Posted by JamesAgate
[Estimated read time: 9 minutes]
For the most part, articles on content promotion focus on launching new content.
Today I want to focus on getting the most out of (and in some cases, breathing new life into) existing content.
We frequently see clients that have a variety of content assets already. Where possible, I always advocate using what's on hand over indiscriminately pumping out new content.
For the following exercise, we need to start by identifying the content assets; we’ll be looking for unloved and underloved assets.
- Unloved = content that exists but nobody has even noticed it. It has very few links, social shares, and little to no traffic.
- Underloved = content that exists, was launched, and did okay, but never reached its full potential. (I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve found a piece that we couldn’t squeeze at least one campaign out of.)
It's important to note that, in many cases, we’ve been alerted to content that's unloved because it's essentially invisible but potentially very valuable. One good example of this would be an internal knowledge base that your sales team maintains.
Identifying pages with potential
Often it's easier to spot underloved content than it is to find completely unloved content.
Our preferred method is to plug a domain into Ahrefs.com Site Explorer, navigate to the “Top Pages” tab (which in their redesign now seems to be called “Best By Links”), and start working your way through the URLs that you find.
You can also use Ahrefs.com “Best By Shares” feature, which will present all pages in order of their social share count. Again, this can be useful in terms of pointing you towards assets that may perform well with some additional promotion.
I tend to pull together all the URLs that I find so that I can work on them/review in conjunction with other sources.
The other sources being, in this case:
- The client (or perhaps colleagues at your company) alerting you to “invisible” content
- Google Analytics to identify pages that perhaps get some traffic but have no links or social shares
- Sitemap or crawl of your domain
You should now have a file of all of your existing content assets. You're ready to match these up against any content opportunities in your market that you've previously identified, or as a result of evaluating the assets you’ve found and researching the possible opportunities.
This might include things like:
- Keywords – You’ve identified keywords around certain topic areas that are worth targeting.
- Broken link opportunities – Perhaps you’ve identified specific broken resources that you're looking to target. (Shameless plug: our broken link prospecting tool should be launching later this month.)
- Rich veins of link opportunities – Perhaps you’ve spotted a niche within your market that's particularly attractive from a linking standpoint.
Now you can assess whether the content you have fits that opportunity. It probably won’t be a perfect match, but is it close enough to not warrant creating a whole new piece of content?
If a new piece of content is truly needed, set that opportunity aside in favor of the others for the moment. Remember, right now we're just focusing on priming and promoting existing content.
Priming existing content
I did say we weren’t going to be creating new content, but there is some work involved. Unless you get really lucky, the content assets you discover will probably need a little TLC before they're ready to be promoted.
So... I lied. This does involve creating a new piece of content. But, in my defense, you're taking the meat from an existing asset and creating something that matches the opportunity you're looking to target.
In essence, you'll be extracting ideas from a content asset to produce something that's worthy of promotion. A good example of this might be taking the key ideas from a webinar and turning that into a cheatsheet; this can be promoted as a resource far more easily than a full-on webinar.
This is, by far, the most common scenario. Clients will come to us from other providers who’ve said that 4 blog posts per month is going to change their business. In isolation, most of these blog posts aren’t worth promoting. When consolidated, however, they can become something more substantial.
This involves enhancing a piece of content that's nearly there but is perhaps missing a section or two, or could be updated with the latest industry best practices.
This could be improving the formatting of a piece to make it more digestible or — perhaps more crucially — adjusting the page to target specific keywords. For example, we’ve just finished working with a client to update and better optimize their existing blog posts for specific keywords that attract huge search volumes in their market. In one case, this meant a solid blog post that was completely unloved now ranks in the top three results for a term that gets searched around 10,000 times per month. These aren’t commercial keywords, but rather informational queries that have the potential to lead people into the client’s commercial landing pages.
Promoting existing content
#1: Reach out to people who’ve shared similar content
A good place to start when promoting content is some proactive outreach. What better place to start than with people who’ve already linked to similar/related content?
This can be quite a manual process: searching various keywords relating to the content, identifying websites that have said content, plugging each URL into Ahrefs, Majestic, or Open Site Explorer to see who links, sifting through to see who's worth contacting, and then performing the actual outreach.
To this end, we built our (free) Similar Content Prospecting Tool to take the heavy lifting out of this process. You enter the keywords and it finds the content that ranks highest for them, gathers those that link to that content, sifts through and removes the lower-end stuff, and presents the top links for you to review and export, ready for contact.
You can find people who link to similar content or, with the right keywords, you can find people who link to related content. Both groups of prospects may be interested in linking to you.
For example, say you have a piece of content that looks at keeping children safe on their smartphone. You might want to identify those that link to top-ranking content on “Internet safety,” as there's likely to be crossover. Those prospects will potentially be interested in your content because it fills a gap that currently exists on their site.
For further reading, see: You Can Get Links from Cold Outreach.
#2: Look for broken link opportunities
I know I’ve plugged it once before, but we're launching Linkrot.com later this month (all being well) and this will automate the process of finding broken link opportunities. For now, prospecting for opportunities can be a largely manual process (take a look at the additional resources linked to below to get a feel for the process). This can be eased with extensions like LinkMiner from Jon Cooper at PointBlankSEO. And of course there are prospecting tools on the market currently that can help with the search, such as BrokenLinkBuilding.com.
Broken link building is extremely powerful and, in my opinion, still under-utilized. For the uninitiated, at its most basic level it involves a) finding pages that used to exist but are now dead and that people have linked to, b) tailoring your content asset to fit that opportunity, and c) reaching out to those that link, to suggest they update their link to your page.
Take a look at this chart:
As you can see, the publish rate (percentage of people who link versus number who were contacted) is considerably higher than with other reasons for outreach.
As a side note, before you go ignoring the other techniques: the pool of opportunities is significantly smaller for broken link building. So, whilst you might convert more prospects into links, there will be fewer prospects to start with.
One of the quickest ways to find broken links manually is to search for resource pages in your industry and scan them for dead pages.
#3: Devise a new angle
This applies in particular to underloved content assets. Adjusting the niche you pitch can have a significant impact on publish rate.
This may involve more than just adjusting your prospecting efforts and your email template. It's likely to involve tweaking your piece of content to better fit who you're planning to target.
A straightforward example would be targeting a different country. Perhaps you've had success reaching out to schools in the US. With some adjustments to the piece and to your approach, you might be able to find schools in the UK or Canada that might also find your content useful and link-worthy.
#4: Consider paid promotion
In the past, I've recommended offerings like Outbrain and Taboola. In the early days of both of these platforms we actually saw a really good return, but I’m not ashamed to say that we can’t make them work anymore.
I think this are many reasons for this. Consumers are becoming increasingly blind to these “around the web” links; there seems to be limited quality control in terms of advertisers or adverts so they have become increasingly spammy-looking (which harms clickthrough rates); and finally, due to the surge in popularity, the traffic isn’t all that cheap anymore.
One platform that I think is underrated is StumbleUpon Paid Discovery; we find it useful for amplifying content alongside proactive outreach.
I do also like Facebook advertising as a way of reaching very specific audiences. However, we typically only utilize paid media like this where the goals of a campaign go beyond link building because it's REALLY hard to draw that direct line between your Facebook ad spend and number of referring domains.
#5: Connect your content to a wider story
Yes, I know people say that press releases are dead. Certainly, as a form of link building or the sole method of generating press, they just might be. But for announcing content, they can still be very effective.
We’ve found if you can tap into a developing story and go hyper-focused, then you can A) generate some coverage of your content and B) leverage that coverage for further coverage with some proactive outreach.
You might think this sounds like a technique for a new piece of content, but that's not so. We've recently found this approach useful in campaigns where prospects are indifferent to our standard outreach approach. They feel that the issue we’re talking about either doesn’t matter or doesn’t apply to them. A well-written press release can change all of that.
You're flipping the issue on its head, making it about the broader story rather than simply a piece of your content. A punchy title, some official stats and a nice quote from the CEO can help generate some initial coverage. You can then take that initial coverage and use it as social proof in your proactive outreach.
Any questions or ways that you squeeze more juice out of your existing content? I’d welcome them in the comments section below.
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