What do you think is one of the most confusing parts of creating a content marketing plan? If you said developing a linking strategy, you’re not alone. According to an Ascend study, 41% of SEO experts say developing a link-building strategy is the most troublesome part of optimization. If it’s that complicated, you may think, “what’s the point?” But there are plenty of reasons adding external links to your content benefits your SEO and your brand growth efforts. We’re covering them today with topics like:
If you engage in an external linking strategy for your content marketing, you may see benefits like:
It might sound backward, but linking to other sources actually makes your content more credible. It’s just like they taught you in school: if you’re writing about a topic that wasn’t your original idea or that isn’t common knowledge, cite your sources. Linking out to them shows that you’ve done your research. It proves exactly where you got your information. But liking out to sources the right way also requires a good bit of research.
For all the good the internet can do, it’s easy accessibility also makes it the perfect place for misinformation and unchecked facts. And when your team doesn’t do the right research to make sure you’re telling the truth, you might unknowingly spread lies instead. To uphold your reputation with your audience and with search engines, be sure to fact-check all content and concepts before publishing them on your website, especially information like statistics.
When your content is more credible and attracts a bigger audience, that signals search engines that your website is top-quality. The more clicks your content gets, the more time people spend on a page. All these behaviors tell Google and other search engines that your content is worth reading, watching, and recommending to others. Citing your sources and providing people with links to other relevant external content contribute to the quality of your pieces and encourage these kinds of behaviors from your audience.
All these factors increase your potential to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher you rank, and the better your content, the more chances you have to earn backlinks from other authoritative sites. A backlink, also known as an incoming or inbound link, is a link to your website from another domain. As you collect more of these types of links, it shows Google and other search engines that people find your content helpful. And relevant content ranks higher in SERPs, reaches a wider audience, and increases organic traffic.
When you link to other content on similar topics or in the same industry as your own, you help search engines understand the context and topical relevancy of your brand content. By using external links, you’re telling search engines about the topical relevancy of your content. As search engines index your site, they use this topical relevancy to answer search queries and show only the content that’s relevant and valuable to the reader. And the more valuable the audience finds it, the higher brand content will rank in SERPs.
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Every time you link externally, you’re giving a backlink to another website or domain. Then you might ask, but if I link away from my site, am I helping other related websites increase their SEO?” Not always. Remember, external links are a signal to Google and other search engines that you’ve done your research and you’re providing high-quality content. Backlinks are proof of that. You have to have both to increase your SEO.
Most SEO tools allow you to track your backlinks and see how they affect your domain authority score. Other websites can tell when you link to their content. When another website’s content team sees that you’re linking to their content, they may explore your site, too. If they find quality content during that visit, they may be more interested in sharing your information with their audience.
It’s a cyclical relationship that works like other business partnerships, except it’s informal. Unlike influencer relationships or guest posting services, there’s no concrete agreement that states the terms of working together. While you can create a formal backlinking partnership with other organizations, you do most of it in good faith. Someone links to you, and you link back to them and keep the cycle going. This may open the door for more formal partnerships in the future.
The free circulation of ideas is one thing that allows growth and innovation to happen in any industry. But if people or brands didn’t get some kind of credit for their own original work, they’d never share information with others. When you use external links in your content, you’re promoting the spread of ideas while still giving credit to the original ideators or creatives who came up with them first.
Not only does using external links prevent you from some potential claims of plagiarism and idea theft, but it also helps develop a larger community within your industry. When you align yourself with trusted experts, you can help your brand gain some of that notoriety for itself. It also signals that your industry is a safe place to discuss ideas and share growth and development. That makes it a better place for your audience, current businesses, and future startups and groups that want to enter your market.
External linking provides a better user experience. When you’re providing credible information that shows people exactly what they want to know and gives them additional resources and information to continue exploring the topic, they’re more likely to come back to you the next time they have an inquiry.
The more valuable your content is, the more likely they are to share it with others. That helps grow your audience and increases your chances for business interest, conversions, and sales. It also helps your SEO. The more that readers circulate your content, the more it tells search engines they’re enjoying it. It’s easy to read, and it tells them what they want to know.
Since one of the primary goals of search engines is to provide exactly what the audience wants to see for any query, the better user experience you can provide, the more rewards you may see on the SERPs.
Image via Unsplash by @cameramandan83
Sure, we’ve told you all the benefits you can reap with your content if you use external links. But maybe there’s still a niggling fear in the back of your mind that it’s not the right choice for your content. After all, linking to someone else’s site or content is practically pushing away potential leads, right? This is a valid fear. Especially for small businesses or those in highly competitive markets. You feel like if you don’t cling tight to your leads, they’ll find something better elsewhere and leave you in the dust.
But it is possible since most brands and businesses are on the lookout for the best opportunity or value. Honestly, though, there’s a low probability of this happening. In fact, there’s more potential for losing audiences if you don’t link externally. This is especially true if you’re referencing studies and statistics without source links to back them up.
Failing to include the external source for this type of information can take away from your brand’s authority. By including external links to the sources you use for information, you give readers the option to explore the topic in more depth. Plus, having that option can have the opposite effect of driving audiences away from your site. With the added authority on the information you’re providing, audiences are actually more likely to continue reading.
CopyPress understands the importance of including a balance of internal and external links in your content strategy. Having a solid linking strategy in your content marketing plan provides context, increases authority, and builds trust in your brand.
When you schedule a strategy call, we’ll help you determine the best approaches to scale and promote your content so you can build brand authority, boost search rankings, and drive organic traffic.
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