Modern content writers have to be good researchers. They have to understand what's already being said about a topic in order to produce original content that will stand out.
On top of that, in order to build authority and be factually correct, writers have to carefully research each topic they plan to write about, linking back to that research at appropriate places.
But if there was a better way to build authority and stand out as original? What if there was a strategy that could help you build links leading back to your brand, boosting your visibility in search engines and raising people’s estimation of your authority on the topic?
That better way happens to be producing and posting your own original research.
That's right; instead of always linking to someone else's case study or compiled data, why not create your own from your data sets?
In this article, we're going to look at two benefits of posting original research. Then we'll look at how to create and post your research in the most beneficial way.
Original Research = High-Quality Links
Your linking strategy is still core to your overall SEO process. The number of high-quality links leading back to a page matters to Google and other search engines.
Of course, you can accomplish much by establishing an internal linking structure and strategy. But Google wants to see inbound and outbound external links, as well.
Unfortunately, because everyone knows this, soliciting external links has become the work of spammers, SEO workers that spend hours writing emails or comments to other brands, begging for a link back to whatever page they're representing.
How do you think people respond to thousands of emails that say, "Please link to my page"? Not kindly.
If you choose to spam out requests for links to your page, you'll be ignored most of the time. And the few links you do get are likely to be low quality.
But posting original research is a completely different animal. In this case, you sincerely are bringing value to others. You're creating and posting information that can't be found anywhere else. For that reason alone, people will want to link to your page.
On top of that, because your research is both original and insightful, when you do ask for links (in a smart way, which we'll talk about below), you're less likely to be ignored.
Overall, producing high-quality content is essential for attracting high-quality links, and original research is among the highest-quality content you can post to your brand's website.
Original Research Builds Authority
Speaking of high-quality content, creating your own research will also help you build authority as a brand.
Google has not tried to hide the fact that they prefer original content. They will penalize content that is simply restating what can be found elsewhere.
A few years back, this meant that you just couldn't duplicate content. Google penalized plagiarism. But, with each new update, Google has become much better at identifying content that isn't strictly copied and pasted but has been rewritten or spun.
Soon, the AI-driven bots will even be able to identify content that is completely original in its wording but a repetition of ideas. When that happens, many, many articles will get penalized.
But original research? That would be promoted higher. Because it is truly unique. It can't be found anywhere else on the internet because it came from your data, your experiments, or your case studies.
That original research will build authority in the two ways that matter most. First, it will build authority with human readers because you are giving them unique, powerful, and original information. Second, it will build authority with search engines for much the same reason.
So how do you create and post original research? And how do you put it out to the world in a way that will maximize SEO potential and generate many, high-quality inbound links?
Let's break this process down into four steps. Let's talk first about how to create and post the research. We'll also see what kinds of research seem to work the best. Second, we'll talk about how you can use internal links to boost that research.
Third, we'll talk about an important step before you start soliciting links for other sources. This way, you don't spam hundreds of people. You only write the emails that really matter. And, finally, we'll consider how to ask for links in the best way. (Spoilers: It's not about asking for links at all.)
Step 1: Create And Post Your Research
Okay, so, first off, what exactly do we mean by research?
Your original research could mean a lot of things, including:
- case studies
- questionnaire results
- usage data
- blind taste tests
If your brand is a software company, you may have access to usage data. What is the average amount of time people spend with your software? What features are used the most? What interesting ways are people using the software? What does this mean for the future of the program?
If your brand provides a service, you probably already ask customers for testimonials from time to time in order to provide social proof. But what if you asked one or two of your customers with interesting stories to volunteer for a case study? You could go into depth about how the service helped them or their business. You could really analyze how the service impacted them and get detailed statistics of how their lives changed between the before and the after.
Your research doesn't even necessarily have to be about your product or service, at least not directly. A software development company could talk about the process of creating a new digital product, turning their experiences into a detailed case study. Any brand will have related topics they could conduct research on. Remember: this research isn't directly about selling. It's about building authority in your field. It’s about providing value to the world.
Once you have the research, you'll want to package it in a beautiful, user-friendly way. Use lots of graphs and charts. Break down the research in several different ways. Can you turn the research into a downloadable PDF, complete with graphics?
What if you don’t have enough data to do your own research yet? Sometimes you can get another respected company to add you to their research. Concured has done this with Gartner research. We were named as one of their “Cool Vendors in Personalization” back in July and they did a write up of the company and some of the things we’ve done.
Step 2: Deploy Internal Links
As soon as your research is posted, you can start boosting its SEO by creating internal links. You may create a series of articles that are related to the research or that help explain and apply it in different ways. In each article, you can link to your own research page. You can also link through social media posts, to help drive traffic to the new page.
Building up an internal linking structure takes time and effort, but it is a powerful way to get search engines excited about the new content and establish authority.
Step 3: Do Your Homework
As we said above, people love to spam out hundreds of emails asking for links to their pages. Others offer to trade links.
Those tactics almost never work, and they aren't likely to get you any high-quality links, that is, links from high-authority sources.
We have to remember that links are as much about quality as they are about quantity. One link from a high-authority source, like a major news source or science magazine, is worth more than a hundred links from sources that don't have any real authority.
In addition to that, if you score a link or mention from one or two high-authority sources, that will lead to many more links down the road. Many content writers will only consider a source to be quality if someone big has already linked to them.
So asking for links is about making your blow count, not shooting off as many spam emails as possible.
And how do you do that? By researching who would be the best fit to talk about your research to others.
Look into news sources, e-zines, print media, major blogs, and digital publications. How often do they link to original research similar to yours? What is the size of their readership? What authority do they have?
Ask yourself if your research be valuable to them? Would they want to link to your page? May online bloggers and journalists seem to prefer certain kinds of research. Do they like raw data? Or do they prefer case studies? Do they always seem to link to research that is available to download, or do they prefer research that is available online as a web page?
Now that you've done your research, you can move on to the last step.
Step 4: Build Inbound Links
Let's think about those link-hungry spammers one last time. What are they always asking for?
- "Please link to my content"
- "Can we trade links?"
- "You linked to this article. Mine is a better source"
What do those kinds of questions have in common? They’re selfish. They're only asking. They're obviously hungry for links, and they’ll say whatever they can to get a link or two.
But, when you message writers and journalists about your research, what will be your main objective? Will you be asking, or will you be offering value?
You created this research, after all, not just to get SEO points, but to help others, to provide value to the world. Make sure you communicate that in your email.
For example, you could say:
"Dear so-and-so. We've noticed that you often write about software and how people's lives are improved by technology. We enjoyed your recent article in tech-news-dialy.com. We'd like to make you aware of a recent case study we put together. We think people will be helped by this information. You can reach our research through the following link. Please let us know if you have any further questions."
What's the focus of the above message? Is it an ask? Not really. It's about giving, not taking. It’s about providing value.
If you write a similar message to 10 journalists, 9 may not respond. But one might. And, months later, other writers you messaged may eventually link to your research.
In the end, providing your own original research is a wonderful way to provide more value to the world. It also helps your brand build authority and, over time, attract more high-quality links, which is essential to building powerful SEO.
So, the question is: What original research will you put out to the world? Concured is currently working on creating ebooks based on our knowledge of content marketing and AI that business owners can use to guide content strategy. Look for their release sometime in early 2020!