Using Original Research to Drive Organic Traffic & Backlinks

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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Content is the backbone of most SEO efforts. Content draws in readers, generates leads, expands a site’s audience.

However, publishing common blogs on industry topics is a limiting strategy that fails to attract new audiences and provide the kinds of opportunities for scaling an online business through SEO.

The fact is that there are a variety of content types that a company can leverage to earn organic traffic from the SERPs – blogs, videos, infographics, guides – but there is one form of content that is more useful than most any other:

Original research.

Original research contains and analyzes data that businesses have collected on their own, rather than rehashing information that is readily available to consumers on other sites across the web.

It is because of the content’s uniqueness and exclusivity that original research is such a formidable driver of traffic online. Since the information cannot be found elsewhere – and because others will want to reference the data (assuming it is valuable) – the content is likely to cultivate far more clicks than the average blog post.

However, due to the nature of publishing original research that will drive traffic, it is a far more time-consuming endeavor. Conducting innovative research and harvesting useful or actionable insights is challenging, but very much worth the added effort.

For instance, articles that analyzed one million headlines require substantial amounts of work to generate. However, according to Moz, the previously linked page has earned itself over 700 backlinks.

Given how powerful original research can be for driving traffic, here we will explore several types of this kind of content, why it is so effective in earning clicks and some best practices for publishing and promoting original research.

Let’s dive in.

Types of Original Research

Obviously, the size of an organization and the amount of resources it can expend will be massively influential on the nature and scope of original research that it can conduct.

That said, some of the most popular (read: attainable) types of traffic-driving primary research include:

  • Interviews
  • Surveys
  • Questionnaires
  • Case Studies

Surveys and questionnaires are extremely popular as business owners can leverage their email subscribers and social media audiences to compile original data around a slew of different topics that can help industry insiders better serve these individuals.

Alternatively, interviews are a bit more intensive as these require brands to possess existing (or develop) contacts with experts worth interviewing.

traffic driving research types graphic

When looking at case studies, this form of original research is perfect for businesses to not only produce unique insights but also to highlight specific products or services in relation to how they helped individuals or clients, thereby showcasing a business offering’s merit.

When contemplating how to do case studies, it is best to publish materials that clearly demonstrate how a product or service directly produced a tangible result for the end user. A good case study is akin to a detailed and concentrated how-to post that delineates:

  • The project
  • The problem
  • The results

Moreover, case studies often include a comprehensive breakdown of how the results were obtained. However, it is acceptable for businesses that offer a specific service to not go into extreme depth and reveal their secrets.

Nonetheless, case studies should discuss particular lessons learned throughout the effort, provide a clear conclusion and highlight a call-to-action for readers to take the next step.

With that said, let’s explore why original research is so much more effective at driving traffic than most other types of content.

Why Does Research Garner More Clicks?

As mentioned earlier, original research is a powerful tool for driving traffic as the information contained in the examination cannot be found anywhere else online.

However, this does not mean that the organic traffic received from the SERPs is the sole – or even dominant – source of clicks generated by the research.

The fact is the original research is a powerful link building strategy that gets a site’s content in front of far more audiences than the search results pages as it is disseminated across a multitude of industry websites.

This assertion is supported by the fact that SEO PowerSuite’s analysis on link building found that data and research are the most potent form of content for earning new links.

There are three primary drivers as to why original research is such a profound link building asset.

Firstly, this kind of content is sought out by journalists and bloggers to help support their opinions and hypotheses with concrete information (as was done moments ago). After all, sites that make specific claims without a source for their assertions are viewed as less credible than those who supply a relevant link to the proper data.

original research link building asset graphic

Secondly, original research is actually unique content. Many industry blogs these days repeat ad nauseum the need for “unique and valuable content.” Despite this oft-repeated platitude, a multitude of sites continue to rehash the same information, thereby failing to stand out among an ocean of other pages featuring the same information. Original research helps a website to emerge from the uniformity and repetition, thus attracting links.

Finally, original research gives industry publications and news sites an exciting story that can be easily covered by virtue of reporting the findings of the study.

These three reasons are likely why 47 percent of marketers utilize original research within their marketing strategies, according to BuzzSumo, whose unique research just earned a link. See how that works?

With that covered, let’s explore some of the best practices for publishing and promoting original research.

Original Research Best Practices

Much like the tactics for getting content seen, there are a handful of best practices for successfully promoting original research. Some of these strategies include:

Cover a Trending Topic

Regarding data-oriented content, the topic is critical for the amount of coverage it will receive. If the issue is desirable, more outlets will want to feature the data. Therefore, selecting a subject that is popular or currently growing in popularity is a prime strategy for driving traffic with original research.

Business owners can establish hot topics by utilizing tools such as:

  • Twitter: See which topics are trending in industry circles to get an idea of what information people would like more insights into.
  • BuzzSumo: With this tool, business owners can enter a specific keyword (maybe one found trending on Twitter) to identify popular pieces and subtopics around the phrase.
  • Google Trends: Similarly, marketers can utilize this tool to see if a topic is surging or waning in popularity.

google trends over time screenshot

Using such services, business owners can establish popular topics, how those subjects have been covered in the past (so as to take a unique angle) and if the subject is still rising in its demand.

Publish in Blog Form

There are tons of sites that conduct original research, only to publish the results in PDF format.

While making potential readers enter their email address to download the information is a good tactic for growing a site’s email list, this is not a prime tactic for earning links and traffic.

Therefore, the best way to earn links and generate traffic from original research is to publish the findings as a blog. This way, other sites can easily share the information contained within the post and link back to the page, thereby earning a site more significant amounts of traffic.

Moreover, when publishing original research as a blog, it is critical to treat it as a blog, meaning it is essential to optimize the post for various keywords that journalists or bloggers might employ to find such information.

If businesses are not proficient in SEO best practices for ranking content, it is wise to partner with a professional marketing agency that offers SEO content marketing services to ensure that the research reaches the right eyes.

Publish Early in the Year

This tip may seem a bit strange, but the fact is that if a site publishes its research in January or February, the content will appear fresh for most of the year. Alternatively, if the study is posted in October, it will begin to appear stale in just a few months.

publish early in the year graphic

While this is undoubtedly more of a psychological trick than anything else, psychology plays a massive role in the success of most marketing campaigns.

Consider the Scope

Speaking of psychological influences in marketing, when conducting original research, it is vital that brands obtain the largest sample size possible.

The fact is that, from a psychological perspective, more significant numbers make for better headlines and are more impressive to readers.

On a more practical level, larger sample sizes ensure greater statistical significance and help to create more reliable data, thereby showing that the findings are not the result of a minuscule sample but are genuinely representative of whatever it is that the research shows.

Present Bite-Sized Data

While presenting thorough research is fantastic, it is also necessary to condense the data for readers and present bite-sized chunks of essential data, as this will allow for bloggers to quickly absorb and report the information.

visiture website screenshot results achieved

The best place to highlight significant findings is either at the beginning or end of the piece, as this is where most readers will search for such summaries.

Provide Quotes from Notable Figures

If a brand conducts interviews with industry experts, including quotes is natural. However, if such folks were not involved, it may be a good idea to send some notable influencers the data before publishing it and see if they would be interested in contributing some insights.

However, the folks that businesses reach out to for input should:

  • Have an engaged social media following
  • Be an industry expert or influential voice in the field
  • Possess a blog, YouTube channel or another outlet where the research might be featured

By including influencer quotes in the study, business owners can potentially get these individuals to help promote the content, thereby reaching a wider audience and generating more traffic.

Included Embeddable Visuals

Visuals are a critical component in the current era of online marketing. Therefore, visualizing data in the form of videos, infographics, charts, graphs and the like increases the chances that it will get shared.

Moreover, visuals such as those mentioned above also help people to better understand the findings by providing bite-sized statistics (as discussed earlier).

By including embeddable images in original research, businesses can better promote their content by allowing other sites to utilize the visuals and link back to the information’s source.

Original research is a powerhouse for driving traffic to a site. Not only does this type of information get more attention than rehashed blog posts, but it earns significantly more links as well.

Utilize the information listed above to help create, publish and promote original research successfully. Doing so could aid your brand in becoming an industry thought leader and help it to climb the SERPs.

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