Content Marketing and SEO: How to Build Links in 2018

Content Marketing and SEO: How to Build Links in 2018

These are simple tactics and remain effective methods to build backlinks even in 2018. The original article is from The author, Olga Smirnova is Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush. You can follow her at TwitterSEMrush’s digital marketing blog is an innovative resource for content strategy, content marketing, SEO, SEM, PPC, social media and more. Image courtesy of digitalista via Bigstockphoto

SEO is a constantly changing industry. However, one thing has remained the same – over the years backlinks remain the most powerful Google ranking factor. If you want to substantially boost your site’s SEO and improve your Google rankings, link building is one of the best ways to do it.

Until recently, the goal of link building was to get as many links to your target page as possible. Links from low-quality sites, discussion forums, and comments that you left on other sites were all fair game. Now things have changed and you need links the search engines trust. Getting links Google will trust is much more difficult. Content marketing has helped, more than anything else, redefine link building.

What is Link Building in 2018

Link building is the process of getting links from other websites, and nowadays content plays a key role in this process. However, not every type of content will provide you with backlinks. The internet is filled with so much content that it’s hard to know where to look. Simply publishing content and waiting for people to link to it simply doesn’t work anymore.

Content marketing as it exists today also presents a unique problem: plenty of content is getting shared, but only in the form of mentions, instead of backlinks. Authors, businesses and publications are given attribution in the form of quotes and maybe links to one’s social media, but they are not always given actual in-content links. As great as a shout-out is, without an actual link, you won’t get any SEO or traffic benefits.

Getting your content published on the right sites also matters more than getting it published on a lot of sites. If trustworthy sources send backlinks to you, your site will be regarded as more trustworthy. Google definitely focuses on quality over quantity and getting those quality backlinks are much more difficult to obtain.

Keeping all the above-mentioned in a mind, there are two link building rules you should follow:

  1. Create valuable, quality content that is engaging and likely to be linked to.
  2. Get your content in front of the right people by distributing it through the right channels.

So, the challenge is to get great, popular, high-authority, and trustworthy sites to not only notice and love the content you create but to also provide backlinks to it. The first step in accomplishing this is to create linkable content.

How to Create Linkable Content

What makes content linkable? The first step is to understand why people might link to your material and find ways to gain their support. Your content might help someone else; here are some examples of how this could be done:

  • Support an article with a reference.
  • Share authoritative content (e. g. research).
  • Share valuable content (e. g. guides or ebooks).

Another way to make sure that content brings value to your readers is to think about the types of articles that could be useful to them. The more helpful you can be to them the better. But keep in mind, there are some content types that are more likely to help rake in the backlinks. Let’s review some of these…

1. Original Research with Insights

Original research provides unique statistics and data. So when somebody wants to mention the information presented in your study in an article, for example, they have only one way to do it – to backlink to you.

The quality research should answer vital industry questions and provide value to your audience. Before attempting an article like this, you should understand what your research hypothesis is and how this data will help your target audience. This type of content can take a lot of time and effort to create, but it often results in high-quality backlinks.

2. Visual Assets

Supporting your content with great images and video offers value that makes your content more link-worthy. Visual assets attract visual learners, makes text less boring, and is easy to link to.

Link-worthy visual assets might be:

  • Infographics: Which plenty of businesses may use in their own blog posts, especially if they contain helpful information, research or statistics. Place a link to your site in the embed code of the infographic to make sure that you get a backlink when it gets posted on other sites’ blogs.
  • Charts and diagrams: These simplify the understanding of complex data and ensures that the reader will fully grasp the information they need.
  • Videos: The importance of video increases daily as video continues to dominate content marketing and social platforms. Videos are much more difficult to plagiarize than a blog post, and a lot more time consuming and sometimes expensive to make; if you are able to create a great video, other influencers will share it.

3. Ultimate Guides and eBooks

Guides, eBooks, and white papers often contain valuable information about a specific topic, which gives you more room for in-depth content. A well-researched and planned out piece of content can make your guide a go-to resource for readers. As an added bonus, it can be a powerful lead generation tool.

After you have created an amazing piece of content, you will need to think about a distribution plan to ensure that it gets noticed by the right people and doesn’t fall flat.

Content Distribution

Having a distribution plan that focuses not just on getting results from customers, but also for an SEO impact, is essential if you want to maximize your content’s potential. Authentic, fantastic, and unique content alone rarely brings in links. You have to take an action and inform people about your valuable content through the right channels.

1. Building Relationships with Influencers

When it comes to link building, the power of influencers is critical for success. When influencers share your content, you have much better odds of getting the attention you need. An influencer might even like your content so much that they share it on their own site, which may have good site authority. And of course, these are the kinds of links you want.

If you don’t know who the opinion leaders are in your industry take the time to find out. You can look through social platforms for research or use tools to provide the information. SEMrush’s Social Media Tracker will help you identify the most authoritative influencers in your industry with the ‘Mentioners’ report.

When promoting your content, remember to engage with influencers and high-authority sites without spamming them. Building relationships with these influencers over time will be much more beneficial in the long run. If you find a true influencer you should help that they will support you more than just once, which is why a true relationship is important. They will be more receptive to sharing and linking to your content often this way. If you just send them random blog posts out of the blue you can’t expect much response.

2. Writing Guest Blog Posts

Another great way to distribute your content and get quality backlinks is to write guest posts for high-authority blogs. Guest posting might strengthen your relationship with these sites and their influencers. It could also give you the chance to place a backlink to your research article or guide, that prove the facts or data you provide in your post.

When guest posting, choose sites carefully. Reach out to sites that are considered high-authority and that provide content that is high quality and helpful to readers. Links from a blog like this can help get you the results you want.

3. Link Reclamation

Tracking your brand mentions might be a good chance for getting backlinks. How? By simply asking the author that mentioned you or your company for a link within their article. Many site owners don’t mind providing a backlink to your already existing mention. Sometimes it might require time to discuss the partnership or build relationships but usually, these types of efforts are successful. Discovering unlinked mentions is easy with the SEMrush Brand Monitoring tool ‘Backlinks’ filter.

With this tool you can try to implement two more distribution technics: find out who already links to you and see who links to your competitors. The sites that link to your content or website most likely are already loyal to your brand and find your content relevant. Go ahead and develop relationships by providing them with more valuable content and potentially gain backlinks.

This same method can work for those sites that link to your competitors. It is likely that they are interested in content about similar topics and it is your chance to introduce yourself and offer the valuable information you provide in your content. Check what kind of content they are linking to and try to suggest them something similar or even better.

4. Paid Social Advertising

Paid advertising through social media is one of the best ways to get a lot of eyes on your content quickly. Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, YouTube Ads, and Promoted Pins are all exceptional ways to get your content in front of the right audience.

Social ads are often used to get your content in front of your target audiences, but you can also use social ads to try and show your content to peers and influencers. To do this, you will need to create custom audiences for targeting and different ads for each audience. As an example, a marketing agency could shift their targeting from small businesses (their main target audience) to other marketing agencies (their peers). Facebook and Instagram ads, which share the same platform, will be most effective in this area due to their incredible targeting systems.


Creating unique and valuable content is crucial to getting high-quality backlinks and improving your SEO. The algorithms’ evaluation of backlinks has evolved in recent years and it is so much more difficult to get high-quality backlinks, but it is not impossible. The most effective way to get the links you want is to create linkable content that brings value to your target audiences. Some of the easiest content, and often most valuable, is content that helps solve a problem or answers questions. With these ideas and distribution plans for how to get valuable backlinks, you can get those links and start seeing improved rankings and more traffic before you know it.