You’re almost certainly as sick of hearing that “content is king” as us, but the years’ old digital marketing buzzphrase is one of the most enduringly true in the industry. According to Google’s search quality senior strategist Andrey Lipattsev, content is the most important ranking factor – and has been for years. If you want to succeed in the digital sphere, your website needs to host high quality content which is relevant to your target audience.
But content is by no means the only ranking factor out there. Backlinks are very much “still in the game”. We’re not talking about the spammy backlinks your old SEO agency might have built you back in 2011. Oh no! We’re talking about high quality backlinks from a diverse range of relevant and authoritative domains.
These are not the kind of backlinks you can buy. These are backlinks that need to be earned. And how can you earn backlinks which boost your digital presence? With fantastic content, of course!
This is precisely why content and backlinks go hand in hand. Excellent content has power on its own, but it can also be used to generate even more value by attracting top quality links. As former Google web spam head Matt Cutts once said “link building is sweat and creativity”. The majority of the creativity portion of that equation boils down to building really great content.
Many brands allocate huge budgets to highly sophisticated content strategies and the amount of money being spent on content marketing is growing. By 2019, content marketing is expected to be a $300 billion industry, with 70% of B2B marketers planning to create more content in 2017 than they did in 2016.
With so much money invested in content, how can businesses with smaller budgets compete?
The beauty of content marketing is that there are plenty of ways to generate good results on a shoestring. You may not have the resources to analyse 20 different buyer personas and design fresh content for every stage of their unique buying journey each week, honing your approach by carefully monitoring and measuring results, but you can still develop quality content in house which has a positive impact on your digital presence.
Harnessing content marketing can be beneficial for businesses of all sizes, especially when it gives them an edge over their competition. For example, out of five beauty salons in Streatham, the salon which invests the most in content marketing and link building is likely to have the strongest web presence.
So, how can you create quality content which will earn links while operating on a shoestring budget? We’ve got some helpful tips and ideas anyone can put into practice…
Create something great
It may sound simple, but actually trying to make something good will make a world of difference when it comes to generating high quality, linkable content. All too often content marketing is a case of filling blogs up with rehashed articles and unoriginal pieces. This doesn’t attract readers and it won’t earn links.
Instead, put your thinking hat on and put energy into coming up with something new, something interesting, something original or something useful. In short, something good. If you’re stuck for ideas, we’ve got a few which could work for your brand…
Do your own research
Fresh research is a great piece of brand new, interesting and shareable content. This is a particularly good option for B2B businesses looking for something fresh to publish in their sector. Research can be inexpensive to undertake, too.
Tools like Google Forms and Survey Monkey will help you gather data (you may want to incentivise participation with a prize draw), while writing up a report and creating graphs of your findings can be handled in house, undertaken using tools like Canva or outsourced affordably to a freelancer.
To hit on the ideal research to conduct, think about the questions you hear most frequently from customers or clients, focus on something that’s rapidly changing in your niche, or explore something that’s new in your line of business.
Create a useful resource
If you’re not feeling interesting or entertaining – be useful! Useful content is a fantastic link-earner, providing value which users want to pass on and share. Whether you’re creating a resource collating your favourite hemp milk recipes all over the web (a great approach for B2Cs) or building a collection of useful resources for self-employed individuals (from tax tips to procrastination busters), this type of content is easy to build and great for sharing – especially with a niche target market.
Creating a useful resource like the examples listed above also gives you a fantastic opportunity to reach out to influencers in your sphere and to earn links from the best quality sources amongst them. For instance, you could contact the authors behind those hemp milk recipes directly to thank them for their contribution.
Flattery will get you most places, which means that influencers in your sector are more likely to reciprocate if you have already extolled the virtues of what they have to offer. The link may come from a social account or it may come from a fantastic authoritative site – either way, it’s a win!
There are some more direct ways to get influencers connected to your content. You might decide to create a roundup of the biggest names on a specialist subject connected to your brand, or you might contact an array of influencers in your niche asking for a tip, a piece of advice or an insight you can share in a big bumper list. Whichever route you choose, this type of content could enjoy some impressive exposure.
Get it out there
Of course, just like that silent tree in the deserted forest, if you create great content but nobody ever stumbles across it, doesn’t it really make any difference at all? The short answer is “not really”. Although quality content will help your rankings to some degree just by being on site, if it’s not generating traffic and links, it’s more or less a wasted resource.
So how can you get your freshly made, on-a-shoestring content out there? Connecting with influencers, as explained earlier, is a good start. You’ll also want to publish your content via all of your social media channels along with an enticing image and tagline to help increase clicks. Taking note of these SME social media “don’ts” will help make this approach more effective. Email marketing and press releases are good ways to get your content noticed, while ensuring your website looks and performs beautifully will help ensure readers stick around and even explore further.
Robert Lovell is a digital content marketer at JTC Consultants. He works on campaigns in various sectors and is always looking for new ways to create great original.