Alright, you've created a new website and want to drive some organic traffic, but you don't really know where to start.
What sort of content should you publish first? Does it matter?
Yes, it does.
There is a correct answer, but most website owners don't get it right. If you're a long time blogger reading this and didn't get it right either, don't feel bad. I didn't either.
So, in this blog post, I'm going to show you which types of posts to write first, why they matter, and how to find the exact topics quickly and easily using some basic tools.
This Is What to Publish First
You may have heard me refer to these as "link bait," in my 5 core types of content article.
These are pieces of content that attract backlinks organically. This is also known as "natural link building," in the SEO world.
As you spend more time in the blogging world, you'll come to appreciate the power of backlinks. You'll also come to appreciate how brutally tedious it is to build them manually.
Creating content that passively attracts high authority, topically relevant backlinks will give your website the authority it needs to rank other posts and pages you create more quickly.
Here are a couple of graphs that show the importance of backlinks.
First, we can see clearly that pages with a lot of backlinks rank better than competitors who don't have them.
This doesn't tell the full story, though, about the power of backlinks.
Backlinks will build our website's overall domain rating. This makes it easier for us to rank for more terms and terms with higher difficulties in the future.
This is like building up leg muscles before competing in a marathon. You'll simply have a stronger foundation to build from, and everything you do in the future will benefit from it.
What Is a Linkable Asset?
Linkable assets are posts or pages on your website that include something that other websites want to mention. These are usually (but not always) things that provide useful value to other writers or website owners.
These include things like...
- Posts that share unique or curated data
- Posts that share unique and original images, videos, embeds or graphics
- Posts that share original and interesting anecdotal content
- Posts or pages that include useful resources such as calculators or widgets
The AHREFs graphic that I shared above is a fantastic example of this. AHREFs took original data about domain rating vs. keyword ranking and created a graphic that helped me prove my point in this article. Naturally, I gave them credit for it and a do-follow backlink to the original source.
How to Find Linkable Asset Ideas
The good news is that there are tools out there that make it easy for us to see what our competitors are doing for their own linkable assets.
Here's how to find potential topics we can emulate to make our own linkable assets using SEMRush.
I use SEMRush and AHREFs interchangeably. However, I am going to show the SEMRush method here because AHREFs does not offer a free trial. You can sign up for a free trial of SEMRush here (affiliate link) and find your linkable assets and cancel afterwards. I recommend eventually signing up and using SEMRush or AHREFs eventually when you can afford it, but I know many of you are brand new and don't have the budget for that yet.
Step #1 Find Your Direct Competitors
Look for the leaders in your niche. Make sure that these are websites that are primarily creating the same content that you are and are not covering broad topics.
For example, if my niche is coaching little league baseball (an actual side project I'm working on over at baseballcentric.com), I'd want my competitors to be as similar to my website as possible.
I'd go into Google and type in some keywords I'd like to rank for that I know will help me spot these competitors.
We will ignore sites that are broad like Wikipedia, Amazon, HowStuffWorks, etc. We only want super niche specific competitors.
#2 Click Backlink Analytics
#3 Click Competitor Domain URL (Root)
#4 Scroll to Top Pages
Review the 5 top pages. These are the URLs that are driving the most backlinks for your competitor.
You can also click "view full report" to see more potential ideas.
Ignore the base domain. That will almost always be in the top 5 most linked to pages, but it doesn't tell us anything.
Repeat this process with each of the competitors you've identified until you've come up with at least 2 amazing linkable asset posts to compose.
Some domains won't have great linkable assets for us to emulate. The example I showed above from helpful-baseball-drills.com actually only inspired one blog post idea.
The post I'll be writing from that is something like, "10 Things You Didn't Know about NCAA Baseball Scholarships."
The article about college baseball scholarships had tons of citable (linkable) nuggets throughout it. I can easily make a post around this and hopefully drive some organic backlinks!
Questions and Answers
I taught this method live recently, and there were several questions. I'm going to paraphrase them here along with the answers, since many of you will probably have the same questions as well.
Do you look at keyword difficulty?
I don't worry about keyword difficulty with these pieces. These pieces of content will typically have higher than average difficulty levels because they are driving higher than normal backlinks. So, just get started and create the pieces now, so you can get indexed as quickly as possible and start your crawl toward the top.
If you come up with 10 ideas for linkable assets, you can triage them by keyword difficulty if you'd like; start with the lowest difficulty and work up to the highest.
Are we just rewriting the content that other people made?
We don't want to emulate these articles too much. Google's new 2022 helpful content updates clarified they don't love "me too" content that lacks originality.
So, our goal should be to provide value and rank for the same terms BUT have a different title and substance.
In my example above, I found the blog post that had stats about college scholarships and turned it into a statistics list type of post instead. I'll also find more information about scholarships that wasn't included here.
Some types of articles will be more similar on the surface, "Ultimate List of Email Marketing Stats for (Year)," is something that many email marketing SAAS or agencies will try to rank for. Obviously, you can't spin that too much, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't write it, anyway.
Backlinks are so important that we need to prioritize building them in our content scheduling. We want the first posts we make to be things that will attract organic, natural backlinks. If you have a new site, create an SEMRush trial account and follow the steps I outlined above to come up with inspiration for your first posts. If you have a site already but haven't prioritized these sorts of posts and pages, make them a top priority from now on.