Set Your Backlink Strategy Straight: Beyond Linkbait

My grandma was a florist. She used to plant, cultivate and handpick the best examples for her shop. Although there was no such thing as a big profit from her small business, she somehow managed to run it for 40 years on end.

Her secret?

Every time a customer would stop by, they would have a long chat on how to care for the plant. Somewhere in the midst of the conversation, she would recommend the best soil you can purchase just a few blocks away, in a shop owned by her friend.

She would also tell people where she got the fertilizers from and what good they can do for the plants.

See where we’re heading? No?

Source: Pixabay

You’re probably wondering how flowers and fertilizers have anything to do with backlinks or the linkbait from the headline.

Well, my grandma was making backlinks well before the age of the internet. She had a steady flow of repeat customers once her friends from other shops sent their customers straight to her.

If she could do it back then, it can be done today. Especially because there’s an abundance of high-quality websites and pages widely available for us to read and link to.

So, if there was only one set of factors that would determine the success of your website, it would be an excellent backlink strategy.

Why Make a Backlink Strategy When There Are Enough Visitors?

Backlinks are, as you may already know, links that a page gets from any other page. Those links, often coming from the websites in the same niche or relevant to your website, are followed by Google.

The link juice between your page and the backlink improves not only your position in the SERPs but the domain authority and the website’s reputation.

Every serious site needs a backlink strategy. Even if you think there are enough visitors coming your way. Why?

Because you won’t have the same number of people constantly visiting your site. With a backlink strategy in place, you’re building relationships with the websites that are already established in their own niche and which will help you gain new visitors.

Just like my grandma had good relationships with her fellow shop owners.

She had enough visitors, but without recommendations, she may never have experienced a steady influx of customers.

What Does Linkbait Really Mean?

The first step in creating a backlink strategy is understanding what linkbait is and how to use it properly.

For many people, the term “linkbait” has a bad connotation. However, it describes any content that is designed to attract links. It’s that latest article that half your friends on Facebook have shared in the past few days.

Linkbait is usually visual content like infographics, quizzes, videos, images, or detailed guides/articles.

If they’re good, they will rank well in both organic search and for related terms. If they’re bad, they won’t.

A good linkbait has a few distinctive characteristics:

It offers value to the targeted audience – this doesn’t mean your article is valuable just because it has 2500+ words; it has to be of use to the readers. These are usually in-depth guides.

It invokes certain emotions – this is self-explanatory.

It’s trendy and new – when you integrate your content with the current trending topic.

It’s highly visual – even if the content is plain text, it’s frequently enriched with bullet points and short, but important paragraphs.

Backing Up Your Information

Your backlink strategy may deliver linkable content but it’s important that you link to relevant content as well.

The content on your website sometimes needs a proof of where you got the information from. You can link to the source in a couple of different ways, so let’s see how eMarketer does it:

In fact, nearly seven in 10 US internet users surveyed by social media analytics and monitoring service Sprout Social in April 2017 were annoyed when brands used slang on social media.

Although the source is from another website, they’re casually linking it with the given information.

Since the links are well incorporated in the text, the authors who need to back up their information will most likely link to that information.

What Kind of Content Attracts High-Quality Backlinks?

We’ve already listed the characteristics of good linkbait (offer value, invoke emotions, are trendy and visual), and they will certainly attract high-quality backlinks. Nevertheless, there are a few more types of content that can earn backlinks, and they should be added to your backlink strategy.

1. How-to Guides

They are direct, clear and help the reader solve a certain problem or learn something new. If the piece concisely explains every step of the process, it’s easy for the reader to catch up.

How-to guides are easy to write, but not all end up being popular. Again, they must contain some of the good linkbait attributes, just like this article about losing weight from Authority Nutrition.

authority nutrition

Their article has a staggering 32 million views and ranks zero in Google (it’s a featured snippet). It’s obvious why it ranks so well.

The links are relevant, it contains both bullet points and numbers in lists, it has a few pictures and graphs, scientifically backed information about your health and food, and it’s evergreen content. But more about this later.

2. Free Stuff

People love free stuff. Even if it comes in the form of a free course or a challenge. The following page from idealfit.com invites the viewers to take the 15 Day Fit Body Challenge, it contains realistic before and after photos and has reviews from the actual contestants.

idealfit challenge

It also features a YouTube video with the exercises. Therefore, even if the text and the pictures won’t do the trick, the video surely will.

Note: The 15 Day Fit Body Challenge has around half a million views on YouTube, so there you go.

3. Extensive Resources

Let’s get back to my beloved grandma for a bit. If the internet existed back then, she would’ve probably had a website with articles on how to care for flowers.

However, your usual “5 Best Flower Fertilizers” will be useless if you’re dealing with an expert audience.

In that case, it’s best to go with extensive resource pieces, like Buffer’s article on keyboard shortcuts.

The content featured on their blog is clear, highly visual, has bullet points and numbers, links to relevant websites and is sometimes funny.

Here we can clearly see the post has 1000 shares.

buffer shares

Note: The article has a few comments, but they’re not registered in the social sharing counter.

Why Choose Evergreen List Posts?

Any post that is always current and doesn’t have to be changed through time is evergreen. Evergreen list posts are more than welcome in a backlink strategy. That, of course, if they are truly valuable to the readers and not rehashed from the other 10 articles with similar headlines.

One way to keep them on top of the search results is to link back to them in your future posts. After some time, more readers will find your post somewhere, and there’s a greater chance someone will link to it in the future.

Never Underestimate the Power of Comparison

When you have a lot of competition in the niche, it’s silly to ignore it completely. Why not mention your competitors in the content?

For example, you can make a detailed review of a few similar products from a different manufacturer. Or say which brand of shoes is better for certain sports activities.

This kind of content won’t get you huge amounts of shares, but the readers will be genuinely interested in. Plus, it attracts backlinks, like this article from Digital Trends:

digital trends

Another type of article that attracts backlinks is the kind that offers a completely new point of view on established topics, such as this article from Search Engine Land:

search engine land

It may reject everything we previously said but it gives a new perspective on a well-known subject in the SEO world.

On Linkable Assets

To put it simply, linkable assets is another term for excellent linkbait. It usually adds a specific value, it’s highly relevant content with diverse anchor text and people will most likely bookmark it.

Cyrus Shepard says the sweet spot is somewhere between the linkbait and the linkable asset. What does this mean?

A bad linkbait is opposite to every point we came across earlier. But a good one, along with some linkable asset characteristics makes a perfect pair.

In Shepard’s words:

Good linkable assets earn repeat visits and traffic over time. Links aren’t pushed but earned in unexpected places with natural and topically relevant anchor text. Plus, when you publish valuable content actually related to your core subject matter, you help establish yourself as an authority on that topic, and more likely to appear in search results for topically relevant queries.

Headlines Count, Too!

The last point in your backlink strategy should be the headlines. It’s true that people still click on sensationalist or controversial headlines from time to time.

The damage may be done after clicking on it but fortunately, readers don’t stay there long and they know they’ve been tricked. Furthermore, the page is often without any value and appears totally useless for the readers.

Some websites fight against it, like Facebook, who introduced anti-click bait algorithms in 2014 and continued fighting them in 2017.

Sadly, even the high-authority websites will sometimes do this only to earn clicks, with the worst clickbait ever.

cnn clickbait
Source: WiredPen

So, it’s never OK to use clickbait headlines, but rather headlines that accurately describe what the piece is really about.

Backlink Strategy Recap

Backlinks are a powerful SEO tool to spread your content through the internet, to strengthen relationships with other relevant websites, to improve your position in the SERPs, and to improve your domain authority.

When making your backlink strategy, bear in mind that:

Linkbait will help only if you know the difference between the good and the bad.

Backing up your information is essential.

It’s wise to create content that attracts high-quality backlinks.

Using linkable assets can give you more traffic than using linkbait, but the sweet spot is in between those two.

Having sensationalist headlines is useless.

My grandma only had word of mouth to make her products “linkable”, but she did it nonetheless. So, what’s your excuse?

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.

Author: Lea Kuscer

Lea Kuscer is a writer and SEO analyst at Ardor SEO who enjoys gathering and sharing information about digital marketing. Apart from doing word craft, she relaxes her mind by travelling, painting and creating natural cosmetics and eco-friendly jewellery. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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