Content too Expensive? How to Get Links, Traffic & Engagement Nonetheless

Bugatti Veyron, the most expensive supercar*

Prominent SEO experts say that we’re all in the content business now. No matter if you are an SEO or a business person selling other products or services you can’t just set up an empty site and act in a vacuum anymore.

Content is how you get links, traffic and engagement these days. Many people still prefer the low level old school SEO approach though: building links without creating incentives to get them organically.

I can understand the “no content” approach, after all who wants to create expensive content for mighty Google to index and monetize it for free?

Many business owners will also argue that content is not their business, they don’t care for it and even in case they do they don’t have the resources aka money to invest in it. High quality or even viral content takes time and effort like successful content campaigns show.

Ideally we want to combine the best of both worlds, the

  • links
  • traffic
  • engagement

that great content will bring with it without the cost of creating all of it yourself. The solution is not content automation or even more advanced linking schemes. Unless of course you wan to risk another Google update hangover sooner or later.

We want to convince people to create content for us by establishing a win to win situation for both parties, the content creator and the content publisher (us in this case).

5C: Community Curated, Created and Contributed Content

You have probably heard about so called UGC aka User Generated Content. It’s a fairly technocratic term meaning something like: we will treat people like robots to make real robots rank us higher for people. It’s a pretty selfish and exploitative concept we’ve seen work for many years on social media. The end is near though.

People are getting increasingly frustrated with companies selling their content or making money with it while the content creators don’t see a dime.

There is even a new hugely popular startup out there capitalizing on this issue. The first social networking and publishing platform offering content creators the opportunity to charge for the content they provide is called Pheed.

You don’t have to share revenue with content creators. You can offer other incentives for them to contribute.

First forget about the UGC term. Don’t think about users, think about people. Don’t think about generating content, think about content creation. Ideally do not think about content either which itself is a technocratic term. Content is not a term real people use. They say

  2. images
  3. poems
  4. photos
  6. songs
  7. videos

Instead focus on what you should really be after: I call it 5C or community curated, created and contributed content.

We still do have to call it “content” to summarize all the types of things people do share on the Web but we’ll remember from now on what we’re talking about.

In order to demonstrate how 5C works I will take an example close to home: SEOmoz.

  • How does SEOmoz empower the community to curate, create and contribute content?
  • What benefits do these contributors get from providing their content to SEOmoz?

Let’s look at some of the actual techniques they use:

  1. profile pages
  2. directory listings
  3. UGC section and promotion to HP
  4. ranking factors
  5. niche social news community

Tad Chef's SEOmoz profile
1. Profile Pages

Everybody can get a user profile on SEOmoz. I have one. It even ranks top 10 when you search for me using the [tad chef] search query on

My SEOmoz profile ranks at #8 right below the blogs I have written for, an interview with myself on the most important Canadian search blog and my most active social media profiles.

So the incentive is to show up on Google for your own name. You can call it ORM or online reputation management. You also get karma points for each public activity on SEOmoz like commenting for example. On top of that active users with 200+ points get a real link without the nofollow attribute.


2. Directory Listings

SEOmoz used to have an SEO services directory. I also had an entry there. After Google has repeatedly cracked down on low quality directories the SEOmoz team has decided that is hasn’t the means to keep up high enough quality standards to maintain it.

SEOmoz removed the open directory and replaced it with a manually edited one that lists some of the most renowned SEO industry experts along with some friends of the SEOmoz owners.

Of course these people are interested in the success of SEOmoz which then also makes them appear in a good light. They will promote SEOmoz whenever they can. Some link back to SEOmoz right from their homepages to show that they are an SEOmoz recommended service provider.

3. UGC section and promotion to HP

The YOUmoz section of the SEOmoz SEO blog is dedicated to user contribute articles. The key incentive to contribute there is not just the appearance on the SEOmoz domain, it’s also the opportunity to get featured on the main SEO blog.

The best contributed articles will be promoted to the main blog and get huge attention there. Again the authority link from the SEOmoz domain is an advantage here too.

Of course you could simply publish your article on your own site as an SEO but on SEOmoz you get in front of a much bigger audience. Also you get the seal of approval of even being able to show up there.

4. Ranking Factors

Every year SEOmoz is providing an update on the Google ranking factors. They don’t simply write an article about them. They collect opinions from a select few of SEO experts who pride themselves being the contributors.

Guess who will share the SEOmoz ranking factors once the list is complete? Of course the contributing experts will be among the first to spread the news. So they not only do the actual work for SEOmoz, they also take care of the promotion.

There is nothing wrong with that as being on this expert panel is considered as important as the knighthood in the UK. So the SEOs actively participating here won’t feel cheated. Both sides gain popularity. Nobody loses in this equation.

profiles ranking

5. Niche Social News Community

While SEOmoz itself has a really active community onsite, mostly commenting and contributing UGC articles there still was no neutral ground to share or curate the latest news. They could have set up a forum like other sites but what they did was to establish a separate niche social news community: is not just a SEOmoz project. It’s a broader community by design, covering other marketing topics as well that get less attention on SEOmoz itself.

One of two founders is Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz. Nonetheless the community that is active on SEOmoz itself also shows up to a large part on

SEOmoz articles get regularly submitted to and in most cases get also popular.

Of course it took years to establish and nurture the engagement on SEOmoz.

Also the traffic is not only a result of the above strategies. Despite that these techniques are proven ways of getting links, traffic and engagement. Ultimately they will also lead to more sales.

There are people who claim that the SEOmoz software is not the best one but it’s probably the most well known one globally. The popularity pays. 5C plays a crucial role in this success.

Just one or two of the SEOmoz strategies will allow you to improve your overall online presence.

Implementing user profiles is the easiest addition of these. It takes time and effort to create these community incentives but at the end of the day it takes less money than doing all by yourself.

Setting up an editorial team to provide compelling content on a regular basis isn’t cheaper for sure. Likewise using Fiverr for content creation is not a long term strategy to get authority.

* Creative Commons image by Benoit cars.