Content marketing is part of pretty much every companies marketing plan, and the successful one focus on creating linkable content. Linkable content get’s shared and referenced like no other form of content and is at the heart of the pro’s content marketing plans.
Why do people visit your website? How long do they stay? What do they do while they are there? These are all vital questions. As I wrote recently, Amazon and Google are battling it out in the eCommerce search engine wars, where more and more shoppers start their search on Amazon rather than Google.
This phenomena, reversing the funnel, has been fueled by the User Experience Amazon has created by having great content including reviews, and enabling users to access that content easily. Small business owners can learn from this philosophy, and by creating a great user experience backed up by stellar content, you too can reverse the funnel in your area of commerce.
The issue is, most site owners are missing one vital part of this equation, because it’s harder to accurately gauge return on investment. Digital banner and pay per click (PPC) ads make it easy to analyze metrics, even though they are increasingly ineffective. The market has become about relationship, and although sponsored content hosted on another site can help a company build those relationships, they aren’t the total answer.
To increase conversion rates, you want potential buyers who visit your site to find something they can relate to, something that inspires them to click through to your conversion page, or powerful content that creates conversions directly from content pages. The key to this is first analyzing data you have gathered to assess your current situation and “…identify which marketing efforts drive conversions and sales.” Then ask yourself the questions: What do buyers want? How do you create it? How do you measure if it works?
Table of Contents
- Linkable Content is Useful and Informative
- How do you Create Linkable Content?
- The Process Of Content Creation
- Get Others To Link to Your Content
- Where Should You Publish Content
- How Do You Know If It Is Working?
- The Positives and Negatives Of Content Creation
Linkable Content is Useful and Informative
Your company sells a product, and that product is useful to your audience in some way. Something sets your product apart from the competition, so you have something to say. In fact, you have a lot to say, and most importantly you have a story to tell.
The more compelling your story, the more likely you are to convert website visitors. Not every story has to relate directly to your product, but there needs to be a connection. Tell the visitor something they don’t know about your product, a new way to use it, share testimonials of others who have used it, or share with them what sets your company, your product, or your employees apart from the competition.
People like feel good stories, not just ones that tell them you are better than the rest. Answer the questions journalists ask: Who or what makes choosing your product better for the consumer? How does your product or service benefit them? Why are you unique in the sea of choices available today? Where can your product or services be found?
Does your company do things that are newsworthy? If not, maybe you should. Not only does this provide content for your own website, but it gives news sources and other media something positive to talk about in relation to your brand. These things make your site “linkable.”
How do you Create Linkable Content?
There are a number of ways to create content. Having a blog on your site, or creating one is a great step. Regular blogging can keep customers coming back to your site again and again, provided you are giving them useful information. The more you offer about your product, the more likely existing customers are to return and not only keep using your product or service, but to recommend it to their friends.
Create Great, Linkable Content
This is the first step, but how do you do it? There are a few types of content that are most frequently linked to, and that get the most social shares and interaction.
News or Newsjack
This is content related to current events, a trending topic, or news. For instance, in November and December, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Holidays are trending topics. This content tends to perform well as long as the topic is trending, but stops performing well once the season is over or the news story fades from the headlines.
This kind of content can direct a lot of short term traffic to your site, and if the news is relevant to your product or service, you can get an impressive number of visitors who click through to it. Not only that, but you are providing value to your web visitors, which encourages them to return to see what new value you have to offer.
Offering consistent value inspires loyalty, and loyalty translates into sales, even if developing that loyalty takes time. “Innovation is creating new value, not always something new,” says Charla Griffy-Brown of Pepperdine University in a webinar on Innovation and Big Data. “Increasing customer loyalty allows you to create new value.”
The con to this type of content is that since is it not evergreen, you must constantly create new content to replace what quickly becomes outdated, and if there are updates to the news, you should either link to it, or create new content to highlight to your visitors that you are engaged and paying attention.
Evergreen, Long Form Content
According to Neil Patel, named by the Wall Street Journal as a top influencer on the web, in his article Why 3000+ Word Blog Posts Get More Traffic, this is the kind of content that has the longest life and is most often linked to and shared. He shares a great deal of data to back this claim in the article itself.
Provided his data is accurate (and it certainly seems to have merit), it is the type of content that should have the largest impact on the SERP. The principle is that shorter, not as heavily researched blog pieces will link to your content to provide a more detailed explanation of the point the author is trying to make. The more links to your content from reputable sources, the more it raises the page authority (PA) of that post, which contributes to your sites domain authority (DA), Trust Flow, and Citation Flow.
Video, Audio, and Other Content
Content is not just limited to articles or blog posts. It can also include lists, infographics, videos, webinars, or a podcasts. Video and audio are easy to create with many types of software available. However, to be compelling these should be professionally produced and high quality. Your content reflects the culture of your company, even if the content itself is not one of your company’s products.
Lists and infographics should also be professionally created, and be as evergreen as possible. If they become outdated, add new content and archive or delete the old ones. Nothing shows you are more out of touch than out of date content that appears poorly curated.
And Don’t Forget Images & Infographics
The Process Of Content Creation
If you are not a master of creating written content, and your marketing team does not have the capability to do so, you have choices. You can either hire a content creation firm, hire freelance writers and designers to create content for you, or you can welcome guest posts on your blog, and get content creators to provide content for you in exchange for exposure. Many students or copy writers seeking to build their own brand look for places to guest post, and the relationship can benefit both of you, provided they supply you with good content.
If you go the guest post route, know you will receive both good content and not so good stuff from spammers trying to sell ED pills and redirect your users to porn sites. If you don’t have time to screen submissions yourself, be sure you have someone on your team who does. Either that or be content with the copy you can create internally.
Note: Have someone in your company, or preferably more than one person, proofread read each piece you post. Nothing says sloppy or careless more than a glaring typo on your website or blog. Also, if your blog does redirect users to conversion pages, make sure they are well edited and provide a great user experience. Users should be able to order quickly and easily once you have managed to get them where you want them to go.
Get Others To Link to Your Content
This is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. You can’t get good, reputable white hat links without good content, at least not organically. But they don’t come automatically just because you have created content. You have to go get them. The process requires time, effort, and human intelligence. It cannot be automated, and it does not come cheap.
You can either outsource link building to an SEO firm, or you can create a department internally and do it yourself. You will need to hire experts, or ensure your staff is well trained before embarking on any campaign.
Links bought on Fiverr or a similar site are likely not high quality, and in fact may be harmful. They may boost rankings temporarily, until Google catches on on and penalizes your site.
A good example of great linkable content is Movoto: the company, which specializes in real estate, creates great graphics, maps, or humorous articles and scenarios, some evergreen, and some holiday or event themed, such as this calculator for how much stuffing it would take to stuff your whole house. While the content itself does not directly relate to real estate, it does talk about square footage and housing, and brings a site visitor to the top level of the company funnel.
The reason is the content is both fun and sem-educational. Around Thanksgiving, it is also timely. The content leads to other similar content, which makes it more likely the visitor will stay on the site. Movoto becomes a familiar brand, so therefore one of the first places the reader looks when they are ready to relocate or purchase a new home.
Another example is MOZ’s Blog, specifically Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Fridays. These talks offer valuable insight into the SEO world and how things work, yet are not sales pushy or particularly funnel driven. However, they concentrate on building a relationship with the web visitor, which often turns them into a customer.
While it is difficult to measure the ROI of such marketing methods, it is most often these methods that result in the greatest number of conversions.
Where Should You Publish Content
All links to your site are not created equal, though. Links from spam sites, or what are known as Black Hat links, obtained by using techniques Google frowns upon. Using these can result at best in your overall ranking going down, at worst Google refusing to index your site, and removing you from the SERPS entirely, essentially a death sentence for your website. These include (but are not limited to) hidden widget links, bait and switch, hype creation, and buying competitor’s sites.
There are other ways besides Alexa (that’s not great) and the SERPs to determine your website ranking. No single one of them is perfect, but using a combination of tools, you can get a general idea of how you are doing.
Domain and Page Authority
The search engine software tool MOZ gives you a couple of rankings: Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) DA tells you the ranking of your site overall compared to similar sites in MOZ’s web index. This is like grading on a curve: you can do everything perfectly, and your DA can still fluctuate depending on what others in your niche are doing.
PA refers to the rank of individual pages on your site compared to other similar pages on the web. The more visitors and the more times your site is linked to from other sites, and the quality of those sites determines PA.
Trust and Citation Flow
In Majestic, another search engine tool, your website is assigned rankings called Trust Flow and Citation Flow. While the exact way these are determined is proprietary, the primary influencer of these numbers is the quantity and quality of the sites that link to yours.
Do you see the pattern here? The ranking of your site in Google, MOZ, SEMRush, and other programs is largely determined by what other sites link to your site, and how often it is linked to. If you want other sites to link to yours, you must create linkable content.
How Do You Know If It Is Working?
That’s the million dollar question. If you’re looking for instant results or a secret formula, this isn’t your answer. Creating linkable content will take time and hard work, and then you have to get customers to your site, another discussion entirely. The answers on how to track ROI are as varied as the content you will create.
Who is visiting your site, and what pages do they land on? Do they leave quickly, or bounce, or do they stay because you offered what they were looking for? Where do they come from, organic links or by clicking on paid ads? If you are not tracking this with Google Analytics or a similar tool, you should be.
Your business relates to certain keywords, the word or phrase a user types into a search bar to find you. Ideally, you should be on the first page of Google for the phrases most commonly searched in relation to your business. The answer is not keyword stuffing your web content or pages. In fact, doing so can earn you severe penalties from Google, resulting in your page being removed from their index so it does not rank at all.
The answer is to create high quality, truly valuable content that is SEO optimized and something a customer, journalist, or other site owner would want to link to when discussing your business or the subject matter of your blog or website. Obtaining back links is a lengthy discussion itself, but is critical to a strong web presence.
The Positives and Negatives Of Content Creation
Creation and curation of web content can either be done well, and incite success, or it can be done poorly, and negatively affect web traffic and sales. A good example is Intuit, the parent company for Quickbooks. Their blog articles are useful to their potential clients and their current ones, deal with common financial and small business issues, and are easy for other sites to link to, creating value for the company.
Companies that do this poorly act in one of two ways: either their sited is a single rather poorly designed web page with little or no content. Or the site contains keyword stuffed posts and advertisements posing as articles, offering nothing of value to visitors.
The former creates bounces, or visitors who find a site in a Google search, but immediately hit the back button when they find nothing relevant. The second produces the same bounces, or worse, a negative impression in the mind of the customer. Done poorly enough, and a site can incur the above-mentioned penalties from Google.
What’s on your website matters. A user’s initial experience sets the tone for the rest of your relationship with them, and marketing is more relationship based than it ever has been. Businesses need to know what is useful and informative to their target demographic, learn how to create linkable content that meets those needs, and then to measure how it is working.
This is all a part of creating a user experience that will inspire users to stay on your website, click on conversion pages, and (hopefully) make a purchase.
If it sounds complicated, it is. Your best bet is to start simple: create compelling content on your website, things that are relevant, educational, and entertaining. Be sure the content is innovative and offers a new value, whether a creative use of your product or service, or other related and useful information. Get others to link to your content through simple guest posting and link building strategies, or hire out that work either to a firm that specializes in SEO or a freelance blogger if you don’t have the necessary talent on your team.
The more you grow, the more you can increase the linkable content on your site and your SEO efforts. Before you know it, you’ll be at the top of the SERPs.
That’s not a bad place to be at all.