There are lots of reasons why content creation should be an ongoing part of your marketing plan. Instead of going on about adding value, supporting a wider strategy or establishing yourself as an expert, this article looks at link generation and the SEO sides of content. Some types of content can earn you backlinks and shares without too much work. Links and shares can give your content credibility and this is a big winner in terms of SEO. Sure, you’ll need to put in the effort to create your blog, but some blogs have longer legs that go further than other types. So, how do you create content that generates links and shares easily?

Write about the things people care about

Sounds simple right? But if you’re working for, say, a motorcycle business, do you write a blog about the different kinds of motorbikes, or do you write about safety on two wheels? Motorcycles is a pretty broad topic area. Finding threads within that area that are most likely to gain clicks, shares, and backlinks can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. A little more work than just brainstorming headlines on your own — although that’s a fair place to start — is needed to find topics that matter to a big audience. Same goes if you’re a food blogger, interested in water sports or any other topic you can think of. Some content in that space will spread more widely than others.

There’s a way to find out which topics have a good chance of reaching the most people. It’s by researching. Just as you would run a few keyword searches before writing your blogs, it will serve you well to do a little topic research too. I have my preferred tools for this — Answer the Public being one of my favourites because of the way results are displayed and the occasional free webinars they hold. You can also check out Buzzsumo and SEMrush, or just type in ‘topic research tools’ to your preferred search engine and you’ll find lots of other platforms that can help.

The idea here is to type in your broad theme. To use the example above — the motorcycle business — I’d type in ‘motorcycles’ first off and see what gets generated. I’d also try words associated with this — motorbike, motorcycle licence, bike safety and similar. Topic search tools let you know what people are searching for and should give you search volumes, or at least rank them in most searched to least. You should also specify the area of your search — it’s no good targeting most searched topics in Germany if your writing for an audience in America.

When I searched for ‘motorcycles’, I got questions around the types of motorcycles people can ride, helmet types, injuries, and whether motorcycle shops are open along with a bunch of other stuff. It pays to check back periodically. The results I got for ‘motorcycle’ pre-COVID are pretty different from what I got today after more than a month in lockdown.

Now you’ve got your list of the burning questions people are asking the internet, create content specifically for them. You’ll need to include the right keywords, choose a headline that has ‘clickability’ written all over it and other basic SEO stuff to make it attractive when it appears in search results. This is a great way to have your article found, clicked, read and shared.

List the best

This one has been around for a while and that’s because it works. Best of lists are searched for across most verticals because people use them when thinking about buying something. Consider your own searches for anything new. Chances are you’ll take a look at what’s out there. Most of the time, your search results will include ‘The 10 Best X’ articles or similar titles.

The other great thing about this content is that it’s more than likely the brands who made it to your list will want to link to it and share it with their networks. This type of content works also for expert opinions for a similar reason — people who you’ve identified as an expert in the area you’ve written about will usually want to share that with their networks. They may also want to link to the piece from their own website. Both are great for improving your article’s and/or website’s SEO.

Research well and craft a valuable piece for people interested in that product, service or topic. Let the brands or experts that made it to your ‘Best of’ or ‘Top Tips’ list know with a quick and polite email that includes the link to your work. That makes it easier to share and helps get the links or shares a little faster.

Picture it

Infographics, charts and other pictorial representations of valuable information are a great way to earn links and shares. Making information easily digestible is a great way to get work shared widely. Most people would rather spend five minutes on a pictorial representation of demographics related to web searching than read a 10-minute long article on the same topic. This means infographics and the like are imminently shareable.

The good news is, they aren’t that difficult to make and you can make them about almost any topic with any figures and hard data. You’ll need to do your research to get your facts straight and then head on over to a free infographic creation sites to make it pretty!

Canva has some great tools, Piktochart makes it fairly simple, and Lucidpress is another free option you can use. Alternatively, just type in ‘free infographic creator’ and choose something that works intuitively for you.

Shares and backlinks

The amount of shares and backlinks you get to your work or website has a direct impact on boosting your SEO. Confirming your credibility and authority on a particular topic with backlinks is one of the most powerful ways you can do this. Aside from guest posting on other’s websites, writing on the topics that people care about, creating valuable lists that help others, and making beautiful pictorial representations of data are three other ways you can boost your online presence.

Vic Womersley is a freelance writer who regularly writes on Medium about marketing, mental health and wellbeing, alcohol, and other topics that grab her interest. You can sign up for her monthly email to receive free links to her work or follow her on Medium to learn about the new things she’s learning about life, writing and freelancing. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter and can see her client work online. *Some links included in this piece are affiliate links, however, all of the recommended resources have been trialled by me, the author.