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Headsmacking Tip #12: Don’t Abdicate Control of Your Content

SEO digest

I've been away from my "headsmacking" series (see the first 11 here) a bit too long, and despite an early morning flight to Reykjavik tomorrow for the RIMC, this subject is certainly deserving of attention. Besides, Mystery Guest always says I can sleep when I'm dead :-)

Oftentimes, SEOs and webmasters create great content, only to apply it in sub-optimal ways. Ideally, if you create a great piece of content - a guide, a post, a photo/graphic/video, even a few short sentences on an important topic that provides value - that work should bolster your site's strategic traffic initiatives. Acquisition of new users through discoverable content is no small task and creating good content no trivial feat, which is why it's so important to consider what you're doing with that content you produce.

I'll illustrate the problem:

The Trouble with Abdicating Control of Your Content

If you're going to use a social, interactive platform of any kind, it's important to think about the strategy - are you doing it because it's convenient and fun, or because you recognize that the larger audience reach and participatory environment will actually bring more value back to your brand and site than you could get by launching it on your own domain?

Remember that on your site, you control 100% of the experience - the branding, the messaging, the calls to action and the optimization. On a social platform, they're out of your control, and even those levers you can pull today may not be available in the future.

When I think about this process for our content or our clients, I like to use this pattern of thinking:

  1. If you launch on your site, does it have an opportunity to spread virally?
  2. If you launch on a social platform, does that probability increase dramatically?
  3. Does the platform you're posting to give credit in links or recognition for your brand/site?
  4. If the social site ranks for the keywords in your content, can you still earn value from that?

With some social media platforms (mainly the social news and social sharing sites - Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Delicious, etc.), you don't have to make this choice; you get all the benefits and none of the downside. With others, from LinkedIn Answers to Knol to Scribd, there's a balancing act and a choice. My least favorite are the article submission aggregators, which do provide a link (generally not of terrificly high quality), but tend to pass very little branding or traffic value to the author. The only thing worse is Wikipedia (and similar sites), which provide virtually no benefit in return. I'll never understand why big Wikipedia contributors don't start their own niche sites and get the recognition they deserve instead of a political battle on the disucssion pages.

Just make sure you think before you give someone else control of your content.

p.s. Since I'm heading to Iceland tomorrow, posting (and email) will likely be light until I return Tuesday of next week.

published @ March 18, 2009

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