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Both are integral to a sustained off-site SEO campaign but which is the most powerful, useful and effective? Before I go any further, I should state that I understand authority and social sharing can go hand in hand, but generally you’ll find shareable content mainly involves pictures or amusing lists, whilst authority is relevant and important news. Outside of a major news event, these typically exist as different beings.

Authority content as a tried-and-tested method…

Authority content tends to benefit from the strongest link juice, as well as having less risk involved – the web has become flooded with infographics which have steadily lost the power they previously had – heck, even Matt Cutts has stated that such links “might get discounted in the future”. However, you simply cannot have such a thing as ‘too much news’.

Press releases as a form of authority content should be just one part of an overall off-site campaign, and  distributions should be to a number of carefully-selected and assessed wires in order to achieve the most exposure and reach as  possible. Typically, these releases will gain exposure to a high number of readers and accrue authority over time – it also provides news to other bloggers and newspapers, and ensures that our clients get the publicity that they need.

A significant benefit of press release syndication is that we are able to optimise the releases for search engines and ensure that we as an agency get the most out of them. Of course, there are outgoing costs for publication rights and it must be written with journalistic integrity, rather than just stuffing keywords into a worthless article – we aim to encourage others to cover the story in turn.

But, in this increasingly-social world, is it viral content that really hold the key to success?

Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a large number of sites that attempt to engage the reader with headlines like “This Epic Mistake In Avengers Stunned Fans!” or “Can You Spot It?

We’ve all idly clicked on these in a moment of boredom and ended up with 2 pop-ups opening onto an unknown site and getting severely distracted in the process. I like to call sites like this a ‘procrastination station’, as they don’t really offer any editorial worth and are typically there purely to accrue advertising income.

However, there is an inherent power in this where content that is in a similar format to the press release goes viral and the links within it get shared. This can also work in a format whereby the content is initially hosted on the clients domain and users link to the domain.

Perhaps the strongest advantage of shared content is that it is usually entirely natural and helps overall authority to grow – however, as the success is difficult to predict, relying on it as a guaranteed strategy is problematic. However the potential there is typically higher than that of any press release thanks to the potential number of links, as well as the power that bloggers now hold in influencing Google.

So which one actually holds the most power?

When I set out writing this article, I was sure that social content would hold the most power, but we have been spoilt by mainly hearing about the most successful pieces – and with the sheer amount of content being created every minute, these are relatively few and far between. However, in comparison, authority content is a sure-fire way of providing some benefit. However the key aspect is to do both as part of a balanced campaign that doesn’t favour any deliverable above another.

So, essentially, it’s all about taking a risk – would you rather spend weeks creating an infographic or video in the hope that it will go viral and gain mass exposure, or take the safer option with a press release?


Leave your comments below on which you’d prefer!

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Tom Clark

I am the Head of Social Search at Lakestar McCANN - a digital marketing agency specialising in SEO, PPC, Social Media, Affiliates, Display and industry news feeds. I have been in the SEO industry for 2 years now, and with Lakestar for over a year, helping to create new effective web strategies, as well as integrating social methods into existing deliverables.

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