Ask any marketer and they’ll tell you; link building can be one of the most difficult and time-consuming aspects of marketing.
But link building is critical to search engine optimization and growing organic traffic. So it’s important to learn how to get backlinks that are high quality in order to increase website traffic.
HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound revealed 63% of marketers feel generating traffic and leads is the top marketing challenge going forward.
That’s echoed by a 2016 study from AudienceBloom.
Like it or not, link acquisition is the foundation of growing visibility online to increase your website traffic. Some 42% of the factors used by Google algorithm to rank domains are based on the acquisition of quality links. In the same vein, around a quarter of those algorithms weigh the trustworthiness of links you acquire.
You can’t just build any link, it has to be a quality link from a reputable website in order to contribute to your domain authority and visibility.
What’s a quality link?
Backlinks are not created equal and each link will contribute in a different way to your overall rank. That can lead to some confusion about who to target for link building and where to source links.
I can simplify it so you have a basic checklist of how to identify a quality link. Quality backlinks:
- Come from a relevant source
- Provide relevant quality traffic
- Are within the main content of a site – not hidden or benched in sidebars and footers
- Are within the context of the content around them
- Are within proximity to other links leading to authority websites
- Come from a trusted source
A high-quality backlink is not:
- Generated through a link exchange agreement
- Acquired easily
- Piled among countless other links (because they come easily)
- Acquired through payment
How to Get Backlinks to Increase Website Traffic
Now you just have to go through the rigorous and tedious process of continually asking for links. Sounds productive, right?
When you have content to produce and a business to grow you don’t want to spend all your time on outreach. You could spend days in email exchanges before gaining just a small amount of traction.
The absolute worst part of link building is that it’s a lot like paid advertising. As soon as you stop, that’s it. It’s done. You stop earning links.
The key is to dramatically reduce your outreach. I’m rather fond of the way Google’s former head of Webspam, Matt Cutts, put it: “Link building is sweat plus creativity.”
The sweat doesn’t come from labor-intensive link building. It comes from striking out to leverage creativity, developing content that is so innovative and imaginative that it attracts high-quality links all on its own.
Content that acts as a source of value for others will earn you links without the need for time-consuming outreach.
One of the ways you improve the authority of your own content, thoughts, and theories is to cite other authority content including influencer opinions, data, and facts.
Put your effort into creating the content other people want to link to.
Here’s how to do just that.
Audience research – write for the linking audience
Before you write a single piece of content you need to understand your audience. This is true for any marketing strategy, but it’s especially true for content.
You’re not just writing content with high-value takeaways that will appeal to your target audience. You also need to consider your linking audience.
Other websites related to your business and industry are your linking audience. Research their content and the resources they link to determine how to turn your content into a quality resource for your direct customers as well as your ideal linking audience.
That research can help you decide the type of link-worthy assets and content campaigns you should create to start attracting quality links.
Developing link-worthy assets
Link-worthy content comes in a variety of formats. It’s not the type of content or even the length that’s important. It’s the value it has to your audience. Once you identify the most valuable, sought-after topics and desired resources, you can start plotting your content strategy.
No matter what content you create, make sure it hits on the essentials:
- Includes enough information solve a specific problem
- Is better than any other content covering the same topic – aim for 10x better
- Can hook the reader initially and is formatted well enough to keep the reader engaged
- Is loaded with actionable advice
- Cites authority sources to back up statements and data
Share original research and data
Data can be a powerful thing. Smart marketers and business owners make key decisions based on data, so when great data is packed into actionable content it becomes a valuable resource.
Other brands and marketers are likely to link to it. That makes your content piece the authority.
But recycling old data won’t work. Rather than sourcing and compiling data find ways to share original research and data. Look at your customer records, case studies, and success stories, or run surveys to gather data from your audience.
A few of my favorite resources create link-worthy assets using this method, including HubSpot and its State of Inbound (which I used as a citation above) and Content Marketing Institute’s Benchmark, Budgets and Trends annual report.
This is where the sweat and creativity come in. When you find a topic in your industry that’s a frequently asked question, or a regular assumption that constantly lacks data to back it up (referred to as the missing stat) you have a prime opportunity for becoming the resource everyone is looking for.
A little legwork on your part to acquire the data gives you content assets that no one else in your industry has.
Curate a resource to generate links and traffic
Not every business will have opportunities to leverage original data for content marketing and link building. If you can generate that type of authority content, that’s OK.
You don’t necessarily have to be the originator of the content in order to benefit from it.
While I mentioned that using old data isn’t a good choice, there’s likely plenty of opportunities to curate new data, tips, and authoritative content in your industry.
Sites like Statista have compiled and maintain data on a wealth of subjects, or you could go straight for curated and organized lists of statistics around a specific theme. Here are a few examples:
Buffer has a curated list of video marketing statistics updated annually.
We Are Social and HootSuite put out a collection of data as well that’s a great mix of source and curated information.
Each of those collections serves as educational pieces but also a source of backlinks. Others may follow through and link to the original source but they’re more likely to link to your content.
Don’t be limited to just data. You can curate lists and resources of all kinds.
SnapApp often puts together executive roundups where influencers provide tips and advice around a specific topic. One of their recent roundups has 41 execs weighing in on the B2B marketing metrics to watch for in the coming year.
Generate guides for beginners
Every industry needs its share of beginner content to act as the leading resource for newcomers, providing insight into the concepts and jargon as well as the scope, techniques, etiquette, and more. Everyone has to learn somewhere.
While it’s easy to write introductory blog posts that gloss over the super basics, those aren’t going to earn you links that increase website traffic.
The basics have been done to death.
Instead, write the beginners guide. Make it comprehensive and packed with value. It should be the single source any beginner needs to read and hit the ground running.
Do a non-specific Google search of “Beginners guide to…” and you’ll see some recognizable brands already using this tactic.
You don’t always have to create a mega-guide. Shorter-length beginner content can be effective as long as you’re not recycling the same tired information.
Aim for concise, educational, high-value content (10x better than anyone else) and even a short piece can garner serious links.
Robb Wolf’s blog and resource site have a short piece of beginners content about the Paleo diet.
It’s not an 11,000-word mega guide. It answers key questions and provides clear definitions and details around what is likely a very common question for beginners. Robb’s beginner piece on Paleo appears right near the top of the search results when I searched for “what is the paleo diet”.
And for good reason. Ahrefs’ SiteExplorer shows over 1,600 domains pushing traffic and almost 45,000 do-follow backlinks.
The short, informative piece of beginner content has become a resource not only for beginners but for others who refer to its authority content and cite it as a reliable source.
I imagine the author never has to shop that content around to ask for links.
Your audience doesn’t care about your product
If you want your content to earn backlinks and increase website traffic you need to think about what matters most to your audience. What do customers really want?
More importantly, what problem are they having?
Hint: it has very little to do with your products or services.
When you start thinking in terms of the best information to serve rather than how to sell or spotlight a product you’ll find countless opportunities to create content that attracts endless links.
Healthline covers a variety of topics around health and well-being and treatments for common diseases while also offering a host of tools including a database for checking symptoms. Tucked into their content archives is a piece on 20 protein-rich foods.
Any other business or online brand, like a personal trainer or nutritionist, could link to that article as a point of reference and quick resource rather taking the time to write up their own list.
When you shift the focus from your core products and branch out to other relevant topics and information your audience will value then you create content far more likely to attract the links you desire.
Data from HubSpot has shown that companies who blog have 97% more links than companies who don’t. The brands garnering the most links are the ones taking the time to write high-quality content, comprehensive guides, and concise information that’s better than anything currently published.
Research your audience, uncover what’s most beneficial to them, and craft your content in a way that is valuable not only to customers but other brands. Not only will you serve the interests of your prospective customers but – just like that simple but informative Paleo Diet article – you’ll score backlinks in droves and increase website traffic.
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