POP SEO Tip #31: Understanding Shares and Links

Look, I'll be honest. I don't think there are any shortcuts to building great content. Not all of us are media savvy, look good on camera, or have a way with words. But I can provide a little insight into what happens when you do post something that others want to share with others. By now you're realized that it's not enough to just put it out there and hope for the best. Build it, and they may not come.

You have to spread the word. How? In a couple of ways – shares and links.

Sharing is exactly what it sounds like – picture a Facebook post where one of your customers has shared a post with his or her friends and family members. Links are different – these are links back to your site, or specific pages found around the web. In a sense, shares are links, but links aren’t necessarily shares. Do they perform the same way, though?

They do work similarly, and there’s a strong correlation between links and shares at a high level, but there are differences. For instance, the content type and format affects the relationship between links and shares. Shares also happen faster than links, and are more important in generating traction. Some content has little to no relationship between links and shares – quizzes, for example. You’ll also find that where the content is published makes a difference. Buzzfeed’s content gets almost no links, but an incredible number of shares.

What does this mean for your marketing plan? Simply put, if you want to build real success, you should probably avoid things like link bait and quizzes, focusing on evergreen content so that long-term links will have value down the road. If you’re simply looking for traffic, then sharing short-lifespan content like lists might be fine. I prefer and recommend evergreen content with a little pruning now and then: go back and look it over every so often, and if necessary do a little update.

When everything is said and done, it really comes down to having the right long-term strategy underpinning your actions. That way you build your future content on a strong and honest foundation.