How to use content to acquire links and grow traffic

The web turns every business into a publisher.  Whether you are a professional services firm, a niche retailer or a bespoke dressmaker, if you want to be found online by new customers, you need to attract quality traffic to your website. The most effective way to do this is by building up relevant, authoritative inbound links – which help to source the right type of visitors, and also improve your natural search rankings.  So how do you go about building quality links?  The best route is specialist content – even if you don’t think of yourself as a publisher, you are an expert on your product or service and understand your customers’ problems.  Content is far more compelling than paid-for directory links, as it engages the customer on the point of a purchase decision and positions your business as providing useful advice.  First you need to identify your target audience, and work out their main concerns and where they need help.  Then build a list of target sites to link to: they need to be relevant, the sort of places your customers go, and have good page rank.  Then you are ready to start using content to acquire links and grow traffic…

1. Create a blog on your specialist subject

Assemble the content you already have, and use one of the free blogging platforms to publish this onto your site.  This makes your site more relevant and useful, and most importantly gives you a reserve of articles to promote externally.  The great advantage of blogging platforms is that each article is neatly presented on its own page with a descriptive URL and title tag.  Once you have a blog, you will have to commit to updating it regularly – ideally once a week or more often if you can.

2. Participate in forums, comments and other blogs

Pick your moment to join in with discussions or comment on articles published on your target sites.  Make sure you contribute something relevant and useful.  Include a link to one of your blog articles.  Set up a profile on the site and add a link to that profile.  Add value, don’t sell.  You can track which of these drive quality traffic from analytics.  This is time consuming so start slowly and keep testing what works.  Some sites no-follow comment links, but you will still get the traffic if you can’t get the page rank.

3. Offer articles to publications and associations

Publisher and association sites often have good page rank and are keen to include new content.  Offer a rewritten version of one of your blog articles in return for a link.  Best to rewrite so you can tailor to the audience and avoid duplicate content.  Your blog is an online portfolio of your expertise; so they may well browse and come back for more!

4. Try some guerilla PR

Offer to be interviewed; get a journalist linked to your company to write an article; offer a special rate to readers or users or run a competition in a suitable publication — and each time get a link back, ideally with keywords in the anchor text.

5. Post your content on social media

Set up a profile on Issuu, Linked-in, Facebook, Slideshare, Flickr, YouTube and add a link.  Then post your PDFs, Powerpoints, pictures, video or straight copy on your profile.  Add plenty of tags so you get found.  Search out niche social publishing platforms in your own market as well.  Some of this crowd no-follow, but not all of them, and they all drive traffic.  If you post a new blog, tweet about it to get more PR.

I’d be interested to hear more about your experiences in using content to acquire links.

Carolyn Morgan’s consultancy, Penmaen Media, creates practical digital media and marketing strategies.  If you’d like to discuss how to create a content strategy for your site that helps to build your links and traffic, please contact us for an initial discussion.