Posted by Sam Battin, Senior Search Specialist (Natural Search)
Distribution has to do with controlling the largest possible amount of real estate on search engine results pages. The major search engines will only show two results for your native Web site per query. But what if you could take your content off your site and optimize it so that it shows up in additional places on the search results page besides the links to your domain? Distribution through RSS feeds, video channels and other aggregator sites is a great way to control messaging, manage reputation, and push your competitors’ rankings down.
For example, an optimized Facebook “fan” page for your company can be created. This “fan” page may show up in search engine results pages on queries for your brand. The fan page would be created within Facebook by the company, where they would have the majority of control over messaging.
A custom YouTube channel is another way to distribute content off-site. YouTube channels also come with a revenue share from the ads that YouTube runs on your channel. Publishers like CBS, the NBA, and the presidential candidates use YouTube channels to upload their video content, which in turn ranks on the search results page for a variety of terms associated with that content. YouTube.com is a well-optimized site for video content, and search engines’ “Universal Search” efforts increase the likelihood that YouTube video results will appear in regular search results pages.
In theory, a Web site could have two native results, two YouTube channel results, and maybe even a Facebook/MySpace fan page result ranked on the first search results page for a certain term. Search engine users looking for information about your brand will always have a wide variety of sites with this information; an optimized distribution network will mean more sites in search results pages where the authentic voice of your company may appear.
Optimizing press releases, syndicating articles to other sites, having an off-site blog hosted by a site like TypePad, and structuring your news content so that it is picked up in Google News (which also can appear in Universal Search) are other ways to distribute your content and get it ranked on the engines. Distributing content to social bookmarking sites like Digg can also get the Digg posting ranked. Popularity on social bookmarking sites can also increase exposure and improve the chance that more people will link to your content, possibly improving the PageRank score for your native site.
Having off-site content that you have some control over is not only a powerful way to increase brand awareness and dominate the search results, but also provides the opportunity to manage your reputation if some bad news should get out about your brand. Having a YouTube channel, fan page, optimized press release, or off-site blog can serve to push down results that are detrimental to your brand, as well as provide a place for your company’s official response to appear. It’s always good to have a network of sites in your arsenal to put out a positive brand message if you need to quickly drown out criticism.