Link Building – Creating Encyclopedic Content

While SEOs are well known for hating Wikipedia for its truthiness factor, as a whole, you have to acknowledge that, at some level, the content strives to be encyclopedic in nature. It’s this encyclopedic and non commercial quality that makes it linkworthy. When building my own websites or working with clients, one of the areas I feel is important to identify and work on is the page (or pages) of encyclopedic content.

The biggest mistake many people make when working on content for a website is assuming that all of the content should be monetized. Yes, you should strive to make a project profitable, but not at the expense of of link building. There are some page where monetization and conversions are the primary factors, there are some pages where social traffic and link building are number one, and there are others where reference quality and link building are key. It’s a subtle but important distinction you need to understand. What are some examples of this:

Disney Website

  • Disney World Hotel Reviews – conversion centric
  • Top 10 Disney Thrill Rides – social media centric
  • A History of Famous Disney Animators – reference centric

Cooking Website

  • All Clad Cookware Reviews – conversion centric
  • Foods to Avoid if Want to Get Lucky on Valentines Day –  social media centric
  • Chili Powder – reference centric

The next key element is template layout and monetization. A key component of reference centric content is the absence or subtle placement of advertising. You can probably safely get away with some masthead advertising. If you have one or two side banners, that should be fine, but any more and it starts to look too commercial. Putting adsense or affiliate links in the main content is almost a sure guarantee that you are shooting yourself in the foot as far as link building potential, especially when dealing with “.edu” sites.

As far as style,  the content really should be written with an encyclopedic style and not a sales style. For example, the iPhone page from Apple has a “sales” based style, whereas the Wikipedia page is encyclopedic in nature. In most cases, this means having a neutral point of view–unless, of course, your website has an editorial bias or is written with a great deal of sarcasm; if so, then a neutral-ish point of view is fine. These are the types of pages that will get the best results from your traditional email request link building efforts.

One shady approach I have seen used is creating an official-ish looking page where none exist. For example there is a Mall Walkers Association of America, but they don’t have an official website. There is a facebook page and a myspace page but, to be honest, they look a little sketchy, so I’m not linking to them. By creating a pseudo-official looking site where none exists, you create a link magnet for people looking for somewhere to link. Now I would be very careful here in implementation. Saying you are the official website for blue widgets when you’re not is shaky legal ground. However, putting up an official looking website, but indicating that you aren’t, is only likely to get you in trouble with search engines. Once you have a nice, well-linked-to, well-trusted website, you can give your commercial website a well-placed-link with highly desirable anchor text. These sites are usually very easy to build and maintain and cost very little from one year to the next, usually much less than buying some link advertising. Just saying …

So what are the takeaways from this post:

  • Look for similar topics or related topics in your space that are well suited to become encyclopedic in nature
  • Develop a non-commercial or low-commercial template for type of content
  • Create this content with a NPV and encyclopedic style
  • Use this content to attract links, especially from EDU sites
  • Once you have some link equity, make the page a link hub and redirect link equity into commercial parts of the website
  • Create a link network with non commercial content on separate websites (implement with caution)

photo credit: jamiehladky

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