Over eight hundred content campaigns have been creating at Frac.tl for quite a number of years, and not all have been a success. The content you expect to perform well might yield lacklustre results, while another you expect to do just fine exceeds all expectations. This is because the internet is a messy place, and it is hard to accurately determine what interests users and what does not.
While you might not be able to control how your content performs on the internet, you can include and avoid specific things to increase the chances of success. Through experience and analysis, we have come up with various factors that increase performance of your content. We have also been able to identify the aspects of our content that failed to produce the desired results.
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In this post, we mainly target those who use links to press pickups and earn links. The lessons we’ve learnt are as follows:
1. Don’t Make Content on a Topic You Cannot Be Credible On
It pays to stick with creating content that is significantly relevant to your brand, where there’s an obvious connection between your industry and the content topic. Do not do jobs that will make the publishers wonder why you decided to work on such projects.
2. Watch Out For New Content Formats and Tools
Cool, latest technology might give you pretty content, but it can still remain boring. Do not get carried away by the “cool factor” and forget to take care of appropriate format methods, simply because your tools are in sync with the latest technology.
3. Do Not Make Content for a Specific Publisher
Sometimes, you may want to involve the publisher during content production, to give them a sense of ownership, believing they will definitely publish your work if it meets their specifications.
You should avoid this temptation at all costs because as we found out, the publisher will mostly not be willing to take up more work by collaborating with you. Another important reason for avoiding this approach is because the content you develop may only work for that particular publisher, and not for any other. Do not forget that the publisher is not trying to generate links for you, but having engagements and views on their own sites.
4. It’s Difficult to Build Links with Videos
Videos are not the best in earning links, despite the fact that they can go viral and be very effective. They may be able to produce enormous backlinks, but publishers usually fail to attribute them properly.
Most publishers will simply link or embed the videos to YouTube, which is not really effective. This is because a video, unlike a link/mention, does not usually occur organically and has some static visual content.
While it is possible to catch up with someone who embeds your video without a link and ask for one, it is time consuming and not very good for the already overstretched process of video promotion and creation.
5. Be Realistic About News Jacking
Agencies find it difficult to rely on this, given the lengthy approval processes, where the news jack has to be between 24 to 48 hours after breaking in order for it to be valid. In-house brands are the best for this technique, because they do not require the approval processes.
6. Hyper Local Content Is a Big Risk
Focusing on one city limits the number of publishers who can be interested in working with you, no matter how amazing or rich your content is in terms of newsworthy information. Worst still, very few publishers are likely to use this kind of content.
For instance, creating content featuring many cities, regions and states has brought a lot of success, as we are able to target a variety of both national and local publishers. This will perfectly apply where press or link mentions are the major targets, otherwise local content might do well for other situations.
7. Too Much Data Is a Reality
When dealing with data-related content, there is the urge to publish every point and data in your possession. Surveying content is a very good example of such, where we’ve fallen into the trap of categorizing data on the basis of demographics, and sharing every detail.
It doesn’t matter whether the data is coercing or not, because the content lacks focus and a unified narrative. However, it has one advantage--publishers have a range of perspectives they may choose to adopt. The best approach is in using the most interesting, insightful and striking content data points, although it might mean putting most of the data you have on the shelf.
A home security firm requested a survey on their behalf, concerning the stalker-ish behaviors people commit. The most interesting piece of data collected was about someone who created a fake social account in order to stalk someone. The piece ended up being dropped though it could have helped our content do better, simply because it stopped all the collected data from being incorporated.
If we had trimmed the huge data down to say, the most shocking findings, we would have the chance to use this piece. At the same time, too much data will take a publisher too long to go through. A journalist once said, faced with a huge data amount: “Long story short, this will take too much time.”
Ten seconds are enough for publishers to see the most important data points in your project.
8. Avoid Incorrect Anchor Text
Using your keyword as anchor text instead of site title will improve your ranking. You need to understand the proper use of anchor texts first, as all search engines count backlinks, and this is very important.
9. Turning Published Data into Something Cool Doesn’t Always Yield Links
When recycling data, you will need to have more findings because no journalist wants to cover what they have covered in the past. For instance, we derived most of the data used in one of our projects, Reasons Startups Fail, from CB Insights’ Startup Post Mortems List. The latter really did well, with many linking root domains from sites such as CNBC, Entrepreneur, Vox, Fortune, Business Insider and BBC.
The project was very impressive, and we decided to repackage it with the belief that it would work for us, because it had worked before. It did not fail completely, but at the same time did not perform as expected. This project had two major problems:
Most big publishers had already seen and published the data, because its coverage was very wide
We did not include any new dimensions of the data
However, if the data you want to use is interesting and has had little coverage in the targeted vertical coverage, you can use it in a creative manner to achieve the results you desire.
10. Political Ideas Are Tough To Pull Off
Unless it is about some breaking political news, most publishers pay little or no attention to such content. Political news has a cycle that is difficult to keep up with, so it is wise to avoid it.
11. Always Apply More Than One Visual Asset
One of the assets needs to be a static and simple image, as most websites will limit the number of media one can publish.
12. Avoid Super Niche Topics
Super niche topics will reduce your returns, so should be a no-go zone. Your potential audience diminishes as you narrow down a topic. For instance, many people are interested in music, but fewer will be interested in rap, and even fewer in solely 90’s rap music.
13. Avoid Links from Sites with A Bad Reputation
Search engines are not in the good books with some sites, including illegal, spam blog and gambling sites. Even backlinks from these sites are not good, as they may lead to de-indexing your website. You should be particularly considerate of site credibility before linking to them.
Following this advice will help you avoid most invisible traps in link building campaigns, without necessarily learning things the hard way. Variations may apply under differing circumstances, because these projects are more of an art than science.
Would you like to share some of the experiences and lessons you have learnt in link building campaigns? Please share with us, because we would love to hear from you.