10 Types of Linkable Assets to Scale up Your Link Building
Welcome back to Smash Digital’s weekly content series, where we give you actionable SEO strategies and tips that you can implement today and start seeing results.
We’ve said it time and time again – link building is one of the main bottlenecks most business owners have when it comes to increasing their organic traffic.
There’s one super important fact regarding link building that is forgotten.
Today I’m going to show you what that is and how you can avoid that trap yourself.
Time to learn: 10 minutes
Impact (1-10): 9
Tools required: None
Tools suggested: Ahrefs
Now, let’s get to it…
Who Actually Links to Websites and Why?
You’ve probably heard dozens of SEO experts tell you to create amazing content and then watch the links roll in.
In the real world, that doesn’t really happen that much.
Because the majority of content business owners are creating is meant to target consumers and get them to buy their products or services.
Using ourselves as an example, what are the odds of a travel blogger reading our on-page SEO guide to link to it from their site?
Slim to none.
Now for the key takeaway…
To get backlinks, your content needs to be targeted towards website owners in your niche.
Enter Linkable Assets
How often do you see websites linking to other businesses’ category pages? Virtually never.
The same goes for the vast majority of service pages, affiliate round-ups, and other commercial pages.
The most important thing to understand is why people in your industry link to other pages.
Here are a few of the most common reasons:
- Helps solve a problem that is not covered on their own site – An SEO agency blog will generally be about their core competency – SEO. Most of us will not be overly keen on talking about setting up Google Analytics, but it might help our readers or even be a prerequisite for some of the stuff we talk about. That’s a compelling reason to link to someone else’s piece on the topic.
- Provides evidence for a point they are trying to make – Let’s say I’m writing an article about why you should invest in SEO. I might bring up the point that the vast majority of people ignore ads. I’ll need to back up this claim so I’ll search for research and facts that support this and provide a link for my own credibility.
- Something interesting for their audience – I was hesitant to include this one because “interesting” is super vague. Most “interesting” content people create isn’t actually all that link-worthy but under this category you’ll find different case studies, infographics that have had real effort put into the research and things along those lines.
- Thought leadership or controversial angle on a topic – Thought leadership is another one that is tricky because it can fail quite often (with link acquisition). Anything controversial works well here – if it’s known that link building is key for SEO and we write an article with a conceivable theory of why that isn’t the case, we can get some solid links to it.
Understanding the above and researching the most common reasons website owners in your niche link out is probably one of the best things you can do for your link building campaigns.
To make things a little easier for you, here are some of the most common linkable asset types with a bit of background on them and of course, an example.
Infographics were all the rage in the SEO community a few years ago. It was one of the best ways to build back backlinks back then.
As with anything that gets too popular, the efficiency of creating infographics has gone down a fair bit but they’re still an amazing tool in an SEOs toolbox.
The only difference nowadays is that you need to actually put in some effort into coming up with a unique and interesting angle, and pour your heart into research. Mediocre infographics will get mediocre results.
Example: An infographic by Information is Beautiful that covers “the world’s most contagious falsehoods”, in other words, some of the most popular myths in the world.
It’s a fun and interesting topic and has helped them get over 1,600 backlinks from 330 unique domains. Powerful stuff!
2. Tools and Calculators
Various tools, utilities and calculators are an amazing way to supplement your link building, create a ton of value for your community, and bring many other indirect business benefits.
In fact, we’ve done this ourselves by giving away a free on-page SEO tool, creating a WordPress plugin, and are working on more!
Example: FE International has a SEO penalty indicator that automatically aligns your estimated traffic (and any drops) with the Google update history so you can see exactly which update affected you.
Over the years this has gotten them 792 backlinks from 501 unique websites, including from Entrepreneur.com, Backlinko, Neil Patel and others.
3. Rankings, Round-ups, and Listicles
Rankings and round-ups are highly effective ways to get links because they provide a good reason for it. If an industry website calls you “one of the best SEO agencies” or “fastest growing companies” – that’s something you may want to brag about to your audience and reap benefits from.
Example: I’m going to go with the most famous example of this and that’s the Inc. 5,000 list that ranks the fastest growing companies in the world. They do this every year in both the US as well as the EU and amass a huge amount of links and traffic.
In fact, the 2019 list for the US alone attracted 12,000+ links from 1,200 unique websites.
4. Unique Data and Statistics
Every writer, whether for a magazine or website copy, wants to back up the claims they make with evidence. Whether it’s an experiment you run, a survey done to your audience, or data collected from your software – put it out there and reap the rewards.
Example: Email marketing service provider, MailChimp, has published all of their data into an “Email Marketing Benchmarks” report. If I’m talking about the pros of email marketing on my sales page, you bet I’m going to brag about the open rates listed on that page.
This page has attracted 10,700 backlinks from over 3,300 unique websites and it’s barely a thousand words long!
5. Case Studies
Case studies are not only great for driving your sales up, they’re a great linkable asset for similar reasons as the previous point. I can talk about link building all day trying to convince you, or I can simply link you to a case study that proves my point.
Example: Conversion rate optimization company Conversion Rate Experts (what a name) published a case study titled: “How we made $1 million for Moz — using landing page optimization and email marketing”
I’ll be honest, I didn’t even read the whole thing and I still want to link to it! That’s the power of a good case study and the numbers agree with me – 900+ links from 360 unique websites.
Any kind of templates are a great way to make people’s lives easier and they’re an easy pitch to get links with. A well planned template giveaway can fit into a myriad of different posts. Imagine the number of sales related blog posts that would benefit from linking out to “XX Tried and Tested Headline Formulas”.
Example: HubSpot is amazing at creating linkable assets so you might see them come up a few more times today… They’ve put together 10 cover letter templates for your job hunt in case you don’t listen to our SEO advice. 🙃
Unsurprisingly, this has helped them get 240+ links from 110 domains.
Checklists offer yet another strong value proposition for someone to include in their article. The only thing I’ve noticed with these is that you need to put in a fair bit of effort to get people to link to it, instead of them writing up their own checklist. Making them interactive (clickable checklists) is one way of doing so.
Example: Smarter Travel has a great travel packing checklist that has attracted 1,200+ links from 370 unique websites.
If you’re in the travel niche, I see tons of opportunities for making this one even better and “stealing” all of their links. You could make it interactive, have a separate toggle for short trips and long trips, men and women, families, and more.
8. Ultimate Guides
I’m all about creating epic content that is the best in it’s category but if someone has created something that I know I won’t be able (or even want) to compete with, I’ll happily link to their resource instead.
Example: I think the perfect example here is Backlinko’s guide to 200 Google ranking factors, as much as I love SEO, that post is never happening on our site.
Other SEOs seem to agree with me as the post has gotten 12,700 links from over 4,700 websites – very impressive!
9. Coined Terms
This is when you invent a new term or phrase for something and it catches on. Oftentimes you’ll see this done for different strategies or even products.
Example: I’m going to take this one to the extreme and give a non-SEO example first to illustrate the point. You’re probably not using “Scotch tape”, it’s just a clear adhesive tape. But has 3M benefited financially from the phrase catching on? You better believe so.
In the SEO space, Brian Dean from Backlinko came up with the “skyscraper technique” that has spread like wildfire and brought him another 6,700 backlinks from 2,200 websites.
10. Resource Pages
A resource page is generally a collection of the best tools, guides, and articles on a given topic. These could be from outside sources, your own website, or a mix of both. Not only do they make for a great link magnet, they’re helpful for your website visitors and can also push a ton of sales.
Example: One of the best examples I’ve seen recently is Dave Ramsey’s tools page that has attracted 2,900 links from 650+ websites.
It shows people where to get started based on their specific financial issue, provides helpful guides and tools, and pushes his own products at the same time.
How to Find Inspiration for Building Your Own Linkable Assets
I’m sure that going through the reasons website owners link out as well as the explanations and examples of different linkable assets already sparked a myriad of ideas that you could implement for your own site.
Even with that in mind, it’s usually safer to go with something that has already been proven to get results, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
Our process for this is actually quite simple and I’m going to pretend that we’re in the email marketing space to explain this.
- Google for “best email marketing blogs”
- Open up every listicle result
- Pull together all results into one master list
- Open them up in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool
- Click on “Best by links” to see their most linked pages
Just by looking at one blog and one page of results, we’ve already got five proven ideas for creating linkable assets. You’ll want to repeat this for all of the blogs you’ve found and round them up in a spreadsheet for future reference.
Not only do you see the best topics and how successful they are, you can dig even deeper by:
- Looking at who linked to these articles – if you plan on tackling the same or a similar topic, these people are prime candidates to reach out to when you publish your post.
- Looking at why people linked to these articles – if you click on the actual backlinks reports for these pages, Ahrefs will show you the anchor text and surrounding text for these links. This way you know exactly why they linked to the piece (e.g. a specific statistic) and can make sure to incorporate those in your own piece.
A Word of Warning
Unless you’re already super established in your industry, have an existing audience, or can rank with keywords with ease…
You likely won’t attract hundreds of backlinks just by publishing a link magnet.
Over time, sure, it’ll bring in some nice and juicy links. But don’t expect magic right away.
But guess what?
Next week I’m going to walk you through our outreach processes and show you exactly how to get dozens (or even hundreds) of high quality backlinks to these posts.
Let me know if you have any questions and as always…
Let’s Smash it!