Needless to say, the competition in SEO is fierce no matter the domain.
Google’s top search rankings have been dominated by big players. The most popular search terms belong to 15-ish companies that own big networks of authoritative sites linking to each other.
They can pass link juice around and dominate trending keywords in a new niche in a matter of months, leaving almost no space for smaller players.
Not to mention all the SEO junkies that act on every Google update and optimize their sites down to the smallest detail.
As such, making the first Google page for even long-tail, low-search-volume terms can take forever for small businesses, freelancers, or solo entrepreneurs that have sites with a low domain authority (DA) rank and presumably no SEO support.
But there’s a workaround I call “syndicated SEO content”.
My SEO “aha” moment
The other day I was reviewing an archive of my client’s SEO articles and their rankings. A whole lot of articles didn’t even make the top-30 positions because the competition had much higher DA ranks.
Since we were syndicating more newsworthy content to high-profile publications likes Forbes, Business Insider, I thought, “why don’t we try more evergreen and long-form content on those sites?.”
My intention was to drive some traffic to our site in the short term and then reuse those articles for other SEO efforts.
As expected, the articles did drive some short-term traffic. But unexpectedly, we kept receiving more and more traffic from them over time, which was out of the ordinary for those publications.
Then I looked up the articles on Moz…
In the span of several weeks, these articles made it to the first pages for the keywords we optimized them for on our site. And that’s because our media partners had DA ranks of 85+, which allowed us to outstrip the competition.
Unintentionally, we used them as high DA proxies for our SEO efforts.
In hindsight, it’s seems so obvious. But obvious things often get overlooked when you are deeply immersed in your field.
The SEO article doesn’t have to reside on your page
I know the mantra of content marketers: don’t build property on someone else’s land. That especially holds true in the SEO field, as your syndicated content eventually starts competing with the originals on your site.
But look, if there’s an opportunity to compete for a keyword with a monthly volume of 10,000+ searches by placing your content on someone else’s land, isn’t it worth it?
The good part of it is that the buyer’s journey stays almost intact. People read an article, find a call-to-action (CTA) at the bottom, which links to a lead magnet on your site. Isn’t it the same with content posted on your site?
Of course, you can optimize your article pages better by customizing and visualizing the CTA, setting up exit-intent pop-ups and more. But what can you do with your highly optimized page for conversions if it is not receiving traffic?
It’s clear that potential gains of syndicated SEO content outweigh its downsides for those on the lower part of the DA spectrum.
Use only high DA sites as proxies
Now, not all the sites work the magic. If you want to get the most out of syndicated SEO content, you have to go after the most authoritative and credible sites in your domain.
I personally use Moz and their domain authority (DA) metric to evaluate potential sites for syndication. Your goal is the first page, and more precisely, the first three positions, as the click-through rate drops below a mere eight after the 3d ranking (see the chart below).
As such, in most cases, you are shooting for sites with a DA of 80 or higher.
For perspective, here are the DA ranks of several highly credible sites:
www.forbes.com — DA: 96
www.contently.com— DA: 71
Make sure you use effective CTAs
Another key to the success of syndicated SEO content is the quality of CTAs in the article. Since the content doesn’t reside on your site, you are limited to text CTAs, which are not the best type of plugs to catch attention.
But still, there are ways to achieve damn good click-through rates if you are doing it right. (For some reference, I managed to achieve a CTR of five percent with a CTA on sites like Forbes. Please note that I’m not adding visits to related articles in this figure, which would pump it up twice.)
Now, let’s get back to the topic.
First, you have to understand that the majority of the audience will just glance through the article and spend no more than 10–30 seconds on it, according to multiple studies.
For those people, we want to include a bold CTA that visually stands out from the rest of the article. To that end, I use a CTA note at the bottom with a bolded subhead, a short paragraph about the offer followed by a sentence that entices to take action now.
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Some readers, however, will dive deeper into your article, for whom we need something more organic. To that end, I use one or several subtle contextual CTAs inline with the text. If the publication’s link policy allows me, I bold them.
…your lead magnets must contain five important elements if you want to achieve a high conversion rate. (I discuss them in depth in my free eBook, 5 lead Magnets that Convert. Download it here)
This kind of CTAs also serves another purpose. Since a CTA note is placed at the bottom, inline CTAs cover the audience that will not make it to the bottom—that’s going to be the bulk of the audience.
In addition to these two types of CTAs, I include links to related content on my sites.
It’s a no-brainer to post SEO content on your site and leave it there if you have a high DA rank that can compete for keywords with a decent volume of searches in your domain.
But if you are just starting out or have a low-DA site that can’t beat the competition in this respect, this is a good workaround.
I know, getting featured on sites like Forbes is hard and it’s a completely different topic I won’t dive into now. But achieving a DA rank that is not even close to theirs takes way more time and resources.
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