The great thing about linkable assets is that, when successful, they take on a life of their own and the SEO benefit can grow to 10 or even 100 times what was originally anticipated.
Good linkable assets earn repeat visits and traffic over time. Links aren’t pushed but earned in unexpected places with natural and topically relevant anchor text. Plus, when you publish valuable content actually related to your core subject matter, you help establish yourself as an authority on that topic, and more likely to appear in search results for topically relevant queries.
Because good linkable assets often earn a greater variety of links spread over time through value instead of aggressive link promotion, they are less likely to ever earn a Google penalty.
Examples of linkable assets include this worldwide guide to etiquette, this online salary calculator or even Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History.
Questions used to help identify linkable assets:
Does it create something new?
Does it make something easier?
Is it likely to be used again and again?
Does it reveal new insight or knowledge?
Does it create something beautiful?
Does it evoke a strong emotional response?
Does it provide practical value?
Can linkable assets also be linkbait?
The most successful linkable assets possess the better qualities of fine linkbait. In fact, for SEO benefit, it’s essential that your linkable asset invoke a strong emotional response or be perceived as having high practical value.
This is the “sweet spot” in the middle that combines the best marketing value of linkbait with the added value of linkable assets.
Linkable assets: exemplary examples
Rand mentioned a good number in his recent Whiteboard Friday Why Visual Assets > Infographics, so I wanted to list a few more that offer high practical value and succeed in earning natural, highly-topical links.
Can an infographic act as a linkable asset? Yes, when it meets the requirements defined above.
This excellent Radiation Dose Chart infographic created by xkcd not only inspires awe but has been linked to thousands of times due to people wanting to share its practical utility.