Where Should I Publish My Content for the Best Results?
The answer is not always clear: Should you create great content and put it on someone else’s site, or keep the best content on your website? In this article, I’ll explain the factors that you need to consider if you want to produce the best results from the time and effort you put into your content.
Expertise, Authority and Trust: 3 Golden SEO Rules
Before we dive into whether to publish on your site or another site for the best results, let’s talk a little bit about the concept of E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness). This will help set the stage for our conversation.
E-A-T is a concept forged by Google that shows up in its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines (SQEG). Google uses E-A-T within the SQEG as a guideline to evaluate website quality.
The SQEG allows Google to better understand if the changes it’s making to its search algorithms are producing quality results. This can act as a feedback loop for Google engineers to make further tweaks to the algorithm.
If a brand wants to be relevant in the search results and drive traffic, E-A-T is something every website should strive for.
For more on E-A-T, read our Complete Guide to the Fundamentals of E-A-T.
To briefly summarize, let’s look at two key elements of E-A-T important to our discussion here today: expertise and authoritativeness.
- Expertise is one way Google assesses quality, and it mainly has to do with the expertise of the content creator.
- Authoritativeness (shortened to authority) builds on expertise and takes three things into account: 1. The authority of the content creator, 2. The authority of the content itself, and 3. The authority of the website as a whole. To achieve authority, one must be a recognized expert in the field on the matter, whether a brand or a person. Links and mentions are important contributors, though not mentioned directly in the SQEG.
Why E-A-T matters when considering where to publish: You cannot build your website’s expertise and authority without great content and great links. If you do not have expert and authoritative content, your site has less of a chance of ranking in the search results.
We also know that links serve a role in building your authority. Let’s briefly talk about links next.
Links: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Many website publishers mistakenly think that the more links you have, the better positioned you will be. That is not true. It’s about the quality of your link profile as a whole. We have seen sites with fewer than 100 quality links beat sites with 10,000 mediocre links.
Still, many brands believe that building links by publishing content on other sites will help them build their authority.
“Link building” is not the way to be thinking about acquiring links. In fact, when someone asked Google’s John Mueller if link building in any way was good, he said:
In general, I’d try to avoid that … We do use links as part of our algorithm but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site than it actually helps.
Instead, Google wants you to build high-quality content that people want to link to and share. That way, you earn backlinks naturally. Of course, SEO is an excellent strategy to drive traffic to your website so that people discover your content.
About links from guest posts: When it comes to guest posting for links, back in 2013, Google’s John Mueller advised to <nofollow> links from guest posts.
I think one thing you could probably do is to think about whether or not this is a link that … would be on that side if it weren’t for your actions there. And especially when it comes to guest blogging that’s something where you’re essentially placing links on other people’s sites together with this content, so that’s something I kind of shy away from purely from a link building point of view. I think sometimes it can make sense to kind of guest blog on other people’s sites and drive some traffic to your website — if the people really like what you’re writing and kind of interested in the topic and they click through that link to come to your website but those are probably the cases where you’d want to use something like a rel nofollow on those links …
Then in 2014, former Googler Matt Cutts said to stop it with the spammy guest posting strategies.
In other words, if you want to contribute content as a way to add value to a community, fine. But don’t expect it to build quality links nor boost your website’s authority.
And remember that Google is smart. It can detect if your guest posting strategy is a way to manipulate links, which would leave you open to a manual penalty.
How links factor into where to publish: You want to build authority and you need links. But there are good links, bad links and downright ugly links. The good links you earn naturally by creating great content on your site that people want to link to. The bad or ugly links are usually those that come out of a “link building” program.
Your Website vs. Their Website
At this point, it should be clear that in order to build the expertise and authority of your website, you need expert content that people want to link to.
Now let me explicitly answer the question of publishing on your website versus others. Lots of brands believe they need to get their content out there on other networks so that they can build a name, get links and clients.
I believe that giving away all your best content to other sites is a mistake, and here’s why.
When you create expert content and put it on someone else’s site, what you are doing is building that website’s expertise, not yours. You are driving traffic and potential revenue away from your site and onto someone else’s.
I’m not downplaying the value that sharing content in other communities can have. But it’s not a solid SEO strategy (and it might not even be a good business strategy).
Say you publish an article on someone else’s website. You may get a link, but it may be a <nofollow>. Let’s say the article on their site gets 1,000 views. Maybe a few of those people actually go to your bio and click through to your site.
Meanwhile, their site gets the credit for expert content, ranking in the search results, engagement and more … and you get a few visits.
On the other hand, if you create the content, optimize it and publish it on your site, you build the expertise of your website. And then you can earn natural, quality links because people want to share your content.
Bonus: You get to keep all the potential rankings, traffic and revenue as a result. Those 1,000 visitors are all yours.
It’s for all of these reasons that we believe strongly that your content should be on your own site.
Of course, this requires a content strategy and SEO. And that, in turn, requires keywords and a strong content architecture with siloing strategy. And that requires persona development, and the list goes on. Not to mention that high-authority links often come as a result of other brand-building activities — many of which originate offline.
The Bottom Line
You need to create quality, optimized content on your site. The byproducts include building expertise and driving traffic to your site. And having shareable content is how you attract links to build authority. All other efforts that take your time and focus away from this publishing strategy are largely a waste.