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30+ Content Creation Tools to Streamline Your Workflow

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30+ Content Creation Tools to Streamline Your Workflow

Content is still king for online businesses. Want to rank on Google? You need content. Want social media followers? More content.

I’ve personally published thousands of articles across dozens of blogs, recorded hundreds of videos, and posted who even knows how many photos. Creating that much content takes a lot of time, but the right tools can speed up the process.

Below, I share the best content creation tools I’ve found in over 10 years of blogging and being an online content creator—organized by use case.

The ultimate content creation tool stack

Just want the best tools? Here are my 10 most used content creation tools and what they’re useful for:

  1. Canva: Best graphic creation tool
  2. ChatGPT: Best AI content creation and research tool
  3. Ahrefs: Best SEO and content research tool suite
  4. Grammarly: Best spelling and grammar editing tool
  5. Wordable: Best tool for uploading Google Docs to WordPress
  6. Notion: Best software for organizing and planning your content
  7. Descript: Best video and audio editing tool
  8. Buzzsprout: Best podcasting tool
  9. Loom: Best screen recording app
  10. Snagit: Best screenshot capture tool

Want more? Keep reading.

First, here are tools to help you research and outline your content before writing.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs keyword overview for "content marketing"

Price: $99+ per month (free tools available)

What it’s useful for: Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO tool suite. You can use our Keywords Explorer for keyword research, our Content Explorer to research content in any niche, and our Site Explorer to uncover your competitors’ top content.

Case Study: 12 Things That Only Ahrefs Can Do

Ahrefs is the closest you can get to an “essential” tool if you are a serious content marketer or SEO. It will give you tons of insight into your competitors, and you will make much better marketing decisions.

Google Trends

Google Trends report for "coffee"

Price: Free

What it’s useful for: Finding trending and related topics within your niche. As you can see in the screenshot above, searches for “ryze mushroom coffee” have risen 850% in the last 12 months, indicating it may be a good topic for an article for a coffee website.

Case Study: How to Use Google Trends for Keyword Research

AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic results for "coffee"

Price: $9+ per month (free trial available)

What it’s useful for: Finding questions people are asking that include or are related to any keyword you type into the tool. It can be useful for coming up with content ideas or questions to address within your posts.

Case Study: How I Used Answer The Public to Recover Lost Google Rankings

AnswerThePublic is easy to use and gets right to the point—the interface is intuitive. I use it most often for research and brainstorming topics and titles for blogging.

SurferSEO

SurferSEO outline tool

Price: $49+ per month (free trial available)

What it’s useful for: Outlining your content based on semantic search and natural language processing (NLP). It can help you to cover all related topics and questions people are asking around those topics within your content.

Case Study: SurferSEO Helps ClickUp Grow Blog Traffic by 85% in 12 Months

Pinterest Trends

Pinterest Trends report showing growing trends in the United States

Price: Free

What it’s useful for: Coming up with content ideas and finding topics with a high chance of success on Pinterest. Since Pinterest is also a search engine, this can be a great way to find ideas for new and recurring traffic.

Case Study: Pinterest Trends: Everything You Need to Know

Content planning and scheduling tools

Next up, we have a suite of tools for planning your content calendar and scheduling your social media posts.

Notion

Notion planning page example

Price: Free with varying paid options

What it’s useful for: Content planning and management dashboards. You can use it to create to-do lists and content calendars, collaborate with your team on projects, and much more. I use Notion because it has the highest amount of flexibility and freedom of all the task management software, but it also has a steep learning curve.

Case Study: How Thomas Frank Made Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars From Notion

Alternatives:

Buffer

Buffer interface for posting to Instagram

Price: Free with varying paid options

What it’s useful for: Scheduling social media posts, using AI to generate post ideas, seeing analytics data, and managing all your social media accounts under one dashboard.

Case Study: How Campaign Monitor Uses Buffer to Manage Their Social Media

Love that I can customize the posts for each different platform I plan to post on. It really helps cater the message to the audience that uses different social media sites.

Alternatives:

Writing and editing tools

Here are the tools I use to write and edit my content before it goes live:

Google Docs

Google Docs homepage

Price: Free

What it’s useful for: Writing and editing blog posts and collaborating with your team. I’ve been using Google Docs for all of my content creation for nearly a decade, and it’s still relevant.

Grammarly

Grammarly editing tool

Price: Free 

What it’s useful for: Fixing your spelling and grammar mistakes and suggesting improvements to your writing as you draft your content. It’s compatible with Google Docs and WordPress if you get its browser plugin.

CoSchedule Headline Studio

CoSchedule Headline Studio dashboard

Price: Free ($19/month or $99/year for premium)

What it’s useful for: Using AI and CoSchedule’s internal scoring to improve your headlines for clickability and SEO. It gives you ideas of power words to use, and the AI can write and suggest headlines for you.

Image creation and editing tools

No article is complete without good images. Here are some image creation and editing tools:

Canva

Canva image editing interface

Price: Free ($12.99/month or $119.99/year for premium)

What it’s useful for: Creating custom graphics for your blog or social media accounts, creating logos, and pretty much anything else you need images for. It also has an AI image editor to automate—or at least assist in—the process.

If I were to talk to a business leader, I would let them know how much time they’re going to save by switching to Canva. It’s really going to allow your team the time that they need to focus on the projects that really matter.

Brandon Realmonte, Brand Creative Manager Zoom

Fotor AI Image Generator

Fotor's AI image generator

Price: Free ($12.99/month or $119.99/year for premium)

What it’s useful for: Creating custom images based on text prompts using AI. While it’s not great yet, it’s come a long way and soon will be able to create unique, photo-realistic images to use in your content.

Unsplash

Unsplash stock photo library

Price: Free

What it’s useful for: Finding free-to-use, high-quality stock photos. I use these images in my blog posts all the time, and it can even be useful for finding images to share on social media.

Snagit

Snagit screen capture software

Price: $62.99 (free trial available)

What it’s useful for: Capturing and editing screenshots. We use it at Ahrefs for all of our screen captures to show you how to use our tools.

Audio/podcast creation and editing tools

If you have a podcast or like to include audio versions of your articles, these tools are for you:

Spotify for Podcasters

Spotify for Podcasters interface

Price: Free

What it’s useful for: Creating, storing, editing, and hosting your podcast on Spotify. It’s an easy-to-use, beginner-friendly tool for anyone to start up their own podcast.

Audacity

Audacity audio editing tool

Price: Free

What it’s useful for: Recording and editing audio files. It’s pretty powerful for a free program, and even many high-earning podcasts still use it.

Alternatives:

Descript

Descript interface for audio and video editing

Price: Free (paid plans start at $12/month)

What it’s useful for: Recording and editing audio and video files. However, it’s much more powerful than a simple audio or video editor. Descript has cutting-edge AI software that allows you to do things like “greenscreen” any background, remove all the “ums” and “uhs” from your audio, and easily rearrange clips. It even has an AI tool that can clone your voice.

Case Study: Podcasters Use SquadCast and Descript to Simplify Their Podcast Production

I like the transcription and [the fact that it’s] based on text. It makes editing podcasts very quick, as well as exporting transcriptions and organizing an hour’s worth of content.

Buzzsprout

Buzzsprout podcasting analytics and hosting dashboards

Price: Free (paid plans start at $12/month)

What it’s useful for: Hosting your podcast. You can also see analytics data like how many listens and downloads each episode has.

Video creation and editing tools

If you regularly create video content, here are some tools for you:

InShot

InShot video editor interface

Price: Free (in-app purchases)

What it’s useful for: Quickly and easily editing video for social media like TikTok right from your phone. Because it’s on your phone, it makes editing videos on the fly while traveling much easier (compared to uploading everything to your laptop, editing it, then sending it back to your phone).

Loom

Loom dashboard homepage

Price: Free (unlimited video starting at $8/month)

What it’s useful for: Recording your screen for tutorials, how-tos, and other videos. It’s a powerful free screen recording software that I use all the time to help my employees learn SOPs and to show exactly how to do certain tasks in my YouTube videos.

Tools for creating newsletters

Newsletters are the backbone of content-based businesses. Here are tools to maximize your email list:

Substack

Substack user interface

Price: Free

What it’s useful for: Growing an audience and monetizing your content. Substack is a blog and email newsletter combo where anyone can subscribe to your content for a fee. Substack keeps 10% of the subscription payments, and you take the rest while still maintaining 100% ownership of your content.

ConvertKit

ConvertKit subscribers report

Price: Free up to 300 subscribers (then starts at $9/month)

What it’s useful for: Managing your email list and sending newsletters. You can use its powerful automation features to set up custom email drip campaigns. These features can make a big impact if you spend the time learning how to use them.

Case Study: How This Creator Uses ConvertKit to Average a 60% Open Rate

The best thing about ConvertKit is that it is novice-friendly and has easy navigation. It has tons of pre-built email templates, landing pages, and form templates that you can use after minor modifications.

Alternatives:

Tools for creating and monetizing courses

Online courses can be lucrative if you can capture an audience. These tools will help you create and market your digital course(s):

Teachable

Teachable interface

Price: Free (paid plans start at $39/month)

What it’s useful for: Creating and selling an online course. You can see who signed up for your course, how much progress they’ve made, and much more. It even has an editor to allow you to make your course right from your Teachable dashboard.

Case Study: How to Create an Online Course With Teachable

Alternatives: 

Tools for creating and monetizing communities

Similar to newsletters, communities can help your business grow exponentially. Here are some tools to help you start, grow, and monetize an online community:

Circle

Circle community dashboard

Price: Starts at $39/month (14-day free trial)

What it’s useful for: Creating, managing, and monetizing an online community. Your members can chat with one another, create posts to interact, and see your posts and live videos.

Alternatives: 

Making your website look and feel beautiful is important to keep your visitors engaged. These landing page builders can help with that:

Elementor

Elementor theme builder interface

Price: Free (paid plans start at $59/year)

What it’s useful for: Building your website with zero coding experience using a drag-and-drop editor interface. You can create custom page templates and edit pretty much everything on your site to be exactly as you want it.

Alternatives: 

Blogging tools and platforms

Last but not least, here are a few tools for blogging—managing, uploading, and creating blog content.

WordPress

WordPress posts page

Price: Free

What it’s useful for: Building a website with a blog and managing all of your content. Due to its many useful plugins, you can create a website that is unique and customize the exact features and specifications that you require.

Case Study: How to Use WordPress in 9 Simple Steps (Beginner’s Guide)

Alternatives: 

Wordable

Wordable homepage

Price: Free up to five exports per month (then $50/month) 

What it’s useful for: Uploading your articles from Google Docs to WordPress in one click. It doesn’t bring over the hidden code you get when you copy-paste from Docs to WordPress. It also cleans up and optimizes your images, saving you a lot of time.

ChatGPT

ChatGPT's response to the question, "What are the best tools for content creators?"

Price: Free ($20/month for premium access)

What it’s useful for: Researching, outlining, writing, and editing your content. You can also use it to come up with topic ideas, write social media posts, and much more.

Case Study: 15 Ways to Use ChatGPT to Help With Your Blogging

Alternatives: 

Final thoughts

There are tools for everything from coming up with ideas to researching, writing, editing, and promoting your content.

Hopefully, the tools in this list will help you to streamline your content creation process and put out better content faster.

Have other tools you love? Ping me on Twitter.



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Barriers To Audience Buy-In

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Barriers to audience buy-in with lead generation

This is an excerpt from the B2B Lead Generation ebook, which draws on SEJ’s internal expertise in delivering leads across multiple media types.

People are driven by a mix of desires, wants, needs, experiences, and external pressures.

It can take time to get it right and convince a person to become a lead, let alone a paying customer.

Here are some nuances of logic and psychology that could be impacting your ability to connect with audiences and build strong leads.

1. Poor Negotiations & The Endowment Effect

Every potential customer you encounter values their own effort and information. And due to something called the endowment effect, they value that time and data much more than you do.

In contrast, the same psychological effect means you value what you offer in exchange for peoples’ information more than they will.

If the value of what you’re offering fails to match the value of what consumers are giving you in exchange (read: their time and information), the conversions will be weak.

The solution? You can increase the perceived value of the thing you’re offering, or reduce the value of what the user “pays” for the thing you offer.

Want an exclusive peek into tactics we use when developing our own lead gen campaigns? Check out our upcoming webinar.

Humans evaluate rewards in multiple dimensions, including the reward amount, the time until the reward is received, and the certainty of the reward.

The more time before a reward occurs, and the less certain its ultimate value, the harder you have to work to get someone to engage.

Offering value upfront – even if you’re presenting something else soon after, like a live event, ebook, or demo – can help entice immediate action as well as convince leads of the long-term value of their investment.

It can even act as a prime for the next step in the lead gen nurturing process, hinting at even more value to come and increasing the effectiveness of the rest of your lead generation strategy.

It’s another reason why inbound content is a critical support for lead generation content. The short-term rewards of highly useful ungated content help prepare audiences for longer-term benefits offered down the line.

3. Abandonment & The Funnel Myth

Every lead generation journey is carefully planned, but if you designed it with a funnel in mind, you could be losing many qualified leads.

That’s because the imagery of a funnel might suggest that all leads engage with your brand or offer in the same way, but this simply isn’t true – particularly for products or services with high values.

Instead, these journeys are more abstract. Leads tend to move back and forth between stages depending on their circumstances. They might change their minds, encounter organizational roadblocks, switch channels, or their needs might suddenly change.

Instead of limiting journeys to audience segments, consider optimizing for paths and situations, too.

Optimizing for specific situations and encounters creates multiple opportunities to capture a lead while they’re in certain mindsets. Every opportunity is a way to engage with varying “costs” for time and data, and align your key performance indicators (KPIs) to match.

Situational journeys also create unique opportunities to learn about the various audience segments, including what they’re most interested in, which offers to grab their attention, and which aspects of your brand, product, or service they’re most concerned about.

4. Under-Pricing

Free trials and discounts can be eye-catching, but they don’t always work to your benefit.

Brands often think consumers will always choose the product with the lowest possible price. That isn’t always the case.

Consumers work within something referred to as the “zone of acceptability,” which is the price range they feel is acceptable for a purchasing decision.

If your brand falls outside that range, you’ll likely get the leads – but they could fail to buy in later. The initial offer might be attractive, but the lower perception of value could work against you when it comes time to try and close the sale.

Several elements play into whether consumers are sensitive to pricing discounts. The overall cost of a purchase matters, for example.

Higher-priced purchases, such as SaaS or real estate, can be extremely sensitive to pricing discounts. They can lead to your audience perceiving the product as lower-value, or make it seem like you’re struggling. A price-quality relationship is easy to see in many places in our lives. If you select the absolute lowest price for an airline ticket, do you expect your journey to be timely and comfortable?

It’s difficult to offer specific advice on these points. To find ideal price points and discounts, you need good feedback systems from both customers and leads – and you need data about how other audiences interact. But there’s value in not being the cheapest option.

Get more tips on how we, here at SEJ, create holistic content campaigns to drive leads in this exclusive webinar.

5. Lead Roles & Information

In every large purchasing decision, there are multiple roles in the process. These include:

  • User: The person who ultimately uses the product or service.
  • Buyer: The person who makes the purchase, but may or may not know anything about the actual product or service being purchased.
  • Decider: The person who determines whether to make the purchase.
  • Influencer: The person who provides opinions and thoughts on the product or service, and influences perceptions of it.
  • Gatekeeper: The person who gathers and holds information about the product or service.

Sometimes, different people play these roles, and other times, one person may hold more than one of these roles. However, the needs of each role must be met at the right time. If you fail to meet their needs, you’ll see your conversions turn cold at a higher rate early in the process.

The only way to avoid this complication is to understand who it is you’re attracting when you capture the lead, and make the right information available at the right time during the conversion process.

6. Understand Why People Don’t Sign Up

Many businesses put significant effort into lead nurturing and understanding the qualities of potential customers who fill out lead forms.

But what about the ones who don’t fill out those forms?

Understanding these values and the traits that drive purchasing decisions is paramount.

Your own proprietary and customer data, like your analytics, client data, and lead interactions, makes an excellent starting place, but don’t make the mistake of basing your decisions solely on the data you have collected about the leads you have.

This information creates a picture based solely on people already interacting with you. It doesn’t include information about the audience you’ve failed to capture so far.

Don’t fall for survivorship bias, which occurs when you only look at data from people who have passed your selection filters.

This is especially critical for lead generation because there are groups of people you don’t want to become leads. But you need to make sure you’re attracting as many ideal leads as possible while filtering out those that are suboptimal. You need information about the people who aren’t converting to ensure your filters are working as intended.

Gather information from the segment of your target audience that uses a competitor’s products, and pair them with psychographic tools and frameworks like “values and lifestyle surveys” (VALS) to gather insights and inform decisions.

In a digital world of tough competition and even more demands on every dollar, your lead generation needs to be precise.

Understanding what drives your target audience before you capture the lead and ensuring every detail is crafted with the final conversion in mind will help you capture more leads and sales, and leave your brand the clear market winner.

More resources:


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Google Answers Question About Toxic Link Sabotage

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Gary Illyes answers a question about how to notify Google about toxic link sabotage

Google’s Gary Illyes answered a question about how to notify Google that someone is poisoning their backlink profile with “toxic links” which is a problem that many people have been talking about for at least fifteen years.

Question About Alerting Google To Toxic Links

Gary narrated the question:

“Someone’s asking, how to alert Google of sabotage via toxic links?”

And this is Gary’s answer:

I know what I would do: I’d ignore those links.

Generally Google is really, REALLY good at ignoring links that are irrelevant to the site they’re pointing at. If you feel like it, you can always disavow those “toxic” links, or file a spam report.

Disavow Links If You Feel Like It

Gary linked to Google’s explainer about disavowing links where it’s explained that the disavow tool is for a site owner to tell Google about links that they are responsible for in some way, like paid links or some other link scheme.

This is what it advises:

“If you have a manual action against your site for unnatural links to your site, or if you think you’re about to get such a manual action (because of paid links or other link schemes that violate our quality guidelines), you should try to remove the links from the other site to your site. If you can’t remove those links yourself, or get them removed, then you should disavow the URLs of the questionable pages or domains that link to your website.”

Google suggests that a link disavow is only necessary when two conditions are met:

  1. “You have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site,
    AND
  2. The links have caused a manual action, or likely will cause a manual action, on your site.”

Both of the above conditions must be met in order to file a valid link disavow tool.

Origin Of The Phrase Toxic Links

As Google became better at penalizing sites for low quality links and paid links, some in the highly competitive gambling industry started creating low quality links to sabotage their competitors. The practice was called negative SEO.

The phrase toxic link is something that was never heard of until after the Penguin link updates in 2012 which required penalized sites to remove all the paid and low quality links they created and then disavow the rest. An industry grew around disavowing links and it was that industry that invented the phrase Toxic Links for use in their marketing.

Confirmation That Google Is Able To Ignore Links

I have shared this anecdote before and I’ll share it here again. Someone I knew contacted me and said that their site lost rankings from negative SEO links. I took a look and their site had a ton of really nasty looking links. So out of curiosity (and because I knew that the site was this person’s main income), I emailed someone at Google Mountain View headquarters about it. That person checked it and replied that the site didn’t lose rankings because of the links. They lost rankings because of a Panda update related content issue.

That was around 2012 and it showed me how good Google was at ignoring links. Now, if Google was that good at ignoring really bad links back then, they’re probably better at it now, twelve years later now that they have the spam brain AI.

Listen to the question and answer at the 8:22 minute mark:

Featured Image by Shutterstock/New Africa

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How To Build A Diverse & Healthy Link Profile

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How To Build A Diverse & Healthy Link Profile

Search is evolving at an incredible pace and new features, formats, and even new search engines are popping up within the space.

Google’s algorithm still prioritizes backlinks when ranking websites. If you want your website to be visible in search results, you must account for backlinks and your backlink profile.

A healthy backlink profile requires a diverse backlink profile.

In this guide, we’ll examine how to build and maintain a diverse backlink profile that powers your website’s search performance.

What Does A Healthy Backlink Profile Look Like?

As Google states in its guidelines, it primarily crawls pages through links from other pages linked to your pages, acquired through promotion and naturally over time.

In practice, a healthy backlink profile can be divided into three main areas: the distribution of link types, the mix of anchor text, and the ratio of followed to nofollowed links.

Let’s look at these areas and how they should look within a healthy backlink profile.

Distribution Of Link Types

One aspect of your backlink profile that needs to be diversified is link types.

It looks unnatural to Google to have predominantly one kind of link in your profile, and it also indicates that you’re not diversifying your content strategy enough.

Some of the various link types you should see in your backlink profile include:

  • Anchor text links.
  • Image links.
  • Redirect links.
  • Canonical links.

Here is an example of the breakdown of link types at my company, Whatfix (via Semrush):

Screenshot from Semrush, May 2024

Most links should be anchor text links and image links, as these are the most common ways to link on the web, but you should see some of the other types of links as they are picked up naturally over time.

Mix Of Anchor Text

Next, ensure your backlink profile has an appropriate anchor text variance.

Again, if you overoptimize for a specific type of anchor text, it will appear suspicious to search engines like Google and could have negative repercussions.

Here are the various types of anchor text you might find in your backlink profile:

  • Branded anchor text – Anchor text that is your brand name or includes your brand name.
  • Empty – Links that have no anchor text.
  • Naked URLs – Anchor text that is a URL (e.g., www.website.com).
  • Exact match keyword-rich anchor text – Anchor text that exactly matches the keyword the linked page targets (e.g., blue shoes).
  • Partial match keyword-rich anchor text – Anchor text that partially or closely matches the keyword the linked page targets (e.g., “comfortable blue footwear options”).
  • Generic anchor text – Anchor text such as “this website” or “here.”

To maintain a healthy backlink profile, aim for a mix of anchor text within a similar range to this:

  • Branded anchor text – 35-40%.
  • Partial match keyword-rich anchor text – 15-20%.
  • Generic anchor text -10-15%.
  • Exact match keyword-rich anchor text – 5-10%.
  • Naked URLs – 5-10%.
  • Empty – 3-5%.

This distribution of anchor text represents a natural mix of differing anchor texts. It is common for the majority of anchors to be branded or partially branded because most sites that link to your site will default to your brand name when linking. It also makes sense that the following most common anchors would be partial-match keywords or generic anchor text because these are natural choices within the context of a web page.

Exact-match anchor text is rare because it only happens when you are the best resource for a specific term, and the site owner knows your page exists.

Ratio Of Followed Vs. Nofollowed Backlinks

Lastly, you should monitor the ratio of followed vs. nofollowed links pointing to your website.

If you need a refresher on what nofollowed backlinks are or why someone might apply the nofollow tag to a link pointing to your site, check out Google’s guide on how to qualify outbound links to Google.

Nofollow attributes should only be applied to paid links or links pointing to a site the linking site doesn’t trust.

While it is not uncommon or suspicious to have some nofollow links (people misunderstand the purpose of the nofollow attribute all the time), a healthy backlink profile will have far more followed links.

You should aim for a ratio of 80%:20% or 70%:30% in favor of followed links. For example, here is what the followed vs. nofollowed ratio looks like for my company’s backlink profile (according to Ahrefs):

Referring domainsScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2024

You may see links with other rel attributes, such as UGC or Sponsored.

The “UGC” attribute tags links from user-generated content, while the “Sponsored” attribute tags links from sponsored or paid sources. These attributes are slightly different than the nofollow tag, but they essentially work the same way, letting Google know these links aren’t trusted or endorsed by the linking site. You can simply group these links in with nofollowed links when calculating your ratio.

Importance Of Diversifying Your Backlink Profile

So why is it important to diversify your backlink profile anyway? Well, there are three main reasons you should consider:

  • Avoiding overoptimization.
  • Diversifying traffic sources.
  • And finding new audiences.

Let’s dive into each of these.

Avoiding Overoptimization

First and foremost, diversifying your backlink profile is the best way to protect yourself from overoptimization and the damaging penalties that can come with it.

As SEO pros, our job is to optimize websites to improve performance, but overoptimizing in any facet of our strategy – backlinks, keywords, structure, etc. – can result in penalties that limit visibility within search results.

In the previous section, we covered the elements of a healthy backlink profile. If you stray too far from that model, your site might look suspicious to search engines like Google and you could be handed a manual or algorithmic penalty, suppressing your rankings in search.

Considering how regularly Google updates its search algorithm these days (and how little information surrounds those updates), you could see your performance tank and have no idea why.

This is why it’s so important to keep a watchful eye on your backlink profile and how it’s shaping up.

Diversifying Traffic Sources

Another reason to cultivate a diverse backlink profile is to ensure you’re diversifying your traffic sources.

Google penalties come swiftly and can often be a surprise. If you have all your eggs in that basket when it comes to traffic, your site will suffer badly and might need help to recover.

However, diversifying your traffic sources (search, social, email, etc.) will mitigate risk – similar to a stock portfolio – as you’ll have other traffic sources to provide a steady flow of visitors if another source suddenly dips.

Part of building a diverse backlink profile is acquiring a diverse set of backlinks and backlink types, and this strategy will also help you find differing and varied sources of traffic.

Finding New Audiences

Finally, building a diverse backlink profile is essential, as doing so will also help you discover new audiences.

If you acquire links from the same handful of websites and platforms, you will need help expanding your audience and building awareness for your website.

While it’s important to acquire links from sites that cater to your existing audience, you should also explore ways to build links that can tap into new audiences. The best way to do this is by casting a wide net with various link acquisition tactics and strategies.

A diverse backlink profile indicates a varied approach to SEO and marketing that will help bring new visitors and awareness to your site.

Building A Diverse Backlink Profile

So that you know what a healthy backlink profile looks like and why it’s important to diversify, how do you build diversity into your site’s backlink profile?

This comes down to your link acquisition strategy and the types of backlinks you actively pursue. To guide your strategy, let’s break link building into three main categories:

  • Foundational links.
  • Content promotion.
  • Community involvement.

Here’s how to approach each area.

Foundational Links

Foundational links represent those links that your website simply should have. These are opportunities where a backlink would exist if all sites were known to all site owners.

Some examples of foundational links include:

  • Mentions – Websites that mention your brand in some way (brand name, product, employees, proprietary data, etc.) on their website but don’t link.
  • Partners – Websites that belong to real-world partners or companies you connect with offline and should also connect (link) with online.
  • Associations or groups – Websites for offline associations or groups you belong to where your site should be listed with a link.
  • Sponsorships – Any events or organizations your company sponsors might have websites that could (and should) link to your site.
  • Sites that link to competitors – If a website is linking to a competitor, there is a strong chance it would make sense for them to link to your site as well.

These link opportunities should set the foundation for your link acquisition efforts.

As the baseline for your link building strategy, you should start by exhausting these opportunities first to ensure you’re not missing highly relevant links to bolster your backlink profile.

Content Promotion

Next, consider content promotion as a strategy for building a healthy, diverse backlink profile.

Content promotion is much more proactive than the foundational link acquisition mentioned above. You must manifest the opportunity by creating link-worthy content rather than simply capitalizing on an existing opportunity.

Some examples of content promotion for links are:

  • Digital PR – Digital PR campaigns have numerous benefits and goals beyond link acquisition, but backlinks should be a primary KPI.
  • Original research – Similar to digital PR, original research should focus on providing valuable data to your audience. Still, you should also make sure any citations or references to your research are correctly linked.
  • Guest content – Whether regular columns or one-off contributions, providing guest content to websites is still a viable link acquisition strategy – when done right. The best way to gauge your guest content strategy is to ask yourself if you would still write the content for a site without guaranteeing a backlink, knowing you’ll still build authority and get your message in front of a new audience.
  • Original imagery – Along with research and data, if your company creates original imagery that offers unique value, you should promote those images and ask for citation links.

Content promotion is a viable avenue for building a healthy backlink profile as long as the content you’re promoting is worthy of links.

Community Involvement

Community involvement is the final piece of your link acquisition puzzle when building a diverse backlink profile.

After pursuing all foundational opportunities and manually promoting your content, you should ensure your brand is active and represented in all the spaces and communities where your audience engages.

In terms of backlinks, this could mean:

  • Wikipedia links – Wikipedia gets over 4 billion monthly visits, so backlinks here can bring significant referral traffic to your site. However, acquiring these links is difficult as these pages are moderated closely, and your site will only be linked if it is legitimately a top resource on the web.
  • Forums (Reddit, Quora, etc.) – Another great place to get backlinks that drive referral traffic is forums like Reddit and Quora. Again, these forums are strictly moderated, and earning link placements on these sites requires a page that delivers significant and unique value to a specific audience.
  • Social platforms – Social media platforms and groups represent communities where your brand should be active and engaged. While these strategies are likely handled by other teams outside SEO and focus on different metrics, you should still be intentional about converting these interactions into links when or where possible.
  • Offline events – While it may seem counterintuitive to think of offline events as a potential source for link acquisition, legitimate link opportunities exist here. After all, most businesses, brands, and people you interact with at these events also have websites, and networking can easily translate to online connections in the form of links.

While most of the link opportunities listed above will have the nofollow link attribute due to the nature of the sites associated with them, they are still valuable additions to your backlink profile as these are powerful, trusted domains.

These links help diversify your traffic sources by bringing substantial referral traffic, and that traffic is highly qualified as these communities share your audience.

How To Avoid Developing A Toxic Backlink Profile

Now that you’re familiar with the link building strategies that can help you cultivate a healthy, diverse backlink profile, let’s discuss what you should avoid.

As mentioned before, if you overoptimize one strategy or link, it can seem suspicious to search engines and cause your site to receive a penalty. So, how do you avoid filling your backlink profile with toxic links?

Remember The “Golden Rule” Of Link Building

One simple way to guide your link acquisition strategy and avoid running afoul of search engines like Google is to follow one “golden rule.”

That rule is to ask yourself: If search engines like Google didn’t exist, and the only way people could navigate the web was through backlinks, would you want your site to have a link on the prospective website?

Thinking this way strips away all the tactical, SEO-focused portions of the equation and only leaves the human elements of linking where two sites are linked because it makes sense and makes the web easier to navigate.

Avoid Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

Another good rule is to avoid looping your site into private blog networks (PBNs). Of course, it’s not always obvious or easy to spot a PBN.

However, there are some common traits or red flags you can look for, such as:

  • The person offering you a link placement mentions they have a list of domains they can share.
  • The prospective linking site has little to no traffic and doesn’t appear to have human engagement (blog comments, social media followers, blog views, etc.).
  • The website features thin content and little investment into user experience (UX) and design.
  • The website covers generic topics and categories, catering to any and all audiences.
  • Pages on the site feature numerous external links but only some internal links.
  • The prospective domain’s backlink profile features overoptimization in any of the previously discussed forms (high-density of exact match anchor text, abnormal ratio of nofollowed links, only one or two link types, etc.).

Again, diversification – in both tactics and strategies – is crucial to building a healthy backlink profile, but steering clear of obvious PBNs and remembering the ‘golden rule’ of link building will go a long way toward keeping your profile free from toxicity.

Evaluating Your Backlink Profile

As you work diligently to build and maintain a diverse, healthy backlink profile, you should also carve out time to evaluate it regularly from a more analytical perspective.

There are two main ways to evaluate the merit of your backlinks: leverage tools to analyze backlinks and compare your backlink profile to the greater competitive landscape.

Leverage Tools To Analyze Backlink Profile

There are a variety of third-party tools you can use to analyze your backlink profile.

These tools can provide helpful insights, such as the total number of backlinks and referring domains. You can use these tools to analyze your full profile, broken down by:

  • Followed vs. nofollowed.
  • Authority metrics (Domain Rating, Domain Authority, Authority Score, etc.).
  • Backlink types.
  • Location or country.
  • Anchor text.
  • Top-level domain types.
  • And more.

You can also use these tools to track new incoming backlinks, as well as lost backlinks, to help you better understand how your backlink profile is growing.

Some of the best tools for analyzing your backlink profile are:

Many of these tools also have features that estimate how toxic or suspicious your profile might look to search engines, which can help you detect potential issues early.

Compare Your Backlink Profile To The Competitive Landscape

Lastly, you should compare your overall backlink profile to those of your competitors and those competing with your site in the search results.

Again, the previously mentioned tools can help with this analysis – as far as providing you with the raw numbers – but the key areas you should compare are:

  • Total number of backlinks.
  • Total number of referring domains.
  • Breakdown of authority metrics of links (Domain Rating, Domain Authority, Authority Score, etc.).
  • Authority metrics of competing domains.
  • Link growth over the last two years.

Comparing your backlink profile to others within your competitive landscape will help you assess where your domain currently stands and provide insight into how far you must go if you’re lagging behind competitors.

It’s worth noting that it’s not as simple as whoever has the most backlinks will perform the best in search.

These numbers are typically solid indicators of how search engines gauge the authority of your competitors’ domains, and you’ll likely find a correlation between strong backlink profiles and strong search performance.

Approach Link Building With A User-First Mindset

The search landscape continues to evolve at a breakneck pace and we could see dramatic shifts in how people search within the next five years (or sooner).

However, at this time, search engines like Google still rely on backlinks as part of their ranking algorithms, and you need to cultivate a strong backlink profile to be visible in search.

Furthermore, if you follow the advice in this article as you build out your profile, you’ll acquire backlinks that benefit your site regardless of search algorithms, futureproofing your traffic sources.

Approach link acquisition like you would any other marketing endeavor – with a customer-first mindset – and over time, you’ll naturally build a healthy, diverse backlink profile.

More resources: 


Featured Image: Sammby/Shutterstock

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