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What Are Linkable Assets? (+How to Create Them)

October 23, 2019

If you’ve been into SEO for a while, you already know that backlinks are (still) important.

They’re so important that link building – the art of building links – is one of the services in highest demand right now. If backlinks matter so much though, why is it that 94% of all blog posts have zero external links?

A reasonable explanation is this: most of the content pieces out there don’t have anything shareable or worth linking back to. In this guide, we’ll explain what linkable assets are and how you can create link-worthy pieces of content for your own blog or website.

Let’s get right into it.

What are linkable assets?

The best way to start this article is by giving a proper explanation as to what linkable assets are. So, what are linkable assets? 

In content marketing and SEO, backlinks are a kind of digital currency; in other words, they matter (a lot). This is why link acquisition and link building is in high demand at the moment.

Despite what some SEO or content marketing professionals may say, backlinks play a critical role in how a piece of content performs on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Moreover, the interest for link building as a way to get higher on the SERPs and gain more visibility overall is still considerable.

link building search query

Source: Google Trends

Unfortunately, this is the case even though the majority of the content published online doesn’t have anything you can refer to, link back to or share on social media. This means that most content creators and publishers are creating mediocre content that deserves no links whatsoever.

This is why, as per Backlinko’s content study, most content online gets zero external links. 

94 percent of content gets 0 links

Source: Backlinko

To take this a step further, this is also why most bloggers are seeking out link opportunities for content that has nothing link-worthy. Doing some good ol’ keyword research and just writing a great article is not enough to help you build links.

To create linkable content, you need to create something truly remarkable – something that people would want to link back to without you having to ask for it. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to promote your content.

However, it’s one thing to promote something that you know is valuable, and quite another trying to do so for something you know is only above average (at best).

In August 2019, bloggers worldwide published more than 72 million posts on WordPress alone. 

wordpress publication numbers

Source: WordPress

This shows us that the noise out there is simply too much.

This doesn’t mean you need to be discouraged by the fact that there are so many people out there trying to stand out just like you. On the contrary; this could be a great motivator for you.

The truth is that to create linkable assets, you need more than just familiarity with your target audience or reaching out to influencers. Yes, these things are important, but the foundation of everything you do should be creating high-quality content that deserves to earn a link.

Learn from successful websites

Sometimes, taking a look at what other websites or companies in your niche do to build links for their assets may help you understand what you need to do to replicate that success.

Let’s take a look at three well-known websites in the marketing space that try to grow their backlink profile (number of links) by constantly creating pieces of content that are link-worthy. 

G2 Learning Hub

Let’s start with Ahrefs 

Using the Site Explorer by Ahrefs, we’ll try to understand what types of content seems to attract the most links for these three websites.

ahrefs site explorer

Source: Ahrefs UI

If you visit the “Best by links” report, you’ll get a list of the best-performing pages for Ahrefs in terms of number of links. To run such an analysis, you can also use a tool like Buzzsumo. Ahrefs just happens to be the tool we use in my marketing agency.

best-by links Ahrefs

Source: Ahrefs UI

As you can see below – and since Ahrefs is a software company – the pages with the most links are product pages (i.e. Site Explorer, Keywords Explorer). 

pages by links

Source: Ahrefs UI

Does that mean that product pages are linkable assets for Ahrefs, or for any other software company for that matter?

Not exactly. Filtering results on the Best by links report on those that include the term “blog” in them...

incoming links pages

…uncovers a pattern for the top 10 most linked blog posts in Ahrefs’ blog.

10 most linked blogs

Source: Ahrefs UI

The types of content that get the most links are: 

Research and studies (e.g. “How long does it take to rank in Google? A Study...”)
Guides (e.g. “What Is Anchor Text? Everything You Need to Know...”)
List posts (e.g. “Google Search Operators: The Complete List...”)
List posts (e.g. “Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List...”)
Research and studies (e.g. “We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results...”)
Guides (e.g. “Link Building for SEO: The Definitive Guide...”)
Case studies (e.g. “Link Building Case Study...”)

Something that works for a software company like Ahrefs may not work for an e-commerce company. However, this quick analysis can show us what linkable assets mean for a software company.

Let’s move on to the second case: Backlinko

Backlinko is an SEO training blog discussing all things around SEO, blogging, and content and digital marketing. Once again, let’s insert the domain into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and visit the Best by links report.

Source: Ahrefs UI

For Backlinko, the types of content that seem to be working is: 

List posts (e.g. “Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List...”)
Research and studies (e.g. “We Analyzed 1 Million Google Search Results...”)
Guides (e.g. “Link Building for SEO: The Definitive Guide...”)
Case studies (e.g. “Link Building Case Study...”)

Because Ahrefs and Backlinko are in the same niche – in fact, they are competitive websites content-wise – we can definitely see some patterns. People seem to appreciate studies and research, list posts, guides and case studies the most.

Let’s move on to the third example: G2 Learning Hub

Once again, let’s use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and the Best by Links report to see what people find most linkable on G2’s website. 

Ahrefs on G2

Source: Ahrefs UI

Right off the bat, we can see that the pieces of content that get the most links for G2’s Learning Hub are: 

Statistics (e.g. “55+ Powerful Video Marketing Statistics…”)
List posts (e.g. 31 Best Free Video Editing Software Tools…”)
Trends (e.g. “Fintech Trends: 8 Things Disrupting Financial Technology…”)

G2 is the most trusted source online for business software and services reviews, with hundreds of thousands of business owners visiting the website every month. Thus, it’s natural that the linkable assets here are slightly different than those of an SEO blog (Backlinko) or software blog (Ahrefs).

Keep in mind that as link acquisition progresses, something that works now may not be working so well a few years down the line.

For example, infographics, a type of content that usually attracts numerous links, used to work very well around 2013...

google trends on infographics

Source: Google Trends

…but may not be working as well nowadays.

The same goes for other content types, such as white papers. This means you need to constantly experiment with different types of content and keep an eye on what’s working in your industry or niche.

Now that you have a solid understanding of what linkable assets are, you may be wondering what types of content work best in most cases.

How to create linkable assets

Now that you know what linkable assets are and what types of content most commonly attract links, let’s take a look at how you can create linkable assets for your website or blog.

The below is a 5-step process that you can use when you want to create linkable assets for your site.

1. Understand your audience

This might seem obvious, but understanding your target audience is one of the most critical aspects of building links through great content.

This is also one of the most common content marketing mistakes businesses make with their content. What does your audience like? What do they find interesting? What are their biggest struggles and pain points?

The reason why some content pieces are link-worthy is usually because: 

  • They include information that makes anyone consuming the content feel smart
  • They answer a question the visitor had in mind in an unusual way
  • They can be used as a reference when creating content

Let’s take Venngage, a tool that allows you to create infographics online, as an example.

If you take a look at the top 5 performing pages for Venngage in terms of backlinks…

venngage on ahrefs

Source: Ahrefs UI’ll notice that Venngage creates content that’s directly connected to its product and thus can have instant value for their audience.

It also shows that Venngage knows its audience quite well, since this content is mainly consumed by content marketers, amateur graphic designers and marketing professionals.

It’s therefore only natural that when you create a resource like this, your audience will respond positively by:

Posting a Tweet
Sharing it on LinkedIn
Including that resource in a guest post they publish
Linking back to that resource from a piece they publish on their own blog

Before moving on to the second step, you should know that something which works for SaaS companies may not work for e-commerce businesses or marketing agencies. It’s your job to find the sweet spot of what works in your own niche. A good practice here is to use a tool like Buzzsumo to gain a quick overview of what people find share-worthy in your niche.

Here are the top three results for the search term “product marketing":

buzzsumo ui

Source: Buzzsumo UI

Of course, according to a recent study, there’s no correlation between what’s share-worthy and what’s link-worthy, but having a rough idea of what is shared by your audience on social media is nevertheless very useful.

2. Identify search intent

Now that you know what your audience considers link-worthy and what makes them want to link to a certain piece of content, you need to identify search intent.

Identifying search intent is one of the most critical steps of creating a linkable asset. Let’s put that in perspective with a simple example. 

Let’s assume you want to create a linkable asset around the term “keyword research.” The first thing that you need to do is a SERP analysis for that term.

KW research google

As you can see here, the asset types that rank in the top 3 organic results—coming from Moz, HubSpot and Backlinko respectively—are guides around the topic of keyword research.

If you were to click on one of these resources – say, The Beginner’s Guide to SEO by Moz – you would see that these are in-depth guides that cover every aspect of keyword research.

kw research moz

Source: Moz

Thus, it’s easy to understand that if you want to have a chance of creating something that’s considered relevant for that term, you need to create an in-depth guide as well. Identifying search intent is also important in terms of making your content piece more visible in the SERPs, increasing the likelihood that it will be found and get links organically. Once you identify search intent for the topic that you want to cover, you can create your linkable asset.

Step 3: Create a high-quality content piece

Creating really good content – content that will attract links – is not simply a matter of writing more than x amount of words or adding well-designed graphics.

Not that these things aren’t important, but they’re not as important when it comes to linkable assets. Unless you’re Forbes with its legendary lists or any other large publication for that matter, you have to work really hard to create something that truly stands out. 

TIP: Using content creation software can help you make your content look and read better than your competition. See the best solutions for your needs on G2. 

Find the best Content Creation Software on the market. Explore Now, Free →

Let’s take Webris, a digital marketing agency, as an example and see what makes one of its most linked content pieces get links from as many as 76 referring domains. 

webris ahrefs

 Source: Ahrefs UI

To begin with, the piece is super deep; it has a table of contents and thoroughly covers every aspect of it’s topic, which is “technical SEO audit.”

table of contents webris

Source: Webris

The author (Ryan Stewart) is very detailed and makes sure that people who land there will actually learn the aspects of conducting a technical SEO audit.

indexation webris

Source: Webris

As if this wasn’t enough, this content piece includes a Google sheet template that allows you to put everything you’ve just learned into immediate practice.

seo tech assessment

To sum up, this content piece is not only deep but also actionable for anyone who wants to perform a technical SEO audit.

Was this linkable asset difficult to create? Yes. Did it require time, resources and expertise? Also yes. Does it seem to pay out based on the results? Absolutely. Thus, you can understand that while creating a linkable asset isn’t easy, most of the time, the results will pay out.

Step 4: Amplify your linkable assets

This is the part most people struggle with. You see, creating a great content piece is one thing. Actually getting that piece in front of the right eyes is where magic happens.

If you think about it, the reason why you put so much effort into creating a linkable asset is: 

  1. To get it discovered by your target audience
  2. To get these people link back to it and share it online

If your piece don’t get seen then all your hard work would be for nothing. The big question is: what can you do about it?

Here are three ways you can gain exposure for your linkable asset: 

  1. Outreach
  2. Social media
  3. Promotion within your own audience

Communicating the value of something you’ve created to other website owners, your audience, podcast hosts and influencers in your niche is a great way to get free exposure without having to pay for it.

Sometimes, a single Tweet by an influencer in your niche may be enough to get the message out. Alternatively, a single link from a popular blog may be able to spark some momentum.

In any case, amplifying what you’ve built is essential to building a remarkable linkable asset.

Step 5: Measure the effectiveness of your efforts

You’ve created a link-worthy asset, you did the best you could to promote it and now you can sit back and relax, right? Well, not exactly. You see, in marketing, nothing is effective if it’s not measured.

Since we're talking about links, the effectiveness in this case can be measured based on the value of the page you created.

Let’s make one thing clear: when it’s a product page we’re talking about, measuring the effectiveness of your efforts is easy, since that’s all about sign-ups and conversions.

However, with a content piece, things get a bit more tricky. The framework we use here is what Ross Hudgens, Founder & CEO at SiegeMedia, calls “Post Value Ratio.”

What is the Post Value Ratio? 

→ (Monthly Value of a Content Piece * 24 Months) / $ to Create That Content Piece

The Overview report on Ahrefs makes this calculation relatively easy. 

Let’s take as an example the following content piece based on Ahrefs’ Overview report:

PVR ahrefs

Source: Ahrefs UI

Let’s also assume that this company paid $1,000 to create that linkable asset.

The Post Value Ratio, as per Ross Hudgens, in this case will be: ($12,800 * 24 Months) / $1,000 = 307:1

As Hudgens suggests, an ideal Post Value Ratio is 10:1.

As you can imagine, the company with this linkable asset has therefore done a great job and should have an extremely positive ROI from this content piece. This great formula can tell us if our content marketing efforts are paying out, as well as whether or not we’re paying what we should to create linkable assets based on our returns.

If you’re measuring the effectiveness solely based on links, you should use the Link Value Ratio (once again introduced by Ross Hudgens), which is similar to the one we just saw. In any case, measuring the effectiveness of your efforts based on certain metrics is critical.

Final thoughts

Building linkable assets is not easy. Creating content that people love to share and link to requires experience, time and resources.

You also have to be okay with the idea that most of the content you publish won’t get as many links as you want or initially expect. As mentioned earlier, publishing a great article is simply not enough. You have to actively promote it and make sure you do the best you can to get it in front of the right eyes. 

There one particular truth that can’t be overlooked here: no marketing strategy can be effective without experimentation. In that context, you’ll need to experiment with different types of content before hitting upon the types that will help you build links for your website. 

After reading this comprehensive guide, you might wonder how you can use linkable assets to grow your traffic. See just how the G2 Content Team grew traffic from 0 to 1 million in a year's time, and learn how you can do it, too! 

Increase your traffic and build ROI with the full Road to 1 Million case  study.   Get the full story →

What Are Linkable Assets? (+How to Create Them) Learn what linkable assets are and how to create them to benefit your content strategy.
Georgios Chasiotis Georgios Chasiotis is a marketing consultant who drives organic growth for SaaS & tech companies through Content & SEO. He runs a strategy and consultation agency, and is based in Thessaloniki, Greece. Georgios has previously written for sites and publications like GrowthMentor, LeadFuze, lemlist, LongTailPro, ContentStudio, Marketing & Growth Hacking and HackerNoon. In his free time, he reads psychology and tries to understand the “why” behind human behavior. To learn more about Georgios, you can connect with him on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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