Amplifying your message: the power of backlinks

As the content media landscape gets more and more crowded, social sharing alone, (sharing content links through social media) won’t push content enough to generate business value for many companies. Relying on social media only for sharing turns it into a numbers game. A lot of people have to be exposed to the content initially, which is harder to get without paying to show up. And statistics from BuzzSumo’s Annual Content Trends Report indicate there has been a decline in social shares over time.

It can be hard to cut through the clutter of all the content available. It’s not enough to just publish in the hopes it will be discovered.

But there are other powerful methods beyond social media for building shares, often forgotten by many: amplification with backlinks.

Backlinks can be added anywhere – in the text of another blog post, in the test of a guest post, author bio on earned print or broadcast media online, podcast attribution, post attribution, downloadable PDFs, freemium content, email signatures and messaging apps. Backlinks are when you make clickable through a direct link URL to an additional piece of content on your website of blog. Backlinks help build traffic, and if you capture that traffic in some way for re-targeting or nurture it further one on one, it can be a powerful strategy.

I monitor analytics on my blog regularly. There are two pieces of content from 2013 that consistently continue to drive traffic:

Aug 2013 – Eight Reasons why Lays Do Us a Flavour content is brilliant marketing

Oct 2013 – Lays Do Us a Flavour insiders story + how CapU students hijacked Green Men publicity

The reason for this is, they have been backlinked from a course content platform for Wharton School of Business, a well-respected program at the University of Pennsylvania. This is something I only stumbled into, and certainly did not request. I don’t even know anyone at Wharton! But the example very clearly illustrates the continued power of a backlink over time. Realizing the traffic that was being generated to the links, I went back in some time ago and placed an e-newsletter sign up link visually within the post, which continues to generate list growth over time.

Another powerful piece of backlink content that continues to drive traffic for me is a piece I wrote for the Huffington Post back in 2016, Bias Election Coverage and Consumption will Have Consequences.

And the subsequent backlinks from my author profile on Huff Post.

This piece of content lead to a CBC national radio interview, with Jim Brown on The 180, and powerful backlinks within the story and profile

Both of these are pieces of content that continue to drive traffic long after they were published. Can you say that about a Facebook or Instagram post from 2-5 years ago? Exactly.

In addition to social sharing going down, it’s worth noting that many shared links on social media are never clicked, and many people who share articles don’t actually read more than the headline first! Social sharing also tends to have limited impact. Once it’s buried in the feed, additional shares disappear quickly.

But backlinks within your own content, and backlinks within EARNED MEDIA content, can fuel a large number of views initially, and continue to channel elevated views over time. Backlinks, especially from well-established and reputable platforms can also significantly boost your site credibility and performance in search. They are SEO on steroids if you score some good ones.

Backlinks must be earned of course. Large media organizations and powerful industry influencers are certainly valuable ways to distributed content with backlinks, but they can be hard to get. There are many other options out there.  You can increase the likelihood of others linking back to your content if:

  • Write on a trending topic
  • Write authoritative content answering popular questions
  • Opinion pieces, political posts
  • Share original research
  • Develop relationships with industry leaders and share content

I’m not trashing social media again this week (although it feels a bit like another poke). I just want to continue to emphasize the importance of building traffic back to your “owned” media platforms, and how to do it with less reliance on social channels.

Mary Charleson

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