Content Marketing

Why Your Content Isn’t Getting Links – Here’s Why #49


In the last episode, Eric and Mark told you why your content wasn’t getting the amount of shares that you would ideally like it to get. In this episode, they continue with the theme but shift their focus from shares to links.
It can be hard to predict what content really takes off and drives links and traffic, but when it does it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. Eric and Mark are here to explain why your content isn’t getting links, and how to change that!

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Voice: In late 2014 a bomb went off on our Perficient Digital blog. Thankfully, it was the good kind of bomb. A study we published comparing the question-answering abilities of Google Now, Siri, and Cortana, went viral. Within a few days, the post explaining the study was getting written about, and linked to, from publications like Hacker News, Techmeme, Business Insider, readwrite, the Verge and many other high authority sites. Within a month, those links caused our organic search traffic to triple. Stay tuned, because here’s why most content never generates such highly valuable links.
Eric: Mark, in our last episode you explained why most content gets few social media shares, and what to do about it. Now let’s talk about links. Is it a similar situation for earning links?
Mark: If anything it’s worse. While the study by Buzzsumo shows that most content gets few or now social shares, they also found that content earns even fewer links. In fact, in their sample group, 75% of the content pages had zero external links pointing to them.
Eric: That’s a real concern when we consider that links are still a primary way search engines evaluate what content should rank.
Mark: Right you are, Eric. But of course, it should be harder to earn links. Sharing something on social media is so easy to do, and takes very little commitment on the part of the sharer. On the other hand, content creators understand that a link out from their content serves as a tacit endorsement of the linked-to page, and thus they do it more sparingly.
That being said, given that links are so important to increasing your potential organic search traffic, it’s worth exploring why most content doesn’t get many links, and what we might do as content creators to increase our chances of earning good links. Let’s go back for a moment to that Buzzsumo study. One of the more surprising findings there while both large numbers of social shares and large numbers of links are relatively rare, it is also true that it’s even rarer for content to get both. But it does occur, and Buzzsumo calls that the “sweet spot” of content. That sweet spot is the rare but coveted content that earns both lots of social shares and lots of links.
Since, as we said, links are much rarer and harder to earn, it’s likely that the outstanding characteristics of sweet spot posts correlate highly with link earning content. So let’s launch into what’s probably missing from content that doesn’t get many links. First, if you rarely take a strong stand or express a bold opinion, you’re content is less likely to be linked to.
Eric: That stands to reason. Writers often link to content to support or contrast with a stance they themselves are adopting. They are looking to cite other content creators who also took a position on their topic.
Mark: Good point, Eric. Also, a writer’s who never takes a strong position won’t establish themselves as an authority in their topic. And other creators want to link to sources seen as authorities. The other thing lacking in content less likely to receive links is lack of depth and research. Creators seem to link more frequently to content that is backed by data and evidence.
Eric: Again, that makes sense, and for some of the same reasons why people link to content with strong opinions.
Mark: Right. Once again, much linking is done to provide citation backing for the writer’s own take on the topic. Linking to sources with strong data and hard evidence help increase the linker’s own credibility. If you watched the first video in this two-part series, you’ll recognize that these characteristics are not the same as the factors that make content more likely to be shared on social media. Combining the factors for social share-ability with what we shared here about link-ability could really help launch your content into that sweet spot of rare but wonderfully rewarding content that stands out from the crowd and gets remembered.
Eric: That’s the kind of content that not only helps grow your social audience and boost your SEO, perhaps more importantly, it raises the awareness and reputation of your brand. Companies that do that are headed toward long-term success. Thanks again, Mark. If you enjoyed this video and found it helpful, please consider sharing it with others so they can learn to.

About the Author

Eric Enge leads the Digital Marketing practice for Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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Thoughts on “Why Your Content Isn’t Getting Links – Here’s Why #49”

  1. This is exactly why “cornerstone” content is so crucial to making a great website. When you look at links like they’re citations (which they pretty much are), you realize that your article breaks down some facet of social media marketing is much more likely to be cited than some blog post you wrote about some random topic.

  2. “The other thing lacking in content less likely to receive links is lack of depth and research. Creators seem to link more frequently to content that is backed by data and evidence.”
    I’m with you on this one. I continue to come across marketing articles that make claims about one thing or another, then fail to reference an authoritative data source. These are not articles that I typically would share or link to.

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