Great content is a must when it comes to ranking your site or page. You have to provide readable, useful, high-value content in order to rank, but that alone is not enough. A few years ago Google confirmed that linking, as well as content, is a major factor ranking pages.
The concept is fairly simple: authority sites link to other authority sites and spammy sites link to other spammy sites. To get into the first category and improve ranking, you need link bait – content that earns links from authority sites.
The most powerful way to build links and authority is to do so naturally. And to do that you need linkable assets. We’ll explain what that means and how to create them.
What is a Linkable Asset?
A linkable asset is something that another site wants to link to, naturally. Content that is worth linking to is a linkable asset. It is:
- Useful and valuable
- Interesting and unique
This covers a lot of content types, but whatever format you use, make sure it has these qualities. People will want to read and link to content that is relevant to them, which provides valuable information they can’t get anywhere else, that is interesting and fun to read or interact with, and that has some emotional impact.
What is Bad Link Bait?
By definition, a linkable asset is good link bait. It draws links naturally. Anyone can create link bait, but it takes some effort to develop a linkable asset.
If you don’t put too much effort into creating an asset, you’ll end up with bad link bait and mediocre or no results. Here are some signs your link bait is no good:
- It’s intentionally inflammatory or insulting, cheaply targeting readers’ emotions or for the sake of controversy.
- You see a spike in links, but these drop off quickly.
- You get eyes on the content but no return visits.
- The content is irrelevant in the context of your target audience.
- It’s simply a rehashed list or another type of link bait from another site. It’s nothing new or unique.
- You’ve made an infographic that looks nice but doesn’t really provide any information.
- All the anchor text is the same or similar.
How to Create Effective Linkable Assets
Everything that bad link bait is can be turned on its head to make linkable assets that actually drive relevant, useful links. Consider these qualities before creating a piece of linkable content:
- Are you creating something new, something with value because readers won’t find anything quite like it on another site?
- Does the information offer practical value?
- Is it visually interesting with illustrations, graphics, and readable text?
- Is this content that someone would come back to more than once?
- Do you have a target audience in mind for whom this information is relevant? Or is it newsworthy?
- Does the asset provoke emotion without being inflammatory or controversial? By the way, humor counts here.
Try These Types of Linkable Assets
Some types of content work better than others as linkable assets. A basic blog post, evergreen article, or informational piece won’t necessarily cut it when you’re looking to garner natural links. You need a piece of content that grabs attention and keeps it.
Pictures, infographics, tables and lists, influencers, survey data, new research, a newsworthy, trending topic, a useful tool; these are the kinds of things that people want to read and will naturally share. Here are a few tried-and-true strategies and types of content that work as linkable assets.
1. Send out a survey and present trending, credible data
One strategy for creating content everyone will want to link to is to survey a group of people on a trending topic. The topic should be trending and relevant to your audience. Create a survey using Google Forms, Survey Monkey, or a similar tool.
Send it out to as many people as you can and aim for 500 to 1,000 responses. If you have a big email list, this may be all you need to get results. Also try social media, sub-reddits, or even Facebook ads until you get enough responses.
Collect the information into an appealing, readable piece with graphs, tables, charges, and pictures interspersed with text. If the information is credible and trending, you’ll get readers, and they’ll share it.
A great example of this is the 2018 ReviewTrackers Online Reviews Survey. This long-form piece uses information from consumers surveyed about SEO and online reviews and how they impact their purchases. The information is credible and useful. And it’s presented in a way that is interesting and easy to read. There is text but also a lot of easy-to-read graphics.
2. Present a case study
Gathering information from hundreds of people can be challenging, depending on your resources. But you can craft a similar piece with graphics, text, and useful information using a case study. Take a personal story from your business, like a pitch that won a hard-to-get client, for instance, and create a long-form piece detailing your strategies, failures, and ultimate success.
One mistake to avoid with case studies is using them to brag. Don’t simply describe successful results to sell your service or product. What readers want is useful information. Describe a case that included powerful lessons, even if you made mistakes. These are lessons that your leaders can learn from, and they will find them valuable.
3. Make an infographic
Everyone loves infographics. This is a great way to present information in a visually appealing way that is easier to read and understand than an article of solid text with the same information. To make an infographic work as a linkable asset, though, it has to look good and have relevant, credible information.
Take a look at this infographic published by Search Engine Journal. It provides trending information on the rise of social media; it looks interesting and easy to read; the information is clear and easy to understand; and at the bottom, they have provided sources for credibility. It’s a winner and has gained some truly valuable backlinks.
4. Develop a mini-course or how-to guide
Presenting long-form content as a guide, lesson, or course naturally draws an audience of people interested in learning something. To create a how-to guide that will successfully draw links, you need credibility. You need expertise in the topic or an expert providing the information.
This example from the company LawnStarter works for its credibility and evergreen content. Lawn Care: The Definitive Guide provides detailed information that anyone trying to maintain turf can use. It comes from the source, a lawn care company, so readers know they can trust the information to be valid.
Courses and guides have the potential to be linkable assets for the long-term. Think evergreen content when crafting this type of piece. To continue getting links over time, you’ll need to make regular updates. And when you do, promote it again.
5. Create a useful calculator or tool
Tools work well as linkable assets because they’re interactive. Think of all the link bait quizzes you see online and on social media. It’s hard to resist clicking on one, right? The click is easy to get, but to win links, the tool has to be high-quality. It won’t be shared if the interesting title leads to a lame quiz or a calculator that doesn’t work.
A tool or calculator can be a powerful linkable asset for niche markets. For example, this alcohol by volume calculator posted by Brewer’s Friend draws in craft brewers, home brewers, and beer enthusiasts. If it works well, they’ll share it with fellow enthusiasts.
This type of linkable asset can also be more general and frivolous. Create a quiz based on any trending topic that will interest your audience to get linkable content.
6. Make a “best of” or “tips” list
Lists are always popular, no matter what your subject matter. People like lists so much because they potentially provide some really valuable information but in a short, easy-to-read format. It boils down all the important details into a shorter piece from which you can pick and choose.
Attention-grabbing lists offer the “best-of,” “the top,” or “tips.” Use words that indicate you’re providing something useful that will help your readers. For example, Water Use it Wisely posted this list of over 100 actionable, easy ways to conserve water. It works really well as a linkable asset because each step is useful, provides information, is short and easy to read, and is presented in a colorful, graphic way.
7. Leverage an influencer
Influencers have power. Find one that matches your audience and you can create a great piece of linkable content. They provide credibility, they are usually trending and relevant, and they have big followings, everything you need in a linkable asset.
There are a few ways to do this. You can hire an influencer to create content for you or interview a relevant influencer and craft the piece yourself. Or, create a survey to send out to influencers and have a really credible set of data. A list of the top influencers in your market is another way to bring them into your content.
Outreach to Get Your Links
Creating linkable assets is only the first step in earning natural links. If no one knows it’s there, what’s the point? You took the time to create some truly great content, so spend time on outreach to get eyes on it. If you did it right, you won’t have to sell or exchange links. When people see and enjoy the content, they’ll link to it. Try these strategies for successful outreach:
- Post your content on your social media sites.
- Post it to social media groups with relevant audiences.
- Direct message it to influencers and anyone else you feel may be interested.
- Use your email list to get it out to readers.
- Also email or direct message news outlets or websites related to your content.
Linkable assets are essential for getting natural links to your site. While creating great content, useful information and a beautiful site are important, they are not enough. You need to actively seek links to rank higher and establish authority. Create content that is relevant, valuable, trending, and targeted to the right audiences, and you have a winning recipe for natural links.