Creating Link Content that Sells in 5 Easy Steps
Whenever I think of creative link bait/content done well, it reminds me of a good sales strategy. Products that sell best are those constructed to solve a particular markets problem.
In that optimal scenario we have already researched our target market, we know what problems they have, their likes and dislikes, how they purchase, the optimal pricing strategy to meet their budget. After all of these considerations we assemble a product that will hopefully sell like hot cakes, as it ticks all of their boxes. It fits into their world view. In Seth Godins book All Marketers Are Liars he gives some great examples of this, how to find a group of people with a particular worldly view and ensure your product is a perfect fit for it – tell them a story they want to hear.
Link building is similar in a lot of ways. You are looking for a group of people who share a common interest, problem, hobby and will find your content (product) relevant enough to give it a link (tweet or like).
Below is an example of what kind of steps may be involved in putting together a well researched idea for a piece of content and why identifying your target market at the start is so critical to the success for your campaign:
1) Target Group: The first step is to establish who your link targets are. For example if you are working for a client who has a site all about recipes, perhaps for this link campaign you want links from mommy bloggers or fitness bloggers or lifestyle sites. This is a crucial step as it will allow you to create a specific piece of content tailored to a particular group of people.
Tip: When you have decided on your group the SERP Dominator from Ontolo is a great way of building a list of authoritative sites in that market segment, who can be added to your list of link targets.
2) Establish Link Habits: In this step you are looking for any signs of common material your link targets link to. There are a number of tools and methods that can help during this stage:
a. Common OutBound Links
You can use a tool like LinkResearchTools to find common outbound links among a group of sites. This can provide you with some interesting sites to research and figure out why they attract so many links from your target group. You can sort their content using the SEO for Firefox plugin and find the most popular pages to see if you can replicate something, or improve on it some way:
When doing this is best to export into a csv file, use text to column and look at individual pages (not categories etc). My excel is playing is up, so I can't show an example of this, but for a great post on excel for seo, check this out from distilled.
b. Content that's already Getting Links
Once your target group has been established, you can build a list of link prospect queries, just as I described in the post "How to Create and Promote Linkable Content with Very Limited Time". Using that list you can follow Ken Lyons excellent process "How to Create Amazing Backlinks" to build a list of content that has attracted links.
c. Get Ontolo to Do the Work
Ontolo isn't just about finding a lot of juicy link prospects, it's also great for researching what type of content will attract links from your link targets. It's like Ken Lyons method on steroids.
I have been using the infographic option recently to research what type of infographics get links in a particular B2B market. But the option I really love during this step is the "Most Linkable Content". This will give you a lot of great stats on what type of content is attracting links:
To get the most of this, again, you need to export to excel and use "text to column" so you only look at inner pages attracting links, not domains.
Making a judgement:
At this point you will make a judgement call, is this a good group to target or not. The first steps are quite labor intensive and may seem like a lot of work to identify link targets before even considering content, but it will give you a better hit rate when you start to promote your content. The content will end up being laser focused for a particular group of people.
3. Create a Short List:
Now you have your group and the brainstorming can begin. This is where you decide on a number of ideas that could acquire links from your link targets (based on the research done above).
Chunking / Survey / Discussion:
Creating a short list of ideas can be difficult. You may come up with a list of 2 or 3 concepts only to hate them again the next day. It can be worth doing a little extra research at this stage, which may include:
- The art of chunking as described by me. :)
- One idea may be to create a landing page for your link targets, create a survey to find out more information about them (problems, hobbies – based on content they are linking to from steps above), run a PPC campaign and give them a small gift for completing it.
- Look at discussion groups as described in this excellent post by Rand.
4. / 5. Build Content / Hit Target List:
Now you build your content and approach your hit list with the content ready made for their world view !!!
If there is one thing you should remember from this post (since we only retain 10% of what we read), it's identifying your link targets and their link habits (who you want links from) is a crucial step that should come before constructing your content.