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When I first got into SEO over 20 years ago, link building was easy. You just added pages of links to partner websites, swapped links using anchor text that matches your targeted keywords, and presto! You were at the top of Google. That tactic no longer works. Attracting inbound links is harder than ever, especially for new websites. According to World Meter, nearly nine million blog posts are published every day. So, how do you stand out, get discovered and be rewarded with a link or social share in the midst of all that noise?
To get more links and shares, your content needs to be credible, consumable and attractive.
Related: How To Spread Your Content Like Wildfire With This Simple Strategy
Make it believable
People share content because it’s believable and they want some of that authority transferred to themselves. Whether you’re a journalist, blogger, or the average social media user, the content people link to or share is meant to bolster their authority in their writing or social group. Try these ideas to make your content stand out as a credible source:
1. Collect original data
Try conducting your own online surveys. Form a hypothesis and develop five or ten questions to test it. Use a calculator to determine the sample size you need for statistical significance and pay for that many answers. Then deploy it to Google Surveys, Pollfish, or Survey Monkey and let the data pour in. Depending on your budget, this can be prohibitive, so consider using source data.
2. Gather Credible Resources
Using other people’s data isn’t as effective for getting links, as most writers prefer to link to an original source. However, you can increase your chances by including multiple authoritative sources to appear credible.
Increase the shares further by appealing to people’s egos. Writers and influencers love it when people source their work. So list them by name in the body of your article and include a link.
Make it consumable
Producing linkable content is about more than just your text. You also need to present your data and ideas in an attractive and user-friendly package. Try these suggestions:
1. Optimize for readability
In the world of online content, few things are more intimidating than a giant wall of text. Organize your content and break up large chunks of text with headlines and images. Use short sentences and keep your vocabulary accessible. The reader can then browse your content to determine its relevance.
2. Add visually appealing, rich media
Images are often more understandable than heaps of text. Embed some compelling images, videos, charts, and graphs to tell a better story. To use google maps to quickly develop and easily embed interactive components. Add a watermark in case someone shares your visual without a link.
3. Be Citable
Neil Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” It was clearly a prepared statement, and yet it was memorable. When you write your article, include quotes that authors are likely to share.
4. Tell a story
People think in stories, so frame your content this way to make it more engaging. If that doesn’t work, spray one or two anecdotes into your copy.
Related: How to create compelling online content that attracts visitors
Make it attractive
Readability, images and data make your content richer. Make them attractive to earn links and social shares. Try these techniques to increase retrieval:
1. Pick a trending topic
Use a tool like Buzzsumo, Ubersuggest or Google Trends to find trending topics. Then write your article on that topic from a unique angle.
2. Be contrarian
Make your content stand out with diverse ideas and form. Explain why the sky is red. Create a lengthy guide to when competitors post 1000 word blog posts. Or if competitors are going long-form, be concise.
3. Embrace controversy
Controversy stimulates emotional responses. If you do it right, you get engagement from people who both attack and defend you and your ideas. You may lose some of your audience, but those who stay are likely to be very loyal and engaged.
3. Optimize for long-tail keywords
Many writers use search engines to find articles to reference in their stories. It can be difficult to rank for competing keywords. So focus on super long-tail keywords with little competition that a writer is likely to type into Google.
4. Create a rockstar title and meta description
Headlines sell newspapers, and the same goes for digital stories. Yours has to stand out against all the other content on the page to generate a click. Include keywords in your title and description that people are likely to use. Then make it click baity. Add superlatives like best or ultimate, make controversial statements, or phrase it like a question.
5. Put it on their radar
Don’t wait for people to share your content – give it a push. Try these tactics:
Tag or email authors of all source content and include their names in the body of your article.
Pitch your story to journalists and bloggers. Discover charities by searching for similar stories on Google and work on your contacts.
When people share your content, respond by addressing them and sharing.
Related: Creating more engaging content: five questions to ask before letting it run wild
Now that you have a foundation, start creating content that attracts links and shares. Pick a topic today and stick to a deadline. Then build and work on your list of contacts that could bolster it. Follow these tips for a huge increase in the number of links and shares you earn in the future.