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Distributing Content without Digg or Stumbleupon

Posted on 4.06.2009

:: By Gabriel Goldenberg, SEO ROI Services ::

Make the front page of Digg or get stumbled enough times and you will get significant traffic. But as many Web publishers have come to realize, these sites can be a hit-or-miss proposition — and they are mostly a “miss.” Or, even if a submission does gain some traction, the conversion rates are typically abysmal.

The good news is that there are alternative methods of content distribution that are both effective and sustainable for long-term success and recognition.

Piggyback Distribution
A trivia challenge: What do Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell and Robert Scoble have in common?

  • Godin, a best-selling author and blogger, started distributing content as a writer for Fast Company, a popular business magazine, over five years ago. When he eventually quit, he had built up a significant following
  • Gladwell is another author. His first bestseller, “The Tipping Point,” came after four years of writing for The New Yorker.
  • Scoble is a popular tech blogger. His big break came from video blogging for Microsoft, a little startup some of you may know.

Each of these very successful individuals got an important headstart by producing content for others with pre-established audiences.

Creating content as a guest builds on itself, which makes it a particularly valuable technique. The reputation and relationships you can develop with collaborators and audiences translate into opportunities elsewhere.

Portals 2.0: Web Services with Outsourced Content Production
Early Web portals started out like the online version of a general store; instant messengers, games and e-mail offered popular tools and content, and received massive traffic. And much of its content production was outsourced.

With a new iteration of portals, we again have sites providing valued services by pulling content from third parties. These are prime opportunities to syndicate your website’s content to a targeted audience.

Feed Readers and E-mail Providers: Some feed reader and e-mail services include certain sites’ RSS feeds by default. If you had Hotmail in the 90s, you might remember being offered newsletter subscriptions at signup — a powerful and captive method of content distribution. You want to be included in the default options of today’s feed readers and e-mail providers.

Start Pages: Start pages are homepage portals where individual users pick the content they receive every time they log on. Some start page providers like NetVibes offer default options. Again, aim to get your site included.

Toolbars: Some browser toolbars link to particular blogs they like. The SEO Book toolbar, for example, features Aaron Wall’s favorite blogs. Aggregators: Aggregators like The Blogging Tories pull titles and snippets from your content and show them off to readers interested in their particular topics. They send a trickle of traffic, but the visitors are targeted.

Content Widgets: Some widgets feature your friends’ or a particular site’s latest content. It’s like having a feed reader in your sidebar that updates on its own. This also works in e-commerce for affiliates.

Advertising Tactics for Content Distribution
Video: One of the most creative and intelligent emerging online ad trends I’ve seen recently is banners that include movie clips to promote video content. The marketing team behind the film “Madagascar 2” embedded video within traditional banner rectangles to promote a larger form of video content, the film itself. The value proposition of “Madagascar 2” is in the film, so it makes sense to advertise within that context.

Affiliates: I recruited a former online casino SEO this past summer for a client.

This SEO explained that one of the things casinos do for their affiliates is to provide private blog feeds organized into categories. Affiliates pick categories and pull snippets of the content onto their site and publish the mashup as unique content. And within that content, particular keywords are auto-linked (with the affiliate’s tracking code) to the casino.

This is really just piggyback distribution with dollars involved. The trick is that by mashing up the content and having affiliates publish excerpts of it, you wind up with original content for these affiliates and many more links than a single guest-post could generate.

The flip side is you’re trading quality links for quantity, which is an option to consider depending on your particular SEO competition.
Linkerati targeting: Quantcast.com shares websites’ demographics data. So find out the demographics of your industry’s linkerati — websites that will link to you if you offer good content. Then, target that website’s audience using a platform such as Facebook Ads which uses precise demographic targeting.

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