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Tips for Content Distribution Networks

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In the past I’ve written about the content versus links debate where SEOs seem to fall on one side or the other when assigning the majority of importance for search engine rankings. What’s missing from that conversation is the need for a distribution network.

There are many that believe 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 despite the hype from SEO nay-sayers.

The key to realizing the linking benefit from creating useful, engaging and unique content is to create 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.

  • RSS Subscribers
  • Network with other bloggers
  • Get on other blogger blogrolls
  • Syndicate content to other web sites/blogs

Media Relations - News organizations be they online or offline, mainstream or blog networks, are always looking for good content and story ideas.

  • Develop a “go to” media list to announce company news and story ideas to
  • Establish newsworthiness by producing consistently high quality editorial that meets the needs of the publications you’re pitching to
  • Press release distribution via online wire services bring exposure via email and news search engines
  • Be a trusted news source by creating relationships with the media

Email - Email newsletters offer an excellent channel of distribution as the publisher or in an advertising capacity.

  • Start an email newsletter to communicate with clients, prospects and your target market at large
  • Advertising & sponsorship opportunities exist on others’ newsletters
  • Provide guest articles to other newsletters with a desirable readership profile

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.

  • LinkedIn is growing into a very worthwhile business networking platform
  • MySpace tends to be more personal, but offers topical networking opportunites
  • Facebook also offers benefits similar to MySpace in terms of topical networking
  • Real world events are often overlooked and in-person relationships are far more powerful
  • del.icio.us, Flickr, YouTube, digg, etc can serve as channels of distribution and networking

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.

  • Owner
  • Moderator
  • Sponsor
  • Participant

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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About Lee Odden
Lee Odden is CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing and public relations firm in Minnesota that specializes in search, social and online PR consulting and training for companies worldwide. Odden has been cited for his internet marketing expertise over the past 10 years by the Economist, Forbes and U.S. News and contributed a chapter to the book, "Online Marketing Heroes" published by Wiley. For the past 5 years he has also been the editor of TopRank's Online Marketing Blog, a Technorati 100 favorite blog and one of the top marketing blogs according to Advertising Age. WebProNews Writer
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