We write more case studies than the typical blog posts because people like to read, share, and link to them.
A case study shows the challenges, the strategies employed, as well as the results a particular brand or website got. I will show you how to earn natural backlinks using this powerful content format.
Once upon a time in the history of SEO, all you need to rank your pages on Google’s first page is to stuff your content with keywords and build lots of link to it, and within a few days, your page will be sitting right there.
As you would expect, effective SEO is no longer about quantity, but the quality of links pointing to your valuable pages.
And if you’re wondering why it’s like that, this screenshot from Brian Dean gives a better clarity:
Brian is referring to natural links here. This is the type of links that will stand the test of time, and will not put your site at risk.
What do you consider a natural link?
Essentially, natural links according to Moz are those links that are relevant, useful, and flows smoothly into the context of the page. Often times, for you to get a natural link you don’t have to ask for it, but rather, you focus on creating quality and linkable content that people find irresistible and therefore share it.
Although, it’s difficult to earn links without inducing it, but while you’re making efforts to improve your organic rankings don’t go the unnatural way.
Google’s Head of Webspam Matt Cutts also stated that your links should be natural if you want to build a strong foundation for sustainable organic rankings.
So, why should you build natural backlinks in the first place?
Typically, you’ll agree with me that the benefits of natural links are obvious. Alex Chris gave some good reasons why you should concentrate on building this type of links, below is an excerpt from his post:
With that said, here are the seven proven ways to earn natural links using case studies.
Step #1: Begin With Why
Getting a link could ultimately improve your search rankings, but should you dwell on that?
I don’t think you should.
Instead, you want to go for links that will get you traffic first, because Google wants activity on your link. So “Your Why” for creating a case study isn’t solely to get links, but traffic and clients. And remember, traffic comes from delivering value.
How do you offer value?
Here’s the idea: You want to provide your audience with an actionable step-by-step guide to implementing what you’re talking about. For example, if your case study is about influencer marketing, then you must make it actionable so that readers can act on it immediately.
In his classic book, “Start With Why,” Simon Sinek stated that for you to succeed at anything, you must know your “WHY,” the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do.
Now, in your own case, your focus is to offer great value via the case study and in exchange, get lots of targeted traffic which will end up bringing you a good number of natural links.
Step #2: Identify Questions Through Market Research
The next step is to carry out market research and find out what questions people are asking regarding the topic you want to cover.
For me, the best place to get this is Quora.
For instance, why browsing Quora, I saw someone asking the question:
So, if the topic I want to cover in the case study is related to lead generation, after going through the answers to that question, I already know some of the things I should include.
As a rule of thumb, always create case studies based on questions that users are asking or topics that are complicated in a way.
Step #3: Pick Long-Tail Keywords
Now that we’re done with market research, we also need to know what keywords people are using to find the topic in the search engines.
Most people make the mistake of conducting keyword research with the assumption that they’re doing market research – but they’re not the same.
When it comes to keyword research, because of the competition is virtually every industry today, you need to focus on long-tail search terms.
One of the best tools out there for digging up long-tail variations of head keywords in any niche is KeywordTool.io
Using the lead generation topic as our example, input it into the search box (select Google.com from the options), and click on the orange search icon at the extreme right.
Here’s the result you’ll get:
As you can see, the highlighted section is just a tiny list of long-tail keywords that you can target. Each of these can be used for your case study. It’s that simple.
For example, your case study could have any of these titles:
Case Study: How 10 B2C Companies Used These Lead Generation Strategies to Grow Their Business
Case Study: 5 Proven Lead Generation Strategies To Grow Your Business
Better yet, you can get specific with your titles. Here’s an example case study from Contently:
Step #4: Choose a Topic to Create the Case Study On
A case study is meant to bring you leads and clients, so you need to be careful while choosing your topic. The truth is, you need to focus on customer needs, process, systems, and metrics to drive consistent traffic – which in turn will lead to more links.
For instance, if you’re a social media expert, you shouldn’t create a case study on search traffic or link building. Instead, you want to focus on social media and show examples of companies that got success, and how they did it.
Here’s an example from Conductor, a Competitive Intelligence and Search Engine Marketing Company. Their case studies are primarily about SEO, content strategy, and the exact steps they used to grow their client’s business.
Though the case study is gated (you need to opt-in to access it), but can you see how relevant it is?
Remember that when creating your case study that it doesn’t have to come from you directly — it could be from other credible and authoritative sources.
Perhaps, your competitor was able to increase his client’s revenue by 37%, if that’s the case, you should share his case study instead. It’s totally fine.
Step #5: Curate Case Studies from Authority Sites
As I stated earlier, the case study must not be from you directly. You can also share other people’s success, but if you’ve implemented what you want to teach and it worked for you, it will be even better.
To find other company’s case studies, just go to Google and search with any of these search operators:
Case study + “put your topic here.”
Success story + “your topic goes here.”
For example, when I searched with: case study + “increase revenue” here’s what I found in Google:
As you can see, you’ve got more case studies to share with your audience. Interestingly, potential clients don’t want to know whether the case study is from you directly or curated, as long as it’s actionable they’ll want to work with you.
More so, other websites will link to this resourceful content because they’re hard to come by — they’re based on verifiable results — not everyone can provide that.
Step #6: Notify Websites That You Linked To
This is particularly applicable when you curate case studies from third-party sources. Creating the case study alone will not bring backlinks, you must persuade people to share and possibly link to it. You’ll do this by reaching out to people that will potentially link to you.
The best way to go about this is to reach out to the blogs you curated their case studies and notify them that you linked to them. They’ll love it, share it, and even link to it.
You can use this simple email script to contact them:
Hello [first name],
I know you’re busy, but I just wanted to inform you
that I referenced your case study in my latest resources.
You can check it out her: http://put your case study URL here
You can share it on Twitter if you think it’s useful.
[Your Full Name]
Keep your email short and straight to the point. There’s no need for unnecessary pleasantries.
You can contact them via email, contact page, or social media and let them know you mentioned them in your case study, they will check out the content, and if it’s good enough, they won’t have any other choice other than to share and link to it.
Step #7: Share With Micro-Influencers
The final step is to find micro-influencers and reach them via Twitter or Facebook. You can easily find these micro-influencers using Buzzsumo.
With this tool, you can uncover influencers who shared a particular post. These are the same people that would like to share your own post if it’s really helpful (it should).
In this instance, if I want to find out the influencers that shared a viral post that’s related to lead generation using Buzzsumo, it’s so easy, just enter the keyword into Buzzsumo search box, then click on “View Sharers.”
Notice the highlighted link (View Sharers)? Once you click on it, Buzzsumo will show you a list of influencers that shared the articles.
You can now contact them via Twitter or Facebook and let them know that you have an even better article they might want to share with their audience.
Compelling content has made link building a lot easier. Sure, content comes in different forms, but a case study seems to connect with the right audience more intimately.
Google has evolved so much. If your content page doesn’t deserve to be at the top of the SERPs for your keyword(s), then any work you put link building might be wasted. Create more case studies, connect with micro-influencers, and earn natural backlinks.
I would like to hear from you, did you earn natural links from your case studies?
About the Author – Michael Chibuzor is a Content Marketing Expert and founder of http://Saasbrand.com, a friendly brand that helps software marketing companies grow their business. You can reach him on Twitter @mikecoder