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This post originally ran on American Express OPENForum.
Pretty much everyone has come around to the notion that they need to produce lots of high-quality content if they want to rank highly in search engines. Of course, creating the content is only half the battle. In order for that content to rank and generate the kind of traffic it deserves, it has to be found, shared, linked to and liked by lots of people.
Once you hit publish, you’ve got to spend a measured amount of time driving links and traffic to the content. You’ve also got at least 20 or 30 other things on your to-do list that need to get done, too.
Stop spinning your wheels. The strategy I recommend is simple: Put a great deal of effort into producing and then promoting one or two prime pieces of content each month and give them lots of exposure, a little budget and a serious amount of time rather than trying to sustain that kind of effort with every piece of content.
SEO folks lovingly call this kind of content “link bait,” and while many have completely ruined this form of content marketing with overly aggressive SEO practices, the notion of putting a lot of effort into a post or two a month that has a good chance of attracting interest, readers and links is a solid one.
Below are a series of steps you can employ to systematically drive links and traffic to your core monthly content play.
1. Make it sharable. Add social marketing buttons to your content to make it easy to share. Use plugins like Digg Digg or Sociable in WordPress and add the Click to Tweet links at key tweetable moments in the content.
2. Use the usual suspects. Take the time to promote your post in Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest with a nice visual image to help draw attention. I find it’s helpful to take the space to talk about why someone might want to read your content—make a little effort to sell it.
3. Email and snail mail. Don’t forget to let your email and snail mail lists know about your latest and greatest post. Send a monthly solo email blast to point out the post and invite offline readers to come online and read and share. Make sure you make your email sharable and ask your readers to send it to a friend.
4. Use targeted ads. Facebook advertising is a great way to target friends of your friends on Facebook or even target friends of your competitors or some other highly targeted demographic as a way to get your content in front of the right people. Use promoted posts so your post appears in the news stream.
5. Pay for “Stumbles.” StumbleUpon is a powerful link and traffic tool if you work to build a very strong presence there. You can, however, pay to have your content shared, and this can drive a significant amount of initial traffic and get the stumbles rolling.
6. Strategic sharing. If you’ve built a network of strategic partners, and please tell me you have, make sure you reach out to them and offer the content for them to share in their social networks and email newsletters. You can also build a social sharing network in places like Triberr.
7. Network, network, network. Reaching out to other bloggers or people in your industry by way of sharing and commenting on their content is a good way to build up some reciprocal link and sharing karma. Make it a habit to read, curate and share 10 to 20 pieces of high-quality relevant content and you’ll earn the right to reach out and ask for the same. Make certain that you’re sharing content because it’s good content and not so you can get links and it will work out for you.
8. Paid syndication. Services like Outbrain and nRelate can push your content out to publications that are looking for specific types of content and stories. This can create a great amount of traffic from new visitors to your site.
9. Social bookmark sites. Every day people visit sites like Reddit, Digg, Delicious and Diigo to save and organize bookmarks online. Of course, all these people also spend a great deal of time viewing and clicking on related content that others find as well, so spending time to go deep in a couple social bookmark sites, building a network, sharing other people’s content and promoting your own content can be another way to generate links and traffic.
10. Video amplification. Video is, at the moment, in a class of search all by itself. Consider adding a video to your content or creating a series of videos that dive into bits and pieces of the content and then post and optimize these videos pointing to your post on sites like YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, Dailymotion and Metacafe, and of course don’t forget Facebook and Google+—or use a tool like OneLoad to automate sharing to all these sites. Viewbix is a nice tool for adding apps and calls to action to your video so you can help drive people back to your site and original post.
Spending a concentrated amount of time on promoting and amplifying at least one piece of content each month will pay huge, long-term dividends in terms of traffic and links to your site.