The content versus links debate has persisted for years where search engine marketing practitioners seem to side with one or the other when deciding which is more important for search engine rankings. What's missing from that conversation is the need for a distribution network.
Many search marketers promote the idea that the key to a successful link building campaign is to create content worth linking to. However, if you create great content and no one knows about it to send a link, then there's a lot lost on the effort. "Build it and they will come" is not the reality with search marketing.
The key to realizing the linking benefit from creating useful, engaging and unique content is to leverage channels of distribution. As the network of people paying attention to your web site or blog grows, the greater the number of unsolicited links will occur. The more links, the more traffic and link popularity for rankings on search engines.
So if you have a great distribution network, producing new and useful content will attract a substantial number of links on it's own. This beats the grunt work of back-link analysis and other tedious link building activities by a long shot.
So, how can you build your network of distribution? Here are 5 tips:
Blogging - Blogs can serve as an excellent platform for distributing content because of RSS and the tendency blogs have to freely link to each other.
Media Relations - News organizations be they online or offline, mainstream or blog networks, are always looking for good content and story ideas.
Email - Email newsletters offer an excellent channel of distribution as the publisher or in an advertising capacity.
Social Networking/Media - Networking and word of mouth is the oldest kind of marketing there is and in many cases, still the most effective. Online tools for networking and sharing of information can be leveraged in concert with real-world networking to build an impressive level of connections.
Forums & Discussion Threads - Whether you start a forum yourself, moderate, advertise or simply participate, the exchanges that occur within forums and discussion threads can build credibility that can be leveraged into building blog and newsletter subscribers.
Most companies are already engaged with many of these channels but do they consider the impact on search marketing? Each channel offers stand alone marketing benefits, which should still be the primary reason to engage them. But many marketers do not consider the effect such connections can have on building an organized content distribution network and the corresponding effect on search engine visibility.
In the same way that organizations should incorporate keyword messaging across corporate communications, they should also make organized efforts at prospecting, developing and measuring the effects of distributing content through relevant channels with search marketing in mind.
The concepts here are nothing more than fundamental marketing, but realizing the effect networks of distribution can have on search can help marketers leverage existing marketing activities in a way that provides a distinct advantage and would make it difficult to competitors to catch up.
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Lee Odden is a 9 year internet marketing veteran and President of TopRank Online Marketing, a leading search marketing agency that helps companies increase sales and brand visibility online. Lee has worked with hundreds of companies to develop and implement winning online marketing programs with particular expertise in search engine optimization, online public relations and blog marketing.
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