One of the most common mistakes I see amongst companies investing in SEO is that they'll write 4-5 internal blogs per month. When it comes to external blogs and distribution, there is no defined strategy. Zilch. Nada.
Why External Content is Crucial
Backlinks are the foundation of Google's algorithm. If you want a complex explanation of the original PageRank algorithm, click here.
I'll give you the CliffsNotes version.
Google views your site as authoritative when other sites link back to it. They don’t want to see a site that is spammy linking back to your site. If you try and manipulate the system, you can get hit with a Google penalty and your site won't rank at all. You don't want this.
What Google wants to see is authoritative and relatable links talking about your site.
When a company with a low domain authority writes 4-5 internal blogs per month, nobody is going to see the content. It's the equivalent of writing a great novel and nobody reading it. (Learn more about domain authority here.)
If you have a decent domain authority and you are writing great content, there is a good chance it will get found on Google's search engine, which is exactly what you want from an internal perspective.
You have to make sure your site has enough authority and credibility for your blogs (and your site) to rank.
This is where backlinks come into play. It can boost your credibility, which will also increase your domain authority.
For every one hour your business invests into SEO, 45 minutes should be spent looking for distribution and 15 minutes should be spent writing the content.
Write less content. Look for more distribution.
This might be tough for many businesses to swallow, but it's the cold hard facts.
If your website ranks for long tail keywords for every blog post you write, you can disregard this ratio. For the majority of sites that are having trouble ranking, this is where your focus needs to be.
Harold's Hockey Shop
I'm a big hockey fan so I'm going to create a fictitious small business in Columbus, Ohio (where my agency happens to be located). The name of this company is Harold's Hockey Shop.
Let's say Harold just opened up his hockey store in downtown Columbus. There are 10 other local hockey shops around town that he has to compete with. His ultimate goal is to get on the first page of Google search results. This is a tough task considering his website is brand new and he is competing against hockey shops that have been in business for 10-plus years.
If I were managing Harold's SEO, before ever writing an internal blog post, I would reach out to the following types of publications to start my distribution strategy.
- Local blog on the Blue Jackets (Columbus' NHL team). Harold is a huge fan and could contribute valuable insight.
- National e-commerce site like TotalHockey.com where Harold could contribute content to their blog about the top skates for high school players on a shoestring budget.
- Local newspapers and media outlets where Harold could eventually be used as a source for pond hockey and ice skating related quotes.
- Local bars in Columbus that are specifically designated as a Blue Jackets bar
- Harold could contribute article content to their site about his favorite Canadian beer or best hockey brews.
Focus on 4-5 external blogs
If Harold was able to forge relationships with 4-5 relatable sites like the ones mentioned above per month, he would not only be reaching his target audience with quality content, he'd likely get valuable links pointing back to his site. He would also gain awareness for his brand and he could generate referral traffic from his brand name being mentioned within each blog post. Harold could also be considered more authoritative as more content gets published.
Harold will still need to make sure the foundation of his site (on-site SEO) is in good shape and the user experience is top notch. He needs to submit his local address to a local directory, like Moz Local or Yext.
Contributing external content is just one piece of the pie. Yet it might be the biggest piece of the pie that is most overlooked.
This might come as a shock to many, but start looking for more distribution and stop writing so much content! Until you have solidified the relationship, of course.