Friends, we have to talk about your content marketingt: Are people linking to it from their sites and blogs? Are they really linking to it, or just sharing it? Sharing it on social media is nice, but it doesn't guarantee as much traffic to your website, and it isn't nearly as good for your SEO. Linking is preferable, but guess what? Most people just share, and don't even think about linking. Let's look at why.
Why People Share
People share because it's easy. Either a button on your article or a button on their social app allows them to share instantly on their preferred platform. They don't have to give up any time to do it, and it's fun. Shared content tends to be entertaining, simple, or at least highly emotional. It imparts a quick feeling, and people pass that feeling along with a low cost of investment. There's a reason that fun social posts like quizzes can get plenty of shares, but almost no one links to them.
Also – and this is important – people share because it defines them. They use social media to build a digital picture of themselves, and they tend to share posts that help add to that picture in the ways they like. That means they'll share causes they endorse, or news that underlines their own feelings (there's a reason everyone is talking about "fake news" these days). They will also post content that defines their relationships with others – like something they think a partner or loved one will like.
Why People Link
Yes, people absolutely do sometimes link to content that they shared, but more often it's one or the other. So what causes people to take the full step and actually link out to your content?
First, it needs to offer useful data – not just data that people like, but data that has a strict purpose. For example, many people will link to your content if it helps prove a point or support their own view – making statistics a popular subject. Expert interviews and analysis also receive a lot of links, because people are on the watch for research and new facts from authoritative sources. They are also more comfortable sharing content that's especially evergreen, universal, and unexpected to change or lose value over time.
A Little Gap Analysis in Your Content Marketing
As you can see, B2B brands already have an edge when it comes to references and authoritative content that's more likely to win real links. Let's narrow it down to three points that will help you get your posts from shares to links.
- Activity is not engagement: A lot of activity can surround your post, but that doesn't equal engagement. Marketers tend to make the mistake of thinking they are the same thing, but they aren't. In fact, a lot of people will share posts without even clicking on them, just because of what the headline says. So move posts from shallow activity to deeper engagement. Post meat, not candy.
- Ongoing effort is necessary: Once you post, your work isn't done. Keep talking about the subject, reference the content again, and generally give people reasons to investigate it. Start LinkedIn discussions, answer comments on Twitter, and show it to Facebook Groups. Your content is a fuse, and you need to light it to get a real result.
- Content purpose is important: Your highest priority should be content that informs and guides. Entertainment is further down the list – make sure your content is useful first. Some content simply won't get many links (limited time deals, new product announcements, goofy office photos, etc.) and that's okay – they are still serving their purpose. But intersperse content that is designed for links: Make it long-term, professional, and very easy to reference.