Content and building links go hand in hand. Even though many people understand this in theory, they don’t do it. Let me describe something I see over and over again:
So, people often start by researching keywords. Because the structure is important, they will research subtopics and make content hubs. They’ll click “publish” and then be like “Oh, we’ll need links if we want to rank for these topics.” So, they check to see who links to the top pages for their main topics. Then, they export the backlink profiles, sort prospects by metrics, and use some kind of shotgun method to send a billion emails in the hopes of getting 0.5% of them to link to their site. Then, to explain why they were sending spam to everyone in a small town, they said “Building links is a game of numbers.” You just gotta keep on sending those emails. “
If you’re not paying for links or doing a lot of link exchanges, your outreach pitches should be based on your content. Your content is what gives you a good reason to contact someone and ask for a link. It gives your first conversation about a shared interest or belief a frame.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying that building links is not a numbers game. But I don’t think we should brag about link acquisition rates of 0.5% because it doesn’t have to be this hard or spammy. Also, from a personal point of view, link building gets more fun for me as it gets harder.
Now let’s look a little more closely at the content
How well your content does depends on what kind of content it is. As a general rule, it will be easier to get links to informational content like how-tos, tutorials, and data studies than to product pages, affiliate posts, or anything else that is commercial. Why? because there are a lot more ways to add “value” to content that gives information.
Again, your pitch angles should be tied to “value.” In commercial content, like product pages, it’s harder to add value because the only person who benefits from the “value” is the person who clicks on the link. I won’t go into more detail about adding value to informational content right now, because first we need to know why people link to pages.
Since a link is basically an author sharing information with web visitors through their website, it’s easiest to ask why people share the things they do. So, for example, a friend might share the latest news story or recipe because they talked about it recently. Parents sometimes tell their kids things to teach them important lessons. Kids often tell their parents things to get advice or to make a complaint. There is a connection between all of these things.
Sharing into the context of link building
Why would an author share another person’s page with their mostly anonymous readers through a link? There is no set list of reasons, but here are some of the most common ones:
- They link to other pages to make a point or back up what they say. Statistics probably come up the most.
- They refer to something they don’t need to or want to talk more about.
- It looks good on them. People often link to things like high-profile mentions because it helps them build credibility and social proof with their visitors. In fact, making pages that talk about and show a person or company in a good light is a link-building strategy itself.
- The relationship, whether is clear or not, it is still there. Most people in implicit relationships are happy super fans. Even though it’s hard to build a base of content fans, they’re great for building links because they always believe what’s written on a site. People often link to you when they write guest posts. When they do interviews for podcasts, they often talk about your content, which is often linked to in the show notes. On the other hand, your online friends with whom you talk about business are examples of explicit relationships. Respect and admiration for each other’s work often lead to these kinds of business relationships. So, you want to link to each other’s content, whether it’s on your site or someone else’s. This is one of the best ways to build links because, at the end of the day, you both want each other to succeed.
Most of these reasons have a few things in common:
a) People link to things to show that they’re not making things up
b) They link to things to give themselves or their companies more credibility
c) They link to things they trust.
These are the three most important things you need to think about when you’re looking for links. Because if you go in with your plan to meet your own needs and no one else’s, it will be clear that that is what you want. And you will have very few chances of getting a link without paying for it. Now, this may seem like a lot of talk about talking about the talk, and unfortunately, knowing why people link won’t usually be enough to get you links. It’s just the basis for your pitches to reach out to people. And this isn’t even the whole list. You need to look at the numbers. And the best way to start is to look at how other pages with similar content got links. Because if you know the “how,” you can figure out the “why,” which helps you figure out how to pitch your link outreach ideas.