Building Link Targeted Content That Works: Step 1 of 3 – Researching for Inspiration & Brainstorming for Ideas

16 Apr

There’s no doubt that creating a valuable piece of content is a great way -and maybe even the best way- to attract links. However, when I mention link baiting (or link targeted content), I often get reactions like ‘it sounds nice, but link baiting probably isn’t the way to go for me’, or that ‘building content to attract links doesn’t work in my industry’. Bullocks. In a three step guide (of which this is part one) I’ll try to show you how everyone can come up with great ideas, can turn the idea into a piece of killer content and can make that piece attract great links.

Start Close

While it usually is best to enter a brainstorming session with a blank mindset, it’s even better to check what you’ve got first. Good ideas are often closer than you think.

Things can be closer than you think, by Pictophelia

- Your own website
If your website isn’t a brand new one, you probably have at least a few pages that managed to attract a few or more good links. You can either investigate why these pages got mentioned elsewhere (and use that info for a new article), or find your best one, improve it and launch V2.

- Your own head
What kind of resources are you missing in your niche? What kind of tool have you always wanted to use but couldn’t find? What kind of content would make you go ‘WOW’? Build it!

Brainstorming for Ideas

The great thing about brainstorming is that you can’t brainstorm the wrong way. Of course, there are guidelines you can follow and techniques you can use, but in theory, every method you use to come up with new ideas would be considered brainstorming. Effective brainstorming, however…

Brainstorming, by faroekat

Like I said earlier, it can be quite effective to start a brainstorming session with an empty mind. Because your link targeted mind probably even rattles on in your sleep, it might be useful to invite someone that isn’t that much into links as you are. Some people always invite the client they’re working for, but I don’t think that’s best in every situation. No matter how hard you try, for some types of personality, tunnel vision is an almost certainty. On the other hand, bringing in the knowledge of your client does add extra value.

More tips for your brainstorming session:

  • Appoint one person to lead the discussion and to write down all ideas.
  • Record everything to make sure that you don’t miss anything. And to be able to provide evidence to the client that you haven’t been drinking all afternoon, of course :)
  • Encouraging your fellow brainstormers to participate, encouraging great ideas and encouraging to shout out everything that comes up is key to a harmonized brainstorm session.
  • More suggested reads; JPB’s creative pages, MindTools brainstorming and Brainstorming.co.uk.

Furthermore, one of the most important things to keep in mind during a brainstorming session is that you shouldn’t settle for the first reasonably good idea you come up with. Good ideas arise pretty quickly, great ideas need time to grow. The best tip I can probably give you is to just start a session. Brainstorm with a few colleagues about a simple item, such as what you’ll be having for lunch or how you can improve your working conditions. You could even be brainstorming about how to brainstorm. Evaluate that session afterwards and learn from it. Experience will lead to inspiration.

Researching for Inspiration

After your brainstorming session, where you’ve probably generated over a few dozen ideas, you might be tempted to drill the list down to the most useful ideas straight away. In stead, letting these ideas soak for a short while and researching ideas that have worked in the past, researching ideas that have failed in the past and researching your niche might be a better solution. Don’t take a short cut by copying the ideas you come across, but use them as inspiring input.

Doing research, by revlimit

Think Social

The voice of the community will show you what might work.

- Use Digg’s search function
Look for relevant articles, posts or pages that have made it to Digg‘s front page in the past by entering a relevant keyword in the search box. This might give you some inspiration and it should give you an idea of what might work in your niche.

- Stumble upon related pages
Use StumbleUpon to find pages that are related to the content you want to promote. Check what kind of pages receive lots of thumbs up and positive research. You’ll not only come across at least a few great pages you’ve never seen before, but you’ll also get an impression of popular stuff in your area.

- Del.icio.us popular
One way to use Del.icio.us, is to use the ‘popular’ section to see what’s hot in your niche, for example popular in link building. If you can’t find popular posts in your niche, you can always broaden your search query or use the regular tag function.

- Your favorite news site
That news website you visit every day (whether it’s a big news site or just a local one) has historical data of what kind of related articles or posts have made it to the front page. Do a site query to find relevant news articles that got mentioned on the news site earlier.

- Social Niche sites
Is it difficult to find related stuff on one of the big social media websites, or are you looking for more targeted traffic? There’s a social media website for nearly every niche, so don’t just refrain yourself to the mainstream sites.

Think Niche

Only here will history, relevance and authority show up.

- Your competitor
Some people can’t stand it when a competitor gets mentioned on a popular news or niche website. In stead of enviously watching how they get all the attention, you could also see this as an opportunity and investigate why they got mentioned. If you don’t follow your competitors on a regular basis (which I can’t imagine), use a nifty tool like LinkDiagnosis to research which page on your competitor’s website has the most incoming links. Investigate why this page managed to do this and use that info in your advantage.

- Research your ultimate link target
You probably have at least one website in mind that you’re dying to get a link from. You know, that popular blogger or that portal that everybody in your niche visits daily. If you can find out which pages on this website have attracted a lot of links or managed to create a lot of buzz,

- Research your ultimate link target’s competitor
If there are multiple large targets in your niche, you can use the best features of both sites to get links to your own. Find out what the most popular/ interesting/ valuable page of link target 1 is and offer to make a better version of that page to target 2. Now find an interesting tool or feature on target 2 and offer to make something similar to target 1. Don’t forget to mention your own website as the source or author, of course.

- Respond to your ultimate link target
Did the website you’re after just release a great post or did it fire up a heated conversation? Respond to it. Whether you agree or not, responding to a news item or adding something to a discussion can be a great way to attract links from the initiator, participants and/ or other related sites.

- Contact your ultimate link target
It doesn’t get more simple than this. Contact the website you want to get a link from and ask them what kind of content they’ve always been looking for. Build it, let them know where it is (or you could even offer your link target to let them host the entire piece of content) and you’ll get the link you were after. Keep in mind that this kind of target bait is only worth it in a few occasions, but you’ll probably know when ;)

Selecting the Right Idea

After you’ve gathered dozens of great ideas, it’s not important to choose the idea that you’ll be working on, but it’s important to choose the idea you’ll be working on first. It would be a sin to leave the rest of the ideas untouched, wouldn’t it?


Picking the right one, by Maria Dipshit

Selecting the right idea is nothing more than determining which one of the options will probably help you to reach your end goal -whether that’s just lots of links, links with specific relevance, traffic or anything else.

You’ve checked your own site, you came up with dozens of creative ideas and did research on what works (and what probably won’t), so you’ve got enough data. Your client has enough knowledge of the niche and you have enough knowledge of SEO to be able to come up with the best option together. In the end, you’ll find out that the final choice will be one that’s made by feeling.

Oh, and a little tip here; make sure that -if you work for one- your client makes the final choice. If you think he might choose for the wrong option, give him better directions. This ensures a better relationship in the future, no matter what the outcome is.

Use the Results

Now that you’ve done a great deal of research -and hopefully have a ship load of ideas-, it’s important not to forget your research data as well. You just found out that both industry blogger X and related website Y have both linked to that press release that your competitor sent out earlier. Since they’re both linking to this page, it might be useful to include blogger X and website Y in the list of websites you’ll be contacting when you announce your great piece of content. More about this in part two, but don’t forget to save the data you’ve collected. Having to do things twice can be a real pain…

Conclusion

This list is just an indication that there are tons of places where you can find inspiration for creating content that attracts links like a magnet. Some, however, ask themselves if link baiting isn’t a bit overrated, I do believe that creating link targeted content really is worth it – and it sure as hell can be so for everyone (be careful with widgetbait, though). Besides link and ranking related reasons, you shouldn’t forget that the piece of content and the traffic it attracts aren’t exactly worthless.

Next in line is part two of three: Creating content & Preparation

4 Responses to “Building Link Targeted Content That Works: Step 1 of 3 – Researching for Inspiration & Brainstorming for Ideas”

  1. Dave F April 17, 2008 at 7:49 am #

    Beautiful post Wiep! Thank you.

  2. Gab "SEO ROI" Goldenberg April 17, 2008 at 5:41 pm #

    Nice post, and good ideas with the social bit – SU in particular. Hadn’t thought of checking out what’s popular in a particular group etc.

  3. Barry Welford April 18, 2008 at 5:13 pm #

    It’s also good to check your final idea on Google and Google Blogsearch. That can give you an extra loop in refining and extending your concept.

  4. Wiep April 18, 2008 at 7:03 pm #

    Dave, Gab; Good to hear that you liked the post.

    Barry; Thanks, that’s an excellent addition!

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