Content Anchors: The Untapped Strategy to Outrank Your Competition

Peter Sharkey on 8th of Sep 2016
SEO Techniques

SEO Techniques

Why do boats have anchors? Not a trick question. The answer is simple. Anchors keep the boat from drifting away due to the wind or the current. You wouldn’t go out to sea without an anchor. So why do so many people set sail with their marketing strategy without the equivalent? Specifically, I’m talking about content anchors. If your strategy doesn’t have them, you’ll find yourself drifting…writing about anything and everything. Floating at sea with no clear direction. The end result is losing potential leads and customers because you’re not anchored to the content topics that make it easy to find you. But if you get content anchors right, you’ll attract qualified organic traffic, gain authority in your niche, and increase exposure through social media shares. How do you do all that? Let’s start from the beginning…

What is a content anchor?

A content anchor is the definitive end-all-be-all guide on a topic that you link a bunch of other content pieces back to. You can also think of them as the pillars of your content strategy, or as the cornerstones of your SEO Spider Web. Anchors. Pillars. Cornerstones. Stuff that’s so good it blows everything else out of the water. Help Scout, a help desk software, uses content anchors. If you search “customer acquisition” on Google (and what founder hasn’t?), Help Scout’s “Customer Acquisition Strategy for Startups” shows up as the top organic search result. Customer acquisition search results Help Scout put together the complete guide on customer acquisition. You don’t need another resource. It’s game over. Copyhackers also uses content anchors. The company’s Ultimate Guide to No-Pain Copywriting (or, Every Copywriting Formula Ever) is an epic post with more templates and formulas than I know what to do with. Copyhackers website screenshot Look at the screenshot. It’s a 59-minute read! Sure, a person could read the whole article in one sitting. But they’ll most likely bookmark it as the go-to resource for copywriting formulas, which is a huge goal of content anchors. Imagine all the backlinking opportunities for both examples. Help Scout could link every customer acquisition content piece they create back to the content anchor, and build the link juice that Google loves. Copyhackers could write a tweet for every single formula, and link back to the article again and again. Long story short: The best content anchors are so good that they’re linked to, bookmarked, and shared all the time.

What topics should be content anchors?

It’s time to channel your inner mind mapper. You know your business better than anyone else does…so what 4-5 core problems does your business solve? Write those down. For each of those core problems, write down the different topics that help someone solve that problem. Throw out as many ideas as you can think of - quantity over quality at this point. It’ll end up looking like a spider web, like so… SEO spider web _Side note: _Take the time to develop your target personas if you haven’t yet. It doesn’t have to be a huge research study. A one-pager covering a visitor’s problems, industry, reading habits, aspirations, and goals is plenty. Keep the personas in a spot you always look. Personally, I put mine on my desk. Make sure the topics you write and the keywords you target are aimed at each of your personas. Persona example With your topics and personas in mind, now it’s time to do a little keyword research. Look for what I like to call “content opportunities.” Content opportunities have good search volume, little competition, and outdated or less than amazing content in the first page results. Your job is to turn these content opportunities into content anchors that outrank the competition. The rest of the ideas you brainstormed during keyword research can then become the content pieces that link back to your anchor, compounding your SEO authority more than a 500-word blog post ever could.

How do you maximize the ROI of content anchors?

If you’re doing content anchors the right way, meaning you’re writing authoritative, definitive content that’s better than anything else out there…it’s going to take a lot of time. That’s just the beginning. You’ll want to spend just as much time promoting your content anchors as you do creating. But guess what? It’ll be worth it when you get all the extra organic search traffic and social media shares. When all that buzz turns into actual business and money in the bank. So, what’s the best way to promote your content anchors and start seeing return on all your hard work? Pre-outreach. It’s the most effective thing I’ve seen. Reach out to influencers and frequent commenters. Don’t wait until after you’ve written your content anchors to start. Work on your content anchors _and _do pre-outreach at the same time. Start sharing their content, reply to their tweets, and subscribe to their email list. Kick it up a notch and reply to one of their emails…sharing what you learned, how you implemented it, and the results you got. That’s an awesome way to land on someone’s radar. You could even buy one of their products and write a review. If you’re stuck on what to say, use ContentMarketer.io’s outreach templates as a jumping off point. Email outreach template Think long-term. Your goal is to be generous and develop a meaningful relationship first. And a genuine one at that. If you do those things right, it’ll be much easier to get your content anchor shared or linked to. Outside of pre-outreach, you can’t go wrong with the typical promotion strategies. Sharing on social media, emailing your list, and posting to communities like GrowthHackers and Inbound.org.

Putting in the work

Content anchors require a lot of work, but they’re worth it. Trust me. Tim Ferriss, host of one of the most popular business podcasts in iTunes has a simple saying: “What’s the lead domino?” He’s constantly asking what domino can he knock over that will cause a chain reaction of other dominos to fall. For you, the answer is creating content anchors. They are the pillar of your content and SEO strategy. All of your other content marketing efforts will be easier with content anchors in place.

  • You’ll have highly shareable content for social media. More than your average blog post, which are like drops in an ocean.
  • You’ll never run out of topics to write about. Any topic related to one of your content anchors is fair game. It’s also an excuse to link to your content anchor and gain more SEO authority on the topic.
  • You’ll get consistent, organic search traffic over the long-term. If you’ve done your keyword research well, content anchors will be some of the top pages on your website.

Knock out your content anchors…and the rest of the dominos will fall. What are some content anchors you’ve bookmarked or used in the past? Have you tried out this strategy yourself? Let us know in the comments.

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