We’re creating a lot of content these days. It’s everywhere. Everyone is writing; everyone has a blog. I’m truly waiting for the day when my mom asks me how she can start a blog to impart her wisdom about how to behave properly in a restaurant.
With the nonstop stream of content being created, it sometimes seems like not everyone is really thinking about how to make their content stand out. I remember that a few years ago, a friend asked me why I hadn’t written a piece about some SEO topic that everyone else was writing about. I explained that I didn’t think I had anything to add to what was out there. If everyone else is saying it, why would you? Wouldn’t you rather say something else, or something better?
For example, around Halloween I was searching for lists of the scariest movies ever made. I kept finding great lists full of movies I’d never even heard of, but one big thing was missing: none that I found showed you where you could stream the films or rent/buy them.
All these articles had some unique perspectives to them, too. Some listed the trailers for the films. Some were filled with recommendations from famous actors and directors. However, for me, as a big fan of streaming services, I was quite disappointed to not see any that told me where to find them and linked to those sources. This definitely stood out as something that I’d have added myself.
Let’s take a look at this article from GQ: “The 7 Best Scary Movies You Can Watch on Netflix.”
It’s even about Netflix, but instead of giving you a link to the movie on that site, they show you the trailers. I mean I’m certainly capable of searching for a movie on Netflix (in fact, I’m pretty close to an expert on it) but as a link builder all I think is, “This is a wasted chance to link.” You see the section about the movie “Creep?” Wouldn’t it be nice if they’d linked to it on Netflix?
Here’s another example, from Thrillist, where the author could have linked out more: “15 Terrifying Movies That Prey On Your Phobias”
So they do tell you where to get the film, but they don’t link to it! Why not? And in the “Honorable Mentions” sections, they list other films but leave it up to you to go search for them. If I had a horror movie site, and someone approached me with an alternative piece that linked to where to find these films, I’d favor that over this one any day.
The beauty of a tool like BuzzSumo or Ahrefs Content Explorer is that you can easily see what content is performing well on what platforms. If you see several articles getting a lot of traction on Twitter, and you have a very similar piece in the works, look at what they don’t have and add it to your own.
Notice how this POPSUGAR article on the best national parks links to the parks mentioned, as it should. You get great photos, too.
Now, take a look at this article on dog-friendly national parks. It gives great info, but I think they could do more.
To give you an example of how someone could use this idea and go above and beyond, here’s a great content opportunity for a site that sells dog collars to do a nice blog post on that same topic, linking to the parks themselves. Maybe they ask for visitors to send in photos of their dogs in these parks, wearing the collars they sell. That would be a nice way to get some great social shares, wouldn’t it?
Let’s go forward with that more specific niche and find one more example of something that could be made better.
Consider this article: “Which National Parks Are Dog-Friendly?” Again, wouldn’t this one be better if the article linked out to the parks it lists?
They do include some nice info, though. They provide a list of free admission dates for the year (the article was from 2016, so it’s for that year), and they have summarized the pet policies for each park, which is pretty nice. They don’t have a photo of each park, though, and since a national park is such a visual experience, all I’m thinking is, “Why not?”
It has 212 total shares according to BuzzSumo, but I think it would have had more if it had contained outbound links and more photos.
Now, even if you’re not trying to create new content, you could surely look at all of this and see that other articles about dog-friendly national parks did contain links and photos, and you could thus update your piece and re-socialize it. Maybe you could add videos of drone footage of the parks or give tips on the best times to visit each one. What about linking to camping options or other accommodations for each park?
For one thing, if you have content that doesn’t stand out for having all it could have, you’re opening yourself up to potentially losing that link to someone else. It’s like broken link building, really. “We noticed you have a link to X piece, but our Y piece actually gives more information — so would you think about replacing the old link with ours?”
I recently received an email asking me if I’d consider updating an old article where I linked to a tool review. The person reaching out said that on her blog, they had recently reviewed this tool and wondered if I could change my link to their review instead, as it was much more comprehensive and reviewed several new features. If I weren’t such a lazy person, I might be tempted.
And last, but not least… outbound links! Don’t ever be afraid to link out if it helps your audience.