Distribution

Last Updated: Mon May 09 2022

There’s a saying in the startup world:

First time founders are obssessed with product. Second time founders are obsessed with distribution.

This section is all about how to widen your organic reach further via distribution.

The Strategy

You’ve been doing a lot of work up until this point: creating content like blogposts, landing pages, videos on YouTube, and structuring your website for optimal crawlability.

Now, let’s switch gears a bit to outline your distribution strategy — which is to make it as easy as possible for your customers to find your content and, as a result, your product.

This section will be a lot more tactical than it is strategic.

But before we go into the tactics, there’s a few SEO concepts we need to cover as a pre-requisite.

What are Internal Links?

First, let’s talk about internal links.

Put simply, they are links from one page of your website that points to another page of your website. For example, a link from your homepage to a 2nd-level landing page is an internal link.

But how does this relate your SEO strategy?

You can strategically link to pages within your website from pages that are already ranking well on search engines.

Doing so helps pass what is called “Link Juice” to the linked page.

What is Link Juice?

Link Juice is a slang term in the industry that refers to the power that a backlink (in this case, an internal backlink) passes to another page which strengthens it’s ranking ability.

When one page is ranking highly on search engine results and it links to another page within your website, it gives that page some link juice which helps search engines know that it’s another page that should be considered for ranking as well.

Keep these concepts in mind as we go through the tactics.

The Tactics

Backlink Farming

I know, I know.

Most people would simply call this “getting backlinks”, but let’s add a more descriptive image to this process.

When building out your distribution, your goal is to attract and gather as many backlinks as possible — and it’s a lot of work, hence the farming!

As you venture off into the Internet to start farming your backlinks, you should know about the types of backlinks: do-follow, no-follow, and implied backlinks

Do-Follow Backlinks

These are the holy grail of links. When a website points back to a page on your website without specifying rel=nofollow, they are telling search engines that yes, we’d like to transfer some link juice back to the place we are linking to, and yes crawl it and check this page out.

This does wonders for your search engine rankings. It’s not an exact science — no one really knows exactly how search engines use backlinks to rank content, but they are important nonetheless.

Generally speaking, the more do-follow backlinks a website gets, the higher it’s domain authority, and the higher chance that search engines ranks it’s content well on search results pages.

No-Follow Backlinks

These are links back to your website, but the anchor text has the property rel="nofollow", which signal to search engine crawlers to ignore the link.

Now, even if it tells crawlers not to go follow through on the link…

Don’t forget that users can still click it!

If the link is relevant to the user, they could click through and end up on a page on your website. And if the content is what the user is looking for and they stay a while, that’s a win.

Don’t discount no-follow backlinks. They can still serve your bottom line of getting visitors that convert into customers.

Implied Backlinks

There’s also the concept of implied backlinks, which are simply brand mentions.

Although they are not direct <a></a> links, search engines like Google takes note of mentions of your brand.

This goes back to when I mentioned that everything you do as a founder is SEO. The more you grow your business, the more people talk about it.

And the more people talk about your brand, the more the search engines take notice and this could help your rankings in the long run.

An important note regarding Backlink Farming before we go on

You’ll notice that the term “building backlinks” gets thrown around in SEO circles.

It’s somewhat of an outdated concept but there is merit to it when starting out.

Right after this, I’ll show you a way to jumpstart your backlink building efforts, but central to the philosophy behind Bootstrapped SEO is this:

Build content & media that is compelling enough to attract backlinks naturally

Personally, I haven’t gone down the route of buying guest posts on other websites and I have no doubts that that approach works.

But as a founder that’s building a product while building up SEO, I found that spending my energy on increasing keyword surface area while collecting and iterating on the incoming keyword data from Google Search Console to be very effective.

Later on in Growth + Compounding, I’ll show you ways that you can leverage your skills as a product developer to build media that will be compelling enough to attract these backlinks organically, without having to do cold-email or relationship management with other website owners.

With that covered, let’s move on to our first distribution tactics!

Profile Linking, Launching, and Submitting to Directories

Here’s a 3-in-1 tactic.

First up, Profile Linking

Straightfoward tactic - just create profiles of your product on websites, usually social media platforms that get indexed, forums, and anywhere else, and add your link to the profile.

For the most part, these links will end up being no-follow links, or just redirects, but remember what I said about these links: if they are relevant to users, they will click through.

This is a very low-effort way to get some sort of links pointing back to your website. At the very least, your brand name will be out there. Don’t spend too much time on this — it won’t have an absolutely massive impact on your SEO. All we’re doing is covering the basics.

Next up, Launching

This is a favorite in the maker community — submit your product to the likes of BetaList and Product Hunt.

But what gets missed is what happens after you submit your product for launch on those platforms: other websites pick up on the product and write about it on their websites.

These websites rely on the likes of ProductHunt or BetaList for their content, so it’s a simple way to get your product name out there.

And finally, Submitting to Directories

There are plenty of websites out there that list products and are looking for people like you to submit their products to them.

Find as many directories out there as you can and submit your product! It’s a tactic similar to Profile Linking, except instead of making a personal profile, it’s using your product instead.

If you want to skip the work required to find places to submit your product, check out fellow maker Xavier Coiffard’s product Spread The World to find as many as possible places to post your product!

This brings me to a key mindset shift you should adopt:

Look for opportunities to submit your product where it will get picked up by other websites and written about, effectively multiplying your distribution efforts

Internal Linking

Next up, we have internal linking.

Here’s a powerful notion I want you to think about:

Once you have various landing pages from your website that are ranking and getting traffic, you now own a distribution channel.

This is something you can leverage further for growing your website.

How? Through internal linking!

Internal Linking your SEO Landing Pages

Let’s talk about how to get your SEO landing pages discovered.

Step 1

Once you’ve created multiple SEO landing pages as 2nd-level pages, simply link to them in your footer.

That way, when people visit your pages that are already getting ranked and are generating traffic, there will be a direct link to these landing pages to get discovered by the search engine crawlers and your visitors.

Check out a few of the “For Who” pages and other landing pages on the right of the footer of Vocalmatic:

Repeat this for as many SEO landing pages that you create, but don’t overcrowd the footer.

Step 2

For maximum discoverability, for each page that lives under a category, create internal links to other pages within that category.

Don’t go too crazy here — create enough links for a visitor or a spider crawling the page to navigate to other pages within that category. Since these landing pages are based on your keywords, you can choose which pages to link to based on the keyword search volume to help you narrow down which pages to link to.

To put it more concretely, if you have a category at the 2nd-level, and under that category page you have multiple 3rd-level pages, create internal links between your 3rd-level pages.

Reasoning behind this

As some of your pages begin to rank on search engines and get traffic, the internal links are ready to serve as a “pointer” to other pages on your website that are worth checking out for both visitors and spiders crawling your website.

This leads to a better navigational experience & UX for users to find what they are looking for and for crawlers to get a better understanding of what your website is about.

In addition to that, creating links to pages within your website reduces the number of orphaned pages on it. This makes it possible to surface your content to the search engines and get discoverd.

Blogpost Links to Landing Pages

In Content and Media Creation, we talked about creating both blogposts and landing pages.

When creating these two types of content, you want them to be complementary. What I mean by that is they will cover the same general topic around your keywords, but each page will serve slightly different purposes from an SEO and traffic perspective and work together to serve your overall goals.

Let’s contrast the two types of pages.

Role of the Blogpost

Blogposts tend to be more in-depth and instructional. They also allow for you to update the blogpost more often than a landing page.

As a result, you can consistently iterate on a blogpost to improve the content in it.

For example, if you add a new section to the page, you are also adding to the Keyword Surface Area of the blogpost itself — and by extension, your website.

Because of these properties, your blogposts will be the primary vehicle for ranking on search engines. You can then use this ranking + traffic to internally link to other pages on your website.

Another thing to note: blogposts tend to be what gets shared on the Internet, so that is another avenue for discoverability.

Role of the SEO Landing Page

On the other hand, landing pages are not meant to be as in-depth as blogposts, but are optimized for converting users. They will of course contribute to the overall Keyword Surface Area of your website, but should remain focussed on the goal of converting visitors into users.

Let’s talk about how to use and connect these two types of pages.

Step 1

Start with your “How-To” informational keywords. Choose the keyword to target that is closely related to the problem that your product solves for customers. Ultimately, you’re going to funnel the user from this blogpost to a conversion optimized landing page where the reader will hopefully convert into a user.

Step 2

Next, create an in-depth descriptive blogpost on how to do X in relation to your product. Make sure to include detailed steps, explained through media such as photos, videos, and GIFs. This will keep your visitors engaged.

Step 3

And finally, where it makes sense within your blogpost, create backlinks to the landing page which should also answer the How-To informational keyword on the landing page.

In Summary

Just to recap, the blogpost serves as content to get ranked, discovered, and that can be regularly updated, whereas the landing page serves to convert visitors into users.

Now, at this point, you should have:

  • Landing pages internally linking to each other
  • Blogposts which complement landing pages where the blogposts link to the landing pages

But the missing component to these landing pages is actual traffic. This is where your first external tactic comes into play.

Coattailing

To understand coattailing, it’s best to first understand Domain Authority.

Although it’s not a direct metric, but one that was invented by the SEO industry, in particular a company called Moz, it’s a great indicator of if pages under your domain will rank on search engines.

When starting out, your website is not going to have a high domain authority — meaning that the pages you create won’t get the best visibility on search engines.

So, the best strategy here is to piggyback off the domain authority of popular websites for distributing your content.

The benefits here are twofold:

  1. As mentioned, because their domain authority is much higher than yours, there’s a better chance their content will rank on search results pages
  2. These platforms tend to have their own discoverability mechanisms built in — their own micro search engines if you will. This gives your content the chance to get discovered on their platforms as well, where other search engines are in addition to that.

Using your Blogposts for Coattailing

Let’s use your blogposts as an example.

You can post it on your blog, but the problem is no one will know that it exists on your blog — meaning it won’t get discovered on search engines if your website is new.

What you can do to fix this is post it on a larger blogging platform, such as Medium, or Dev.to, or hashnode.dev — websites that do have a great domain authority — and you leave it up to these platforms to rank your written blog post.

The only thing you need to do is link to your blog post using a canonical link so search engines do not penalize you for duplicate content.

Here’s an article on canonical links: Canonical Links: The Ultimate Guide

Think of the user and traffic flow from doing this:

  • You post your blogpost on a platform
  • Visitors read your blogpost on a trusted platform
  • They realize that your product solves their issue
  • They are enticed to click through to your landing page, wherever you added a link

And remember, your landing page is optimized for conversions, so a percentage of visitors will convert into users.

I also wanted to point out something else out that we touched on earlier — the goal of SEO is to get targetted traffic visiting your website. Getting traffic from a place such as another blogging platform shouldn’t matter as much, so long as they are visiting your landing page and converting into a user.

And that’s the core concept behind coattailing — you post your media on websites that have better domain authority than yours, taking advantage of the fact that their pages will rank on search engines better, then linking back to your original content on your website.

Over time, as your website’s domain authority improves, you will be able to post content on your own blog and you don’t need to solely rely on the distribution abilities of other platforms to rank that blogpost — their distribution will simply be the cherry on top of your own distribution!

At this early stage, you are simply borrowing their authority to help build up your own website’s traffic initially.

Repurposing

Now, let’s take the concept of coattailing even further.

Up until now, we’ve focussed on blogposts and written content.

But written content isn’t the only types of media you can create. You can also create videos and audio recordings.

Think about repurposing in this way:

For every media that you create, whether it’s a new feature of your product, a blogpost, video, or podcast recording, you should think about and find all the various places that these media can live. You job is then to post that media in those places to leverage that platform’s visibility so you can benefit from getting discovered as a result.

At it’s core, repurposing is all about multiplying your distribution efforts with a fixed input. For every piece of media you create, there is possibly a > 1 number of places this media can live. You’re looking for the One-To-Many opportunities to distribute your content.

So, how do we do this?

Let’s start off with the blogposts you’ve written and build a repurposing workflow that you can apply.

Step 1

Choose you best performing blogposts in terms of traffic and conversions. Stick with traffic & clicks as the metrics if conversions aren’t fully tracked.

Then, record a video which simply talks about the content of the blogpost.

It’s up to you to decide on how creative you want to get with your videos, but a video of you just re-reading your content will do!

Step 2

Post this video to YouTube and within the title of video, add the title of the blogpost. Make sure to

also add a description which will include a link to your website and to the blogpost itself.

This opens you up to exposure on YouTube, the second largest search engine in the world.

You can repeat this multiple times for other video platforms out there for all the blogposts you choose.

Step 3

Rip the audio from this YouTube video and create a podcast with it.

Many podcasting software out there distributes your episodes to the likes of Google Podcasts, Spotify, Apple Podcasts and more. Extremely high domain authority websites and platforms. Not to mention, your podcast will live on the subdomain of the podcast hosting website as well.

When creating the podcast, make sure to add in the description of the episode, actual links to your website and your blogpost.

The amazing thing is that those description links get turned into actual links on those platforms. That results in a backlink from those super high domain authority websites.

Not only that, but there are plenty of other podcast directory websites out there that do the same thing and sources their podcast from feeds directly. It’s just backlinks on backlinks.

Look at this repurposing framework as a function:

For every blogpost created, you can repurpose it into a video and audio, which can then be distributed in their respective platforms for more reach and visibility.

For every blogpost created
    -> Repurpose into video
         -> Post that video on various video platforms
         -> Repurpose video into audio
                -> Post create a podcast and get it listed on podcasting directories

Repurposing Code

Why stop at media such as blogposts, videos, and audio? It’s also possible to repurpose code!

I don’t mean to open-source and distribute your product’s code, but instead to:

Make your core product available in other platforms

My favorite example are Chrome Extensions.

Think about where extensions live — The Google Web Store. You can have a listing on there, with your brand name, and even a few links from the store itself.

Not only that, but being a directory, there are other websites out there that aggregate listings on the extension Web Store which will be another dsitribution point for your product and your brand name.

This is the tactic of Coattailing at play once again.

Integrations

Similar to repurposing code, building integrations with other platforms where it makes sense will also help with distribution.

Same principles apply — when you create an integration, you can become an app on another high-authority domain where you brand name and backlinks can live.

Summary

Overall, the biggest takeaway of this section should be the following:

  • Leverage the media you create, whether that is written, video, audio, and code as products themselves
  • Distribute them to their respective platforms, as well as to those platform’s competitors
  • Let the discovery mechanisms on each of these platforms run it’s course so that your media will also get discovered in the process
In esssense, an effective distribution strategy is bringing together: Media Creation + Repurposing & Coattailing