Getting social shares and external links to your blog, vlog, podcast, etc. is essential for the following reasons:
- Grows your audience
- Boosts your SEO
- Raises awareness and improves the reputation of your brand
- Contributes to the long-term success of your business
I came across a 2-part series of useful (and slightly goofy) videos by Mark & Eric from Stone Temple Consulting, which illustrate why your content isn’t getting shared or linked to. Here are some key takeaways from each video.
“When content is very appealing to an audience, and evokes an experience they want to share with others, people will go out of their way to share it.”
Most content doesn’t get many shares, and a recent study by BuzzSumo and Moz shows that the vast majority of content gets no shares at all.
It’s true that content can still be successful without social shares; some content is accessed through email newsletters or PMs, or simply might not be the type of content that one shares on social media.
However, the more social shares you get, the higher the chances of increasing your content’s visibility, and consequently gaining new customers. Here’s where your content may be lacking:
1. No optimized appeal
Your content should be appealing enough so that consumers want to share it. Furthermore, your content should contain elements that appeal highly to a particular audience or platform.
For example, if your small business is a bakery, then your posts should contain high-quality images of baked goods that people would be able to pin on Pinterest (with a link back to your site, of course).
2. Not useful or interesting
If your content is not valuable in some way or isn’t entertaining, it won’t get shared. A HubSpot report shows that “how-to” content gets shared the most; content such as list posts, infographics and answers to commonly asked questions also work.
A New York Times study found that people share more when content gives them a sense of self-fulfillment―this is especially true of posts that contain inspirational quotes.
3. Doesn’t address human needs
Great content speaks to basic human needs and wants; if your content doesn’t do this, it’s going to reflect in the number of shares. Aim for topics that help bring people together in certain social groups.
Remember when I mentioned above that most content gets zero shares? Turns out that the situation can be even worse: content earns even fewer links to it than social shares. BuzzSumo’s study showed that 75% of content pages have zero external links pointing to them.
Why such a difference between the number of shares and the number of links? Well, social shares are easier to do and require less commitment, whereas linking to someone else’s content on your own blog, for example, takes users off your site and is therefore something that content creators prefer not to do too often.
But just why are links so important?
External links to a piece of content is one of the primary ways that a search engine evaluates how that content should rank in search results. So, why aren’t people linking to your content?
1. No strong editorial opinion
If you rarely take a firm stance on a subject or state a bold opinion, your content is less likely to be linked to. It also makes you seem less of an authority on a certain topic, and so other content creators are less likely to link to you.
That being said, don’t be deliberately controversial just to get links―that could lead to more bad than good.
2. Lack of research & evidence
Content creators seem to link more frequently to content that is backed by reliable and up-to-date data, which reinforces your credibility.
So if you’re making a claim, make sure that you have the numbers/hard facts on hand to prove it. Don’t go overboard with the statistics though!
If you want to get to that “sweet spot” of content, which earns you both social shares and external links, then make sure to integrate all of the above elements into a single piece of content.