Whilst on-page content is vital in developing relevance for search engines, creating and marketing it off-site can be equally beneficial in your ongoing SEO efforts.
Following on from my post yesterday on creating linkbait [See: The Anatomy of Linkbait], I thought I’d continue the content theme. Today though I’d like to take a look at off-site content marketing and how effective it is in generating traffic and links.
The idea of creating content that won’t be hosted on your own site might sound ridiculous to some. Why spend hours creating unique content, only to then send it off into the online ether?
A fair point. Your best content certainly should be reserved for your on-site endeavours. But that shouldn’t represent the sum total of your written efforts.
You are, knowingly or otherwise, a font of knowledge. How you use that knowledge is your choice. You can either internalise it or share it with the world. In terms of expanding the horizons for your business, your website and your personal profile, the latter is certainly the preferred choice.
So, you’ve got some ideas swimming around in your head, what can you do with them?
First of all you should look to get them down onto your nearest available scribble pad. Organise your ideas, create some titles and then look to develop them.
How you choose to produce your content will be largely dependent on where it will be distributed. Here are some of the most popular options and a few of the associated benefits of each.
This is probably the most straightforward of all content marketing opportunities. First of all your content doesn’t need to be top notch. Don’t get me wrong, it should be decent enough to bring in readers and tempt them to visit your site, but you don’t need to spend days strategising what to write and sending it through various levels of your business for review.
At the end of the day it is a guaranteed link and that is what it should be viewed as. Get it seen in the right places, Ezine Articles being the strongest directory, and distribute. Other sites might then choose to republish or promote the original article and the exposure/inbound links can snowball.
This will never be a predominant source of traffic, but it can certainly provide a useful additional flow. Add this with the link benefit and you have a pretty useful SEO tool – and just from one simple article too.
Here’s your opportunity to get a little more creative. Most hub sites, such as HubPages and Squidoo, offer you free rein when it comes to content. You can embed links throughout and write content on almost any subject.
Due to the multimedia nature of a hub page, it is ideally suited to lengthier and more creative offerings. So whilst your article for Ezine might be as simple as ‘The Benefits of Laser Eye Surgery‘, with your hub you could explore the ‘12 Best Views in Britain‘.
With images and embedded text links wherever you want, this is an opportunity to really develop your off-site presence.
Lateral thought can certainly be an advantage. As in the previous example, even if you are promoting laser eye surgery, why not write about British landscapes? What would you want to look at following surgery? It’s all about creating something interesting that people might look for and link to.
With a hub you want to get people clicking through to your link(s). However, these are also pages in their own right and, as with any on-site page, will be strengthened by having more inbound links. Therefore creating something that will engage a wider audience and encourage trackbacks will both increase clicks through to your target site and the strength of that link.
Writing a press release purely for SEO purposes is challenging. The point of a PR (traditionally speaking at least) is to pass on a news story to the assembled media scrum. When you change the focus to link building, you can easily fall into the trap of creating something that is universally uninteresting.
To counteract this, you should hold fire on your PR efforts until you actually have something to share. It doesn’t need to be earth-shattering stuff necessarily, but if you’ve developed a new product, have expanded operations or are starting a recruitment drive don’t be shy in telling the world.
Whilst hub and article writing are reasonably covert (you will often only be referenced in the link), a press release is very much an overt marketing ploy. Your businesses name will take centre stage and as such your risk is greater. As a consequence your writing needs to be strong and it should be representative of your business – i.e. you should be happy to have it hosted on your own site, if not then don’t send it out independently.
A PR is there to create publicity. But with a few well placed links, it can also improve referral traffic and boost SEO efforts. The better it is and the more interest it generates, the more benefit you’ll see.
If you’re looking to get a little link love, improve industry contacts, boost your online profile and get targeted traffic then may I recommend guest blogging. By getting your expert opinion profiled on another blog, you will be able to fulfil all of the aforementioned roles in one fell swoop.
As with a press release, quality and originality will be determining factors in how successful your guest post will be. You should also be looking for strong blogs that are related to your industry. Your efforts in creating great content for an authoritative site will be repaid many times over potentially.
You might already have a few blogs that you’d like to submit an article for in mind. If so, get in contact with the owner, explain who you are and what you plan to produce and determine whether they would be interested. If you’re clueless, don’t panic.
You can easily source blogs that are accepting posts through MyBlogGuest. This is a straightforward service that connects blog owners and writers. Alternatively, just search on Google for “Guest Post” (in the quotation marks) and then your industry or keyword. This should return a variety of sites that have accepted guest posts on that subject in the past – simple, but often effective.
Which Should You Choose?
Where content is concerned, opportunities are almost limitless. But it is horses for courses.
If you want to get a few links quickly, write some articles and get them posted. Great for some traffic and hassle-free submission. 400 to 750 words will usually suffice.
For those of a creative inclination who want to develop a strong off-site presence, consider hub pages. These are a little more left field in terms of subject matter and can be promoted independently to ensure a good organic traffic stream and link strength. As it is more developed than an article, a hub should be 600 words plus to be effective.
When you’ve got a story to tell, write a press release. Keep it professional though and if you don’t have a writer in house, it might be best to outsource to somebody who can produce this for you. Don’t just use this as a forum for posting generic articles – it won’t wash. PRs should be between 350 and 500 words – keep it on message though and don’t drag it out.
Finally, when you’re overflowing with ideas or industry opinions and want to get them featured somewhere specifically, produce a guest blog post. The quality will need to be of a higher standard than an article so as to ensure that it accurately represents your thoughts and is accepted. This will be intrinsically linked to you and your business, so don’t get sloppy.
Ultimately though, the more quality content you can create, the more your site should benefit. Perfect for profiling, ideal for link building and unbeatable in terms of referral traffic. So get writing.