Link building

Tangential content is the link building tactic your brand lacks

Branded content is crucial for many reasons: communicating the value of your product / service, helping people make purchasing decisions, providing relevant information to your primary audience, etc.

But if your marketing goals include getting high quality backlinks, building brand awareness, and increasing your organic traffic, tangential content should be part of your content strategy.

So what exactly is it and how can you fit it into your own content calendar?

Definition of tangential content

Tangential content is content related to a brand’s industry but not linked to its main brand image. It doesn’t refer to a product or service offering, nor is it a bottom-of-the-funnel conversion effort.

In the spirit of showing and not saying, here’s the difference between more tangential content and more current content.

At the top you see a tangential content by Hershey who provides tips for families on how to be safe during a trick-or-treat in 2020. Does this have to do specifically with buying candy? No. But does it bring value to their target audience, the candy fans? Yes.

Below you’ll see something a little more topical: a recipe that includes a Hershey’s product. Even this piece has a tangential touch in that it is not directly about buying the candy, but the candy is necessary for the activity, which places it more on the tangential side, related to the product.

Who uses tangential content

My team and I were asking ourselves the same question because we are strong advocates of the strategy and have used it for our clients for years.

So we decided to take an interest in it. We looked at the content of all the brands nominated for the 2020 Content Marketing Awards and found a majority of these companies use tangential content on their blog.

That’s a lot of quality content marketing programs using tangential content on their blogs!

But it’s not just the content of the blog. 31.3% of the brands we analyzed also had tangential offsite content – that is, content they used to acquire acquired media. This is what we do at Fractl, and I’ll show an example later in the article.

That’s why I’m so surprised that tangential content isn’t being talked about more, and frankly I think almost every brand should give it a try because of the benefits it brings.

How you can benefit

Tangential content is powerful for several reasons.

First, it unlocks a new, larger audience, who take awareness of your brand and enter the top of your funnel.

Second, since it’s not as commercial, it can help you build backlinks to your site, which in turn builds your brand authority and improves your site’s reputation in the eyes of Google.

And third, while a little more nebulous, having to come up with tangential content ideas prompts you to zoom out and explore other issues and interests of your audience, which leads to more robust characters.

Let’s look at some real-life examples of how these benefits come into play.

A good example of onsite content is Canva’s color wheel, which helps you determine which colors go well together.

I guess Canva wanted to target people interested in design elements broadly because they offer a design tool.

This makes this strategy really smart because they created a useful calculator that people have probably bookmarked, shared, and linked. (In fact, this page has gained over 4,000 Facebook engagements, according to BuzzSumo.) And while it’s not directly related to signing up for Canva, it still attracts the larger audience they want to connect with.

Another example is a project we did for Hire A Helper, a company that helps users find movers. We did not plan to move; instead of, we interviewed 1,000 people on how they interact with their roommates to discover new ideas about quality time.

This is one of the charts we created based on our analysis of the results.

Because this content is not only relevant to people moving, but to anyone who has lived with someone else, it is much more engaging, which publishers are looking for as well. Often times, they want what they write to be meaningful to the majority of their readers.

We presented this content to writers and got coverage on Better houses and gardens, who unionized at All Recipes and Yahoo!

Without this new tangential data, it would have been much more difficult for Hire A Helper to reach these large post audiences and gain the SEO advantage of earning high authority backlinks.

Create / improve your own tangential content

For tangential content to be worth it, it needs to attract a larger audience than what you normally target, or at least a new audience that is still somewhat connected to your industry.

It requires a new perspective throughout your content process.

Here’s how I recommend approaching tangential content:

  • Develop your keyword research Use a tool like Keyword surfer and get lost in related research. Find out about related topics that people are interested in that you might not have covered because they are unrelated to your main branding.
  • Get inspired by other industries – Competitive research is crucial, but our team has found that if you only look at other brands in your own industry, you won’t find the creative inspiration you need to think outside the box, which is needed to come up with great ideas for tangential content.
  • Think laterallyWhen you have a list of sub-themes related to your main brand, ask yourself: what else is relevant to this theme? For example, if you are a car insurance brand, what is driving related? Commuting to work, singing in the car, safety, family vacations… the list goes on and on.

Conclusion

My suggestion is not to throw away your topical content and make everything more general. But I think all content marketers should take the time to see if tangential content will help them achieve goals they couldn’t achieve through topical content alone.

As long as you continue to deliver value to your audience and create engaging, accurate, and new content experiences, there’s a good chance it will increase your brand awareness and traffic.


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