Welcome to the first part in a ten-part series that will take a deep dive look at some of the most effective and yet, underused SEO tactics you can leverage to get a jump on boosting your website, your brand and your overall reputation in 2021.
To kick things off, we will discuss an SEO tactic that sounds harder to implement than it really is: link building with interactive content.
Ultimately, if you want to gain a competitive edge from your link building activities, you need to establish a strategic plan that lets you gain the valuable, high-quality links your rivals can’t or at least those they’re going to struggle to duplicate.
That means doing something new. But we’re nearly a quarter-of-a-century into link-building as a viable marketing strategy, as well as it being one of the best SEO tactics you can implement. So just how the heck do you do it?
Guest blogging, resource link building or similar strategies and exploiting high-value PR approaches such as newsjacking can be effective, and should not be overlooked. But making use of them alone won’t achieve a clear competitive edge because you are waiting for the right chance to come along. And there may be times when you are waiting a long time for that to happen.
However, in the world of content marketing/digital PR as we move into 2021, one strategy will help you win – and keep – great links at scale.
The definition of this wonder tactic is easy:
Build something fantastic and make sure it is exposed to the right individuals.
If you can build a linkable asset that journalists, bloggers, and webmasters want to link to (want to is the key here), the results you can drive can lead to substantial growth.
From static visuals – yes, infographics can still earn great links – through to interactive content items, a linkable asset can come in many forms.
Here, we will discuss in more detail how you can use these content types to gain natural links that lead to better SEO, great audience development and engagement, successful brand building, and more.
In particular, we will look at what makes each of these interactive formats linkable and how they can be promoted to gain the best links possible – maybe even those you thought out of your league – as well as a variety of tips for creating such properties.
Calculators and Tools
When created well, software and calculators are probably the most productive way to obtain consistent and quality links at scale.
Simple ideas have, however, been done to death in several industries and offer nothing new. This is especially true in the financial sector.
Today, for tools and calculators to drive SEO and engagement success, you need a fairly unique idea.
When coming up with ideas for this format, be sure to ask yourself what value it will offer to users (and to other content creators as a citable resource) and check, double-check and triple-check if there is already something similar. If there is, and it is still an idea you want to make use of, you are going to need to find a way to make it significantly better.
Other than the perhaps obvious – and therefore best avoided – common calculator types (mortgage calculators spring to mind quickly here), what other content types could you consider?
Cost calculators for almost anything are tools people find useful.
Run a bakery? Find a way to create a calculator tool that will help visitors determine how many cakes/rolls/loaves they need to order to feed a crowd. Home decorator, home stager or similar? How many rolls of wallpaper/packs of tiles/pieces of sheetrock are needed to cover a room of a certain size? Run a pet business? How much dry food does a dog need as measured in milligrams/cups?
Simple calculators like these can be handy to your audience and that of potentially dozens and dozens of other content creators. Taking the last example, a LOT of websites and businesses offer content on pet-related subjects and may find you calculator useful.
When creating your tool branding, it is important, but be mindful not to let your logo/website info overwhelm the piece to the point where others won’t want to use it. Also, offer it from a central location – or locations – so that you can keep track of its performance. Google Drive, Flickr or Slideshare are great choices for most niches. This is in addition, of course, to direct outreach to the content creators you really want to earn those links from.
Quizzes and Games
When making an interactive piece of material for linking and engagement purposes, do you want to have a little fun?
Get your thinking cap on and brainstorm ideas about fun games and quizzes that you might launch to drive your audience’s interaction, along with earning links from other asset-sharing publications.
The only downside to using quizzes and games as SEO link assets is the fact that they are usually resource-intensive to generate; thereby raising both the time needed to start the project off and the expenditure needed to see it through.
Games and quizzes, while bringing the fun factor – and link opportunities – to content marketing can also drive amazing results through socials, email sign-ups and more. But where do you start?
Our best advice is to start brainstorming the subjects for which your audience recognises you. What will they usually associate with your brand? From there, you can start creating ideas and hypotheses about how these people can be challenged and launch an engaging interactive that catches their attention.
Your creativity here is truly the only limit.
Before diving deep into production, make sure to review the idea with your target audience members even if that is just friends, colleagues not involved in the project or even content creators and journalists in your professional network.
Here are a few examples of engaging games and quizzes which have driven great results from a link perspective as well:
As you can see, these quizzes are not just about having fun either. They provide real, helpful information via their answers, thus also boosting your reputation as an expert in your niche, another big SEO plus that is hard to achieve through something as commonplace as blogging alone.
Once your asset is created, you’ll need to focus on the angle which you’ll pitch out to prospects to encourage them to talk about, and link to it.
For example, the headline for “Car Dealership Launches Road Sign Quiz” is quite different from “Only 2 in 5 Can Correctly Identify These Must-Know Road Signs”. Different in that it’s a heck of a lot more exciting and opens up all kinds of content possibilities for others.
Before you start production on this kind of asset, start thinking about the angles you can take to press and eventually you’ll generate even more valuable links when you begin to see angles to help create a buzz. A buzz that will have your content at its heart.
Why make an interactive map?
For a simple reason:
Static maps are one of the hardest content formats to consume, especially on mobile devices.
Maps are an excellent way of viewing information that is broken down by region.
This is a proven and efficient style of content that can help you earn great links.
However, the format is seldom user-friendly unless you want the users to zoom in and move the map around using finger-pinches on mobile devices.
But, transform a map into an interactive asset, and you instantly have the potential to make it much easier for users to zoom in and move around; as well as being able to add additional countries and hover (or click) info.
Why do maps work so well as a content format focused on the acquisition of links?
Combined with the fact that there is usually a unique approach you can take to most countries featured, the basic reason is we all love to compare ourselves to those around the globe.
Here are some examples of map-based interactive content assets that have performed well and can motivate you to start your own:
Expedia’s Mythical Creatures
It’s perhaps no coincidence that among travel brands, interactive maps are common.
However, interactive maps have been shown to work across a whole range of industries, from automotive to finance.
The problem you will need to overcome is where interesting data sources, comparable across a country, continent or worldwide, can be found from which interesting patterns and comparisons can be drawn.
Conquer this challenge, and you will potentially end up with a brilliant campaign that achieves your goals and wins you some excellent link opportunities.
There’s a high probability you’re going to need to use seriously data-driven interactive content if you really want to drive success in terms of gaining quality links from top-tier publishers.
And, done right, you can end up with multiple angles when you take data and use it to create an interesting narrative, particularly when it’s done in the index format.
We’re not talking here about simple listicles; far from it. We’re talking about data-driven studies from which you can literally derive story after story.
Start exploring data sets and thinking about how you could use them to combine variables to create a ranking in index form when coming up with ideas for indices.
You’re likely now thinking that you should launch this as a static format – an infographic, perhaps even just as a blog post.
However, there are big advantages of launching a more complex, interactive version as users can:
- Explore the data their way.
- Sort rankings.
- Actively engage with maps.
- Whatever else you choose to add
There are lots of ways you can start off with an index and make it engaging or interactive.
Here are some interactive indices which performed well from a link acquisition point of view and are pretty useful to boot.
Interactive Content Infographics and Analysis
Some say infographics are dead, but the fact is that the format can’t be blamed.
Regardless of the medium used to present it, a great story and headline will succeed, and even in 2020, infographics may still be the best tactic for campaigns.
Though, what is often more effective is releasing an interactive infographic or turning a static report into something a little more engaging; incorporating interactive elements.
For the simple reason that this form of interactive content makes it possible for you:
- Enhance the user experience.
- Present knowledge in unique ways.
- Generate a very cool piece of content.
With a static commodity, you don’t have the versatility you do with an interactive content asset, which you can do so much more with.
In many respects, this is interactive content that is a step above static assets and comparatively low on resources in its most simplified form.
It provides you with the freedom to concentrate on:
- Being imaginative.
- Presenting details in the correct way.
- Above all, having a responsive asset that looks as fantastic on mobile as on desktop computers, solving one of the most common problems when dealing with static visuals.
Here are some simple but successful examples of content that was based around interactive infographics and reports:
If you have yet to launch an interactive piece of content as part of your link acquisition efforts, maybe a relatively simple interactive infographic or report is the way to start testing formats.
Also, simple interactive assets can win links in substantial numbers, as we can see from the three examples shared here. It’s been so long, of course, that there’s also a wonderful story behind them now.
It’s Your Turn
Do you feel motivated to go and test your own interactive content?
There are few better ways to obtain quality links at scale, and maybe if you see some initial success, you will continue to search for ways to push the format and launch larger and better promotions. As long as you focus on ensuring that there is a great story behind the asset you’ll have hit on a great way to boost your SEO and gain quality backlinks that your competitors just aren’t leveraging.
And stay tuned for part two in this series, which will reveal another criminally underused SEO tactic you can make use of before your competitors do.