Content Marketing vs. Link Building: Natural Enemies or Powerful Allies?

content marketing vs link building

Today, you might be wondering what’s best for your business, content marketing or link building.

With 8 in 10 Americans being online shoppers, it’s vital to know how to draw them in.

What if instead of comparing content marketing and link building we just agree upfront that they are equally important to your success online?

Read on to discover how content marketing paired with link building works and how the combo will allow you to take your business to the next level.

New to Content Marketing? Check Out Our Beginners Guide to Content Marketing.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is when you’re trying to build an audience and create future customers. They’ll read content on your page and be tempted to buy your product. Then when they’re happy with your product they can let others know about it.

You’re creating content that’s specifically geared toward your target audience.

You might be wondering what does a content marketer do? A content marketer will create, plan, and share valuable content that’ll convert your prospects into customers. In short, the make the strategy and select the content marketing tactics the are best suited for reaching your goals.

Different types of content can include:

  • Images
  • Physical books
  • Ebooks
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Newsletters
  • Email newsletters

When creating content, have your target audience in mind and think of what they’d enjoy reading about.

link building tactics of the 2000s

What Is Link Building?

Did you know that 72% of those surveyed said that backlinks are important when you’re looking to rank? When comparing link building vs content marketing, it’s important to understand the differences between the two. Link building is link placements from other websites that point back to your site with a clickable link.

There are many methods to link building, and it can be complicated, so it’s best to leave it to the link building professionals.

Search engines use links to decide how well a page should rank in results and to find new web pages. Links are considered a “vote of confidence” for your website.

Why Is Link Building so Important?

In addition to increasing the “confidence” Google has in your website, it can also be a source of referral traffic and brand building.

In short, link building:

  • Helps your pages rank higher and for more keywords, increasing the reach of your content
  • Allows you to be mentioned and featured on niche relevant publications, exposing your to a larger, targeted audience.
  • Enables people to discover a mention or link to your site and visit as a result.

Overall, link building is what amplifies a good piece of content to ensure it reaches the largest possible audience.

What to Consider Before Planning out Your Strategies

You’ll want to consider your goals, resources, time, and team. If you’re a one-person show, of course, you won’t factor in the team aspect.

Think about your goals currently, are they long-term or short-term. When you have short-term goals in mind, you’ll want to focus more on link building as it can provide faster results.

It takes longer to see results from content marketing but it is a great way to build up your business for years to come.

Generally, link building will start to show a positive impact in around 4-6 months while content marketing could take 12-18 months to really get a good foothold and start to yield a return.

Next, consider the resources and time available. If you don’t have much time for planning and shooting videos, recording podcasts, writing, etc, then link building can be used instead to amplify existing content on your site.

If you have more time, then it’s great to focus on content marketing. It’s important to remember though that it’s not link building vs content marketing, but instead combining the 2 with more focus on one more than the other at times.

Remember, neither strategy will produce instant results. SEO, content marketing, and link building are all three long term marketing strategies.

Last but not least, take a look at your team and if you have enough members to make your goals happen. If you’re planning on doing content marketing, it’s important to invest in a team to help your business take new heights. If expanding your in house team isn’t feasible, you may find it is more practical to outsource your link building and blog content writing to a reputable company.

Some common types of link building they may offer include:

It is very important to choose the right link building tactics to get the best results. The perfect combination will vary based upon your resources, goals, and competition. Link building is definitely not a one size fits all service.

Here is an example of recent results achieved using niche edits link building:niche edit link building service


How Content Marketing and Link Building Work Together

Content marketing and link building go hand in hand and are both vital in reaching success for your website.

Content marketing is about having specific content that reaches your target audience. Link building is about building the trust of that content and amplifying it’s reach through strategic outreach and promotion.

When used together, your content can rank faster, enjoy more referral traffic, and reach a broader audience.

Link Building Strategies to Avoid

It’s important to keep in mind that link-building and content rules can change over time. You’ll want your content to be creative on your page. Use industry-related posts. You can use backlink analysis software to see links to competitors.

Avoid unnatural links. Some websites have begun creating artificial connections to change their ranking. Google has figured out the sneaky methods and punished those for linking to fake links.

Unnatural links can include:

  • Web directories
  • Auto-Generated links
  • Private Blog Network (PBN) Links
  • Web 2.0 & Social Bookmarking Links
  • Manipulative 301 redirects

I know what you are thinking, but sadly, some SEO companies are still offering the above services to unsuspecting businesses!

The Importance of SEO

SEO(search engine optimization) is vital to get the most benefits. Since many businesses are online now, SEO is vital for producing strategies that’ll work for your business.

SEO can help:

  • Communicate and build connections
  • Ensure your have a structurally sound website
  • Increases the effectiveness of link building and content marketing efforts

As the third party of the equation, on-page SEO is about ensuring that the content you are producing can be crawled, indexed, and given credit from Google. It will also ensure that the links you are getting will have the biggest possible impact. If you are not sure if your site is technically sound, starting with a website audit is a good idea.

content marketing

Content Marketing Techniques for Low Budgets

You can look at content marketing as just guest blogging, or you can look at it as info-graphics and data-driven studies as well.

There are a variety of options in content marketing, and for all budgets.

Expert Contributions

If you have a lower budget, one option you can do is known as expert contributions. This is where you contribute content to a reputable website in your niche. The content could be a podcast, interview appearance, or even a well thought out blog post.

Expert Roundups

You can also earn links from specialists and bloggers by doing what’s known as expert roundups. While it’s not as beneficial as it once was, it’s still good for lower budgets.

This is where you try to get experts to share something about themselves in a roundup. There’s a good chance they’ll link back to you. Focus on areas you specialize in and are experienced in. Ensure that the person you’re speaking to is definitely an expert as well.

Case Studies

Another option is to have case studies. Have a case study you can share in your networks and across social media. This is a great content promotion strategy to get yourself noticed and build credibility.

If you can show your case study is data-driven you can forward it to editors for a number of different publications. They may cite your data in their own content or it could open the doorway to a guest contribution.

Mid-Budget Content Marketing Ideas

If you have a slightly larger budget, you can produce more in-depth content. Some common types include:


While info-graphics are a great link building resource, they’ve taken a hit recently. Low-quality info-graphics came about and hurt the high-quality options out there. Publishers are more selective about what they’ll cover.

If you can come up with a unique idea for your info-graphic with strong takeaways, that’ll attract publishers to share your content and get your name out there. It’s also a great way to earn links from bloggers and publishers.


If you have time to research on your own and compile a whitepaper, you’ll be adding value to a certain topic. This is more essential for B2B companies than B2C, but can still work for B2C as well.

You can also get together with a local university to conduct research on a topic about the products you sell. Universities will be a small financial investment as well. It’ll require more time though.

Once it’s done you can then promote within your industry to different publications. Just make sure there’s strong insight, data, and a real story attached. This is a great way to build links in large amounts.

High-Budget Content Marketing Idea

If you’re someone who has a higher budget available, the sky is really the limit on what you can achieve. You can start by building your personal brand. Along with that, become an expert in your field.

This takes time to be seen as an expert but is extremely effective. If you’re an expert, you’ll have others reaching out to you and requesting you. Take time to study how to become an expert in your field through public speaking, writing, social media, and video content.

You’ll soon see others reaching out to you to receive links. A great way to expedite the process is by hiring a PR firm to help you book appearances and quickly gain mentions of your personal brand. PR agencies aren’t cheap, so be prepared to pay for the expedited recognition.

Content Marketing Case Studies

Case studies or trends extrapolated from big data can be extremely effective. Here are few examples of that at work:

Most Instagrammed Locations

In this case study, they pulled data from Instagram’s API and took a look at the places where people took the most Instagram pictures. This was used since they knew that their audience would be interested in seeing the most popular places in their state.

This case study then caught the attention of major publications and was shared throughout. They found that Alaska has 2 famous parks that Instagrammer’s love to share, Denali National Park, and Glacier Bay.

For Florida, it’s Miami’s beaches that received the most pictures. Out of all the most Instagrammed places, it was found parks top the list. As far as Canadians, they take the most pictures of points of interest and landmarks.

Your State’s Reading Level Based on Tweets

Time Magazine did a case study of 1 million public tweets to see the average reading level across the United States. It was found that 33% of tweets are at a fourth-grade reading level.

They used what’s known as SMOG (Simple Measure of Gobbledygook), to see the variety of messages that were sent out on Twitter. There were some who fell into a 12th-grade level, but that’s harder to obtain due to the 140 character limit.

Taking a look at this Time study, they linked to many different sources to help back up their findings in their content marketing study. This then leads to it being shared numerous times across social media and the internet.

Content Marketing vs Link Building Explained

When you’re exploring content marketing vs link building, remember it’s not choosing one or the other, but combining them to achieve short-term and long-term results that will help your business grow consistently.


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