Put Your Stamp on Linked Content

It’s hard to write completely original articles and blog posts, especially when you need to create new content frequently to appease your readers and the search engines. Plagiarism is out of the question, of course. Is there any kind of shortcut to getting fresh, current content on your website? Yes and no.

I really hesitate to call the approaches I’m going to describe here “shortcuts.” The problem is that they can easily be abused and become simply “article spinning.” And in fact, the approaches I’m going to discuss do require real thought and work on your part. But if you’re working on some really good, original content for your website, and need to put something fast up in the meantime, these ideas can help.

I’m going to assume that you regularly browse the news online, and that you also use online resources to keep abreast of developments in your field. If you don’t,  you should; I can think of no faster way to stay current. Bookmark several good news sites as well as some blogs by noted experts in your business. Spend some time every day reading headlines, and read more in-depth when something captures your attention.

On this point, at least, I’m probably preaching to the choir. Every good SEO reads up on the field daily – and not just the field of SEO. If you’re doing SEO for a new client, you need to become an “instant expert” in that niche. Once you know what  your readers care about the most, you can start seeking it out.

What do you do when you find it? Well, as I said in the introduction, you can’t plagiarize. But you can link. And you can talk about whatever you’re linking to. What you say and how you say it depends on your own field, perspective, the needs of your website, and your readers.

Let me give you an example. Michael Martinez recently wrote about a new form of blog comment spam. This spam appears to come from real people, with apparently confirmed Gmail accounts. They don’t drop any links, and they don’t quote from the original article on which they’re commenting. But they tend to comment on older posts. Martinez believes that these spammers are attempting to create personas for a new breed of black hat SEO – one that uses Google’s new reliance on social media clues against it. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this is what is going on, as it sounds like an extension of what I’ve seen happening in various forums: users sign up and make relatively basic comments, attempting to build a “persona” that they can use for some kind of promotional purposes later.

Okay, do you see what I just did in the previous paragraph? I linked to Martinez’s article, summarized it, and added my own observation about the phenomena. (By the way, I have to admit that I didn’t do Martinez justice here; it’s worth reading the piece yourself if you’re at all interested in a really in-depth analysis of what’s going on and the possible purposes behind it). If you want to help promote a conversation on your site – and who doesn’t? – you can add a question to the end of your opinion to find out what your readers think. In the paragraph above, I might have asked if anyone else had noted any suspicious comments on their blog posts (especially older posts) and what, if anything, they were doing about it.

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Good writers and good bloggers have been using the approach I just described for years. It’s a great way to get an audience engaged, and it helps to fill in when you don’t have time to write a really long post. If you’re willing to put in some extra work, though, you can make your post a lot more original if you use the link as a jumping-off point for a longer, related article.

This approach can help you boost the original content for your website, especially when you want to write something original but feel stuck for a topic. As SEO Chat forum regular Jbacchi explained in a recent thread, “pick something out of the article that you can write an article on or expand on an issue in the article.”

How would this work? Jbacchi gives the following example: “There was recently a news story about a study on the relationship between women on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast cancer. I was able to write an article about considering HRT when you have a family history of breast cancer. Because of the recent study, it helped people find my article.” This is a great way to tie news into your website’s content, and get a boost in traffic.

Although the study Jbacchi linked to in her article showed up as news, the topic she wrote about – considering HRT when your family has a history of breast cancer – is evergreen. It’s becoming more relevant over time as baby boomers age (and more women reach menopause), but it’s not tied to any one particular season. If you can tie a news story into content that never grows old, you’re in great shape; you won’t have to worry about being out of date.

News items about recalls can be spun into perennial content by focusing on the safety issue that prompted the recall. That works for cars, children’s toys, and even cat food. SEO Chat forum member Dr.Marie, a veterinarian, took advantage of this when “there was recently a recall on a particular brand of cat food because it may have low thiamine levels,” she explained. “I wrote a brief news story about the recall, but expanded the story to write about the symptoms of thiamine deficiency. Stuff like that has lasting power.”

You don’t need to be serious all the time, though – and in fact, you shouldn’t. Consider the sorts of items that people online like to share and pass along to their friends. Dr.Marie is in a great position, of course; as a veterinarian, practically any funny animal video on YouTube is fair game. But if you can’t find something that’s funny and appropriate, people also enjoy passing along inspirational items or stories about amazing accomplishments. Videos that show particularly difficult feats of athletic prowess or other skills (dancing, juggling, take your pick) always seem to find an audience. Whatever approach you take, make sure that what you link to is the sort of thing that readers will want to share with their friends. They’ll take it from there. Good luck! 

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