Once you have jumped into the pool of SEO and SEM, you probably noticed that sometimes the tide can be high, and some other times – really low.Continuing the 2015 SEO trends, and inspired by Moz’s dilemma which came out earlier this year, we have decided to confront the concepts of link building with Content Marketing, face to face.

So, this article will be an overview of these two phenomena, and consist of the following 3 chapters, the third of which is divided into 11 subchapters:

– What is link building?

– What is content marketing?

– How to build links through Content Marketing:

1. Influence the influencers

2. Guest blogging

3. The power of the interview

4. Expert roundup

5. Step-by-step guides are your best friends

6. Make it visual: infographics

7. Get listed on directories

8. Manage your community

9. Broken link building

10. Gain publicity

11. Make partnerships

What is Link Building?

We will first define these two confronting concepts. According to Wikipedia, in SEO,

link building describes actions aimed at increasing the number and quality of inbound links to a webpage.

What is meant by “inbound links” here are links coming or leading to a website or a web page. Also known as backlinks, inlinks and incoming links, their purpose is to indicate popularity or importance of the website they are leading to, that is – its PageRank, all for the purpose of increasing brand authority and reaching a wider audience.

What is Content Marketing?

Since content marketing has already been discussed in greater detail, we will just quote the definition and move forward. So,

content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing the useful, relevant and consistent content, with the purpose of attracting and retaining specific audience that can bring benefits in the form of increased profits.

In order not to interrupt the users, the current content marketing trend aims at writing quality content, content which the reader can learn from. As opposed to formal writing that we have all learned at school, it is advised to change tone into conversational, and approach the reader from a ‘down-to-Earth’ perspective, with content they can easily relate to.

Even though these two concepts of link building and content marketing may seem a bit confronted, since some companies prefer the former based on their needs, while others prefer the latter – in fact, they can be used together as a great SEO strategy. They are not two different peas in a pod, because you cannot build strong links with poor content. Let us see.

How to Build Links Through Content Marketing?

There are 11 ways to build links with content:

  1. Influence the influencers

If you think that publishing your content, no matter how great it is, and sitting back and waiting for things to simply fall from the sky will bring you more clicks – you are not on the right track because it will not do you any good. What you have to do in order to reach a wider audience is to influence the influencers – natural people or companies which have already established their credibility.

First, think of who your target audience is and conduct a research to see who is influential in your area of expertise. For example, you can use the SocialMention tool, which researches and analyses social media in real time or simply by following them on social networks. See their public profile, like them for a while, and try to talk to them directly.

Write a personalized email, introduce yourself and ask for their help (you can even include the link to your site in the body of the email). Mind you that it may take some time to build a relationship and ensure quality links, but it will eventually pay off.

  1. Guest blogging

Even though Matt Cutts, the former Google’s head of the web spam team, declared that guest posting is in decay back in 2014, now, almost a year and a half later we notice that it isn’t quite yet so. Guest blogging can still build links to your website and increase search ranking. If used properly, with relevant content and appropriate links, you can build a stronger network and get more traffic.

There are two ways of seizing blogging opportunities. Firstly, you can see where your competition is blogging (type ‘guest post’ in BlogMetrics, for example), and follow those blogs and their authors on social networks. Similarly to the first step, you should build a relationship and then reach out for what you need. Follow their guidelines, introduce yourself politely, give examples of your previous work, and convince them why you would be the perfect guest blogger – and there you have it!

  1. The power of the interview

If you want to expand your network within the industry, interviews are a great way of achieving that goal. You just need someone relevant to the industry you can ask to talk to you. The benefits would be threefold: not only will you reach wider audience, but also secure strong backlinks from the expert’s network as well. AND, you will get suited, up-to-date content which you can post on your website. Thumbs going up all the way.

  1. Expert roundup

You can go even a step further and schedule an expert roundup – gather influential experts in one place sharing knowledge and their expertise, and you instantly increase your network with their followers who want to learn something more. If you do not have other means, you can send them questions via email – and make sure they are fresh and relevant, that they can solve your readers/followers’ problems and issues they face with every day. After that, share your content on all social networks and see your network growing.

  1. Step-by-step guides are your best friends

Since our aim is quality content, maybe the best way of introducing it to your website is via guides. People need guidance for whatever they do, so you need to make your content as resourceful and as simple as possible in order to meet their needs. Research what your target audience biggest problems are, and offer your free expertise on the matter by writing great guidebooks. A great example of one such guide is our “How to become a web designer” step-by-step guide.

  1. Make it visual: infographics

Luckily, we can always rely on visual content to be followed with great response, and infographics fall under that category. Create relevant infographic content, move your focus on the keywords and solid data or provide instructions, and make it your long-term strategy.

  1. Get listed on directories

Even though Google frowns upon this strategy, getting your website listed on directories is still a great way of obtaining strong backlinks and increasing search engine ranking. Especially when it comes to small businesses, getting listed on Google Places, Yelp or YellowPages can bring you a lot more benefit than you’d expected. And do not forget to update your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) across all places.

  1. Manage your community

If you want a response from your target audience to see if all the efforts you made are worth, you need to build a strong relationship with it via Community Management. See what their needs are, answer them, and stay in touch. This should include writing blog posts, opening social media accounts, sending email, writing polls, and having occasional quizzes and games from which you can get feedback and see if your strategies work. Make sure to answer emails and comments regularly, and make every answer personal, so that your audience sees how committed and devoted you actually are.

  1. Broken link building

There is another great way to build links – via broken link building. It basically consists of you discovering dead links on quality websites (using, for example, the Broken Link Checker or Domain Hunter Plus), then contacting their webmaster and offering your service as nicely as you can – provide them with quality content which can replace the broken link and be beneficial for both sides.

  1. Gain publicity

Publicity and press releases can be dangerous territory when working with (or against) Google because when spammy, you can be ignored or even severely punished if you don’t obey their Terms of Use. However, when you are obedient and nice, meaning that you use a press release to inform your audience about relevant topics such as important updates in your company, you can get significant traffic from influential websites and media.

  1. Make partnerships

Do not be afraid of other businesses. Partnerships have proved to be beneficial for both sides (which is natural, after all), and it means that you both get links in this special kind of trade. You can go even a step further and step out from your niche; for example, you can partner up with other bloggers and publish infographics, guides or some other quality content that both sides can benefit from.

And finally, to sum up the basic points of this article: use these strategies, do not forget to write extremely good content, relevant to your industry and follow Google’s Terms of Use because you can only benefit from playing by the rules. And good luck with building links through Content Marketing!

Vesna Savić

Dedicates her time to learning about better means of communication, translating knowledge into practice, and is a passionate reader.