February 8, 2018

Content Promotion: The Key To Earning Backlinks and Dominating SEO

In recent posts we’ve talked about two key elements that should always be top of mind for content marketers and SEOs:

  1. Backlinks are Google’s #1 search signal
  2. Authoritative websites only link to great content

Content marketers who acknowledge those two facts are way ahead of the game, but they often forget an essential truth:

Authoritative websites won’t magically link to your content. You need to put it in front of them!

This is where content promotion—the step between great content and backlinks—comes into play.

After reading this post, you'll walk away equipped with tips, tricks, and knowledge that will make you a content promotion superstar!

Let’s get started.

Promoting Bad Content is a Waste of Time. So is Promoting Good Content to the Wrong People.

First and foremost, the only way to succeed in your promotion efforts is to promote content that authoritative websites have reason to link to.

Here are some reasons authority sites link to content:

  • It’s relevant to the messages they want to convey to their website visitors
  • It reinforces their own claims and opinions or sheds a positive light on them
  • It adds value to their site visitors
  • It does not compete with or undermine their service offering and is not self-promotional.

If all of these conditions are met, an authoritative website has plenty of reasons to link to your content.

There is also content-based criteria that makes authoritative websites more likely to enjoy and link to a piece.

Here’s a list of elements your content should contain to make it more worthy of earning backlinks:

  • It is useful and immediately actionable for the end user
  • It is reinforced through thoughtful, quality design and custom graphics
  • It is comprehensive, answering all the questions a user may have on a particular topic without sending them elsewhere
  • It is memorable and tells a story

Really, it boils down to this:

Content needs to be both excellent and relevant in order to earn backlinks.

Once you’ve mastered content creation and identification of authoritative link creators, you’re ready for promotion.

Promotion Opportunities and Techniques

Now that we know about the types of content authoritative websites tend to link to, we can dive into some of the opportunities that open doors for outreach.

While there are countless content promotion opportunities and techniques, here are 4 of our favorites.

1. Link Building with Roundups

Getting included in a link roundup is probably the easiest way to earn a backlink.

It’s pretty straight forward:

It’s common for authoritative sites in most industries to put out weekly or monthly content roundups. These are curated collections of the best or most interesting content on a given topic for that particular time period.

I say it’s easy because content roundups are a renewable backlink opportunity, and forming a relationship with an editor or site administrator can lead to multiple backlinks over time.

Reaching out to this administrator and pitching your content is also a value add, because it’s their job to find great content. If your content it’s great, they never have to leave their doorstep!

2. Link Building with Resource Pages

A resource page is a page on a website that contains links to other resources within the industry. These resources are compiled to add value to website visitors by providing them with additional sources of information.

The biggest difference between getting listed on a resource page and a roundup is that a resource page is a list of resources housed on a static page of an authority website.

It’s advantageous because a resource page will almost always get more traffic during its lifetime than a weekly roundup post, which will generate a higher level of referral traffic.

There are a couple minor disadvantages compared to roundups:

First, there is typically only one resource page on a website, so the site administrator is likely to be more selective with the type of content the page links to, and you won’t have a chance every week to get on the next roundup.

Second, you are less likely to get a contextual link, as resource pages are often collections of links under a heading.

3. Link Building by Finding Broken Links

Every site administrator tries to ensure that their website is free of broken links.

But sometimes, broken links slip through the cracks and don’t get caught.

That’s where you and your content come in.

There are numerous tools out there, like the free “Check My Links” Chrome Extension, for finding broken links on any page of any website. Using a tool like this on an authority site can uncover opportunities to add value to the site administrator by pointing out broken links on their site.

The key is finding broken links that previously linked to content on a similar topic to the one your content covers. This gives you a chance to pitch a backlink to your relevant content as a quick fix to the website’s broken link.

4. Link Building by Finding Outdated Content and Links

Most authoritative websites have been around for a while, which means they have a lot of content.

More importantly, it means they probably have a lot of old content. And this presents an excellent opportunity to add value.

By scouring a website’s older content, you will discover a great deal of links to sources that feature outdated data or information. Your job is to find outdated data or information that your content does a better job explaining and backing up.

If a piece on an authority site is boasting 5 year old statistics, and your piece discusses the same concepts, this is an opportunity for you to help the site administrators refresh the content and make it more credible.

In this situation, you can send a feeler email to the site administrator to see if they actively seek to update their content. If so, you can offer up a solution based on the issue you found.

If sections of the content need to be re-written to make the argument more relevant, you can offer to do so, and add a contextual link in the re-write to your own content.

Mastering the Outreach

The keys to a good content promotion email are personalization, specificity and inherent value.

Administrators and editors of high-traffic, influential websites can get hundreds of emails a day requesting backlinks. Your job is to help them sort through the riff raff and give you a chance.

In order to do so, you need to achieve 2 things:

  1. Don’t sound like everybody else
  2. Don’t ask outright for a backlink without adding value

Let’s say you just wrote an excellent piece of content on SEO statistics, and you want to get a backlink from David, a site administrator at a highly regarded website that provides Marketing and SEO advice.

Example 1:

David,

I really love your Marketing and SEO blog. I recently wrote this piece on SEO Statistics and was wondering if you would be interested in linking to it in one of your upcoming posts about SEO.

I have a lot more content where this came from if you’re interested. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help!

Thanks!

This email is problematic for a number of reasons:

It superficially tells David you like his blog. It ambiguously and presumptuously asks for a backlink without offering any value or specificity, and it provides no incentive for David to respond.

Let’s look at another option.

Example 2:

David,

I was reading through an excellent piece on your blog today about SEO Statistics and I noticed that one of the outgoing links is broken.

Here’s a link to the piece: 20 Easy Strategies For Optimizing Your On-Page SEO

I have attached a screenshot of the paragraph with the broken link, which directed users to a statistic that backed up your claim.

As it so happens, I recently launched a piece that provides updated statistics backing up the article’s claim. Feel free to use it!

Here’s the link

Thanks for all of the great content!

The second email is a clear winner. The fact that you found a broken backlink implies that you actually spent time reading the website's content. That’s a much better compliment than saying “I really love your Marketing and SEO blog.”

Most importantly, the email adds value and is extremely specific:

You found a broken backlink, provided a link to the article, a screenshot of the paragraph with the broken link and a link to a replacement. This minimizes the work David has to do and it’s not pushy. While you’re pitching your article as a replacement, you’re not asking for a backlink. It’s merely a suggestion.

While the samples above use the broken link technique for earning backlinks, the principles should stay the same across every technique:

Your outreach emails should always seek to add value, be specific, and be genuine and original without seeming pushy.

Outreach Tools

Now that you’ve learned about some of the best promotion techniques for link building, as well as what to say in your outreach emails, you may be wondering how you actually get in touch with the right people.

We’ve got you covered.

There are a number of tools you can use to scrape websites for names and email addresses, or find email addresses of individuals at certain sites if you already have their names.

Here are links to a few of our favorite tools:

All of these tools are excellent and offer lengthy free trials.

The LinkedIn Sales Navigator Chrome Extension is an excellent free option. It populates snippets of an individual’s LinkedIn profile when you’ve entered their correct email address into gmail (and their email is associated with their LinkedIn account). It works great, even if it may take some extra guesswork compared with other tools listed.

Content Promotion: The “Sales” of the Content Marketing World

Content marketers often let promotion fall by the wayside because they believe that if they publish great content, people will find it.

Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.

In order to earn backlinks and get more eyes on your content, you need to actively promote your work to authoritative websites.

Like sales, content promotion relies on three things:

  1. A great product (in this case, great content)
  2. The right audience
  3. An inherent value to link creators at authoritative websites

You have all of the tools necessary to master these three areas.

All you have to do is get out there and start promoting your excellent content.

Our resource guides

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