Between Google Panda and Penguin most people are taking a good hard look at their content strategies. Or at least they should be.
Not only do we need to think about making unique content that offers enough substance to pass through Panda filters, we need to think about content that can help you earn Penguin-proof links.
Even if you have a section of your site dedicated to what you think is “linkable content” there are still a couple of crucial ways even the most well-intentioned content can fall short.
If your content isn't helping you build the kinds of future-proof links that your site needs, take a good look at your content and see if it runs up against some of these most common content weaknesses. And if it does, there are some ways to re-vitalize it.
It's Too Commercial
The overly-commercial trap is really easy to fall into, even without realizing it.
Maybe you stripped your content of the kinds of bias that qualifies as sales copy. Maybe you did some keyword research to see what people are searching for and wrote instructional content on subjects associated with your business. But even so, your content may still fail to bring in links.
Take a step back and look at what's around the content. Your header, and main nav, OK. Along with your Free Shipping promotion, AdSense, intrusive side bars, a Live Help option and/or a pop-up. Not as OK.
It's good to write content that is closely associated with your business, but when you limit yourself to keyword containing topics instead of embracing conceptually relevant ones, you only limit your own potential appeal.
Pare it down and diversify. If you think a piece of content might be linkable, keep it as clean as possible.
It's OK to keep your brand name attached though; you don't want to lose all the good will that comes from offering professional advice, and when content gets shared you want your brand to be the clear owner.
It's also important to get outside your keyword box. Write content on supplemental subjects to support your products or services conceptually rather than literally.
Broader subjects with wider audiences provide far more possible recipients than staying limited to your niche. Especially when you consider that half the other websites talking about your subject are also trying to make money off of it.
It's Too One-Sided
Even good content, can fail to be well rounded. If you've peeled your content pages down to their non-commercial skivvies, they may still come off commercial if your interests are the only ones represented.
There are always two sides to a story. If you're only telling the one that makes you look good, even facts can seem biased.
You can also back yourself into an audience corner; the only people who want to share your story are those who already support your cause, so you're probably not reaching anyone new.
Sometimes content can also suffer from a lack of perspective. If the information presented comes from just one voice or one source, it's still fairly shallow and won't measure up to a lot of the more comprehensive resources in your niche.
Be objective and get re-enforcements. If you really want content on a subject to stand out, take a risk and present the other side of the argument.
Write about the more contentious aspects of your business and give people information to draw their own conclusions. And when you do make a case, back it up with unaffiliated sources that don't have a dog in the fight.
When your subject matter doesn't exactly spark opinionated discussion, enrich your content by adding other voices to the conversation. Quotations, multiple opinions, expert contributions and even external links lead to more complex resources with the kind of depth that make them worth linking to.
Nothing Really, But No One Knows About it
There's a good chance you have something on your site which is really cool. Too bad nobody sees it. It's not all that surprising that the link count is low if:
- You've been passive about waiting for people to find and share your content.
- You've only distributed it on networks where all of your likes and followers were purchased in bulk.
- You've never sent a single individual contact, newsletter or email blast to the kinds of people who have both the power to give links and a vested interest in your subject.
Even when promotion is a pivotal part of your process, if you're talking to the wrong people it may be a waste of time.
Places that commonly share videos may not be the right crowd for an infographic. Those who usually link to industry news may not be the most receptive to evergreen resources.
If the asset you're selling is a huge departure from the rest of a site's content, your chances of getting the link aren't good. But when you play to what people want, your odds improve tremendously.
Build a real audience, of the right kinds of people and put your content in front of them. Gaining a public for your content can take a lot of forms, from gathering an engaged following in social media to establishing a subscriber base or collecting contacts. But you have to make sure you play to the right linkers in the right way.
Doing that successfully generally comes down to knowing what forms of content people respond to on different platforms and what topics your link targets find the most compelling. Without that kind of research from the outset, then your content is a linkability crap shoot from the beginning. '
Even under the best of circumstances a major component of getting content off the ground is outreach. Without that, it's hard to ever build up an effective social media community or bring actionable awareness to your content.
If your content isn't getting links, that doesn’t necessarily mean it's a lost cause. With the right refinements or enhancements your site has a shot at coming up with kinds of links that you'll never have to worry about taking down.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!