Increase Search Traffic with Horizontal Content

    December 28, 2009
    Chris Crum

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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