Think about the best thing someone’s ever said about you. How did you feel when you found out? Pretty proud, probably.
Now, envision that the person who said that good thing was someone you—and others—really respected. That person had lots of people listening to what they were saying, and, lucky for you, that person was saying you were credible, trustworthy, or worth listening to.
Now, think about that in terms of your website. Online, that scenario happens all the time in the form of backlinks.
When a reputable website links back to something you wrote, you’re getting a really sought-after stamp of approval. That backlink is important because it shows search engines that your content should be ranked higher, which can in turn drive traffic to your website. This is considered a good backlink.
But, for every good backlink, there are dozens of bad backlinks. We’ve written about the difference between the two here, but to sum a bad backlink up: if a search engine notices spammy links to your site from an untrustworthy source, it’ll cause your website to rank lower in search results.
Simply, the better quality backlinks you get, the more you’re “trusted” and the higher your likelihood is of getting search engines (like Google) to rank you higher.
So, what can you do to get good backlinks to your site? Get the attention of the right people. And, in our experience, these seven types of content can help you do that.
1. Industry Statistics & Data
Content about industry-specific statistics and data is often backlinked because other sites find it helpful—especially when they can use it to help prove their own points. Here’s a statistic-rich post from one of our clients, Link Labs, that was referenced and backlinked in this CMO.com by Adobe article. Another example covers the most important cybersecurity statistics from various studies. These are perfect examples of industry authority giving credibility by quoting statistics our client provided.
2. Lists Of Resources/Websites
In our article, 59 Benefits Of Content Marketing From 50 Expert Marketers, Lance shared a ton of great advice and quotes from marketers. The article was so helpful that it was linked to by several sites, including an Entrepreneur.com article on tools that take the guess work out of content marketing.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the backlink, which HubSpot calls an inbound link, has an authority of 5 (on a scale of 1-10), meaning this link has the ability to drive some decent traffic to our website. We’ve found both in our own marketing and in working with our clients that lists that offer ways to help as well as places people can go to find help have a great chance of earning backlinks. However, a short, hastily built list won’t get linked to. Keep in mind that there are no shortcuts for this type of article.
3. Lists Of Experts
Just as with resource lists you can go to when you have a question, providing lists of who to go to in order to answer your questions is very popular content that will get links to your site. Why? If you can provide information about the best, most helpful experts on a given topic or particular industry, other industry resources will link back to you because you are helping them help their readers or customers. Check out these two posts from another client of ours, ClearPoint Strategy:
These examples came early on in our inbound marketing work with ClearPoint and helped all of our related keyword rankings jump quickly.
4. Fundraising & Press Releases
You might be surprised to hear us advocating for creating press releases—we’ve had some pretty harsh commentary for the practice in general (see our articles Are You Committing The #1 Business Blog Writing Faux Pas? and Can I Replace My Company’s Next Inbound Marketing Article With A Press Release?). But, here’s the thing—if your company has done something really cool or really significant (like raised a lot of money) then chances are, you should be writing about it. Unlike many press releases, articles sharing information that could benefit more than just one company can lead to a lot of backlinks. For example, this Link Labs press release was linked to here and here—the $5.7 million investment and the potential impact (even for those not directly related to the company) was worth some special attention.
5. Guest Posts
Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, has noted often that guest posting should no longer be a part of your SEO strategy. Too many spammy exchanges have happened in the guest blogging world, so Google decided to crack down. But, if you read the fine print, you’ll notice that he still encourages people to engage in genuine guest posting if both sites are reputable. So, like anything in the SEO world, you can still do it—and benefit—if you have genuine intentions.
So, if you’re wanting to pursue guest posting (it still works!), here is our recommendation (taken from our 19,000-word, step-by-step inbound marketing plan):
- If you’re interested in guest blogging somewhere, check out industry-leading blogging sites and read through their contribution guidelines. If it seems like a good fit, submit an article.
- You can also improve your current backlinks by making sure you only have appropriate, Google-friendly links. (In other words, make sure you haven’t ever spammed your links across hundreds of message boards—Google will essentially blacklist you for this.)
Our client mediaPanel saw results and built rapport with this guest post on a blog dedicated to digital signage experts from across the world. Similarly, Nectafy had a chance to guest blog for Unbounce (you can read that article here). Because of that one guest post, Nectafy gained credibility almost instantly and saw a little increase in traffic, too.
6. Comparison Posts
A high-quality comparison article is a good opportunity to earn a backlink. As Henry wrote in a recent Nectafy article, “People love to compare things in order to find a winner. This particular human interest could be a good opportunity for your website and play a role in the rest of your SEO strategy.”
For example, ClearPoint Strategy’s Qlikview vs. Tableau article showed up in this forum—and while forums don’t provide great links in terms of ranking, they are helpful to people searching, and they do get a lot of clicks.
7. Industry Reports
Creating industry reports or adding commentary to existing industry reports are great ways to earn links to your site. For example, this Shipping Solutions article exploring the various roles in export compliance was referenced and linked to in an Export Virginia article discussing the same governmental regulations.
Similarly, this report from BitSight Technologies was linked to by InformationWeek. These types of reports that offer in-depth, expert analysis are important to create and can be great content other reputable sources want to reference.
These seven types of content have worked for our clients and for us, and we think they'll also help you get links to your site. It is a lot of work, but remember: Creating content that brings helpful knowledge, advice, and resources to your audience or peers can continue to add value to your website long after you press publish.