Every day online there are vast amounts of content being created. More than 90 percent of all data ever created was in the last couple of years, yet a lot of people seem to think that they need to be creating new content all the time – carrying out more research, writing more words on their blog, or bombarding us with yet another infographic – in order for them to get more links, more traffic, and more exposure.
Sadly, businesses have created some amazing pieces of content over the years which have never been linked to, whether that's due to:
- Failing to have effectively planned or budgeted their promotional campaign.
- Not putting the content into the correct media for their audiences.
- Not having an interesting hook or finding the story to sell it.
This post will show you how to improve the number of links you will be able to garner from every piece of content you produce:
When it comes to creating content or promoting it well you need to start by understanding your audience. Create personas for the people you want to reach with your content and how they will interact with it. At the very least, look at:
- Who they are.
- Their goals.
- Where they visit.
- How they interact with content.
- Why your content will help them.
Check out this excellent guide to persona development if you need more help.
Plan Your Promotion Strategy
It's quite upsetting to know that a lot of businesses will happily spend $5,000+ on the research, development, and concept of a piece of content but then only allocate another 15 percent to promoting it.
Remember, people are being bombarded with more and more information every day. With somewhere in the region of 400 million tweets being sent, 150 billion emails, and billions of Facebook updates, is a few hundred dollars really going to make that much of an impact?
You should assign an equal (if not greater) amount of budget to the promotion of your content.
When developing your content promotion strategy think about the advantages and disadvantages of paid, owned, and earned media.
Image Credit: Forrester Research
So many people get this wrong. Whenever I see a big piece of content being released online I like to monitor what happens to it and see who is sharing it, what techniques they might be using and more often than not it is quite embarrassing to watch.
Recently I watched as people from an agency sat bombarding tweets to TV stars and Hollywood actors to let them know of their latest Super Bowl content. I don't mean to sound rude but if you have never spoken to these people or never engaged with their management, then I can't really see a tweet from some agency Twitter account having any influence on them.
You want to find people who have an audience you want to get in front of, not just anyone with an audience; otherwise you'll be wasting your time.
If you're creating content in a niche you're unfamiliar with, then try using social media tools such as Buzz Sumo to find people who shared content similar to your own in the past or use Followerwonk to track these people down based on the interests they list in their Twitter bios.
Sometimes you might want to search various different interests at the same time but thankfully there are some advanced features for this.
If you're creating a large piece of content then it can be a good idea to contact subject matter experts during the development stages for feedback on it or perhaps ask them for a quote. If people feel invested in your content they will be more than likely happy to share it once it's released.
Influential people are often busy people, so make sure that they know of you by building up a relationship with them on social media or their blog beforehand. When it comes to asking them to share your content with their audience, make sure that your outreach email is short and not all about you.
Tap Into Content Curators
There are many fantastic curators who will be happy to help share your content with their audience. You'll be able to identify them as they will readily be sharing lots of different content on social media, by having a high percentage of URL shares and retweets along with a good social authority on Followerwonk.
It is common that these people will also write weekly or monthly round ups of the best content they have found recently. You can often find these round up articles by carrying out a few advanced search operators in Google to find them. Start out by getting to know these people a little first by commenting on the types of content they are curating and sharing, before you roll in and ask for them to link to yours.
Once your initial promotion efforts have slowed down and the dust has settled a little bit it's time to carry out some link reclamation. It's not uncommon for people to mention you or your content and either not link correctly or they may not link at all.
When planning your campaign, set up mention tracking. You can use a free service such as Google Alerts, but paid services such as Talk Walker or Mention are far more reliable and return results very quickly.
Use these tools to monitor for mentions of your brand or your content and follow up with the individuals who mentioned you to thank them and offer to answer any clarification questions and ask if they would be happy to credit you with a link.
If you use original visuals as part of your campaign, then load them into a service such as Image Raider to be alerted whenever your images are embedded on a website. It's a good idea to follow up with these people and ask them to credit your site as the original source of the image.
I do this for our comics that we produce on the company website and we release them under a Creative Commons license so that people can use them in blogs or presentations, and it's easy to see who is and who isn't linking back.
You could also look for other content types too such as SlideShare presentations which have been embedded on different websites and contact these people for interviews or guest posts.
You might have tried paid promotion in the past with varying degrees of success, but there are lots of great new formats being developed all the time to help you promote your content to your audience.
It's important that you have already determined where your audience spend their time online before using paid social promotion. Otherwise, you'll just waste your money. For example, you wouldn't want to promote a dental hygiene whitepaper on the r/funny subreddit.
In recent years there has also been a large growth in content discovery networks, which aim to amplify your content reach by either suggesting links or images to bloggers when they are creating their articles or by inserting "related links" to other websites. You usually pay on a cost by impression basis (CPM), which can be quite expensive.
For example, Wil Reynolds used Outbrain, Zemanta, Taboola and nRelate for a few experiments with his team and in some instances they were able to convert paid impressions on these networks into links for as little as $24 each. There are of course cases both for and against these services, but if you have the budget and experience with online display advertising it's certainly worth testing the waters to find out what works for you.
Not all paid content discovery campaigns need $500 per day to get them to work. Sometimes just boosting a Facebook update on your fan page for $5 can drive a 517 percent increase in the number of people clicking through to your content.
Repurpose your Content
To maximize the reach and potential number of links from your piece of content you should consider repurposing it into different formats to increase the reach.
Think about different forms and media. If you created a large animated infographic you could repurpose that into either a SlideShare presentation or YouTube video quite easily. Both of these media types could be embedded onto other websites, which you could then follow up with as part of your link reclamation efforts.
Alternatively, if you're giving a webinar or video presentation, transcribe it into an article for your blog.
People prefer to consume content in different ways, and understanding that will open up different possibilities for repurposing your content effectively.
Hopefully this post will help you plan your next campaign and ensure your awesome content gets the number of links it deserves.