5 Lessons From Building 26,000 Links

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At Freelancer, we’ve tracked and kept records of humongous amounts of data concerning the content marketing projects we have worked on in the past. This data mostly involves places that featured our client campaigns, number of shares for each placement and types of links each campaign pulled.

We have found it impossible to analyze the data in aggregate, although we usually revisit it to evaluate performance for each client and campaign. However, we have managed to compile 26,000 links and 31,000 media mentions.

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1. Viewers Are Not Likely To Widely Share Most High-Authority Links

Many marketers mistakenly believe that links in high-authority sites will generate shares automatically. An analysis by Moz and BuzzSumo, where they scrutinized not just articles but all links in a site, reveals that around 75-90% such links will receive zero social shares.

At Freelancer, we assumed this would change with our earned high-quality links, but on keen scrutiny discovered that links on high domain authorities (DA) failed terribly, with no shares at all. To be specific, over 59% DA links attracted 54% zero social shares, while over 79% DA links garnered 50% zero shares, and over 89% DA links got 52% zero shares.

Our campaigns receive 11,000 social shares and 110 placements on average, but a single link is responsible for all shares compiled, around 63%. For this reason, a common project is bound to receive only 4,100 shares, top-performing links from each campaign excluded. Building diverse link portfolios and gaining social traction are some of the strategies marketers should adopt, whose target is social engagement and link building.

A social strategy need not be complex. It could be as simple as engaging reputable websites to consecutively generate high numbers of social shares. You might also need to check out social media accounts for target websites. Take note of the type of engagement they receive for their own articles.

Of all sites covering our campaigns, our content received the highest number of social shares on average. The sites involved were:

IFLScience

CNN

CBS46

Uproxx

Mashable

Exceptions

There is content that may accomplish high social shares and engagement at the same time. In their study, Moz and BuzzSumo discovered that opinion pieces and research-backed contents are the best in attracting high social shares and links.

Content with over 1,000 words is also likely to attract more shares and links, compared to short content. The factors contributing to this are outlined here in an excellent article by Moz, this time in conjunction with the Fractl team. It is a reminder that content can easily flop, and could well do so at the beginning. Content more likely to result in success took into account the emotional appeal, the presence of comparison and ranking, and the inclusion of a pop-culture reference.

2. Researching the Company is a Must

The most successful content marketing will require you do thorough research at first, dedicating a period of about 3 months or even more for the exercise. It should include site audits, market research, customer surveys, customer interviews and content audits. This will drive you towards a full understanding of the industry or firm you are dealing with.

Some of the things you might need to know about a client include, but are not limited to:

  • Marketing considerations: Learn about the internal processes that lead to content approval, the editorial guidelines, and the client’s brand considerations.

  • The company’s business model: Study the structure of the sales team, determine the sources of revenue, and pinpoint the greatest revenue generator and their units of measurement.

  • Existing customer base: Who are the most loyal customers, and how does the client entice customers? Some useful questions to ask yourself to build an effective link campaign.

3. Few Sites Will Always Link To You the Same Way

You will want to follow how sites link your content. For each campaign, this will help you learn whether what you are receiving are brand mentions, citation links, or a mixture of nofollow and dofollow links.

We looked at this kind of data, as we usually pay attention to the nature of links our campaigns earn, and noticed that publishers are not consistent in the way they link. Very few sites will offer 100% time to dofollow links. The best sites have no link-type editorial standards, but most will provide nofollow links.

Not all placements lead to dofollow links, so securing a site to cover your content should not be a source of too much celebration. Don't expect a dofollow link from a site publisher who gives it to you once.

4. Preparing Collected Data for Thorough Assessment

Evaluating the data you collect in the field goes a long way in disclosing the correlations that may exist between it and the data you already possess. This is where you sit back and define the goals of collecting the data clearly, but most content builders get lost at this point.

To put an audit together, label the stage of the content funnel which each piece falls into. The stages include:

Awareness

Trigger

Search

Consideration

Buy

Stay

This has proved to be very important when we want to evaluate content distribution on a site, and see whether there are any gaps.  Here, the goals should be general but clear, while remaining correlated to where the content falls in the content funnel. You might also find it useful to develop persona buckets by combining all data from customer surveys, content audit and customer interviews.

5. Creating a Lot of Visual Assets Is a Waste of Time in Some Verticals

A heated debate has been going on concerning whether or not lots of visual assets impact a campaign positively, to justify the extra time to the production timeline or not. We decided to look at our top 1,300 covers, to determine how the publishers usually handle our static image and video visual assets.

Seventy and above DA website sample articles, covered not less than 4 times, were involved in this activity. Our discovery revealed that education was the least image-heavy, while entertainment ranked the highest image-heavy, with divergent approaches from site publishers of different verticals.

The number of assets involved in the campaign had a direct contribution to asset count variations. This analysis yields no meaningful information, though it does not skew the data we have.

Outside sources have a high tolerance for assets; a fact we proved when we found that reputable publishers applied around nine assets to cover our campaigns. Lower asset average verticals may choose several major visuals to spice up an article, or ignore the external content.

A team that considers these publisher vertical preferences during content development allocates resources in a better way. For instance, you would rather spend a big chunk of your time developing a cool visualization than creating a range of assets for a financial site. At the same time, it pays off when you take your time to create various rich visual assets for a health or entertainment site.

Through analysis of our link building portfolio, we uncovered a number of revelations that completely changed our initial assumptions: most sites do not consistently use the same kind of links.

If you have done any analysis concerning content marketing and have some useful information, please share with us in the comments.

Dikirim 21 September, 2017

TomCoulter
TomCoulter Kakitangan

Designer // Writer // Creative

Tom is a Design Correspondent for Freelancer.com. He is currently based in Melbourne and spends most of his non-work moments trying to find the best coffee.

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