If you want great backlinks in the modern SEO world, you need great content.
It’s as simple as that.
Those links improve your search engine rankings and send you droves of referral traffic.
Really, all the posts you read on content marketing come down to two things:
- how to create great content
- how to promote it
They can both get pretty complex when you dive into them.
Here, I want to focus on the first point.
Specifically, I want to talk about what types of content outperform all others.
I get hundreds of emails a day from bloggers asking for links to their latest “epic” guide.
I check out as many as I can, but most aren’t nearly as epic as the creators believe they are. In fact, they’re all almost identical.
If you want to be successful with your promotional efforts, you need to have something truly worth promoting.
That means you have something that’s unique, special, and valuable. And it needs to be something that people care about.
It’s no easy feat, but that’s your goal.
Out of those emails I get every day, 99% contain links to your standard blog post/guide type of content.
I love blogging—I really do—but if you want to stand out, you should also consider creating other forms of content.
There are four in particular that are really effective, and I’ll reveal what they are in this post.
Be warned, though: the reason why these types of content aren’t produced as much as others is because they are much more difficult to create than your standard blog posts.
They will cost much more time and money to produce, but they will also produce exponentially more links and revenue.
They’re not for the lazy, but if you’re ready to put in some work, let’s get started.
Type #1: Tools rule in terms of value
It’s tough to define what a member of your audience would deem valuable, but it correlates with the usefulness of your offer to them.
Blog posts can be very valuable if they help a reader overcome a big problem.
This very post could be worth tens of thousands of dollars to you if you actually implement the advice. I’d say that’s valuable.
But many blog posts aren’t actionable even if they’re well written.
On the other hand, tools are almost always useful because they have a specific purpose and use.
How many bloggers or businesses do you know that have created tools for their audiences?
My guess? Not many.
Not only are such tools useful but they are also rare, which makes them even more special.
Let’s look at a few so you have a clear picture of what I’m talking about.
Take a look at the tool from Keywordtool.io:
This was made back in May of 2014.
According to Ahrefs, at the time of writing, it had over 25,700 backlinks, coming from 3,860 linking root domains.
Can you imagine getting this many links from a series of blog posts, no matter how “epic”?
This keyword tool takes a simple concept, but it executes it well. You enter a keyword into the text box, and the tool will generate a list of keyword suggestions based on autocomplete suggestions.
Basically, it goes to sources such as Google, enters your keyword, and then looks at the suggestions that pop up.
If you hire a typical developer, this kind of a tool would take about 2-3 weeks to create and cost around $5,000 (my estimate).
Based on that cost, the creator has been able to get links for 19.4 cents a piece. Or, in terms of linking root domains (LRDs), it’s $1.75 per linking root domain.
And these aren’t low quality links. On top of that, I’m sure he’s been able to sell a good number of premium memberships (a few extra features), while also drumming up some advanced keyword research projects for other businesses.
One more example (a personal one…): If you go to the Quick Sprout homepage, you’ll see the Quick Sprout tool, which you may or may not know about.
It takes your domain name and generates an incredibly detailed SEO and site performance report:
It wasn’t cheap to make. In fact, it cost me over $100,000.
I include it here to illustrate that you can go as big or as small as you’d like with tools.
Small tools that cost a few hundred or thousand can still get a great amount of attention, but bigger tools usually get more.
Even though the tool is free, the leads that it has generated have already produced several times what I paid to have it created.
That’s the most important conclusion here: Tools can be used not only to get backlinks and traffic but to also produce revenue.
Blog posts convert at lower rates, and while they can produce a solid return on investment (ROI), it doesn’t compare to tools.
Are tools perfect? It’s only fair that I tell you about the potential downside of tools as well.
First is the potentially high cost. You’ll need to invest quite a bit before you ever see returns.
Secondly, results are never guaranteed. Not all tools are well received or popular, so you risk creating a tool that your audience doesn’t love.
However, if you really understand your audience and apply lean marketing principles, you can reduce the risk of this considerably.
Type #2: Viral story videos (almost commercials)
I think many people forget that videos and commercials are still a form of content.
Yes, people don’t like most commercials they see on TV, but smart marketers have figured out that there are certain types of ads that people love.
They’ll share these, link to them, and help them go viral.
My favorite example of this is Dollar Shave Club’s ad campaign.
Their first video came out of nowhere and was enough to establish the company as a household name:
This wasn’t a typical commercial about shaving blades, with all sorts of close-ups. You know the ones I’m talking about…
Instead, it’s an immensely entertaining video starring the founder.
They don’t include the standard platitudes that viewers are sick of hearing. Instead, they’re authentic.
I strongly encourage you to watch the full video now, before moving forward:
This video alone has received almost 22 million views along with 9,520 backlinks from 1,760 domains:
It’s true, creating a video like this isn’t cheap.
It will cost tens of thousands of dollars, and that’s why most businesses don’t even attempt it.
However, if you have the budget, it’s a great option. Just remember to also budget for the initial promotion (that hopefully pushes the video viral).
Type #3: High quality images are more valuable than ever before
I’m not sure why this idea did not take off in the past.
It’s not new.
The strategy is to create a whole bunch of custom images that bloggers in your niche would love to use.
Once you do, you let them know about the images and say they can use any of them free as long as they link back to your site, giving it credit.
If you’re a blogger, you know how hard it is to find great custom images, let alone free.
That’s why this is such an easy sell.
But now, I think this strategy is more effective than ever before.
There have never been more bloggers creating content on a regular basis. That’s one factor that raises the demand for images.
Additionally, most of those bloggers are realizing that quality is the most important factor in their success. That applies to both their writing and the images they use. This creates even more demand for high quality images.
If you can provide that, you will be successful.
Stock images suck, go for custom: There are tons of free stock image sites out there with the same old pictures of models dressed up, faking some pose.
There’s a reason why readers hate these: they look fake and unrelated to the content.
You could customize those stock images, but that’s more work than most bloggers are willing to put in.
Your best bet, when using this strategy, is to create a ton of custom images relevant to the topics that bloggers in your niche write about.
Here’s an example of one that I used on one of my past posts:
As you can see, it doesn’t necessarily have to be complex to look nice and enhance the content.
Take image building a step further and make images for stats: One specific approach you could take is to create images, essentially mini-infographics, that summarize important industry stats.
This approach has one huge bonus.
Think about a time when a blogger is searching for a good stat to use.
They head to Google and search for something like:
content marketing challenges stats
A good portion of the time, they will look for good images to include with the stats they find (I know I do):
If they see a good one, they’ll click on it and go through to the page that hosts it:
In this case, that page would be your gallery.
As long as you ask nicely for a link in exchange for the picture, you’ll usually get it.
The big benefit is that it’s easier to rank in image searches than regular results.
On top of the links you get from emailing specific bloggers, you’ll get links naturally from people who find your image gallery through this process.
But don’t rely on image traffic: If you want to control your ROI from this project, you need to promote your gallery to bloggers yourself.
Make as big of a list of bloggers as possible, and start emailing them with a message like this:
Subject: I made a free gallery of custom (niche) images
I know that it’s tough to find or create great images to use in blog posts, so I thought I’d do something for the (niche) community.
I’ve hired a designer to create a ton of custom images, some of which will probably be perfect for future posts you write. (I can’t use them all myself!)
The only catch is that I’d appreciate a link back to the gallery when you use a picture.
I’ll also be removing each picture once it’s used a few times so that none of them become too common.
If that sounds like something you’re interested in, let me know, and I’ll send you the link.
Type #4: Stats will drive the future
The final type of content that isn’t created as often as it could be is a list of stats.
Good bloggers love stats and will link to a source when they use a particular statistic in their content.
If you collect a ton of stats on different topics in your niche, they will often link to your page as a reference (on top of the original research studies).
For example, in a health niche, you could create stats for things like:
- junk food consumption in 2016
- average amount of protein in diets of different countries
- number of vegans in 2016 (or over the years)
- average minutes of exercise that people get per day
Think of stats that bloggers will be looking for.
To make it even more effective, conduct original research: The real power comes when you conduct your own surveys and data analyses.
Then, when a blogger wants to cite a stat from that research, they will link back to your site every single time.
You can easily get hundreds of links (or many more) if your research provides a useful, interesting result.
One business who does this sort of thing is Buzzsumo.
You may remember them because I wrote a post that summarized their research on over 1 billion Facebook posts.
Since they emailed me their findings directly, I didn’t link back to a specific page on their site. Instead, I just linked to their homepage multiple times, which is even better for them.
While I can’t say exactly how many links that research got them, I can confidently say that it’s in the thousands by now.
That kind of research is difficult, but if you’re willing to put in the effort (and maybe hire a data scientist/programmer), it’s possible.
I warned you, none of these content types are easy to produce—that’s why they’re not common.
However, they all can produce tremendous ROIs.
When done right, each of these types of content can attract hundreds (or thousands) of links and lead to greater profits.
I realize they’re not simple to do, so if you need some guidance, let me know where you’re stuck by leaving a comment below.