Please don’t tell me all your best content is on your website.

by Nick Usborne on March 2, 2011

I mean, that’s so 2005.

Back then, it was just about OK to point at your sitemap and say, “There it is. There’s all of our best content, right there.”

But not today.

How come? Because your readers and prospects want to find at least some of your content where they are, not where you are.

Traditional online publishing involved creating a site architecture that would allow you to add hundreds and then thousands of pages for your readers to find and read.

Also, having all that content in one place makes life easy from an SEO point of view. It’s easier to manage and optimize thousands of pages when they are all under one roof.

But…times have changed.

Not everyone wants to come to your site to find your content. They don’t want to have to find your site, learn how it works, figure out where to find the content they want…and then remember to come back one day.

They would rather find your content in the places they go to every day.

Places like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Scribd, StumbleUpon, and on their smartphones.

Yes, this is a huge shift from how people used to use the web five years ago. But this is how people are spending their time online today…so you need to push some of your content out to where people are focusing their attention.

Put simply, you need to get over that feeling that all your best content “belongs” on your website. And get past the sense that if you don’t publish all your content on your site, you might somehow be diminishing its value. These are old-school concerns, and we need to get past them.

Some of your best content has to go to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and so on.

In fact, this shift in focus on where your best content should reside is even changing the way we should think about the core navigation of our own websites and blogs – and what we want people to do when they arrive at our sites.

Take a quick peek at this Tumblr blog.

Now take a closer look. Do you see the horizontal navigation tabs?

These are primary navigation links – where people traditionally look to decide on which site page to visit next.

But these links are not pointing to internal pages, they are pointing outside of the blog altogether, to Kate Spade social media pages, including FourSquare.

Why would they do that? Because some of their most valuable content isn’t on the blog at all.

I’m not suggesting that we should all rush to follow exact the same path. (And Kate Spade does also have a traditional website.)

But I am recommending that you need to place some of your best content in the places where your readers spend most of their time…and that probably isn’t on your site, it’s on social media sites.

Then, once you have a significant body of quality content off-site, it‘s time to help your visitors find that content through highly visible links on your own site.

One way or another, get past the belief that quality content has to have a place within the permanent architecture of your site in order to deliver value.

Content delivers value only when it is read…and if it is more likely to be read on your social media pages, that’s where it should go.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Gail Gardner March 2, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Hi Nick,

While I applaud you for thinking outside the box, I would not go overboard about putting too much content on sites you do not control. I agree that we must go where our readers and potential new readers are; however, instead of putting full versions of your best content on Social Media sites, why not just put excerpts or descriptions on those sites to bring your readers back to your site?

There is great risk at putting your content on Social Media sites. The largest and most popular have been known to ban individuals who have done nothing wrong and * poof * there goes all your hard work and followers in a flash…

…UNLESS you had attracted them back to your site and onto your mailing list in which case you WILL lose all you have put on StumbleUpon or in Facebook or elsewhere BUT they won’t be able to take away the most important benefit of the time you spent on their site: your relationships.

Rachel Parker March 2, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Another great post — thanks, Nick!

I think another advantage social media outposts have over a traditional website is the ominous date stamp. Unlike a Web page, every blog post, YouTube video, tweet, and FaceBook note shows the reader exactly when it was put out there. It’s like a shiny gold star for those who keep their content current and a “busted” stamp for those who don’t.

terrance March 5, 2011 at 12:47 am

Nick,

Great point. I’m building a new WP site and will take your points into consideration with my content splits.

Along the same lines, look at the sig line on an email I received today.

Brilliant.

You won’t be able to tell from my cut and paste, but each of the social media site buttons, plus her website was hyperlinked to the named site.

I’ve never seen this done so cleanly and only reinforces your point more.
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Eunice Coughlin March 8, 2011 at 8:00 am

Nick,

I see your point but I have to agree with Gail. Content on social media sites belongs to them, not you. By that I mean, it’s their server. There’s nothing stopping them from removing your best content on a whim. As Gail suggests, it might be better to publish a small snippet and link back to your own site. And I still believe that Google honors sites with lots and lots of pages.

Nick Usborne March 8, 2011 at 8:27 am

Eunice, hi

I disagree. I think what you describe is the old-school mindset – make people come to your site. But what people actually want to do is consume content in the places where they choose to go and spend their time…and they spend their time on Facebook, YouTube etc. Yes, this is a huge shift. But ultimately, we have no choice but to go where our customers are.

Nick

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