As an internet marketing consultant, I see no connection with the recent Penguin update reducing the effectiveness of some low quality ways of getting links, but I think it did have a lot to do with it!
The funny thing is that content marketing has been around for a very long time. There are many people embracing it, so an online marketing specialist I try to find the best route on using content to get good results for our clients.
To try and reduce the risk of content not being well received put some hard work into content creation. Try to anticipate potential problems as early as possible.
Content as a business asset
When you start thinking of content as a business asset, it puts a whole new perspective on the work you put into creating it. It is no longer throw away content that is there "just for links".
Instead, you're trying to create something that we will be proud of and our competitors will be envious of and say "I wish we'd thought of that."
There are other benefits:
The asset isn't just for links, it can be useful for PR and social activity too.
It is less likely to be one-off link building activity and more likely to be something that has the ability to get links for a long time.
You're more likely to build relevant content for your customers so that the benefit goes far beyond the links obtained.
Process for content creation
I want to share a simple set of questions and techniques that should help you produce content that attracts good links and social shares
1. Who will care about this content?
The answer to this can help ensure that you don't spend valuable time and resources on content that no one cares about.
Ask yourself who would read the content, who would relate to it. Go and find them online to ensure there is an active community of interested people.
This is important, otherwise you're probably not going to have many people who have the ability to link and hardly anyone to outreach to. This ruins your chances of getting links and social shares before you've started.
We're also very protective of our own ideas and want to see them through. So it is worth putting emotion and ego to one side in order to make sure that it isn't just you that loves the idea!
2. Why will someone care about this content?
There are several reasons why someone may care about a piece of content, e.g.:
• It's funny.
• It's informative.
• It's useful.
• It challenges the status quo.
• It answers a question.
Ultimately, content needs to trigger some kind of emotional response to make people care about it. Otherwise, it will be opened and forgotten about quickly, losing all chance of getting the right links and social shares.
Linking to something takes time and effort so you need to ensure you're making each reader care enough to take the time to link.
In terms of outreach, this step can help too. When you write an outreach email, try to connect with the person you're contacting and make them care about what you're showing them. If you already know why someone would care, then work this into your email and be confident to get some good responses.
3. Who will link to or share this content?
When you first get a ‘good’ idea, go and find ten people you think would link to it - in ten minutes. If you can't find them in ten minutes, is it a good idea?
It also doesn't bode well for finding lots of other link prospects if you can't find ten. It’s harsh, but can help delineate a good idea from a great idea.
4. Would your boss be proud of this content?
It keeps the content on brand and in line with beliefs of the company.
It ensures you're creating content that is relevant to the business.
It makes you think about creating content that will attract real customers as well as links.
If you ever have to present your boss what you've been doing, you can be confident that they won't shoot down your campaigns.
This check is needed because you might focus too much on getting links, without thinking about why you're doing it. Ask yourself if it is no longer 100% about links, but about creating content that is a business asset.
Outreach to external bloggers to get feedback
You can often be too close to an idea thus not able to objectively judge how good it really is.
It makes perfect sense to speak to bloggers before you finish a piece of content. You can speak to them before you've started. So you get a check about your ideas from knowledgeable people, and giving them forewarning on something they may want to link to.
So when the content goes live, it’s easier to request a link from them because they’ve been involved in the process. Go back and say how you've incorporated their feedback, to build relationships with bloggers.
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