Looking for creative and news worthy topics to write about? Join the crowd. With everyone focused on creating and promoting content for links, competition for space and eyeballs gets harder every day.
If you are using content to build links, your content needs to be fresh, trendy and show a little skin. No I’m not suggesting you use adult material, I’m talking about creating thought provoking content that stands out and attracts links on its own.
Here’s a handful of ways to find great content ideas and use it to create the type of provocative content people will link to.
Be Smart, Use Good Tools
My friend SEO/PPC expert Christine Churchill says I am a human GPS and can find my way out of a paper bag. I don’t know about that but I do have a knack for looking at things differently than most people. When we’re in unfamiliar territory and need to find our way, I make note of what we pass and assign a mental marker to the location. Unless someone changes a building or landscape, I always find my way back which is one reason why Christine lets me navigate when we’re away from home.
When it comes to looking for content ideas and opportunities, there’s too much for my old eyes to see so I rely on tools to keep me posted. If you follow me here you’ve heard me say this before, there are three things I can’t live without: family/friends, Diet Coke and my alert services. When I say “alert services” I mean two things, tools such as Google Alerts, Giga Alerts and Social Mention plus my RSS feeds. I’m going to focus on how I use my RSS feeds today, they are an invaluable tool in my content and link building arsenal.
Find The Best Content Sources
I don’t believe in recreating the wheel, I like to draw my content inspiration from current news and trending advice already out there. To find what’s hot and on the move I do the following:
Step one: Set up RSS feeds from at least three general news sites and an entertainment/gossip site. Set the feed to capture specific keywords so stories using the keywords are returned to your reader.
Step two: Starting with your general news feeds, target two types of publications:
- Geo news sites or those focused on a geographic region (Washington Post, NY Times, etc)
- Industry specific news sites (Eater.com, Stars and Stripes, Financial Times, etc.)
The publications you follow don’t have to be large regional papers like the Washington Post, if your online presence supports an offline store, be sure to include your local news feeds as well.
If you need help finding industry specific news sites, take a look at this site. It lists keyword phrases you can use to find a newspaper on almost any topic.
Step three: As you peruse your reader, divide the articles into two groups:
- Stories using your keywords or
- Articles you can tie your keywords to
Our goal is to create link provoking content using the articles we find in our reader as inspiration and most importantly, reference material. Look for articles you think are a little edgy, controversial or geographically specific, you want to take advantage of the mood and trend around these issues. Here are a couple examples of each type of content and what you can create from them:
(Sidenote: I’m going to use the keyword phrase “kitchen cabinets” in my examples here since I’m in the middle of a kitchen makeover here at Casa Mastaler. Please see disclaimer at end of post).
Stories using your keywords: If this story had been added to my RSS reader, it would be something I could use. It is from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and talks about the problems homes with open floor plans have with noise and acoustics. I’ve never thought about those issues but I guess if you don’t have walls, sound will travel and could be a nuisance. Using the WSJ article as a reference and for inspiration I could create:
Article one: a list of problem solving solutions featuring quiet closing kitchen cabinets for people with open floor plans. Article to include testimonials from homeowners using quiet closing cabinets.
Article two: A white paper on the technology behind quiet cabinets.
Both articles I’ve listed with be at least 2500 words long and include images. Both can be turned into podcasts, video tutorials and slide show presentations as well as chopped into smaller, more topically focused articles. All in all you should be able to pull at least 12 pieces of content from the two main articles you’ve written, just take care to rework your content so it can stand alone.
Each article should cite the highly credible WSJ as a source, you can even go back to the original article on the WSJ and leave a comment and link to your new content. Yes, yes I know you can’t drop live links in the comment section there but that’s OK, the name of the site will do. For example, if you look at the comments at the end of the WSJ story, you’ll see this comment :
Three things here:
- The comment listed the full name of a builder (Jeff ?) which I crossed out for privacy reasons. Name recognition is important for both algorithms and humans so leave the name of a business or person if you can’t leave a link.
- Second, If I did have a site selling kitchen cabinets, I’d make a beeline for Jeff the builder’s door and ask him to write for my blog. Or, I’d ask to write for his. It’s important to take advantage of relevant players in your industry in any way you can.
- Comments are a source of inspiration and a reality check, this guy’s comment is telling you what people want to read (details and solutions) and what markets this type of content may appeal to (builders and architects). Those are huge points when it comes to marketing content.
Articles you can tie your keywords to
The WSJ article above actually used the terms “kitchen cabinets” in the body of the content which is why it came back in my RSS reader but – what if it didn’t? The topic was relevant to my terms and gave me a great and unique angle to write from but again, what if it used “noisy shower doors” instead of “kitchen cabinets” in the copy? I would have been out of luck or way behind the eight ball which stinks when you’re trying to be news and link worthy.
Almost every term you have in your keyword arsenal has a Doppelganger, better known as a synonym. Include them all in your RSS filters, not just long-tail terms you’ve optimized for. For example, in addition to “kitchen cabinets” use: canteen, cookery, cook’s room, cookhouse, galley, mess, mess hall, and scullery. A quick trip to Thesaurus.com and I now have a huge list of words to include in my RSS filters.
Here’s a synonym in action: I set my RSS to pull published articles from the website Eater.com using the term “canteen” in the body copy. What came back was this article which is all about food trucks. I’ve heard of food trucks but never equated them as fodder for kitchen cabinet content, things like tacos and construction sites come to mind instead. Silly me, food trucks, also known as canteens and kitchens on wheels, are ALL the rage right now and all of them have… cabinets in them. Not only do I have two new terms to follow closely (food trucks, canteens) I also have a whole new niche of blogs, sites, forums, and people to tap into for content, traffic, social media mentions and most importantly, links! Huge win here all for using a synonym.
Now I’m hungry. Let’s move on to using a gossip site as a content generator.
The idea here is generally the same but instead of looking for current topics in general news sites, you are looking for trends and gossip to exploit. My favorite sites for this are TMZ and The Daily Mail, between the two you will find the most unusual and trendy information on just about anything.
For example and still using “kitchen cabinets” as my keyword, if I came across this article in my RSS, I’d be all over it. It’s a flap between two (sorta) celebrities dissing each other over an ATM machine one had installed in his kitchen. I don’t give a hoot about the celebrities, but an ATM machine in the kitchen? Ding ding! If celebrities are putting ATM’s in their kitchens it’s a possible trend and one worth writing about. Oh hell, even if they’re not it’s a funny story so it’s a win-win either way.
When I searched on Google news for “ATM in the kitchen“, nothing came back from general media but there it was on TMZ, ripe for the picking. I can do a lot with the phrase “ATM in the kitchen“, in addition to numerous articles I can use the concept and images associated with it to make:
- Content visualizations
- A Flickr stream
- Pinterest board
- Guest blog posts
- Media bait
If I really wanted to cash out I could pursue sponsorship and endorsements opportunities with an ATM manufacturer and work my link building from the corporate side as well. Thank you TMZ.
I’m a big believer in using what’s out there and not recreating the wheel. Developing content from researched and published stories fits this bill, helps you find bright new ideas and saves time finding credible resources.
But best of all it keeps you current with what’s going on so you can be an early adopter and provider of new and interesting industry content. People only share, Like, tweet, Digg, G+, pin and most importantly, link to content they like so get creative and find the trends.
Creating great content is just one part of the process, next you have to promote it to attract links. I’ll cover that next time Now back to picking out hardware for my new kitchen cabinets!
Basic Disclaimer and For Any Google Reviewer Reading Here: I don’t own a kitchen cabinet site or have a connection to a kitchen cabinet site, nor am I associated in any way with any website listed here. I used the term “kitchen cabinets” because I needed an example and I am getting a new kitchen so the term is in my mind, no other reason. Please notice no anchor text links using the phrase “kitchen cabinets” were hyperlinked, and please know no one paid me to write this post.
Christine Churchill and I have been friends since 2003, I linked to her freely not because she asked me to, she doesn’t need the link juice, but because she really does call me a human GPS and I want people to know who she is in case they don’t. Which is silly since everyone knows Christine, she’s been online way longer than I but new people do come into the business all the time, so I’m making sure.
My article “Creating Link Provocative Content” was originally published here, on Link Spiel, this 26th day of August, 2012. If scumbags steal my content, please send them the Google love notes, not me. Thank you.