One of my favourite link building strategies right now is building links by leveraging great content pieces, also known as pillar content. These are usually unmatched in a particular niche in terms of the details involved, the depth and the overall research and effort involved to produce the content. This is exactly why getting links to these content pieces is much easier with proper outreach than to a mediocre piece of content.
The reason behind that can be understood with the analogy of how academic scholarships work. Top colleges and universities have very few seats and a ton of applicants. They sort the best from the rest using marks obtained by students in a particular exam, among other metrics, and offer scholarships to the brightest prospects to facilitate their studying.
A very similar case is with getting links from top authoritative sites in practically any niche. They can’t go around linking to every other average Joe and his brother. This is why you have to come up with content that’s valuable, unique, and unmatched in terms of depth or sheer quality.
The first time I came across such a content piece, it was Google’s 200 Ranking Factors by Brian Dean. I was so amazed to see such an in-depth post (and the fact that other people never bothered compiling such a list before, in spite of the 200 ranking factors buzz floating in the air since a very long time) and was like, “Whoa! This is the real deal”.
Even then I had no clue how valuable such a content piece might be, until I read about the Skyscraper Technique, which basically demonstrates what Brian did to leverage the content piece to gain top-notch backlinks.
I studied Brian’s technique, and tried to figure out what other areas were left in the niche that are explored by a lot of interested people every single day and lack in-depth content. I quickly found out that a lot of people are genuinely interested in improving the authority of their domains, yet there was no clear, detailed guide on the topic.
I felt so motivated to create my own content, that I finished writing the guide spanning over 11,000 words in 2 days (mainly in the night). Realizing how big it turned out to be (the existing articles were like 750-1000 words at MOST in comparison), I decided I’d tweak the technique even further to maximize the amount of high-quality links, and exposure that the content piece gets.
I headed over to oDesk in search of a talented infographic designer and got an infographic that briefly mentioned all the 50+ points the guide contained, alongside cool illustrations.
This ensured that people don’t have to go through the entire post to find out the key points. As most busy journalists and webmasters of highly popular sites don’t have much time, the infographic would serve as a medium to consume the information from the article quicker and at the same time, assess its quality.
So, there it was – a 11,000+ words guide on increasing domain authority, PLUS an infographic that lists out all the points. It was time for some hard work to ensure it got the exposure and links it deserved. I started looking for ways to do other things than just reaching out to influential people in the industry for shares and links.
Then I saw Gareth Bull leveraging a strategy for his infographics like this one. He was re-publishing on more sites the infographics he created, especially on sites that were more authoritative than his company’s site. But, there was a catch. Bigger sites don’t just re-publish an existing infographic without anything unique attached to their re-publications. This is where Gareth was using unique introductions or descriptions for his infographics on each site that was re-publishing it.
I immediately decided to go with this strategy because:
- I would get links with long-term benefits from extremely high-authority sites.
- Those sites being high-traffic ones, would send a ton of initial traffic to my original post, which was much more than just the infographic. In fact, the infographic was merely a teaser for the whole 11,000 words of goodness inside.
- This in turn would land me links from smaller sites which wouldn’t otherwise come across my post, if the infographic wasn’t re-published on authority sites.
And this is exactly what happened after I managed to get it re-published on SearchEngineJournal and Business2Community. Besides, this enabled my post to get a second tier of powerful links because the re-published posts themselves got pretty good links from other, smaller sites. This is how the link profile of the SEJ post looks like:
That’s 51 other sites upvoting the SEJ post, which in-turn upvotes my original post. Isn’t that a nice bonus?
In addition to those two big sites, I re-published the infographic on powerful infographic-sharing sites like Visual.ly and InfographicJournal. Now that I had done a bit of re-publication, it was time for some targeted outreach.
One of the best things to have when you want to reach out to influential people in your niche with your content is having strategic partnerships, heck, even knowing a few of them a bit well personally. It proved effective again as Patrick Coombe of Elite Strategies provided me with a decent-sized list of influential people and webmasters in the industry along with their emails, which I then simply inserted into BuzzStream to send personalized messages to them, letting them know about my content.
Also, it worked incredibly well with people as influential as Neil Patel. They either tweeted, shared it in on any other social network, or even linked to it:
How to Increase the Domain Authority of Your Site: http://t.co/9j9OePGvcP
— Neil Patel (@neilpatel) November 5, 2013
Some of those who initially only shared it, later linked to it from a future blog post. So, the post kept on getting links as time went by. The end result was a strong link-profile for the post, which looked like:
And no wonder it started ranking on the first page of Google for “increase domain authority” and a lot of similar search terms that made it the most popular post on TechTage on average.
One of the best ways to use this strategy differently when you’re using infographics, is featuring some other players in your niche in the infographic as well – of course, making sure none of them is your direct competitor. Book Cab, being a startup that offers online cab booking in India (a fairly new thing in the country), included some other players in its new infographic which got it features on popular local newspapers like this one, among links on other sites, of course.
If you’re determined to create pillar content for your own site, the strategies laid out above are definitely going to help you get more high-quality links. You can in fact tweak the basic strategy even further, according to your needs and the industry your site is in.
So, what other ways do you recommend for leveraging pillar contents to build links?
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.