Studies have shown that over 2 million blog posts are created every day, that’s over 14 million blog posts just in one week. Big deal?
Well, what’s funny is that out of all the businesses I work with they all seem to believe that their content should rank over the 14 million other pieces created regardless of it’s depth, quality or value to it’s readership.
Most business owners think that their content is the bees knees when in reality it’s sub par. Worse yet many businesses aren’t creating content at all, so the bigger hurdle becomes how do we get started? When we talk about Linkable Assets we’re trying to provide other websites with a reason to link to our site by providing a piece of content that is so valuable they simply cannot wait to share it.
What is a Linkable Asset
John Romaine from Works Media and I have been talking about Linkable Assets for some time now (Ep 21 – Are you publishing crappy content) and it was brought to my attention again this week by David Farkas of the upperranks.com in his article called You’re not ready for link building without linkable assets.
Linkable assets, if you haven’t heard of the term, is basically a piece of content on your site that’s so valuable you give readers no other choice but to want to share or link to it. Now, before you get excited don’t get this confused with the 400 word article you wrote last week, I’m talking about high value A grade prime rib kind of content. I’m not going to talk about the type of content that I consider linkable because there are simply too many possibilities and the variations between industry can be significant.
In saying that consider what makes content more linkable:
- Depth of knowledge
- Value of information
- Useability of information
- Industry experience
- Edgy opinions
- many more.
Ask yourself, why would somebody link to my content?
If you’re looking to attract links to your website people simply aren’t interested in linking to your product or service pages. Think about it for a second, somebody comes to you and says “Hey Joe, would you mind linking to my page of Apple watches that I’m trying to sell”, it’s unlikely anybody will grant you your wish because there is no value in it for them or their audience.
It’s simple, content will never be king if you can’t stop writing crappy content that nobody wants to read.
Why Content is such a Challenge
I recently wrote about this on the upperranks.com.au about the challenges of content marketing for businesses and SEO agencies.
The struggle is for realz.
The response from Dave Robinson couldn’t be more on the mark, “We just want you to rank us”, which is a typical response from website owners. However David is exactly right in that businesses need to understand that while they may think their industry is “boring” for content there is great power in your knowledge and simply answering frequently asked questions.
Here is another example on Flying Solo just recently when a visitor of the SEO forum asked the question of what type of schedule was required for posting content.
The above eample is just one of one of the many excuses business owners give themselves as reason for not doing content. The fact is that good content takes time but right now most businesses are still in the mindset of creating mediocre content or doing “just enough” because somebody told them that content was a necessary evil.
If you’re a business owner that uses anyone of the following excuses then chances are that you’ll need some help in this space:
- I don’t have any time
- My industry is boring
- I can’t think of any ideas
- I hate writing
- My dog ate my content #cough, I mean homework.
- I just want to rank, we see no value in content.
As an agency providing SEO services this is where some of the challenges arise in gaining sustainable white hat no bullshit results for our clients. In order to create sustainable results it becomes a combination of onsite SEO, content marketing and high quality link building. Each of these areas when done in a sustainable approach takes significant time.
So what options do we have:
- Option A) we provide content mentoring and assist you with creating linkable assets for your industry
- Option B) we create content on your behalf.
Why Publish & Pray will Fail
Brian Dean from Backlinko recently spoke about the “Publish and Pray” approach to content. You create content, press the publish button and then expect to see the landscape significantly change. This is rarely the case.
Although I have and still see 400 page articles hitting the first page in low competition industries it’s highly unlikely in moderate to competitive industries. Content is just as much about promotion as it is creation. The combination of creating linkable assets and outreach is an incredibly effective strategy for SEO where you’re not seeing back waiting for links to role in.
In an industry like SEO I could be creating new content every week but it wouldn’t necessarily have a big impact on my traffic unless I effectively promoted it to relevant websites in my industry.
The whole content builds links is crap. It only builds links if you promote your content in the right way and build relationships that allow you to request that people link back to you. When you reach the point that you have a large audience then it’s often the case that links will come more naturally but it’s unlikely if your following is small.
How We Create Linkable Assets
Option A – Content mentoring
Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes its built on catastrophe.
As someone who is experienced in their industry you’ll understand by now that the success and knowledge you’ve gained has come from many years of frustration and failure in order to learn and master your craft.
If I was to ask you any one of the questions:
- “What do you think is wrong with your industry at the moment”
- “Why are you different from your competitors”
- “How do you get results and what techniques do you use”
I’ve no doubt that for someone who is passionate and experienced you’d be able to talk underwater in response to this. These types of conversations are exactly the type experience that should be embedded into your content. As an agency or someone who is writing on your behalf it’s impossible to know your industry with the same level of experience or have the same passion as you.
Sit down, record your thoughts, have someone interview, have your customers send in questions and get the knowledge out of your head so someone can turn it into something linkable.
It’s your knowledge and experience that allows you to create linkable assets because of the value you can provide and your understand of the industry.
The bigger issue is that business simply aren’t creating content or when they do its outsourced into a 400 word article that resembles more of highschool assignment than a linkable asset. This type of content is complete garbage and will have little impact on your traffic or rankings. If your or your agencies strategy revolves around publishing crappy content on low quality sites and in return for shitty links then you need to reassess.
As an agency or mentor we can assist you by finding pieces of content that are already receiving a large number of shares or backlinks, we call it reverse engineering.
We look at your competitors and industry authorities and see which pieces of content have been the most successful this far. We generate a spreadsheet which shows:
- Which keywords the content is ranking against
- The estimated amount of traffic a piece of content receives
- The number of social shares
- A link to the piece of content itself so you can see what it’s offering.
What this does is provides you with a complete list of content marketing opportunities and ideas. You can develop a content marketing strategy that’s built on proven success rather than guessing all the time. We covered much of how we do this in our article on Keyword Research.
This makes link building so much easier. The process might look like this:
- Creating linkable asset
- Reverse engineer existing content on similar topics to identify backlinks and potential link building opportunities
- Use outreach to promote your content and gain links from website identified in step 2.
Once you’ve created a linkable asset our role as an SEO agency becomes that much easier. We spend less of our time on creating content and more of the time in promoting and gaining relevant high quality links which is incredibly powerful. We might send an email such as the following, which is for a broken link opportunity, or create one tailored towards some content they’ve already created:
Template provided by Quicksprout and Neil Patel – http://www.quicksprout.com/2012/12/07/the-link-builders-guide-to-email-outreach/
In fact outreach and quality content can lead to so much more than just links. Take a look at a recent response I had on behalf of a client which involved a genuine high quality lead that resulted in cash!
Option B – Content Marketing
The second we option we have is that an agency or somebody operates on your behalf to create content for your website. When it comes to building asset on behalf of it typically comes down to budget and how much time can you afford to pay for to create something valuable. No i’m not talking about crappy fivver projects where someone will build you a $500 word article for $5 dollars.
For example today is Monday and I’ve been writing this article since Friday. I’d estimate till this point only there might be 4 – 5 hours of time put into it already. I wrote a shorter article for a client just the other day and that took around 2 hours.
Content takes time it’s that simple.
It’s very much like losing weight your you might do the following:
a) Walk once around your neighborhood 4 days per week or
b) Go to the gym 7 days per week and exercise for two hours.
It’s easy to tell which option will get results faster because they’ve invested more of their time.
The biggest Issue with outsourcing content
In other recent forum posts the question was asked Is SEO still a big deal? and the topic of content was once again raised. Here is my response which I feel summarizes my thoughts on it quite well.
If somebody is going to be creating content on your behalf then it’s going to make the world of difference if you get involved. It’s easy for business owners to think that content = blogging, it’s really not the case. Recently I’ve been engaging with John Romaine and helping him with the Works Media SEO Podcast where in a typical 30 minute episode we’ve created content for itunes, sticher, soundcloud, pinterest, linkedin, facebook, twitter and his blog.
Now admittedly that’s only 30 minutes of my time but John would definitely highlight that he spends more time than that from start to finish but as business owner giving your time to a podcast where someone asks questions and discusses the industry with you and then takes content away for editing and publishing which is realistically, where the biggest time sink is, can be a huge advantage.
These podcasts on average are likely to be over 4000 words which is just a touch larger than crappy 400 word article I can get written on my behalf on fiverr.
Is it possible to create linkable assets without an experienced input?
Of course! However I think it takes a much larger period of time without the influence of the knowledge source or business owner. If you’re having content made on your behalf think about the above scenario and if you can sit in front of a microphone or camera for a short period of time the amount of content you can create increases significantly.
Time Vs ROI
I think it’s important to touch on the whole ROI debate. From a business owner perspective the issue with content is that it typically takes a period of time before you notice a difference. “We just want to rank. We don’t want to fuss around with this new age content fad”. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of maturity in the industry and the old school mentality to SEO when a few pages stuffed with keywords would gain results but it’s certainly not the case anymore.
Let’s use the exercise example again, for example you might be someone who works out everyday and after every workout you weigh yourself, sighing you tell yourself “I worked out so hard but I only lost .5kg”. It’s disheartening when results aren’t instant in a world where we expect everything to be instant.
It’s at the end of 6 months however what you realise that you’ve lost 10kg, complete body transformation, from when you started and when you look at pictures you can’t believe the difference. This is the exact approach you have with content, very rarely will you see instant results you need to think more of it as part of your weekly routine to get long-term sustainable results. If you can keep up with content you’ll quickly look back in 12 months and see how far you’ve come.
It’s likely you’ll notice a significant increase in traffic and hopefully your conversions too.
If you’re operating in the online space then you’re going to have to have a long-term mindset.
In order to get fit you might a) train yourself or b) get a private trainer. Option b might get you results faster because you have someone to mentor you but it also means your weight loss will cost you far more. Option A means it will be cheaper but the results might not necessarily come as quickly because you are lacking the experience to gain results.
As a business operating online you simply need to understand that content is critical. The more valuable it is the better it will serve you long-term. The biggest challenge however is continuously balancing your time versus the cost or producing it and understand that your return on investment is likely to have an exponential growth.