Five Steps To Leveraging Great Content For Better Rankings

Recently, I was at an internet marketing convention where the question was posed to a panel: “As a search engine optimizer (SEO), what would you advise your clients to do if an extra million dollars fell into their lap?” The response from the SEOs on the panel was essentially “invest it all in creating great content.”

When questioned, the panel agreed that links were important (since Google’s algorithm prioritizes their analysis of links so highly), but the general implication was that if you create great content the links will come.

It would be fair to say that sometimes good content gets linked to, but it’s rare. According to Google, as of late 2008 they’d indexed one trillion pages. So the probability that one new page of content would be found by a surfer randomly clicking from one link to the next on the internet would be one in a trillion. Man, those are not good odds.

There are many ways to help good content get linked to, but the practical reality is that these same techniques are more often used to help all content get linked to, regardless of the content’s quality. So SEO is just as much about creating “great” content as it is about being great at getting content linked to. I am not suggesting that the quality of the content doesn’t matter, but that the purist approach of simply putting great content into the world and waiting for unnamed altruists to link to it on merit alone relies too much on luck.

Five steps for creating & distributing content

When trying to improve organic SEO, creating great content is just as important as doing a great job of distributing it. These tactics, however, should not be pursued in a vacuum. Instead, you should approach SEO using a holistic strategy. Here is a sample five-step plan that you can customize to fit your company’s objectives.

Step 1: Search Google Trends for keywords that relate to your business that have received heightened attention recently (either because of seasonality or other special events). On a search for “outdoor chairs,” for example, you will see that the number of people searching on this keyword spikes every summer. If you sell outdoor chairs, now would be a good time to target that phrase aggressively.

Once you’ve chosen a topic area you are ready to move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Use the Google keyword tool to find terms related to the concept of “outdoor chairs” to write about. Through appropriate analysis you may find that the terms outdoor chairs, lounge chairs, wood chairs, and folding chairs are relevant to the products you sell, and that they get a lot of search volume.

Refine your target keyword list and move on to Step 3.

Step 3: Search Twitter for the keywords you selected in Step 2 to see what your target customers are talking about in order to get content ideas. @Macktacular is talking about painting children’s Adirondack chairs. @endlessrant seems to need outdoor chairs in a hurry. @jherskowitz is looking for comfy chairs to fit a rooftop bar. Try to pick content ideas that correspond to the keywords you decided to target in Step 2 because you know there is substantial search demand for those keywords.

Once you have your topic, target keywords and specific ideas you are ready for Step 4.

Step 4: Create your content and be sure to include the keywords you identified in Step 2, while also being conscious of what you’ve learned from browsing Twitter in Step 3. Popular content and articles are highlighted on, so you may spend some time there browsing popular content that relates to your topics to learn how to structure your article’s title and body copy.

Your article is now written and you’re ready to focus on distribution.

Step 5: Determine a concrete “distribution” goal for each piece of content you’ve created, whether it’s an article, a how-to guide, etc.

Here’s an example:

Content Distribution
Article on “Outdoor Wood Chairs” Syndicate this content to a highly relevant external source in order to generate 1 or 2 highly relevant links, traffic from a trusted source, and increased brand awareness
How-To Guide on “Selecting Outdoor Chairs for a Rooftop Patio” Place this content within my website in places that will positively impact the customer shopping experience and reach out to bloggers and past customers to solicit hundreds of links and word-of-mouth traffic

Now it’s time to get to work. You are ready to distribute your content in accordance with your plan and enjoy the benefits of creating great content and leveraging it to increase traffic, search engine rankings, sales and brand awareness.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | How To: SEO | Link Building: General | Search Marketing: Search Term Research


About The Author: is President of Exclusive Concepts, Inc., a Yahoo! Small Business Partner that helps online retailers to increase revenue, get smarter and do more with less. Services include advanced search engine optimization services, conversion optimization and more.

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  • NeilS

    Interesting article, but here is my $64,000 question: having written the article, you say:

    “Syndicate this content to a highly relevant external source in order to generate 1 or 2 highly relevant links, traffic from a trusted source, and increased brand awareness”.

    This is always the toughest part in my opinion. Do you care to give a few examples of how you would do this “syndication”? And some thoughts on what the cost might be, if any?



  • Scott Smigler

    Thanks for the great question. I’ll try to answer by describing “Option A,” which is NOT consistent with the example you referred to in your comment. And then I will contrast that to “Option B,” which IS consistent with the example you referred to.

    Option A

    At one end of the spectrum I see article syndication methods that require minimal resources… that seek a higher number of inbound links for each article (let’s say dozens for conversation sake but it could be much higher). These links may come from websites of varying levels of traffic, authority, and relevance (in Option A you have less control over where your content gets placed). An example of how you might do this “syndication” would be cultivating accounts at article directory sites (Google that phrase to find many examples) and posting articles that other webmasters will pick up and post to their site so that the author gets credit in the form of a citation/link. Another example might be a method that was used a lot in the 90′s… of establishing relationships with a high number of eZine publications who give you permission to email them each time you create a new article that they might want to share with their database. In “modern times” you’ll probably want to target niche blogs, but the concept is similar.

    Option B

    At the other end of the spectrum I see article syndication methods that are more resource intensive, that seek far fewer links from much more relevant and authoritative sources (such as the leading online magazine in your niche). This is what I referred to in the example I gave in my article (leveraging content to get 1 or 2 links). Here links are only one of several benefits. The other benefits include highly relevant traffic that may come, and also the branding benefit of being associated with a trusted source of information in this space.

    The “placements” in this example tend to be of much higher value than in the first example (on a per link basis), but they are much harder to get. An example of how you might “syndicate” this content would be to network and build genuine relationships with the operators of influential websites or online magazines. The goal would be to establish an ongoing relationship with these operators such that they will look to you on a regular basis to create superlative content for their database. The content may extend well past articles into videos, multimedia presentations, etc.

    The main point I was trying to get across in my article was that it’s important to have clear goals for your content and to have a scalable system in place to achieve those goals. There are many different options that marketers have to popularize content… and with time each marketer should be able to cultivate a system that works well for them and that offers the right balance of resources and return.

  • NeilS


    thanks for the comprehensive response. It helps round out your article for me, and contains useful information I can act on. As you show — the harder the effort you put in, the greater the payoff!



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