogger $100 to post my infographic than pay a dodgy directory the same to do a fake review of my content).

Don’t Forget Your Customers

Finally, don’t forget your customers. If someone has already bought from you, they’ve entered into a relationship – your job now is to make the most of that, and giving people the opportunity to share something with their friends that isn’t product based is a great way to deepen that engagement. If you’re producing newsletters, don’t just promote your products – get people talking about your content too. Drop your content subtly into product pages. Push your content on social media and interact with people that share or ‘like’ it. These kinds if things make you stand out, get you into people’s heads and help establish you as an expert in your field.

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Matt Beswick is the Director of Hidden Pixel - a UK based web agency with a strong background in running SEO and Social Media campaigns for businesses of all shapes and sizes. He's also a dog lover, self confessed geek, and loves motorsport.
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9 thoughts on “Why Great Content Doesn’t Guarantee You Links

  1. This is s…o true. I have great content but nothing. Then yesterday I pushed my new detailed blog posts using press releases, tweeting industry influencers and spreading the word to everyone I knew. Awesome response and the most visitors to my website since its launched. Great post

    1. Tierra – thanks for the comment! It’s real ‘grind’ at first but once you have a few people around to share your stuff it makes the world of difference. The next step is to get yourself a Virtual Assistant on oDesk and have them research a load of blogs in your niche (including names, email addresses, etc)… the more people you get in touch with the more links you’ll end up with ;)

  2. You can’t assume that your content will be found organically right off the bat. That takes time. In order to get it noticed in the short term it takes some promotion. It’s important to reach out to influencers in the industry and establish a relationship with them. Sharing each others content can be beneficial for both parties.

  3. Thanks, Matt, for pointing out something so important – but that most people seem to forget! You’re right – great content is the first step. Next, you’ve got to get it out there. It doesn’t matter how awesome your latest blog post or article is if no one knows it exists!

    I think the best advice you offer is the advice on guest blogging. To me, that’s such a valuable resource that most people overlook. Is there a better way to build relationships and get out in front of highly-targeted traffic? In my opinion, you’d be hard-pressed to find one! Luckily, guest blogging is something that people in virtually any niche can take advantage of. Hopefully, more of them will after reading your article! :)

  4. Viva la content! All good points in a helpful, informative post. There are different paths to take and emphasize depending on a piece’s immediate purpose: to go viral, be evergreen, position someone as a specialist, etc.

    Social media sites are obvious channels of distribution. Further down the rabbit hole, it’s beneficial to know the collective personality and norms of each platform. For instance, leveraging hashtags and being liberal about spreading the awareness of others’ content can help make the most of the Twitter platform.

  5. I completely agree with you, Matt. Content should definitely be treated as an asset. And nowadays with social media changing the way people consume and share content, it is indeed important to create meaningful content. One thing I learned before I became a bestselling author and long before Inc Magazine voted my company as one of the fastest growing companies is that to create engaging content it is important to understand the target audience. It takes the whole user engagement and experience to a new level.

    1. This is completely true. I think the point many people miss out on is knowing what people are *looking for* and helping actually fulfill that request. Just tossing out random things in the hope that a reader or two will enjoy it isn’t efficient. Knowing that tons of people are looking for x topic and then fulfilling that topic is much better – and it enhances your chances of being seen, linked to and spoken about.

  6. Great article, i totally agree, that even with great content, links sometimes links were not comming. Free press release sites are working fine to gain more links, but being a guest blogger in your nice is most effective way in my opinion.