Increase Search Traffic with Horizontal Content

Making Money with Content By Covering More Ground

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Those new to blogging or article writing have often been told to focus on one very niche topic. One narrow vertical. That has commonly been considered the way to gain credibility, readers, links, and ultimately traffic, which assuming the blog/site itself isn’t your primary source of income, could lead to sales of your products/services. But is keeping it narrow really the best way to go?

For some, it is. Another way to go would be to cover as much ground as you possibly can. Throw a wide net out there and see what you catch. Once you see what you’ve caught, maybe you can catch more in the same area. The thinking is that the more ground you cover, the more people you are potentially exposing your work to. It’s going horizontal, rather than vertical.

Do you think you could find greater success by keeping it narrow or broad? Share your thoughts.

Mike McDonald of WebProNews had an interesting discussion about horizontal content sites with Lawrence Coburn, president of RateItAll. As its name suggests, RateItAll covers a variety of topics by offering reviews (along with some social elements) for each vertical. They cover a lot of ground: pets, movies, music, television, beauty, travel, gadgets, video games, sports, Internet, auto, politics, celebrities, books, companies, camera/video, fashion, food, drink, health, and baby.

Demand Media, as Coburn says, is kind of the poster-boy site for horizontal content. They have an algorithm that helps them determine the content to produce. It has now been revealed that AOL is going down a very similar path.

The more resources you have, the better off you will be, of course. That is why big companies with deep pockets find the horizontal content angle so attractive. They can afford to pay to have a lot of people create content. In paid search, they can afford to bid on keywords across the board.

But just because it’s easier for a big company to go horizontal, that doesn’t mean a small business or a blogger/writer can’t keep the same principle in mind. Small businesses can find success in e-commerce, despite the fact that Amazon and Walmart are only a click away. The same goes for horizontal content sites.

If you’re going to go the route of trying to cover as much ground a possible, it doesn’t mean that quality should be sacrificed. It’s not about quantity over quality. Search engines like quality, and more importantly, so do users (who also like to share quality content via social networks). Search engines like Google want to deliver the highest quality results possible to the user, and they’re getting better and better at doing this as time progresses.

You may not be an expert in everything. Who is? There are different ways to construct quality content in areas you are less familiar with. For one, obviously, you can get experts to write content for you in any given niche. You can also perform thorough research before tackling a specific topic. The more you learn along the way, the more knowledgeable you will be anyway, and what is an expert if not someone that has a thorough understanding of a subject?

If you can cover more ground, you can attract a wider audience, which means more traffic, which means more eyeballs, which means more advertising dollars. AOL knows this, and is planning on making it a very significant part of its business. But even if you don’t have the resources of a company like AOL, it is still a model that can potentially earn you a living.

Do you think horizontal content sites are the way to go? Comment here.

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Increase Search Traffic with Horizontal Content
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  • http://www.kkominc.com Cathy Dunham

    1. The Focus (vertical) or Breadth (horizontal) of web content topics should depend on the site’s purpose and the interests of its stakeholders. Say you have a pet store. You could focus on only the “pets” that you provide services or products for – keeping it vertical within that scope, which would be very rich, OR this site could also expand horizontally to encompass topics on “People with pets”, “Other pets”, “Unusual Pets”, “Veterinary Vocations and Careers”, best “Zoos to Visit” or on conflict issues, like “Farm animals – pets or livestock?”

    2. Give your visitors more of what “they” want. Content focus or breadth should be to provide supplemental information to one’s readers. Surveying your current viewers is a great way to learn more about their interests. Another would be to monitor your web stats to find out which articles were selected the most and had more viewing time — and then add more articles/info that following those topic areas/themes.

    3. Provide content on a consistent basis – and on a schedule that matches your ability to make contributions on a continual basis. After a while, viewers will grow to expect new info and return more often (as long as the value and quality are relevant to their needs, of course)!

    I’m one of those web marketers who is definitely in favor of providing fresh, great content – for the benefit of the web visitors, as well as for building credibility.

  • http://www.Savvy-Writer.com Rebecca

    I always thought sticking to one niche was limiting. If done correctly, a horizontal content site could bring in more visitors and income. It’s refreshing to read that the trend is changing towards horizontal content sites.

  • http://www.lose-weight-loss-diet.com Dan

    The fact is, Google has been destroying content on the Internet for years by rewarding sites with the most limited, narrowly defined vertical content, which makes it much easier to rank for certain keywords. That’s what has driven the trend toward “Niche Marketing” over the last several years, and I see nothing in Google’s ranking that would suggest a move toward more horizontal content will improve your ranking for specific keywords.

    The reality is, the more horizontal and general your website, the more difficult it will be to rank in Google and the more difficult it will be to monetize. In my opinion, Google is destroying the quality of content on the Internet in their greed for advertising revenue, which forces content writers to conform to their limited keyword optimized view of the world. I believe Google has a dangerous and damaging monopoly on search and Google should be boycotted to destroy their monopoly, which is the equivalent to censorship of quality content.

    The best blogs in the world with the most interesting, creative content often have the most difficult time ranking well in Google.

    In fact, the trend toward niche marketing is accelerating to the point that people are now manufacturing entire websites around one specific product. That’s the new trend: “buyer keywords”. The bottom line is, if you want to make money, stuff your website with the most limited, narrow keyword niche as possible, fill it with garbage respun content that targets different long-tail keywords (given the pompous scientific sounding name “Latent Semantic Indexing”), and focus on one or two products in that niche.

    Google rewards vertical marketers, period. Unless you have the resources to publish hundreds of thousands of articles, get hundreds of thousands of backlinks and utilize every source of modern media such as video, etc, horizontal marketers will lose out to vertical marketers every time.

  • http://www.countyjailinmatesearch.net county jail inmate search

    You can see the niche I’m working on right now, the great thing about it is that there are so many counties per state that I’m catching the obscure searches and working toward the obvious keywords in the domain. Vertical here means other related pages.

    Vertical is the way to go though. Personally, being around this business so long, it would be hard to move too far away from a core item/synonym. If it were “tires”, you can see how easy it is to cover lot’s of ground, no pun intended. If it were “cars”, you might run out of pages quick since there a limited number of makes and models.

    The whole SMC type idea made sense to me as an internet marketer if you can take the time to really create an html page PER ITEM and use includes for your cart. This goes on ad infintum.

    Keep it Str8!

  • http://www.indymedicalsupplies.com Bonita Webster

    Hello, from Indy Medical Supplies LLC. Horizontal content sites are a great idea for businesses that want to grow like us. Please visit http://www.indymedicalsupplies.com Small business owners need to help each other by spreading the word for available services.

  • http://www.learnweb101.com Ray James

    I have just recently launched a tutorial site on web simplified; how the net works, creating websites, making money on the net etc. http://www.learnweb101.com
    Generally smaller sites and businesses try to cover a wide ground. Eventually I see them finding their own comfort zone and niche and settling more in the narrow zone.
    Due to the vast competition, I think the future is better for businesses that concentrate on what they do best, rather then “Jack of all trades, Master of none”

  • http://bit.ly/85aNAl LoveLearningWithUsborne.com

    In theory, the idea of horizontal web content sounds good – if you have a large staff to research and update your content continually for the vast array of subjects/products/services that you provide. For an individual, small business owner like myself, it seems like it would be difficult (not impossible) to manage THAT much and do it WELL. “Jack of all trades” is usually the “master of none.”

  • http://jaspert.free.fr jaspert

    Horizontal sites are much easier to read, without giving youa stiff neck.

  • http://www.parpools.com Ron Parrs

    As our company’s websites have grown over the years, we have needed to broaden our horizons to offer new or improved products but also provide DEPTH that in turn provides VALUE to what we offer. The real shame of too many sites is that they rely more & more on “slashing prices,” rather than provide product support – by way of better details, providing “outside of the box” solutions, etc. In short time, great products with potentially good, long lasting profit potential, become commoditized.

    Aside from just broadening our site with the usual or expected stuff, we chose to “accessorize.” What else MIGHT customers also be wanting or thinking about – the complimentary stuff. On top of all of that by blogging – http://www.parpoolsblog.com, additional “knowledge base” websites – http://www.pool-care.net & http://www.spacareonline.com, Facebook, Twitter, ezine article writing, etc., that is all a part of the horizontal content that the author is trying to expose.

    It makes sense! Why not put a larger, more vibrant target on our backs? On top of all that, the organic nature or relevance should be increased.

    Does this take effort? You bet – my hands are killing me! I believe the long-run payoff is there. Good article.

  • http://www.marketsitepro.blogspot.com Nick

    I agree with Dan. Google is shaping our behavior. I you create a website and no visits it, is does it really exist? Reminds be of the old question about a falling tree in a forest and now one around to here it fall. We are forced to conform to the characteristics google will use to rank a website. The sade fact is there can only be one site that is ranked number one for any search term.

    Because Bing is in a catch up mode, they can afford to take the most innovative risk. One thing they could try is maybe a rotation scheme, where the top ten sites get there positions rotated. They could also experiment with horizontal verses vertical?

    Also, I believe all of this is in its infancy and will be completely different in 5 years, but for now it makes sense to have a page for every keyword you want to get ranked on. Anotherwords, if you could, why would you not have a page for every keyword you want to get ranked on? There are only two problems. First, the time and effort to write the content for each keyword, and second the time and effort to maintain all those pages, especially when changes are required. I can think of more reasons to do it, then reasons not to do it.

  • http://www.my-cape-town-south-africa.com Lizette

    Horizontal is absolutely fine as long as you have the resources. I have struggled for a year with a website that is too broad for one person to do in their spare time. A few weekends ago I literally threw together a different niche website in a similar field with probably similar readers with similar needs.

    The niche website is already producing half the traffic of my broader website, and double the google ad clicks. Considering I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of hours on the broader website, vs the niche, the ROI speaks for itself.

    Never choose a subject that is broader than you can cope with. It’s an absolute success-killer, since you never get to deal with any sub-topic in sufficient depth so your website always seems too thin either vertically in each sub-topic or horizontally where you have too few topics.

  • Jason

    Personally I think becoming even more narrow and discovering sub niches is a better idea than trying to go horizontal. Everyone’s fighting for visitors so if you can sub niche yourself you have a better chance of pulling in those people who were being caught in the broader nets. Like probably 90% of the other commentors here I do SEO and web design. I’ve sub niched myself to the point where I’m an expert in a few areas of interest, thus I’m not competing against a ton of web designers. I have experience in the field I’m designing for and at the same time I have the SEO / web experience. I’m no longer competing against a bunch of people as the competition of knowing the field and SEO at the same time is non-existent.

  • http://dolceandgabbanawatches.glegleme.com Tomislav

    Well, I didn’t assume what is better, but made couple of tests (websites). That’s where the methodology comes to effect. Facts are following:
    1 Narrow, focused blog can be catapulted to first 10 positions in Bing/Google within a week! You need three pages with 500-1500 words, focused on targeted key phrase. New posts unrelated to the phrase will move you nowhere. You DON’T need hundreds of back links.
    2.Horizontal web site is near to impossible to bring under top 100. You can have as many back links as you want. It’s a myth. They simply misbehave with SEO optimization.
    3. Horizontal web site is much better for social media marketing. You can write INTERESTING posts and then drive traffic from twitter, Facebook or other social web sites W/O problemo…

    So, depending on your marketing strategy, you can use what you like. Only the method of bringing traffic is different.

    Facit: Vertical – good for SEO ranking, Horizontal – good for Social Media ranking. On the bottom line, CONTENT decides will you monetize traffic or not.

  • http://www.ezmousemat.com/store mat

    I think it’s very easy to get hung up on percieved Google/Bing SERP’s and the various search engines usually obscure demands.. especially when we get into the question of blogs.

    Cathy Dunham has hit the nail on the head already where e-commerce sites are concerned but a lot of that also applies to blogs.

    I have a blog that i use to write about anything.. and i mean anything at all that is either bugging me or i simply have an opinion on. The topics range from the internet through to politics and anything else.

    According to google webmaster tools, It rarely shows up anywhere in SERP’s and no one ever visits the site – being and still to some degree new to blogging, did it bother me? NO, however one day while pratting about with the webhost’s traffic reporting software i noticed there was a glaring discrepency. According to the webhost quite a few people were in fact visiting the blog.
    The installation of a third party traffic monitoring tool on the website confirmed that it was getting a lot of traffic indeed, from all over the world.

    On close scrutiny a lot of traffic arriving at my e-commerce sites are arriving via the links in the blogroll.

    While i obviously don’t advocate ignoring search engines totally we also have to look at practicalities.. and also that too often the top spots in the SERP’s are dominated by zero content sites that by all the comment from the likes of mat cutts etc that simply should not be placed ahead of content rich and well linked sites.

    The bottom line, i think anyway.. is simply do what you want.. keep some relevencey (vertical) but dont be afraid to also branch out a bit in your scope of content (horizontal).. even if google doesn’t rank it.. it will be found somewhere by someone on another search, so it wont be wasted.

  • http://www.town-court.com Traffic Court

    I have built up a significant amount of horizontal content, most of which is at least somewhat related to my main keywords. I write about things that interest me. Some of my content (mostly blog posts) has turned into hits.

    For me, it’s somewhat valuable to add content like that – it’s a little bit like linkbait – and I also enjoy writing new things.

  • http://hubpages.com/profile/dame+scribe Gin

    I have found with the use of different niches that it makes reading more interesting and with element of educational would most likely be helpful to the audience. It opens the door for advertisers for further exposure and access to this audience. Something that shouldn’t be lightly dismissed.

  • http://www.maketodaypayday.co.cuk Kate

    I think that the use of horizontal content depends on what type of feel you are going for with your website. If you are primarily in the business of finance, I think it is a good idea to have a well-rounded selection of content instead of focusing on one vertical (e.g. loans). If you are going for a more social website, you would want to include other verticals as well as finance information.
    We are about to incorporate a blog into our website: http://www.maketodaypayday.co.uk. While we will at first focus on information related to short term loans, eventually we will expand to provide more information about finance.

  • http://www.southerngracegourmet.com Angie

    I have done a few articles outside of my niche, and the usually do not even get indexed, or if they do they are not in the top 100. Most of my pages do rank pretty well, even though they are odd keywords that seem to be seldom searched.

  • http://homeinternetmoney.com Lively Jason

    If your main niche is very competitive, having a spread of related horizontal content will complementary and bring more traffic.

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