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How to Create Data-Driven Content That Drives Millions of Visitors: Part III

Roland Frasier

In part I of my four-part series about creating high-traffic, data-driven content, I gave an overview of how to create the right content for your audience. In part II, I detailed how to create content surrounding trends and events. This segment focuses on creating content using solid topics and strategies that work.

STRATEGY #3: Create Data-Driven Content Around Proven Winners

Now that you’ve got 50% of your content based on Strategy 1 and another 20% based on Strategy 2, it’s time to go fishing for content ideas that will give you links and traffic from sites and sources that have already raised their hand and given links and traffic to other people’s content. We use this strategy to generate an additional 20% of our content.

Kudos to Brian Dean at http://BackLinko.com where I first saw this strategy documented in detail. Here’s how it works in three simple steps:

Step 1 – Use SEMrush to find content other people have already linked heavily to.

SEMrush backlinks

Click on the “Backlinks” section in the dashboard on the left side (#1 in the image above). Then, type a competitor domain that you want to source high quality content from in the search bar (#2 in the image above). Check the visual dashboard to be sure that the domain has plenty of links.

In this case, we’re going to look at a competitor to our DIYReady business, Instructables.com. As you can see in the image above, they have 1.6 million backlinks coming from 78,500 referring domains and 52,400 referring IPs: plenty of backlinks to work with there.

Next, click on the “indexed pages” selection in the dashboard on the left, as shown in item #1 in the image below. This will pull up a list of all of the indexed pages on the site (item #3 in the image below) and list all of the information about domains, backlinks, external and internal links (item #2 in the image below).

Sort the Indexed Pages results by “backlinks” by clicking on the tiny little arrow just to the right of the “Backlinks” column. We do this because we’re looking for content that will work for our market and niche that has a lot of great backlinks. Ideally, we want content that has a minimum of 100 backlinks.

You may find that you need to export the full list to drill down far enough to find the right content with the right backlinks, but it’s easy and it really doesn’t take very long.

SEMrush tool

Scroll through the indexed pages that are listed in the sorted-by-backlinks-list that you just pulled until you find content that you think will fit your market and purpose here. In our case, we’re looking for something fun and interesting for our DIYReady site. There are several possibilities, but one post on Playdough looks really interesting. It has 443 backlinks from 160 different referring domains, so it looks like it will fit the bill nicely.


Good news! This post (shown in the image below) definitely has potential. It got almost 7 million views since it was originally posted over 6 years ago. Even though the post date is not listed, there are dates in the comments section, so you can always check there to get a publish date or at least a good approximation.

Evaluate your competition

Will it work for this strategy? Maybe. The next thing we need to do is look and see if we can improve it.

Let’s click on the URL to the post itself and see if we think there are any opportunities to improve on what’s already there. If so, we’re good, but if not, then we’ll have to keep looking.

Here are four ways that we can do that.

  • Make it look better by improving the design, using better photos or making an infographic.
  • Update it with any new information or even just integrating information you learned by reading the comments from people who tried making playdough and ran into some challenges; offer additional advice that is helpful to the playdough-making process.
  • Increase the length. For example, this article only has 2 steps. It’s possible to make more steps that more clearly and simply describe the process. You could also include several different playdough recipes or even different projects that are suitable for different types, colors or grades of playdough.
  • Make it more in depth by adding video, more pictures, do’s and don’ts, a FAQ, etc.

Step 2 – Use data to source content that is even better and more thorough than the content you found in step 1.

Okay, now we that know that we can do better than the original piece of content in several different ways, the next step is to use data to source content that is even better and more thorough than the content we need to improve upon.

Use the process described in Strategy 1 above to source the content from the SEMrush “SERP source” column on the Related Keywords Report.

Step 3 - Reach out to the influencers that made the content popular and get them to promote your even-better content.

The final step in Strategy 3 is to reach out to the folks who helped get the original content so many links, and let them know that there is now new, even better content than what they linked to before. The goal here is that they will check out your content and link to it since they have already linked to similar content in the past.

There are several ways to reach out to these influencers. The first step is to go look at the actual backlinks that the original content has to see which ones you should reach out to.

To do that, go to SEMrush and click on the “Backlinks” selection under the “Backlinks” section of the dashboard on the left side (Item #1 in the image below). Next, copy the link to the original content article that you have improved and paste it into the Search bar (Item #2 below). Next, click on the “Export” button on the right side of the page under the backlink visuals (Item #3).

SEMrush tool

When you click the Export button, you are given a choice of format to export your data (see image below).

Choose the one that works for you (we’ll choose Excel in this example), and click on it to complete the export.

Export data

Once the export is complete, open the exported document and you should see something like this…

Exported data

This gives you a complete list of all the links that you can sort and manipulate at will. Next, sort the exported list by External Links. Then, delete all the links that either seem impossible to get (like a .gov you investigate and determine to be unattainable) or just don’t make sense and then take a look at your final list.

Now, we can use this list to start our outreach campaign. The easiest and most simple way to start your outreach is to gather the contact information of all the folks on your list and send them a short little email. I like to use Brian Dean’s email template from his Skyscraper Method post, as shown below.

Skyscraper method

The next step is to get the contact information for each potential backlink contact from your list so you can enter it into the email template above and send your outreach emails. There are several ways to get this data. You can manually go to each backlink site and try to find the contact information in the “About” section of the site.

There are 2 great reasons to reach out to Influencers. The first is to get them to link to your content. The second is that the more influencers you have, the more your content is likely to be amplified and reach a dramatically larger audience.


As you can see from the chart in the image above, if five influencers share your content, you can typically expect a four times greater reach than it would have if no influencers share it.

Here’s how we can find them. The first tool you can use is Authority Spy.

Authority Spy

Authority Spy is a SaaS (Software as a Service) application that costs anywhere from $27 one-time to $47 per month, depending on the level of service you want to subscribe to. Paste sites or search terms into the search bar (see image below) and AuthoritySpy returns a wealth of information about your potential link partners.

Potential link partners

Another good paid solution for semi-automating the influencer outreach process is BuzzStream, which costs anywhere between $29 and $249 per month, depending on the version you choose, and which is my first choice for influencer outreach, mainly because you can just take your full list of backlinks, load them into BuzzStream and get much of the needed contact information automatically.


There are several other tools that you may want to investigate for influencer outreach as well (see the image below).

helpful tools

Case Study – Strategy 3:

Using the content discovery strategy outlined in Strategy 3, we did backlink research and found a great post about DIY projects for teenagers that had a large number of backlinks. We created a curated post that improved on the original (see image below).


We conducted influencer outreach to all the prior linking influencers and ended up with a post that generated 60,549 page views last month (see image below).

DIYready page views

Strategy 3 Summary

Step 1: Find high-ranking, high-search targeted keyword volume content with 100 or more quality backlinks.

Step 2: Improve it.

Step 3: Reach out to all the influencers who linked to the original content and let them know about your new and improved version.

Has this strategy worked for you? Let us know all about it in the comments.

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Roland Frasier is a true titan of the Internet marketing pantheon.
An owner at Digital Marketer, Roland helps craft the most cutting edge and effective promotional strategies out there.
Frasier has been in sales and marketing ever since he started selling real-estate when he was 18.
Now, Frasier is either the principle or CEO of 5 different companies–with no sign of slowing down. He is a bona fide force of nature on the marketing scene.
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