A quick note:

I created a draft of this post weeks before the Penguin Update from Google.  While many people are still dealing with the aftermath of Penguin and Panda, building backlinks by syndicating your documents and articles via document sharing sites is still a great way to be heard…and pick up a backlink or two along the way.

Most people know that in order to rank for certain terms in the search engines like Google, they need to build quality, keyword specific backlinks to their website…but, don’t know where to start.

Enter this series of posts where I will walk you through great, free backlink ideas that anyone with a computer, website/webpage (there is a difference) to promote, and an internet connection can do when they have some time.

Quality Backlinks From Quality Content

First, lets talk a little bit about content.  Content has always been and will always be king.  In my opinion, if you want long-term, lasting backlinks then you need to create good content.  This is not hard if you: 1) are know a lot about your product/industry 2) are passionate about what you do.  By creating good content, be it a report, how-to, review, video, podcast, or blog post, you are giving yourself a great platform for quality backlinks (as well as doing a host of other things like building your authority).

More important than the “backlink opportunity” is that you might get someone to read / watch /listen to your content that you would not otherwise have been able to get in front of had you not posted your document on this site.  That IS the goal.  The backlink is really a side-benefit.  Keeping this in mind with all of your link building efforts will pay dividends.

In short, I am going to assume that you are not reading this because you are lazy and uninterested in what you are doing with your online venture(s).  If you are looking for quick link ideas so that you can build links to your Acai Berry affiliate page, sorry…but, I am gearing this towards people will real, unique content.

Building Links With Document Sharing Sites

With that out of the way, let’s talk about today’s idea: Building Backlinks With Document Sharing Sites.

Why Document Sharing Sites?

Document sharing sites are a great way to publish your content in a professional format or simply in a different format.  You can share PDF files, Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files.  You can share simple text or RDF files.  There are a host of other file formats that many document sharing sites support, but it really is not important to list all of them here.  What is important is that the major search engines (and a bunch of smaller ones) have the ability to parse or read these files.  It is also important to realize that using one of these formats might be a big help to a potential user or customer.

For example, you might have a checklist put together for traveling with a small child.  Using the PDF format would be great to use because when people print it out, it retains your original format and layout.  Printing from a web page will probably not do that.  Maybe you have created a Powerpoint presentation that explains the benefits and features of your new product…this might be a great way for you to present your product to a new customer or client.

In my mind, and this is simply my own opinion, it also seems more natural to me that if you are really in business, you will have content created in a host of different formats that can be found all over the internet.  If you are a car stereo manufacturer, it would stand to reason that your installation manuals, product brochures, press releases, catalog(s), product lists, price sheets, promotional videos, podcasts, radio ads (audio), and any number of other items would be found on retail, personal, and other websites.  As someone who has always been working with search engine optimization, I have always tried to think about what would make any website look “natural.”  Publishing content beyond basic HTML is something any company is and has been doing.

The reality is, these are another great opportunity to get your content seen.  AND, it is a great and legitimate way to get a backlink to your site.

List of Document Sharing Sites

I am writing this post in Mid September, 2011…and this list is sure to change and evolve as time goes by.  A good way of finding sites to submit to is to use the “related” operator in Google (here is a great guide to Google search operators).  Once you have a good site that you like to use, type in related:websiteyoulike.com on Google.  You will get a list of websites that are probably good candidates for you to submit to.  Here is a list of sites that you may want to post your content to:

  1. Scribd
  2. Docstoc
  3. Google Docs
  4. issuu
  5. box.net
  6. 4shared.com
  7. esnips
  8. mediafire
  9. Zoho
  10. Docshare
  11. authorstream
  12. divshare
  13. slideshare
  14. yudu

This is by no means the end-all-be-all list of document sharing sites.  This is just a starting point.  If you are looking for sites to share Powerpoint presentations, then search for “powerpoint sharing” or “powerpoint sites”.  You can even use the “filetype” operator and search for Powerpoint documents in Google (filetype:.ppt).

What Should I Publish?

We touched on some ideas of things you can publish above in the talk about your assets.  Anything that is or could be of value to your clients or customers…or to anyone really, is something you should consider publishing.  But, don’t just start submitting stuff willy nilly.  Read over everything you are considering publishing.  Be sure that there is a way for people to get more information, know how/where to order your product, sign up for your newsletter, or whatever you are trying to get them to ultimately do in at least one, prominent location in the document, video, or audio.  Give them a little blurb about you or your product and with a link using descriptive anchor text.  Don’t just whip through this without much thought.  You will be surprised at how much traffic this stuff can generate.

If you are really good, you can use Google’s URL builder so that you can track every link in every document (if you are using Google Analytics).  Yes, you will get your link juice using this stuff…it may just take a little bit longer to kick in.  Having this information is great.  Or, you can leave out the Google URLs. I have seen one person in particular mention that he doesn’t think it is a good idea.

Submitting Content

There is never a substitute for doing something yourself.  The reality is, nobody will do something as well as you will.  But, there are a number of different options when it comes to submitting your documents to these sites:

  1. Do it yourself – Yeah, this is the best option, but submitting to these sites can get pretty boring.  Worse is actually setting up the accounts…see below for help with that.
  2. Pay someone to do it for you – There are tons of people out there who are waiting to take your money to submit documents for you.  IF you go this route, be sure that you will get a detailed list of what was submitted, to what site, when, and the document URL so that you can make sure the document is available online and can be found.
  3. Use software to submit – This is probably going to have the lowest success rate, but can obviously cover a lot more ground than you or the human you are going to pay to do it for you can.  The reality is, most of the people you might pay are probably using some kind of submission software.  There are a couple of big software platforms out there
    • SE Nuke – I am not a subscriber…it just felt a little slimey to me when I went to check it out.  It has a ton of features beyond simple submissions…but, I cannot speak to it as I do not subscribe to the service.
    • Magic Submitter – This is a much lower cost alternative to SE Nuke, and I have seen it work.  However, I think the days of automatic submissions is really numbered.  Completion rates/success rates for these applications is not good. And, if you are writing real content (like you should be) then you want every single submission to work, right? Do it manually.

 Rich Snippets

One final thought for those of you wondering why you want to publish your hard work on someone else’s site.  There are a number of good reasons that come to mind.  First, diversity.  While some people (like Warren Buffet) think diversification is not a good idea, in this case, I think it has merit.  Not only are you able to leverage the authority of some of these big document sharing sites, but you are also making sure you do not have all of your eggs in one basket.

Today, with Google’s Penguin update giving many webmasters pause, those who published real, quality content (not spun articles) on 3rd party sites may have more traffic coming their way than they did before Penguin, or more than they would have had they only published content on their site.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in building a strong website with great content as the cornerstone, but diversifying with 10 or 20 percent of the content you create is not a bad idea.

The point of this section though is to talk about Rich Snippets.  You can add Rich Snippets authorship to many 3rd party sites…and I don’t see any reason why it will not be a part of just about all of them soon. So, this is a great time to get on this before everyone is doing it.

 

 

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