Content often makes link building easier.
Building links without content is not impossible, but it’s a hell of lot easier to build links when you actually have something useful people want to link to. At Page One Power we call this type of content a linkable asset.
However, creating these linkable assets doesn’t happen by accident. Creating linkable assets takes hard work and no shortage of creativity (similar to building links).
One of the most critical aspects of creating linkable assets is the content ideation process, or in simpler terms, coming up with ideas for the kind of content you will create. Fortunately, there are a variety of methods, techniques and tools available that will help assist your content ideation process.
A few of my favorites are:
- Competitor analysis;
- BuzzSumo; and
- Your community.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to spark some ideas for creating linkable assets is to look at what your competitors are doing.
Your competitors share your same audience and examining what they have done successfully can provide a great starting point for creating a linkable asset.
Some key elements to consider during your competitor analysis include:
- Types of content that performed well;
- Successful content that is outdated;
- Low- to mid-quality popular content that you could outshine; and
- Popular content you could address from a different perspective/angle, etc.
There is a lot that can be gleaned from a competitor analysis, but keep in mind you don’t want to simply copy what your competitors are doing. Take something they did that was popular or successful and improve upon/update it to create something that already proved to be well-received.
To find your competitors’ popular content, you can look at their backlink profile by using a tool like Open Site Explorer (OSE) or MajesticSEO.
For OSE, you want to look at “Top Pages” tab:
And for MajesticSEO, look at the “Pages” tab:
These tabs will provide you with the most popular pages/content on your competitors’ sites, as these are the pages with the most inbound links.
Simply looking at what your competitors have done may spark a completely different idea for a linkable asset that would be relevant and useful to your audience.
BuzzSumo can also provide some assistance with content ideation when creating linkable assets.
The tool is very versatile and provides a wealth of data, largely related to social media and content. The data and information BuzzSumo delivers makes it ideal for content ideation.
You can use BuzzSumo in a variety of ways, but there is one particular process that can be especially useful for creating linkable assets.
The first step is to find influencers within your niche. This can be done by clicking on the “Influencers” tab:
After you click on this tab you can then search for the top influencers in your niche. For example, here is what BuzzSumo returns when I search “link building”:
The next step in the process is to click on the “All Links Shared” link.
Clicking on this link will generate a page that shows all the links these relevant influencers have shared in their Twitter feed.
In order to compile this data into a more digestible form, you can click the “Export” button and export the data to Excel.
Now that you have your data in an Excel spreadsheet, you can begin to drill down and find inspiration for your own content ideas.
Simply perform a Ctrl+F search of words relevant to your industry or niche to find the content these influencers shared in the past that is related to your key terms. For example, if I search for “link building,” the first result I get is “The New Link Building Survey 2014 – Results.” (Note: The Ctrl+F search becomes more necessary when you’re dealing with very broad topics and thousands of content results.)
This shows me that a number of influencers within my industry enjoyed this link building survey and shared it on social media.
Along with the Ctrl+F search, you can also copy all the titles in Row A and compile them into a word cloud program to see the most prominent topics.
This provides me with a great place to start with content ideation as I now know that a high-quality industry survey would likely be well-received within my niche. In this particular example the survey is fairly new, but say you found a popular survey that was outdated — you just found a content gap that you could fill. Some other ways you could find content gaps with this technique include:
- Popular content that no longer exists;
- Well-performing content that is sub-par and could be improved upon; and
- Content that could be covered from another angle or perspective; etc.
The above example is just the first piece of content that pops up on my spreadsheet. There are multiple results that appear in my Ctrl+F search and that’s only for one particular term — so you can see there is a lot of opportunity here.
As mentioned before, BuzzSumo can provide a wealth of data, and the information encompassed within these Excel spreadsheets includes:
- Published date;
- Article amplifiers (who shared);
- Type of content; and
- Total shares on each social platform (Facebook, G+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest).
BuzzSumo can be great for content ideation — it can spark ideas to help you create linkable assets, provide insight into what content influencers share and give you a list of people worth outreaching to when you’ve created your own content.
Another great resource for content ideation is your existing community and audience.
Leveraging your community for content ideas should always be a consideration when creating linkable assets because these are the people you want to see your content and engage with it. Ideally you should be creating content that interests your target audience and aims to solve problems for them.
Oftentimes as content creators we over-complicate the content ideation process when we can simply ask our established community for ideas. There are a number of ways to leverage your audience for content ideas, including:
- Interact in forums;
- Engage in the comments section of your own posts; and
- Ask questions in social communities, etc.
Sometimes the best way to develop content that interests your target audience and addresses their pain points is to merely ask them for ideas.
Stellar content makes link building easier, particularly if that content is designed to be a linkable asset. This should be addressed during the content ideation phase, before you actually launch into creation.
Here are my favorite methods for ensuring link-worthy content:
- Competitor analysis – examine what has worked for your competitors and adapt it for your own unique content
- Utilize BuzzSumo – use the helpful tool to find what types of content is popular among industry influencers
- Leverage your community – simply ask your existing audience what is important to them
Have any other ideas? Please comment and let us know!
Andrew Dennis is a Content Marketing Specialist at Page One Power, a relevancy-first link building firm located in Boise, Idaho. He is also a regular contributor to Biznology and the link building blog Linkarati. Andrew graduated from the University of Idaho and is therefore a lifelong Vandals fan. You can engage with him on Twitter. His last article for SEMrush was “10 Local Link Building Strategies For Small Business.”