You Have Great Content, But Are You Promoting It?

Filed in Link Building, MY BEST POSTS by Matt McGee on August 13, 2008 11 Comments

You’ve heard me and many others say that great/unique content is only half the battle of linkbuilding; the other half is promoting that content so it spreads. Even the best content needs a good push. Well, stay with me on this…it will eventually be a brief case study on linkbuilding and content promotion. But first, some background.

content promotion

U2, my favorite rock band, is managed by a brilliant business man named Paul McGuinness. But he’s not endeared himself to the music-buying public lately. Twice this year, McGuinness has gone on the attack about the current state of recorded music. He’s called out ISPs for profiting off illegally downloaded music (in the form of bandwidth fees). He’s said that Radiohead’s 2007 release of In Rainbows, where they let fans download the whole album for whatever price the fans wanted to pay, was a failure because most fans downloaded it for free on filesharing networks — not from Radiohead’s official download site/page.

You can imagine how today’s free-music-loving public reacted to all those comments; they basically threw McGuinness and U2 under the bus. “Greedy”, “old”, “foolish”, “sh–y music” … those were some of the nicer things said about U2 and its manager.

In late June, Bono sent a letter to the UK music paper, NME, in which he said the band doesn’t agree with all of their manager’s comments; he defended Radiohead, too. We published the letter on @U2 and I thought this needed to be spread around the same way McGuinness’ comments were spread around earlier in the year.

End of background. Now we’re getting into the linkbuilding and content promotion discussion.

My U2 site is awfully popular with U2 fans and is well-known in most traditional media circles. But it’s not so familiar to a lot of the web-only news sites and Web 2.0-type sites where McGuinness’ comments were most heavily discussed.

One of the sites that really lit into McGuinness was the popular social networking blog, Mashable. (see this post) So, they were the first place I went. Using their Submit News link, I emailed the site, introduced myself as a Mashable reader and founder of @U2, and shared with them the link to Bono’s comments disagreeing with McGuinness and defending Radiohead.

I got lucky; they published a new article updating the story, and included a link to Bono’s letter on @U2. That’s an inbound link to a deep page from a high-quality site. In other words, Link Gold.

But that wasn’t all. News spreads, and once Mashable reported this update, it went mini-viral.

  1. Two days later,, another high quality site, picked up the story and included a deep link to @U2.
  2. It turns out that articles from are syndicated on, which published an abbreviated version of the story, but with the link to @U2 intact.
  3. A day later, Valleywag picked up the story, again deep-linking to Bono’s letter on @U2.
  4. Thanks to that mention, TechDirt ran the story the following day and deep-linked to @U2.
  5. And finally, on the sixth day of this viral news-a-thon, PCWorld covered it on their blog, and sent another deep link to Bono’s letter on @U2.

So that’s six quality deep links in six days. All thanks to having a piece of unique content, and promoting that content. I would’ve been thrilled with just the first mention on Mashable. But once you push something out, you have no idea how far it might spread and how many links it might collect along the way.

If you have something interesting, unique, noteworthy … don’t be afraid to tell people about it. Push it out there and see what happens. There’s no guarantee you’ll succeed. But if you don’t promote your content, it’s almost guaranteed to fail.

(thx to Tamar for help with this story; photo courtesy Garrette)

Comments (11)

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  1. Derek Edmond says:

    Certainly agree – you cannot be afraid to let people know when you have something of value. On a related note – I just came across this post with recommendations and steps for when you actually do decide to pitch your content (hope you don’t mind the link drop here, but I think it will be a valuable addition to your post):

  2. Awesome example of how to let the work know about your great content by only really telling one important person/website.

  3. Ryan Rose says:

    Great post Matt! I believe the light bulb has flickered a little after reading this. “What if” somebody took this example and carried it a step further.

    … ok, I’ve been sitting here trying to elaborate what the next step would be for about 15 minutes trying to word it in a way that makes sense and am failing miserably. Funny, I can see it perfectly in my head. So what I will do is conduct some research and get back to this topic hopefully in a day or two.

    Feel free to hold me to this.

    Ryan Rose

  4. Andrew says:

    would be a fantastic place( to help promote your content.

  5. This is absolutely true… content is no good unless it’s read/viewed!

  6. David Mihm says:

    Congrats, Matt! This seems like a much less capricious form of viral linkbuilding than traditional social media can be (Digg, Reddit, etc) — these six links are probably more valuable than 100 links from random bloggers, no?

  7. Jordan says:

    That’s the secret to promotion is pushing someone elses cause.

  8. Simon says:

    Well done I always enjoy reading success stories, that help along the way.

  9. Christie says:

    This is so true. Thanks for this post. When I review restaurants I always drop them a line and let them know with a deep link attached.

    That way they tell their friends and maybe feature it on their website which spreads it further.

    Your story is a fantastic example, though. Good on you!

  10. Sammi says:

    We did not know about so will certainly look into that next. It is really great to have useful information such as this article provides. It is sometimes a real challenge to figure out the next best strategies. Thanks for the help!

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