Contributor Julie Joyce looks at the pros and cons of keeping content on your site versus sending it away.
Recently, I’ve had some very enjoyable discussions with other search engine optimization specialists (SEOs) about where to place promotional content.
Opinions vary and are dependent on the goals of the webmaster. Some webmasters openly ask for guest bloggers since they need content and don’t have a writing staff.
Others who are just starting out want to write guest posts or columns for sites other than their own as a way to boost their reputation and increase inbound link counts.
Some newbie professionals ask more seasoned SEOs to participate in roundup posts as a way to build credibility for their sites. There are many reasons people ask for content or ask to place content.
Many of my colleagues are of the opinion that if you’re going to create great content, you should keep it on your own site. While I can definitely see that point, I really do like the idea of having my content placed on other sites because it increases my potential for traffic, leads and clients.
Go west, young lady
I’m fine with placing content on other people’s websites. I believe in branching out and placing content because it works for me.
I am lucky to get a lot of good leads from my Search Engine Land column, as well as interviews, the occasional guest post, roundups and lists on other sites and on social media.
My rankings are not nearly as good as they once were, but it’s interesting that while they have fallen, my traffic has remained mostly steady (albeit from traffic spikes that occur when I publish something and very little traffic when I don’t) and my leads have continued to come in just as they once did. In fact, I’m getting more than ever.
I also get a lot of direct traffic. Organic search is my third-highest source of traffic, as you can see below:
This is another reason I like placing my content on other sites: If anything happened to my site, I’d still be able to maintain traffic and leads.
When I dig around in the analytics accounts of many of my clients, this is a much more common picture:
In a case like this, with the referral traffic being third and around 30 percent of the traffic from organic search, there’s no way I’d put my best content on someone else’s site. I might put good content on another site, but I’d definitely be selfish with content that I’d spent a lot of time and energy creating.
Pros and cons
If you’re struggling to decide where to place your content, you really have no choice other than to look to see where your traffic is coming from and try to make a decision.
If you’re like me and get most of it through referrals, I’d pursue that. If most of the traffic is coming from organic search, I’d keep it on my site in most cases.
Here are some pros and cons of placing your content elsewhere.
- You improve your chances of new business by reaching a different audience.
- You gain more authority as an expert in various online communities.
- You can be featured in other sites’ roundups and newsletters, broadening your reach.
- You increase your chances of online survival if anything happens to your own website.
- You’re first driving traffic to someone else’s site with your content.
- Your reputation can depend upon the reputation of the hosting site.
- Your content could be removed at any time.
- The hosting site could shut down.
Here are some pros and cons of keeping your content on your own site.
- You’re driving traffic to your own site without a middleman.
- You are completely in control of the content.
- If you do any link building for the content, those links help your site and not someone else’s.
- You are building your site’s authority.
- If you are penalized in any way, you have a decreased chance of still getting traffic.
- If your site doesn’t rank well and have decent traffic, you may not see much return on investment (ROI) from your content.
- You may not reach as diverse an audience as you wish due to your site’s demographics.
- You may be losing the opportunity to attract links if your site is not a popular one.
Content types and where they go
Let’s look at three different types of common content and explore where they should be housed and why.
Evergreen content that will be updated. I’d keep this on my own site unless I got no traffic whatsoever. It’s much easier to be in control of updates. Evergreen content can also attract some really good links, so I’d opt for having those links pointed to my own site. For example, if I had a site that sold ceiling fans and had a how-to guide on choosing and installing ceiling fans that contained step-by-step instructions and videos, I’d never want that to go on anyone else’s site. instead of my own.
One-off pieces. If you can find a really relevant place for a one-off piece, I’d place it on that site and not my own. For example, if I were to write an article about the best free WordPress plug-ins to use, I’d see if I could put that on a site that is about WordPress or web design rather than on my site, which is only about link building.
Lists of resources. I’d keep the main list on my own site and try to contribute pieces of that list, or possibly a slightly different list, to other sites. If this is on your own site, it’s also much easier to update. For example, if I had a list of the best content creation tools, I’d keep that on my own site and maybe create lists such as “Top 10 free content creation tools of 2018” on another site.
Don’t forget social platforms!
Social networking platforms like LinkedIn and Medium can generate a lot of good traffic. You can use Twitter to tweet out tips and news, participate in Facebook groups or use Facebook posts. These platforms are great for traffic and getting feedback in the way of comments on your content.
Content is not just articles. You can do infographics, podcasts, transcripts of podcasts, case studies, survey results, slide decks and more. Mix it up; all content is great for bringing some qualified traffic, and that is the most important thing of all.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.