When it comes to supporting content, you either believe in it or you don’t. However, as someone who does believe very strongly in not only the power, but also the necessity of supporting content I can say that more people are joining the believers camp every day.
People often talk about pillars, clusters and other content strategies, which are all essential and begets discussion of supporting content.
And when it comes to that, we’ve also all heard about linkable assets such as infographics, calculators, clickbait and so on…
What people don’t often talk about though, at least when it comes to supporting content, are what I call Link Hotspots.
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What Is A Link Hotspot?
A “Link Hotspot” is simply any page on a site that gathers links in larger volumes and consistent rates than others.
An obvious example of this is the Homepage.
On most sites the difference between the homepage and the next largest page is usually disproportionate.
However on most successful sites there is more than a single Hotspot.
To use The Wirecutter as an on-going example, I’ve selected their 7th largest page by links which is their Deals page.
You can see that they have 516 Referring Domains to this page (According to Ahrefs). This page is a good example of a Hotspot page as it’s likely to continue attracting links.
The Wirecutter have a large number of comparison articles with large link volumes, however these aren’t what I’d call Link Hotspots. The Wirecutter isn’t an ordinary website when looking at what is normal so I would ignore these when analyzing other sites.
Hotspots vs Assets
The main difference between a linkable asset and a link hotspot is that not all linkable assets are hotspots, but all hotspots are linkable assets.
An infographic is likely to pick up links with some promotion, and potentially the odd link now and again. Whereas a hotspot is going to gain more and more links until it becomes a link hotspot on your site.
To find out what pages have the most links on your site with Ahrefs:
Inspect Domain > Pages > Best By Links > (Filter As Desired)
How Hotspots Form
A while ago Ahrefs published an important study “How Many New Backlinks Do Top‐ranking Pages Get Over Time”.
What this study demonstrates is that ranking pages will continue to gain more links, and this is another factor we need to consider when talking about Link Hotspots.
Some Link Hotspots are going to form due to rankings. If rank duration directly affects link acquisition then we need to factor this in.
This can be both a positive and negative when looking to build our own Link Hotspots.
- -Not all ranking pages are link hotspots.
- -Not all link hotspots will rank.
- -Not all link hotspots are organic/natural hotspots.
- -Not all link hotspots are supporting content.
-Obviously the ideal situation is to build a link hotspot that can also rank.
Supporting content can rank so that doesn’t disqualify a page from being “supporting”. In fact, some people would go as far as to say that supporting content can even have commercial intent…
However, my most successful Link Hotspots are usually Informational in nature… They don’t always rank, but they can do.
However they gain links extremely easily when performing certain types of outreach. Due to this they are also more likely to rank… I would also say that they are more likely to respond well to additional links that you build from places such as DFY (something I do regularly with niche edits). So once you know you have a hotspot forming, you can even speed up the process with a few well placed links.
When you think about it, hotspots are incredibly common and natural among the most successful sites. We see it with homepages often obeying the pareto principle or 80/20 rule. However this can be applied many times over.
And yes I agree, this kind of thing should go without saying, but the reality is that Hotspots just don’t exist on many sites that have been built by SEOs. It’s also not talked about outside of the references already made e.g. content strategies & link bait. So this is a very important topic that is missing from the strategies of the best of the best.
It’s the main reason why I turn people away when they ask for audits, because in my own opinion, it’s an easy footprint to detect. If someone has overcooked their link building by not focusing on Hotspots be it Homepage or other, I don’t think all the on-page in the world can help them.
But if you’re smart enough to understand what I’m saying about Hotspots then maybe, just maybe you’re about to finally get ahead of the crowd.
How To Build A Hotspot
Building a Hotspot is actually fairly easy. It’s about value and accuracy… People want to link to good content that supports what they’re talking about for further reading or whatever!
You need to be comprehensive, but this doesn’t mean you need a 10,000 word essay. In fact I wouldn’t recommend this as the UX is a big part of what makes a good linkable asset in the first place.
Some hotspots don’t even require much content, though I do recommend going down the informational route, so you can try to rank as well as use the article for contextual internal linking.
– Deals pages
– Voucher pages
– Fact pages
Since I am mostly advocating the use of informational style hotspots, I’m going to say that the best examples are the ones that you’ll already know…
Wikipedia being the most prominent example of an informational page that ranks and gains more and more links. We don’t just link to Wikipedia because they are there. We link to them because we know that their articles are comprehensive for the purpose of why we’re linking out.
You will often find that their most linked to pages are their broadest ones, and this is again something you should pay special attention to when creating your pages. This is why I say you might not rank, because broader topics bring about new competition such as Wikipedia…
But even if you can’t rank them, these broader pages can still make fantastic evergreen outreach targets.
Even more specific pages can rack up a bunch of links, and yes in part the domains trust comes into play, but we also know that we simply wouldn’t link out unless the information was useful.
How Hotspots Help You Rank
Obviously every new link to your site is going to add more trust and authority to your site, but also it’s creating a new entry point for “juice” a.k.a “link flow” a.k.a “the money maker”.
That will one way or another propagate around the entire site, so the myth some newbies believe of links only helping the page they point to isn’t the case at all.
But, more importantly for our purposes of using designing and using hotspots as supporting pages the most juice is going to go to the direct contextual links.
Hotspots are dual-action.
When I am building links to these pages, it’s obviously because I’m using them as supporting pages for the rest of my site.
I’m then usually linking out to at least 5 other key pages on my site, and the relevance + power of these pages then helps rank my more commercial pages… All without having to risk going in with exact match anchors from external domains (which is often more risky).
I will usually create at least one hotspot per category on a site, or in some cases make a custom category page which becomes the hotspot itself.
How You Can Create Hotspots Easily On Your Website (For Free)
If you want to create a simple hotspot on your own website, the easiest way to do this is to do a little bit of research. While this is similar to keyword research, it’s not the same…
What you should be doing instead is some topic research, and luckily there are tools that allow you to do this for free such as Ubersuggest.
All you have to do is head to the site, and do a search in the ‘Content Ideas’section. While this isn’t *ideal* it’s a good place to start, especially for something that’s free. You can also do similar things on BuzzSumo, Ahrefs et al.
You can see that above I did a fairly broad search for the term ‘rat cage’, which brought up a few ideas. In the above screenshot, I found a great example of what I would call a seasonal hotspot. Every halloween this page will likely grow with each new round of promotion.
Simply repeat this process a few times, while building up a spreadsheet and you should come up with some great hotspot ideas.
How To Build Links To Hotspots
Once you have finished creating your new hotspot, whatever that is… You need to turn on your promotional hat. This means sharing on social, paying other social accounts to give you a push, doing a boost on facebook or whatever.
You should also do some outreach, at least at some point… It doesn’t have to be right away though.
Instead if you’re pushed for time you can start off with some affordable niche edits. Or if your budget is a bit higher, opt for some guest posts. I personally add at least a few links like this to my hotspots as my goal is to power up the content I’m trying to support.
I usually use a bunch of niche edits for mine, and with regards to anchor I usually go brand or generic. E.g. “Check out these rat cage ideas” or “Rat cage ideas via rattyratsite.com”.
If you do go down the guest post route, you can even do some decent T2 campaigns right now which will only power up the chain more.
Regardless of what you do, the goal of a hotspot is to acquire more and more links over time. If it can’t do that easily then it’s not a hotspot.
You will know if it’s not a hotspot if: Your outreach is falling flat, if there is no social virality to the article, or you get turned down by guest post services etc.
There’s no shortage of ways to implement this, and the actual strategy is a familiar one. We’re just focusing our supporting content on what forms naturally on websites “in the wild”, after all, a website is just an ecosystem for information.
If you have any questions about this method you can post them in the comments below. Or you can continue the discussion in my group over on facebook.
About the author:
Daniel Cuttridge is a Blogger, Affiliate and Technical SEO Nerd from the United Kingdom. He runs a free facebook group called on-page academy, and is the founder of Pathtorch.com.