Mixing Viral Content With Business Content – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Aaron Wheeler

 A site can be a lot like a mullet: business in front, party in the back. How do you muss it all up and keep a site in style? Any given website naturally attracts a broad set of visitors, and herding that diverse audience onto the right pages is a huge undertaking (as you know, it’s something to consider when doing site infrastructure SEO, etc.). This funneling gets even more difficult when there are some pages of a site that are pure linkbait, completely divorced from relevance to the rest of the site. This week, Rand discusses site infrastructure – how and when to homogenize a site, and when to keep things separated. Let us know your thoughts and strategies in the comments below!


Video Transcription

Howdy, SEOmoz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re talking about mixing your viral content with your business content. Now, what we mean by this is really you have some content on your website that is primarily meant for your business, for your customers, for people who are researching your products or your services, and then you have this other content on your website that is often more marketing focused. It is designed to drive new traffic, to get links in, to get social shares, to have all these good things happen around your website. That’s a big part of what content marketing and all of organic and inbound marketing is about.

So, I want you to imagine that you are this guy – Mr. Pest Control. Now, Mr. Pest Control has a great variety. He offers services, he has products. You can buy little bug traps from him. You can call him up and he will come to your place of business or residence and help you with your bug problems. Mr. Pest Control is a pretty awesome guy, and he has a great website. But he is trying to decide, boy, you know, I have these two kinds of content. I have this content, in orange here, the Bug Catcher 3X7B, which is a phenomenal bug catcher. I just scratched that bug. Let’s just scratch him again. See, we’re trying to eliminate bugs. You can see it is a square box with four prongs, so that must do a great job of catching bugs. My illustrations aside, this content is really designed for like, "Oh, I am looking to learn about this product. I want to see how this service works." It is customer focused. It is not the kind of thing that is usually going to generate a lot of links. Yeah, someone might find that page and hopefully he has done a great job of making it a very compelling page. It has good pictures and images, better than the ones I have done here, good content. So, people might link to it.

But what he does have is things like, oh, you know, I am running this blog and I write about things that are interesting to me as a pest control guy, including things like Top 10 Cities with Bad Bug Problems in Hotels. There are hotels, there are some bugs, and they are invading the hotel. It’s kind of adorable. My illustrations, you know, they get the point across. These two buildings don’t have any windows. That’s a little sad. Maybe they’re, I don’t know, penitentiaries or something.

But, in any case, this type of content and this type of content are really two separate things. So, Mr. Pest Control might think to himself, oh, I know what I am going to do. I am going to have two different websites, or I am going to have a different design. I will just do a WordPress installation and throw them on there. Mixing the two in smart ways is a hard thing to do, and a lot of people get it wrong. That is why this Whiteboard Friday is here to help.

So some less ideal things that you can do, some things that I would really recommend or bias against. Separate subdomains or separate domains. If he goes with blog.MrPest.com, let’s say MrPest.com is his domain, eh, not great. I would kind of tell Mr. Pest, "If you can, get it over there to that subfolder." Mr. Pest’s blog? No. Just out. One of the things that people do is they think to themselves, well, you know, it is important to get external links. So if I have this separate domain, I will just build up the link authority to Mr. Pest’s blog.com, and then all I have to do is link from MrPestBlog to MrPest, and that will pass all my link juice. What they forget is that does not give you a whole lot of domain diversity, right? I don’t want to have a situation where I have one domain with lots of other links pointing to it and then that’s the only link to my main site. That’s a terrible idea. This is not going to earn you rankings. It’s not going to get you the traffic you want. All the good metrics and signals are going to exist on this site, not this one. That sucks. You don’t want that. Same story with separate design and navigation. If the orange content, which remember is our business content here, has, oh, you know, there is the left side bar and it has this nice bug logo across the top, but then you get to the blog and it’s a different logo or a different layout and different navigation style and the blog content sits in here. It is really off putting. The problem is that people will start to feel like, "Oh, I like the blog, but I don’t like this business content." When they switch context between the two, either way, business customers would come over and look at the blog or blog people who come over and look at the business content, it is not compelling in a branding sort of style to suggest to them, "Hey, I am in the same place. I am on the same site. It is written with the same voice. It is the same people. I can trust it. If I enjoy the blog, I am going to like the business content. If I like the business content, the blog might be interesting for me." You want to cross-pollinate and really have one site, not these two separate systems.

Finally, obviously manipulative cross-linking. So many times I see this where people are like, "Oh, I’ve got my blog, so I am just going to pepper in these anchor text rich links here and here, and they are going to point back over to these pages on the business side." No. What are you thinking? And it is always one way, right? It always points from the viral-type of content over to the business content. This (A) it is obvious to Google. It is obvious to users what you are trying to do. People are going to like your blog less, which defeats the purpose of having it in a lot of ways. People are not going to be coming over to the business content from there. Nobody clicks these links and really follows them unless they are hyper relevant and high quality, in which case maybe they should exist for some reason. So, as an example, like, oh, in the Top 10 Cities with Bad Bugs Hotel, I will talk about the fact that the Waldorf Astoria in New York has eliminated their bug problem and maybe in parenthesis note, "Thanks in part at least to our 3X7B," shameless plug. It’s sort of cute. It is appropriate. It makes sense. You’re recognizing that this nice hotel actually did really use their product. That’s cool. That’s a fine way to do it. But to have a list of anchor text rich links on every site on every page linking over to the pages, you’re trying to push too hard and you’re clearly manipulating for SEO purposes, not to help users.

So, let’s talk about some good things to do. Do you see how I made that switch, Casey? Are you proud of me? Aw, he’s so proud, because normally I might go like this and then I get off the screen, and it is terrible. The mechanics behind Whiteboard Friday are remarkable.

So, more ideal kinds of things. Keep it on the same domain. Use subfolders. MrPest.com/blog. Awesome. Great. Good job. You could go with MrPest.com/articles if they are less frequent. MrPest.com/resources if you’ve got other content. MrPest.com/marketplace, if you’ve got some postings that other people can submit content to and there are different participants in that realm. Q&A, right? Whatever kinds of content you’ve got, it’s fine. I would really recommend the subfolder. Same design with a well integrated UI so that when I am going across, I am not getting the sense, as a human being, not just as a search engine, right, we’re not just optimizing for search engines. Remember the search engines are trying to achieve what humans want. So we have to make it good for humans, because search engines are getting so sophisticated that it is not enough to just optimize for the crawler.

Same voice. You want that brand consistency. If I feel like, "Man, I really, really enjoyed this article. You know, this content in here was just phenomenal. But I went over here and read the Bug Catcher 3X7B, and where was that humor? Where was that good-natured, friendly openness that I felt when I read this article?" Or on the other side, "Where was that sort of brilliant snarkiness that this article brings? It is nowhere in there. It is like it is completely different." Meld those two voices. This doesn’t have to feel exactly like it, but it shouldn’t feel like a different company wrote the two pieces of content. That’s when you are going to get into branding problems and cross brand issues.

Link across intelligently. By intelligently, I don’t just mean the examples I was talking about before where, oh, okay, this hotel mentions the 3X7B, so I am going to link over there. But I mean link both ways. If this article is saying, "Hey this is something used by some of the world’s finest hotels," that might be a link that points over to the blog post and gets people out of the pure context out of, like, oh, okay, I am just buying and shopping, but oh, cool, they have this content that kind of engages me, entertains me, and educates me. Building that trust with your audience, my god, that’s so much more effective at selling whatever you are trying to sell or capturing an email address or improving the browse rate, getting people to look at more pages. Whatever your goal is, that consistency is going to make a big, big difference.

One of the last recommendations I’ve got is to not just stick to business content and blog content. Hopefully, you can see down here. So, the business content, these pages in orange and the blog content are great. But if you’re going to actually mix it up a little bit and have some of that evergreen content as well, things like a permanent resource on, hey, this is the how to for DIY basement elimination of bugs or how to check for bedbugs in hotel rooms. Here is the step-by-step process with video, pictures, images, graphics, that kind of stuff. Those evergreen resources that sit across that also earn inbound links that show the search engines and show the rest of your audience, hey, it’s not just the blog that’s good here. They have some legitimate evergreen content, some product content. Hopefully, you have a few things that people are really interested in. Maybe you have some super cool new invention or you have a video where you literally take apart a bug trap and you show people how it works. Fun stuff like this, so that people aren’t just collecting and linking to one part of your site. You don’t want to create that bias of we have an information site and we have a blog. Even in the sense of where people go and what people link to, not just in the sense of where it is located on the domain.

All right, everyone. I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I am looking forward to some great comments and questions. If you have sites that have that separation between informational and blog content and you’ve got questions about how we can help out or how we might optimize those, please feel free to put them in the comments. Look forward to reading them. Take care. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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