• Tue. Jun 14th, 2022

“Tangential” content is the link building tactic your brand is missing

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, and more.

But if your marketing goals include getting high-quality backlinks, building your 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 that is related to a brand’s industry but is not linked to its main brand image. It does not refer to a product or service offering, or a bottom-of-funnel conversion effort.

In the spirit of showing, not telling, here is the difference between more tangential content and more topical content.

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

Below, you’ll see something a bit more topical: a recipe that includes a Hershey’s product. Even this piece has a tangential twist in that it’s not directly about buying the candies, but the candies are necessary for the activity, which puts them more on the tangential side, related to the product.

Who Uses Tangential Content

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

So we decided to look into it. We reviewed 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 blog content. 31.3% of the brands we analyzed also had tangential offsite content, meaning content they used to acquire earned media. This is what we do at Fractl, and I’ll show an example later in the post.

That’s why I’m so surprised we don’t talk about tangential content anymore, and frankly, I think almost every brand should give it a shot because of the benefits it brings.

How can you benefit

Tangential content is powerful for several reasons.

First, it unlocks a new, larger audience, who become aware 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 builds your brand authority and improves your site’s reputation in the eyes of Google.

And third, although a bit 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 audience personas. more robust.

Let’s look at some concrete examples of how these benefits come into play.

A great example of on-site content is The Canva color wheel, which helps you determine which colors go well together.

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

That makes this strategy really smart, because they’ve created a useful calculator that people can probably bookmark, share, and link to. (In fact, this page has generated over 4,000 engagements on Facebook, according to BuzzSumo.) And while it’s not directly related to signing up with 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 didn’t do a project on the move; rather, we surveyed 1,000 people on how they interact with their roommates to discover new ideas about quality time.

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

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

We pitched this content to writers and got coverage on Better homes 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 posting audiences and gain the SEO advantage of earning high authority backlinks.

Create/enhance your own tangential content

For tangential content to be worthwhile, it needs to appeal to a larger audience than you normally target, or at least a new audience that is still somewhat related to your industry.

It requires a fresh perspective throughout your content process.

Here’s how I recommend tackling tangential content:

  • Expand your keyword research Use a tool like surfer keyword and get lost in related searches. Explore related topics that people are interested in that you might have avoided because they are unrelated to your core brand image.
  • Take inspiration from other industries — Competitive research is crucial, but our team has found that if you’re stuck looking only 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 get good results. tangential content ideas.
  • think laterallyWhen you have a list of subtopics related to your main brand, ask yourself: what else is relevant to this topic? For example, if you are a car insurance brand, what is driving related? Work commutes, singing in the car, safety, family vacations…the list goes on and on.


My suggestion is not to throw out 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 that they haven’t been able to achieve through topical content alone.

As long as you continue to bring value to your audience and create engaging, accurate, and fresh content experiences, chances are it will increase your brand awareness and traffic.