If you want to gain a competitive advantage from your link building efforts, you ultimately need to develop a strategy that sees you earn the links that your competitors can’t or at least those which they’ll struggle to replicate.
That means doing something different.
You won’t gain a strong competitive advantage through guest posting, resource link building or similar tactics, and even leveraging high-value PR approaches such as newsjacking are unpredictable given that you’re waiting for the right opportunity to come along.
One tactic which does allow you to earn great links at scale, however, is content marketing / digital PR.
The idea is simple:
Create something great and make sure the right people know about it.
When you’re able to use a linkable asset which journalists, bloggers, and webmasters want to link to (want is the key here), the results which you can drive can contribute towards significant growth.
That said, a linkable asset can come in many different forms – from static visuals (yes, infographics can still earn great links) through to interactive content pieces.
Here we’ll explore in more depth how you can use the latter to earn links that contribute toward great growth, showcasing a number of proven formats and examples of successful pieces.
We’ll specifically look at what makes each of these interactive formats linkable and how they can be promoted to earn links, as well as a number of tips for the creation of such assets.
1. Tools & Calculators
Tools and calculators, when done well, are perhaps the most effective way to earn quality links at scale.
However, in many sectors, simple ideas have been done to death and offer nothing new.
Today, you need a truly unique concept for tools and calculators to drive success.
Be sure to ask yourself when coming up with ideas for this format what value it would add to users (and others as a citeable resource) and check, double-check, and triple-check where anything similar already exists.
Let’s look at a quick example.
If we take this mortgage calculator from Money Saving Expert, we can see that, according to Ahrefs, it’s earned links from 337 unique domains.
Not bad at all and for sure a contributing factor to the tool ranking prominently across lucrative search terms.
It’s a great piece of content and deserves the links it’s earned, citing it as a practice and useful tool.
But how could it be improved?
Likely, it couldn’t be.
As such, it’s unlikely that a newly launched tool that offered anything similar would be effective at earning links.
However, let’s not lose focus here.
Tools and calculators have the potential to drive big results. Just remember the need to launch a tool that:
- Is unique.
- Adds value.
- Gets people talking.
- Hasn’t been done to death.
You need to be asking yourself how you’d pitch it out to link prospects: what makes your tool linkable?
Don’t let this put you off from using the format, however. Take the time to ask yourself what your audience may find useful to be able to do themselves in tool or calculator format.
These examples go to show that there are so many different ways you can launch tools, ranging from simple yet entertaining through to complex assets that complement your core product offering.
Focus on adding value and creating something new.
You can truly drive outstanding results with this format.
When it comes to pitching out, don’t forget to reach out to articles and content resources which already talk about the problem which your tool solves. Pitch it in as a value-adding asset for their readers.
2. Games & Quizzes
Want to have a bit of fun when producing an interactive piece of content?
Get your thinking cap on and brainstorm ideas around fun games and quizzes which you could launch to drive engagement from your audience, alongside earning links from other publications who share the asset.
The only downside to using games and quizzes as linkable assets is the fact that they’re typically resource-intensive to produce; therefore increasing both the time to launch and the investment required.
Perhaps more suited to B2C than B2B brands, games and quizzes bring the fun factor to content marketing and can also drive impressive results across social, email sign-ups and more, but where do you start?
The recommendation is to begin brainstorming the topics your audiences know you for. What is it that they’d typically associated with your brand?
From there, you can begin to develop ideas and concepts on how you could challenge these individuals and launch an engaging interactive that captures their attention.
The only limit really is your imagination here.
Make sure to sanity check your concept with members of your target audience (that could be friends, colleagues not involved in the project or even journalists in your network) before diving deep into production.
Just a few examples of exciting games and quizzes which have driven great results from a link perspective are:
Focus on the angle which you’ll pitch out to prospects to encourage them to talk about, and link to it.
In many cases, “Brand X Launches Game Y” isn’t a headline for a publisher.
But, imagine if you collected the data of those who played the game or took part in the quiz? The headlines you’ve got available suddenly become a whole load more exciting.
A headline of “Only 2 in 5 Can Correctly Identify These Must-Know Road Signs” is a very different headline to “Car Dealership Launches Road Sign Quiz.”
Start to think about the angles you can take to press before you enter production and you’ll ultimately drive far more value as you’ll start to see angles to help create a buzz.
3. Interactive Maps
Why make a map interactive?
For a simple reason:
Static maps are one of the most difficult to consume formats of content, especially on mobile devices.
Maps are a great way to display data that is broken down by country.
This is a proven and effective content format that can help you to earn great links.
However, unless you want your users to have to zoom in and move the map around using finger pinches on mobile devices, the format is rarely user-friendly.
Turn a map into an interactive asset, however, and you suddenly have the capability to allow users to zoom in and move around far easier; as well as being able to add further data on hover (or click) of countries.
Why do maps work so well as a content format focussed upon link acquisition?
The simple reason that we all love to compare ourselves to others across the world combined with the fact that there’s typically an angle you can take to the majority of countries featured.
Here are some exciting and engaging interactive map-based assets which performed well and can inspire you to launch your own:
It’s perhaps no coincidence that interactive maps are popular amongst travel brands.
However, interactive maps have been proven to work across a whole host of sectors; from automotive through to finance.
The challenge you need to address is where to find interesting data sources, comparable across a country, continent or globally, in which interesting trends and comparisons can be pulled from.
Conquer this challenge and you’ll likely end up with a fantastic campaign that meets your goals and earns fantastic links.
If you truly want to drive success in terms of quality links from top-tier publishers, there’s a good chance you’re going to need to use data-driven content to achieve that.
You see, when you take data and use it to create an interesting story, you ultimately end up with multiple angles; especially when that’s done in the index format.
We’re not talking listicles here; far from it. We’re talking data-driven studies that you can literally pull story after story from.
When it comes to coming up with concepts for indices, start to explore data sets and think about how you could use these to combine factors to produce a ranking in index form.
Now you’re probably thinking you could launch this as a static format – an infographic perhaps or even simply as a blog post.
However, the great advantage of launching an interactive version is that users can:
- Explore the data themselves.
- Sort rankings.
- Engage with maps.
There are so many different ways you can take an index and make it interactive and engaging.
Want to see some great examples? Here’s a series of fantastic interactive indices which have performed well from a link acquisition perspective:
5. Interactive Infographics & Reports
Some say infographics are dead, however, the reality is that you can’t blame the format.
A great story and headline will succeed regardless of the format used to present it and, even in 2020, infographics can still be the right approach for campaigns.
However, what’s often more effective is to launch an interactive infographic or turn a static report into something a little more engaging; adding elements of interactivity.
For the simple reason that interactivity allows you to:
- Enhance user experience.
- Present data in unique ways.
- Really create an awesome piece of content.
You’ve got the flexibility to do so much more than you can with a static asset.
In many ways, this is interactive content in its most simplistic form – a step above static assets and relatively light on resources.
It gives you the flexibility to focus on:
- Being creative.
- Presenting data in the right way.
- Above all else, delivering a responsive asset that looks as awesome on mobile as it does on desktop devices – overcoming one of the most common challenges when working with static visuals.
Want to feel inspired?
Here are just a few fantastic simple campaigns based around interactive infographics and reports:
If you’re yet to launch an interactive piece of content as part of your link acquisition efforts, perhaps a relatively simple interactive infographic or report is the way to start testing formats.
As we can see from the three examples shared here, even simple interactive assets can earn links in significant numbers. So long, of course, that there’s a great story behind them.
Over to You
Are you feeling inspired to go and test out interactive content of your own?
There are few better ways to earn quality links, at scale, and so long as you concentrate on ensuring there’s a great story behind the asset, you’ll continue to look for ways to push the format and launch bigger and better campaigns.
Results detected: 3 – 6 months
Average links earned per campaign: 25+
- A media database (not required but useful) such as Gorkana, Cision, Vuelio, etc.
- You’ll earn high authority links, at scale, which give a competitive advantage as those earned through PR-driven tactics to outstanding assets are difficult for competitors to replicate.
- Aside from link acquisition, other tactics of using interactive content to earn links include increased brand awareness, referral traffic, and opportunities to reach new audiences.