The whole concept of link building has gone through a lot in the last 18 months – and when content marketing become the flavour on everyone’s lips, a whole mass of articles where saying how content marketing has ‘replaced’ link building.

This couldn’t be more false.

Essentially, content marketing can ‘naturally’ build links, and link building efforts can results in some great content. They aren’t the same thing, but when working in tandem they can produce some amazing results. Let’s clear up our definitions of each phrase though:

Link Building is acquiring links to improve your search rankings. It involves performing keyword research to determine what you want to target, finding sources related to those keywords (or identifying sites that are linking to your competitors), and then doing one-to-one outreach with those sources to obtain a link.

Content Marketing is creating content to move your users through your marketing  funnel. It involves creating buyer personas to determine who your buyers are, finding what they currently use to get content, and delivering content in their preferred medium to help them make a purchasing decision.

People want what they’re searching for

A lot of people have said (and this becomes truer every day) that SEO cannot exist without content marketing, and that’s true: but, content marketing should not exist without SEO.

When we’re building links, we think keywords. Those keywords should still be factored into your content marketing strategy. While, yes, they need to be supplemented with buyer personas and deeper analysis into what’s really driving your users to making a purchasing decision, keywords are still vitally important because they show user intent. People search for what they want.

It’s gotten much easier top rank for long-tail keywords and most people will find your content first through these long-tail keywords. When you create a content piece centered around a keyword, you’re also able to find sources willing to link to that topic.

People are still digging extensive content pieces

This looked a lot like a Google Search with [keyword + intitle:resources], finding URLs with followed links to outdated resources, updating said outdated content on your site with new, better content, and contacting the webmaster to link to you instead.

This can easily work for content marketing too.

Before you go, ask yourself if this topic is truly something your users will be interested in. If so, how do they like it to be packaged? You have E-books, infographics, blog posts, videos, webinars etc. Find out what type of content they like to click on and share the most, and use this as a way of bating link sources.

These ‘resources’ however are usually tied up behind submission forms and have requirements for cover letters; that’s the real kicker here.

Most resource listings won’t link to a piece of content that isn’t outright free, so you will have to balance between your biggest objectives. There are times when locking these behind a form are right, and there are other times when giving away all the goods for free works.

Promote Additional Content At The End of A Blog Post

Something trending in your industry? (which there probably is) Then write a substantial blog about it, and at the end of that blog post, promote a larger piece of content that’s related to that topic. You’re giving away enough free information to attract some good links, and you’re giving your readers a good reason to sign up for more.

Don’t have an e-book or whitepaper already written? No problem. Schedule a webinar and use the form submission at the bottom of a blog post to encourage people to register for that.

A subscribe form/button on your blog is a strong way of getting people in your heard with minimal obligation from them.

Pro tip: Have  the subscribe area follow them as they scroll down your blog posts so they don’t have to scroll back up when they’re ready to subscribe.

Leverage Influencers For Inclusion, Sharing & Coverage

Another way to make link building and content marketing work together for you is by including the sources you want links from in your cotnent.

If someone is included in a content piece, they’re more likely to share and link to said content — even if it’s behind a submission form. This tactic can include things like:

  • Interviews, quotes and advice
  • Including data (with permission) from a study someone has done
  • Expert profiles